Cancun As I See It: An American Testimonial

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cancun | cancun mexico

Delfines Beach, Cancun | Photo: Laura Winfree

I’ve never been a very adventurous girl, which is why my friends and family were shocked when I announced that I wanted to move to Cancun, Mexico back in 2005, at the tender age of 19.

Since I moved to Cancun 7 years ago, I’ve seen its reputation in international media transform from tropical paradise to drug-ridden death trap. How can this be, when Cancun hasn’t changed at all?

The American and Canadian media have a field day with Mexico year after year. Mexico-bashing seems to be all the rage up north, especially close to Spring Break season, and I’m not sure if this negativity is to sell more stories or keep tourism dollars north of the border. The Mexico portrayed in the news is certainly not the Mexico I see every single day.

Akumal | akumal beach

Akumal Bay | Photo: Laura Winfree

During my years living in Cancun, I have never seen drugs, violence, dead bodies, shootouts, kidnappings, or any of the other horrors the media would have you believe are common occurrences. I take taxis and city buses several times a day, I walk around the city by myself at night, I feel comfortable going up to strangers to ask for directions and I go out to nightclubs on a regular basis. I take the same basic precautions one would take in any city, and I’ve never once felt unsafe.

Nearly every weekend, my husband, my friends and I have a blast at local bars and clubs, or we explore the region with trips to close-by destinations like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Holbox and Akumal.

It truly angers me to read reports on violence in Mexico. Yes, bad things happen here, just like in any other country, but is it fair to base a country’s reputation on its worst headlines? Popular US tourist destinations like Orlando and New Orleans have considerably higher homicide rates than Mexico’s top tourist destinations as evidenced in this Lonely Planet article, yet would-be travelers still continue to question the safety of a vacation in Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and other amazing cities.

Holbox

Casa de las Tortugas Hotel, Holbox | Photo: Laura Winfree

At 26, my life really is like a vacation, living in a safe city and visiting tropical beaches whenever I like. I wear flip-flops all the time, and the most stressful part of my day is deciding whether to leave the windows open or turn on the air conditioning.

About Laura

Laura Winfree is an American blogger and travel copywriter who has been living in Cancun, Mexico since 2005. You can read more about her life and adventures south of the border at Gringation’s Blog

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38 Comments

  1. Pingback: Akumal Weekend: Akumal Bay « Gringation Cancun

  2. Pingback: Akumal Weekend: Akumal Bay « Gringation Cancun

  3. I go to Cancun every year and I can't believe what the media is making this into. Cancun is great and the Mexicans are extremely friendly and happy to have you. They go out of there way to make you happy. If you go out of the Resort area, you are on your own as you would be in any area. I love Cancun!!!

  4. I go to Cancun every year and I can't believe what the media is making this into. Cancun is great and the Mexicans are extremely friendly and happy to have you. They go out of there way to make you happy. If you go out of the Resort area, you are on your own as you would be in any area. I love Cancun!!!

  5. crazyaboutpool on

    The first time I went to Cancun my boss said I was crazy. He said " Don't you watch the news, they're killing people in the streets there." I responded with this, " We live in whats called America's home town, Mark Twain's boyhood home town. A quiet and peaceful small town in middle America, and yet we had a guy killed in broad daylight on the sidewalk in town. I have checked the news in Cancun and I haven't heard of any such killing in the hotel zone. I think I am safer in Cancun that in my own home town!"
    People are sheep for the most part and are willing to eat whatever they are fed. I have never felt unsafe in Cancun and I have always enjoyed my visits there.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I think there are unsafe zones in most parts of the world, and just as you mention, while there are areas in Cancun I as a local wouldn't venture into (mainly the outskirts of town, hundreds of miles away from the hotel zone) the Hotel Zone stands as a 100% safe area for tourists, with no violence incidents reported so far.

      Best regards from Cancun, I hope you come back soon! 🙂

  6. crazyaboutpool on

    The first time I went to Cancun my boss said I was crazy. He said " Don't you watch the news, they're killing people in the streets there." I responded with this, " We live in whats called America's home town, Mark Twain's boyhood home town. A quiet and peaceful small town in middle America, and yet we had a guy killed in broad daylight on the sidewalk in town. I have checked the news in Cancun and I haven't heard of any such killing in the hotel zone. I think I am safer in Cancun that in my own home town!"
    People are sheep for the most part and are willing to eat whatever they are fed. I have never felt unsafe in Cancun and I have always enjoyed my visits there.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I think there are unsafe zones in most parts of the world, and just as you mention, while there are areas in Cancun I as a local wouldn't venture into (mainly the outskirts of town, hundreds of miles away from the hotel zone) the Hotel Zone stands as a 100% safe area for tourists, with no violence incidents reported so far.

