Things to do in Cancun: Best ocean excursions, cultural excursions, attractions, beaches, shopping

Cancun is home to great resorts, sandy beaches, fantastic dining and some excursions that will put your regular weekend getaway to shame. In fact, when most begin planning their Mexican getaway, one of the first places that they consider is Cancun. If you’re looking at Cancun yourself, you’re in good company.

When visiting, you’ll find that there is plenty in town and around to keep you busy for a week or more. However, if you’re only visiting for the long weekend, you’ll find that downsizing your plans may be a bit more difficult that you imagined. That’s because there are so many good tour options, beaches and shopping to choose from. Many of the top attractions are included on the new Go Cancun Card, so that’s worth a look. Interested in learning about the best available? Continue reading below.

Best ocean excursions of Cancun

Cancun is home to some pretty impressive ocean excursions, and because of the amount available, there’s a little something for everyone. With this said however, there are a few tours that you’ll want to stay away from as they don’t offer the value you would expect. For the best of the best, continue reading below.

Isla Contoy Day Trip

A great day trip that allows you access to some pretty incredible snorkeling, the Isla Contoy Day Trip offers you access to Ixlache Reef and Contoy Island. First you’ll start your day with a continental breakfast during the boat ride over. After snorkeling a bit and exploring the reef, you’ll have to option of choosing one of several different walking trails or lounging on the beach. During that time you’ll also have access to a buffet lunch and several drinks, including beer, vodka, tequila, rum, juice and water.

  • Adult: US$98.99 and up
  • Child: US$52.99 and up

Cancun Whale Shark Tour

An amazing and often times once in a lifetime type of trip, the Cancun Whale Shark tour allows you the chance to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most famed creatures. First you’ll begin your tour with a light breakfast and coffee before spending 2 and 1/2 hours swimming with whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins and sea turtles. After that, you’ll then venture on another snorkeling stop where you’ll be treated to a fish ceviche dish. Make sure to bring a towel and wear your swimsuit during this tour.

  • Adult: US$180.00
  • Child: US$160.00

>>>Tickets for the Cancun Whale Shark Tour

Captain Hook Pirate Ship Dinner and Show

Fun for the whole family, this dinner and show offers an exciting atmosphere while out at sea. During your chicken or vegetarian dinner you’ll be surrounded by pirates unknowingly as you enjoy some soft music and stories of pirates past from your captain. Then, as the captain realizes the impeding danger, a battle will begin with cannons being fired. As you sit, the show will continue with pirates jumping into a sword fight.

  • Adult: US$65.00
  • Child: US$33.00

>>>Tickets for the Captain Hook Pirate Ship Dinner and Show

Best cultural excursions of Cancun

Though you may just think of Cancun as a resort hotspot with great sandy beaches, you may also be aware of the many local ruins that reside on the outskirts of town. These ruins have been turned into local attractions that are great for those looking to learn a little bit about Mexico’s extensive history while vacationing.

Tulum Ruins

A half day tour that leaves from Cancun, the Tulum ruins are what is left of an ancient Mayan city. During your tour to the ruins you’ll learn about the ancient city and its inhabitants while getting plenty of time to take pictures. The tour itself is comprised of an air conditioned bus picking you up directly at your hotel or resort. At first you’ll be guided for roughly an hour. After that you’ll have 30 minutes to explore the ruins alone. There is also a beach right next to the ruins, perfect for dipping your toes in the ocean before heading back to the bus.

  • Adult: US$49.00
  • Child: US$35.00

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Considered to be the most important city of all, Chichen Itza is home to some pretty impressive buildings and ruins. It’s also the largest of all the ruins, helping to make it popular among tourists. All in all, it covers about 6 square miles and roughly 30 buildings can still be seen.  There are several different tours that access the ruins, though they tend to cost about the same. All of them offer pickup and drop off from your hotel.

