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Cancun is one of the most popular tourist resorts in the world – and it is the most-visited part of Mexico for overseas travelers, attracting approximately 7 million visitors annually. This vibrant beach city is known for its nightlife, large, all-inclusive hotels, and white sand beaches.
But, would you believe me if I told you there’s so much more to Cancun than that? In fact, it’s one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I mean, where else in the world do you have easy access to stunning islands, historic Mayan ruins, and cenotes? All of these exciting attractions are close enough to the Cancun Hotel Zone that you can easily visit on a day trip.
So, to get you excited for your upcoming trip to Cancun, I’ve put together this list of the most fun Cancun day trips! There’s a huge variety of day trips on this list, from exploring the bohemian, carless Isla Holbox to visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Chichen Itza. All of the activities I’ve listed here can easily be done in a day from Cancun.
Consider this your ultimate guide to the best day trips from Cancun!
- The BEST Day Trips From Cancun
- 1. Isla Mujeres
- 2. Puerto Morelos
- 3. Playa del Carmen
- 4. Chichen Itza
- 5. Isla Holbox
- 6. Tulum
- 7. Playa Akumal
- 8. Cancun Underwater Museum
- 9. Rio Secreto
- 10. Isla Contoy
- 11. Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ
- 12. Xcaret
- 13. Captain Hook Dinner Cruise & Show
- 14. La Ruta del Cenote
- 15. Cenote Ik Kil
- 16. Cenote Suytun
- 17. Deep sea fishing
- 18. Xoximilco Theme Park
- 19. Las Coloradas
- 20. Cozumel
- 21. Si'an Kaan
- Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun
- Where to Stay in Cancun
- Thanks for reading!
- Renting a Car in Mexico
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
The BEST Day Trips From Cancun
1. Isla Mujeres
The island paradise of Isla Mujeres is just a 15-minute ferry ride from Cancun and is an ideal day-trip option for visitors to the area! Considering the short journey to get there, you can easily spend a full day here, especially if you catch a whale shark tour from Isla Mujeres!
You’ll definitely want to spend as long as possible here because this tiny island boasts white-sand beaches with azure waters filled with colorful fish, turtles, and even sharks. In fact, swimming here is like swimming in a pool!
Playa Centro is the most accessible beach on the island and is conveniently located just a few meters from the ferry port. You can rent a deckchair on this small beach for just $250 MXN ($12.85 USD)! But if you want to explore some more remote beaches, then renting a golf cart from one of the rental stores in the downtown area is the best option. Na Balam Beach is my favorite beach on this island, it’s a popular spot with locals, and there’s a large hotel with a restaurant here. At Na Balam Hotel, you can taste some delicious local cuisine or spend the night if your itinerary allows!
But it’s not all about the beaches on Isla Mujeres; the downtown area has fun things to do, like shopping! Strolling through the small town area is a great way to experience true Mexican island life; plus, there are a few great restaurants, cafes, and bars here too!
There are a few ferry ports in Cancun with trips departing to the island, such as Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol. However, I used a company called Ultramar to get here from the Puerto Juarez ferry terminal, and it’s located only minutes from the Cancun hotel zone. Ferry tickets to Isla Mujeres cost $540 MXN ($32 USD) for a round trip, and departures run every 30 minutes from 5:30 am to 11 pm. The schedule is similar for your return journey.
If you want to join a guided tour from Cancun to the island, we highly recommend this catamaran sailing tour with a buffet lunch; this 7-hour tour also includes an open bar. You can enjoy several hours of relaxing on the beach once it anchors up or use the snorkeling mask and fins on deck to admire the sea life below! We think it’s one of the best things to do in Mexico and very affordable at only $46 USD per person.
If you want to spend the night on Isla Mujeres, there are various accommodations you can check out here. You won’t find the large, all-inclusive properties like in Cancun, and most of the accommodations here are small, family-owned businesses. Therefore, be sure to make reservations in advance since availability is limited.
2. Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is a small bohemian fishing town located 40 km (25 miles) south of Cancun. This quiet beach town has no crowds, clear water (perfect for scuba diving!), and white sand beaches. It’s a small town, with almost no tourist facilities and little English spoken.
This town has a different vibe from Cancun, and most accommodations here are small and intimate with cheap nightly rates. You’ll find plenty of delicious (and cheap) local restaurants in town. Plus, you can try traditional Yucatan cuisine here, like Cochinita and Lechon (steamed pork). Traditional food is very delicious and different from the food you may have tried in the Cancun resort area! My top tip for food in Puerto Morelos is the Lechon sandwich; it is just AMAZING!
Contrary to what you might think, there are many fun things to do in Puerto Morelos. If you go to the main port, several places offer tours and water activities, like a one-day trip fishing on a small boat or kayaking.
A reef snorkeling tour is a fun activity for the day. Boats sail from the downtown port, and the prices are very reasonable, ranging from $45 to $70 USD. This is a very different reef tour; the local fisherman will take you to an amazing untouched reef called Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – it is one of the largest coal reefs in the world and extends for over 966 kilometers (600 miles). Capacity for this tour is limited to 10 so you don’t have to worry about it feeling overly crowded. If you love snorkeling around Cancun it’s definitely not a tour you want to miss out on!
If you decide to rent a car in Mexico to visit Puerto Morelos, you can also visit La Ruta del Cenote (which I’ll go through in more detail further down in this blog post!), which is just a few minutes from this fishing town.
3. Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist resort cities, and if you’ve visited, you’ll understand why! It’s home to gorgeous white-sand beaches (some of the best beaches in the Yucatan!), delicious food, and vibrant nightlife! As well as that, there’s no shortage of fun things to do here from swimming with whale sharks to shopping!
Playa del Carmen is located an hour’s drive (68 km/42 mi) from Cancun, and there are plenty of shuttle buses and public buses operating this route numerous times a day. You can also catch a taxi here, which should cost approximately $50 USD.
One of my favorite things to do in Playa del Carmen is to go shopping. I love picking up unique items on my travels, and the best place to purchase some cheap, quirky souvenirs is at the Playa del Carmen Flea Market – which sells everything from handcrafted jewelry to vintage clothes. If you have a slightly bigger budget, be sure to check out Fifth Avenue, which is lined with a good mix of designer stores and souvenir shops.
While staying in Playa del Carmen, we explored the amazing underground cave system at Cenote Chaak Tun, just a short taxi from downtown. It’s worth noting that the cenote can only be visited on a guided tour. If you book this Tulum Day Tour which costs $59 USD per person, and tours start at 7 am you will first get to see the Tulum Maya Ruins before heading to the underground cenote for swimming.
And, of course, I can’t include Playa del Carmen on this list and not mention the incredible beaches here. Some of my favorites include Mamitas Beach, located in the heart of Playa del Carmen – it can get very busy, so get here early to nab a spot on the white sand. Another favorite beach of mine is Parque Fundadores, also located in the downtown area.
This beach is ideal for people-watching, as it’s always full of locals and tourists enjoying the sun and sand. What’s great, too, is that Parque Fundadores is the widest beach in Playa del Carmen, so there’s plenty of room for everyone.
4. Chichen Itza
Without a doubt, the most popular Mayan site in Mexico is Chichen Itza. This UNESCO world heritage site is also one of the Wonders of the World and, in my opinion, is an absolute must-do day trip from Cancun. It’s certainly a place to add to your bucket list!
The archaeological site is best known as the home of El Castillo – the main temple at the site (pictured above.) And it’s a true show of the Mayan peoples’ knowledge of the earth and planets. However, Chichen Itza is also home to The Great Ball Court, which is the largest in Mesoamerica and is 168 by 70 meters (551 by 230 feet.) The game they played here was called Pitz.
