Cancun: 10 Things You Should Do and See on This Heavenly Mexican Island

Updated On: November 30, 2022

Cancun

The Caribbean Sea stretches along some beautiful islands that look like a slice from heaven. Luckily, it goes a long way to embrace the fascinating city that is Cancun. This city has been a hot tourist destination for years. It succeeded in changing the stereotypical image of Mexico being a dangerous place and attracted people from every part of the world.

Cancun offers its tourists different types of travel experiences, given its strategic location, lying on the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea. It may be famous for its mesmerising beaches, endless resorts, and vibrant nightlife, but many different areas offer historical landmarks.

The first area is Zona Hotelera, the hotels’ zone, which represents a long line of hotels rising high to overlook the beautiful sea, along with nightclubs and shops. The other area Cancun embraces, and only a few are aware of, is El Centro, a traditional downtown area often called Downtown Cancun. It shows the Mexican’s urban lifestyle through different malls and markets.

To make your trip easier and an unforgettable one, we have created this exciting list for you to know the things you can do and see in Cancun. We added some historical places to learn about the history of Mexico, amazing beaches and resorts to relax, and enthralling spots where you can take the best shots for your Instagram.

1. Kayak in the Nichupté Lagoon

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Aerial view of Nichupté Lagoon

Nichupté lagoon is one of the best lagoons in Cancun. It is home to several animal species, some of which can’t be found elsewhere, such as the American crocodile. This beautiful system of connected lagoons lies in the heart of Cancun and is connected to the Caribbean Sea through water channels. Thus, it is a mix of fresh and salt water.

The clarity and transparency of the waters allow you to see for a couple of metres deep. However, swimming in it is forbidden to visitors. The animals that live within these waters can be hazardous. Instead of swimming, you can go kayaking, observing the lush landscapes through which this lagoon runs.

2. Visit the Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

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Pink Salt lakes in Las Coloradas, Yucatán

Seeing coloured water is one of the most mesmerising things in life. You can never beat the euphoric vibes you get from witnessing the wonders of nature. The Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas is one of the best tourist attractions in Cancun and all of Mexico as well. After all, who, in their right mind, would miss an opportunity like this one?

The Pink Lakes lie on the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. They seem to be straight out of an imaginary world. The vast waters get their otherworldly tint from the abundant presence of red algae and brine shrimps in these salty waters. No matter how tempting it is, swimming in this highly-salted water is not recommended. It is hard to tell whether the quality of the water makes it suitable for swimming. Moreover, it is deemed a protected zone.

3. Take a Trip to Chichen Itza

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Kukulkan pyramid

If history is your thing, you will find a lot of ancient breeze hanging around the Chichen Itza, telling stories of a bygone era. This spot is home to numerous historical landmarks that unfold layers of Mexican history. It is a significant tourist attraction that people fly to from different parts of the world to learn about the rich history of the Mayan culture.

Chichen Itza embraces El Castillo, the Sacred Cenote, the impressive Temple of the Warriors, and the Great Ball Court. They are all archaeological sites with fascinating sightings and deep history rooted in every corner. Cancun may be famous for its beaches and resorts, but little do people know about its historical sites that are worth visiting.

4. Snorkel in Puerto Morelos

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Puerto Morelos beach in Mayan Riviera

Puerto Morelos is one of the popular destinations tourists head to when visiting Cancun. It is a port town that has become one of Mexico‘s oldest and most significant seaports. The town lies between Cancun’s Riviera Maya resorts and Playa del Carmen.

Given this area’s abundance of marine life, it has become a famous spot for diving and snorkelling— a chance you don’t want to miss! Snorkelling in Puerto Morelos is an unforgettable experience. You will come across various shapes and colours of fish, turtles, and other marine creatures that will mesmerise you. Besides, the locals are really amiable; they will show you around the area and introduce you to some yummy food.

5. Swim in a Cenote

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Ik-Kil Cenote, Chichen Itza, Mexico

Do you know what a cenote is? It is a magical spot that fills Mexico, scattered over every corner of the country, especially in Cancun. This phenomenal wonder is a large cave underground with a sinkhole in which rainwater poured, filling the sedimentary rock with water. Groundwater was another form of water that filled the cave.
The sun’s rays go through the holes, lighting up the sinkhole in a whimsical way that will blow your mind away. Cenotes used to be a significant supply of drinking water to the Maya. So, when you swim inside one of those fanciful caves, not only are you living a brand new experience, but you are also swimming through a significant part of history.

