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30 Fun Things To Do in Cancun, Mexico in 2024

Check out the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico. This post includes the best places to visit in Cancun + ideas for day trips and useful info to plan your trip to Cancun.

It doesn’t come as a surprise: expect to be spoiled for pristine beaches and nightlife in Cancun. In fact, you can land at Cancun Airport and be tanning on the beach one hour later. But if you look more closely, there is more to Cancun than just the beaches.

Image of the beach in Cancun inserted in a list of the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico.

This is hands down the most comprehensive post about what to do in Cancun that you will find online. On this guide to the best Cancun activities, you’ll find ideas for beach time, excursions to natural paradises, Mayan ruins, adventure parks, nightlife, and Cancun day trips. All ingredients for the perfect Mexican vacation.

Before you book your trip, take inspiration from this list of top things to do around Cancun so you can build the perfect Cancun itinerary.


Are you ready to explore Cancun? Here it’s my list of the top ten things to do in Cancun (it includes also some things to do near Cancun!).

Swim in the Cenotes Near Cancun, Mexico

Image by Cenote Zapote

Cenotes (natural sinkholes) are one most visited tourist attractions in Mexico over the past few years after the Mayan ruins.

There aren’t many great cenotes within Cancun itself, but you can easily find some beautiful ones near Cancun in Puerto Morelos. After all, the Yucatan Peninsula is home to 6,000 cenotes so you will never be out of options!

Among the best cenotes near Cancun is Cenote 7 Bocas, which is home to 7 cenotes in one tiny area. Another one is a round open cenote that boasts turquoise water and canopy shading, Cenote Zapote. Thes are all in the Puerto Morelos area. Go in the early morning to avoid the crowds.

➤ If you prefer to explore the cenotes with a tour, I recommend the Tour Cenotes Oasis Maya by Xcaret. You will snorkel and kayak at 4 unique cenotes, and you’ll even get to rappel and zipline. The tour includes the transfer and lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

READ ALSO: 15 Best Cenote Tours from Cancun

Spend a day at Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park is an eco-archaeological theme park in the Riviera Maya. It’s a huge 250-acre park, which offers a big number of attractions. Spending a day at Xcaret is in my opinion one of the best things to do in Cancun – kids and adults seem to agree with me.

Swimming in the underground river was my favorite activity when I visited Xcaret Park. You can’t miss the night show, a 2-hour long performance about the history of Mexico. For those looking for a leisurely swim, the Xcaret Beach is the place to go.

⚠️ Just please avoid the activities that involve dolphins. I’m all about responsible travel and strongly suggest you do your own research about any activities that exploit dolphins and animals. There’s so much else to do at Xcaret, that you really don’t need to do the dolphin activities.

➤ You can get the Xcaret Park Admission Ticket to enjoy full access to the 40+ attractions at the park plus lunch. If you want to have the transfers arranged, get the Priority Access: Xcaret Day Trip instead, which includes roundtrip transportation.

Enjoy the Beaches in Cancun

When in Cancun, you might spend most of your time at your all-inclusive resort beach if you’re staying in one. But otherwise, you can’t pass up the chance to explore one or all of these amazing Cancun beaches.

Playa Tortugas – Located in the hotel zone next to Playa Caracol, Playa Tortugas is located inside of a bay, so here you’ll enjoy calm waters perfect for a relaxing swim. You can also book a few water sports activities such as parasailing, jet-skiing, diving, snorkeling, and even bungee jumping.

Playa Delfines – Located on the southern end of the hotel zone, Playa Delfines is one of the best beaches to go to in Cancun. It used to be a quiet beach that has long been a local favorite, but it’s now a little busier. The views here are incredible and you’ll find here the iconic Cancun sign. Keep in mind though that the current is pretty strong, so it might not be the best beach for kids.

Playa Caracol – Located at the end of Boulevard Kukulcan in the hotel zone, Playa Caracol is a small public beach that boasts soft sand and turquoise blue waters that are hard to resist. It’s located close to hotels so it can easily get crowded. It’s a favorite for families thanks to the flat seabeds that make it easy for children to swim.

Playa Forum – Playa Forum is one of the most popular beaches in Cancun, Mexico. It has everything you could look for – turquoise blue waters with white sand and accessibility to the hotel zone. It’s the most crowded beach in Cancun, but if you’re looking for a more lively beach, this is perfect.