      Best regards from Cancun, I hope you come back soon! 🙂

  7. I travel to Cancun every year and find it to be safe and secure. Things can happen anywhere but in a place as beautiful as Cancun Mexico, I feel safe and confortable with my surrounding
    areas. People in Cancun are respectful and go out of there way to help you with any questions you might have. I have traveled many places but have never felt so welcomed as I feel in Cancun. I made a friend for life when I met a taxi driver. I have met his family and children and now have someone to visit when I travel to Cancun."

    • Thanks, G! I agree 100%, bad things can happen anywhere and I always advise to use common sense when travelling to any place in the world.

      I'm really glad to read about the new friend you found in the taxi driver. 🙂

      Best regards from Cancun!

  8. I travel to Cancun every year and find it to be safe and secure. Things can happen anywhere but in a place as beautiful as Cancun Mexico, I feel safe and confortable with my surrounding
    areas. People in Cancun are respectful and go out of there way to help you with any questions you might have. I have traveled many places but have never felt so welcomed as I feel in Cancun. I made a friend for life when I met a taxi driver. I have met his family and children and now have someone to visit when I travel to Cancun."

    • Thanks, G! I agree 100%, bad things can happen anywhere and I always advise to use common sense when travelling to any place in the world.

      I'm really glad to read about the new friend you found in the taxi driver. 🙂

      Best regards from Cancun!

  9. My wife and i and sometimes our entire family have gone to Cancun or Play del Carmen at least 1 to 2 times a year for the last 15 years. We have never, ever felt even remotely close to feeling unsafe at any time on the resort grounds or in town. I've been more wary/concerned of my surroundings at a random sports bar here in Dallas than I ever have in Cancun. My wife, son, mother-in-law, and I are leaving to go back to Playa del Carmen in a couple of weeks, and we can't wait. I try to tell people all the time who've never travelled out of the country: you can't find paradise more affordably and at such short distance away as you can in Cancun.

  10. My wife and i and sometimes our entire family have gone to Cancun or Play del Carmen at least 1 to 2 times a year for the last 15 years. We have never, ever felt even remotely close to feeling unsafe at any time on the resort grounds or in town. I've been more wary/concerned of my surroundings at a random sports bar here in Dallas than I ever have in Cancun. My wife, son, mother-in-law, and I are leaving to go back to Playa del Carmen in a couple of weeks, and we can't wait. I try to tell people all the time who've never travelled out of the country: you can't find paradise more affordably and at such short distance away as you can in Cancun.

  11. I wish you could convice my fiance of that… we had a wedding planned there and now he wants to back out because a few people have told him about the violance and he's conviced he and his kids will be kidnapped and killed. I am devistated. I had plans at a resort I went too less than two years ago, and one person ruined it. Thank you people, I've been and it's beautiful… wonderful people and amazing things to see. I will go again within the next year, just won't be getting married there.

  12. I wish you could convice my fiance of that… we had a wedding planned there and now he wants to back out because a few people have told him about the violance and he's conviced he and his kids will be kidnapped and killed. I am devistated. I had plans at a resort I went too less than two years ago, and one person ruined it. Thank you people, I've been and it's beautiful… wonderful people and amazing things to see. I will go again within the next year, just won't be getting married there.

  13. Pingback: Mexico Travel Safety Still Possible | Is Cancun safe? - Info about safety in Cancun, Mexico

  14. Pingback: Mexico Travel Safety Still Possible | Is Cancun safe? - Info about safety in Cancun, Mexico

  15. I go to Cancun every year also and have "never" felt any presence of drugs or violence. I find the Mexicans lovely people and have made friends there also. Whenever I arrive at the hotel I am graciously welcomed.

  16. I go to Cancun every year also and have "never" felt any presence of drugs or violence. I find the Mexicans lovely people and have made friends there also. Whenever I arrive at the hotel I am graciously welcomed.

