Are you planning a vacation to Cancun, Mexico? Cancun has all of the amenities and activities that make it a great choice for your next vacation spot. You will not run out of things to do in Cancun!
Are you in search of some sunlight and relaxation? You’re in luck, as there are plenty of activities and tourist sites that will help you find that perfect balance. But with so many things to do in Cancun, where do you even begin?
Cancun boasts an idyllic climate all year long. The lively and charming city of Cancun is well-known for its miles of picturesque beaches and majestic Mayan ruins.
Scratch a little deeper though, and there’s plenty to really discover and enjoy. Whether you are after culture, nature, or adventure, Cancun is a true gem for families, couples, singles…the fact it is one of Mexico’s top honeymoon destinations speaks volumes on its allure. The beaches themselves are excellent with fine soft sand and warm waters.
Interested in cruising the warm, Caribbean waters around Cancun? Find out why yachts offer the experience for that!
Wondering where to satisfy your hunger while in Cancun? Check out these articles below for some of the best places to eat in Cancun:
The best part of Cancun is its hotel zone. It has everything you could ever wish for, from ultra all-inclusive resorts with breathtaking views of the ocean to independent villas with their own swimming pools, and everything in between.
The hotel zone offers a wide range of restaurants, nightlife spots, and other entertainment options, such as sports bars or casino lounges. You will never be bored looking for things to do in the hotel zone of Cancun.
Whether you want to hang back at your hotel or explore the city, there’s something for everyone within walking distance.
While in Cancun don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself with the city (hurry while they’re hot!):
- Cancún/Riviera Maya: Chichén Itzá, Valladolid & Cenote Tour
- Cancun: All-Inclusive Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour
- Cancun: Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour with Lunch and Open Bar
- Cancun/Riviera Maya: Isla Mujeres All-Inclusive Snorkel Trip
- Cancun: Tulum and Cenotes 5 Hour Guided Tour
- Cancun & Riviera Maya: ATV, Zipline, & Cenote Combo Tour
- Xplor Park: All-Inclusive Entry Ticket
- Cancún: Speedboat, Snorkel & Jet Ski Rental Combo Tour
- Cancún: Classic Chichen Itza Day Tour with Lunch
- Best Things To Do In Cancun, Mexico
- Visit The Hotel Zone
- Visit Downtown Cancún
- Relax At The Beaches Of “Playa Delfines”
- Golf In Cancún
- Party At Coco Bongo
- Visit Isla Mujeres
- Explore The Tulum Ruins
- Discover Xel-Ha Park
- Temazcal Ceremony
- Explore Chichen Itza
- Snorkel With Whale Sharks
- Swim in Ik’Kil Cenote
- Watch a Lucha Libre Wrestling Show
- Watch Sea Turtles
- Visit Maya Museum & Miguelito Ruins
- Kayak Nichupte Lagoon
- Visit El Meco Ruins
- Visit The Underwater Museum
- Go Scuba Diving
- Relax At Isla Contoy
- Sail On A Catamaran Cruise
- Best Time To Visit Cancun
- Wondering how to get to Cancun, Mexico from the airport?
Best Things To Do In Cancun, Mexico
Visit The Hotel Zone
Cancun is divided into two areas. Downtown, also known as Ciudad Cancun, and Cancun Island, also known as The Hotel Zone or “Zona Hotelera.”
Ciudad Cancun is home to many locals who live and work in the downtown area. The night scene is tame compared to the hotel zone, and it’s where you will find your cheap eats. For an economical meal, this is where to go in Cancun.
The Hotel Zone is the place to be in Cancun when it comes to beaches, nightlife, and action. There are more than 60 hotels in this six mile stretch of paradise, including all-inclusive resorts.
It’s about thirty minutes from the airport to the Zona Hotelera; just search for “Las Americas Blvd.” on any map app and head to the beach!
I love the Hotel Zone. It’s one of the most party-hearty zones in the world. Most family hotels are located here, as well as much of the nightlife. In fact, if you want to party all night and sleep all day — this is your place.
