Learn about the best things to do in Cancun from someone who lives in Mexico.
You’ll get recommendations on the best things to do to experience the city and region. I’ll even include some tips on touristy things to avoid that aren’t worth your time or money.
First of all, Cancun is the most important tourist destination in Latin America. It is the entrance to the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.
Besides its beautiful beaches, it has impressive Mayan archaeological sites, cenotes, eco-tourist parks, and delicious gastronomy.
The activities to do in Cancun are very diverse such as diving, snorkeling, jungle walks, sunbathing, and visiting paradisiacal places.
So, if you plan a trip to the fabulous Mexican Caribbean, here is a list of the 15 best things to do in Cancun.
- Explore Chichen Itza
Live one of the best cultural experiences in Chichen Itza. This beautiful archaeological site is one of the most important in the Yucatan peninsula.
“Is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.”
The culture that flourished in Chichen Itza is Mayan, and its famous pyramid of Kukulkan is one of the new Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
The pyramid was founded by the Itza Maya in the 6th century and dedicated to the god Kukulkan: “The feathered serpent.”
On the site, there are several areas that you can visit during your tour, such as the Kukulkan pyramid.
Also, the Temple of the Players, the Platform of the Skulls, the Temple of the Barbarian Man, the Temple of Venus, the Sacred Cenote, and an endless number of archaeological sites.
- Visit Bacalar and the seven colors lagoon
One of the main things to do in Cancun is to visit the majestic seven colors lagoon in Bacalar, considered one of the three magical towns of the State of Quintana Roo.
Bacalar is the ideal place in Cancun to relax.
This charming destination offers seven different shades of water given by the differences in the soils of its bottom and the varied depths that make this LLagoon something unique and magical.
Some of the things I recommend you do in Bacalar is to visit the Fort of San Felipe.
Also, the Cenote Azul, the stromatolites of Bacalar, and of course, snorkeling in its magical waters are premier activities in Cancun.
- Tulum Ruins
The Mayan ruins of Tulum are located on the top of a small cliff, with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean in the background.
It is one of the most beautiful places in the Mayan Riviera and a must-do activity in Cancun.
In this beautiful archaeological site are preserved some important structures such as the temple of the Frescos and the one known as “El Castillo.”
Touring these ruins takes about two hours. When you’re finished, refresh yourself into the waters of the Caribbean Sea.
- Spend a day in Playa del Carmen
If you love dancing, drinking, and meeting new people, one of the things you can do in Cancun is to visit the famous Quinta Avenida.
Here you will find an infinity of fancy shops, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants that will make you live a fantastic day in Cancun.
Playa del Carmen is the heart of the Mayan Riviera, becoming the gateway for domestic and foreign travelers seduced by its beaches, cenotes, bars, and restaurants.
In fact, the days in Playa del Carmen seem to have no end. From 6.30 in the morning, you can enjoy the beautiful sunrise with a cup of coffee by the beach.
- Take a Tour to Isla Mujeres
Hop on the ferry and go to Isla Mujeres! This gorgeous “isla” is not too far from Cancun.
This is also one of the islands where you can enjoy white sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, and a seabed full of corals and tropical fish.
Playa Norte is probably one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches. Also Garrafon Park and the Ix Chel temple.
You can also take this tour on a boat and explore Isla Contoy, one of the most important bird sanctuaries in Cancun.
I recommend you snorkel on the beaches of Isla Mujeres and see the statues under the sea in the underwater museum.
I assure you that you will be impressed by these figures and their marine fauna.
- Play at Xel-Ha Park
Xel-Ha means “birth of the water,” considered a natural wonder of the Riviera Maya, which is very close to the archaeological site of Tulum.
In addition, Xel-Ha is a park where the main attraction is its slide that measures about 40 meters and has a viewpoint that offers a great panoramic view.
Another of its attractions is the river, where you can enjoy a walk along it, swim, and do different activities during this tour.
- Go Snorkeling on the Barrier reef in Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is one of the treasures of the Mexican Caribbean, located in the state of Quintana Roo, 20 minutes from Cancun.
It is also a small but charming fishing port that has become a favorite destination for its gorgeous barrier reef.
