Cancun

Cancun

Overview

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Destination Basics

Cancun’s semi-tropical climate boasts more than 250 days of sun per year and warm temperatures that melt tensions away. Travel between December and April when average daily temperatures hover between 22C and 32C.

Temperatures are hottest from late May to early September, when it can climb to the mid-30s. During July and August, the nearby islands of Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox are great for whale watching.

Cancun’s rainy season runs from September until the end of November.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Cancun

Whether you’re with your family, on your own, or exploring with friends, Cancun is a great destination for all travellers. While lounging at the beach or pool for a few hours may be a requirement, you can try something new every day.

In Cancun, you can have a quiet vacation by the ocean and listen to the Caribbean lapping at the shores. In fact, you might even be content never leaving the lounge chair of your hotel pool while sipping a Corona and flipping through the pages of your favourite book or magazine.

Perhaps the energy on Boulevard Kukulcan, the main street along the Zona Hotelera—Cancun’s popular Hotel Zone—is more your style. Find plenty of glitz and glamour here, with lively nightclubs and casinos. You might even bump into stars such as Julia Roberts or Javier Bardem who are known to have visited posh all-inclusive resorts like Le Blanc Spa.

In downtown Centro, along the north-south thoroughfare called Avenida Tulum, sit down to a plate of fresh fish ceviche with the locals, or stop by an open-air market and listen to the relaxing sounds of a classical guitar.

If you love the beach, you’ll love Cancun. The famed sand dunes that are shaped like a number seven are separated from the mainland by two canals that run into a big lagoon. Mangroves, marshes and jungle stretch along the coast.

Cancun has transformed from the once-deserted island of the ’50s when few people knew about this vacation spot, to what is now the Caribbean’s largest tourism and resort centre. Located in the Quintana Roo region, this 1,034 sq. km piece of land offers white sands and turquoise waters to visitors year-round. With a population of more than 700,000 people, Cancun is also a bustling city with a vibrant urban lifestyle.

Venture south of Cancun to the Riviera Maya, where you can swim in the world’s second largest barrier reef. This area is a playground for scuba diving and snorkelling, and boasts many ecosystems including reef, mangrove, savanna, wetlands and lowland forests.

If you’re a birdwatcher, visit Isla Contoy, just off the shore of Cancun. It provides incredible lookout points to see tropical birds.

Cancun is known as the gateway to Mayan culture. Although there are several ruins within the city of Cancun, it is definitely worth the half-hour drive south to the Riviera Maya. Here, you’ll discover eco-adventures, theme parks, archaeological ruins, unspoiled beaches and native Mayans in quaint villages.

The Mayans were once among the most densely populated and innovative societies in the world, creating art and architecture that lives on today. If you have time, take a trip to the Mayan Ruins just a few hours away in Chichen Itza and Coba. Or, browse Mayan art in the many art galleries of Plaza Kukulcan.

The ancient practice of sun worship was also a big part of the Mayan people’s lives, both centuries ago and still today. Visit the pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula to learn about the area’s history and see the Mayans’ fascination with the sun, moon and nature, firsthand.

Partake in a little sun worship of your own on the beaches of Cancun. Join visitors and residents who choose to spend a day soaking up the rays. And feel free to check out any beach you’d like. The beaches in Cancun are all public.

Aside from the Mayan influence, you’ll find Cancun has its own beach vibe with a distinctly urban twist. The city is becoming increasingly sophisticated as it draws more international travellers and residents.

Most local shopping is found in the Ciudad Cancun downtown area, also known as the Centro area. Want to try living like a local for a day? Poke around an outdoor market for inexpensive food—including fresh tortillas and a horchata (a delicious local rice drink).

You’ll also find fresh seafood and char-grilled meats, along with Asian, Argentinean and Italian fare both downtown and in Cancun’s world-renowned Zona Hotelera resort district.

The city centre of Cancun is located just 8 km north of Cancun International Airport. With a wealth of transit options, getting in and around the city and surrounding areas is simple. Taxis, buses and plenty of foot trails provide guests with many options to get from A to B.

