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Cancun’s Hotel Zone: Is the North or South End Better For A Vacation?

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So, you’ve decided to vacation in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, but should you stay in the North or South end?

To introduce you, Cancun’s Zona Hotelera is a thin peninsula stretching for 22.5km in total, making up the shape of a figure ‘7’, which has given it the nickname of the ‘Cancun 7’. At the top and bottom ends of the 7, the peninsula connects up to the mainland. At the top end, you can get to downtown Cancun, with all its attractions and entertainment. Exit at the bottom end to get to the international airport and onto the highway heading south from Cancun.

Each end of the 7 has its own resorts and special characteristics. Here, we’ll run through them, so you can decide which area would suit you best.

North Section of the Cancun Hotel Zone

Many people consider the north section of the hotel zone as the best, for a number of reasons.

●     There are more nightlife options in the north section

If you intend to spend a decent amount of time partying, you might want to stay in the north section. It has a more lively atmosphere overall and you’ll save time traveling between your resort and your evening’s entertainment – whichever of Cancun’s many clubs you choose. Punta Cancun is the main nightlife zone – where you’ll find famous clubs like Coco Bongo and Mandala – and it’s located in the top corner of the ‘7’, making it easily accessible from any of the north section’s resorts.

●     The ocean in the northerly section is family-friendly

If you have young children, or you’re looking for calm waters where you can swim, the section running east to west of the ‘7’ might be your best bet. It has the least amount of waves because it’s protected by the island of Isla Mujeres which sits offshore. The beaches in the north section also have the most facilities, making them very family-friendly.

●     There are great shopping options

If you stay in the northern section of the Hotel Zone, you’ll be able to access the shopping options super easily. There are a number of malls and stores both in the mid-section and in the northerly ‘Punta Cancun’ area. You can walk to a lot of the stores from nearby resorts, meaning you can cut out taking a cab completely – and as you stroll, you can soak up more of those glorious Caribbean rays.

South Section of the Hotel Zone

Other people who visit Cancun regularly swear by the South section of the Hotel Zone peninsula. Here are some of the reasons why.

●     Access to and from the airport is quick and easy

If you’re on a short vacation, you’ll want to spend as little of it as possible on the road. So resorts in the south section of the hotel zone – such as the Nizuc Resort and Spa – are perfect, as they can shave a significant amount of time off your transfer. And you know what that means – less time between the plane touching down and your first cocktail!

●     The South Hotel Zone is more relaxed

If non-stop partying isn’t your thing, the South Hotel Zone could be just right for you. It’s further away from the main nightlife areas, so it attracts less of a party crowd, meaning you can soak up the sunshine in relative peace. But if you want a lively night after a relaxing day, you can easily catch a cab or a bus up to Punta Cancun.

●     The beaches are quieter but have spectacular waves

The beaches in the southerly section of the Hotel Zone are much quieter than their northerly neighbors. You’ll be able to enjoy a more tranquil sunbathing experience, and will be bothered less by beach traders. What won’t be quieter here is the surf, because although you can safely swim in parts, this section of the ocean can be much more lively when it comes to waves!

We hope these tips help you decide where to stay on your next vacation. But don’t worry too much, because whichever part of Cancun you choose, you’re sure to have a fantastic time!

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Thursday 27th of October 2022

Is it possible to walk from the Westin Resort & Spa to the Club Med by the ocean instead of taking to the road ? Is it safe at night ?

Susana Urquizo

Sunday 7th of November 2021

I visited the northern part and witnessed human feces floating around us. Apparently it's a thing now. So be very careful. I've done a little research and believe Isla de Mujeres is responsible for this.

John Bauer

Tuesday 12th of April 2022

@Susana Urquizo, what lead you to conclude Isla was responsible for the human feces in Cancun? I've been to both areas. I prefer Isla despite it having considerably more litter than Cancun. What research showed human feces from Isla as a problem in Cancun


Thursday 4th of November 2021

Spot-on! And to confirm, I stayed in the North part of the hotel zone and will never do that again. I spent most of my time at the beaches in the south like Playa Delfines and would rather be there!