The Hotel Zone is divided into subsections by the two main boulevards. The northern zone, along Boulevard Kukulcan (aka Bulevar K), is the place to be if you’re into partying it up, or at least want to pretend you are.
In addition to nightclubs, restaurants and beer bars, there are street performers, sidewalk vendors, and a casino. For fun activities in Cancun, the Hotel Zone is where you want to start.
Cancun is one of Mexico’s biggest tourist destinations. A few years back, it was probably the first thing you saw in an advertisement billboard that said “Spring Break in Cancun!”
But Cancun isn’t just about beaches. If you want a break from the resorts and the Hotel Zone, head to downtown Cancun, where the locals live and hang out.
Downtown Cancun has everything from authentic Mexican food restaurants, quaint boutique-type shops where you can find anything from jewelry to clothing to nicknacks for your hotel room, and local artisans selling their handmade wares at super cheap prices.
Shopping, dining, entertainment, and more make downtown a very popular area. Tons of shopping experiences await you at Mercado 28 or Malecon Americas Shopping Center.
Have a meal in the Parque Las Palapas while watching the music, dance, or theatre artists, or go to one of the many local restaurants for some tasty tacos. Some of Cancun’s best nightlife is located downtown, so go in the evening for a less touristy atmosphere.
Be sure to check out La Brasita Neighborhood Bar & Grill for great drinks and great times while visiting Downtown Cancun Mexico. With all this going on, the downtown area is absolutely one of the best things to do in Cancun.
Relax At The Beaches Of “Playa Delfines”
Playa Delfines is located on the northern end of the Hotel Zone and is considered one of the favorite beaches in Cancun. It is an isolated strip of beach that sits along Cancun’s coastline.
This unique stretch of beach on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is one of the highest points in Cancun. It makes a great escape from the busy beaches along the Hotel Zone and it is easy to get to by bus, car, or taxi.
Playa Delfines is the perfect place for families who want to spend time in a quiet location that feels like a world away. This stretch of beach is also an ideal place for couples who are looking to get away from it all, with plenty of quiet spots along the shoreline as well as a bar/grill to grab a bite to eat. For a look at the idyllic side of Mexico, this is one of the best places to visit in Cancun.
Golf In Cancún
Whether you plan to play golf while on vacation or not, you will be happy to know that there are 15 golf courses in and around Cancun.
Golf is one of the most popular activities in this region, and these courses are designed to satisfy every level of player.
This tropical paradise has something for everyone including challenging terrain, innovative and exciting designs, stunning views, cenotes, jungle, mangroves, lagoon, sand dunes, and even Mayan ruins.
Golfers can visit the Pok Ta Pok Golf Course, located in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. Its 18-hole, par-72 championship course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, offers spectacular ocean vistas and views of Isla Mujeres.
This course rolls across the two lagoons for which it was named, and winds past Mayan ruins—another angle of Cancun that sits along ancient trade routes. If you are a golfer, this is just another of the activities in Cancun available to you.
Party At Coco Bongo
Blvd. Kukulcan, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera // +52 998 883 23733
Coco Bongo takes the nightlife entertainment in Cancun to the next level.
They pride themselves in providing not only great DJ music, but are able to provide high-level show performers that make Coco Bongo the ideal location for your corporate event, bachelor/bachelorette party, or your next night on the town in Cancun.
Creativity and imagination abound at this location — it is impossible to describe, so you’ll have to come to see it for yourself!
Coco Bongo is not just a nightclub — it’s an experience. Offering the kind of nightlife experience that makes you feel like you’re in Las Vegas or someplace like that.
The club includes interactive entertainment (including acrobatics), music, and drinks. It is definitely a place you want to visit when you come to Cancun.
The perfect antidote to all the noise and hustle of nearby Cancun is a small island named Isla Mujeres. Escape to a quiet, tropical paradise with a slower pace, lovely beaches, fun shops, and plenty of restaurants and bars.
This Cancun-Isla Mujeres excursion is a must for travelers that want to get off the beaten track, but not too far away from the action.