  • Adult: US$71.10 and up
  • Child: US$35.55 and up


Best attractions of Cancun and surrounding area

Cancun is home to numerous parks and attractions, making it so that this town really does have a bit of everything. If you love being outdoors and are looking for some options that will keep you moving, then you’ll want to strongly consider the options listed below.

Rio Secreto Underground River

A magical sight to see and behold, the Rio Secreto Underground River is well worth your time and money. Here you’ll learn about the area’s natural history while venturing through geological formations. During your tour, you’ll find yourself wading through clear freshwater, meaning that you’ll want to bring a camera encased in a waterproof package. This is also a great adventure option for children, who will be wearing life vests during the excursion. All visitors will be wearing a wetsuit as the water is a bit on the chilly side.

  • Adult: US$109.00
  • Child: US$54.50

>>>Tickets for the Rio Secreto Underground River

Xcaret Park

An eco-archaeological park, Xcaret Park is a great experience for people of all ages. Here you’ll find trails that transverse the Mayan jungle as well as a Mayan Ball Game, Jaguar Island, a butterfly pavilion and more. If you’re interested in hopping in the water, you’ll love the snorkeling tours offered on-site as well as the underground rivers that you can swim in. Nighttime is also exciting with the ‘Xcaret Mexico Espectacular’ a light and color show with 300 different artists that will showcase the history of Mexico.

  • Adult: US$99.00
  • Child: US$99.00

>>>Tickets for Xcaret Park

Ventura Park

An oceanfront theme park for everyone, Ventura Park offers something for every type of visitor. From a 50 foot lopping waterslide to an 800 foot long zipline, you’ll find it all at this adventure park. You’ll also find that you’ll be able to swim with dolphins, ride a roller coaster and go bungee jumping. If you like Disney World and Bush Gardens, you’ll love this smaller theme park.

  • Adult: US$47.00
  • Child: US$42.00

>>>Tickets for Ventura Park

Best beaches in Cancun

Known for its beautiful beaches, Cancun is a great destination for beach goers searching for days in the sun. Here you’ll find plenty to choose from, all of them packed with both visitors and locals. Even if it rains, you’ll still find people patiently waiting for the rain to pass so that they can finish their beach day.

Playa Linda

A great beach for those who like to stay active, Playa Linda is a must visit. Here you’ll find swimming, surfing and various watersports. This beach is located in the northern section of the beach hotel zone and is very close to nearby restaurants if you’re looking to dine while out and about. While on the beach however, you’ll find a snack bar and a few vendors that have set up camp. There aren’t any restrooms on-site though.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Playa Caracol

Located in the middle of it all, this beach is extremely popular with vacationers and is a great spot for snorkeling. This is because the water here is relatively calm compared to some of the other beaches nearby. In addition to snorkeling, guests will find the sand to be perfect for relaxing on a beach towel and people watching. This is also a very popular beach for families and the flat seabeds make it ideal for swimming.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Playa Tortugas

Designed with tourists in mind, Playa Tortugas is perfect for those who want a beach close to the downtown action. You’ll also find lots to do on the beach, including but not limited to beach volleyball, pier jumping, snorkeling, bungee jumping and swimming. The beach itself isn’t the biggest, but there is still enough room for you to stretch out on your beach towel and enjoy the sun. Also, because boats tend to stay far off of the beach, it’s a great place for children to play, making the beach very family friendly.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Best shopping in Cancun

When visiting the Caribbean you’ll find that there are several different shopping options that range from craft vendors on the side of the road to upscale shopping centers selling nothing but expensive items and clothing brands. Cancun is no exception as you’ll find lots of options to enjoy. With that said, if you’re looking for one shopping experience during your trip, you’ll want to check out the shopping center below.

La Isla Shopping Village Cancun

Noted as the most visited and popular shopping center in the hotel zone of Cancun, the La Isla Shopping Village offers shoppers tons of brands to shop through and lots of dining options to enjoy. In all, there are 162 shops and diners to select from, all of which can keep you busy for the entire day. There is also entertainment in the form of an interactive aquarium.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Photos provided by Flickr users Milton CorreaDaniel Mennerich and Zhu.

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