20 Best Things to Do in Cancun, Mexico: The Ultimate Cancun Bucket List

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best things to do in cancun Mexico
Image Credit: Darren Tierney / Shutterstock.

Cancun is a world-renowned tourist destination that offers an incredible array of activities and attractions. With its stunning beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, crystal-clear cenotes, and thriving marine life, Cancun presents a paradise for adventure seekers, history enthusiasts, beach lovers, and culture enthusiasts alike.

From exploring archaeological wonders to indulging in water sports, dining on exquisite cuisine, and experiencing the vibrant nightlife, Cancun offers diverse experiences to suit every traveler's interests. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty, history, and adventure that await you in this tropical paradise.

Where To Stay in Cancun

Cancun offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various travel circumstances. Whether you're traveling with family, seeking the comforts of a cozy Airbnb, or looking for the convenience of an all-inclusive resort, there is something for everyone.

One of the popular areas to stay is the Hotel Zone, known for its stunning beachfront resorts and vibrant nightlife. However, it's worth noting that Cancun's different areas are closely situated, making it easy to explore nearby cities and their own unique accommodations.

So, whether you choose to stay in Cancun's Hotel Zone or venture out to neighboring areas like Playa del Carmen or Tulum, you'll find an abundance of diverse places to stay that cater to your specific needs and preferences.

20 Best Things To Do in Cancun, Mexico

Experience the best of Cancun with this curated list of the 20 best things to do in Cancun Mexico. With its stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and thrilling activities, there's no shortage of adventures to be had. Here are the 20 best things to do in Cancun:

1. Visit the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza

Visiting Chichen Itza offers an unrivaled opportunity to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring legacy of the Mayan civilization. Be captivated by their architectural brilliance, marvel at their engineering ingenuity, and gain a deeper understanding of their intricate beliefs and customs.

As you traverse this sacred site, you'll be swept away by the palpable energy and sense of awe that permeates the air. Chichen Itza is not merely a tourist attraction; it is a transformative experience that allows you to connect with a profound chapter of human history.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architectural admirer, or a curious traveler seeking to explore the mysteries of the past, a visit to Chichen Itza promises to be an unforgettable journey into the heart of the Mayan civilization.

The Impulse Traveler Pick: #1 Chichen Itza Tour

This full-day tour lets you see the ancient Maya site Chichen Itza (admission not included) the pyramid of Kukulcan, and explore the architecture in Valladolid. After a busy day exploring, refresh yourself in the waters of the Saamal, and enjoy a delicious buffet meal. Book Your Spot Here.

2. Explore the Tulum Archaeological Site

The Tulum archaeological site is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Located on the stunning Caribbean coastline of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, Tulum offers a unique blend of ancient Mayan ruins and breathtaking natural beauty. Tulum's historical significance makes it a captivating place to explore. The well-preserved ruins date back to the 13th century and provide a fascinating glimpse into the Mayan civilization.

The iconic El Castillo pyramid, perched on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters, is a highlight that shouldn't be missed. Tulum's idyllic setting adds to its allure. The site is nestled amidst lush greenery, with swaying palm trees and white sandy beaches contrasting against the ancient stone structures.

Visitors can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear cenotes (natural sinkholes) or explore the nearby Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve with its diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes.

3. Relax on the Beautiful Beaches of Cancun

Cancun is a dream destination for beach lovers seeking relaxation and tropical paradise. Located on the northeastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, Cancun boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, making it an ideal getaway for sun-seekers.

The pristine white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters of Cancun's beaches are truly captivating. Whether you choose to lounge under a palm tree, take a dip in the refreshing sea, or indulge in water sports like snorkeling or paddleboarding, the beach experience in Cancun is simply unparalleled.

Furthermore, Cancun offers a wide range of luxurious resorts, spa retreats, and beachfront accommodations that cater to every preference and budget. Imagine basking in the warm sun, sipping on a refreshing cocktail, and being pampered with world-class services amidst a tropical paradise.

4. Take a Dip in a Cenote

Visiting a cenote is an experience like no other, and it is a compelling reason to explore the natural wonders of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Cenotes are magical sinkholes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, revealing pristine freshwater pools that hold both cultural and geological significance.

Diving into a cenote is like diving into a hidden paradise. The crystal-clear, turquoise waters provide an enchanting environment for swimming, snorkeling, or even diving.

Exploring the depths of a cenote reveals stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and underwater caves, creating a surreal and ethereal atmosphere.

5. Enjoy a Snorkeling or Diving Tour in the Great Mesoamerican Reef

The Great Mesoamerican Reef, stretching along the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, is a mesmerizing underwater paradise that beckons snorkelers and divers from around the world. A visit to this remarkable ecosystem offers a multitude of reasons to explore its depths.

The Great Mesoamerican Reef is the largest barrier reef system in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world.

The destination boasts an incredible diversity of marine life and vibrant coral formations. Snorkeling or diving here provides an opportunity to witness a kaleidoscope of colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, majestic rays, and even the occasional encounter with dolphins or whale sharks.

