Cancun is often underestimated as a holiday destination. This stunning hotspot is often mistaken as a mecca for American adolescents on their Spring Break. But actually, this lively Mexican city is one for all the family. Boasting lush green rainforests, soft white sands, and exotic wildlife, what’s not to love? You’ll find hours of entertainment if you’re an explorer, or if you prefer to lie back with the latest bestseller, we’ve got you covered too. Here’s the rundown of our top 10n things to do in Cancun.
1.Relax in a beach paradise
It’s likely that when you’ve been dreaming of your holiday, it’s the thought of squishing that lovely soft white sand between your toes that’s been keeping you going until take-off. Sadly, that dream can often be quashed by the reality of the burning hot grains that greet you when you arrive. But not in Cancun. The locals refer to the beaches as having ‘air conditioned sand’. Fantastic news if you like to spend your days by the sea without feeling like you’re walking on hot coals. Offshore, the warm Caribbean Sea is just as inviting. Spend your days getting closer to the spectacular underwater wildlife by diving or snorkelling. If you’d rather, there are many activities based over the water, too. For adrenaline junkies, feel the wind in your hair as you skim across the surface of the water on a jet ski. Or, if you take life at a slower pace, listen to the waves lap against your stand-up paddle board as you float through the gentle breeze. If dry land is your scene, there’s more than enough space along the 24km sandbar on which most of the hotels are located. It’s connected to the mainland by causeways at either end with Nichupte Lagoon as the sheltered water between the two. Throw a towel down on the beach or pamper yourself with a sunlounger, get out a good book and make sure you have a drink on hand. What better way is there to unwind and escape?
2.Discover Mayan history
When it comes to creating remarkable structures, few builders are in the same league as the Mayans. Release your inner Indiana Jones and lose yourself in Cancun’s rich history. With more than 40 Mayan cities to explore, Cancun spoils you for choice. You’ll be blown away by the exceptional craftsmanship that went into the intricately detailed decorations in the 4,000-year-old temples. Chichen Itza is a must-see for any fan of architecture and history. The ruined ancient Mayan city covers 10 square km. Let your gaze follow the 91 steep steps upwards to the top of the El Castillo pyramid, and don’t miss the fascinating ornate carvings and inscriptions on the walls of the great ball court. Tulum is another fantastic Mayan ruin, with the dramatic location on a cliff overlooking the sea. Wherever you choose, there’s so much to explore. Make sure you pack comfortable shoes, you’ll thank us for this later.
3.Explore Cancun’s hidden depths
Cancun’s mesmerising blue waters are a treat for even the most experienced diver and perfect for beginners to explore. There’s plenty to keep you busy with brightly coloured reefs, exciting shipwrecks and a warren of underwater caves and cenotes (sinkholes filled with freshwater). If you’re looking for a great diving spot to take the kids, plunge into the clear waters of Punta Nizuc. If you don’t mind travelling further afield, Cozumel’s breathtaking natural underwater landscape is a sight to behold, whether you’re diving or simply drifting on the surface with a snorkel. If you time your trip right, you can swim with one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures, the whale shark. Embrace the magic of swimming alongside these gentle giants.
4.Enjoy Cancun’s underwater museum
This deserves a category on its own, because it’s so spectacular. The underwater museum or MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) is an eco-project which beautifully blends art and marine life. Take a trip out to Isla Mujeres and you’ll find 500 life-sized sculptures hiding under the Caribbean Sea. They are fixed to the sea bed, between 3m and 6m deep, and made from materials which encourage the growth of coral. The sculptures are of people (there are six businessmen with their hands in the sand), houses and even a VW Beatle. The museum draws scuba divers from around the world, but you can also see the artwork by snorkelling or taking a glass bottom boat.
5.Devour delicious Mexican cuisine
How could we possibly consider a guide to the top things to do in Cancun without including the exceptional Mexican cuisine? With fresh ingredients and simple techniques, Mexican flavours are arguably among the best in the world. When combined with charming hospitality and excellent service, why wouldn’t you want to indulge in lip-smackingly good Mexican treats? Be sure to sample coconut shrimp and see why the ceviche is unlike anywhere else in Mexico. Try stuffing your burrito with different fillings and try tasting chilaquiles for breakfast with eggs, or barbacoa, meat cooked for hours in an underground oven. And who can resist the golden delights of churros?
6.Watch the wildlife
Thanks to Cancun’s tropical climate, it’s home to lots of colourful exotic wildlife and a rich variety of species to seek out in their natural habitats. They’re not all in the sea, either. Take a jungle tour for the day and perhaps a trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to discover these amazing creatures. You’re likely to spot beautiful birds like storks, flamingos, parrots, falcons, hummingbirds and toucans. In the treesyou could get a glimpse howler and spider monkeys, while on the ground and in the rivers, there are jaguars, crocodiles, pumas, turtles and armadillos. The whole family will love seeing who can spot the animals first.
7.Get lost in the sheer madness of Coco Bongo
Made famous by Jim Carrey in the film The Mask, Coco Bongo is a famous bar which promises to be nothing less than jaw dropping. With light shows and pyrotechnics, you’ll experience a party atmosphere like no other. Expect flying acrobats, musical tributes and projections on huge screens. For a guaranteed pulse-racing experience, put on your glad rags and indulge in the surreal party that is Coco Bongo.
8.Take it offroad
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, inject some horsepower into your holiday by hiring an all-terrain vehicle and hit those winding dirt tracks. If you’re looking for something with more power, hire a 4×4 to negotiate the rough off-road terrain. You could also seek out hidden underground caves and lagoons, where you can hurtle yourself off the rocks into the deep refreshing pools below.
9.Swap four wheels for two
Get those calves moving and travel across the Yucatan Peninsula on two wheels. From here you can get a new perspective on the stunning surrounding landscape. Take life at your own pace, moving from one archaeological site to another, exploring the rich Mayan history as and when it suits you. Not only will you be able to appreciate the tropical landscape, but you’ll be able to do it with the wind flowing through your hair. We’re sure you’ll agree, that’s much better than getting the bus!
Get your adrenaline pumping at Xplor Adventure Park. Based on the Riviera Maya, this thrilling amusement park blends the natural surroundings and pulse raising experiences to give you one unforgettable holiday. Edge through the thick canopy of the jungle and navigate over steep overhanging bridges. If you want to conquer the heights, strap in and soar above the treetops on Cancun’s tallest zip wire. You’ll whizz through the jungle and majestic waterfalls before plunging into the depths of one of the caves. Then, hop on a raft and paddle yourself back to normality. Not without exploring the ancient natural world that awaits you first of course.
So that’s our top 10 things to do in Cancun. We know you’ll adore every minute of your break. With comfortable footwear and an underwater camera in tow, you can’t go wrong.