Visit the Incredible Chichen Itza Ruins

Chichen Itza is the main tourist attraction in Mexico. If you are headed to Cancun, make sure to add this to your itinerary; even if it’s a 2-hours+ drive from Cancun, it’s absolutely a must.

Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian Mayan city. With over 2.6 million tourists annually, it is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s even one of the New 7 Wonders of the World! Do you still have any doubts that Chichen Itza is worth visiting?

There are plenty of ruins to visit here, but the most famous is a 98-foot tall pyramid called “El Castillo”, or “Temple of Kukulkan”. Unless you are going to rent a car, the best way to get to Chichen Itza is by joining a tour. There are millions of Cancun tours to Chichen Itza out there, but this one below in my opinion is the best option.

➤ The Chichén Itzá, Ik Kil Cenote & Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour is a full-day tour that takes you to explore the grounds of Chichen Itza, before heading for a cenote swim. You’ll end the tour with a stroll around the colonial city of Valladolid, which is definitely worth the visit. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Take a Day Trip To Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is an island in the Caribbean Sea right off the coast of Cancun, Mexico and it’s where you’ll find those dreamy tropical beaches you’ve been dreaming about. Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres is one of those fine, white sand beaches that are lined with palm trees.

Another must-see attraction in Isla Mujeres is the Garrafon Natural Reef Park where you’ll find snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking opportunities. Lastly, check out the turtle conservation center “Tortugranja”.

Most people visit Isla Mujeres on a day trip from Cancun as it’s easily accessible. You can reach the island by ferry, and the ride across the bay takes around 20 minutes. Once on the island, the best way to get around is to rent a scooter or golf cart for the day. Otherwise, you can join a guided tour to Isla Mujeres.

➤ With the All-Inclusive Full-Day Catamaran Cruise to Isla Mujeres, you’ll be setting sail on the turquoise waters of Isla Mujeres and get to snorkel at a coral reef park. After a buffet lunch, relax at one of the best beaches on Isla Mujeres with an open bar. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

READ ALSO: 10 Best Cancun Catamaran Cruises & Tours

Take a Day Trip to Tulum & the Tulum Ruins

Located about an hour and a half south of Cancun, Tulum is one of the not-to-miss attractions from Cancun. Tulum is home to trendy restaurants, hip beach clubs, and is synonym with smoothie bowls and avocado toast. This hipster town also borders the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and the Tulum cenotes are in my opinion the best you’ll find in the region.

READ ALSO: 30 Best Things to do in and Near Tulum

But Tulum also offers some of the most unique Maya ruins in Mexico that you can find: the Tulum Ruins. Where else are you going to visit a Mayan city perched on a cliff, with stunning views of the crystal-clear Caribbean ocean?

Tulum is about a 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from Cancun. You can rent a car, take a colectivo (shared van), or come by taxi. Check out how to get from Cancun to Tulum.

A hassle-free option is to visit Tulum with a tour from Cancun. These tours in my opinion offer the best value:

➤ With the 3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour you’ll start the day exploring the Tulum ruins with a guide, and then head to the Caribbean Sea to snorkel at a coral reef. You’ll also immerse yourself in the jungle and visit a cenote. Transfer and lunch are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ The Tulum and Cenotes Tour includes a guided exploration of the ancient ruins, and a visit to two nearby cenotes, where you can swim and cool off. Roundtrip Cancun transportation is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

See Art Underwater at the MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum

Image of MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum in a list of the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico.
Image by allenran917 via Flickr

The MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum is one of the most interesting and top attractions in Cancun, Mexico.

MUSA is an underwater museum and sculpture park. It’s located in Isla Mujeres, which is approximately 30 minutes from the coast of Cancun, in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. You can read here how to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.

This Cancun museum was the brainchild of sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. He wanted to build an art gallery that uses the ocean floor as the platform. Here you’ll find over 500 statues and sculptures.

The underwater art museum is a great place for snorkeling and can be enjoyed by the whole family. You’re likely to encounter plenty of fish besides the sculptures!

➤ The Underwater Museum Snorkel Tour provides snorkeling gear and a guide who will take you to the museum, where you’ll spot 500 statues and the marine life that lives around them. The tour is suitable for all ages. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ You can also try scuba diving at the museum! If you’re a beginner, check out the Diving in the Mexican Caribbean tour to enjoy two different dives after an informative class. If you’re already an experienced diver, the 2 Tank Dive MUSA and Reef takes you scuba diving among the life-size statues and to a nearby reef.

