Cancun’s beaches are public, which allows for a certain amount of liberality. There are no particular rules for governing topless women, so regardless of which beach you choose, you may find some topless sunbathers. Most hotels, however, are family oriented. They do not want women to go topless on their premises, including the swimming pool area.
Camping is allowed on Yucatan Peninsula beaches, but you will need to go beyond Cancun’s hotel district for an acceptable place to stake down a tent, or park a motor home. Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen are a short distance from Cancun and supplies campgrounds with RV hook up’s, shower and toilets.
Although the beach is public, the deck chairs, thatched roofs and umbrellas are not. They are supplied by the hotels and meant only for their guests.
The beach can change drastically during hurricane weather. Erosion has been one of Cancun’s greatest problems in maintaining its sparkling beach front. Do not go out to the beach during gale warnings and expect damages to the beach in terms of oceanic debris and manmade structures in the aftermath of a hurricane.
The Cancun sun is intense. Always bring plenty of sun screen, wear a shade hat for walking, and drink plenty of water. Stay in the shade during the hottest hours of the afternoon.
Because of the volatile situation concerning the value of Western currency, most of the domestic community prefers to be paid in pesos. Apart from major hotel chains, there is a limit to the amount of credit you can use, usually between £460- £550. You should have, on a daily basis, at least £63 converted into pesos. Use pesos to pay for meals, entertainment, transportation and gifts.
Convert a portion of your currency into pesos before leaving home. You can do this online or through an international exchange service. You will need pesos as soon as you bargain with a taxi driver, board a bus or tip somebody for handling your luggage.
Tipping is very much a part of acceptable behaviour in Mexico. Even in restaurants that say “no tipping allowed”, there still is an expectancy of a tip. Tip the boy that bags your groceries, tip the bell boy who gives you a special service, even if the service is no more than useful information, tip the waitress that replenishes your cocktail. It doesn’t have to be much, less than a pound, but tipping gives you favouritism with the local populace.
Outside the designated tourist areas, Cancun is a different world. It’s not recommended that you try to navigate the streets unless you know the Spanish language. If you become lost or confused, there will be very few people who would be able to assist you.
Not all areas of Cancun are safe. Some were recently overrun by the Zeta gang, and an atmosphere of drugs and violence still exist in some neighbourhoods. You should only explore the non-tourist designated areas of Cancun with a responsible guide.
Don’t carry large sums of money with you while visiting Cancun and don’t flaunt your wealth. Dress quietly for local venues, without a display of expensive jewellery, and treat your belongings with care. While a certain amount of generosity goes a long way, if you are disproportionately flashing around money, you’re inviting liars and thieves.
There’s no doubt your holiday in Cancun will be a broader experience if you have credible Spanish skills, as even bi-lingual residents will open up and tell you of places to go and things to do that are not usually included on the visitor’s list if you speak to them in their own language. They may tell you of safe locations outside the hotel district where you can find accommodations at local prices. Beware, however, of hotels that are “bien barrato”. In Mexico, you get what you pay for. A cheap hotel can mean no hot water, water that is turned on only twice a day, shared toilet and shower facilities, no air-conditioning or Internet access, a sagging bed, and a host of other discomforts.
If you choose to set up housekeeping outside the main residential district or tourism zone, you’ll probably see a lot of beggars. Over sixty percent of the population is Roman Catholic, with attitudes about begging consistent with their Catholic philosophies, even among those who profess no religious preferences. They believe your character is judged by your compassion for the poor. Even less affluent Mexicans will render a few coins for the beggars on a regular basis, and few establishments are willing to chase them from their doors. Giving a few coins to the beggars will make you more welcome in the community.
The European Spanish you were taught was probably formal Spanish, or Castellón. On the streets, the people speak an informal dialect. Learning common street expressions is useful, as it formal Spanish signifies a class distinction. However, be sure to learn the full significance of the phrases you learn as some words are not considered acceptable in refined company.