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Embracing Cancun: A Guide to Accessibility

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Chichen Itza in Mexico

Cancun, Mexico, is a beautiful place to visit.  There you will find white-sand beaches, brilliantly aqua waters, and a very lively nightlife.  It’s a tropical paradise which brings visitors from around the world. If you have a disability, you will find varying levels of accessibility in hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites depending on your specific needs. 

As a wheelchair user I was able to find accessible accommodations, accessible transportation, and accessible activities.  But, nothing is consistently accessible in Cancun.  My advice is to either work with a knowledgeable and experienced travel agency or do a lot of investigative homework well in advance.  I look forward to returning to Cancun to experience its beauty and the warm hospitality of Mexican people. 

Here are some of my recommendations:

Beaches

Cancun is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, and efforts have been made to ensure their accessibility. Playa del Carmen was the first city in the region to have a beach to accommodate people with disabilities. Now, Cancun has four accessible beaches, including Playa Delfines, Chaacmool, Las Perlas and Playa Langosta.  A number of beachfront resorts and public beaches in Cancun provide accessible pathways, ramps, and beach wheelchairs. 

Water Activities

Depending on your specific needs as a person with a disability, you can find accessible water activities at Aquaworld.  I am told that there are companies in Cancun which will teach scuba diving and snorkeling lessons to people with disabilities although I have not been able to locate them so far.

Cultural Excursions

The Cancun area is rich with Mayan history and ancient ruins and you can immerse yourself into this amazing heritage through accessible excursions to archaeological sites and cultural landmarks. A two hour drive south of Cancun you can explore the Mayan ruins of Tulum, for example, which have some accessible pathways and ramps.

But please be aware that these pathways are mostly firmly packed gravel and can be muddy or filled with water after rain. The ramps there are very steep and it’s very likely that you will need some level of assistance to safely navigate the ruins.

Be sure to get there early because lines can be very long to get tickets to enter and once inside the walls of the ruins, it can be crowded.  It is a beautiful site, however, as part of the ancient city is perched on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. If you feel like taking a tour or renting a vehicle, located about 2 1⁄2 hours from Cancun is Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 

This is another site for ancient Mayan ruins which offers fairly flat, accessible pathways, accessible parking and some ramps – but, it’s not perfectly smooth so be prepared for some cracks and bumps.

Nature Experiences

Most people probably think of Cancun as primarily a beach destination, but it’s also an incredible destination for wonderful nature experiences. The Xcaret Eco Theme Park offers wheelchair-accessible paths to restaurants and shopping close to the entrance, access to the theater, an accessible boat ride, and they even provide a map to navigate the park for people with disabilities on their website!  

Additionally, the Nichupte Lagoon offers some accessible boat tours but be sure to contact the tour directly to confirm accessibility based on your specific needs.

Dining and Entertainment

There are so many places to experience Cancun’s delicious culinary offerings and lively entertainment venues that are accessible.  My advice would be to check out restaurants and bars in major resorts and venues as they are typically more accessible than most of the smaller establishments.  You will also find food trucks and roadside stands with many different types of food, fruit, and snacks offered by locals. 

Cancun is a fun place to visit with some accessible venues and activities to enjoy.  You can use this link to arrange for a few accessible tours or transportation. 

So, plan your trip with an experienced and qualified agency, such as Travel for All, build an incredible itinerary, and go soak up the sun and have fun in Cancun!  .

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