Looking for the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico? There are so many things to do in and around Cancun with it’s white-sand beaches, wild nightlife, nearby Mayan Ruins, eco-parks, and Cenotes, which makes it one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in Mexico.
Cancun water sports are plentiful, with scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, parasailing, fishing and sailing are just a few of the fun Cancun activities to choose.
If you’re more into the culture of Cancun or a more authentic Mexico experience head to downtown Cancun where the locals live and spend their time. The main draw for tourists here is restaurants, shopping, mercado’s and local food stands.
The Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) is a 14 mile stretch along Avenida Kukulkan Blvd with a wide assortment of hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, discos, and shopping plazas.
But this just scratches the surface of what to do in Cancun. Below are 52 of the best things do in Cancun!
52 Most Interesting Things To Do in Cancun
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
For this Cancun tips guide, I reached out to some of my favorite travel bloggers who are experts on Mexico travel. This guide includes the best things to do in Cancun including the best beaches, restaurants, night clubs and activities.
Tips 1-5 Contributed by Isabella Biava from Boundless Roads
Cancun is one of the most popular Mexican beach destinations, mainly renowned for its spectacular beaches and all-inclusive resorts, but there are many things you can do in Cancun and other amazing kinds of accommodations where you can stay. Chose one of the exquisite Cancun Airbnb apartments and explore the hidden gems of Cancun for an off-the-beaten-path vacation.
1. Kayak in the Nichupte’ lagoon – a few people know about this activity and yet it’s an incredible experience. You will paddle among the mangroves and bird colonies, watch how the sky reflects in the water, and if you chose the sunset trip you can also admire the bioluminescence.
2. Watch the sunset from La Isla Mall – La Isla is an open-air mall with beautiful high-end shops, cafes, and restaurants, it’s located between Cancun hotels and the lagoon around km 14 of the Avenida Kukulcan. If you get there around sunset time you will be able to watch the sun disappearing on the horizon behind Cancun buildings, on the other side of the Lagoon.
3. Visit El Rey Archeological site – this tiny underrated archeological site is located right opposite the famous beach Playa Delfines and makes a good break from a beach day and an interesting cultural visit.
4. Paddleboarding – from Playa Langosta you can go on a paddleboarding tour. It’s much better to do it very early in the morning when the sea should be calmer and you can watch the sunrise.
5. Visit Mercado 23 – everybody knows Mercado 28 for the local arts and crafts, but if you are more interested in the local life, you must visit Mercado 23, where locals go grocery shopping. You can also find food stalls (if you dare try them) and other weird shops. It’s a nice way to mingle with locals.
Tips 6-10 Contributed by Rebecca Mckellips from Whatever Packs Your Bag
6. The best Guacamole hands down is at the Maria Bonita restaurant. It is made fresh in front of you while a mariachi band plays in the background. It is for sure worth a visit.
7. The best restaurant in Cancun is Benazuza with its 20-course tasting menu. It amazes and delights throughout the entire experience. The meal begins at the cocktail bar with awesome drinks, followed by the best meal of your life, and ends with a tequila shot you will actually like!
8. If you are feeling a little frisky and wondering about the best things to do in Cancun at night, the Burlesque Show at Kinky Night Club is worth the risqué. The show is tasteful, a little irreverent, and makes for a great story later. It is a mix of both female and male performers, so there is something for everyone.
9. The Black Hole Restaurant is also a must for any foodies. The experience is eating in total darkness, which heightens your other senses in the process.
10. The Cancun sign is a must-hit spot to document your travels and to remember your wonderful time in the beautiful and always welcoming Cancun, Mexico.
Tips 11-15 Contributed by Carolin Klein from Happy When Abroad
11. You definitely cannot leave Cancun without tasting some of the world’s best Tequila. The traditional restaurant La Destileria offers a list of 100 varieties of this famous Mexican drink as well as an on-site Tequila museum and store.
12. With white sand and turquoise-blue water, Chac-Mool Beach is the ideal place to spend a relaxed day of sunbathing and swimming. If you are looking for more action, there is also the possibility to book surf lessons or rent boards.
13. The Coco Bongo Club is the right address for spending a night in the party capital of Mexico. Prepare for flying acrobats, musical tributes, and an extraordinary party atmosphere.
14. The Ferris Wheel, also known as “La Gran Rueda”, is located in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone and, with a height of 60 meters, is difficult to miss. The entire ride takes about 15-20 minutes and provides spectacular panoramic views from the top.
15. The family-owned restaurant Margarita Bar & Grill does not only serve delicious Mexican dishes but also offers the best signature Margaritas. Every Friday and Saturday night, you are invited to hit the dance floor as well.
Tips 16-20 Contributed by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Cancun has a historic reputation as a typical sun/sand/surf hotspot, which has unfortunately drawn some of the many problems commonly associated with mass tourism. But once you get outside of the city’s bustling Hotel Zone, there are loads of great attractions in Cancun that are perfect for nature and history lovers.