Cancun Nightlife: Coco Bongo & More

Image of woman in front of the Coco Bongo sign inserted in a list of the ebst things to do in Cancun.

The nightlife in Cancun, Mexico is really vibrant. One more reason why so many people come to spend their spring break in Cancun!

One of the best places to go in Cancun is Coco Bongo. This is the most famous club in Cancun, and it’s a lot more than just your regular club. There are several artists, flying acrobats, and musicians that get on stage every night to offer a spectacular show. This super club can house a total of 1,800 people!

You don’t need to be into the party scene to enjoy it, because the show will capture you. Even Fran, who doesn’t like clubs, had a great time and recommends it to everyone who goes to Cancun!

It’s not cheap to enter Coco Bongo, but remember that some tickets include an open bar.

➤ You can get the Regular Entrance Ticket which guarantees your access to the club and allows you to skip the line, or otherwise choose the Gold Member Entrance Ticket for unlimited drinks from 10 PM to 3 AM and access to the exclusive Gold Member area.

Aside from Coco Bongo, there are plenty of other exciting bars to check out in Cancun. Some of the best Cancun clubs are The City Cancun (the largest club in Latina America, it can host up to 6000 people on three levels), Palazzo Cancun (the most lavish club in Cancun), and Mandala Cancun (with an oriental decor).

Check out the Neighbor Playa del Carmen

When wondering what to do around Cancun, you should consider Playa del Carmen, a coastal resort town that is just just one hour south of Cancun. This is a popular destination for those who are looking to scuba dive into its famous coral reefs or to go swimming in one of many pristine beaches.

However, there are plenty of activities to enjoy even away from the beach. Here you’ll find all sorts of restaurants, bars, and exciting nightlife. Most people who come for a day or a night enjoy walking down Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen 5th Avenue, a lively strip full of souvenir shops, all the main brands’ stores, and eateries.

And of course, you can also visit the famous cenotes near Playa del Carmen that many tourists come to Mexico for (my favorite are Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino).

Get an adrenaline rush at Xplor, Xavage and Selvatica Parks

If you are looking for adventure or thrill-seeking activities, these three amusement parks below offer for sure an adrenaline experience. They are located about an hour south of Cancun.

Xplor is my favorite adventure park in Quintana Roo, and spending one day here is one of the best things to do in Cancun with kids or without kids.

Xplor offers a wide range of exciting activities and rides; it’s mostly famous for its zip-line rides that are the tallest and fastest in the region. You can also drive amphibious vehicles, go underground rafting, hammock splash, and float around underground rivers. I had a blast!

➤ You can get the Priority Access: Xplor Adventure Park ticket to enjoy a transfer from your Cancun hotel as well as access to all the activities and a buffet lunch. If you’d rather drive to the park, get the All-Inclusive Ticket which includes free parking, lockers, and lunch with unlimited drinks.

▶ For an even more special experience, check out Xplor Fuego…. because everything is better at night! You’ll get to swim in underground rivers, zipline through the jungle, and drive an ATV after nightfall.

▶ Another park that you need to check out for Cancun adventure tours is Selvatica, which exploits the lush jungle as the platform for exciting adventures and explorations. There are plenty of tours to choose from that include zip lining, off-road rides, extreme canopy, and snorkeling. This attraction has been named the #1 adventure park in Cancun!

This isn’t your regular park where you pay an admission ticket and then you can wander around, choosing what rides to go on. Any tour you’ll choose will be guided.

➤ Get the Selvatica Adventure Park Tour to enjoy the 10 different ziplines and swim in the private cenote, lunch included. For a more comprehensive tour choose the Ziplines, Cenote, and ATV Tour which includes full-access to all the activities, as well as as lunch and transportation.

▶ Still looking for more theme parks and Cancun adventures? Xavage is the most extreme park to check out when you visit Cancun. Opened in 2019 by the same group of Xcaret, this park boasts all kinds of exhilarating rides that will take you through land, air, or water. You can go on an exhilarating ride on a fierce jet boat, navigate electrifying rapids and conquer the 20-meter horizontal zip line; it’s so much fun!

