Cancun is the official party capital of Mexico with great beachfront access to the Caribbean Sea. But there are so many more things to do in Cancun besides the beaches!
Known as the gateway to the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is often the first travel experience that most Americans have in Mexico. In fact up to 40% of American travelers are picking Mexico for their vacation.
It’s like a Mexican Las Vegas — crowded and full of obnoxious first-time tourists afraid of drinking the water or leaving their all-inclusive resorts…
There’s also the thousands of students who visit Mexico during Spring Break to party hard and get a tan — completely skipping any cultural experiences.
That said, the city does have some awesome nightlife and beautiful beaches. But there are many other fun things to do in Cancun that most people miss…
If you’re planning to spend some time in Cancun, I wanted to recommend some of my favorite fun and unusual things to do, no matter what time of year you visit.
My Cancun itinerary is completely free! I’ve worked hard putting it together for you. If you find it useful, please use my affiliate links when you book hotels, rental cars or activities. I’ll get paid a small commission, at no extra cost to you! Thanks.
1: Explore Cancun’s Hotel Zone
Cancun is divided into two areas. Downtown, also known as Ciudad Cancun — and Cancun Island, also known as The Hotel Zone or “Zona Hotelera”.
The Hotel Zone is the primary tourist area, synonymous with resorts, catamarans, wild nightlife and beaches. It’s a 15-mile strip of sand shaped like the number seven. This is where most people stay.
As the name implies, there are tons of hotels as well as most of the nightlife and beaches. Restaurants and bars line the only road, Kulkukan Boulevard, which runs from one side of the Hotel Zone to the other.
2: Visit Downtown Cancun
If you get sick of the tourist Disneyland that is the Hotel Zone, Downtown Cancun provides a taste of local culture, with delicious street food, small shops, green parks, and Mexican Wrestling!
Downtown Cancun (aka Ciudad Cancun) is the main residential area for locals too. This is where all the people who work in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula tourist industry actually live.
Wander down to Avenida Tulum to see and experience the “real” Cancun. If you’re a foodie, make sure to stuff your face full of tacos from the vendors there. There’s a nice park too, called
3: Swimming In Cenotes
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its amazing cenotes, natural pools formed in limestone caves. The entire Riviera Maya is covered with thousands of cenotes, many of them you can swim in.
Cenotes are created when the limestone surface collapses, creating an opening into the Yucatan’s large underground river system. Most people visit them to go swimming, scuba diving or snorkeling.
Some of the best cenotes near Cancun are located along the Ruta De Cenotes (Cenote Route) near the city of Puerto Morelos, about a 30-minute drive away.
Here you’ll find Cenote La Noria, Verde Lucero, Cenote Mojarras, and Cenote Selvatica among many others. My favorite was Verde Lucero, which has its own zipline!
4: Snorkeling Near Cancun
Snorkeling turquoise blue Carribean waters is an ocean activity you can’t miss while visiting Cancun. One amazing underwater attraction is the Underwater Museum — or MUSA.
500 sculptures were created from materials which encourage coral reef development. Huge hands, statues of locals and VW Beetles, the exhibits are surrounded by ocean wildlife giving you a really unique experience.
MUSA continues to expand, as more sculptures are added, while the old ones are being eaten away by marine creatures. You can book a snorkeling tour directly starting at $30 USD.