Cancun is a popular tourist destination in the Caribbean and Mexico, with stunning beaches, a buzzing nightlife, and a wide variety of cultural and natural activities.
But how safe is Cancun for travel? The short answer is that you should “Exercise Increased Caution” in Cancun — which is sensible advice to follow everywhere you go.
In this guide, we will delve into how cautious you need to be when visiting Cancun. We’ll touch upon Cancun’s crime statistics, COVID-19 precautions, potential natural disasters, carbon monoxide awareness and prevention, beach safety, Cancun’s weather, and some advice for solo or family travelers.
Are you planning a last minute trip to Cancun? We’ve put together all the resources you’ll need for a fun & safe travel:
🛌 Best & Safest Places to Stay in Cancun:
👉 Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres – 4 swimming pools, Beachfront, 9 restaurants,
👉 Riu Caribe – Spa and wellness centre, 3 swimming pools, Fitness centre
👉 Grand Park Royal Cancun – Fitness centre, Outdoor swimming pool, Free WiFi
👉 Moon Palace Nizuc – Airport shuttle, Outdoor swimming pool, Beachfront,
⛱️ Fun Activities & Tours in Cancun:
👉 Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour
👉 Jungle Buggy Tour from Playa del Carmen Including Cenote Swim
👉 Mayan Jungle Tour: Speed boat, Snorkel & Snack
🚗 Best & Safest Cancun Transportation Services:
👉 Airport Pickup Service – Welcome Pickups
👉 Rent a Car – DiscoverCars
🙏 Stay Safe While Travelling:
👉 Safetywing (for medical insurance)
👉 VisitorsCoverage (for trip insurance)
A Comprehensive Look at Cancun’s Crime Rates
In this travel warning, the US State Department highlights cities that tourists should never visit, should reconsider visiting, or should exercise extreme or increased caution when visiting.
Cancun belongs in the “Exercise Increased Caution” category. This means that the US State Department gives American tourists the green light to visit Cancun, but they need to keep in mind that it’s possible to experience crime and violence there.
The crime index in Cancun is 56.16% out of 120%.
These crime rates are similar to the crime rates of some of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. Miami, for example, has a crime rate of 53.14%. The city of love, Paris, has a crime rate of 57.23%, whereas beautiful London has 53.85%.
If you look at the statistics more closely, you can see that the overall level of crime in Cancun is high (61.39%). This is because crime has drastically increased in the past 3 years, and many people are using or dealing drugs. Problems with corruption and bribery are also high (73.28%).
Incidents like property damage, armed robbery, vandalism, car theft, and people getting mugged, assaulted, or insulted in Cancun have moderate rates.
The only incidents in Cancun that are unlikely to happen as they have low rates are physical attacks due to skin color, ethnic background, gender, or religion.
The beaches in Cancun are among the most stunning in the world, yet crime frequently takes away from their beauty. For example, on a Cancun beach in April 2023, four people were killed in a firefight between drug dealers.
Another incident on a beach occurred two years previously, in June 2021, when two men were killed and one woman was injured in a shooting attack. A couple of months later, in November 2021, two alleged gang members were killed on a scenic beach in Cancun, sending stunned tourists fleeing to nearby hotels for safety.
Even on the busy streets, be aware of your surroundings, as there have been incidents of kidnappings in Cancun. Mexican authorities found the bodies of eight people who were allegedly kidnapped and murdered. Five were discovered at an abandoned construction site, the other three in a rural location near Cancun.
When it comes to nightlife, you should also be careful where you spend your time because, in July 2021, a young gay man was assaulted, burned, and killed in Cancun after revealing that he had HIV at a party.
Moreover, be aware that drug-related violence can occur anywhere in Cancun, and authorities may be obliged to intervene. Such an incident occurred in August 2021 between police enforcement and criminals. One person was killed, two suffered injuries, and two others were taken into custody.
Other times, the authorities can’t make it on time to save the day. In June 2019, three gunmen killed seven individuals at a residence in Cancun, apparently in a drug-related quarrel between dealers. In six events in April 2018, fourteen people were killed, and at least five more were injured.
The Mexican government sent nearly 3000 soldiers to secure Cancun in 2022. In 2023, the force is even more powerful. The government deployed 4,724 soldiers to Cancun, with 3,800 soldiers more patrolling the country’s highways.
The Defense Minister, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, revealed that the troops are supported by helicopters, patrol cars, pickup trucks, speedboats, and all-terrain vehicles. In addition, the Armed Forces provide security at 14 airports and 42 bus stations throughout the state.
Passengers and aircraft crew members arriving in Cancun either by land or air may be tested for body temperature, and those who exhibit suspected signs of the virus may be further examined or quarantined.
Many hospitals, clinics, and laboratories in Cancun offer COVID-19 testing. PCR tests are generally priced between 950 and 4500 MXN ($53 and $250), whereas viral antigen tests are priced between 200 and 1000 MXN ($11 and $55).
To avoid the transmission of COVID-19, the American Red Cross has compiled a list of all the steps you should take in order to stay healthy and have a safe trip to Cancun. The main ones are maintaining social distancing and frequently washing your hands.
Three natural forces endanger Mexico: storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. While there is no significant risk of any of them in Cancun, it’s still a good idea to stay informed.
Cancun is located in a hurricane-prone area. The hurricane season starts from June 1st to November 30th. The last two hurricanes to hit Cancun were Gilbert on September 5, 1988, and Wilma on October 21, 2005.