➤ The Xavage Admission grants you access to the park’s activities as well as lunch and use of dressing rooms. If you’re not driving, get the Priority Access: Xavage Day Trip which includes transportation from your hotel besides full access.

5 Best Cancun Adventure Parks
8 Best Cancun ATV Tours
9 Best Cancun Zipline Tours & Experiences


Walk Around Downtown Cancun & Mercado 28

Image of Mercado 28 in Downtown Cancun, Mexico.
Image by bryce_edwards via Flickr

Cancun is divided into two major zones. The first one is the hotel zone (Zona Hotelera), which is where the boutique hotels, all inclusive resorts, and beaches are. The other zone is the Downtown Cancun zone, also known as Ciudad Cancun, which is where the locals live (and where you’ll find the local culture that you can NOT find in the Hotel Zone).

It’s a great place to shop for traditional souvenirs or at the Malecon Americas Shopping Center. Avenida Tulum is the main street.

The Parque Las Palapas is the main park in downtown Cancun. In here, you will find food carts, an outdoor food court, and several handicraft shops.

But one of the best things to do in downtown Cancun is wandering around Mercado 28. This is the main market in Cancun, and is filled with colorful souvenir stands and jewelry shops, on top of cheap eateries with the best tacos you’ll find in Cancun.

Check Out the Instagrammable Las Coloradas Pink Lakes

Las Coloradas is located in the Rio Lagartos Municipality, on the northern coast of the Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a former fishing village that has recently become super popular, thanks to its wonderful pink lakes that are the craze on Instagram!

READ ALSO: A Guide to Las Coloradas Pink Lakes in Yucatan, Mexico

Las Coloradas date back to the Mayan era, when the lagoons were already used to produce salt. Over the centuries, the process has caused the water here to turn a brilliant pink.

Aside from the photogenic pink lakes, if you’re lucky you might even spot flamingoes in the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, which is located right next to the pink lakes.

Las Coloradas isn’t close to Cancun. It’s a 3,5 hours drive away, so it might be worth it only if you really, really want to see the pink lakes, or you are planning to do a 2-day trip exploring also Chichen Itza. In this case, the best place to stop for the night is Valladolid.

You can either rent a car and go to the pink lakes on your own, or join a tour from Cancun.

➤ Check out this Excursion to Las Coloradas from Cancun. On this full-day tour, you’ll get to explore the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, and also travel by boat through the mangroves of Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve looking for birds and crocodiles. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Go for a Meal, Stay for the Party at Señor Frogs

Going party to Senor Frogs in Cancun is one of the best things to do in Cancun.

Señor Frogs is an extremely popular Mexican-themed bar and grill in Cancun, Mexico. Don’t come here for just the food, but for its party scene! Señor Frogs is one of the hottest Cancun party places for those who want to spend a wild night.

You’ll find a Glow party on Sundays, a Foam party on Wednesdays, and you can opt for open bar the rest of the days. Joining a party at Señor Frogs is one of the best things to do in Cancun at night!

Watch a Lucha Libre Show

Going to see a Lucha Libre show is one of the most unique experiences that you can try when in Mexico. Mexicans enjoy their wrestling matches (Lucha Libre is known as the WWE of Mexico) and this is an experience that will enable you to merge with the locals.

The Lucha Libre Show in Cancun is held in Arena Cancun. Check out the Lucha Libre TWS Cancun facebook page to know where the next matches are going to be held. This is also one of the cheapest things to do in Cancun on a budget, with tickets usually costing less than $10.

Even if you’re not into wrestling, it’s still a fun show. I definitely don’t care much about lucha libre but I had a blast cheering with the locals.

Explore Mayan Ruins Right Next to Your Hotel

Wondering what to do in the Cancun hotel zone? Well, would you believe me if I told you that there’s a Mayan ruins site within it, close to the famous Cancun sign? Make sure to visit El Rey Archaeological Zone. This is a pre-Columbian Mayan ruin site that was settled back in the 200 to 1200 AD, and one of the best Mayan ruins in Cancun.

This isn’t by any means a large archaeological zone. You should still go exploring Maya ruins such as Chichen Itza or Tulum. However, you can still walk through the 47 structures and imagine how they used to be.

El Rey Archaeological Zone is open every day from 8 AM to 4.30 PM. The entrance fee is 50 pesos (approximately USD 2.50 at the time of writing).