Getting to Chichen Itza is best done either with a rental car , a shuttle bus, or on an organized tour. If you can drive yourself, it’s around a 2.5-hour drive (193 km/120 mi) each way, so be prepared for a long day of driving! The entrance fee is 533 MXN ($27.40 USD) for adults, and the site is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Right now, it’s best to book your tickets in advance as they have a cap on visitors of 3,000 per day.
For those without a rental car or who don’t want to drive for such a long period, consider booking an organized tour. There are some great tours to Chichen Itza from Cancun. This specific tour is what I did, and I booked it because of the fantastic reviews it receives.
The full-day tour departs before dawn; this way, you can make the most of the day while in Chichen Itza. Several meeting points are located throughout the hotel zone. On this tour not only do you get to experience the wonder of Chichen Itza but additionally, you’ll see the highlights in the “magic town” of Valladolid, and swim in Selva Maya and
Cenote Saamal cenotes.
A lunch buffet with vegetarian options is included. The Chichen Itza English Tour only costs $45 USD per person and I think it’s hard to argue with that price point!
5. Isla Holbox
This tiny island with a population of just 1,000 people couldn’t be more different from bustling Cancun. On Isla Holbox, you can find white-sand beaches, a relaxed vibe, and plenty of great seafood restaurants. We loved relaxing on the hammocks lining the ocean along the main beach – they are so photogenic! The best way to explore the island is by renting a bike and you can easily rent one from your hotel or one of the town’s rental stores. There are no cars on the island, so a bike or a golf cart is the only way to get around!
Getting to Isla Holbox from Cancun is pretty easy; it involves a 2-hour drive (140 km/87 mi) to Chiquila and then a 15-minute ferry to the island. As a day trip from Cancun, you’ll need to allow for four hours of travel (two hours each way!). So, if you have time, maybe opt to stay a night or two if possible. Otherwise, book a guided tour.
This specific tour is a great option for those who don’t want the hassle of driving yourself. The highly-rated day tour will transport you directly to the ferry port, plus ferry tickets and all fees are included in the price. The first stop on this tour is the aptly named Isla Pasion, a heart-shaped island next to Holbox. Before stopping at Isla Holbox for a few hours, this particular tour includes a 1-hour bike rental to explore the island. Or, for an extra charge, you can rent a golf cart and explore at a quicker pace.
It’s a fantastic day trip from Cancun; just be repaired for a long day, and be sure to book your tour to Isla Holbox in advance for $115 USD, as numbers are limited!
If you want to spend the night on Island Holbox, there are plenty of small hotels and super cute properties. There are no big hotels here, just small boutique hotels that give you a very warm welcome.
The small town of Tulum is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico. There are loads of things to do in Tulum, from visiting cenotes to exploring the stunning Tulum Ruins, one of the most important archaeological sites in the area.
Some of the best cenotes in Tulum are Dos Ojos, Cenote Calavera, and Cenote Zacil-Ha. Other awesome things to do in Tulum include drinking craft beer at Cervecería Tulum, exploring Laguna Kaan Luum, and, if you love Mexican food, this walking food tour through Tulum, which visits seven locations, including one of the best taco stands in Tulum!
It’s worth noting that the best beaches in Tulum are, in fact, outside the town. My favorite is Paradise Beach which is a 20-minute bike ride from town or an hour walk – or you can get a taxi here for about $10 USD. You can rent a sunlounger here for the day or eat at some awesome restaurants that line the beach. Playa Ruinas, just below the famed Tulum Ruins, is also well worth checking out!
If you don’t have a rental car, you have two options to get to Tulum. The first is by taking a Tulum tour from Cancun. My pick is this full-day tour to the Tulum ruins, Tulum Beach, and a cenote. The tour includes lunch, snorkeling equipment, and an expert guide. It’s worth noting the distance from Cancun to Tulum is 131 km (81 miles) and will take between 1.5 to 2 hours.
