Disappointing photos show what vacationing in Cancún is really like

  • Cancún, Mexico, is a popular traveldestination.
  • 10.6 million people visited Cancún in the first quarter of 2018.
  • But some visitors say the vacation destination has some serious downsides, including pollution and crowds of rowdy college students.

From white sand beaches to clear blue water, there are plenty of photos out there that make Cancún, Mexico, look like the perfect vacation destination.

And Cancún is becoming increasingly popular among foreign travellers, especially those coming from the US. In fact, 10.6 million people visited the coastal city in the first quarter of 2018, a 12.6% increase from the previous year.

Although Cancún looks like it has all the makings for an idyllic beach vacation, some things about the city can be far from perfect, according to some travellers. From pollution to crowds of rowdy college students, they say Cancún also has some serious downsides.

Keep reading to see what it’s really like to travel to Cancún, Mexico.

When you think of Cancún, you probably think of stunning oceanfront resorts…

… and breathtaking blue water.

But like many vacation destinations, Cancún isn’t always as it seems.

Not all the beaches are picturesque…

… many of the shopping and dining options are far from authentic…

… and resorts are almost always packed.

The weather isn’t always perfect, either.

September through December are Cancún’s rainiest months.

Source: Hidden Cancun

Cancún’s beaches are also sometimes plagued with sargassum algae blossoms.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

The algae has a variety of sources, including hurricanes, climate change, and pollution.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

In addition to ruining your beach photos…

… the algae blossoms release a pungent, rotten egg-like smell.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Cancún is also home to mangrove swamps…

Source: The Yucatan Times

… which are being destroyed by nearby construction.

Source: The Yucatan Times

Aside from algae and damaged natural environments, many of Cancún’s beaches are also polluted.

Source: Matador Network

Locals blame rapidly increasing tourism for the damage that’s been done to Cancún’s beaches.

Source: Matador Network

Natural disasters have also taken their toll on Cancún’s beaches.

These austere concrete blocks were put on Cancún beaches to serve as protection from hurricanes in 2013.

The same hurricane season that affects Louisiana and Florida in the US can also wreak havoc on Cancún.

Source: USA Today

Hurricane season can result in anything from cloudy skies…

Source: USA Today

… to high winds…

… and choppy seas.

Source: USA Today

In addition to its beaches, Cancún is also known for its nightlife.

But it’s not always as glamorous as you might think.

Bars and clubs are sometimes packed with tourists.

And the wild nightlife doesn’t end when the sun comes up.

The beach town is often flooded with tourists looking to party, especially during spring break season.

Source: Journey Mexico

Cancún saw a whopping 2.8 million visitors in March 2018 alone…

Source: Journey Mexico

… that’s a 14.5% increase from March 2017.

Source: Journey Mexico

Much of Cancún’s spring break destination fame came from MTV’s Spring Break series, which visited the popular beach destination until 2005.

Source: Viacom

From copious amounts of alcohol on the beach…

… to jam-packed nightclubs…

… Cancún has long been a haven for spring breakers.

Source: USA Today

MTV’s annual beach celebration drew college students from all over the US…

Source: Viacom

… and was notorious for its wild beach parties.

Source: Viacom

After a 14 year break, MTV Spring Break will be returning to the Grand Oasis Cancún in March 2019.

Source: Viacom

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food and culture…

… Cancún may not be the spot for you.

The Forum by the Sea mall features many American-themed restaurants …

… including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

The same goes for La Isla Shopping Village…

… where there are popular chain restaurants like Starbucks and McDonald’s…

… and high-end designer stores.


And while the beaches can be beautiful…

… they’re often crowded all year-round.

The vacation destination saw 10.6 million visitors in just the first quarter of 2018.

Source: Travel Agent Central

And the destination is only becoming more popular.

Source: Travel Agent Central

2018 saw a 12.6% increase from the same period in 2017, which means more tourists to battle for a spot to lounge.

Source: Travel Agent Central

Cancún is particularly popular among American travellers.

Source: Travel Agent Central

In fact, 2.9 million of those visitors in 2018 came from the US.

Source: Travel Agent Central

So before you travel to Cancún, know that instead of this…

… your trip might look more this.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

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