Head to Paradisiac Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy is another beautiful island that you can visit when in Cancun, located near Isla Mujeres. It was declared a national park in 1998.

Isla Contoy has a very different vibe from Isla Mujeres, because this island only allows a maximum of 200 guests a day to preserve its landscape. Hence, you are only able to visit it by booking a tour in advance.

➤ The Isla Contoy Eco Adventure lets you explore this uninhabited tropical island filled with dainty, white-sand beaches and incredible flora and fauna. You’ll snorkel at a coral reef, and after lunch head to Isla Mujeres for some free time. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Visit the Museo Maya de Cancun

If you like history and museums, you can check out the Museo Maya de Cancun (Mayan Museum of Cancun). This is one of the best places to visit in Cancun when it rains!

This modern white building houses a collection of over 3,500 pieces linked to the history of the region, but only about 10% of this complete collection is on display at the Maya Museum (roughly 300+ items). One area of the Maya Museum is dedicated to archaeology while another is all about Mayan culture.

Climb Pyramids at the Coba Ruins

The Coba Ruins are one of the most popular archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. This site offers an impressive array of artifacts that were excavated in the middle of a lush jungle.

You may climb the largest pyramid on the site, Ixmoja, which is 42 meters tall. Climbing up 120 stone steps is worth it with the view that you can enjoy from up above.

➤ With the Tulum, Coba & Cenote Day Tour you’ll get to learn about the history of the region by visiting both the ruins in Tulum and Coba. You’ll also share a traditional lunch with the Mayan community and visit the Dzonot Wayak cenote to cap off the tour. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ Another great option is the Chichen Itzá, Ik Kil and Coba Small Group Tour. Aside from touring the Coba Ruins, you’ll be visiting Chichen Itza and swimming at Cenote Ik Kil, which are other destinations you definitely shouldn’t miss. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Take the Ferry To Cozumel

Image by Raphael Zoren, Journey Wonders

If you are looking for a great day trip from Cancun, I find Cozumel to be a great destination. You can organize a trip yourself by taking the ferry that departs from Playa del Carmen. You can easily reach Playa del Carmen by taxi or by colectivo, the shared shuttle.

The ferry costs $22 for adults or $14 for children. The ferry ride takes about 40 minutes, and the water is often choppy – if you get sea sickness easily, you might want to take some dramamine before the ride.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Cozumel for a day. One of them is Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, which is known for its snorkeling and beautiful beaches, and where you can climb the lighthouse for incredible views. Other must-see destinations are Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park and Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park.

You can also choose to join an organized tour. These are two good options:

➤ The Cozumel & Snorkel Day Trip includes transportation from your hotel and a ferry ride to Cozumel, where you’ll relax at the beach, snorkel and explore the island. If chosen you can also enjoy lunch and an open bar. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ If you’re fine with getting to Cozumel on your own, to me the Cozumel Jeep Safari with Beach Lunch and Snorkeling is the best option. I joined a very similar tour and had a blast driving the jeep around the island, visiting the Punta Celarain lighthouse, and snorkeling at Punta Sur Ecological Park. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Go Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, or Get Adventurous with Water Sports

Cancun is also a great destination for watersport adventures.

Snorkeling is one of these top activities to do in Cancun simply because of the rich marine life in the area due to the adjacent Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. With the crystal-clear visibility in the water, it’s exciting to have the chance to encounter marine life and coral reefs as you go swimming. Most of the best snorkeling rides are a short boat ride away from Cancun.

The same goes for scuba diving. In fact, beginners and professional divers flock to Cancun all year round in search of the best scuba diving destinations.

Other fun water sport activities that you can enjoy in Riviera Maya and Cancun include jet surfing, flyboarding, deep sea fishing, and kiteboarding.

Experience a Temazcal, a Purifying Mayan Ceremony

Temazcal is an ancient ceremony part of the Mayan culture, similar to the sweat lodge ceremonies that you would find in other cultures. The Mayans believed that this particular ceremony can treat illnesses.

If you want to try a temazcal ceremony while in Cancun (in my opinion it’s one of the best things to do in Cancun for couples), there are plenty of spas to choose from.

➤ With the Mayan Temazcal Purification Ceremony you’ll participate in this sacred ritual led by a shaman and learn about the Mayan customs. You’ll also enjoy a traditional dinner and swim at night in a cenote. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Live a Mexican Fiesta at Xoximilco

Xoximilco is another must-try experience when visiting Cancun, Mexico. This is a theme park (part of the same group that owns Xcaret) that was built as a tribute to the UNESCO canals of Xoximilco in Mexico City. The trajinera boats that are now seen in this theme park were traditionally used to transport flowers and goods.

