You probably already know that a trip to Cancun can be an unforgettable experience.
Even if you've never made it to the Mexican resort destination, you might have heard stories. And the truth is, there are many things to do in Cancun to showcase this place's many high points. But you probably want to know what they are before you get there. So we've compiled a list of activities and destinations that really reveal the charm and beauty of the city.
Maybe you're looking for a relaxing or romantic trip including several trips to the beach. Or perhaps you want some adventure and need access to some incredible natural features. Then there's the nightlife, with options that will appeal to visitors of all ages and interests. It's all here, along with hospitality and opulent resorts on par with the world's finest beach getaways.
The Most Incredible Things to Do In Cancun
There's a mystique to the destination already. Cancun stands out as among a few places that instantly evoke a certain mental image in most folks. Beautiful sand, crashing waves, a carefree atmosphere and luxury accommodations.
If you're planning a return trip, you probably already experienced and loved some of the activities below. But if you want to visit Cancun for the first time, we think this is a great start for building a great itinerary.
1. Avenida Kukulkan
We'll start with a stretch of road you probably couldn't avoid even if you tried. But Avenida Kukulkan is much more than just a major road. If you look at it like a destination in itself, you might find some hidden gems that could shape your trip. Simply planning your vacation could land you at a spot located on this busy avenue. It's the home of many of the best things to do in Cancun, including hotels and downtown entertainment.
The road also extends north all the way to the airport. So whatever your mode of transportation, it will probably bring you through this route. Along the way, you'll notice prompt bus schedules taking shoppers and locals around town. And this might be a convenient way for you to explore the avenue. Plus, there are great walkways along the side for checking things out on foot. We recommend picking a spot and checking out the local businesses.
Find shops, restaurants and much more that you really can't plan to discover. But Avenida Kukulkan is a diverse stretch of road that can introduce you to all that is Cancun. Not only is it diverse in the types of places you'll find, but it's also got very different features. For example, one side of the road takes you to the pristine beaches. The other is a lagoon some locals say is populated by rogue beasts -- most notably the crocodile.
So to be extra cautious, it's probably best to stay on the beach side when feasible. You can argue with the view and many of the sidewalks are located on that side. Best of all, this is a very well maintained stretch. So visitors and natives alike can enjoy its convenience with a feeling of safety. It's well lit after dark and it's easy to navigate. Roads like this can remind us not to forget the journey as we head toward the intended destination.
2. Delphinus Punta
Love dolphins? Want to see them up close? Here's your opportunity. You can find this destination on the same property as the Hyatt Ziva. And there are various levels of the experience you can choose. Swim with the dolphins in one popular program called Dolphin Ride. Then there is an approach that introduces a diver to a specific dolphin. This plan is called The One and allows a personal interaction for a 45 minute underwater visit.
Expert staff is on hand to make sure you have a premium experience. And you can learn all about the animals you will see during your visit. Anyone age five or older can find an experience that might just last a lifetime. Make sure to check in ahead to make sure the program you want is available. And then prepare for an incredible experience with some really remarkable animals.
Of course, this level of one on one interaction doesn't come cheap. But as with many of the best things to do in Cancun, you feel like the splurge is worth it. Especially if you want a truly exceptional experience with The One. It can cost up to $500 per person, but in the grand scheme of things you might consider it a bargain. After all, a luxury vacation to this picturesque beach is a perfect place to indulge.
The Dolphin Ride is less expensive and gives you a great all around experience. No matter which you choose is an excursion sure to make an impression. And your guides will lead you through the process easily. You can visit throughout the day and book whichever plan you want is only moments away. Get some preliminary information to educate you on the the experience and the dolphins themselves. Of course, photos and other souvenirs of the occasion are available for an additional cost.
3. Museo Maya de Cancún
You'll probably want some culture to round out your vacation. And fortunately, some great museums are among the things to do in Cancun. One of the regions best is undoubtedly this incredible repository of art and artifacts. The Mayan history is dense throughout the engaging and informative museum.