You can also take the bus to Tulum from downtown Cancun. From the hotel zone, you will need to take a bus to Cancun downtown, then get off at Ado Bus Station. The bus costs just $9 USD, and although cheap, this is a lot more time-consuming since the buses stop frequently. You can purchase in person or online in advance.
7. Playa Akumal
At Playa Akumal, a 1.5-hour (106 km/66 mi) drive from Cancun, you can swim with sea turtles. Yep, if you’ve never swum with these cool creatures, now’s your chance! And the beach’s name, funnily enough, translates to “Place of the Turtles.”
A day trip here from Cancun does require a bit of planning, though, as I’ve said, it’s a 1.5-hour drive each way along Highway 307 – the main road along the coastline. You can catch the bus here from Cancun – just hop on the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen, but you must ask your driver to drop you off at the entrance to Akumal Beach. From there, it’s an easy 10-minute walk to Playa Akumal.
There is a small fee to enter the beach of 100 pesos ($5 USD) but please ONLY pay this fee at the main entrance gate, as sometimes people posing as staff members will ask you for payment before you get there!
If you want to swim with turtles, you will need to hire a professional guide from the beach for about $20 USD per person – this fee also includes all your snorkeling equipment. The reason you need a guide to swim with the turtles is because there are several marked-off areas where the turtles are located that you can only access with a guide. While you will likely get really close to the turtles on your tour, be careful not to touch them!
The best way to see the turtles and not worry about how to get there and the various entrance fees required is to book a half-day turtle-watching tour like this one. For as little as $89 USD per person, you’ll be transferred from your hotel in Cancun to Playa Akumal. Turtle sightings are guaranteed on this particular tour. You’ll also have the chance to swim and snorkel through the Xtun Caverns – a series of caves with an underground river system.
8. Cancun Underwater Museum
One of Cancun’s more quirky day trips is to head underwater and explore the Museo Subacuatico de Art, aka the Underwater Museum. It is the largest underwater museum in Mexico and one of the best things to do in Cancun, in my opinion!
The museum began taking shape in 2009 to help save some reef life near Cancun. Since the project started, over 500 sculptures have been placed under the water to create this unique reef. Last time we were here we went scuba diving from Cancun to visit the museum and were in awe everywhere we looked!
You can do lots of different tours in Cancun to the museum, including this snorkeling tour or this scuba diving tour to the reef, and over 100,000 people visit every year. Thankfully, this has led to a reduction of visitors to natural reefs, helping them survive.
9. Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto is located in Playa del Carmen and is just over an hour’s (75 km/46 mi) drive from Cancun. The “Secret River” is a protected natural reservoir of caves and underground rivers, and it’s really impressive!
The cave system is so large – it’s about 38 km (23 miles) long, and much of it is yet to be explored. A tour of these caves involves walking through shallow waters, admiring the cool rock formations and crystal clear water. Within the caves, too, you will see lots of unique fauna, including some very interesting-shaped spiders! It’s a great day trip option on a rainy day because this tour can be done in any weather.
Exploring the caves in the dark can be a little scary but don’t worry; it’s a completely safe activity, and families especially seem to love Rio Secreto.
You can drive to Rio Secreto and book the tour from there to save money or book a tour, including transport from Cancun. This specific tour offers both options, with the ticket-only tour costing $86 USD and with transport from Cancun option costing $109 USD.
It’s worth pointing out that if you book the tour with transport, your tour starts early at 8 am and includes an airconditioned vehicle and refreshments.
When visiting Rio Secreto, make sure to wash off any sunscreen or mosquito repellent you may be wearing, as this pollutes the water.
10. Isla Contoy
Isla Contoy is said to be home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and I agree! It’s also the smallest island in Mexico, just 9 km (5.6 mi) long! What you can see on the island is just amazing: a wide variety of corals, fish, wildlife, and unique vegetation, even carnivore plants. You can also see small sharks on these virgin beaches. Isla Contoy is 40 km (about 25 miles) from Cancun, but you can’t get there without a tour guide (more on that below!)
