Cancun beach

Mexico has been a popular destination for queer travelers for years; the country has supported same-sex marriage in some areas for nearly a decade, starting in Mexico City in late 2009. These unions have been legal across the whole country since 2015.

Cancun and its surroundings, which boast miles of beautiful beaches, a multitude of outdoor activities, and a variety of hotels and resort price points, has become a natural destination for the LGBTQ community. Scores of discount airline flights from the U.S. and Canada have also helped to fuel the trend.

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Cancun holds its annual Pride march each June, but there are queer-oriented activities to focus on during the remainder of the year, such as drag brunches at watering holes such as Senor Frogs. You can party the night away at 11:11 Club or visit Laser Hot Bar for its popular drag shows. The area where Boulevard Kukulcan turns in toward the city center is home to many gay (and gay-friendly) clubs.

Randy Piwniuk, a Winnipeg resident who works in banking management, said that he and his husband like Cancun specifically because it provides a resort feel but is located in a city setting.

“We have always felt safe in Cancun and have no concerns leaving the resort to see the sights and sounds of what Cancun has to offer. We also visit resorts aren’t necessarily family-focused, which allows us to meet all types of couples—gay or straight—and we have never experienced anything negative,” said Piwniuk.

For those who are partial to the sunshine and some sand, the beautiful and often quiet Playa Delfines beach is located near the hotel zone, and the northern section is considered the area’s unofficial gay beach.

Today, resorts spread south from the traditional hotel zone into what’s called Riviera Cancun and Riviera Maya. Playa del Carmen, less than an hour’s drive south, also features some gay-friendly options. Club 69 is a gay dance club and X Mahan Nah Spa Club is a gay bathhouse, while Chéel Hotel Ecológico is a gay-owned resort. And the Arena Festival, purportedly Mexico’s largest gay and lesbian dance music festival, will be held in Playa del Carmen from January 29-February 3, 2020.

Jody Reynard, a New York City-based gay actor, said that he and friends often travel to Cancun, and more specifically the area around Playa del Carmen. He has found the area to be welcoming to all tourists.

“It’s fairly accepting. They rely so much on tourism that they cannot be homophobic at all. The one gay bar we went to was packed, starting at 11:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights,” said Reynard. “The area is such that your activities can be very open and social or private and secluded. There are resorts/hotels that support either direction.”

JW Marriott Cancun pool

Personally, I’ve stayed at numerous wonderful resorts in the area with my partner, and never felt awkward holding hands or kissing him on the beach. Great options include the JW Marriott Cancun, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Hard Rock Riviera Maya, Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun, and UNICO 2087.

In fact, queer travel operator VACAYA has booked the entire UNICO resort for a gay vacation experience on October 27-November 2, highlighting the popularity of this region to LGBTQ travelers.

Beyond the queer-specific activities, travelers keep coming back to Cancun and its environs because of the plethora of excursions that can be enjoyed.

The region contains an extensive system of caverns and water-filled cenotes, there are many zipline experiences, you can visit local villages that are still home to indigenous people or spend the day snorkeling at the many area reefs. Best yet, just relax at any one of the all-inclusive resorts and forget about the world back home for a few days.