Koh-i-Noor is a charming beachfront hostel where you’ll have everything you need to stay or just for staying overnight on your way to Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres is just twenty minutes by boat from Isla Cancun.
Don’t miss out on some great outdoor activities in Cancun–visit the Punta Sur’s marine museum to learn about the area’s unique ecology, or snorkel along the reef off Garrafon Park for a glimpse of local marine life.
A walking tour through town will bring you to an eclectic mix of 60-year-old buildings, modern shops and restaurants, and tall palms shading brightly colored homes. Isla Mujeres presents a different style of life, but it is something we highly recommend to do while in Cancun.
Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230, 307 // +52 984 802 5405
Explore the natural beauty of sunny Cancun while exploring the ruins located near Playa del Carmen. This city was built in 1200 A.D by the Maya civilization.
The site is accessible by a number of local buses, tour companies, and collectives. It features stunning views of the beach and turquoise Caribbean waters.
The Tulum ruins are unlike any other Mayan ruins I have seen. Most of the other Mayan ruins were often located in jungles and were not as beautiful as these ruins. The location overlooking the beach is also difficult to beat.
You are able to visit the site at any time of day, but it is best to catch the sunrise for a truly unique experience. The best way to see the sunrise is to hire a collectivo and ride early in the morning, because the site tends to get busy with cruise ship passengers in the afternoon. Revisit history at this must-see attraction in Cancun.
Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juárez, Km 240 // +52 984 875 6000
Did you know that Xel-Ha is one of the top five attractions in Mexico, and it’s the first eco-archaeological park on the Yucatán Peninsula? This fantastic natural aquarium offers a unique geological phenomenon, mixing fresh water with Caribbean Sea water.
“Wow!” is the reaction that is pretty common from the first time a visitor sees Xel-Ha. You will see why; it’s like a lagoon-scape from Jurassic Park, only real, and in technicolor.
One of the largest freshwater environments in the world, this incredible park lies within the World Heritage Site and is located just 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Cancun.
Xel Ha is home to many frolicking dolphins and sea turtles, as well as a wide variety of both locals and exotic fishes. The entire ecosystem is under constant surveillance by the trained staff so everyone can relax and enjoy their experience while visiting this popular tourist attraction near Cancun.
Temazcal ceremony, or purification ritual, is a Mayan tradition that is still practiced today in many areas around the globe. Temazcal ceremony is a traditional ritual of purification that is conducted inside small huts heated with hot stones and water.
The steam created inside the hut makes it a sauna, and is defined by its intense heat of up to 105–116 degrees Fahrenheit. You walk into the temazcal with nothing on except a bathing suit or loincloth.
The ceremony is led by a local shaman, who conducts the ritual and also takes care of you. Once you’re inside the hut, you’re told to let go of all of your worries, focusing on nothing but the heat and sound of the rocks hitting each other, letting out smoke as they warm up. Not an experience you will find everywhere, so put it on your short list of things to do in Cancun.
When you visit Chichen Itza, you have to climb this pyramid! It’s an amazing experience. At the top of the pyramid there is a large round hole.
The hole is called the “eye of the serpent” and it represents darkness. It is said that if you can stare into the blackness of the hole and not blink, your wish will come true.
The pyramid is decorated with a colorful mosaic, representing themes of death, aggression, and resurrection. The stairs leading up to it have 91 steps (the number of years the Mayans thought the world was created).
The pyramids of Chichen Itza make an unforgettable experience for any traveler, so make sure you have that on your bucket list!
Mexico Whale Shark Cancun Puerto Juarez Av. Puerto Juárez Sm 86 // +52 999 278 4313
Ever wanted to see a whale shark up close? Then book this snorkeling tour and spend an afternoon swimming alongside wide-mouthed, docile whale sharks. There are no other places in the world where you can swim among whale sharks.
They are massive at over 40 -feet long, yet completely harmless and docile. This is not just a good experience—this is a life-changing experience.
A certified bilingual guide will take you in one of the fastest boats in the Caribbean to areas where whale sharks are frequently spotted.
