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Explore the Yucatan Peninsula From Cancun, Mexico’s Gateway City

Cancun, Mexico’s official party capital, is a famous tourist and local attraction on the Caribbean Sea’s shoreline. But Cancun offers so much more than sunbathing and swimming!

Cancun, the entryway to the Yucatan Peninsula, is a popular first stop for visitors from the United States. In fact, up to 40% of American tourists choose to holiday in Mexico.

Cancun isn’t my favorite Mexican destination, and I’ll be the first to admit that.

A Mexican Las Vegas, crammed with arrogant first-timers reluctant to leave their all-inclusive resorts or even drink the water…

On the other hand, there are the tens of thousands of college students who visit Mexico for Spring Break solely for the purpose of partying and tanning, ignoring any cultural activities.

Nevertheless, the city’s nightlife and beaches are world-class. However, most visitors to Cancun fail to take advantage of the city’s other attractions.

These are some of my favorite fun and interesting activities that you can do in Cancun, no matter what season you come.

2022 travel restrictions for Mexico

All COVID-19 entry requirements have been abolished by Mexico. As in January 2022, there will be no need for immunization records, health forms, or tests. However, before traveling back to the United States, American citizens must be tested in Mexico.

Depending on your destination, you may be required to observe particular standards (such as wearing masks) if you visit any of the newly opened hotels, attractions, or private excursions.

The Best Ways to See Cancun, Mexico

Check out the hotel district in Cancun

The city of Cancun is separated into two halves. Both the city center and Cancun Island are referred to as “Zona Hotelera” or “Ciudad Cancun” respectively.

This section of town is known for its resorts, catamarans, crazy nightlife, and sandy beaches, all of which can be found in the Hotel Zone. There is a 15-mile-long sandbar in the shape of seven. Most individuals choose to stay here.

Most of the nightlife and beaches are located in this area, which has a plethora of hotels. Kulkukan Boulevard, the lone road in the Hotel Zone, is lined with restaurants and bars.

Take a tour of Cancun’s downtown area.

Downtown Cancun provides a taste of local culture, with delicious street food, small shops, green parks, and Mexican Wrestling! if you get tired of the tourist Disneyland that is the Hotel Zone.

Residents of Cancun’s downtown (also known as Ciudad Cancun) call it home. The Yucatan Peninsula’s tourist economy is based in this neighborhood.

The “genuine” Cancun can be found on Avenida Tulum, so make your way there. Take advantage of the taco vendors’ offerings if you’re a foodie. Parque Las Palapas, a kid-friendly green space, is also nearby.

The Cenote Swimming Pool

Known as “cenotes,” Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural sinkholes. Thousands of cenotes dot the Riviera Maya, many of which you may swim in.

Cenotes are formed when the limestone surface collapses, allowing the Yucatan’s vast underground river system to flow across the area. To go swimming, scuba diving, or snorkeling, they are the most popular destinations.

The Ruta De Cenotes (Cenote Route) at Puerto Morelos, a 30-minute drive from Cancun, is home to some of the top cenotes in the area.

Numerous cenotes, such as Cenote La Noria, Verde Lucero, and Cenote Mojarras, can be found in this region. Verde Lucero, which has its own zipline, was my favorite.

The Xenote Experience is a delightful guided cenote trip that departs from Cancun if you don’t want to drive yourself.

In the vicinity of Cancun, you may go snorkeling

Snorkeling in an aquamarine sea If you’re in Cancun, don’t miss out on the opportunity to swim or snorkel in the Caribbean Sea. The Underwater Museum, often known as MUSA, is an incredible sight to behold whether snorkeling or scuba diving.

More than 500 coral reef-friendly sculptures were constructed. The exhibits, which include gigantic hands, statues of locals, and vintage Volkswagen Beetles, are surrounded by marine life, making for an unusually immersive experience.

Sculptures are being added to MUSA all the time, while the old ones are being eaten away by sea life. Starting at $30 USD, you can book a snorkeling tour immediately.

The Temazcal Ritual

Traditionally, a Temazcal ritual is a Mayan purifying ceremonial performed in an intimate hut. There is a sweat lodge, which is heated with hot rocks and water and becomes a steaming sauna when you strip down to your underwear (or swimwear).

