Filled with straight couples crowding into Senor Frog’s and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Cancun sometimes seems like the antithesis of a gay destination. But the low-key gay spots are far from the neon-splashed Zona Hotelera. Head to El Centro, the village that was here before the government decided this was the perfect spot for a resort town. There, just off the main drag you’ll find go-go boys, drag shows, and open-air dance floors.
For sun and fun, local gays used to recommend the Mirador, a rocky area with a very phallic lighthouse at the elbow of the main island. These days the guys head to Playa Delfines, a stretch of powder-soft sand at the extreme southern end of the Zona Hotelera.
Cancun Internacional Airport is one of the busiest in the Caribbean. Getting to your hotel will mean a local bus, shuttle bus, taxi, or limo. Public buses provide direct non-stop service from airport Terminals 2 and 3 every hour from 8:10am until 8pm to the Cancun Downtown Bus Station (UD$4), and ten times each day between 10:50am and 7pm to Downtown Playa del Carmen (US$10). To guarantee a seat, buy tickets online at the airport website.
Many people never leave their hotel, so if that’s what you’re planning, don’t rent a car. You can get around in the Zona Hotelera by bus or taxi. See the CancunTravel website for public transit information. A car is handy for visiting the out-of-the-way beaches and archeological sites.
Currency and Money
Mexico’s currency is the peso, which is divided into 100 centavos. ATMs are everywhere in the city, so there’s no need to carry a lot of cash
A Little Caution...
Mexico is not the USA or Canada, and that's one of the main attractions. People come to party a bit harder than they might at home. But every year a few tourists fall from hotel balconies, get killed in traffic, or get into arguments with the wrong people and disappear. Others drown in riptides at the beach.
During Spring Break 2014 Craig Taylor, a young and apparently gay nursing student from Florida, was found strangled on the roadside. He was last being seen in an argument at one of the clubs over a bar tab, and got separated from his brother. Gay clubs 11:11 (where the argument took place), Sexy's and Taboo faced some heat from authorities for a month or two, Sexy's was closed but reopened at another location, and the story dropped from sight.
A few, perhaps too obvious to mention, precautions should get you home safe: party with friends, don't get too wasted, stay out of the roadways, take only the cash you'll need and walk away from a fight if you can. Have credit and debit card info handy to cancel it rather than risking life or limb to recover one. Beware of unfamiliar tides at the beach, and remember drug laws can be strictly enforced here.
Media & resources
Antros Gay has listings for most Mexican cities, including Cancun and other Quintana Roo towns nearby.
Playa Maya News is news and information source for the whole Riviera Maya region.
GayToursMexico offers gay catamaran trips to Isla Mujeres and other tours and travel services in Cancun/Riviera Maya and beyond. Cancun Playa Tours provides gay-friendly tour services. Both are IGLTA members.
For bars, hotels and other Cancun listings see our map & listings tab.
11:11 | OnceOnce (Av Tulum, at Claveles sm 22, MZA 5, Cancún, Centro), gay cocktail lounge, young men/women mix, erotic go-go dancers, drag shows, snacks.
Blue Parrot Beach Club (Cl 12 Norte, at The Beach, Playa del Carmen), beach club, hotel, restaurant, world class clubbing, hip-hop nights. Reopening December 2014 after renovations.
Club 69 | Playa 69 (Quinta Av 156, Playa del Carmen), men's dance club, late night drag shows, nude male strippers.
Coco Bongo (Blvd Kukulcan km 9.5, Plaza Forum 30, Cancun), gay-friendly disco & elaborate show bar.
Coco Maya Beach Club & Lounge (Cl 12 N, at beach, Playa del Carmen), outdoor disco/nightclub 'til 5am, Mediterranean/ Brazilian restaurant.
Karamba Bar (Av Tulum 11/22, Cancún, Centro), big, popular Tuesday - Sunday all-gay dance club, drag and Vegas-style shows, male strippers/ go-gos, karaoke.
Kool Beach Club (Cl 28 Norte at beach, Zona Federal Marítima, Playa del Carmen), mixed crowd restaurant and bar, DJs, beach club parties, pool and terrace, breakfast buffets.
La Polla Salon (Cl Rosas sm 22, MZA 23, lt55), casual gay party bar, mix of guys, karaoke, snacks. Status unconfirmed for 2014-15 season.
La Santanera (Cl 12 MZA 30 Loc2, Playa del Carmen), retro-tropical party terrace, mixed crowd live music club: "Música para adultos."
Picante Hot Bar (Av Tulúm, sm 2, MZA 1, LT 19, El Centro), cheap drinks in Plaza Galerias, drag, strippers, men/women, all ages.
Sentimientos Bar (Av Nichupté sm 512, MZA 10, Cancún), Nova Sports Mall locals mixed/gay bar, women's nights, drag shows, Wii games.
Sexy's Club (Plaza Solare, Bonampak at Sayil, Cancun), large Wednesday through Saturday gay club between Downtown and the Hotel Zone; men-only bear nights, male strippers/ erotic dancers, shows, theme parties. Formerly at Plaza Safa, Avenida Tulum.
Taboo (Av Tulum at Azucenas, Cancun), mixed gay-straight lounge, 9pm pre-club crowd.
Closet de Laser (Av Revolucion/ Rte 7, 63, sm 75, Cancun), 3-10pm men's steam/sauna, porn cinema, dark rooms, smoking area.
X-Mahan Nah Vapor Cancun (Cl 21 Norte 103, sm 68, MZA 2, Cancun), gay sauna, xxx video lounge, snacks & drinks. Also in colonia Ejidal, Playa del Carmen.