This is a dinner event. You will board one of the colorful boats and ride through the canals of Xoximilco. While onboard, you will be treated to a traditional Mexican dinner that comes with an open bar. The party will continue with a traditional Mexican fiesta experience as you get to enjoy carnival-type of games and traditional mariachi music.

➤ The Xoximilco Admission takes you on an evening tour in a trajinera with a 3-course meal, unlimited tequila and live music to enjoy the fiesta. You can also choose the Xochimilco Park Ticket to have transportation included.

Take a Day Trip to Beautiful Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is a breathtakingly beautiful island that offers the best escape from the hustle and bustle of Cancun. This island is dotted with untouched beaches, laidback bars right next to the beach, small yet colorful markets, and unmatched natural beauty.

There are no cars on the island, and a chill, relaxed vibe. It’s not a case that it’s, in my opinion, one of the best places to visit in Mexico!

I recommend spending a few days on Holbox, but if you have limited time, you can still visit Holbox on a day trip from Cancun.

➤ With the full-day Holbox Island Tour you’ll swim at Yalahau Island and do some bird watching at Isla Pájaro. After lunch in a beachside restaurant on Holbox Island, you’ll relax on the beach in Isla Pasion for the rest of the day. Transfer is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

READ MORE: Isla Holbox: The Complete Guide to This Island Paradise

That White Sand Beach You Were Dreaming of? It’s Xpu Ha Beach!

Beach bums, this one is for you! Xpu Ha Beach might be Quintana Roo’s best-kept secret after Holbox Island. This gorgeous stretch of white sand beach is located right in between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

When you picture a white sandy beach in your head, it’s probably the portrait of Xpu-Ha Beach. You can access the beach for a nominal fee of 50 Pesos. There are beach chairs that you can rent to relax in, or you can simply lay your towel on the beach. Either way, the turquoise blue waters and the fine sand are all worth the entrance fee.

Swim in the Bluest Water in Mexico at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

If I had to choose just one natural destination in the Yucatan Peninsula, I would choose the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve. Sian Kaan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.

It’s not in the top 10 of this list just because it’s not that close to Cancun (2 hours by car from Cancun to the entrance of the reserve), but if you have time, please visit Sian Ka’an. It has one of the most beautiful reefs and water I’ve ever swum in.

I don’t recommend trying and visiting Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve with a rental car. It’s technically allowed, but you need to be driving a 4×4. The road through the jungle is pretty terrible!

➤ I recommend the Sian Ka’an Safari, which is the tour I went on. It starts with a truck ride through the Biosphere Reserve, and continues with a 3-hour boat ride to see dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and crocodiles. You’ll get to snorkel in the sea, and head to Punta Allen for lunch and a swim in the most crystal-clear water in a natural pool. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

READ ALSO: 5 Best Sian Kaan Tours from Cancun, Tulum, or Riviera Maya

Walk around Boulevard Kukulcan

Boulevard Kukulcan, named after a Mayan deity, stretches across the central area of Cancun in the Cancun Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera). This is where you’ll find an extensive row of beachfront hotels and all inclusive resorts. But even if you are not staying in the hotel zone, you can walk around to experience the area’s dining, shopping and entertainment options.

The Fashion Harbour is a Cancun shopping mecca as it is home to a number of luxury designer shops and the space itself is notable for its cutting-edge architecture. La Isla Shopping Village is another spot in the hotel zone that houses more than just shops and boutiques as there are restaurants, ice cream parlors, and bars, too!

Swim (Responsibly!) With Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks is an experience of a lifetime. These giant animals are harmless, and it’s not something you’ll be able to ever forget. The whale shark season only goes from June to September, so you’ll have to visit during these months to be able to do this.

⚠️ To make sure you join a tour that is responsible, I researched for you the Cancun tour companies. Eco Colors Tour is a sustainable tour operator that donates part of the money to benefit conservation programs with local NGOs. Their tours with whale sharks are always guided by a naturalist or marine guide.