Participant care is taken care of by an indigenous shaman, who administers the rite. Shaman pours water over the rocks and chants while using different herbs to conjure spirits during the temazcal ceremony, which takes place in complete darkness.

For centuries, Temazcal has been practiced as a purification ritual that cleanses the body, mind, and spirit. The shamanic chanting helps you achieve a deep level of meditation as you perspire in the cramped hut.

Discover the Best Beaches in Cancun

Cancun’s 13-mile coastline is dotted with picture-perfect beaches with powdery white sand, azure ocean, and a gentle sea air.

While there are many beaches to choose from in the Hotel Zone, a few stand out for their beauty and atmosphere.

Cancun’s Playa Delfines is one of the most expansive. It’s a local favorite because of the iconic Cancun sign and the absence of hotels or resorts. Swimming is not recommended due to the strong currents.

The small waves at Playa Tortugas make it ideal for families with young children. Because it’s so popular, the one downside is that it can become overcrowded at times. The beachside restaurant serves drinks and seafood.

There is no better site to dive into the Caribbean waters than Chac Mool Beach. This lovely beach is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts because there are numerous companies who loan out equipment.

Playa Forum is the perfect blend of a lively atmosphere and a tropical getaway. ‘ The Coco Bongo nightclub in Cancun is just a few blocks from from this beach, which is full of restaurants and cafes.

Zip Lining Through The Wilds of Borneo

Even if you’re terrified of heights, don’t skip the Cancun zip line tour because it’s one of the city’s most iconic activities. The more you are, the better!

Zip lines may be found at a number of amusement parks near Cancun. Zip line can be found at Selvatica, a nearby theme park. Ten different zip lines are available in a variety of bundles.

At the Xplor Adventure Park, there are two zip line circuits, each with seven different courses, and the highest point is 45 meters above the ground (147 ft). ATVs and cenotes are common features at these types of parks.

Ancient Maya Ruins at Chichen Itza

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Maya city of Chichen Itza is known for its ancient pyramids. As far back as the 5th century, Chichen Itza’s oldest structure can be found.

Known as “El Castillo,” the 98-foot-tall Temple Of Kukulkan (also known as “El Castillo”) is the city’s most spectacular edifice. At each of the nine terraces that surround it, there are nine levels of heaven depicted.

To gain a sense of how the Maya people lived in the past, visit Chichen Itza, which is well-preserved. A 2.5-hour drive from Cancun by automobile or a 3-hour bus ride away, it is the Yucatan Peninsula’s most visited Mayan archaeological site.

Spectacular views of Cancun from the Scenic Tower

Amazing views may be had from Cancun’s Scenic Tower (also known as Torre Escenica). Every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., it’s open.

You’ll get a bird’s-eye perspective of the whole Hotel Zone as the tower slowly rotates 360 degrees to tell you about Cancun’s history.

Getting to the top takes only five minutes, but you’ll want to take advantage of the deck’s 360-degree rotation to snap some shots.

Indulging In Some Mercado 28 Window Shopping

Market 28 (Mercado 28) is an enormous shopping mall in the heart of Cancun. Rather than a traditional shopping center, you’ll find a massive flea market with 600 exhibitors selling just about anything and everything.

Mercado 28 is a great place to pick up some unique Mexican memorabilia, such as textiles, maracas, and leather goods. Many of the products on offer are one-of-a-kind, making them ideal travel gifts.

This is a great place to practice your negotiating skills. You can get a terrific deal if you don’t accept the seller’s first offer. For a fraction of what you’d pay at the Hotel Zone, try one of the many nearby eateries.

A rental car can get you to Mercado 28 quickly and easily via bus from the Hotel Zone, but keep in mind that there are four separate entrances to the shopping center, all of which appear to be very similar.

The Best Nightclubs & Bars in Cancun

The nightlife in Cancun is a must-discuss topic in any discussion of the city. During Spring Break, thousands of college students flock to Mexico City to enjoy the city’s wild nightlife.