In the case of a hurricane, Cancun’s local authorities have solid procedures and evacuation plans to safeguard residents and visitors. For example, all 175 hotels in the Caribbean resort are designed to survive a category 3 hurricane. Cancun also boasts 24 hurricane-proof shelters that can accommodate 17,000 tourists and hotel guests in the event of a hurricane.
Cancun and its surroundings, notably the Yucatan Peninsula, aren’t known for high seismic activity or earthquakes.
However, it is crucial to highlight that Mexico is in an active seismic zone, so when earthquakes hit, they may be felt in various places throughout the nation, including Cancun.
There are no volcanoes in Cancun. Cancun is located in the Yucatan Peninsula’s northeastern area, distinguished by its flat geography and absence of volcanic activity.
Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when someone inhales a harmful gas called carbon monoxide (CO). The poisonous gas may leak from a defective appliance, such as a water heater, stove, or furnace.
In November 2022, three American tourists died from carbon monoxide poisoning while vacationing in an Airbnb in Mexico City.
There have been no such incidents in Cancun. Nonetheless, when planning your Cancun trip, make sure your unit has at least one CO detector and pack a backup detector with you in case one of the detector’s batteries fails.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headache, vomiting, and shortness of breath.
Several beaches in Mexico are dangerous for tourists due to excessive levels of criminal activity, bacteria in the water, and dangerous wildlife. This also applies to Cancun’s beaches.
In April 2023, four people were killed in a firefight between drug dealers on a Cancun beach. According to the secretary of public security, all the deceased were Mexicans and allegedly involved in drug-related activities.
When it comes to dangerous wildlife, the most recent shark attack in Cancun occurred in March 2023, when a shark bit the leg of a ten-year-old kid. To avoid being attacked by a shark, always swim with other people and don’t stray too far from shore. Also, avoid swimming at night or sunset or if you are bleeding from an open wound or menstruating.
Ending on a lighter note, the Federal Commission for the Protection of Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) assures that the water on all Quintana Roo beaches is clean and safe to swim in, including the Cancun area.
Cancun has two seasons: the wet and the dry season.
Cancun’s wet season lasts from May until October. During this time, rain is more frequent, and thunderstorms are occasional. September and October are the rainiest months.
In May and June, temperatures are in the high 87-89°F (31-32°C), and from July to October, temperatures rise to 89-93°F (around 32-34°C).
Cancun’s dry season lasts from November to April. This time of year is distinguished by less rainfall and low humidity.
Cancun’s coolest months are December to February, with an average temperature of 68°F (20°C). The temperatures climb in March and April, reaching up to 86-89°F (about 30-32°C) or even higher.
The best time to visit Cancun depends on your personal traveling preferences.
The dry season is Cancun’s prime tourism season. The weather is warm, with little to no rain. December through February are especially popular since they overlap with the winter holidays.
The dry season is perfect for beach activities, snorkeling, water sports, and sightseeing. However, bear in mind that it brings more tourists, leading to bigger crowds and probably higher hotel and flight expenses.
Cancun’s wet season is hotter, with increased humidity, rainfall, and thunderstorms. However, it’s important to note that the wet season does not always imply persistent rain. Instead, showers are usually brief and are followed by sunny skies.
The wet season has various advantages, including lower hotel and airfare fares, fewer tourists, and lush, green landscapes. It may be a good opportunity to take advantage of special offers and discounts. It’s a fantastic time to visit indoor attractions, relax with spa treatments, or participate in cultural activities.
It’s safe to travel to Cancun alone or with your family. However, according to the Mexico Travel Advisory, you should be cautious in the country. Here are some pointers on how to get around Cancun safely
Essential tips for staying safe:
- ADO is a super reliable bus service (they accept only pesos)
- Cancun doesn’t have Uber, so the best taxi service is Whatsapp Taxi (You can find contact information on their official Facebook page)
- Book your stay in a reputable hostel, hotel, house share, or rental apartment
- Learn some basic Spanish
- Purchase a Mexican SIM card
- Be familiar with the emergency numbers: 911 for police, 066 for ambulances, and 080 for fire services
- Avoid using a public ATM. Instead, go to a bank or a supermarket
- Drink only bottled water
Tips for traveling alone:
- Always keep an eye on your drink at the bar
- Drink responsibly
- Put expensive belongings out of sight when you’re out and about
- If you’re offered illegal substances, just kindly refuse them
- Take note of your surroundings as well as who is nearby
- Never walk alone at night
- Establish connections with the resort’s personnel
- Notify people close to you, such as a friend or relative back home, about your travel arrangements and your plans for the day
- Dress appropriately, and don’t wear flashy jewelry or makeup that will cause unwanted attention, particularly if you are a female solo traveler.
Tips for traveling with your family:
- Rent a car rather than spend money on taxis
- Find a place to stay that offers a variety of activities for your family
- Pack a medical kit
- Drink responsibly so you can keep track of your children’s whereabouts
- Never leave your children alone, especially in the water
- Never split up while exploring
As with any vacation, take basic precautions, stay alert, follow our safety tips, and create unforgettable memories!
Cancun is a mesmerizing destination that combines natural beauty, rich culture, and exciting adventures.
This destination has plenty to offer, whether you visit it during the sunny, dry season or want to appreciate the ambiance of the rainy season.
Although there is crime and a cartel presence in Cancun, most tourists have a wonderful time, and we have read numerous articles and forum posts from people who have made long-lasting memories there.
While there are safety concerns when visiting Cancun, the local authorities and tourism sector work hard to assure visitors’ safety.
To protect yourself, always exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, use reliable transportation, and be wary of your personal belongings, among other things.