Gay Cancun – Your Complete LGBTQ+ Travel Guide
A day trip to Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, is hands down the highlight of any trip to the Yucatan peninsula. Chichén Itzá means mouth of the water hole or cenote of the Itzá tribe. The main temple in this once thriving city is the star attraction. Built for prayer and worship, it is also the best representation of the Mayan calendar. With 91 steps on each of the four sides plus the very top, the number of steps adds up to the 365 days in the year. Incredibly, twice a year on the equinox of March 21, the time to plant, and September 22, the time to harvest, the shadow of the serpent or snake can be seen on the temple. The snake was important to the Mayans as it represents life and fertility. Hire a car, catch the luxury ADO bus, or organize an awesome tour for this DO NOT MISS experience!
Overview – Cancun is known worldwide for its spectacular white sandy beaches, beautiful turquoise waters, and luxury, all-inclusive hotels. The city offers visitors so many unique experiences, all provided with warm, Mexican hospitality. Cancun also hosts Club Atlantis Cancun annually at Club Med in late April/early May. It’s a hugely popular time to visit Cancun.
The name Cancún is derived from the Mayan name kàan kun which translates as “snakes nest.” Snake iconography was everywhere on the island of Cancún, known originally to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc. In addition to the derivation of it’s name, little known facts about the Cancun-Riviera Maya region include that it’s home to the second busiest airport in Mexico, it has the second largest barrier reef in the world and the longest known underwater cave system in the world. With over 6,000 cenotes, or natural sinkholes on the Yucatan peninsula alone, you will never run out of places to explore from a base in Cancun!
Top 10 Things To Do in Cancun
Relax in paradise -With beachfront pools, world class spas, and mouth-watering food and drink, the all-inclusive luxury resorts in Cancun offer everything you need to unwind in style.
Hit the beach -Arrive early at Playa Delfines to grab a spot under one of the shaded palapas at this pristine blue flag beach. It's also the unofficial gay beach in Cancun.
Explore downtown Cancun -Stroll past the local food, crafts and jewelry vendors in Parque de las Palapas then check out the local gay scene at Laser Hot Bar and 11:11 for drag, sexy gogos, and dancing.
Ferry over to Isla Mujeres -For some of the most stunning water you will ever see and one of the best beaches in Mexico (Playa Norte), don't miss a luxury catamaran excursion to Isla Mujeres just off the coast of Cancun.
See Cirque du Soleil's Joyà -Sip Champagne while enjoying dinner and a spectacular performance at Cirque du Soleil's first culinary and show experience and their first residency in Mexico! Click here for tickets.
Experience Coco Bongo -Enjoy the spectacle of one of the most famous nightclubs in Latin America. With a night at Coco Bongo, you'll experience flying acrobats, live music, and a wild party atmosphere.
Dance the night away -With sexy dancers, international DJs, sparklers, and more, dance the night away at The Back Door, Cancun's newest and only LGBTQ+ club in the Hotel Zone.
Swim with whale sharks -Take a boat trip from Cancun to snorkel with whale sharks from May to September. After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, savor a delicious lunch with drinks on the boat.
Day trip to Tulum -On this guided tour from Cancun, you combine the fascinating Mayan history of the Tulum Ruins (a must!) with a cenote visit AND a snorkel with magnificent sea turtles in Akumal Bay!
Visit Chichén Itzá -It's worth repeating from above, the highlight of any trip to the Riviera Maya is Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. We were in complete awe!
When to go – The weather is near perfect from December to April with day time temps in the 80’s and lower humidity. This is high season along with super high season around New Year and Easter which should be booked many months in advance! We prefer shoulder or even low season for fewer crowds even if there are periodic rain showers. Rainy season lasts from May through October. Also, the highest risk of hurricanes in the Cancun-Riviera Maya region are from September to October. On our honeymoon at the Rosewood Mayakoba in October of 2020, we experienced a Category 2 hurricane in an overwater bungalow. It was quite a memorable experience. The weather was sunny until 4pm before the hurricane hit that night and then sunny again by the following afternoon!
Getting here – The island of Cancun (Hotel Zone) and downtown Cancun (ADO Bus Station) are both located about 11 miles (18kms) from Cancun International Airport (airport code: CUN). On arrival, transit options include renting a car, organizing an authorized taxi, or taking the ADO bus. You can also pre-book the car service we use to avoid the stress of the busy arrivals area.