After a day at the beach, you may let loose and dance the night away after the sun goes down. It’s worth the wait to get into the hottest nightclubs in Cancun.

The most well-known nightclub in Cancun is Coco Bongo. You may enjoy live acrobats, cover bands, and DJs there. What do you get when you mix the best of both worlds?

Tiesto, Fergie, and Paul Van Dyk are just a few of the famous DJs who often perform at the City Nightclub. The club has three floors and nine bars, allowing it to host up to 5000 people every night.

When it comes to bikini parties, Mandala Beach Club is the place to be. Great music and tropical beverages are on the menu at this outdoor house music bar, which opens everyday at 9:30 PM.

DJs spinning techno and house music, professional dancers, and light shows are just some of the things you can expect at Dady O. Party till the early hours of the morning at the club’s five bars and two floors.

The sport of Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

The latest craze in Cancun is stand up paddle boarding, but it’s also a fun and uncomplicated activity that everyone can participate in. Paddle board rentals are available at the beach, or you can join a group tour to visit a certain location.

Paddleboard all the way from Cancun to Isla Mujeres if you’re up for the task! The Nichupte Lagoon mangrove jungle can be explored by kayak or on a morning wildlife trip.

Xoximilco

In search of a genuine Mexican fiesta? Xoximilco is a great option! Boat parties on the canals around Cancun are popular in Mexico.

Guests can rent trajinera boats to float along the river while listening to live music at this theme park modeled like the historic Xochimilco in Mexico City.

Xoximilco is a terrific place to experience Mexican culture through music, tequila, and delectable cuisine. People get up and dance a lot at Xoximilco. They also provide plenty of fun social activities to keep the celebration rolling.

As a result, the party is a vibrant display of Mexican culture, including music and food from several regions.

Sailing in the Sunset

A romantic sunset sailing cruise off the coast of Mexico’s Riviera Maya or Isla Mujeres is the finest way to take in the region’s stunning sunsets.

Sail off into the sunset on a catamaran and let the wind play with your hair while you take in the stunning colors. As a bonus, most sunset sailing tours out of Cancun include an open bar and food, so you can kick back and enjoy the sunset.

Typically, these trips run approximately two hours, and if the weather is too severe or unpleasant, the providers offer a refund.

Adventures in Scuba Diving

Cancun is a mecca for scuba divers and other water sports aficionados. In the vicinity, you’ll find a slew of exciting things to see and do underwater.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world, is only a short distance from Cancun. In addition to the many species of tropical fish and eels that call this place home, you’ll also find nurse sharks and spectacular sea eagle rays here.

Favorite destinations include the island of Mujeres and the underwater MUSA museum. PADI certification can be obtained in a variety of locations for those who are new to scuba diving.

Day Trip to Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres, or “The Island of Women,” is named after the Maya goddess of fertility, Ixchel, whose temple is located on the island. By ferry from the Hotel Zone, this island is just 20 minutes away from the city of Cancun.

Due to the island’s rocky coast and beautiful bays, it provides breathtaking vistas. Also, it’s the first place in Mexico where you may catch a glimpse of the sunrise. Cancun’s raucous nightlife can be put on hold for a while in this peaceful fishing village.

Visit a local turtle farm and conservation center to witness the hatching of sea turtles. You can rent a golf cart and drive around the island, see the Ixchel temple, see the Garrafon Reef Park, go kayaking or snorkeling, or go to the ruins of the Hacienda Mundaca, which date back to the 19th century.

Take a trip to the Colorado Mountains.

The “red ones,” as they’re known locally, are a group of pink lakes that make up the little fishing community of the same name. More than 150,000 acres of land surround the lakes, which are home to numerous species of wildlife.

Aside from fishing, the area’s primary industry is salt manufacturing, which is where the stunningly pink water comes from. Red plankton and shrimp are responsible for the lakes’ vibrant pink hue.

By automobile, it takes three hours to get to Las Coloradas from Cancun. In Rio Lagartos, a 30-minute drive away, travelers looking to spend the night can do so. Rio Lagartos also offers flamingo tours.

A selfie with the Cancun sign.

