If you’ve never been to Mexico’s most popular destination of Cancun, you might be surprised about how much there is to do in the region. The usual cliché about vacationers in Cancun resorts is that they stay in a walled-off all-inclusive complex the whole time, then turn around and fly back home. It’s very easy to get out and about though for a range of fun excursions.
Here are eight Cancun excursion options for when you’ve had enough of walking the beach and drinking cocktails by the pool.
Chichen Itza Archaeological Site
Properly spelled as Chichén Itzá and pronounced with accents on the second syllable, this iconic site is one of the wonders of the world. It’s also the most famous and most-visited Mayan site. There’s plenty to see on a tour here that will give insight into the Maya culture, but of course the dominating structure is the giant pyramid in the middle of the lawn. It’s a few hours there and back, so bring something to read, extra water, and sunscreen.
Tulum Archaeological Site
If you don’t have the time or energy to head a few hours inland, Tulum is a much more accessible site in the Riviera Maya. The main temple here sits on top a cliff overlooking the sea, so while the structures here aren’t all that impressive, the dramatic setting and beach below make up for it.
The Underground Rivers of Xcaret
The Xcaret Park is one of the most popular destinations in the Cancun and Riviera Maya region, with plenty of activities to keep the family occupied all day. Then at night they put on a spectacular show in their large arena.
One of the most memorable experiences here is swimming in an underground river, part of the cenote system that runs underneath most of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cenotes Tour Cancun Excursions
For a more complete Cenote experience, book the Oasis Maya Tour and visit four different cenotes in one day. You can just float around and swim, or try something more adventurous. You can rappel down to one, zipline to a water landing in a second, snorkel in another, then go kayaking at the last one.
There’s not a lot of snorkeling around Cancun itself, but there are plenty of options when you connect with the reef at Cozumel, Puerto Morales, or near the ruins of Tulum. For a more turn-key experience though, you can book a trip to Xel-Há, open 365 days a year. The pond and river system there is connected to the Caribbean but offers calm water for unlimited snorkeling. There are changing rooms and lockers on site, a full bar, and restaurant. If you’ve got your own rental car, there’s ample free parking.
A Colorful Mexican Party Boat Ride
One of the signature experiences in Mexico City is traveling to Xochimilco to ride a bright boat along the canals. It’s a popular activity for locals for birthdays or other celebrations, with musicians serenading and food boats pulling up with treats. Xoximilco Cancun was born to pay homage to the tradition, beauty, and history of this iconic place and it’s ready to take you on a tour in which you can live the most festive traditions of Mexico. You’ll be sure to get plenty of fun, colorful photos.
Mind Tricks and Fun at Xenses
One of the newest—and strangest—theme parks in the Riviera Maya is Xenses, a place that may just blow your mind. This man-made park has activities that will stimulate all your senses like the Xensatorium, the Bird Flight, and a huge slip slide, but then things start getting weird. There’s a mud river, a salt river for floating, a “Way of Dwarfs and Giants,” and tilting optical illusion structures to mess with your assumptions.
If just one short zipline is not enough, you can go all in at Xplor Park, where there are two circuits of zip-lines to ride. When you’ve had enough of that, you can ride amphibious vehicles through the jungle and cool off at an underground river with stalactites and stalagmites. This Park includes an unlimited buffet and beverages when you need to recharge.
Making plans now to come to Cancun? You can book any of these Cancun excursions in advance, which usually gets you a sizable discount compared to doing it on site. To check prices and see more info, visit the website for the largest tour operator in the region, Experiencas Xcaret.