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Cancun is often synonymous with partying, drinking and the ultimate place for a spring break destination in North America. What many people are not aware of is that there are so many other things to do in Cancun, Mexico. While the news lately portray Cancun as a dangerous place to visit, that is not necessarily true. Like almost any big city you can visit, forethought and doing your research are important for your safety. I am a New Yorker, and even in New York City I’m cautious about where I go. It is all about being a smart traveler and using precautions as needed. Cancun has a little bit of everything, so there’s definitely something for everyone to do. Cancun can be enjoyed on a budget or luxuriously as well. If you came to this page looking for amazing and fun activities to do in Cancun, then you are in the right place. Here are my favorite 15 activities off the top of my head.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Looking for Fun activities to do in Cancun? Here are 15 of the Best Things to do in Cancun Mexico.
- 1.1 1. Explore the city center of Cancun
- 1.2 2. Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres
- 1.3 3. Take a trip to Playa del Carmen and explore 5th avenue.
- 1.4 4. Enjoy a tasty meal in Playa del Carmen – Where to eat in Playa del Carmen?
- 1.5 5. Take a day trip to Chichen Itza
- 1.6 6. Valladolid
- 1.7 7. Explore Cenotes
- 1.8 8. Xoximilco Cancun by Xcaret
- 2 Cancun Rainy Day Activities: Things to do in Cancun whether it rains or shines
- 3 Things to do in the Cancun hotel zone
- 4 Bonus: Things to do in Cancun at night
Looking for Fun activities to do in Cancun? Here are 15 of the Best Things to do in Cancun Mexico.
1. Explore the city center of Cancun
During my last trip to Cancun, I explored the city center of Cancun around avenue Uxmal, Palenque, Xelha, etc., and I found the prices to be cheaper than in the Cancun Hotel zone (which makes sense) and there was lots of wonderful street art, and more local vibes, to enjoy there than in a more touristic location. I truly loved taking photos of some beautiful murals and having lunch at Doña Fany Taqueria – Cocina Mexicana. A local Mexican friend took me there and the food was super affordable, with great portions and, more importantly, very tasty. They also had craft beers choices, for those who love beer. I believe that I paid around 1 USD dollar per taco and I only saw local people there, which is always the best sign for a great place to eat. As the saying goes, go where the locals go!
2. Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is one of the top places to visit while in Cancun. The water is crystal clear and it is a super beautiful place to visit for relaxation, especially while walking around, soaking up the local vibes. I really love the beaches there because you usually do not see seaweed, which is a common problem during certain seasons when visiting Cancun. There are also different water activities available, such as snorkeling, whale shark eco-friendly tours and much more.
How to get to Isla Mujeres?
You can do a private yacht tour, book a day excursion or simply take the ferry and do it on your own. I personally love going on my own since I can take as much time as I would like without the pressure of a schedule.
If you want to do it on your own, you can catch a ferry in Cancun at Puerto Juarez, Gran Puerto Cancun, or Playa Tortugas. The ride is quite affordable. If the weather is poor, the ride may be a little rough going, but you can still have a great time.
If you prefer to have someone arrange the perfect vacation for you, there are plenty of websites where you can arrange your complete sun and adventure Mexican holiday. Sometimes it is better to get some assistance since it’ll be more stress-free, with the added benefit of travel planning expertise.
You might also like: Top things to do in Mexico City
3. Take a trip to Playa del Carmen and explore 5th avenue.
Fifth Avenue is an area in Playa del Carmen, full of restaurants, bars, lounges and shopping. You can find street performances, street vendors and lots of music everywhere, especially during the evening. You can spend time there simply walking around, shopping, eating and/or drinking. I like to find little stores selling clothing, accessories, souvenirs and more, or finding artisan tables for more handmade and unique wares. You can simply browse and compare prices and, of course, bargain if necessary. For foodies, there are several places to eat and drink; I mention some of my favorite ones below.
