Spring break is fast approaching, and many college students will celebrate with travels to Mexico.
Destinations like Cancun, a perennial favorite spring break spot, and Puerto Peñasco, which boasts the closest beach to Arizona, see more student visitors on break in March and April.
Travelers should use caution when visiting Mexico. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico remain concerned about violent crime related to drug cartels and recently warned travelers who use rideshare apps like Uber in Cancun that taxi drivers have been attacking and harassing rideshare drivers and riders.
Here’s what spring breakers should know about staying safe in Mexico.
New in Canada, Mexico:5 new international flights added from Sky Harbor
Is it safe to go to Cancun, Mexico, right now?
The state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun as well as popular resort destinations like Tulum and Playa del Carmen, is currently under a Level 2 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State. It means people should exercise increased caution when traveling.
On Jan. 23, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico issued a security alert for Quintana Roo because of incidents involving taxi drivers attacking and harassing rideshare drivers and passengers.
The State Department’s advisory cautions that shootings between rival gangs have injured innocent bystanders, adding that Americans have been crime victims in tourist and non-tourist areas.
Travelers are urged to maintain a high level of situational awareness in Quintana Roo, especially after dark. Anyone exploring Cancun after dark should stick to well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones, according to the State Department.
Is it safe to travel to Puerto Peñasco right now?
Sonora, which includes Puerto Peñasco, is currently under a Level 3 advisory from the State Department, which means reconsider travel. This is because of widespread violent crime and kidnapping in the state. That said, Puerto Peñasco, the beach resort town also known as Rocky Point, has a reputation as a safe destination.
Driving is the most common way tourists get to Puerto Peñasco, according to the city’s convention and visitors bureau.
The State Department urges motorists to only use Federal Highway 8 via the Lukeville Port of Entry to travel to Puerto Peñasco and to only drive during daylight hours. Highway 8 was designated a “safety corridor” by Arizona and Sonora officials in 2016 and features safety features like bilingual signs, security cameras and locations where drivers can seek roadside assistance.
The Lukeville border crossing reopened on Jan. 4 after a monthlong closure prompted by a surge in migrants crossing the border. While the port of entry was closed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection initially suggested using the Nogales or San Luis crossings in the meantime. But the U.S. Consulate General later urged people not to take alternate routes to get to Rocky Point because of the risk of cartel violence.
What should I do to stay safe in Mexico?
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico offers the following recommendations:
- Avoid travel to “do not travel” states.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Seek shelter if needed.
- Monitor local media for updates and call 911 in case of emergency.
- Review your personal security plans and follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Get the latest Mexico travel alerts from the U.S. Embassy at mx.usembassy.gov/category/alert.
When is spring break 2024 in Arizona?
Arizona’s three public universities — Arizona State, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University — as well as public schools in Maricopa County are on spring break in early and mid-March 2024.
- Arizona State University: March 3-10.
- University of Arizona: March 2-10.
- Northern Arizona University: March 11-16.
Encantame Towers:What’s in the newest condos in Rocky Point, ‘Arizona’s beach’
Michael Salerno is an award-winning journalist who’s covered travel and tourism since 2014. His work as EuroJournal’s consumer travel reporter aims to help readers navigate the stresses of traveling and get the best value for their money on their vacations. He can be reached at Michael.Salerno@gannett.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter: @salerno_phx.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.