I still remember the first time I went to Cancun, Mexico over 20 years ago. There was little information, no blogs, just some forum posts on TripAdvisor on things to do in Cancun. Since then I’ve gone back repeatedly to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and it never ceases to amaze me!
I’ll have to say Cancun is not necessarily my favorite anymore, but it’s such an easy access point for what the Riviera Maya has to offer! And there are absolutely endless things to do in Cancun for everyone!
Where to Stay in Cancun
Cancun’s hotel zone is just 20 minutes from the Cancun Airport. Along here you will find an endless row of beach hotels, from budget to high end all-inclusive.
Sandos – CHECK PRICES
A super chic boutique-style hotel, Sandos is one of the smaller properties in the Hotel Zone. But don’t let it’s small size fool you, the pool and interior are modern and clean. Perfect for couples and a girl’s trip!
Fiesta Americana – CHECK PRICES
A beautiful property that incorporates Mexican accents and jungle vibes. The Fiesta Americana is super budget-friendly without giving up any luxuries.
Dreams Costa Mujeres – CHECK PRICES
Dreams Costa Mujeres is in a new development just north of the Hotel Zone. It’s one of the few resorts that offers rooms for families of 5 without needing to book 2 rooms. All the kids absolutely loved this resort. There’s a kids pool with a giant slide and 2 main pools. And your stay includes kids club, which lets you drop off your kids.
So if you want to do a tour without your kids in tow, just drop them off!
Best Time to Go to Cancun
Weather-wise the best time to go to Cancun is during the cooler winter months, from November to April. It’s not as hot, dryer, and typically will not rain.
However, I’ve almost exclusively gone to Cancun during the dreaded hurricane season from May to October. And I’ve yet to actually meet a hurricane or much rain. In fact, the most rain I’ve seen in Cancun was in April where the roads were literally flooded.
I also enjoy hotter longer days during the summer months. Because I have FOMO I try to squeeze in as many activities as possible when I’m in Cancun. The longer daylight hours during summer are such an advantage because I can do a tour during the day, and still make it back to the hotel and enjoy the pool for 2 hours before the sun is gone!
If you can stand the heat and don’t mind a little rain, then I highly recommend traveling to Cancun from June to August.
The Best Things to Do Cancun
Spend the day at Yal Ku Lagoon
Yal Kul Lagoon is an amazing site for snorkeling. The mixing of the saltwater and freshwater literally creates shimmers in the water and tons of marine life. This is one of my all-time favorite experiences in Cancun, Mexico!
Yal Ku is quite far from Cancun and it’s easiest to swim and snorkel here as part of a tour –Check Prices.
Trek through Mayan Ruins at Ek Balam
Ek Balam is still a bit under the radar in terms of Mayan ruins and you can still climb to the top here. Though small the ruins are in great shape and being able to walk on them was a super special experience and one of the best things to do in Cancun.
These ruins, like most Mayan ruins, are quite a trek from Cancun, I take a day tour:
- Tour that includes Ek Balam and Chichen Itza – Check Prices
- This tour has just Ek Balam – Check Prices
Both include a refreshing dip at a cenote!
Take a Dip in X’Canche Cenote
Just a quick bike ride away from Ek Balam is X’Canche Cenote. So after climbing the ruins, take a quick dip in one of the most beautiful cenotes I’ve ever seen. There’s a staircase that winds down into this cenote. For those that love adventure, there’s even a rope swing down here that’s a ton of fun!
Visit this amazing cenote and one of the most Instagrammable pink lagoons in Cancun in one tour – Check Prices.
Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Chichen Itza
Though you can’t climb to the top of the pyramid at Chichen Itza anymore, this World Heritage Site is still worth a stop. Kept in pristine condition these ruins are nearly 1,000 years old!
This tour includes a visit to Chichen Itza, a gorgeous cenote, and one of the cutest towns in Mexico – Check Prices.
Have a Swim at Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil is probably my favorite cenote of all time, probably because we actually witnessed a diving competition here. This is a deep cenote with a little platform you can dive off of. Ik Kil is rather close to Chichen Itza, so it’s a great idea to visit both in 1 day.
This tour includes a visit to Ik Kil, Chichen Itza, and one of the cutest towns in Mexico – Check Prices.