16. From May to October every year, sea turtles often come ashore on the beaches of Cancun to dig their nests and lay eggs. Watching this process (from a respectful distance) is incredible, and local hotels such as the Moon Palace Resort will occasionally let guests help release baby sea turtles as part of their Palace Foundation’s Sea Turtle Release program.
17 & 18. Two of the best museums in Cancun; The indoor Museo Maya de Cancun and the outdoor Cancun Underwater Museum (a.k.a. MUSA). The Mayan Museum features 3 exhibitions on Mayan archaeology and culture, plus the San Miguelito archaeological site, which is home to 40 ancient Maya structures. MUSA, the work of artist Jason deCaires Taylor, is an underwater gallery of incredible sculptures that are also artificial reefs, helping to conserve the endangered MesoAmerican reef system.
19. Laid-back Isla Mujeres has been a beloved day trip destination for decades, but the 783-acre Isla Contoy (an 18-mile boat ride offshore) is even more remote and unspoiled. Visitors, limited to 200 per day, may have a chance to see nesting sea turtles in summer and up to 10,000 migrating birds in winter. Nature lovers will also have a chance to swim with sea turtles (and other marine life) on the beach at Half Moon Bay in Akumal, another popular Cancun-area day trip.
20. But for my money, the best thing to do in Cancun is to take a responsibly-managed “Swimming with Whale Sharks” tour. Every year from June through September, hundreds of these gentle giants are drawn to the Cancun area to spawn and feed. Getting a chance to swim with them is an otherworldly experience you won’t soon forget!
Tips 21-25 Contributed by Victoria Heinz from Guide Your Travel
21. Visit Isla Mujeres; a tiny island located off the coast of Cancun and easily one of the most beautiful places in all of Mexico. You can easily catch a ferry or speed boat which will take you to the island for a day-trip. Come here for swimming, snorkeling, and a relaxed day at a beach club.
22. Souvenir Shopping Mexico has incredible local arts and crafts and artisanal products. Souvenir shopping is an absolute must when visiting Cancun. There are plenty of little shops in the center of town with a great selection of gifts to take home.
23. Explore Downtown Take some time to explore downtown Cancun and its shops, restaurants, and bars. This is a great spot for an afternoon walk and some exploring.
24. Cancun Tower (Torre Escenica). The best views in all of Cancun can be found at the Cancun tower. This incredible lookout point is great for the entire family.
25. Drinks at the Beach A trip to Mexico isn’t complete without some authentic cocktails. Head to the beach and enjoy a nice sunset with a piña colada.
Tips 26-30 Contributed by Sarah Camp from In Search of Sarah
26. Go snorkeling at the second largest coral reef in the world: Punta Nizuc. Plunge into the crystal clear shallow waters and discover colorful corals, fish, stingrays, lobsters, and sea turtles.
27. Wander through a maze of vendors at Mercado 28. Don’t buy the first thing you see! This vibrant market has thousands of items to discover, from local goods, delicious food, and great bargains (don’t be afraid to negotiate)!
28. Get your adrenaline rush and go speed boating through Nichupté Lagoon. This network of lagoons and mangroves is home to diverse flora and fauna and is one of Cancun’s best natural paradises.
29. Need a break from excursions? Relax on Cancun’s largest beach, Playa Delfines, and catch sweeping views of the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. This powdery-soft beach seems to stretch for miles. Be sure to grab an umbrella (for free!).
30. Go sailing aboard an 18th-century Spanish galleon replica with pirates! This family-friendly evening dinner cruise offers dancing, an open bar, contests, sword-fighting, and a sea battle! Prepare to be entertained!
Tips 31-35 Contributed by Daria Bachmann from The Discovery Nut
31. Mercado 28 – Located in the middle of downtown Cancun, Mercado (or Market) 28 is a colorful flea market where you can find hundreds of vendors selling everything from trinkets and souvenirs to handcraft household items. Shopping is one of the main activities in Cancun, and Mercado 28 is a perfect place for it, just don’t forget to bring enough cash, as many vendors don’t accept credit cards.
32. San Miguelito Archaeological Area – Located in Cancun Hotel Zone, San Miguelito is an ancient Mayan ruin site. Right nearby, you can also find The Museo Maya, one of the newer museums in the Yucatán Peninsula dedicated to the Mayan history where you can find many historical artifacts. As with many other Mexican museums, both San Miguelito and Museo Maya are closed on Mondays, so keep it in mind before you plan your trip. Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on all other days. And if you get a museum ticket, a free entrance to the ruin site is automatically added to it for free.
33. Watch Lucha Libre – The beloved Mexican wrestlers, Lucha Libre (Free Fighters) often put on great shows at Arena Cancun. They are an important part of the Mexican culture, and many of these fighters are full-blown celebrities who are adored by the public.
34. Ventura Park – If you are traveling with a family, Ventura Park is a perfect place to spend your day. This water amusement park has water slides, zip lines and tons of other fun things, so you will not get bored! This is definitely one of the super fun things to do in Cancun!
