Geography can get confusing. All those lines and borders seem so artificial. And the question of the Cancun location is absolutely legitimate. Where does the Gulf of Mexico end and the Caribbean Sea begin? And where does Cancun belong? Let’s figure it out.
If you look at the Caribbean map, you’ll see that Cancun’s position is on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Whereas the Gulf of Mexico washes the west coast of Yucatan.
The conclusion: Cancun is located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
We, as passionate travelers, adore the Caribbean coast, which Cancun is a part of. So we’d like to share our knowledge and love of the Caribbean Sea, the Caribbean coast, and Cancun.
- 1 Just a little geography
- 2 Cancun: a perfect vacation spot
- 3 Exploring the neighborhood
- 4 Frequently asked questions
- 5 And finally…
Just a little geography
Cancun on the American continent
Cancun Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country in its southeast part, on the Yucatan Peninsula.
While the east coast is washed by the Caribbean Sea, the west coast belongs to the Gulf. Cancun is on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, quite close to the Gulf, but still on the Caribbean coast.
The Caribbean Sea, the Caribbean Region, and the Caribbean islands
Look at the full Caribbean map, and you’ll see that the Caribbean Sea washes the shores of several countries like Jamaica, Cuba, Costa Rica, the Cayman Islands, and many others.
Mexico is also one of them.
Some folks think that only the islands can be included in the Caribbean Region. That’s not true. Yucatan and mainland Mexico are part of that region too.
The Caribbean coast, because of its beautiful beaches and well-developed tourism industry, got the name, Riviera Maya.
It’s a nice name, it has a relaxing beach vacation vibe and, at the same time, pays tribute to the indigenous ancestry.
Riviera Maya includes Cancun and other neighboring beach towns like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Puerto Morelos.
There are also several Mexican Caribbean islands in the area, famous for their white sand beaches and natural beauty.
This island is a scuba diver’s paradise. The reefs are breathtaking here, and the divers have the time of their life. It’s the biggest Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, with a well-established tourist infrastructure and hotel options for a budget of any size.
Isla Contoy is an island and a national park. Protected by the Mexican government, this amazing island is home to more than 150 species of birds, both native and migrant, including snowy egret, blue heron, and others.
Isla Contoy can be found to the north of Cancun, so you can have a fascinating day trip there and enjoy the natural beauty of its amazing beaches and wildlife.
Being a national park, the island is uninhabited. If we don’t count a bunch of scientists and birds, of course.
Isla Mujeres is famous for its exquisite beaches. That says something, as all the beaches are gorgeous on the Caribbean coast.
The island is miniature, just 5 miles long, but it offers the tourists several places to have a comfortable stay if they prefer a more laid-back stay than in vibrant Cancun.
Isla Mujeres got its name (the Island of Women if translated into English) because, during the Maya era, it used to be a place of worship for the Mayan goddess of the moon, fertility, medicine, and happiness with the Temple located on the island.
The priests were all women, so the Isla Mujeres had only female inhabitants, hence the name.
And the Temple is still there, you can go and see this reminder of the times long forgotten.
Cancun: a perfect vacation spot
Cancun is obviously the pearl of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Its happiness and vibrancy are infectious and guarantee an amazing vacation.
Some folks say that there are too many tourists and too much noise, but we love the noise, music, bright colors, and smiling joyful people.
Cancun is a part of Riviera Maya, and we know that the word ‘Riviera’ means ‘coast’.Which, in our case, means gorgeous Caribbean beaches.
The weather here is warm, sunny, and perfect for a relaxed beach vacation.
You can come here all year round, but true lovers of this place believe that the best time to visit is from December to April. In terms of weather, it’s perfect at about 80-90°F, with lots of sunshine.
Cancun Mexico as well as Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and some other resorts of Riviera Maya are known as the choice destinations for tourists from the US, neighboring countries, and places from around the globe.
March and April are very popular months among American tourists, as it’s spring break time.
You should definitely visit Cancun if you love the cerulean sea, pearly-white sand, and excellent service.
The area 20 minutes from downtown Cancun with the best accommodation options is called the Hotel Zone. The best all-inclusive options in the Hotel Zone and more budget-friendly places are all here.
