June 24, 2020 - Meagan Palmer
Last Updated On: 9/10/2021
Many travelers had to call off their trips to Cancun, Mexico this year, unfortunately. As travel advisories from COVID-19 are lifted and travel begins to resume, you may not be so sure to jump on an airplane due to health safety concerns. Below is a comprehensive guide on the current travel safety tips and steps towards a safe vacation to Cancun, whenever that may be.
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Like many other locations around the world, Cancun has had its moments of negative press. Increased levels of gang violence and violent crime led to the state department raising travel advisories, especially in 2019. However, in 2020, new travel bans and global health advisories caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have prohibited travelers from crossing the border for fear of spreading the virus.
But… yes, Cancun is safe to visit. Tourism is a main source of revenue for Mexico (especially in the Quintana Roo state), so the government has implemented strong security measures to ensure travelers’ safety and continued tourism. In addition, Cancun boasts lower crime rates than the top populated cities in the United States. This should comfort those who opt for solo travel or even families with young children. The best way to ensure you’re out of harm’s way is to enjoy areas within the hotel zone and popular tourist areas, Cancun beaches, and Isla Mujeres –all guarded by heavy security.
Mexico, like the U.S, has a high rate of active COVID-19 cases and is seeing a steady uptick in sick citizens. However, it has had far fewer documented deaths than its northern counterpart. Similar to the States, social distancing is still taking place in the local life of Cancun and locals are staying home, unless they are an essential worker. Locals are also wearing masks outside their homes and refraining from large gatherings. It should be noted that the U.S. State Department has currently issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for Mexico, which means “reconsider travel”. This was escalated due to rising COVID-19 cases.
If you plan on traveling to Cancun in the coming months, purchasing travel insurance can give you much-needed peace of mind. Look for coverages like Cancel for Any Reason in case the hopeful reopening plans fall short, travel warnings are still in place, or you aren’t able to travel. This specific coverage would allow you to cancel your trip for any reason at all (literally any reason at all!) and receive 75% of your expenses back, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.
Having other benefits such as emergency medical expense and change fee coverage can be advantageous when traveling. Many don’t realize that your major medical health provider won’t offer coverage in other countries, not even Mexico. If you were to contract COVID-19 (or any other illness or injury for that matter) while on your trip, your travel insurance plan could reimburse you for the hospital stay and medical care you receive. Likewise, if you needed to change your flights for a more safe time to visit, a comprehensive policy could cover the change fees to do so.
Yes, technically Americans can travel to Mexico right now. At this time, if your travel isn’t essential, the U.S. State Department advises against traveling to Mexico. The non-essential travel ban was extended to September 21st by the Mexican government. However, this only applies if you are traveling by land and crossing the Mexican-United States border.
As of August 12, the state of Quintana Roo (which includes Cancun), is considered a “yellow” region on the “stoplight system”. This system was created by the Mexican government to code phases of re-introducing non-essential activities. The “yellow” stoplight means that places like hotels, restaurants, and gyms are open at 60% capacity. Locations like markets will be operating at 75% and malls, theaters, and museums will operate at a reduced capacity due to the spread of the virus.
Health Questionnaire: Upon arrival, you’ll likely be expected to complete a COVID-19 health questionnaire relaying any possible symptoms in the past 30 days.
Thermal Check: All travelers arriving to Cancun will be asked for their temperature to be taken.
No Mandatory Quarantine: Cancun has not required a quarantine upon arrival.
Good news! Things like hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions are already open. Here’s a better list of other activities and businesses that are open. For now, they are only open at 25-50% occupancy due to social distancing regulations, but as reopening stages are successful, this number will be increased. The state of Quintana Roo has opted to implement the Mexican Caribbean Clean & Safe Check Certification program for all tourist-affiliated businesses to ensure health and safety guidelines are being met. Currently, beaches are open to tourists. If you have an upcoming Cancun trip, check with resort or hotel staff to see if you’ll be able to enjoy the beach safely while away on vacation.
Prior to 2010, this could be the case. However, since then, it has been required that all those entering Mexico from the U.S. must present a valid passport, not just a passport card –this is important, otherwise, you might not be able to officially enter the country. For less hassle, also double check prior to departure that you have one blank passport page per stamp when traveling to Cancun, Mexico.
Below you’ll find specific tips on how to get to Cancun, Mexico safely, amongst the current pandemic. We’ve also included some enjoyable activities to try to lighten the mood!