35. Parque Las Palapas – the main park in downtown Cancun, Parque Las Palapas is a perfect place to grand some food from a local street vendor and relax after having all the fun. On weekends and evenings you can also watch a live show here.
Tips 36-52 by Alexa from 52 Perfect Days
36. Explore the Hotel Zone. Cancun is divided into two main areas. Downtown, also known as Ciudad Cancun The Hotel Zone or “Zona Hotelera”. The Hotel Zone is the primary tourist area and filled with resorts, beaches, restaurants, shops and lots of nightlife. It’s a 15-mile strip of sand shaped like the number seven. Explore Kulkukan Boulevard, which runs from one side of the Hotel Zone to the other.
37. Interactive Aquarium Cancun. One of the fun things to do in Cancun with kids! The aquarium has more than 1,195 incredible aquatic species in the Interactive Aquarium.
38. Senior Frogs. The place to enjoy food, cocktails, and where you’ll find the best party scene in Cancun.
39. La Isla Shopping Village – One of the best things to do in the Cancun hotel zone for shoppers is to head to the La Isla Shopping Village. Not only will you find the La Gran Rueda (Ferris Wheel) but numerous shops, restaurants, and a movie theater.
40. Visit Playa Tortugas (Beach). This is the best beach in Cancun for families with kids. The waves are small and mellow making it a good choice for families!
41. Cancun is known for its crazy nightlife and one of the best clubs for the ultimate party scene is The City Nightclub. The club has three floors, nine bars, and at max capacity holds 5000 people each night.
42. Bikini Party at Mandala Beach Club. This outdoor house music club opens daily at 9:30 PM, offering great music and delicious tropical cocktails.
43. Take a Taco Tour. Enjoy authentic Mexican tacos including Pastor, Cochinita Pibil and shrimp.
44. Sunset Catamaran Sail. Cancun is the place to enjoy a gorgeous cruise along the Caribbean Sea and watch the sunset. Most companies offering catamaran sails include open bar and snacks.
45. Enjoy the best Margarita in Cancun. Head to La Destileria which has its own distillery, museum, store, and more than 100 different varieties of tequila. They also make an amazing margarita.
46. Rent a Jet Ski. Enjoy the gorgeous Caribbean sea by jet ski!
47. Go for a Jet Pack ride! Soar above the crystal-clear waters of the Nichupté Lagoon on your personal water-powered jetpack.
48. Visit Xkat-Ik for delicious authentic Mayan food. Everything on the menu is delicious, but they are known for the Mayan pork dish. Highly recommended!
49. Take a Street Food and Urban Art Tour. Experience Mexican street food like a local while you get to know why Cancún is becoming internationally recognized as an urban art destination.
50. Visit Playa Forum (Beach) It is the perfect tropical beach you picture when you think of Cancun. The beach area is filled with restaurants and bars and it’s actually located behind the most popular nightclub of Cancun, the Coco Bongo.
51. Take a Guided City Tour. See the best of Cancun with this tour. Learn about the history and background of the iconic sights that Cancun has to offer, from archaeological sites to breathtaking views of the Mexican Caribbean.
52. Try a Paloma. This is my favorite cocktail to enjoy in Mexico. It’s made with tequila and grapefruit soda such as squirt and served with a lime.
Heading to Cancun? Check out my printable packing checklist for Cancun!
Best Cenote & Mayan Ruin Tours
Prefer an organized tour rather than exploring on your own? Below are the best cenote tours as well as tours that include a cenote visit.
- Coba Mayan Ruin, Mayan Chocolate Tasting & Tankach-Ha cenote
- Ik-kil cenote & Chichen Itza Ruins Tour
- Tulum and Cenote Dos Ojos Tour
Cancun with Kids – Tour Recommendations
- The best kid-friendly tour in Cancun is the Cenote Day Tour which takes you to four amazing cenotes where you will swim, snorkel, and zipline. (Kids need to be 6 years or older.) Swimming in a cenote (a sinkhole filled with cool fresh water) is the highlight of any trip to the Yucatan and this is an easy way to see four really unique ones. Tour includes hotel pickup, lunch, snorkel gear, and life vests.
- Another fun kid-friendly tours is the Tulum Ruins & Turtle Swim Combo Tour. This 6-hour package combines 2 amazing activities. First, you’ll step back in time at the Tulum Mayan ruins. Later, you’ll swim and snorkel close to the marine turtles and a variety of multi-colored fish in the protected environment of the Caribbean sea.
The Best Time To Visit Cancun
Cancun is a good year-round destination but the best weather for a family vacation is between December and April. This is when you’ll find the best weather and the least amount of rain.
The rainy season is from July to October, but this is when you’ll find the best deals on hotels. Summer can get fairly hot and late summer also adds the possibility of hurricanes.
Recommended Cancun Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads.
- Transport: AirfareWatchDog and Skyscanner (Best Sites to Research Flight Prices)
- Best Hotels in Cancun (Reviews): TripAdvisor
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Read More About Cancun
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. 52 Perfect Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.