Cancún Things to Do Tips by Kaspian Top 5 Page for this destination
Cancún Things to Do: 426 reviews and 577 photos
XCaret - Traditional Dancers (2004)
XCaret is a kind of Mexican Disneyland, but most of the things you see are real. Real caves, real animals, real performers--no robots here. It's set in the jungle on the coast, they have a beautiful cove swimming area where you can swim with the dolphins or go on snorkel/scuba trips.
There are lots of animals--cougars, butterflies, bats, turtles, alligators, fish, a bunch of animals you've never seen before, and even some manatees. The snorkel through the underground river/cenote is very fun and included in the price of admission.
There are also archeaological ruins on site for the intellectuals. Don't miss the traditional dances or horse shows!
Admission to XCaret is expensive, I think it cost us 650 pesos each.
I don't know what it is about XCaret, it should be a goofy place--it 's touristy, expensive, and can be crowded. But most of the people I meet after they leave say they had a very strange sensation while there, almost as if you were a kid again. And you wished the day wouldn't end. Same goes for me!
See my XCaret Travelogues for more photos of XCaret.
Address: Xcaret, Riviera Maya, Q. Roo, Mexico
Directions: 40 minutes South of Cancun, near Playa Del Carmen on the Cancun-Tulum Highway (#307).
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: +52(998) 883.31.43 / 44
This is one of the most fun package-tours I've ever done. The Dolphin Express is a double-decker boat that travels from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Departure time from Playa Langosta Pier is 10 a.m., and the boat returns at 4:30 p.m. The fare is about $30 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and drinks. You have to pay extra if you want to do the snorkel (about $20) or dolphin (about $60) options.
From the upper-deck you enjoy a fantastic view of Cancun and Isla Mujeres amid neon-blue water.
The boat stops at Pirate Village on Isla Mujeres where passengers wanting to swim with the dolphins, scuba, or snorkel can go their separate ways. A smaller boat took us out to the reef to snorkel. The swim was not an easy task--you're in choppy water for about 30 minutes. I suggest only people in good shape try it. I worried about some of the older people that started gagging--the boat is too far away to reach anybody struggling. Once they boat you back to the park you can have a shower, swim with the dolphins, have a drink, or lounge on the beach.
It was a great buffet lunch where we sat in open-air palapas atop a small cliff. There were colourful parrots and little cabana shops.
The boat then travels to downtown Isla for about a two-hour stop so you can do some shopping.
The Dolphin Express's staff was absolutely fantastic. When it started raining on the way back--they cattled us all to the lower deck, gave us free drinks, and started playing games. They were so funny and had us laughing so hard some of us had to leave the room to regain composure.
Your hotel will probably suggest that you do their tour and not the Dolphin Express. Hotel tours can be very amateur--they pack everyone onto a tiny catamaran and people have to cling to the hull for dear life. I've heard (and personally been on) nightmarish Isla tours.
This package is well worth the price. It's a great tour of Isla Mujeres even if you don't snorkel or swim with the dolphins. It's a fun day and it'll leave you happy. Don't forget your swimsuit!
Address: Playa Langosta Dock, Blvd. Kukulc?n km 5
Directions: Hotel Zone
Isla Mujeres (2002)
Isla Mujeres is a 30-minute boat ride from Cancun. Passenger ferries travel to and from the island from Puerto Juarez every 15 minutes during the day. The ferry price is very cheap, under $5 a trip.
Isla Mujeres has extensive white sandy beaches, craft shops and jewellers, specialty restaurants, and tropical music bars. Garrafon Park at the island's southernmost tip has spectacular snorkelling/diving along a reef, a big picturesque rock cliff, turtles, dolphins, and birds.
Although Isla Mujeres has a reputation as a "backpackers' Cancun", many people rave about it, and your hotel will put it at the top of your "to do" list (because it's easy to get to), I'm personally not a big fan of the island. I think most travellers would be better off just enjoying the Cancun beaches and shopping at Cancun's Mercado 28. Or taking the time to travel to the towns further south. So I'm putting this at the bottom of my "Must See" list. (And edging it towards "Tourist Traps".)
