On August 22, 2017, the U.S. State department released an updated travel advisory for Mexico.

The first part of the warning on the government site is very misleading as it is not true throughout all of Mexico and definitely not the Cancun area. “U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states.”

This advisory included some quotes that will definitely hurt tourism, many of which pertained only to areas along the U.S. border.


We have decided to address some of the issues that pertain to the Cancun and  Riviera Maya area.

 Tainted alcohol:

This is absolutely crazy, and honestly a bit difficult to understand. After the death of a young American woman who had been drinking, the government raided dozens of establishments to check alcohol and sanitation. This raid eventually led to a manufacturer/distributor with “bad manufacturing processes.” Not sure exactly what that means, but it obviously didn’t meet government standards—we wouldn’t want to drink it.

What precautions to take?

• If you get a drink with a harsh taste, we’d probably dump it in exchange for wine or beer.

• Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had, it’s easy on vacation to drink a little too much (or way too fast!)

• If you feel different than anticipated after a few drinks, stop drinking and inform friends or fellow tourists to watch for anything strange. The buddy system with a no-drinker is always a good idea anywhere!

• Be careful in clubs. We don’t hear reports of this, but we always worry about some bartender or other tourist drugging a girl to take advantage of her (there are jerks throughout the world).

 Drug wars:

Playa del Carmen

We’ve always said that this won’t affect you unless you decide to start selling drugs. But, recently there have been some shootings in the city of Playa del Carmen–right in the main tourist zone. This is probably the main reason for the  U.S. State Department travel advisory.

• In January, there was a drug related shooting at the Blue Parrot nightclub during the BPM festival. Five people were killed including an American girl who was trampled to death as people were fleeing the club, two Canadians who were security for BPM were also killed.

• In July, there was another shooting at a nightclub (we believe this was at La Vaquita in the same area that Blue Parrot was located).

• In August there were two shootings right along the 5th Avenue pedestrian street–Playa’s most popular shopping and dining area. Both were shop owners or employees. Our guess would be that they may have been selling drugs and hadn’t paid their debt, or in some other way got on the bad side of the drug dealers. Regardless, this happened in an area with a constant parade of tourists.


• In January, the day after the Playa del Carmen shooting there was another shooting in downtown Cancun. Four people were killed, one police officer and three gunmen.

• Other gang related violence in Cancun has taken place, no tourists involved.

What precautions to take?

• Avoid the popular nightclubs. There’s a lot of drug activity, and a possibility for a fight over turf.

• Stay away from non-tourist areas at night.

Safety by area:

These areas are extremely safe

Akumal, Cozumel, Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Aventuras, Puerto Morelos, and the Riviera Maya all-inclusive resorts.

Note: Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Puerto Morelos are our personal favorite destinations.


Safe, but use caution in some areas.

There are two parts to Cancun, the hotel zone and Cancun city. The hotel zone is very safe.

Cancun city’s shopping areas–where tourists typically go–are also safe,  but we recommend that you avoid visiting Cancun city at night unless you are already familiar with the area (we feel very comfortable downtown at night).

In the hotel zone there is an area of nightclubs known as the party zone (sometimes mistakenly referred to as downtown). We personally avoid this area late at night; you will probably be offered drugs.


Tulum city is very safe.  We also don’t know of any problems along the beachfront; but, there are areas that are very dark. We always use caution in dark areas, whether it’s Tulum or our home town. Tip: carry a flashlight when walking along Tulum’s beachfront roads.


Like Isla Mujeres and Puerto Morelos, we don’t even know why Cozumel was included in the U.S.travel warning. Cozumel is very safe!

As anywhere, you should always be aware of your surroundings  and follow your instincts.

Mexico is home to beautiful, kind, warm people, and many of our very best friends.

Enjoy Mexico, it’s a beautiful country!

  1. I know of none of these roadblocks happening in the Cancun and Riviera Maya area.

  2. You are right, who do you think they are paying protection money too?
    I completely forgot the shootings the hotel zone in November of nightclub employees. I should have included that.
    I did address the shootings right on 5th Ave. In the end, you have decide for yourself if you think it’s too dangerous to vacation in Mexico. I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I don’t think there are many places in the world today where you can vacation in a place where there is zero crime. Thank you for your comments!

  3. What about these so-called roadblocks?

  4. Thanks for clarifying. My husband and I really love the Riviera Maya area and travel there for vacation every year.

  5. You say to “avoid busy nightclubs” in Playa but the two shootings that happened on 5th werent at nightclubs. One was right across the street from Tequila Barrel – early in the evening – when tourists, including kids, are out in full force.

    You also left out that 2 people were shot in the Cancun hotel zone last November. And 3 bodies were dumped in the hotel zone in June.

    And most of us who have been to Mexico know it isnt just drugs. Executions happen when business owners fail to pay protection money and that can be on any street!!!