Learn so much more about your host city with lots of pieces from the Yucatan peninsula. Among the items on display are original jewelry, sculptures and pottery from the region. There are hundreds of different historical pieces of great significance to check out. In addition to the permanent displays, visit an exhibit hall that shows a rotation of temporary exhibits.
Whatever you see, it will come with one thing in common. You'll be immersed in the local history and learn something new about those who came before. Those generations helped create the beautiful destination you can enjoy as a traveler today. And seeing these incredible items on display will give you a new respect for their contributions. You'll also have access to an archaeological site nearby when you purchase a ticket to the museum.
Another interesting item to note during your trip is the new glass making up much of the museum. It is impressive in its ability to withstand hurricane force winds. Of course, its necessity dates back to a bittersweet natural disaster in 2004. The museum had to shut down for a while as it repaired from the damage. But it came back stronger than ever and has remained a beacon of cultural history ever since.
4. Chichen Itza
A museum is a great way to get in touch with history. But if you want an even more direct experience, you'll need only to visit nearby Chichen Itza. If you've done any research on the region, you've probably seen the recognizable shape. And it's probably worth your time to check it out to learn even more about what makes it so significant.
For starters, it dates back to the Maya culture and was used as a temple. The native people worshiped a god called Kukulkan, whose name is still on display in Cancun today. The United Nations has recognized it a World Heritage location.
Depending on the time of day and time of year, you could find the site very crowded. But the experience can pay off even if it takes a while to get that perfect view. Bring along some hydration and comfortable shoes. Prepare to travel if you're staying in Cancun, since the site itself is located some distance away. You'll have to take a car or bus to the spot, and it will take two hours or more depending on your resort.
We'll still include it among our favorite things to do in Cancun, though. And that's because it's not often you'll be so close to such an important historical wonder. Want to learn all the intriguing details? Hire a tour guide to take the time to explain it all to you. And this will also help you simplify the process. Tour services with a great reputation can take care of all the guess work. That means you only have to think about soaking up the history. Of course, it's simple to get a bus ticket and purchase admission on your own upon arriving.
5. Isla Mujeres
Beaches might be the first thing you consider when you think of things to do in Cancun. But as we've shown, there's plenty of other ways to spend your time. Of course, the pristine sand and clear waters do have their appeal. And Isla Mujeres might be the best way to enjoy them.
As implied by its name, the Island of Women is separated from the main city by water. And you'll have to take a ferry that lasts about 20 minutes. But that's even an enjoyable experience. Then you arrive to four miles of paradise. It's a laid back environment with views unparalleled by anywhere else in Cancun. Parks, kayaks, swimming pools and much more offer lots of opportunity for diversion.
At the same time, it's a big step away from the bustling nature of the resort destination city. There are several months during which the excitement largely surrounds newborn baby turtles. The sea turtles are always a focus of the island. And a taxi or golf cart can take you wherever you want to go.
One beach worth visiting is Playa del Norte. It's beautiful and not trounced by endless visitors and beachcombers. It's easy to find a ride out to this great day trip. The getaway itself is like a trip within a vacation. So add to the natural views on full display throughout Cancun by visiting this picturesque island.
6. Coco Bongo
Finally, there are plenty of things to do in Cancun if you're interested in nonstop nightlife. You can go to any number of traditional clubs with a DJ and lots of music and dancing. Pick a more sedate bar or lounge and really enjoy some cocktails and fellowship. But if you want something altogether different, check out Coco Bongo.
Here's where you'll find a destination with a similar atmosphere to a typical nightclub. But the entertainment is much different. There are acrobatic acts, live musical performances and interactive dances like conga lines. And you'll probably find some bubbles or confetti raining down from on high at some point during the night. It can be a bit crowded at times and the cost of admission might be higher than you'd expect. But there are few places you can get such an eclectic experience in a party scene.
Looking for things to do in Cancun can lead to lots of options.
So if you're planning a trip to this beautiful spot, you'll want to plan ahead. No matter how long you're staying, it'll be hard to do it all. And our list is just scratching the surface of an unforgettable destination.
We hope our guide has helped you get started on your itinerary. If so, share this article with the world travelers in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.