Cancun is one of the most famous destinations in Mexico and the first peek most visitors get of the country.
White-sand beaches, striking turquoise-toned waters, and a vibrant nightlife are probably the first things that come to mind when you picture Cancun. While it’s definitely an incredible place for paradise-like beaches and fun nights out, there’s a lot more to Cancun than meets the eye.
This vibrant coastal city is the gateway to the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mayan Riviera, an area with a ton of incredible activities guaranteed to please no matter your travel style.
Whether you’re a nature lover, an archaeology aficionado, a beach bum, a hardcore adventurer, or a little bit of everything, you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you entertained (your only struggle will be deciding what to do!). Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best things to do in Cancun to add to your bucket list!
Things to Do in Cancun
Walk Kukulcan Avenue
Kukulcan Avenue is the main road in the hotel zone or “zona hotelera”, which is where most visitors to Cancun stay as it harbors resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping centers galore.
Visit Forum Beach
Located behind the most popular nightclub in Cancun, the Cocobongo, Forum Beach or Playa Forum is an exquisite combination of tropical bliss and a vibrant atmosphere, with restaurants and bars lining the white-sand strip of dreamy Caribbean coast.
Snorkel at an underwater museum
Go on a unique snorkeling adventure at the MUSA Cancun Underwater Art Museum, where you’ll find a series of life-sized underwater sculptures that also act as coral reefs!
Meet dolphins in Isla Mujeres
Hop on a boat to reach Isla Mujeres, where you can interact with dolphins in their natural habitat at Garrafon Natural Park, then snorkel or kayak before grabbing a delicious buffet-style lunch.
Zipline over the jungle
Soar high over the jungles of the Mayan Riviera on a zip-lining adventure at Selvatica Park in Puerto Morelos, then swim in a cenote and explore the forest on a heart-pumping ATV ride.
Get local at downtown Cancun
Downtown Cancun is different from the tourist zone, providing a glimpse of the local culture and lifestyle of the people who live and work in the area.
Here, you’ll find delicious street food, discreet hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and parks, all of which boast a local flair.
Dance the night away at Coco Bongo
Enjoy an unforgettable night in the most iconic nightclub in Cancun, where you will relish the best tropical cocktails, listen to live music, watch flying acrobats, and party the night away amid balloons, confetti, and bubbles!
Kayak at Nichupté Lagoon
Hop on a kayak to explore a thriving lagoon where you’ll find mangrove forests, meet native flora and wildlife, and stop at the semi-virgin Conchitas Beach for a swim in crystalline waters.
Scuba dive in a cenote
If you have an Open Water Diving Certificate and want to do diving like you never have before, this tour will have you submerging deep into a cenote (sinkhole) in the middle of the jungle, where you’ll find a world of light beams, unique rock formations, and marine life.
Visit Xplor Park
Explore the nature around Cancun on a thrill-inducing adventure where you’ll get to soar over the trees on a series of zip lines, drive through caves, raft the river, and explore a few underwater caverns.
Swim with whale sharks (May to September)
Swim and snorkel with the world’s biggest fish that can grow up to 39 feet long alongside marine biologists and naturalists who will tell you everything you need to know about whale sharks and the importance of their conservation.
Become a pirate for a day
Hop on a replica of the Spanish Galleon from the 18th century in order to enjoy a dinner in the ocean, play fun games, and see a re-enacted pirate show!
Take a romantic cruise sunset on a lagoon
Enjoy a delicious 3-course dinner over the gorgeous Nichupté Lagoon while you listen to saxophone music and watch the sun go down with delicious cocktails in hand.
Swim with sea turtles
Go on an adventure of a lifetime to snorkel inside the second largest reef system in the world and an underground river, where you’ll be able to see a variety of colorful coral, tons of fish, and even spot three different species of sea turtles who may very just glide right past you!
Visit Xel-Há for a day of fun!
Xel-Há is a dreamy park where you can choose from a range of activities, be it snorkeling among colorful coral, exploring rivers, hiking in the jungle, boating over mangrove forests, flying into a cenote, or simply enjoying the landscape with a cocktail in hand from the open bar.
Bounce your way through Aquabounce Water Park
One of the best things to do in Cancun for families, a visit to Aquabounce Water Park will have you jumping and tumbling over trampolines, wobbling platforms, rolling tubes, and gigantic slides over the water.
Explore Río Secreto
Wade your way through a one-of-a-kind underwater cave, where you’ll find a network of maze-like pathways made up of rock formations, chambers featuring enormous stalactites and stalagmites, and interesting nighttime insects who love hiding in the cave’s darkness.
Adventure at Xcaret
A world of culture and outdoor adventures, Xcaret is the Mayan Riviera’s most famous attraction and one of the best things to do in Cancun for nature lovers.
While here, you can choose from the many activities on the park’s menu, be it observing wildlife in the forest, visiting the aquarium, swimming in caves and cenotes, or watching the world-renowned “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular” performance to learn the history of Mexico.