6. Watch the Flaminogos in Rio Lagartos

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A row of American flamingos in the Rio Lagardos, Mexico

Can you imagine visiting Cancun without passing by the renowned area where flamingos live abundantly? You cannot miss such an opportunity. Rio Lagartos is a famous destination in Cancun that attracts people for its flamingos. Honestly speaking, who wouldn’t want to see these lovable pink creatures and snap a few images for their gram feed, right?

The island has a laid-back vibe, making it worth every second of your stay. It is always advised to visit the island anywhere between March and June. These months are when the flamingoes can be seen significantly and almost everywhere. However, while they are also seen all year round, many disappear in Autumn and Winter, for it’s their breeding season.

7. Visit the Tulum Archaeological Zone

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Maya ruins at Tulum, Mexico

Historical landmarks are special places that make you time travel to times long before you have come to the world, which is pretty interesting. You can get this effect in Tulum archaeological zone, one of the best tourist destinations in the Yucatán Peninsula. The thing is, Cancun visitors rarely know about the possibilities they can explore around this island other than relaxing on the beach.

Tulum zone is actually centuries old. It was one of the most remarkable sites where the Mayan city rose, becoming one of the world’s most prominent cultures. The site is situated above sea level, overlooking the splendid coastline of the Caribbean Sea. Ruins also fill the area in almost every corner. While they are not as fascinating as the views this place overlooks, they are still worth a visit.

8. Explore Isla Contoy

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Aerial view Contoy tropical Caribbean island Mexico

Before taking off to Cancun, make sure you visit one of the world’s most sumptuous islands, Isla Contoy. This is seriously a heavenly spot that you don’t want to miss. You can arrive there by taking a ferry from Cancun. However, only a few tour operators can take visitors to this island, so it is crucial to plan your trip ahead.

This magnificent island was deemed a national park and is protected by the Mexican government. Once you step foot there, you will know the reason. Sceneries of beautiful elements of nature, blending with the green landscapes, the blue sky, and the multiple shades of blue waters, can be seen from afar. It is an experience you will never forget.

9. Go Shopping at Quinta Avenida

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5th Avenue in the entertainment district of Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan peninsula of Caribbean Mexico

Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort near Cancun that you cannot miss going to. It is always part of the itinerary planned around Cancun. This resort spans along the Caribbean Sea, with palm trees embellishing the scene and lots of coral reefs colouring up the water. One of its famous spots is the Quinta Avenida or the 5th Avenue in English.

This spot is popular for shopping. People willing to go home with luggage heavier than they arrived with should head there immediately. There are many stores to shop from, bakeries to snack at while strolling around, and art galleries as well. Frida Kahlo Museum and Gaston Charo Art Gallery are the top most visited cultural centres in the area.

10. Observe the Marine Life at Isla Mujeres

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Scenic view of the Caribbean Ocean at Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a major tourist destination in Mexico. It lies only 13 kilometres from Cancun, which is why it’s always on the list of top things to do while in Cancun. There is so much to do around this magnificent island. Besides being a perfect getaway destination where you can leave your worries behind and enjoy the tranquil waters, it’s always an excellent spot to learn about history.

This island is best known for its unique marine life. It’s one of the most popular snorkelling and scuba diving destinations around Cancun, if not in all of Mexico. Isla Mujeres is home to appealing coral reefs whose colours and shapes draw your attention effortlessly. There is also a spot known as Punta Sur, which means the South Point or the southern tip, where several things can be seen and done.

Punta Sur is home to a sea turtles sanctuary, which is a great option to consider if you are into seeing those beautiful sea creatures. Remains of a Mayan Temple can also be seen around the area, creating a beautiful archaic atmosphere where you can observe scraps of a bygone era and imagine what life could have been like back then.

If these reasons are not enough for you to pack up and fly to Cancun, we don’t know what is. We promise this trip will be one that you will never forget, not to mention the number of pictures we advise you to take to keep retelling your experience for years to come.