A specialized snorkel guide will meet you at the boat to take you to a private beach for some of the best snorkeling along the Yucatan coast, including a chance to see endangered and elusive baby whale sharks. A tasty lunch is included at a traditional Yucatán restaurant.
So, if you’ve ever dreamt about swimming with a shark, here is your chance! This is another amazing tourist experience in Cancun.
Ik’Kil Cenote in the Yucatan is one of the most beautiful caverns in Mexico. Located near Chichen Itza, this cenote has sheer rock walls filled with greenery and vines hanging down.
Take a step into this freshwater heaven and swim toward the sunlight to experience its natural beauty.
Down below the surface, you’ll fall in love with another world, a lush paradise of green plants and colorful fish.
Your eyes will play tricks on you as you pass through narrow paths only to come out into a giant cavern that looks like it came straight from the pages of Jules Vernes. Since this is another adventure you will not encounter often, it becomes one of the best day trips in Cancun.
Yaxchunal 14, 59, 77515 Cancún // +52 998 201 5008
If you’re searching for something a bit more exciting than the local Cancun nightlife, check out this unique Mexican cultural experience.
The costumes and colorful characters make the fights exciting, but it is the infectious energy of the audience that brings Lucha Libre to life.
Lucha Libre is a show that combines athleticism, acrobatic spectacle, and comedy. A completely different kind of pro wrestling, it’s not about tough tactics or drama – it’s about humor and the ridiculous.
The fighters use skilled acrobatics and theatrical maneuvers in an attempt to win. The combat plays out like a David vs. Goliath story, with Goliath usually winning.
Luchadors, as fighters are called, wear brightly-colored masks and trade comedy blows, often resulting in total chaos and disarray.
77400 Quintana Roo, México // +52 998 888 0705
Beaches near Cancun are some of the best places in the world to find sea turtles. Between May and October, you can see the turtles lay their eggs on the beach. The little ones hatch and flop into the ocean from July – December.
The Tortugranja turtle farm and conservation center on Isla Mujeres is located near the city of Cancun in Mexico. Tjere, you can watch sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach – and even participate in the release of baby turtles into the sea.
It makes for a truly unique experience! For a peek at Mother Nature’s magnificence, you must visit this Cancun attraction.
Blvd. Kukulcan km 16.5, Zona Hotelera // +52 998 885 3843
Take a step back in time and explore the area that was reserved for death and the afterlife with San Miguelito Museum.
This archeology site is considered one of the most important in Mexico with regards to Mayan funerary temple architecture.
Six temples can be seen on site, three of which are in perfect condition and are still located on their original location.
Many consider Cancun’s Archeological Museum to be the most modern of its kind in Mexico, and it is one of the finest in Latin America. It displays artifacts from San Miguelito, a non-Maya settlement that dates back to 600 BC, where excavations are still ongoing.
The objects on display include a magnificent jade mask that represents the pre-Classic phase of Mesoamerican civilization. See and feel the history at this top place to visit in Cancun.
Nichupte Lagoon is located in between the Hotel Zone and the State of Yucatan, next to the Mayan archaeological site Cobá. It may seem like it’s outside of Cancun city, but it only takes half an hour flight to get there or half an hour drive from downtown Cancun (traffic permitting).
The lagoon is far from highrises and glitzy hotels, so it’s a great place for a nature break.
You can rent kayaks, paddle boats, and SUPs from the Nichupte lagoon restaurant. The owner has a license which allows him to take visitors into the restricted area of the lagoon.
It’s Mexico’s only remaining laguna de termino or southern lagoon and at over 15km in length, it is one of the most important wetlands on the Yucatan peninsula. Keep this trip on your short list of things to do in Cancun.
It’s incredible to think that an important Maya port city would have buried itself on an island in the Yucatan Peninsula, but that’s exactly what happened.
The ruins of ancient El Meco are one of the most interesting and lesser-known archeological sites in this part of Mexico. Even locals don’t know about it.
It looks like a building in itself; the ancient pyramidal structure juts straight up from the ground near the side of the road. It’s been labeled as “El Meco,” and has been named as one of the most interesting things to do in Cancun! From Cancun, you can take a taxi or bus to get there.