Swim with Sea Turtles at Akumal Bay
Akumal Bay is definitely a hidden gem of a place near Cancun! Recently Secrets has built a resort here but I wouldn’t let that deter you from visiting because swimming with sea turtles here is epic! Akumal Bay is near Yal Ku lagoon and you can combine the visit here and snorkel to your heart’s content.
It’s also close to Tulum so you can combine the two into a a day tour from Cancun – Check Prices.
Visit the Ruins at Tulum
The Tulum ruins are unlike the others in Cancun because they are next to the ocean. Perched cliff side these ruins are spectacular. And don’t forget to take the staircase down to Tulum beach for a swim after exploring all the ruins.
Experience Tulum without the crowds with this exclusive early access tour – Check Prices.
Explore the Jungles at Coba Ruins
If you ever want to feel like you are in the Tomb Raider movie, then a visit to Coba is a must! Like Ek Balam, this ruin has fewer tourists than Chichen Itza and you can still climb the pyramid. Do yourself a favor and rent a bike at Coba because this complex is huge!
Visit Coba and Tulum in one day with this tour – Check Prices.
Swim with Whale Sharks
Swimming with whale sharks has been and still is on my bucket list, and it’s probably the best thing to do in Cancun.
When can you swim with whale sharks in Cancun?
Whale shark swimming season is from June to September with July and August having the greatest population of whale sharks in the water. They come up to this area to feed during those months.
To swim with whale sharks you have to book a tour – Check Prices.
Take a Day trip to Isla De Mujeres
Isla De Mujeres is just a 20-minute ferry ride away from Cancun and one of the best things to do in Cancun. This idyllic island has the softest sand and calmest water on the Cancun facing side. The first time we visited Isla De Mujeres there was one shack on the beach serving ceviche and 1 hotel in the middle of down. Now there’s a ton of hotels lining the beach and plenty of “shacks” serving food and drink!
Even though the beach here now has more of a party vibe, it’s still worth a visit. Definitely have a meal and a pina colada on the beach at Playa Norte.
Also, there’s nothing quite as fun as exploring this little island via golf cart! Yup, you can rent a golf cart and drive around the island on your own. Some stops you’ll want to make along the way:
- Swim in Playa Norte and Playa Cent
- Take in the views at Punta Sur
- Zipline across the water at Garrafon Park
- Drive along the ocean side and enjoy the views!
Don’t worry you can’t really get lost on Isla de Mujeres because it’s TINY!
You can also enjoy this island by boat:
This sailing tour includes a Catamaran sail and golf cart rentals – Check Prices.
Sailing Tour – Check Prices
Visit Xel Hal
If you want to enjoy everything Cancun has to offer in one place then take a trip to Xel Hal. This amazing park formed by an inlet has snorkeling, ziplining, caves, beaches, mangroves, cenotes, jungle trails, a floating bridge, and even a conch sanctuary.
We spent a whole day here and didn’t even get to explore the whole park – Check Prices.
Eat All the Tacos Al Pastor
There’s no denying it, Cancun has the BEST tacos al pastor around! I’ve had them in Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, NOTHING beats the tacos al pastor in Cancun. Taco al pastor is a delicious pork taco where the meat roasts on a spinning spit, kind of like gyro meat. At the top of the spit is a pineapple which the server will slice some onto the top of your taco. I still dream about these tacos!!
The best place to get it is either in Cancun City or at the Ta-Ki-To stand near Coco Bongo in the Hotel Zone.
Drive Your Own Speed Boat on a Snorkel Adventure
Ever wanted to captain your own boat? Well you can in Cancun. Driving around in little speed boats around a lagoon then snorkeling in crystal clear waters makes a perfect day of adventure. I can’t tell you how much fun driving my own boat was!
Party at Coco Bongo
The party scene is vibrant in Cancun! I love Coco Bongo for the shows they put on. It’s truly a fun night time experience not to be missed in Cancun.
Visit Las Coloradas Pink Lagoon
Las Coloradas is the inst-famous pink lake created by the salt in the area. Being so insta-famous you can no longer swim in these lakes but will have to take a tour – Check Prices.
This tour not only includes a trip to Las Coloradas but also Cenote Hubiku, Rio Lagartos, and the town of Temozon.