15 THINGS TO DO IN CANCUN
TICK OFF THE BEST BEACHES
Cancun’s biggest draw is its beautiful beaches, which line the coast of the Hotel Zone and continue along the Riviera Maya. Talcum powder sands meeting the warm blue waters of the Caribbean are standard here. Choose beaches running down the east side of the Hotel Zone for the best waves for watersports, or stick to the northern stretch for calmer waters perfect for swimmers. Playa Delfines and Playa Chac Mool are two of the best.
LEARN TO SURF
The Caribbean waves down the east side of the Hotel Zone are decent but not too wild, making them perfect for beginner surfers. 360 Surf School Cancun is one of the best, with a ‘don’t stand up and surf, don’t pay’ policy. All ages, from 5 to 65 and over, are welcome, so why not see if you can pick up a new skill on your holiday?!
Many tourists travel to Cancun and just stick to the beachfront Hotel Zone. Don’t! The Downtown area will give you a taste of authentic Cancun, with its Mexican cantinas, bustling markets and Salsa bars. La Habichuela is one of the best restaurants for a special occasion, and a wander down Yaxchilan Avenue after dark will see you hit many live music bars for a night out with the locals.
EXPLORE THE GREAT MAYA REEF
The Great Maya Reef is an incredible underwater playground for scuba divers and snorkelers, beaten only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Swim between colourful corals, while a rainbow collection of sealife joins you on your adventure. You might even spot a turtle or two, as Cancun is a nesting place for the endangered Loggerhead.
VISIT THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM
As well as spectacular sealife, you’ll also find something more unusual in the waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres – an underwater museum. Take a diving trip and discover submerged sculptures that create a world that’s magical, a little bit spooky, and unlike anything you’re ever likely to have experienced before.
SWIM WITH DOLPHINS
Many of us dream of swimming with dolphins, and there are several ways to make that dream come true in Cancun. Dolphinaris offers swimming with dolphin experiences right in the Hotel Zone. While at Dolphin Discovery at Isla Mujeres you can swim with dolphins in natural ocean pools. Or you could always take a boat trip out to sea to try your luck in the dolphins’ own environment. You might even spot a gatecrashing whale!
SNORKEL IN THE UNDERGROUND CAVE
Cenotes are underground caves filled with water, which create a magical environment for swimming, snorkelling and diving. The longest cenote in the area is Ox Bel Ha at 134 miles long, and there are lots of smaller cenotes to explore. To ease yourself into the experience, why not take a daytrip to the Xcaret eco-archaeological park, which offers cenote swimming, as well as a tropical forest, shows, aquarium and more.
VISIT ISLA MUJERES
Isla Mujeres, just 15mins from the Hotel Zone Port by ferry, is a must. Its main attraction is the Garrafon Natural Reef Park, which has clear waters to snorkel and cliffs to hike. You can even zip line over the sea! Elsewhere on the island, lush jungle awaits exploration, and the Punta Sur cliff path with Mayan temple and sculpture garden is a must.
WANDER ANCIENT RUINS
Mexico is famous for its Mayan ruins, and there are lots of exciting trips that will take you to important archaeological sites like Chichen Itza and Tulum. However, if you don’t fancy the travel time, the ancient El Rey ruins sit right on the Hotel Zone offering a taste of Mayan magic on your hotel doorstep! You can also see Mayan artefacts at the Museo Maya de Cancun, for a closer look at this mysterious culture.
GO LOCO AFTER DARK
Cancun is definitely a party town and there are plenty of places, both in the Hotel Zone and Downtown, where you can let your hair down and go a little ‘loco’. Senor Frogs and Coco Bongo are two places you can guarantee a great time. Then you’ve got loads of big clubs to choose from – or try the Grand Mambo Café in Downtown Cancun for live music and salsa dancing!
SHOP THE SHINY SHOPPING MALLS
Need a new sunhat, sunglasses or outfit for a special night out? You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to shop in Cancun. Pick up designer goodies and see the fountains (and maybe a movie) at La Isla shopping mall, browse the swanky boutiques at Luxury Avenue or stock up on bargains at the Plaza Las Americas on the famous Avenue Tulum shopping street. Just don’t forget your wallet!
HAGGLE AT THE MARKETS
At the other end of the shopping scale, why not swap shiny malls for local markets? Market 28 is a bustling market for tourists and locals alike, with cut price clothes, souvenirs and traditional crafts. Even more off the tourist track is Market 23, which is great for pottery, piles of fresh produce and cheap street food.
HANG OUT WITH THE LOCALS
Another great place to mix with the locals is the Parque Las Palapas, a lively square with colourful food carts, a stage for live music and lots of little attractions for the kids, including ride-on toys. A good place to visit during the day or in the evening.
MAKE A SPLASH
A trip to a waterpark is a must on any holiday, and Wet n Wild waterparks are known for being the best in the world. Attractions at this waterpark in the Hotel Zone include the Twister ring flume, Lazy River, bumper boats, wave pool and a fun kids park for waterbabies. Combine a visit with swimming with dolphins at the Dolphinarium next door for a great value deal.
TURN UP THE HEAT
Yes, Cancun is sunny all year round, but another hot thing Mexico is famous for is its spicy food – so make sure you try those tacos, nachos, enchiladas and chicken wings. If you’re Downtown, try El Callejon (the Alley) or Pik Nik. In the Hotel Zone, Tacun is a low key gem for cheap eats, and Cambalache does great steaks. And don’t forget the beer, tequila or margaritas to wash it all down!
Want to know about Cancun? Read our travel guide to Mexico and get all the information you need!