Snorkeling by the island offers you the chance to admire the second-largest reef in the world. Only superficial snorkeling is allowed to avoid damage to the reef, which is perfect for inexperienced divers.
Recently, it has become a wildlife reserve and a national park, and a wide variety of birds have made Contoy island their nesting place.
To preserve the natural environment on and around the island, visitor numbers are limited to only 200 people per day. This makes access to the island a bit complicated, and the only way to visit is on a guided tour.
This specific tour will take you to Contoy Island and Isla Mujeres on the same day. The tour includes transportation, lunch, and snorkel equipment. It is a full-day tour about 9 hours long and costs $133 USD per person.
11. Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ
I’m certain you’ve heard of Cirque du Soleil, and if you haven’t, it’s a famed entertainment company that produces awe-inspiring live productions worldwide. Their Cancun show is called JOYÀ, and it’s the only Cirque du Soleil dinner theater in production. So, if you’re a theater fan or want a great night out in Cancun, then be sure to add this to your list!
JOYÀ aims to appeal to an individual’s five senses by offering several amenities with the show. Dinner, aperitif, and champagne are all included. And as you can imagine, it’s an incredibly popular activity with couples visiting Cancun.
This show is held in the Vidanta theater, just 40 minutes from Cancun. If you don’t have a rental car, you must organize transport and book your tickets in advance! You can book one of several options for this show, including VIP, dinner only, drinks only, and both. Prices start at $94 USD.
Xcaret waterpark is the best option if you want to enjoy a fun day out of Cancun while still feeling like you’re at a resort. And don’t worry if a waterpark isn’t you’re thing. This place is more than that – Xcaret is an archeological eco-water amusement park. It offers a wide array of activities like snorkeling, swimming at the Caleta, visiting Mayan pyramids, and enjoying live performances, an aquarium, and an aquatic park. You can even swim with dolphins, manta rays, or sharks for a surcharge.
What’s great is it’s just a 10-minute (5 km/3.1 mi) drive from Cancun, so you have more time to spend at the park! There are many ways to get to Xcaret from the Cancun area. The first is to drive yourself and book your ticket in advance. If you have a rental car, this is super easy.
If you don’t have a car, just get a cab; it will only cost around $10 USD. The easiest way is on this full-day tour that offers transportation from your hotel to the park with all amenities included.
I recommend booking the Xcaret Plus service since it includes access to the lunch buffet and other amenities like lockers, dressing rooms, and snorkeling equipment. You’ll need to eat while you’re there, and you save money booking it together online in advance.
Related Read: While in the area, be sure to check out the best tours in the Yucatan!
13. Captain Hook Dinner Cruise & Show
Although more of a “night-time” activity than a day trip, this Captain Hook Cruise is fun way to escape Cancun and get out on the water for a couple of hours. The cruise takes place on board a replica of a Spanish galleon (that’s 93 feet from stem to stern) with a pirate show included. It’s certainly a unique way to spend an evening here!
Plus, it’s suitable for the whole family – I was surprised by the number of kids in attendance on my tour, but they really loved the pirate theme! The best part for me was the grand finale when another ship pulled up beside ours, and a full-blown pirate battle broke out with cannons blasting, and pistols fired.
The cruise starts at 6:30 pm, it’s three hours long, and departs from the Cancun Hotel Zone. On board, listen to the talented cast tell the story of Captain Hook while you enjoy a delicious dinner and open bar. Your host is so fabulous and will definitely get you in a party mood. The Mojitos are delicious too!
Related Read: While in Cancun be sure to check out the best Mexican restaurants!
14. La Ruta del Cenote
If you are feeling like having a one-day adventure, you can explore some of the famous cenotes in the area. Cenote La Noria, Verde Lucero, Cenote Mojarras are few of them.
Depending on the season, there is a small fee to visit each cenote, approximately 200 to 400 MXN ($10-$20 USD) and they are open from 11 am to 4 pm.
