How to Save Money on Your Trip to Cozumel, Cancun, and other Yucatan Destinations
While Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, and other Yucatan destinations often have a reputation of being expensive, they don’t have to drain your bank account if you know where to look. In fact, this region can be very affordable and accessible to everyone on a tight budget. In order to make the most of your time and money in the area, we’ve assembled some of the best tips and advice for saving money in the Yucatan for your next vacation.
Cheap and Free Activities
Looking for something to do between your scuba diving trips? Here are some great activities that are either free or very affordable.
The Beaches, being one of the main draws to the area, are free and open to the public. Furthermore, many resorts offer a day pass for a small fee to use their pool and bar, so you can live the luxurious lifestyle for a day while sleeping in a less expensive hotel (more on that below).
In Cancun, the Maya Museum costs only $5 to get in. Here you can find all sorts of fascinating historical pieces and learn about the ancient culture that existed before Europeans arrived. If you’re planning to visit some of the ruins in the area, this museum makes a great introduction before you go.
The Park of the Palapas in Cancun is a nice place to relax and taste some cheap local cuisine. Sit among the locals in this outdoor park as the kids play while you enjoy a relaxing and tasty lunch from the variety of street food vendors.
A variety of smaller Mayan Ruins can be found in Cancun. The large complexes such as Chichen Itza can be expensive, but these smaller ruins are very affordable. Many are free, and the ones that charge admission are usually no more than $5. For example, check out the ruins of El Rey and its plethora of iguanas, or the Temple of the Scorpion. Some of the ruins offer amazing views over the surrounding land and sea, too.
Mercado 28 is the main market in Cancun where visitors can stroll along the stalls and view local clothing, art, jewelry, and other souvenirs. The amount you spend is totally up to you, and even if you don’t purchase anything, you will be entertained.
Check out the Cozumel Island Museum, which covers the history, culture, and natural beauty of the area and makes for a very entertaining few hours. Admission is about $4.
Also, if you’re in Cozumel, visit the Ruins of San Gervasio which has an admission of about $5. Here you can take in the colonial history from the first European settlers, as these ruins date from the 15th century.
Alternative Cruise Ship Excursions
As you probably know, many cruise ships sail into Cozumel and Cancun, as well as other ports in the Yucatan. If you’re planning to take a cruise to this region, did you know that you don’t have to book those expensive excursions directly through the cruise lines? In fact, a number of affordable, low-cost tour companies run alternative shore excursions in Cozumel and Cancun directly from the ports. You can book the tours online, and representatives from the tour companies will meet you at the port. They will also return you to the port before the ship departs, guaranteed! Then, you can enjoy the amazing sights and activates at your destination, all while paying significantly less than if you booked it through the ship. Plenty of excursion options are available such as scuba diving, trips to the ruins or beaches, or adventure activities such as riding an ATV or ziplining.
The beaches of the Yucatan are lined with high-end, expensive resorts. While they offer plenty of amenities and luxuries, they can also be a serious drain on your bank account. Instead, multiple mid-tier and low-end options are available that still offer a clean, comfortable, safe experience at a fraction of the cost. The beaches are still very accessible and free, the restaurants are all around you, and the rooms are comfortable. So, why not try something different, such as a fun and social hostel? A number of hostels in Cancun offer not just dorms, but also private rooms so that you can have a quiet place to yourself while still enjoying the social aspect of the common areas. Or, try a locally owned guesthouse or B&B where you can meet the owners – they can usually give you some great insider’s advice to the area. Either way, you can’t go wrong, and your budget will thank you.
Bryan Tighe is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip, a website dedicated to finding out how much stuff costs around the world. Having visited over 50 countries, he wants to make travel more accessible to everyone. He is also an avid photographer, scuba diver, and father.