➤ The Eco Friendly: Whale Sharks Tour will take you sailing on the Yucatan Peninsula to the Isla Mujeres area where whale sharks usually concentrate. Aside from these giants, you’ll also get to spot sea turtles, mantas and dolphins, and finish your day with lunch and relaxation at Isla Mujeres. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Go on an Official Taco Tour

If you love tacos as much as I do, there is simply no chance you could pass up a food tour in Cancun. I mean, who doesn’t like tacos and more tacos? The Taco Tour is highly recommended for foodies. If you’re wondering what to do in downtown Cancun, this activity takes place there during dinner time.

It starts at 5 PM and you will be visiting 4 different taco spots. Each spot offers a different style of taco paired with cold beer, so you can taste a little bit of everything… I had no idea there were so many different types of tacos before visiting Mexico! The tour lasts for 4.5 hours and includes transportation, dinner at local restaurants, drinks and dessert, and an optional vegetarian menu. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Once you’re done with the tour, go for a tequila tasting in Cancun! I mean, you can’t go to Mexico and not ever try some tequila, one of the best drinks in Mexico.

If you want to make some tacos at home or some other yummy variation of this dish, check out this chicken flautas recipe.

Swim with Sea Turtles at Akumal

Akumal Beach is one of the most gorgeous stretches of white sand beach in Mexico, but most of the tourists who come to Akumal do so for the chance to swim with sea turtles. The term Akumal is in fact a Mayan word that literally means place of the turtle.

Akumal Beach serves as the perfect natural habitat for sea turtles. Off the coast of Akumal lies a huge coral reef that is the sea turtles’ main feeding ground.

Nowadays, tourists aren’t allowed in the water to find sea turtles by themselves. Now you’ll have to pay the (quite steep) fixed price of about $20, and you’ll only be allowed to swim in a restricted area, which can get very crowded. I haven’t visited Akumal recently, so I don’t know how good or bad it is.

I haven’t visited Akumal since the new regulations took place, so I can’t tell you how it currently is from my own experience, but swimming with turtles (in a responsible way!) is a magical adventure.

⚠️ When you go swimming with these wild turtles, resist the urge to touch them. Let’s be responsible tourists every time we interact with animals.

Take a Day Trip to Valladolid

Valladolid is a charming town that combines everything good about Mexico. There are plenty of fun things to do in Valladolid, including walking down its colorful streets, enjoying its natural attractions, and swimming in the Valladolid cenotes such as Cenote Zaci and Cenote Oxman. The city is also rich in local culture and history.

Most people coming from Cancun will visit Valladolid as part of a day tour to Chichen Itza, but you can also easily rent a car and visit Valladolid on your own.

READ ALSO: How to get from Cancun to Valladolid


Looking for the perfect all-inclusive resort in Cancun?

Wyndham Alltra Cancun is a family-friendly all inclusive resort with swimming pools, an incredible beach area with cabanas and loungers, and a water park for children. Plus a full-service spa with a hydrotherapy circuit and nightly live performances.

You’ll find 7 restaurants that serve a wide variety of cuisine specialties, and several bars and lounges that will fix your drinks all day long, as well as room service at any time.

▶ Book your stay at Wyndham Alltra Cancun ON THEIR WEBSITE or on BOOKING.COM.

LUXURY: Nizuc Resort & Spa – A tennis court, a spa, two swimming pools and a private dock are among the top facilities in this 5-star hotel. There’s also a private beach area, 6 restaurants and fully-equipped rooms.

MID-RANGE: Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla – The rooms in this hotel zone hotel are all air-conditioned and feature a TV, a seating area and a private bathroom, with a buffet breakfast included. A fitness center, infinity pool, bar and restaurant can be enjoyed.

ON A BUDGET: Nomads Enigmatic Hotel & Restaurant Bar – This 3-star hotel features a swimming pool, a shared lounge, a games room and a spa. There are shared and private rooms and various entertainment activities.


Mexico is not an expensive country in general, but the Riviera Maya and Cancun can be. If you add all the entrance tickets for attractions and theme parks, it can easily become hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars!

But thankfully, there is a way to save on fun and Cancun sightseeing, as well as skip the line at many of the busiest Cancun tourist attractions, plus get free entry to other best activities in Cancun if you end up having some extra time.

Check out the GO Cancun All Inclusive Pass, which allows you to save up to 45% to over 40 attractions and top excursions in Cancun. Check out the list with all the attractions that are included in the pass.