Some of the best cenotes along the route include:
Cenote La Noria is partially open, so you would be swimming inside a cavern. You can see small birds and bats flying around you while enjoying its beautiful water. This is a hidden spot inside the jungle with no crowds and a relaxing place with very few people. This cenote costs 250 pesos ($13 USD).
Verde Lucero is a medium size open cenote. It is beautiful with hammocks, rope swings, and some small zip lines. It’s often pretty busy, and they offer a unique chance to enjoy a Temazcal – a traditional Mexican sauna. For a surcharge, you can experience the pre-Hispanic way of the sauna. It costs 300 pesos ($15.50 USD) to visit.
Cenote Mojarras is a big open cenote with a long zipline over it. I think it’s the least beautiful but can be the most fun – especially for kids who love ziplining. They have hammocks and a picnic area, but the water can become murky because the cenote is so big. It costs 195 pesos ($10 USD) per person.
Another option is to drive down to Tulum or book a tour like this Eco Adventure Tour to see some of Mexico’s most famous cenotes. These include the 4 different cenotes inside of Casa Tortuga Park. Your tour also includes some time spent at the Mayan Ruins and finishes at Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen for shopping and restaurants.
15. Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most breathtaking cenotes in Mexico, that’s because part of the cave ceiling has collapsed, leaving it open to the sky. Plus, there are lots of long vines and tree roots cascading into the cave from this opening, giving it a magical atmosphere.
It’s a very deep cenote in terms of how deep the water is and how far into the ground it is. Would you believe the surface of the water begins at 80 feet (25 meters) above ground level, and the water within the cenote itself is a whopping 160 feet (50 meters) deep?! So, if you’re not a confident swimmer, a life jacket is absolutely necessary.
You will need to take the stairs down to Cenote Ik Kil (you can’t jump into this cenote, unlike others in the area). Be sure to stop off at the viewing points on the way down the staircase. Entrance to this cenote is 100 pesos ($5 USD) per person, and there are also two restaurants on-site. It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
This cenote requires more of a road trip, but it’s totally worth it. Cenote Ik-Kil is located over 2.5 hours from Cancun but only five minutes from Chichen Itza, so including both in your day trip from Cancun is a good idea! If time allows, I recommend staying nearby so you can see both this amazing cenote and the ruins without rushing and get to the cenote early before the crowds arrive.
If you don’t want to bother driving there is a super good full-day combo tour for $120 USD that combines visits to Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik-Kil and the fact that it also will show you to Suytun Cenote and the quaint “magic town” of Valladolid are wonderful bonuses!
Hot Tip: When we visited Cenote Ik Kil, we stayed at Hotel Doralba, across the road so that we could easily walk over as soon as they opened. We beat all of the tour groups here and pretty much had the whole place to ourselves!
16. Cenote Suytun
For one of the most memorable photos of your time in Cancun that you’ll want to frame, visit Cenote Suytun. This underground cenote is famous for the sunbeams that stream in from the hole in the cave roof, illuminating a viewing platform you can walk out onto. It truly doesn’t look real!
Cenote Suytun is located about 2 hours and 10 minutes from Cancun, just outside of Valladolid. While mornings are best to avoid the crowds to see the incredible sunlight coming through the roof, you’ll want to plan for a later morning or early afternoon visit.
The photo you’ll want to capture is walking down the narrow stone pathway to stand on the circular platform in the middle of the cave with the water all around you. There’s usually a bit of a wait to get the photo, but lifeguards help keep everyone moving quickly, so you’ll get that shot.
The entrance fee here is 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) and includes a lifejacket rental as those are mandatory for swimming. The cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
As I mentioned above, Cenote Suytun can also be visited on this combo tour that hits Cenote Ik Kil, Chichen Itza, and the beautiful town of Valladolid.