Take a day trip to Rio Lagartos and a pink lagoon
Take a road trip to the northern side of the Yucatan Peninsula to Rio Lagartos, a river where you’ll encounter crocodiles before heading over to Las Coloradas, a lagoon famous for its pink-tones waters and flamingos!
Join a Temazcal ceremony
Join a centuries-old Mayan purification ritual guided by an authentic Shaman inside an ecological reserve, swim inside a cenote, and learn everything about Mayan culture in the place they call their home.
Enjoy the water at Ventura Park
Located just outside of the hotel area in Cancun, Ventura Park is a mecca for all things water adventures. Spend the day here swimming in wave pools, riding roller coasters, speeding down waterslides, floating down a lazy river, and more!
Take a day trip to Tulum
Spend the day in fabulous Tulum and explore its fascinating seaside archeological site, swim in the ocean as sea turtles glide by, check out two cenotes, and enjoy a lunch in the lush jungles of the Riviera Maya.
Explore the hotel zone
This stretch is where most resorts, bars/nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping are happening in Cancun. There is a local bus that costs about 1-2 pesos to rude and it goes up and down the length of the hotel zone.
Join a Mexican fiesta at Xoximilco Park
A replica of the original Xochimilco in Mexico City, Xoximilco Park will give you the chance to experience an authentic Mexican fiesta onboard a trajinera (colorful boats that resemble a gondola) while you listen to live music, choose from dozens of Mexican dishes, and sip tequila for an extra dose of fun.
Hop on a boat to explore Isla Mujeres
Located off the shore of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a lovely island where crystal-clear blue waters and colorful buildings reign supreme.
Take a boat to this charming island and stroll its lively streets, cruise over the bay while hearing legends and stories, and marvel at a striking sunset from the beach.
Take a trip back in time to the archaeological wonders of Tulum and Cobá
Learn about ancient Mayan history by spending the day exploring two of the most important archaeological sites in the area, including the tallest pyramid in Mexico (Cobá) and the ruins of what was once one of the most important cities for the Mayan civilization.
Swim with manatees
Sail to Isla Mujeres in order to get the unique opportunity to swim with manatees at the Dolphin Discovery Center before getting free time to relax under the Caribbean sun and drink a few cocktails at the open onsite bar.
Shop till you drop at Playa del Carmen
Explore the colorful streets of Playa Mujeres as you search for authentic goodies and souvenirs to bring back home, including a few tequila bottles you can grab after enjoying a tequila tasting session and unique accessories from the biggest jewelry factory in the Caribbean region.
Drive a speedboat through a mangrove forest
Drive your own speedboat through a mangrove forest near Punta Nizuc in order to leisurely enjoy the surroundings and admire the marine life that calls these water channels their home.
Have the thrill of your life by exploring the jungle at night
One of the best things to do in Cancun at night is visiting Xplor Fuego, where you’ll get to zipline across the jungle, paddle through underwater caves, swim amid stalactites, and more (all while being able to take breaks from the adrenaline by enjoying unlimited drinks under the stars!)
Visit Garrafon Reef Park
Garrafon Reef Park is the ultimate place to be for underwater goodness. Take your pick and choose between snorkeling amid a striking coral reef, kayaking on bottom-glass boats, ziplining over the jungle, or simply soaking up the sun at its white-sandy beaches.
Day trip to Bacalar
This full-day tour will take you to Bacalar, a village where you’ll find a lagoon that features seven shades of blues where you can safely swim before visiting its pirate museum and exploring a fort.
Visit Chichen Itzá
No trip to the Yucatan Peninsula would be complete without checking out Chichen Itza, an important Mayan center and one of the 7 Wonders of the World. This tour will also give you the chance to swim inside a cenote and explore the colorful streets of Valladolid, a small city in the state of Yucatan dotted by colorful colonial buildings and a thriving foodie scene.
Check out the ruins of an ancient Mayan ceremonial center
A visit to Ek Balam will transport you into a world of cenotes and history as you explore the ruins of an ancient Mayan ceremonial center, which are actually even older than those you’ll find at the more popular Chichen Itza!
Take a taco and beer tour
Discover Cancun’s local foodie scene by joining a guided food tour through five restaurants where you’ll get to taste the best tacos in the city paired with lots of beer as you mingle with other food-obsessed travelers.
Get personal with sea turtles at Akumal
Home to the second largest coral reef in the world, Akumal is famed for being a favorite hangout spot for marine life, especially sea turtles who love hanging out by the beach and are pretty easy to spot and get close to while snorkeling.
Explore nature at its best at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Spend a day exploring Sian Ka’an, a biosphere reserve that brims with local flora and fauna, including endemic birds you can spot while boating over the lagoon as well as marine life you can look for while snorkeling under crystal-clear blue waters.
Pin for Pinterest
This article has affiliate links to products and services we love, which we may make commission from.