6. Swim with Dolphins at Dolphin Discovery

Dolphin Discovery is an extraordinary destination for those seeking an unforgettable and interactive experience with dolphins. Visiting Dolphin Discovery offers numerous reasons to embark on this remarkable adventure.

Swimming with dolphins is a truly magical encounter that allows you to connect with these intelligent and gentle creatures on a personal level. Interacting with dolphins through activities like swimming, hugging, and even receiving a dolphin kiss creates cherished memories that last a lifetime.

7. Experience the Adrenaline Rush of Zip-lining through the Jungle

Visiting Cancun and embarking on a zip-lining tour through the jungle is an exhilarating adventure that will awaken your adventurous spirit. The lush jungles surrounding Cancun provide the perfect backdrop for an adrenaline-fueled experience like no other.

Zip-lining allows you to soar through the treetops suspended in the air and get a bird's-eye view of the stunning natural landscape below. The rush of wind against your face, the adrenaline pumping through your veins, and the breathtaking panoramic views create an unforgettable and thrilling experience.

8. Take a Boat Tour to Isla Mujeres and Explore the Island

Visiting Isla Mujeres is a must for anyone seeking a tranquil tropical getaway. This idyllic island, situated near Cancun, offers a delightful escape from the bustling city and a chance to immerse oneself in a picturesque paradise. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush greenery, Isla Mujeres is a haven for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts.

One of the main attractions of the island is its laid-back atmosphere. Here, you can slow down, unwind, and truly disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Whether you're strolling along the white sandy beaches, snorkeling in the vibrant coral reefs, or simply basking in the warm sun, Isla Mujeres offers a serene setting that rejuvenates the soul.

The Impulse Traveler Pick: #1 Isla Mujeres Day Trip

On this full-day tour from Cancun, cruise to the beautiful island on a catamaran and snorkel in the protected waters of a marine park. Spend free time relaxing on the beach and feast on a lunch buffet accompanied by an open bar. Hotel pickup and drop-off in Cancun are included. Book Your Spot Here.

9. Explore the Underwater Museum, Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA)

A visit to the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) is a one-of-a-kind experience that seamlessly blends art, conservation, and the captivating underwater world.  This extraordinary attraction, located off the coast of Cancun and Isla Mujeres, offers a unique opportunity to explore an underwater museum like no other.

MUSA boasts an impressive collection of over 500 underwater sculptures created by renowned artists. As you dive or snorkel through the crystal-clear waters, you'll be surrounded by these captivating works of art, which serve as artificial reefs.

These sculptures not only create an enchanting and surreal ambiance, but they also play a crucial role in marine conservation. They attract an abundance of marine life, providing shelter and promoting the growth of coral, thus contributing to the restoration of the reef ecosystem.

10. Take a Catamaran or Sailboat Tour along the Coast

A catamaran or sailboat tour along the coast of the Caribbean Sea is a must-do experience for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and breathtaking scenery. Embarking on one of these tours allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the sea while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a well-equipped vessel.

As you sail along the coast, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and lush landscapes. The gentle sea breeze will invigorate your senses as you lounge on the deck, basking in the warm sun. The rhythmic motion of the boat creates a soothing atmosphere, perfect for unwinding and embracing the tranquility of the open sea.

11. Go Deep-sea Fishing and Try to Catch Marlin or Sailfish

Cancun is a renowned destination for deep-sea fishing, attracting fishing enthusiasts from around the world. If you're looking for an exhilarating and rewarding fishing experience, chartering a fishing boat in Cancun is an absolute must.

The region's open waters are teeming with a rich variety of marine life, making it a haven for anglers. Cancun is particularly famous for its marlin and sailfish populations, known for their impressive size and thrilling fights.

Hooking one of these powerful and majestic creatures is an adrenaline-pumping experience that will test your skills and strength.

12. Enjoy a Round of Golf at One of the Many World-Class Golf Courses

Cancun is a paradise for golf enthusiasts, offering a plethora of world-class golf courses that combine exceptional design, breathtaking landscapes, and a tropical ambiance. If you're a golf lover, visiting Cancun presents an opportunity to enjoy the sport in an idyllic setting.

The region's golf courses are designed by renowned architects and cater to players of all skill levels. Whether you're a seasoned golfer or a casual player, you can indulge in a round of golf surrounded by stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, meticulously manicured fairways, and vibrant tropical vegetation.

The combination of challenging holes, strategic bunkers, and pristine greens ensures a memorable golfing experience.

13. Visit Xcaret Park and Experience Cultural and Ecological Attractions

Xcaret Park is a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly immersive and enriching experience in Mexico. With its diverse range of cultural and ecological attractions, it offers a unique blend of nature, history, and adventure.

One of the main reasons to visit Xcaret is its celebration of Mexican traditions. The park provides an opportunity to witness vibrant performances of music, dance, and folklore, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Mexico.

From traditional Mayan ceremonies to colorful folk dances, every aspect of Mexican culture comes alive at Xcaret.

14. Take a Day Trip to the Stunning Island of Cozumel for Snorkeling or Diving

Cozumel, the stunning island located just a short ferry ride from Cancun, is an idyllic destination that beckons snorkelers and divers from around the world. With its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine ecosystem, Cozumel offers an unparalleled experience for underwater enthusiasts.