  17. My husband & I try to go to the Riviera Maya atleast once a year, sometimes twice. We have taken our kids (18 & 12) a few times also. We just went this past January (with my sister & her bf) & I am about to plan our next trip for Spring 2013- we are doing 10 days. Family/friends keep asking if I have seen the news lately and I should re-think going- that American tourists are being targeted. We have never felt unsafe there and will continue to go every year. The resorts are beautiful, the people are nice. I can't wait to go back!

  18. My husband & I try to go to the Riviera Maya atleast once a year, sometimes twice. We have taken our kids (18 & 12) a few times also. We just went this past January (with my sister & her bf) & I am about to plan our next trip for Spring 2013- we are doing 10 days. Family/friends keep asking if I have seen the news lately and I should re-think going- that American tourists are being targeted. We have never felt unsafe there and will continue to go every year. The resorts are beautiful, the people are nice. I can't wait to go back!

  19. Pingback: Comment on Cancun As I See It: An American Testimonial by Tammy | Mexico Discovery

  20. Pingback: Comment on Cancun As I See It: An American Testimonial by Tammy | Mexico Discovery

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  23. My husband and I were there for the first time this past April. It was AMAZING. We took the bus everywhere, the drivers are awesome. All the workers at the resort treated us like royalty, they catered to our every need with a smile. A lot of people told me I was crazy for going to Mexico – well our plane was packed and at the affordable price of the all inclusive resorts – we will definitely be back- hopefully sooner than later. I love Cancun.

    Cleveland, Ohio

  24. My husband and I were there for the first time this past April. It was AMAZING. We took the bus everywhere, the drivers are awesome. All the workers at the resort treated us like royalty, they catered to our every need with a smile. A lot of people told me I was crazy for going to Mexico – well our plane was packed and at the affordable price of the all inclusive resorts – we will definitely be back- hopefully sooner than later. I love Cancun.

    Cleveland, Ohio

  25. I've lived in New York since 1991. I'm now living in Cancun, Mexico with my wife and I've been living here for the past year. I feel safer here than ANY major cities I've EVER visited in the U.S., including New York City, Miami, Chicago. All those stupid "yahoo MEXICO headlines" is to keep the tourism dollars north of the border. The U.S. is suffering financially right now and the LAST thing they want is for people to be spending money south of the border! Don't listen to these stupid news. It's not the ENTIRE country of Mexico that's affected.

    I live 15 minutes from the Hotel Zone in Cancun and we NEVER hear ANYTHING stupid about crime towards Americans. As a matter fact, I've seen more tourists now than in the past year. They'll all having a blast. However, just because Cancun is rather safe doesn't mean you shouldn't use "COMMON SENSE"! I mean you can walk around, flashing $1,000 dollars cash outside ANY cities in the U.S. and they'll rob you before you can spend that money! So use common sense of course. And of course, Cancun is a big city, so not ALL of the parts of Cancun are going to be very safe..just like ANY major tourist city in the world. But the tourist area is more safe than ever and the not-so-good parts are at least 30 minutes away from the Tourist Zone.

    If you're worried about Cancun being safe because of what you see on the headlines…take it from someone who lives here now…Cancun is COOL and POPPING! Thanks Laura for writing this article!

  26. I've lived in New York since 1991. I'm now living in Cancun, Mexico with my wife and I've been living here for the past year. I feel safer here than ANY major cities I've EVER visited in the U.S., including New York City, Miami, Chicago. All those stupid "yahoo MEXICO headlines" is to keep the tourism dollars north of the border. The U.S. is suffering financially right now and the LAST thing they want is for people to be spending money south of the border! Don't listen to these stupid news. It's not the ENTIRE country of Mexico that's affected.

    I live 15 minutes from the Hotel Zone in Cancun and we NEVER hear ANYTHING stupid about crime towards Americans. As a matter fact, I've seen more tourists now than in the past year. They'll all having a blast. However, just because Cancun is rather safe doesn't mean you shouldn't use "COMMON SENSE"! I mean you can walk around, flashing $1,000 dollars cash outside ANY cities in the U.S. and they'll rob you before you can spend that money! So use common sense of course. And of course, Cancun is a big city, so not ALL of the parts of Cancun are going to be very safe..just like ANY major tourist city in the world. But the tourist area is more safe than ever and the not-so-good parts are at least 30 minutes away from the Tourist Zone.

    If you're worried about Cancun being safe because of what you see on the headlines…take it from someone who lives here now…Cancun is COOL and POPPING! Thanks Laura for writing this article!

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