4. Enjoy a tasty meal in Playa del Carmen – Where to eat in Playa del Carmen?
Two of my favorite places to eat while in Playa del Carmen are: Axiote and Cenacolo.
· Axiote is a Mexican Restaurant, which has a relaxed environment with the most tasty and unique Mayan food (owner/chef is an international “Iron Chef” winner, Xavier Pérez Stone). Food here is delicious and special. Definitely an authentic food experience in Playa del Carmen!
· Cenacolo is an Italian restaurant with delicious handmade pasta. All the food is fresh and tasty. I truly enjoy the Bolognese at Cenacolo. Great alternative to traditional Mexican food.
5. Take a day trip to Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, one of the new 7 wonders of the world, is a must-see while in Cancun. I cannot lie to you. This is a fun activity but highly touristic (millions visit a year and thousands daily), but this comes as no surprise since it is similar to visiting Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat, where the crowds are never ending. It was on my bucket list so, on my last trip to Cancun, I finally visited Chichen Itza. I went on a day tour excursion that stopped in a cenote and in Valladolid. I really enjoyed it, except for the people selling on the street in front of the entrance of Chichen Itza. They were quite insistent, and even waited in front of the buses as they parked, but this happens a lot in famous places, especially World wonders, so I was not surprised (only annoyed).
Valladolid is a lovely and historical city. I especially love their colonial buildings. I had some time to see the famous cathedral, to sit on a bench to indulge in my favorite pastime, people watching, while eating some delicious churros with chocolate and caramel sauce. The place that sells them is in the center of La Plaza, and you will definitely notice it since there is always a line of people eagerly waiting to buy some. You can combine a visit here with Chichen Itza or just simply book a tour.
7. Explore Cenotes
The Yucatan region has so many beautiful cenotes (sheltered pools of water). I personally visited Suytun during my tour, but there are so many other options for cenotes to visit. Here is a great list of cenotes near Cancun.
8. Xoximilco Cancun by Xcaret
Xoximilco is a tourist attraction, a theme park, but it is definitely one of the most fun activities to do in Cancun. I went with a group and it was amazing. There were also other people in our floating Mexican party so, even if you are traveling solo, you can definitely still meet tons of people. The hosts are funny, so you do laugh a lot at their jokes or craziness. There are fun games, a meal aboard, drinking of shots, while stopping at different stations with performance stages, where you can watch mariachis singing and dancing and, oftentimes, you can join them too. You can expect to dance, sing, laugh a lot and even, at times, looking like a fool. All in a good, fun and healthy way! It was great to get to party like and with locals!
Cancun Rainy Day Activities: Things to do in Cancun whether it rains or shines
9. Take a cooking class at Mexico Lindo Cooking School
Mexico Lindo Cooking School is one of the most authentic experiences you could ever have, when it comes to Mexican Food. You not only learn how to make real, authentic Mexican food, like grandma’s recipes (not the typical fast food you might be used to), but you get to eat it too.
I learned so much about Mexican culture, typical ingredients and cooked some amazing recipes (along with eating everything we made, which was real Mexican food).
If you love cooking and learning about cultures, this is definitely the place to be. Mexico Lindo’s Kitchen is one of the best cooking classes. You will enjoy a full day with cafe de la olla, hot chocolate, Mexican pastries, along with a continental breakfast, light snack with some “botanitas” (appetizers). Then, you will cook the complete menu of the day and, afterwards, enjoy the food on their terrace with other classmates. It’s totally a gourmet feast. To sweeten your day, you will get dessert and Mexican coffee. It’s a delightful experience! The highlight is hanging out with chef Alejandra Kauachi and learning from her expertise, while also listening to her stories.
Chef Alexandra takes pride in using the best and quality ingredients, while teaching you not only how to make this at home, but also how locals eat it, the history of each dish and the beauty of each Mexican tradition. It was by far one of my favorite experiences in Mexico.
