Cancún has far more to offer than spring break parties and all-inclusive hotels. Scratch below the surface and explore the city beyond the hotel zone with a stay in one of these Airbnbs.
Although it wouldn’t be a trip to Mexico without a few margaritas, in Cancún – located at the northeastern tip of the cenote-scattered Yucatán Peninsula – it’s worth wandering away from the bar-lined seafront strip to explore the city’s lesser-known treasures. Beyond the tourist areas, you’ll find impressive ancient displays at the Museo Maya de Cancún; El Meco’s iguana-dotted Mayan ruins; and a multitude of local ceviche spots and taco joints. To discover a different side to this party-heavy playa, stay in one of Cancún’s Airbnbs.
Cozy loft apartment near the ferry to Isla Mujeres
A thoroughly contemporary loft-style apartment, this concrete space with a striking hanging staircase is ahead of the competition when it comes to luxury Airbnbs in Cancún. Its palette of stone gray and warm, grained wood is offset by vivid splashes of color in the velvety soft furnishings, potted plants and tropical wall art, and it’s full of high-end touches, such as a king-size bed and smart TV. Windows frame views of swaying palms, and there’s a refreshing communal plunge pool with a pink flamingo floaty. Also, it’s conveniently located minutes from the ferry to Isla Mujeres, so you can take a day trip to its tranquil waters with ease.
Away from the hotel zone and right on the coastline, this apartment opens out onto a huge, palm-lined terrace, where you can sway away afternoons in a hammock. With an enormous kitchen, open living and dining area, plus a huge pool surrounded by landscaped gardens downstairs, this Airbnb feels like a tranquil, private oasis and sleeps up to eight guests. Head down to one of the nearby beachfront restaurants for your fix of fresh seafood before heading home for DIY cocktails out on the terrace.
If you’re after a more authentic Cancún experience, visit the heart of the city – away from the all-you-can-eat buffets at the beachfront hotels – where this studio-style stay will feel like a breath of fresh air for those on a budget. Although there’s no oven, the kitchenette has everything else you need to make a basic meal, and several supermarkets are nearby. The beach is an easy 10-minute walk away, and David, the helpful host, is on hand to make sure you have everything you need for a wonderful stay.
Offering a light, bright and contemporary take on traditional Mexican decor, this studio is like staying in a delightful boutique hotel, for a fraction of the price. Its huge private terrace is almost the same size as the room, and the spacious shared rooftop features a collection of potted plants and bright-blue sun loungers surrounding a concrete plunge pool plucked straight from the boho beach hangouts of Tulum. Park up with some Dos Equis and guacamole after a long day of market hunting – the studio is just a short walk to the famous Market 28.
With a balcony overlooking palm-filled grounds and the ocean beyond, this studio has incredible views. As it’s located in the more residential beachfront zone of the city, a short distance down the coast from the hotel zone, staying here means you’ll be within easy reach of the sea and sand but sheltered from the busyness of the tourist hub. It’s a short walk away from some excellent seafood restaurants, and there is a convenient bus stop nearby, linking you easily to the rest of Cancún.
Ramon, the friendly host of this oceanside apartment, is a great example of the extras you can get when staying in an Airbnb. Here, ice-cold beers and a bottle of tequila will greet you upon arrival. With beautiful, subtle decor, incredible ocean vistas and plenty of complimentary toiletries, the apartment itself is an excellent place to stay and could rival some of the city’s high-end hotels. The complex also has a pool and restaurant, as well as a range of security measures, making it a safe and easy option.
Located in a gated community, this private room is an excellent budget option that comes with a pool surrounded by colorful hanging seats and daybeds (blissful in the Mexican heat). The house, in typical Mexican style, is brightly painted in hues of tomato red and seafoam green, and the air-conditioned room has a private balcony. There is also a huge shared kitchen, which has plenty of natural light flooding in, and you can load up on affordable produce at the nearby fruit and vegetable market, which is less than a 10-minute walk away. The host, Travis, is an enthusiastic man from Texas who runs custom tours, including boat trips for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and more. Stay here to experience a side of the city that many visitors don’t get to see.
This penthouse is within an arm’s reach of the ocean, on the top floor of a residential complex directly on the beachfront. The living room and kitchen have expansive sea views and a beautiful arched ceiling made from traditional terracotta bricks. The complex has a pool; however, with the ocean so close, there’s hardly a need for one. There are some fantastic local restaurants in the area, while the apartment is just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of central Cancún. While local buses link the two neighborhoods, renting a car is recommended as a parking space is included.
This vacation house is an excellent budget option in the heart of the city. Featuring traditional-style decor, this house provides a unique local experience and comes with a relaxing little patio strewn with hammocks and potted plants. With a lot of space, including a fully equipped kitchen, there’s plenty of room to house a large group (up to 10) without feeling as if you’re living on top of each other. The beach and the bustling city center are a short walk away, and at such a bargain price, you’ll have more money leftover to experience everything Cancún has to offer.
Located across the road from a little-known wildlife-filled state reserve off the tourist trail (where you can spot bare-throated tiger herons, black eagles, crocodiles and more), this is the perfect place for immersing yourself in Cancún life. Try your hand at birdwatching, or wander among the local food merchants at nearby Donceles Food Market, avoiding the crowds that flock to the hotel zone. The studio-style apartment has beautiful Mexican decorative touches, such as a stained-glass door and traditional tiling, creating a bright and uplifting space.
This private room with a terrace feels like a quintessential Caribbean getaway. Pale wood floors and Mexican macramé wall hangings pair with vivid cobalt blue furniture, while the outside features a combination of potted palms, bamboo fencing and rainbow-hued hanging seats, lit by a string of bulb lights in the evening. There’s a second, communal, rooftop terrace with views of coconut palms, and the private bathroom even comes with plenty of plant life. There’s a convenient little shop on the property, plus you’ll find authentic Mexican street-food stalls along the surrounding streets, which are quiet and residential but an easy taxi ride from the hotel zone.