It seems the poverty of many of the island residents, which is evident if you walk to the Eastern side of the island from downtown, is largely ignored. It also seems like everybody wants a few bucks, you could spend bags of money here on everything from overpriced souvenirs to beach chair rentals. There are also a lot of maniac teenage tourists on scooters that want to run you over. Most of the people who work on Isla Mujeres commute over from Cancun in the morning, and then back in the evening.
I've been to Isla Mujeres four times, the best experience was on an island tour called the "Dolphin Express," the staff was friendly and worked extremely hard to make sure everybody had a good time. They spent just enough time downtown shopping and for a few extra dollars you could snorkel, scuba, or swim with the dolphins. The lunch that was included was fantastic. That was a great day!
Directions: Take a ferry from the pier at Puerto Juarez (Avenida Bonampak), or hire a water taxi at Playa Linda in the Hotel Zone, or register for a package.
If you can only do one tour during your stay in Cancun, this is the one. The grand-pappy of all must-sees! Any desk clerk at your hotel should be able to help you arrange a tour.
The temples and pyramids at Chichen-Itza, which means "Mouth of the well of the Itzaes", are the Yucatan's best known monuments.
This Mayan city was founded around 800 AD. The style of architecture later became heavily influenced by the Toltecs. Toltec influence is obvious in the many depictions of Kukulkan in the stone reliefs and the 75-foot pyramid named after him (the "Pyramid of Kukulcan" or "El Castillo").
Try and arrange something where you get to spend as much time in the park as possible. Most tours are only there for 2 hours, so if you do this, you'll have to really hustle to see everything. But if it's all you can manage, even a short tour is worth the spectacle!
Do not miss: Temple of the Warriors (hundreds of columns lined up with carvings of warriors along the walls); Observatory "El Caracol" (building with circular tower); Temple of the Skulls 'Tzompantli' (near the ballcourt - hundreds of carved skull reliefs); Sacred Cenote (where victims were drowned in sacrifice); El Castillo (don't worry, it's impossible to miss!).
See my Chichen Itza Travelogues for more photos of Chichen Itza.
Directions: Chichen-Itza is on the main highway (no. 180) between Merida and Cancun.
Tulum - Ruins (2004)
Do not book a tour agency visit to Tulum. If you do, you'll be missing out on two of the best parts of this charming area: one of the greatest beaches in the world and a nifty little downtown. Tulum is very easy and inexpensive to get to from Cancun. Plan to take a taxi to the Cancun bus station and from there take the bus to the ruins... and bring your bathing suit!
Tulum is located 131km (81 miles) south of Cancun, about a 1½ hour drive. Taking the bus may require you to transfer in Playa Del Carmen, but it's a very simple thing to do. Bus fare from Cancun is cheap, only about $10 - 15 USD per person.
I do not suggest travelers do the Tulum/Coba day trip combination offered by the companies. It makes for a very long day with little time to enjoy the sites. (Less than 30 minutes at Tulum.) Everybody who visits through an agency complains later that they didn't have enough time to go for a good swim or see the downtown.
The Mayan ruins at Tulum date from 564 AD. They comprise of a walled-in fortress perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean. This is the picturesque site that you see used in many of the Mexico travel brochures. A complete tour of the ruins doesn't take very long (about 3 hours) and the cost of admission is inexpensive (38 pesos in 2004).
You can access the real Tulum beach (not that small one at the ruins) by walking or taking a taxi about 1km down the coastal road beside the ruins. This is a must-see while in Tulum. The beach is breathtaking. The water is crystal clear, clean, and that fantastic neon-blue colour. On the beach you can find some restaurants and if the urge takes you, book a cabana for an overnight stay.
Tulum's downtown was once kind of ugly, but they've done a lot of work and it is now quite pretty and also well worth a visit. There are bus stations both downtown and at the ruins, so getting back to Cancun is easier than ever.
See my Tulum Travel Page for more information about Tulum.
Directions: 1½ hours south of Cancun on the Cancun-Tulum Highway (#307).
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