Take a day trip to the island of Isla Mujeres, just 13 km (8 miles) offshore of Cancun. At one end is El Garrafón Natural Park, which is good for snorkeling. At the other end is a captivating village with small shops, restaurants, hotels, and Playa Norte, the island’s best beach. There are four ways to get there: public ferry from Puerto Juárez (15-20 minutes), shuttle boat from Playa Linda or Playa Tortuga (an hour-long ride with irregular service); water taxi next to the Xcaret Terminal (more expensive but faster); and daylong pleasure-boat cruises, most of which leave from the Playa Linda pier.
Get up close to nature with one of Cancun’s many eco-tours, most with snorkeling, horseback riding, hiking, nature trails, river rafting, kayaking, beach relaxing, cultural expeditions and wildlife explorations.
Swim with the dolphins in a variety of facilities or within closed-off ocean areas, an exhilarating activity for the young and young at heart.
Take the Hummer Jungle Tour for some family fun, which visits a petting zoo, explores ruins, swims in cenotes and hits the beach. For the adventurists, there are zip lines, too.
Zip line through the jungle during a Selvatica Canopy Tour—major family fun for ages 3 and up.
Keep the kids entertained with exciting trips to Xel Ha or Xcaret with numerous family-fun attractions.
Get your thrills and chills with zip lines, water landings, subterranean rivers, cenotes and self-drive amphibious vehicles at Xplor Adventure Park.
Visit the Cancun Interactive Aquarium, another great family-fun activity.
Jump on an ATV and take a rip-rolling, fast-riding adventure-filled tour of the jungle.
Take the family on an Isla Mujeres Fun Day cruise excursion, which also has a kids club.
Explore the underwater world of Cancun without ever getting wet with the Subsee Explorer and Atlantis Submarine.
The whole family will really quack up on a sightseeing tour with Cancun Duck Tours, which takes you around Cancun on land then into the lagoon for some water play.
Explore the Mayan Ruins—it’s an absolute must-do in Cancun for history and culture buffs. But, although it may be truly fascinating for adults, kids may get bored to tears on long bus rides to look at piles of rubble. If going with young children, take a combo tour with some swimming or an activity at the end that the kids would like, too.
Visit the wildlife sanctuaries like Sian Kaan or Isla Contoy.
Sailing the high seas aboard the authentic pirate galleon, the Captain Hook Barco Pirata Pirate Ship, and enjoy a lobster dinner and pirate show. Ahoy, matey!
Hop the bus and spend the afternoon strolling Avenida Kukulka, the main avenue with all the swanky, modern hotels, as well as shops and restaurants, including Habichuela, which has great food and a superb Mayan show.
Get in the water with four unique dolphin swims available at Delphinous, located in the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone inside the Dreams Cancun Hotel, for exclusive natural interactions and encounters with dolphins in a small natural lagoon with continuous irrigation of sea water; or go bigger and dive in at Dolphinaris Cancun, a multimillion-dollar investment near Wet ‘n Wild Water park that offers the most advanced dolphinariums and swim programs in Mexico.
Bask in the sun and privacy of Playa Delphines, an undeveloped beach that provides a great view of Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
Tee up at Riviera Golf Cancun, near the beach hotels but isolated in the mangroves with beautifully landscaped and challenging courses with scenic views. Watch out for roaming crocodiles many golfers have spotted along the links and water’s edges.
Visit the Interactive Aquarium, a hands-on aquarium in Cancun where you can touch sea urchins, swim with dolphins and feed sharks while locked in an underwater cage.
Explore the El Rey Ruins, where the past meets the present in this ancient Mayan structure located right in the middle of Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
Swim in an underground cave and investigate Mayan ruins at Museo Maya del Cancun. Right on the main hotel boulevard, it was built around some pyramids that were discovered when the hotels were being constructed.
Shop and dine at Plaza Isla, an upscale center with shops and restaurants and scenic architecture and a large central water fountain to sit around and relax.
Light a candle or just enjoy the charm of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carmen, a church dedicated to the local patron saint of Cancun.
Soak up oodles of family fun at Wet ‘n Wild Cancun, a popular American theme park, but with its own personality, sets of slides, flumes and shoots.