Thankfully, Uber now operates in Cancun and is currently available for use from downtown, the Hotel Zone, and to the airport, however, there is no service from the airport. Rumor has it this may change from December 2023, however, we recommend you pre-book a car service as the taxi union is quite hostile towards Uber. Once outside the airport, you can more discretely use Uber. While we find Cancun very safe for tourists, we have local friends who were attacked by taxistas when attempting to use Uber in downtown Cancun. Please exercise caution when using Uber or taxis. Also, if you choose to use a taxi, always negotiate your fare BEFORE getting in the car. For more helpful travel tips like this, watch our 12 Tips to Avoid Scams & Travel Safely in Mexico.
Where to stay – In terms of the best hotels in Cancun, the very LGBTQ+ friendly and gay popular Secrets The Vine Cancun is our top pick.
We can’t imagine a more luxurious beachfront, ADULTS-ONLY, all-inclusive first experience than Secrets The Vine Cancun. The resort is super gay-friendly, and we met numerous other LGBTQ+ couples during our stay.
In terms of facilities, there are four pools, two pool bars, five additional bars inside, seven restaurants, and one coffee and pastries counter. There is also a gorgeous luxury spa and gym with one of the best views we have ever seen! If you dream of a relaxing day of self care or want to treat that special someone to a couples massage, Secrets has you covered.
In addition, everything from food and drinks, including alcohol and specialty coffee, is included with the price of your stay. The welcome bubbly is also a nice touch. We also love that Secrets allows you to use the all-inclusive perks both before checkin and after checkout! You’re welcome to leave your bags at the luggage desk and enjoy the resort, including food and drink, for as long as you wish!
For special occasions, the housekeeping team will decorate your room door for any birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries. Upon entry, the rooms are ultra modern and clean. Our room has a king size bed, desk, table for two, and a lounge chair, but the best part about the room is the breathtaking view from the balcony.
We booked our stay using Hyatt points, our favorite use of our Ultimate Rewards earned with our Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit card. For our two nights, we used 42,000 points which saved us over $1,080 dollars, netting us a benefit of about 2.5 cents per point. A great use of points if you ask us!
Where to eat and drink – To start your day on the right foot, Rooster Cafe in Downtown Cancun is the best breakfast spot. Definitely try the fruit salad with yogurt, granola and honey. It’s certainly a menu highlight, as are the banana pancakes!
If you come to Cancun, there is a high likelihood you will be staying at an all-inclusive resort. As such, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research the food and drink quality with google reviews. From our experience at Secrets The Vine, we were pleasantly surprised with the seven restaurants and bars offered to guests plus a specialty coffee and pastries counter. Above, we highlight our dining experiences, and would gladly return to each venue and Secrets The Vine again and again. It was that good.
Where to find gay nightlife – Cancun can be divided into two main areas, the Hotel Zone on the island of Cancun and downtown Cancun which is inland. First, we’ll explore the local gay scene in the downtown area before we take you to the international nightlife and entertainment options in the Hotel Zone and beyond.
For our first gay bar in Cancun, we head to Laser Hot Bar Beer & Queer and pay the 100 pesos cover for entry which is a little more than $5 dollars. We take our seats by the stage and are excited to watch some local drag. Mexican drag is always entertaining. Almost immediately, Andy gets pulled on stage and takes some shots. Thankfully, our host is warm and funny and really gets to know the audience.
For our first gay club in Cancun, we walk a couple of blocks over to Once Once or eleven eleven. We arrive well after 1am, so cover is the most expensive at 250 pesos which is about $14 dollars. We thought this was a late night place, but clearly they are trying to make it an earlier venue with the pricing scheme, so it’s already going strong!
We love the setup with two main rooms with bars in each. The focal point of the main room is the stage which alternates between drag performances and sexy gogo dancers which we always enjoy. The other room seems mainly for dancing, and there’s a see through partition in case you’re having FOMO.
While our local gay friends in Cancun prefer Laser over Once, we like both venues and you can easily enjoy them both on a night out given their close proximity.
After the sun goes down and dinner and drinks at our amazing all-inclusive on night two, where should we go tonight? Coco Bongo is a well known nightlife and entertainment experience that attracts many LGBTQ+ including performers. We also love the upscale Cirque du Soleil Joyà show at Vidanta in between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Whatever you decide for you evening entertainment, your next stop should be The Back Door, the only LGBTQ+ club in the Hotel Zone.
In terms of cost, you definitely get good entertainment value with your cover of $25 US dollars or 200 Mexican pesos if you’re local. And we believe it comes with your first drink, but don’t hold us to that. Also, Victoria, our preferred domestic beer, costs 110 pesos or about $6 dollars for reference.
On our visit, we have not only our super cute server but manager Juan and one of the owners stop by to make sure we’re having a good time. A few of the gorgeous dancers also come over to say hi, take pictures, and ask us where we’re from. We feel very welcome. Don’t hesitate to venture out from your hotel for this rather upscale LGBTQ+ experience in the Hotel Zone.