I made a calculation for you. Let’s say you buy the GO Cancun 3-day pass, which costs $246. You can choose a premium activity, for example, access to Xplor Fuego, which separately costs $109. This is a night attraction, so you still have 3 full days to take advantage of your pass! Let’s say you choose:

• Full Day Mayan Encounter with Coba Tour and Lunch (usually $139) and at night the Columbus Romantic Dinner Catamaran Cruise (usually $89);

• the Sunrise Wildlife Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour (usually $140) in the morning and the Underwater Museum Snorkel at Paraiso Nizuc (usually $47) in the afternoon, and at night the 2-Hour Open Bar at Senor Frogs (usually $35);

• the Tulum Express Tour (normally $62), before heading to Xplor Fuego ($109).

The activities you chose would be $621 but you pay $246, which is a 60% discount!! The trick is in planning your days in advance by fitting together morning, afternoon, and night activities, and reserve the attractions you need to reserve.



We’ve all heard it: Cancun is dangerous, you can get killed in Cancun… and while it is true that there is violence in the outskirts of the city (mostly gang-related), the news are misleading. Cancun is not in the top 10 dangerous cities in Mexico, and 4 American cities have a higher murder rate than Cancun. However, you probably wouldn’t boycott New Orleans or Kansas City because of its murder rate, would you? You would just be more careful to avoid dangerous areas.

The truth is, Cancun is a generally safe place to go. But as with any destination flocked by tourists, it’s important to maintain awareness wherever you go. Always be vigilant, and don’t go around intoxicated by yourself. Avoid the areas north of Lopez Portillo, around Bonfil, and the outskirts of Cancun…but why would you go to these areas anyway? You’ll probably stay around the hotel zone mostly.

Be extra careful when people offer you rental car services or tours. It is best to book a transfer to your hotel before you arrive unless you intend to take the bus, and it’s a good idea to check out Cancun excursions online too, so you can see reviews from previous customers.


Cancun enjoys tropical weather all year round, so you can expect fair weather no matter when you go.

For the best weather and the best time to go to Cancun, though, try to visit between December to April. You’ll find sunny skies, not much rain or humidity, and the best temperatures (warm during the day, slightly chiller at night).

The rain season in Cancun goes from June to October. This is also known as the hurricane season, although in reality hurricanes and storms are very rare. The temperatures are hot and humid. You just have to be prepared for the occasional rain shower. During these months you’ll find the best deals for hotels and flights, although many tour operators close down for this season.

May and November are shoulder season.

And this is it! I hope this super long guide to the best Cancun attractions has been useful to help you decide where to go in Cancun and to choose the best excursions in Cancun. For any doubts, just leave me a comment!


What are the top attractions to visit in Cancun?

• Mayan Ruins like Chichen Itza, Tulum, or Coba
MUSA Underwater Museum
Xcaret Park
• Playa Tortugas, Playa Delfines and Playa Caracol

What is Cancun most known for?

Cancun is very popular for its spectacular beaches, tons of resorts and hotels (many of them on the beach in the hotel zone!) and great nightlife.

How many days do I need in Cancun?

You should stay a minimum of 3 days if you are planning to move somewhere else in Quintana Roo, or around 5-7 days if you’re just staying in Cancun.

What is the best month to visit Cancun?

The best time to visit Cancun is from December to April

What are the best outdoor activities in Cancun?

Catamaran cruise to Isla Mujeres
• Snorkeling at MUSA Underwater Museum
• Swimming with Whale Sharks
• Visiting Xcaret Park, Xplor or Selvatica

Is Cancun worth visiting?

Absolutely! Cancun boasts gorgeous beaches, plenty of activities to keep you entertained and it’s close to Mayan ruins and other great destinations in the Riviera Maya such as Tulum, Isla Mujeres, and Playa del Carmen.

Is it better to stay in Cancun or Tulum?

Tulum and Cancun are very different destinations. Families with children or those wanting to party hard would probably prefer Cancun, while millennials and younger generations would probably enjoy Tulum more.


How to Get from Cancun Airport to Tulum
How To Get from Cancun to Merida
The Ultimate Yucatan Itinerary

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  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.


Sunday 13th of August 2023

Whale sharks in the beach very dangerous

Stefania Guglielmi

Monday 14th of August 2023

Whale sharks don't attack humans, so they are not any more dangerous than dolphins.