Taking a picture with the brightly colored Cancun sign is one of the most common tourist attractions in Cancun. The sign is a well-known landmark on Playa Delfines, which is easily reached by bus.

Once you get in Delfines, you may enjoy the local white sand beach, which is one of the less developed beaches in the region.

Delfines is noted for its strong currents, thus it’s best to avoid swimming and instead choose for sunbathing. Cancun’s best beach in my opinion, with a breathtaking vista to match.

Making a Beverage of Seor Frog’s

Cancun’s Seor Frogs is the go-to spot for a night out on the town. People are singing and dancing, and you can dine there, too, in a lively atmosphere.

The floor is coated in sawdust, and hilarious signs adorn the walls. At any time, a Conga line could break out because they serve beverages in “yard” glasses.

You can bring your kids if they’re at least 8 years old, but they won’t be able to handle the loudness and the partying.

At Xplor Park, You Can Go ATVing.

One of the most popular activities in Cancun is riding ATVs along a jungle route on gravel roads. ATV excursions of the jungle are offered by a number of firms, including Xplor Park.

The $120 all-inclusive park admission cost includes an ATV ride. There is a lunch buffet and unlimited drinks, so you can easily spend the whole day there. Other activities include cave swimming, rafting, and zip lining.

There are numerous “adventure theme parks” in Mexico, and Xplore is only one of them. Xcaret, Xel Ha, and Rio Secreto are a few other options.

Walking Amongst the Whale Sharks

To swim with a Whale Shark is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially given that the species is listed as endangered.

In the Yucatan Peninsula, you may swim with the world’s largest known fish, which can grow up to 12 meters long and weigh up to 20 tons.

Whale sharks are known for their lively nature, and baby whale sharks are no exception. Between June and September is the optimum time to swim with sharks. Itineraries include trips to Isla Mujeres, Cancun, and Holbox.

A Lucha Libre Show Is A Must

Cancun’s Lucha Libre is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in authentic Mexican culture. Wrestling, acrobatics, and theatrical stunts are used by both the good and bad warriors to win.

Fighters wear masks and are occasionally joined by small people and drag queens.. About three rounds of fighting are usually enough to determine who is thrown outside the ring and who is victorious.

Every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday night, Lucha Libre matches are performed downtown at Arena Cancun. Beer and refreshments are available for purchase at a cost of $12 USD per front row seat. It’s a really good show!

Observe the Sea Turtles at Sea

Sea turtles can be found in abundance on the beaches surrounding Cancun. During the months of May through October, turtles can be seen laying eggs on the beach. From July to December, the eggs hatch and the baby sharks tumble into the ocean.

Tortugranja, a turtle farm and conservation facility on the island of Isla Mujeres, is the greatest spot to see sea turtles. Aside from loggerheads, green and hawksbill turtles are the most common species to spot in the area around Cancun.

For about $3, you can observe turtles at every stage of development at Tortugranja. Under the watchful eye of a guide, you can feed them and interact with them together with crabs, urchins, and conchs.

The Maya Museum and the Ruins of San Miguelito

On 80 acres in Hotel Zone, you’ll find the Museo Maya Cancun and the San Miguelito Ruins. In 2012, a brand-new museum was unveiled, showcasing a wide range of fascinating artifacts from the Mayan civilization.

It is possible to witness ancient bones, jade treasures, and artifacts from Chichen Itza and other Mayan sites in the Yucatan peninsula while walking amid the ruins.

There are three galleries in which you can learn about Mayan history and culture in a variety of ways. At San Miguelito ruins you may see Mayan temples, pyramids, and family homes all in one place for less than $5.

Isla Contoy’s Birdwatching

A birdwatcher’s delight, Isla Contoy is a must-visit island. More than 100 bird species and four kinds of sea turtles live in a small protected National Park refuge north of Isla Mujeres.

To top it all off, you can go bird watching and enjoy the tropical wind. There is a lot to see and photograph while you’re here, so don’t be afraid to take some time to just relax.

An all-inclusive trip to Isla Contoy costs around $100 per person. In order to preserve the island’s natural beauty, tourists are required by law to observe rigorous guidelines and clean up after themselves.

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