What are the best Cancun excursions this year? Cancun is famous for its beaches and nightlife, but the city also has some of the best excursions, tours, and day trips of any city in Mexico. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, looking for your next big thrill, or a history buff interested in exploring Mayan ruins, Cancun has something for you. Here are the top 10 best Cancun excursions this year.
10. Catamaran Tours to Isla Mujeres
A great way to spend a day on your Cancun vacation is taking a catamaran to Isla Mujeres. Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island 8 miles off the coast of Cancun. The island has serene beaches, great restaurants, beautiful scenery, coral reefs, and much smaller crowds than Cancun. Getting there via catamaran is an incredible experience. You will enjoy the beauty of the calm, shallow Caribbean waters as you sail out to your destination. Along the way, there is ample opportunity to swim and snorkel in the waters around the boat. Or just kick back, relax, and enjoy the trip.
Once you arrive on the island, you can go for a swim, enjoy a gourmet lunch buffet on the beach, then explore everything the island has to offer. Popular activities include visiting the island’s secluded beaches, renting a golf cart to drive around and tour the island, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, doing some shopping, or going to the bars and restaurants. In the afternoon, your catamaran will sail you back to Cancun.
Learn more about the tour and sign up here.
9. Speedboat Tour of the Nichupte Lagoon and Jungle
Located on the eastern coast of Cancan, the Nichupte Lagoon and its two channels running through the jungle are one of the most stunning natural sites in Cancun. Unfortunately, the lagoon is often overshadowed by the beaches and other sites. However, a visit to the lagoon is well worth the trip.
One of the most popular activities on Nichupte Lagoon is a speedboat tour. The tour is led by a boat captain and tour guide, who take you through the lagoon and mangrove, and channels surrounded by jungle. The scenery on all sides of the boat is incredible, and the tour makes two stops, one at Punta Nizuc coral reef for snorkeling at the reef and viewing the sculptures, and one at the lagoon’s beach, so you can swim just off shore.
Nichupte Lagoon is an excellent way to see the natural beauty of the area, see marine wildlife and birds, and experience the adrenaline rush of speeding through the lagoon and channels in a motorboat.
Learn more about this tour here.
8. Day Trip to Tulum
One of the best Cancun excursions is taking a day trip to the historic city of Tulum, located about an hour and a half drive from Cancun. Tulum is an incredible city, with some of the best preserved Mayan ruins in the country, all concentrated in one area, surrounded by a stone wall built by the Mayans. The best-preserved and most interesting structures in Tulum include the Temple of the Frescoes, the Temple of the Descending God, and El Castillo.
After touring the archaeological site, visitors can swim at Tulum’s beaches, including Playa Ruinas, just feet from the Mayan ruins. Tulum has great snorkeling and scuba diving sites, which are accessible from the beach. Many day trip excursions to Tulum also include walking tours of the jungle, and visits to the local cenotes–underwater caves and sinkholes with warm, calm waters, that make incredible places to snorkel and swim.
A tour to Tulum includes a tour guide who will pick you up at your hotel in Cancun and drop you back off there at the end of the day. The tour is an incredible way to experience some of the best archaeological and natural sites that Mexico has to offer.
Learn more and schedule your tour here.
7. Swimming with Whale Sharks
Swimming with whale sharks is one of the most incredible Cancun excursions, and a once in a lifetime experience. Available between the months of May and September, when whale sharks migrate to the waters off Cancun, the tour includes transportation from your hotel to the marina, a light breakfast, then an approximately 45-minute boat ride out to where the sharks congregate.
Once you arrive at the location, you will be given snorkel gear and can rent a gopro. Then you will jump into the water and swim with the whale sharks. Watching these massive, filter-feeding fish is an incredible experience that presents no danger, as the sharks only feed on plankton and very small fish. There are also rays, dolphins, and sea turtles in the area.
A few things to note about this tour–the trip is generally estimated to take 45 minutes, but can take longer depending on where the whale sharks are congregating. The ride to the sharks can also be bumpy, and cause seasickness. The tours also do not allow you to use sunscreen, as it can be toxic for the animals. So be sure to wear long sleeves and a hat if you are prone to burning.
Schedule a tour with the tour operator here.
6. Horseback Riding Tours
One of the best Cancun excursions are the horseback riding tours from Rancho Bonanza. The tours take visitors through the jungles and incredible landscapes of the Riviera Maya backcountry, stopping at cenotes and lagoons along the way for a refreshing swim. The tours are designed for people with little to no experience riding horses, so you can feel comfortable regardless of your experience level.