Where to find gay beachgoers – Located south of the Hotel Zone, Playa Delfines or Dolphins Beach is the unofficial gay beach in Cancun. While it may not be worth a special trip if you are staying at a luxury, all-inclusive resort, Playa Delfines is also one of Cancun’s pristine blue flag beaches. Blue flags are awarded to beaches for maintaining the highest standards of water quality, safety, and public environmental education.
Where to find local food, crafts and jewelry – There are a number of local vendors in the Parque de las Palapas and surrounding streets in downtown Cancun. One popular dessert sold in parks and squares all over the Yucatan peninsula is a marquesita. It’s like a crunchy crepe filled with cheese and your choice of nutella, caramel, jam, or chocolate.
Planning a trip to gay Mexico? Then don’t miss this video as we answer your most frequently asked questions and give you 12 tips to avoid scams and travel safely in Mexico!
Banking – There are national and international bank ATMs available at Cancun International Airport. We recommend getting Mexican Pesos (MXN) here on arrival. For reference, $1 US Dollar (USD) is worth just under 20 pesos (it’s recently been fluctuating between 17-20 as of the publication date of this article).
When withdrawing money from ATMs in Mexico (and now throughout the world), one thing to note (which we learned the hard way) is knowing to always decline the conversion offered by ATM to save. If you accept the conversion, you are agreeing to an additional 5-12% fee on top of the ATM use charge. That’s INSANE! Also, we initially thought declining the conversion would cancel the transaction, BUT it does not. It simply saves you the extra markup. For extra savings, look into the Schwab Checking Account that reimburses all foreign ATM fees. We’ve saved thousands in ATM fees over the years with this account!
To learn how to get the most pesos for your dollars, watch our 7 Tips to Get the Most Pesos for Your Dollars in Mexico. We’ll also cover some common scams and money mistakes to avoid, so we can save you even more money.
Gay Shopping – A few doors down from the gay bars and clubs in downtown Cancun, we find a cute gay boutique called Aire. They have a super friendly team here to help you find those perfect speedos!
Pharmacies – Yza Farmacias is a pharmacy chain with more than 1,500 branches in Mexico, located in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Mexico City, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Veracruz and Yucatán. They offer name brand and generic medications, vitamins, hygiene and personal care products, among others. In addition, they have 24-hour service, a doctor’s office, car service, and home service in many branches. Yza Farmacias was recommended by our emergency room doctor (see below), and we have never used anyone else in our travels around Mexico.
Travel Insurance – Don’t forget to add global travel medical insurance that covers you while traveling outside of your home country. We recommend Safety Wing. You can buy it even if you are already abroad. Most health coverage in the U.S. for example does not cover you in Mexico, thus it’s extremely important to protect yourself from out of pocket costs due to a medical emergency. We learned this the hard way which you can watch here. To learn more about Safety Wing, click here.
Travel Credit Card – For the best travel credit card, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve. We use it to book free stays with reward points, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary car rental insurance, lounge access through Priority Pass, and to avoid foreign transaction fees just to name a few of this card’s incredible perks. To learn more, click here. Even though there is a hefty $550 annual fee, you get a credit of $300 for travel (i.e. airfare, uber, etc). For the remaining $250, the card easily pays for itself with free food and drinks at the complimentary airport lounges we frequent, including multiple lounges in Cancun’s domestic and international terminals. If connecting through Mexico City, the Grand Lounge Elite is our favorite lounge so far in Mexico. There’s even a tiny lounge available at Huatulco airport, the gateway to Zipolite. Also, if you don’t have global entry yet, another card benefit covers that application fee! Trai has had the card since 2017, and it’s his only credit card.
Travel Experiences – Discover authentic, unforgettable experiences and explore the world with Get Your Guide. They offer top-rated tours and activities in Cancun. We have used Get Your Guide for numerous adventures around the world. They also offer convenient, safe and reliable car service that you can pre-book from Cancun International Airport.
Shop Our Travel Essentials – To keep all of your electronics charged around the world, we recommend this universal international travel power adapter. It’s also the one airline crew receive! For more of our favorite travel essentials, check out our Amazon Storefront.
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Hi! We're Two Gay Expats
Hola amigos and welcome to our gay travel blog! We are Andy and Trai, a gay couple traveling the world with PRIDE 🌈 …and our rescue dog, Pattie!
After meeting in San Francisco in 2018 and later moving to Chicago, we decided to quit our jobs in 2021, sell everything, and become Two Gay Expats!
If you’d like to follow our adventures, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and add us on social media using the links below. We’d also love to hear from you and meet up if we’re in your city!
❤️ Andy + Trai