The local bus system is reliable and inexpensive. One fare costs only 8 pesos (approximately 80 cents Canadian). Buses run 24 hours a day in Cancun and will get you to and from downtown with ease.

Catching a Taxi in Cancun

Be cautious when taking taxis in Cancun. We recommend you only take hotel taxis or those based at designated taxi stands called sitios. It is also helpful to consult with your hotel concierge before hopping in to determine the best rate. Hotels will often display standard taxi rates in their lobbies, but within the hotel zone, individual fares vary depending on distance travelled. All government-authorized taxis have licence plates beginning with an A or B. You can identify these taxis by their company logo and plate number stamped on the side of the car.

If you’re looking to explore the ruins of Tulum or the many other attractions that Cancun and surrounding areas have to offer, you can call WestJet Vacations to book your excursions in advance. You can also always catch a bus from the bus station in downtown Cancun.

Since attractions can be quite a distance from the hotels, the most economic option is bus travel. But no matter how you choose to get around, you’re sure to enjoy Cancun’s great weather, fun nightlife and breathtaking attractions.

The Mexican peso is the official currency in Cancun. Canadian currency, debit cards, and travellers cheques are not widely accepted, so using pesos is usually easiest.

To exchange your Canadian cash or travellers cheques, stop by one of the many banks, exchange kiosks or your hotel front desk. Just don’t forget your passport—it’s required to cash your travellers cheques.

You can also withdraw cash from ATMs found in banks, grocery stores and hotels. Normal banking hours in Cancun are Monday to Friday, typically from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with some branches open Saturday. Most exchange kiosks are open late.

Although American money is widely accepted, regulations are now in place to limit the amount of U.S. cash both residents and visitors can exchange in Mexico. Some financial institutions have imposed limits of US$300 per transaction, however many local businesses will only accept a maximum of US$100 per transaction. Even smaller businesses have chosen to forgo accepting U.S. money altogether, so the recommended way to pay is with Mexican pesos or credit card.

Arrival

During your flight into Cancun International Airport, you’ll receive two forms to fill out. One is your Customs Declaration Form. The other is your Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners (or FMM for short). One Customs Declaration Form needs to be filled out per family, while each guest must complete an FMM.

In Mexico, there is a tourism tax of US$20 per person. For your convenience, when you fly WestJet, this tax is included in the cost of your airfare.

Upon arrival in Cancun, you’ll be guided to the immigration hall where visitors will form a line to meet with a Mexican immigration officer. This officer will ask you for your passport and your FMM. You may also be asked a few questions as to the purpose of your travel, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in Mexico. The officer will then stamp the FMM and return a portion of it to you.

Important: Keep your FMM with you in a safe place at all times during your trip. Mexican authorities can ask you to present this form at any time and you will need this document when you depart Cancun.

After passing through immigration, you’ll pick up your bags and proceed to customs. You will have to place all your bags through an x-ray machine. A customs agent will ask you for your Customs Declaration Form and ask you to press a button on a traffic light-looking device. A green light means you get to pass through without inspection, while a red light means your baggage will be inspected. In the case of a red light, you’ll need to open your baggage and a Customs Officer will complete a quick inspection.

Once you depart customs, you’ll see representatives from transfer companies, tour operators and timeshare sellers in the corridor soliciting business. If you’ve purchased transfers to and from your hotel with WestJet Vacations, please continue through the corridor until you’re outside the airport terminal. There, you will be greeted by a friendly Best Day Travel representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign. Best Day representatives can be identified by their navy blue pants and white shirt with a large navy and red Best Day logo.

Once you’ve found a Best Day Travel rep, identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest and voila! Bienvenido a Cancun!

Departure

When departing Cancun, you’ll need to provide officials with your signed FMM card. Lost FMMs can be replaced at the airport or at the immigration office before you check-in for your return flight. However, there is a fee to obtain a replacement card.

Vaccinations

Be sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended. The Public Health Agency of Canada also recommends that all travellers to Mexico get vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus before leaving Canada.

Mexico uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.

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