17. Deep sea fishing
As you may know, the fishing off the coast of Mexico is excellent, and the Cancun area is one of the best places in the country to go deep-sea fishing. This type of fishing is also known as ‘big game fishing’ and is done offshore in waters that are at least 30 meters (100 feet) deep!
In Cancun, deep sea fishing operates on a ‘catch and release’ basis, which I personally think is great. The type of fish you can catch varies by season; from February to April, expect to catch kingfish, barracuda, and shark. While from April to August, you can catch blue marlin, tuna, and mahi-mahi!
There are loads of deep-sea fishing tours from Cancun, including some very expensive full-day tours; however, without a large group (up to 14 people), these tours are too pricey for most travelers. So, my advice is to book this group fishing tour. First-timers are very welcome on this particular tour, and the experienced captain will make sure you catch something. Beer, soft drinks, and all the necessary equipment for this trip are also included. The departure is at sunrise from Marina Chac Chi, located in the Cancun Hotel Zone.
If you like to fish, a fishing charter is definitely one of the best day trips in Cancun for you!
18. Xoximilco Theme Park
Xoximilco is a park with water canals and very beautiful and colorful boats called trajineras. You may have read about these in Mexico City, as this attraction in Cancun is a replica of the Xochimilco Canals.
The boats are equipped for a party, with a big table that seats up to 20 people! This experience is a gastronomic tour while riding the trajineras. The tour includes tequila tasting, dinner, traditional Mexican candy tasting, and snacks.
While you cruise the canals and eat, live bands perform. Enjoy Mariachi, Norteno, and other traditional Mexican music styles while sipping tequila under the stars as you sail down the canals.
Don’t worry if your Espanol no ser Bueno; all hosts speak English, and they will make sure you have an amazing night!
You can expect to try traditional food from all over Mexico, including chapulines (grasshopper) – they are surprisingly very tasty, full of protein, and go well with tequila. Cochinita (pork), mole, and tamarindo shrimps, among other traditional Mexican dishes, will be served during dinner.
The last part of the tasting includes a tray of bite-size Mexican candies like chocolate, coconut, and milk candy.
The tour begins at 7 pm, but transport is not included. So, you’ll need to get a taxi there, which takes around 25 to 30 minutes from Cancun.
Be sure to buy your tickets in advance to ensure you get a seat. You don’t want to miss this Mexican party!!
19. Las Coloradas
Las Coloradas is a famous lagoon in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula. What makes this lagoon so popular is the pink color of its waters. Laguna Rosa, aka Pink Lagoon, gets its color from a harmless bacteria that grows in the water; it’s also a salt-producing farm!
Plus, the contrast of the pink waters against the blue sky makes for an epic photo; if you’re a photographer, you will definitely want to visit here! Just make sure to visit on a day with no clouds or the pink hues won’t be very bright.
The lakes are part of the Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, which is a protected area in Mexico, and it is a nesting area for pink flamingos and much other bird life.
The best way to visit Laguna Rosa and see flamingos is on a guided tour from Cancun. But it’s worth noting it’s a long day at 12 hours in duration; the journey here alone is 3.5 hours (268 km/167 mi) each way! This particular tour includes transport from the hotel zone in Cancun as well as lunch for just $100 USD per person.
On the tour you’ll cruise by boat through the Ría Lagartos reserve and your captain will be on the lookout for native species like flamingos, pelicans, eagles, and crocodiles. You will also gain insight into how salt is made and enjoy the benefits of a Mayan mud bath. For food, a boxed meal and lunch at a restaurant are included in the cost of your tour.
Cozumel is a popular tourist destination located just offshore from Playa del Carmen. This island is known for its clear turquoise waters, beautiful beaches, and coral reefs.
To get to Cozumel, you’ll first have to drive to Playa del Carmen. There are several ways to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen including ferry, catamaran, or private boat transfer. The ferry is the most popular and affordable option, with tickets starting at $200 MXN ($140 USD) for a round-trip ticket.
There are two companies that operate the route, Ultramar and Transcaribe either are fine and both offer a similar service and price. The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes each way and leaves from the terminal in Playa del Carmen.
