Cancún’s Zona Hotelera lies on a narrow white-sand island in the shape of a number 7. The point of the 7 is Punta Cancún—this is the heart of the Zona Hotelera and is crowded with hotels, restaurants, and most of the nightclubs and malls. The southern foot of the 7 is called Punta Nizúc—a few hotels and clubs are there.
Between Punta Nizúc and Punta Cancún is the island’s long (13 kilometers/8 miles) “leg,” lined with high-end hotels and resorts on the ocean side, and restaurants, clubs, and some water-sport agencies on the other. The short leg leads directly into downtown Cancún. Busy Boulevard Kukulcán runs the entire length of the 7, and most addresses in the Zona Hotelera are simply a kilometer marker.
Downtown Cancún is on the mainland and is divided into numbered super manzanas (square blocks, or SM for short). Avenida Tulum is downtown’s main thoroughfare; west of Avenida Tulum is Parque Las Palapas (downtown’s central plaza), and beyond that Avenida Yaxchilán.
Most of downtown Cancún’s hotels, restaurants, and music venues are on or around Parque Las Palapas and Avenida Yaxchilán, primarily in SMs 22–25.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition