The Pros, Cons, and Everything Else You Need to Know About the Most Popular Cancun Resort on TripAdvisor

The masses have spoken: The most popular Cancun resort on TripAdvisor is the Moon Palace. At the time of writing, over 35,000 people had logged onto TripAdvisor to tell the world about their experiences at this all-inclusive resort — and their feelings range from ecstatic to underwhelmed. Luckily, Oyster is always on the ground in Cancun and we've visited (and photographed) the Moon Palace several times. With our professional opinion in mind, we're sifting through everything that reviewers on TripAdvisor are saying to give you the pros, cons, and the inside scoop. So read on and see if the Moon Palace Cancun deserves the hype.

What Makes the Moon Palace Cancun So Popular?

The Moon Palace Cancun might just be the epitome of an all-inclusive resort. We’re talking thousands of rooms, a dizzying number of dining options, bars by the handful, several pools, and entertainment in spades. That variety is part of what makes the Moon Palace so popular with travelers and, when we visited, left a lasting impression. It also makes the Moon Palace Cancun appealing to a huge cross-section of travelers, from families to groups of friends, couples, and retirees. Weddings and honeymoons are both incredibly popular here, as well, and the hotel has generally well-liked wedding coordinators on hand. TripAdvisor users also consistently remark on the high level of service from Moon Palace staff, making all guests feel welcome (though check-in and check-out can take a while).

What’s the Difference Between the Sunrise and Nizuc Sections at Moon Palace Cancun?

This isn’t a small resort and, due to its somewhat isolated location outside of the Hotel Zone, the Moon Palace Cancun is essentially a city unto itself. Within the compound, there are two sides to choose from — Nizuc and Sunrise. The majority of the resort’s features are located in the Sunrise section of the property, including most of its restaurants, the Flowrider surf simulator, the main kids’ club and kids’ pool, as well as the main resort pool and swim-up bar. Nighttime entertainment also takes place on the Sunrise side.

The Nizuc side of Moon Palace is a bit calmer and guests who prefer to stay on this side of the property must specify that they want a Nizuc room when booking, or risk being placed on the busier Sunrise side of the property. Keep in mind that the resort is huge — you’ll likely want to hop on the free golf cart shuttles to get around the property, or face long walks in the heat. That’s especially worth noting if you choose to stay on the Nizuc side. Families would do best to bed down on the Sunrise side, as it puts most of the kid-friendly extras much closer to your room. Even so, there’s a small playroom on the Nizuc side. Swim-out suites are also available and popular with families who want instant water access.

Is the Moon Palace Cancun All-Inclusive Plan Any Good?

It’s unfair to talk about the Moon Palace Cancun without giving the property credit for its stellar all-inclusive plan. All restaurants in both the Moon Palace’s Nizuc and Sunrise sections are part of the hotel’s all-inclusive rates. That means a variety of dining options which include Mexican, Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, and seafood. Nearly every restaurant gets high marks from TripAdvisor reviewers (an opinion we share), though Bugambilias — which blends Mexican and Lebanese flavors — gets the lion’s share of the attention (and with good reason). Other popular Moon Palace Cancun restaurants include Palapa Asadero and Arrecifes (the latter is a Brazilian churrascaria), as well as the Asian hibachi restaurant, Momo.

Keep in mind that you will need reservations at many of the restaurants, and a smart-casual dress code is enforced in the evenings (meaning no bathing suits, flip-flops, or men’s sleeveless shirts). Many restaurants also include vegan and gluten-free options, but be sure to enquire before committing to your dining option. Alternatively, if you want to dine in your bathrobe, room service is free and open 24 hours a day.

Top-shelf drinks come standard with the Moon Palace Cancun’s all-inclusive plan. This covers beer, wine, and cocktails at all bars, in all restaurants, and in the nightclub, though guests wanting bottle service and VIP seating in the nightclub will have to pay extra. Evening shows and entertainment are also part of the Moon Palace all-inclusive plan, and daytime poolside activities, roller skating, and access to the kids’ club are free. You’ll also be able to use the Flowrider surf simulator at the Sunrise section of the resort, plus the waterslide in the Nizuc section. However, if you want to ride all of the cool slides at the Grand at Moon Palace water park, you’ll need to purchase the Grand Pass for a hefty extra fee (or, alternatively, stay at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun). Tours and spa treatments also cost extra, though resort credits can help defray the out-of-pocket costs.

Where Is the Moon Palace Cancun Located?

If you’re staying at the Moon Palace Cancun, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to leave for a meal or to hit up Cancun’s famous bars and nightclubs. You see, the resort sits well south of Cancun’s lively Hotel Zone, where the majority of Cancun’s action takes place. However, that means that a taxi ride to and from Cancun Airport to Moon Palace is short and sweet — only 15 minutes or so — and avoids the traffic of the city center and Hotel Zone. The remote location means you’ll be doing all of your dining and drinking on-site, which is great since the all-inclusive plan is so generous.

The Moon Palace Cancun Beach Is Disappointing

Unfortunately, the beach in this part of Cancun isn’t nearly as pretty as the one found in the Hotel Zone. The typically aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea are far offshore. You can still swim here, so long as the seaweed blooms that plague the region in the summer months aren’t taking place. Most guests stick to the pools that you’ll find on the property — all of which are flanked with bars and restaurants (including a swim-up bar).

Should You Upgrade to The Grand at Moon Palace?

This is a question we get asked all of the time: Are upgrades to a more exclusive wing all-inclusive resort worth it? The answer varies from property to property, and there are pros and cons when it comes to the Moon Palace and The Grand at Moon Palace as well. The latter has a ton of amazing pros, but you’ll need to prepare yourself for a higher price tag, which is typically a couple hundred dollars per night more than the Moon Palace (itself one of the more expensive resorts in the region).

Like we said, that upgrade does include some awesome perks. For starters, the Grand at Moon Palace is where the resort’s official water park is located and is only free for travelers staying at The Grand or guests of the regular resort who have purchased Grand Passes. In fact, The Grand at Moon Palace is arguably best for families, as kid-friendly amenities are excellent. The insanely good kids’ club has extras like a mirror maze and neon mini-golf, and there’s even a course for driving small electric cars. Again, all of this is only available to Grand Pass holders or guests at The Grand.

Rooms on this side of the resort also feel fresher, with higher-end amenities and perks like sunken in-room whirlpools or ground-floor swim-out suites (which are incredibly popular with families). Children’s beach toys and video game systems also come with family units at The Grand. Outside of your rooms, there are numerous Grand-only restaurants (including a great Peruvian spot and a French adults-only restaurant). You’ll have to pay for meals at the gourmet Chef’s Kitchen, though, and spa treatments come at a cost (resort credits can be used to offset these extras).

What Alternative All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancun Should You Consider?

For travelers who want a self-contained resort experience that’s packed with amenities and features, as well as plenty of family-friendly fun, the Moon Palace Cancun is worth it. That’s especially true given the all-inclusive plan, which features top-shelf options and almost no dining restrictions. Major cons — the relatively high price tag and lackluster beach — do mean you may want to consider alternatives. Additionally, the family-forward vibe of the Sunrise portion of the resort can be off-putting for travelers looking to live it up with their partner or adult friends. We also dislike the unethical live animal attractions on-site (there’s a dolphinarium at the Moon Palace). With that in mind, we’re recommending a few alternative all-inclusive resorts in the Cancun region.

For a Cheaper All-Inclusive Than Moon Palace, Check Out the Panama Jack Resorts Cancun

While it’s certainly not the cheapest all-inclusive resort in Cancun, rates at Panama Jack Cancun are generally lower than those at Moon Palace. It also has a better location in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, along the city’s iconic white-sand beach. It’s as family-friendly as the Moon Palace, with a great water park and other children’s features, and the style throughout the property is more contemporary. Cons? There’s no swim-up bar and the pools can be a bit small for the resort’s size.

For a Better Beach Than Moon Palace, Check Out the Hyatt Ziva Cancun

If you’re after all of the kid-friendly features of the Moon Palace Cancun but the dark waters offshore are a bummer, you should check out the Hyatt Ziva Cancun. Perched right over the neon-blue water of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, the Hyatt Ziva Cancun has two beaches, amazing infinity pools, and all-day entertainment. Overall, the look is a bit fresher than you’ll find at Moon Palace, and the spa is excellent. However, dining is a bit pricier and it doesn’t get quite as much praise as the Moon Palace.

For an Adults-Only Alternative to Moon Palace, Check Out Le Blanc Spa Resort

One of the few true luxury all-inclusive options in Cancun, Le Blanc Spa Resort is the definition of “you get what you pay for.” Rates here are some of the highest in Cancun, but everything from dining to the amazing spa are all top notch. Top-shelf drinks are included, and the spacious, stunning rooms all have views of the Caribbean Sea. There’s little to fault with Le Blanc, and if you’re seeking a kid-free luxury alternative to Moon Palace, you’d do well to spoil yourself here.

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