There aren’t really any tours offered at El Meco, so it’s just something you can do if you have time on your trip or are interested in exploring more of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cerrada Las Golondrinas Lote #24, Zona Hotelera // +52 998 810 4508
Isla Mujeres, the smallest island in Mexico’s Caribbean chain, is home to one of the most interesting tourist attractions in recent years.
The Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA), or Underwater Museum, is an only-in-your-wildest-dreams piece of surrealism that will leave you perplexed.
Replicas of iconic world sculptures sit on the ocean floor. While they don’t seem like they’re at risk of sinking, the living reef that surrounds and intermingles with them gives you the sense that everything is permanent.
The Cancun Underwater Museum opened in 2005 and is the world’s largest artificial reef. The project was completed by a group of six internationally renowned artists and their work is now viewable at depths from three to one hundred feet.
Right now, there are about 500 sculptures spread across the ocean floor. The purpose of this project is to improve marine life by promoting coral growth and encouraging fish populations in the area. The secondary purpose is to give you one more amazing thing to do in Cancun.
There are countless dive sites along the Cancun Riviera Maya coast. The most popular dive locations are Palancar Reef, Colombia Wall, and Isla Mujeres.
These sites each boast an intermediate or advanced level dive due to the depth of over 40 feet (12 meters).
Underwater visibility is fantastic and this area is often referred to as “Cancun’s aquarium” because of the abundance of sea life that lives at these depths.
You can dive with just about every type of fish and coral reef in the Cancun area. Cancun is located on a section of reef that’s been classified as an ecoregion called the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef).
The waters teem with a variety of marine life, including whale sharks, hammerheads, eagle rays, manta rays, dolphins and turtles. For those certified divers, it’s just another fun thing to do in Cancun.
Isla Contoy is one of my favorite destinations. It has all the great things that Cancun has to offer, only in a much more remote location and with fewer hustlers.
The island has a national park designation, so there is no building or development allowed. This means nothing but sandy beach in front of you when you visit.
Isla Contoy is as popular for divers as it is for swimmers. The marine life and coral reefs are obvious draws, and the excursions to the island make it one of our favorite places to visit in Cancun.
The breathtaking Isla Contoy is an uninhabited island in the Caribbean just a few hours from Cancun.
On this tour, you will board a yacht from Cancun and cruise to this island paradise where you and your family or friends will enjoy time on the beach, swimming in the warm waters, snorkeling, and cruising through mangroves.
Boats are a relaxing and fun way to enjoy the beauty of an area, and catamaran cruises offer all the enjoyment of a boat plus more. With a maximum of eight passengers in each group, you can be sure your time on board will be relaxing and enjoyable.
You will find the captain to be professional as he captains the boat to various destinations throughout the day. These trips usually last anywhere from three hours to all day.
Whether you choose to spend your time on the catamaran fishing or swimming, you shouldn’t miss out on a delicious meal. Many cruise companies will provide snacks and refreshments, but it is recommended that you bring along your own. for an escape from the downtown, mainline activities, a catamaran sail makes for a great day trip in Cancun.
Cancun is paradise, and enjoying a relaxing day on the water is the best way to see it. There are a ton of different options when it comes to going out on a catamaran cruise and whether you want to spend the day relaxing on the water or get involved in some fun activities, there is always a catamaran cruise available for you.
Best Time To Visit Cancun
The weather in Cancun is rough, and can frequently change from sunny to stormy within the span of a few hours. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do indoors if the weather is bad.
If you visit Cancun during the winter, from January to March, you will find the best weather. Winter is considered off-season, and is usually when the resorts offer their lowest room rates.
Wondering how to get to Cancun, Mexico from the airport?
Take a private shuttle if you’re traveling with a group – you will save on money (later to be spent on tacos!) and your driver is bilingual so he would be sharing stories about anything you want to know along the way.
Want to experience the full Cancun Vibe? Go with a luxury service, in brand new SUVs, reserved just for you and your company.
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Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.