Travelers can look forward to more flights traveling to Cancun from the U.S. in the coming weeks if all goes according to plan. Here’s a full Cancun airline directory for reference.
Commuter rail travel has been restricted by the land travel ban between Mexico and the U.S until September 21st.
Current restrictions include only essential travel when traveling to Mexico from the U.S. by car. If you fall into this category, be sure to follow the newest regulations such as wearing a face mask, permitting a temperature check, and only allowing two people per vehicle.
Note that if driving at least 12 miles beyond the border of Mexico, a temporary import permit is mandatory if your car is registered in the U.S. Save some time going through border control by having the necessary requirements such as your passport or passport card, an entry permit, and valid proof of vehicle registration.
When considering renting a car in Mexico, you’ll want to be wary of the renting requirements and what type of rental coverage you’ll need. Similar to the U.S., a renter must be at least 25 years old, have a valid credit card, and have had your license for at least two years.
In regards to coverage though, it can help to at least purchase civil liability Mexican car protection so you aren’t stuck in Mexico needing to pay the cost of accident damage. If your comprehensive travel insurance policy had rental collision damage coverage, then you could additionally file a claim for any of the expenses you incurred due to the accident.
If you’re not the most experienced driver or your anxiety is easily spiked when on the road, you may opt-out of driving in Mexico altogether. Drivers from here can tend to be laid-back in their approach on the road, which could seem more intense than U.S. drivers. Before starting off your adventure, be sure to brush up on some important differences you might see when driving in Mexico to avoid any mishaps.
As mentioned before, most hotels in Mexico (including Cancun!) are opening to travelers at 50% capacity. To ease your worries about safety and sanitation efforts, you can rest assured that each hotel is required to get “Health First” certified prior to reopening. We’ve found the hotels and resorts that have been certified and are currently open for tourists. If staying at a hotel or resort still doesn’t clear your apprehension, try booking a vacation villa in the Quintana Roo area. Some of the perks include added privacy and a higher ability to maintain cleanliness. Plus, you can insure your vacation rental under your travel insurance policy in case of cancellations, stolen items, and medical emergencies.
As the region of Cancun has stabilized its COVID-19 cases, places like movie theaters, malls, and salons are open at 30-50% capacity –great news for locals. Travelers, on the other hand, will be excited to hear that museums, marinas, restaurants, and transport companies have been given the go-ahead to open at 60% as well. Some specific activities like clubs, bars, and social events are still banned until further safety progression.
Want all-around fun for everyone on your trip? Spending your days at Xcaret by Mexico is sure to create lasting memories due to its parks of all kinds (water, theme, amusement, eco-archaeological, and more!). If you fall in love with Xcaret and don’t want to leave, just book a room at Hotel Xcaret. If you book the All Fun Inclusive option, you’ll get access to various parks plus transportation!
Another option for those adventure and water sports lovers is Garragon Natural Reef Park. Enjoy snorkeling, zip-lining, sport fishing and even sailing here. Don’t feel left out if you like to soak in the sun –they have hammocks, lush greenery, and stunning ocean-facing views for you to relish in as you relax.
If you already have your hotel plans in place, but want to see the sights, booking a private tour from Cancun Elite could be the answer. This company is a gold mine for travelers who love to learn the history of a destination or those who prefer a bit more adventure. For example, they have day tours to the Riviera Maya region, including Tulum and other dolphin experiences. However, if you plan on doing more tours outside of Cancun, it might be worth it to find a vacation rental in one of the Riviera Maya cities for more flexibility to explore and be a tourist.
Cancun is a destination that offers a wide variety of kid-friendly activities and tours. If you have some safety concerns though, just plan to stick to the area referred to as the hotel zone and opt for hiring a guide if you venture out anywhere else. The hotel zone includes the areas of hotels and resorts along the arch of white sand beaches, away from downtown Cancun.
Based on the attractions and amenities available, Cancun is a great place for families to vacation. Those who are searching for new sights, experiences, and even adventure will find a treasure trove of opportunities to make memories here.
Yonder hopes this guide helps you make a more informed decision about planning your next adventure. We realize there are various risks to taking a trip domestically let alone an international one. That’s why we included information about travel insurance since it can save you thousands if you nix your trip or if something else unexpected comes up. Once you make your first vacation payment or if you’re even curious about how much a policy costs, you can run an instant quote on our website to get a feel for the coverage and the prices.