Cozumel is renowned Palancar Reef. Considered one of the top dive sites globally, it boasts exceptional visibility and a breathtaking array of marine life. Snorkelers and divers can immerse themselves in a world of vibrant coral formations, tropical fish of all colors, and the chance to encounter majestic sea turtles gliding through the waters.

The sheer beauty and diversity of marine species in Cozumel's underwater realm make it a paradise for anyone with a passion for marine exploration.

15. Party the Night Away at the Famous Coco Bongo Nightclub

Coco Bongo nightclub is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience an extraordinary night out in Cancun. With its legendary reputation, this venue promises a one-of-a-kind experience that will leave you in awe. From the moment you step inside, you'll be transported into a world of electrifying energy and pulsating music.

The club features live performances from talented musicians, skilled dancers, and impressive acrobats who captivate the audience with their breathtaking acts.

These shows are a fusion of different genres, including pop, rock, Latin, and electronic music, creating a dynamic and electrifying atmosphere.

Pro Tip: It is so much more enjoyable if you book a tour. This will provide transportation to and from the club, allow you to skip the line, and provides free alcohol (if you are a drinker). Check out the tour I tried.

16. Take a Jungle Tour on an ATV or in a Hummer

Cancun is an unparalleled destination that offers a myriad of attractions, and one of the most thrilling experiences you can have here is embarking on a jungle tour on an ATV or in a Hummer. This exhilarating adventure allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of the jungle while satisfying your adrenaline cravings.

The lush jungles of Cancun are teeming with diverse flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts. By venturing off-road on an ATV or in a rugged Hummer, you can explore hidden trails that are inaccessible by other means.

As you navigate through the dense vegetation, you'll have the opportunity to witness exotic wildlife, such as colorful birds, playful monkeys, and elusive jaguars.

17. Experience an Exhilarating Speedboat Tour in the Nichupte Lagoon

Nichupte Lagoon offers a thrilling and unforgettable experience for those seeking adventure and natural beauty. This stunning lagoon, located in Cancun, Mexico, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike.

The speedboat tour allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the mangrove forests that line the lagoon.

As you zip through the water, you'll feel an incredible rush of adrenaline, making for an exciting adventure. Along the way, you'll have the chance to spot a wide variety of bird species, adding a touch of natural wonder to the journey.

18. Cruise on a Luxury Yacht

If you enjoy luxury experiences, you should embark on a cruise aboard a luxurious yacht. The allure of this experience lies in the enchanting blend of opulence and natural beauty. As the yacht glides through the gentle waves, the radiant hues of the setting sun paint a breathtaking masterpiece across the sky.

The serene atmosphere and panoramic views create an atmosphere of unparalleled tranquility, allowing visitors to escape the stresses of everyday life. The sense of exclusivity and indulgence that comes with being aboard a luxury yacht further enhances the appeal. It's an opportunity to unwind and bask in the lap of luxury, sipping champagne and relishing gourmet delicacies.

The Impulse Traveler Pick: #1 Yacht Charter Trip

For the best and most reliable yacht charters, we always use Yacht Club Company based out of Tulum. They provide yacht charter services all throughout Mexico as well as other international destinations. The charters include lunch, alcohol, and equipment for water sports. Find more information here.

19. Croco Cun Zoo and Interacting with Crocodiles and Other Animals

Croco Cun Zoo is a haven for nature enthusiasts and animal lovers alike. Visitors are drawn to this unique establishment for its immersive and educational experiences with captivating creatures.

The chance to interact with crocodiles, one of nature's most formidable predators, is undeniably thrilling. It offers a rare opportunity to observe these ancient reptiles up close while knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into their behavior and biology.

The zoo also boasts a diverse array of other animals, from exotic birds to reptiles, mammals, and more. Visitors delight in the chance to feed, pet, and even hold some of these creatures under expert supervision, fostering a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the animal kingdom.

20. Enjoy A Relaxing Day at Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines, also known as Dolphin Beach, is a must-visit destination for those seeking a relaxing day in Cancun, Mexico. This picturesque beach is renowned for its stunning views and tranquil atmosphere, making it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.

The beach offers panoramic views of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, contrasted against the pristine white sand and swaying palm trees. This idyllic backdrop provides the perfect setting for sunbathing, strolling along the shore, or simply basking in the beauty of nature.

The possibilities for exploration and enjoyment are endless. Whether you choose to delve into the region's rich history at archaeological sites, immerse yourself in the stunning natural wonders, or indulge in the vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene, Cancun offers a unique blend of experiences that cater to every traveler's desires.

Best Things To Do In Cancun Mexico

From tranquil beach days to adrenaline-pumping adventures, cultural encounters, to gastronomic delights, there are many things to do in Cancun Mexico that invites you to create lifelong memories and experience the beauty of this tropical paradise.

Embrace the charm and allure of Cancun, and let its breathtaking landscapes and warm hospitality captivate your heart.

The Impulse Traveler
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