Cancun has lots of amazing restaurants with authentic Mexican cuisine.
If you love Mexican food, visit Cancun, and, apart from the stunning Cancun beaches, you’ll have a great opportunity to indulge in delicious and authentic dishes.
And while many of us consider ourselves lovers of Mexican cuisine, you only try the true version when you breathe the air of the country, and all the ingredients were grown here in Mexico.
Our personal favorite is Tikin-xic fish. It’s a whole fish marinated in orange and achiote sauce and cooked in an earth oven wrapped in a banana leaf.
We are the people who find great joy in learning about the places we visit. If you are like us, Cancun is a fascinating place. The rich cultural heritage of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is remarkable.
We were thrilled to see and explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, dating more than a thousand years back, very well-maintained and so fascinating.
There are others, too, like the Mayan ruins of El Rey and San Miguelito. It’s amazing to see the footprint of such a great culture and have a chance to get a close look.
Exploring the neighborhood
Cancun is the most famous Caribbean destination in Mexico. One of the reasons — is the Cancun International Airport with direct flights to and from several US cities, which is really convenient.
The Hotel Zone provides the best accommodation, and the city has such a vibrant, joyous spirit that you want to visit Cancun again and again.
But it’s not the only Mexican Caribbean destination. Let’s look at some other great options.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is also well-known and loved. People come here when they want a more relaxed vacation with less partying and more lying on the beach, having a Margherita, and visiting a spa.
It’s quieter here, and you can even go to really secluded places like Coco Beach or Playacar Beach.
That’s actually an amazing thing about Playa del Carmen: you can choose ‘the level of noise’ suitable for you. If you want to party, you have options too. Go to Martina Beach Club or Coralina Daylight Club.
There is no Hotel Zone in Playa del Carmen, but the town offers you amazing places to stay.
One more resort town is Tulum, which is to the south of Cancun.
The Caribbean beaches of Tulum are beautiful, and the sea is turquoise, just like in Cancun and other neighboring towns.
If you decide to stay there or go for a visit, you can visit famous cenotes (naturally formed swimming holes) or the Mayan ruins. Tulum will allow you to diversify your vacation, and it’s amazing.
Puerto Morelos is a quiet place, ideal for a laid-back beach vacation. It doesn’t have huge international hotel chains like Cancun. Instead, locally run businesses provide accommodation for tourists, as well as restaurants, cafes, and shops.
The Puerto Morelos beach, with its pearly sand and azure waters of the sea, is spread along the coast. A quirky lighthouse called El Faro Inclinado which means the Leaning Lighthouse (and it’s really leaning with a far-fetched reference to the Tower of Pisa) is a landmark of the area.
The charming little town will be a breath of fresh air when you get tired of city life and crave calm and tranquility.
Frequently asked questions
Is Cancun in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean?
Cancun is located on the northeast coast of Yucatan in the province called Quintana Roo. The eastern coast of the peninsula belongs to the Caribbean coast, whereas the west coast is washed by the Gulf waters.
Is Cancun considered Gulf of Mexico?
Cancun isn’t located on the Gulf coast because the Gulf washes the shores of the west coast. Cancun, however, is located in the northern part of the east coast and is part of the Caribbean Region.
What bodies of water surround Cancun?
Cancun is a city on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. There are no other water bodies in the area.
So, we’ve established that Cancun is a Caribbean destination as it’s washed by the Caribbean waters, not the Gulf. It makes Cancun a gem of the mainland coast of the Caribbean Sea. It’s also an amazing place to visit as it has a unique vibe and makes everyone happy.
The Caribbean coast is absolutely gorgeous. You can visit Jamaica, or the Cayman Islands and find them wonderful too, but today we’re encouraging you to choose Cancun as your travel destination.
The beautiful beaches and the cerulean sea, the historic heritage, and the beauty of nature and wildlife, all of that make Cancun a place worth discovering and exploring. Besides, it’s easy to get to.
Visit and see for yourself. You can thank us afterward.
Read More: 5 Fun and Interesting Cancun Facts