10. Go to Selvatica
Selvática was such a fun experience. Although it was raining like crazy, I truly enjoy going there the most.
There are so many activities offered at Selvática, but from what I experienced, my favorites were:
Getting muddy on a buggy ride.
Two people go per buggy and you get to drive along their muddy trails while following one another. We raced, we laughed, all in a safe way. We had so much fun that we didn’t care about getting dirty, it felt like jumping in mud puddles as a kid! I totally recommend you to do this.
Rollercoaster Zip line
This is the second time that I have been on a rollercoaster zip line. The first time, I was in Bukovel at the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine and this time here at Selvatica Cancun. Believe it or not, when I did the one in Ukraine, it was super sunny and this time I did this activity in the rain. It was super fun and left me full of adrenaline. I had a blast! Rain or shine, you must always be ready to move forward regardless!
Take a “dip” in their Cenotes
I can attest that traveling helps you conquer your fears! I once again conquered one of my biggest fears: Being in a body of water where I can’t reach “the floor.” Cenotes are natural pools of water which can vary in size and depth. I challenged myself to get inside of a cenote here in Selvatica. Just to give you some background: As a child, I almost drowned in a pool and, since then, I panick a little whenever my feet don’t quite reach the bottom, especially since I’ve never really learned how to swim.
But the people at Selvatica gave me a life vest, in addition to extra support from one of the guys there. For me, this was still an accomplishment because, little by little, I do things that I’d never thought possible which, in this case, was floating inside a cenote.
Thank you to Selvatica for making my experience so amazing, and for the group of journalists who encouraged me by calling out my name and clapping. You guys were amazing cheerleaders! That was so sweet of all of you to support me in my moment of need. I’ll never forget it!
If you have the time, visit Selvatica, rain or shine, for this or more fun experiences available.
11. Book a massage at your hotel
One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to book a massage at my hotel, rain or shine. Sometimes, I enjoy getting one by the beach (when available), but the last time I stayed in the Riviera Cancun area, at the fabulous resort Haven Riviera Cancun, I got a massage, facial and other holistic treatments at their Spa. The experience was beyond amazing and truly one of the highlights of my vacation. Thank you Haven for making me feel as if in heaven!
12. Cancun underwater museum
This is an excellent and unique museum in Cancun. It is best described as a modern, underwater sculptural museum, which you can experience via glass-bottom boat, snorkeling or scuba diving. It is a really cool and unique experience that’s not to be missed.
Things to do in the Cancun hotel zone
13. Cancun Fashion Harbour
If you like shopping, then the Cancun Fashion Harbour is a great choice. It is a shopping mall with plenty of stores to choose from. You can find really good quality goods, along with nice restaurants and a great ambiance. I totally recommend going there and watching the sunset by the harbor while enjoying dinner, dessert or some cocktails (or mocktails), it is up to you!
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Bonus: Things to do in Cancun at night
14. Coco Bongo
Coco Bongo is more than a nightclub but a lively and spectacular show. It is a must see and a great way to experience the Cancun nightlife! You can watch some of the most amazing performances, while dancing the night away at Coco Bongo. They have performances throughout the night with different themes, such as Michael Jackson, Batman, and Spiderman, just to name a few.
TIP: I would suggest for you to get the VIP tickets. It is easier to enjoy the show while sitting there and getting drink service. I totally enjoyed Coco Bongo. I think it is a once in lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed.
If this is not your scene, you can always head over to Playa del Carmen where there are some cool bars too. So many options, so little time!
15. Abolengo bartina
I totally love Abolengo. There’s great music and even better cocktails. The bartenders went above and beyond to make amazing drinks and the service was very good. It was a good place to dance the night away and experience the Playa del Carmen nightlife.
In summary, there are lots of fun activities to do in Cancun and surrounding areas. As you can see, there’s something for everyone. I hope this list helps you to experience some of the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico! Que Viva Mexico!
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