One of Puerto Morelos’s icons is the famous tilted lighthouse, which, in 1967, got hit by a hurricane named “Hula” on the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean.
Therefore, it made this underwater lighthouse move toward the coast, and since that day, it has been an incredible attraction.
You can also visit the park called “Salvática,” which is located inside a jungle and perfect for people who love to be in contact with animals and nature.
- See the jaw-dropping pink lakes of Las Coloradas and the Flamingos in Rio Lagartos
If you are already in Cancun, why not go to Yucatan’s famous Coloradas?
“Las Coloradas” gets its name for the uniqueness of its pink waters since its high salt concentration promotes the growth of plankton and a red bacterial flora.
They are huge lagoons of intense pink color that belong to an ancestral salt factory from the times of the Mayas.
The best time to go to Las Coloradas is during the non-rainy months, from November to May.
Las Coloradas is a 12,750-hectare estuary ecosystem, a national sanctuary of the Mexican flamingo that can be seen in the lagoons.
- El Rey Archaeological Zone
If you’re curious and want to know more about the Mayan history, don’t hesitate to visit the archaeological zone of “El Rey.”
It is one of the most important in the region, located in Cancun’s hotel zone in front of Dolphin Beach.
The name of these ruins is because, in 1909, two foreign travelers named Channing and Frederick Frost found an anthropomorphic sculpture interpreted as a noble character.
Hence the name “El Rey” (The King).
This beautiful archaeological zone comprises 49 pre-Hispanic structures, which you can observe throughout your tour.
- Explore the Rio Secreto Nature Reserve
You can’t miss visiting this place; it has incredible natural beauty. In fact, this river is part of one of the world’s natural wonders.
You can witness a spectacular view of stalactites and stalagmites, which have formed over the years and have been part of our history.
In this underwater river, you can travel almost 2000 ft, swimming and walking through its beautiful routes.
- Cancun Underwater Museum of Art
This is my favorite one, and it is one of the most important activities to do in Cancun because you will love it.
This beautiful underwater museum takes advantage of the coast’s geography, surrounded by corals and reefs accompanying beautiful sculptures.
It was built in 2009 in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc.
You will be able to observe around 465 mysterious sculptures (from human figures to a real-size car) mixed with nature and marine fauna.
- San Miguelito Ruins
These fantastic ruins were one of the most critical pre-Hispanic Mayan settlements on the island 810 years ago.
This incredible archaeological zone is one of the best places in Cancun since you can learn essential aspects of its history.
Inside San Miguelito, you will see 14 pre-Hispanic buildings, a clear example that the conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula differed from the rest of Mesoamerica.
This archaeological site is in Cancun’s Hotel Zone at km 16, next to the Maya Museum of Cancun.
- El Meco Archaeological Site
If you are a fan of history and archaeology, this is one of the top things to see in Cancun because it had an important role in the navigation routes of the Mayas along the coast.
This incredible archaeological site is located north of Quintana Roo.
You will find buildings, ruins, and ceremonial centers in El Meco.
The most important building in this archaeological area is called “El Castillo,” which is a structure that presents the unique quadrangular plan used by Mayan architects.
Best of all, it has a spectacular view of Bahia Mujeres.
- Amazing Romantic Dinner on a Galleon around the Lagoon in Cancun with sax music
This tour is perfect for lovers. So, if you want to surprise your partner, this beautiful Spanish galleon will do the trick.
This romantic activity is called “Columbus.” You must go to Cancun’s hotel zone to get on board since this is where the ship departs.
The activity lasts about 2 hours and a half. It has two schedules: in the morning to appreciate a beautiful sunrise and at night to observe the romantic sunset.
You can enjoy delicious drinks in this Spanish galleon, which has an open bar.
There is also a small restaurant downstairs where you can delight your palate with grilled steaks and seafood accompanied by live sax music.
- Cancun Scenic Tower
This incredible tower is a magical place to take pictures, film videos, and even make some TikToks.
Also, this tower can rise to 87 meters and has a 360° perspective, which allows you to see the stunning turquoise blue colors of the Caribbean Sea.
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