Alternatively, you can join a full-day guided tour to Cozumel. This particular tour includes your transport and a snorkeling tour (with all equipment) from Cancun to Cozumel! Lunch and drinks are also included. Just kind in mind, this is one of the longer day trips from Cancun with the drive to Playa del Carmen and ferry rides.
21. Si’an Kaan
Sian Ka’an is one of the country’s biggest protected areas and is located over two hours from Cancun. It’s such a unique part of Mexico and means the ‘gate to heaven’ – part of the reserve includes a barrier reef in the Caribbean ocean which is home to abundant marine life, and the other part features tropical forests, mangroves, and marshes! Would you believe over 300 different species of birds can be seen here?
In fact, there are two different entry points to Si’an Kaan, and each provides two completely different experiences of seeing this biosphere reserve. Muyil is the closest access point to Cancun at two hours and 10 minutes (153 km/95 mi), and this route in offers Mayan ruins, inland jungle, wetlands, and mangrove forests. The other access point is at Punta Allen is best for those who want to see the marine side of the reserve and includes scenery of both beaches and saltwater lagoons.
There are lots of different things you can do once here such as going on a birdwatching tour, going snorkeling or kayaking, floating down the Chunyaxche, and more! However, you’ll need to have rented a car in Cancun to explore on your own.
If you don’t fancy the hassle of trying to get there yourself, then, consider this full-day tour from Cancun. It’s a long day at 7 hours total and you’ll have the opportunity to walk among the mangroves, and explore the canals from a boat. Of course, there will be time for swimming too! A boxed deli sandwich, fruit, juice, and water is the provided lunch.
Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun
While there are tons of day trips from Cancun to take, don’t miss out on exploring Cancun itself! I’ve been coming to Cancun since I was a kid and I never get tired of visiting. There are so many fun things to do in Cancun, that will make for an amazing vacay. So if you’re looking for even more activities, check out some of my favorites below!
- Hit the beach – I know it goes without saying that you’ll be spending a few days at some of Cancun’s best beaches! Make sure to vary it up and try a few different beaches while you’re here. Playa Chacmool is a hidden gem in the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone I love and the sunsets at Playa Gaviota Azul are unreal.
- Eat, eat eat! – Calories don’t count on vacation right? The restaurants in Cancun deliver on amazing food – especially the Mexican restaurants of course. Mextreme has the best tacos and I always order the Aztec soup! If you want to try a bunch of different dishes in an evening, I say go for a taco tour in Cancun! My pick is this taco and beer food tour will take you to five popular spots for a fun night you’ll want to arrive hungry for!
- See Mayan ruins – Right in Cancun you can step back in time with visits to El Meco Ruins or The Museo Maya to see ancient artifacts and the San Miguelito Ruins right next-door.
- Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views here! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs to get this view.
- Swim with whale sharks – For a totally unique and memorable experience, jump in the water to swim with whale sharks near Cancun! These gentle giants feast on plankton and fish, so you can relax on this whale shark tour and just admire these giant fish (they aren’t actually sharks!). Whale shark season is from May to September, so if you’re here at a different time of year, this half-day sailing trip is another way to get out on the water and cruise the beautiful ocean!
Where to Stay in Cancun
Cancun is the land of resorts and hotels, and there certainly is no shortage of fantastic places to stay. I myself have stayed at a huge variety of hotels both in the hotel zone and in downtown Cancun. To be honest, I prefer the hotel zone for a beach holiday!
For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but I really enjoyed my stay and for the price and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.
If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.
Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap but are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.
Renting a Car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Cancun is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for a reason, with so much to do here it’s easy to spend a week or even two here and not get bored! I hope this guide to the most fun day trips from Cancun inspires you to visit this renowned beach resort!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this huge blog on the best day trips from Cancun. If you did, then keep planning and check out more of our great guides to other destinations in Mexico, such as: