Cancun is full of exciting places to see and things to do. Here are our Top Five things that should not be missed during your Cancun Vacation:
1. The Coral Reef. This is THE most awesome feature Cancun has to offer. The underwater world is filled with colorful fish and sea life that we rarely get to see. There are several ways to see the reef.
Scuba Diving. If you are a certified diver then you really must dive the reef and underwater museum in Cancun. Not certified yet? You can still dive on the reef in the afternoon after a morning of dive instructions.
Snorkeling. There are so many options to snorkel on the reef. Snorkeling is easy and fun, but you cannot get to the reef by swimming out from the beach. You need to get there by boat. Choose from a catamaran sailboat, 2 person speedboats or large double-decker all inclusive boat.
Submarine. You don’t have to know how to snorkel, or even swim to see the coral reef in Cancun. There is a submarine that will take you down to the ocean floor safely. This option is great for kids and anyone who does not want to snorkel or does not know how to swim. We also have personal submarines, like underwater mopeds with bubble helmets, called the BOB (Breathing Observation Bubble).
2. Chichen Itza. This is the largest and most spectacular site of Mayan ruins in the area. Although it is a 2 and a half hour drive from Cancun, it is worth it. You can rent a car and drive to the ruins, but we don’t recommend that option. By the time you pay for the car rental and all the tolls, and then still have to deal with the crazy drivers sharing the road with you, it is not worth it. It is fairly inexpensive to can take a public bus tour to Chichen Itza including entrance fee and a guide. If you don’t like the idea of a tour bus filled with people, check out our private tours to Chichen Itza. Having your own van and driver for the day gives you the freedom to leave as early as you want and spend as much or little time in the ruins.
3. Isla Mujeres. This small island just a short boat ride from Cancun is a laid-back beach village with a unique history. It is said that pirates would leave their women on the island for safe-keeping, hence the name Isla Mujeres or “woman island”. Quaint shops with many handmade crafts line the beaches. While on Isla Mujeres you should go to Playa Norte “North Beach”. This is the most beautiful beach with calm, shallow water that stretches out forever. Playa Norte is perfect spot to let your kids play on the beach and in the ocean without the strong waves and current like in Cancun. You can get to the island by catamaran, private catamaran, or large, double-decker party boat. You can also take the public ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Check out our video trip to Isla Mujeres.
4. Eco-parks. Eco-parks are jungle reserves with tourist activities working in unison to preserve the jungle ecosystem and provide entertainment and an educational experience for tourists. There are several eco-parks in the Riviera Maya now with different activities.
Xcaret – Ideal for kids of all ages, this park is like an interactive zoo with exotic birds and animal exhibits. Kids can touch a starfish, walk through a bat cave, and see turtles of all sizes. Life jackets are included so you can float the underground river cave system. The Mayan cemetery is a glimpse into the Mayan world, but the Night Show is the full story. The Night Show at Xcaret goes through the history of the area showing the audience through costume, song and dance how the Mayan people lived and died. Then you can see the Spanish influence and finally the American influence enters the show, leaving you with a more complete understanding of the current Mexican and Mayan culture.
Xel-Ha – Xel-Ha is a Mayan word combination of xel "spring" and ha' "water". Because Xel-Ha is a protected inlet it is perfect for snorkeling. The inlet is filled with colorful fish, yet it doesn’t have the waves and current that you find further into the ocean. Anywhere you put your head in the water at Xel-Ha you will see fish. Xel-Ha offers an all inclusive entrance ticket, including all your food, drinks (alcoholic & non-alcoholic), snorkeling equipment rental, towels & lockers. If you are looking for a safe and relaxing place to snorkel, Xel-Ha is it.
Xplor – Xplor eco-park is billed as the “newest, coolest & hottest park”. It is an adventure park, must more extreme than the others. Minimum age is 6 years old for Xplor park. There are 4 exciting adventures inside Xplor: Amphibious buggies that you drive over bridges, through the jungle and into the caves and cenotes; Zip Lines that are the highest of anywhere around; rafts to float the underground cave system; and of course snorkeling in the water-filled caves, called cenotes, pronounced “sa-no-tay”. Xplor is also all inclusive food, drinks, gear & guides, however the food is of a more natural variety and there is no alcohol.
Hidden Worlds – The jungle at Hidden Worlds eco-park is more untouched than the others. Hidden Worlds boasts the most awesome cenotes to scuba dive in, but there is much more to this park than just the location for the 2005 movie “The Cave” with Cole Hauser. Hidden Worlds offers the Ultimate Adventure, which is truly that…a full jungle experience with jungle zip lines, SkyCycle, cenote splashdown zip line, rappelling, cavern snorkeling and the new Avatar – the first roller coaster zip line in the world!
Aktun Chen – Similar to Hidden Worlds, the eco-park of Aktun Chen offers snorkeling in the cenote caves and zip lines, but is unique in several ways. Aktun Chen also has dry caves where you can explore the caverns without getting wet like in cenotes. Learn about the stalactite and stalagmite formation of the interlinking underground cave system. Aktun Chen also offers these three activities “à la carte” so that you can mix and match to create a custom tour.
5. Cenotes. Cenotes are fresh water underground and interlinking cave systems unique to the Yucatan Peninsula. The word cenote comes from the Mayan word for “well”, which very accurately describes these sinkholes. You can see cenotes at some of the eco-parks listed above, but there are a handful of others. There are a couple cenotes outside of Coba Mayan ruins and Cenote Ik Kil is close to Chichen Itza if you are planning a trip to those ruins you could add on a stop at the cenotes.
These are my Top Five Things to do while in Cancun. If you prefer more “stay-close-to-the-resort” options, check out Plaza La Isla Mall, Plaza Forum, and don’t forget the nightclub CocoBongo.
Downtown Cancun shopping tour to Market 28 & Tulum Ave. offers shopping with a more local feel if you would like to avoid the high-priced and high-pressure sales of the Cancun Hotel Zone.
I hope you have enjoyed the list. If you have any questions about any of the suggestions, please feel free to contact us here.