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Cancun Cracking Down On Beach Vendors Selling Illegal Items To Tourists 

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Buying souvenirs and other items from beach vendors when visiting Cancun is a timeless tradition that many tourists look forward to, but you have to be careful of which ones you flag down.   

Not all of them are just selling jewelry, sarongs, bandanas, food, or sunglasses, and engaging with those who are selling illegal substances can be dangerous.   

This is why Cancun’s new leader of the Tourist Police is vowing to crack down on beach vendors selling illegal items to tourists.   

Vendors on a Beach in the Mexican Caribbean

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly 

There are three different kinds of beach vendors in Cancun.   

There are vendors who follow the rules and comply with licensing requirements and are just trying to make a living.   

There are those who might not be licensed to sell on the beach but are still just trying to make a buck.   

Then there are those who just use beach vending as a cover to sell illegal items, and these are the ones to watch out for.   

Vendor on a Mexican Beach

What The Tourist Police Are Doing 

Cancun’s Tourist Police, the National Guard, and other officials are addressing the problem in two ways.   

One thing that they’re doing is putting security elements on the beaches to respond to incidents of illegal items being offered to tourists.   

The other thing that they’re doing is deploying elements of various departments to collect information about which vendors are involved in illegal activities, and which areas they operate in.   

Tourists Police in the Mexican Caribbean

How To Tell The Difference Between Legitimate Vendors And Criminals 

There is no surefire way to tell the difference between legitimate beach vendors and those selling illegal substances.   

At least not until they offer you something you weren’t in the market for.   

The best way to tell the difference is to maybe watch a vendor for a bit before waving them down.   

If they seem sketchy or other people are turning them away, you might want to pass on that same pair of sunglasses you can get from the next one.   

vendor selling on beach

What To Do If You’re Offered Illegal Substances From A Beach Vendor 

If you are offered illegal substances from a beach vendor, simply say no thank you, just like you would if you didn’t want a cocktail at a restaurant.   

Make sure you don’t say yes to any questions you don’t understand, just to be safe.   

Furthermore, don’t further engage with the individual.   

Beach Vendor and Municipal Police on a Beach in Isla Mujeres

Other Items You Shouldn’t Buy From A Beach Vendor 

In addition to not buying illegal items from beach vendors, there are a few other things you should avoid purchasing from them.   

Food items that can make you sick from not being properly refrigerated should be avoided.   

Don’t buy jewelry other than beaded or seashell jewelry because it could be fake.   

Buying tours from beach vendors is also advised against, as they are often scams.   

selling on beach

A Better Option For Buying Souvenirs In Cancun 

With so much confusion regarding which beach vendors might be legitimate and which ones are peddling illegal stuff, it might be better to shop for souvenirs somewhere else.   

There are several areas where licensed vendors are set up, and they usually have pretty much the same items.   

Two of those places are Mercado 23 and Mercado 28, both of which have a wide variety of food and souvenir vendors.   

Mercado 23

Beaches To Visit To Avoid Vendors 

You can also try to avoid vendors altogether if you’re not interested in buying from them anyway.   

They’re typically more concentrated in the Hotel Zone, so if you look for beaches outside of this area you’re more likely to escape them.   

Beaches in nearby Costa Mujeres or on the island of Isla Mujeres will be less likely to have them strolling around, so you can relax and not worry about being offered illegal items on your Cancun vacation.

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Sherry Trafford

Wednesday 15th of May 2024

I Love buying stuff from the people on the beach. Never had any problems in 27 years.. lots of homemade items.And the people need the money ❤️