Cancun, a city whose name is synonymous with great nightlife, has two distinctly different areas for those looking for fun bars and nightclubs. Party Center, the area of Cancun's hotel zone, where most of the large nightclubs are located, and Yaxchilan Avenue, in downtown Cancun, are the city's two main areas for exciting nightlife.
Dancers from one of the many performances that Coco Bongo has each evening. — Photo courtesy of Coco Bongo Cancun
Party Center is where most of Cancun's large, wildly popular nightclubs can be found. There are also small, open-air bars with hip-hop music blaring and scantily-clad women dancing on the bars. Both the bars and the large clubs are packed night after night. Coco Bongo, Dady'O, and The City are well-known clubs and usually have lines of people waiting to enter the clubs each night. The bars and nightclubs in Party Center sell "Open Bar", which includes your admission to the club, plus all of your drinks until a certain hour of the night (most of the big clubs end open bar at 3am).
Coco Bongo is truly world-famous and is often featured in travel guidebooks and on television shows that highlight Cancun's best attractions. The club has Las Vegas-type shows all night long. Throughout the evening, acrobats perform, a Michael Jackson impersonator lip-synchs, and Beetlejuice and Spiderman also make appearances. The wait staff and bartenders even get into the act by temporarily leaving their posts to sing and dance a few numbers. Coco Bongo is consistently full, year-round, and it's not uncommon to find a line of people down the block, waiting to enter the club. To avoid that hassle, go to the club with the entertainment staff from your hotel. They get express entry and you get to cut the long line.
With a maximum occupancy of around 5,000 people, The City nightclub claims to be the largest nightclub in Latin America. Performances by internationally-known recording artists and deejays are a common occurrence at The City. Despite its large size, this massive club is packed full of people during Spring Break and Summer Break.
Dady'O is one of Cancun's oldest nightclubs and, after many years, it is still a big hit with locals and tourists. Bikini contests, performances by major bands or deejays, and a big dance floor are some of the reasons this club continues to thrive, year after year.
In stark contrast to the hotel zone's arge, packed-to-the-gills nightclubs, is Yaxchilan Avenue, in downtown Cancun. There, you will find many open-air restaurants that serve delicious Mexican food & seafood.
Around midnight, rock bands begin performing in the restaurants and the atmosphere quickly changes into more of a bar vibe. Very few tourists venture out of the hotel zone to experience nightlife in downtown Cancun but, if they do, they will find that drink prices are lower, the atmosphere is more laid-back and there is live rock 'n roll (both in English and Spanish) galore.
Most bars are filled with locals but, occasionally, you'll spot a few tourists downtown. There are no dance floors in the bars/restaurants. Instead, patrons simply sit at tables with friends and enjoy the band while eating and drinking. There are often 2-for-1 drink specials in the bars downtown, which make for inexpensive nights out on the town. Los Arcos, El Asador, El Chikito, and Ruta 666 are the best bets for live rock 'n roll, while Roots Jazz Club (near El Parque de las Palapas and a short walk from Yaxchilan Avenue), is the place to go for live jazz.
Whether you are looking for a wild time or a more relaxed environment, you'll find what your looking for in one of Cancun's two centers for nightlife.