Enjoy the open-air cafes, restaurants and bars that make Playa Tortugas beach a perfect place to scope out the crowds and people watch.
Head out on foot or bicycle to Parque Urbano Kabah park and explore the long trail that goes through la selva (jungle), which was preserved in the middle of the city. You can see a lot of birds and iguanas along the path.
Discover the taste and joy of tequila at Museo Sensorial del Tequila.
Get your fill of slot machines at Dubai Place Casino. No other gambling is available though.
Take a dip in the beautiful public beach waters of Playa Chac Mool.
Lounge on the smooth, white, broad stretch of sand of Playa Marlin beach while gazing at the rugged surf.
View the rotating collection of Mexican and foreign exhibits at the art museum, Museo del INAH.
Explore the collections of musical instruments, containers made from gourds, kitchen utensils, masks, toys, figures dressed in costumes from various regions, and tree of life sculptures at La Casa del Arte Popular Mexicano.
Jump in the crystal-clear blue waters with Mermaid tours, recommended as one of the best snorkeling tours in Cancun, and head out to the Mesoamerican Reef in Puerto Morelos, 26 miles south of the city to snorkel completely unspoiled and highly regulated coral reefs and incredible varieties of exotic sea life.
For an extraordinary snorkeling experience, nothing beats an organized tour of a cenote, sinkholes filled with groundwater found throughout the Yucatan that are ideal for snorkeling because of their calm, fresh waters and visibility. However, cenotes may be connected through underground cave systems and subterranean rivers that can make diving and snorkeling dangerous and why tours are advised.
Take the ferry from the gorgeous Playa Linda beach to Isla Mujeres.
Drive the most exotic rides of the world—Ferraris, Lamborghinis and more—to the limit in a racetrack in Cancun at Exotic Rides Mexico.
Ride the ferry from Playa del Carmen about 35 minutes to Isla Cozumel, about 46 miles south of Cancun. As the oldest town in the region established in the 1840s, it has a rich, colorful history originally inhabited by the Maya, followed by Conquistadors including Hernan Cortez, and then pirates such as Jeanne Lafitte and Henry Morgan. The main square oozes Mexican charm complete with a clock tower from 1924 and surrounded by shops, restaurants, duty free and souvenir shopping, and typical Mexican snack carts.
Day trip out to Tulum, about 120 km south of Cancun and a great place visit the ruins and snorkel in cenotes.
Visit Chichen-Itza, the most popular of all of the Mayan ruins and a MUST SEE that’s usually an all-day excursion. It’s about 3 hours from the zone because it’s deep in the Mayan jungle, but the tour is extremely entertaining, and you’ll see a real Mayan village with a small shopping trip on the way back to resort.
Got to Xcaret Eco-Park in the afternoon so you can experience the amazing, can’t-miss night show! You can also swim with the dolphins, and explore an underground river, bat caves and butterfly pavilions.
Spend the day out at Xel-ha, a natural waterpark located about 2.5 hours south of Cancun where you can enjoy many different activities like snorkeling, kayaking, biking, cliff jumping and even swimming into a little cave.
Take an easy and enjoyable 20-minute ferry ride from the Hotel Zone or downtown Cancun to the tranquil atmosphere of Isla Majeres, which whisks you away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun and offers the perfect place to lounge by the water or enjoy a meal at one of the oceanfront restaurants. Snorkeling also is abundant, with prices around $20 per person. Isla is only about 5-miles long, so be sure to rent a golf cart for at least part of the day to explore the island with attractions including the Turtle Farm, Garrafon Park and Isla Contoy.
Grab a good book before heading out to the beach at Puerto Morelos, home to the largest and best new and used bookstore in the Riviera Maya, Alma Libre Bookstore.
Spend a rainy day or just try your luck at Royal Yak Casino & Sports Book in Cancun.
Get a real taste of Mexican history at Hacienda Andalucía, the first Mexican hacienda that was founded with the idea of showing visitors beautiful pieces of the authentic Mexican architecture. Restoring and converting “Hacienda Las Marias” and “Hacienda La Esperanza” are true historic buildings that show in its interior furnishings, antiques and works of art from around the world. Outside there’s beautifully adorned gardens in a natural environment, fountains, colonial carriages, exotic animals and stallions that perform daily in an exclusive equestrian show.