The tours are led by experienced, bilingual tour guides, who will explain where you are going and what you are seeing as you go. The wildlife in the area includes beautiful tropical birds and iguanas, which are plentiful in the trees and on the ground.
The tour is fascinating, educational, fun, and an excellent way to get off the resort and enjoy a couple hours partaking in a unique experience.
Learn more and sign up for a tour here.
5. Cenote Exploration Tours
One of the most unique of Cancun’s excursions are the cenote exploration tours. The whole eastern Yucatan area, where Cancun is situated, is full of incredible underwater caves, caverns, and sinkholes, which are not found anywhere else in the world. The cenotes are full of fresh rainwater, which is usually surprisingly warm. The Mayans were fascinated by the cenotes, and believed that they were entryways to the underworld.
Today, the fascination with cenotes continues, as hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to them each year, for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and other eco-adventures. You can book guided tours of the cenotes that leave from the resorts in Cancun and take the tour group to stunning cenotes, where you can rappel down rock walls to explore semi-covered cenotes, zipline over open cenotes, or swim with fish and aquatic flora.
Your tour guide will regale you with Mayan myths and legends regarding the particular cenotes you are visiting, as well as the history of the area. The tours include lunch, and pickup and dropoff from the resorts in an air conditioned vehicle.
The cenote tours are an incredible experience that anyone visiting Cancun should be sure to do. You can read more about them and sign up here.
4. Riviera Maya ATV Tours
One of the must-do Cancun excursions for adrenaline junkies are the ATV tours of the Riviera Maya. Leaving from the hotels, the ATV tours will take you deep into the jungle of the Yucatan. You will stop to swim at incredible cenotes, go ziplining through the jungle, rappel down cliff sides, and see the jungle fauna and flora.
The tours are led by bilingual tour guides, who will take you on the best routes through the jungle, explaining the sites, history, and Mayan mythology of the area. The tour concludes with a great lunch consisting of authentic Mexican tacos and guacamole, and a tequila tasting.
Learn more about the ATV tours and sign up for one here.
3. Exploring Chichen Itza
Visiting Chichen Itza is an incredible experience that will fascinate both history buffs and casual tourists alike. The area was the site of a thriving Mayan city for hundreds of years, and today has some of the best preserved ruins from that time period.
The site is dominated by a pyramid called Temple of Kukulcán or El Castillo, which stands 98 feet in height, and served as a sacred site to the Mayans. Other ruins at Chichen Itza include the Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors, The Grand Ballcourt, and El Caracol. All of these structures are stunning to see in person, and make the trip well worth it.
The jungle around Chichen Itza is the site of numerous cenotes, which make for great places to cool off after exploring the ruins. Most tours include a buffet lunch, and options to visit the cenotes, go on tequila tours of the area, and more. Schedule a tour of Chichen Itza and read more about it here.
2. Beginners Scuba Diving Tours
One of the best Cancun excursions are the scuba diving tours for beginners. Cancun is an incredible place to learn how to scuba dive. The city has excellent scuba instructors, calm, crystal-clear waters to practice in, and amazing reefs and an underwater museum to explore once you get the hang of it.
The tour begins by outfitting you with your scuba gear and a short class instructing you on how to use it. Then you take a boat out to the warm, shallow waters by the underwater museum, where you will practice diving until you are able to do it comfortably. Next, the boat will take you out to the coral reef where you will dive with tropical fish, turtles, coral, and sponges.
Learn more about the beginner scuba diving tours and schedule yours here.
1. Snorkeling Tours of the Reefs and Shipwrecks
The number one Cancun excursion is snorkeling at the scenic reefs and shipwrecks that surround the island. It is no secret that Cancun’s beaches and beautiful Caribbean waters are its premier attraction, and snorkeling is one of the best ways to experience all that Cancun’s oceans have to offer.
See tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, and more, as you swim above vibrant coral reefs and stunning shipwrecks nestled in the sands just feet below you. The tours are guided by experienced boat captains and snorkelers, who provide instruction and assistance, so even novice snorkelers can enjoy the tour. If you are not comfortable snorkeling with no floatation assistance, you can take a life jacket to float above the reefs and shipwrecks.
Sign up for a reef and shipwreck snorkeling tour here.