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Best things to do in Cancun

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Where in the world: Mexico  /  Yucatan Peninsula  /  Quintana Roo  /  Cancun
Visitors flock from all over the world to experience a treasure trove of things to do in Cancun, Mexico's shining coastal gem. The city is split between its conventional downtown area and wild beachfront, which features restaurants, hotels, and nighttime haunts. The coast also offers many tours and activities, including a chance to swim with friendly dolphins or dive with sharks. If you're looking for ways to sample the best local dishes, head to the eateries in the city center and try some traditional Mayan cuisine.

Cancun is best known for its Nightlife, Swim with Dolphins, and Shopping Malls.

Top 15 things to do in Cancun

1. Xcaret, Playa del Carmen

Take a short drive out of Cancun to Xcaret, where ecologically oriented activities cater to visitors of all ages. The theme park gets its name from a nearby settlement once inhabited by the pre-Columbian Maya, and some of the original village's structures remain. The park's 81 hectare (20 acre) grounds also contain a coral reef aquarium, bird and butterfly pavilions, bat cave, deer shelter, and a greenhouse designed to protect and display delicate orchids and bromeliads. Aiming to entertain both adults and children, the park's nature-based activities include snorkeling with sea turtles and swimming with dolphins. Check the official website for ticket discounts and a complete listing of special performances and family-friendly activities.
Suggested duration: 5h 30 min
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2. La Isla Shopping Village

Indulge in some retail therapy at La Isla Shopping Village. Full of flashing lights and upbeat music, the Cancun shopping mall offers something for all visitors, with shops ranging from souvenir stalls to high-end retailers. Check out the on-site aquarium for a chance to get close to some exotic marine animals. When it's time for a break, head to the mall's food court and grab a bite to eat.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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3. Scuba & Snorkeling, Playa del Carmen

Release your inner explorer and discover the marine world, ancient history, and adventure parks of Riviera Maya on a guided snorkeling or scuba diving tour from Playa del Carmen. Most of these outdoor excursions offer more than underwater adventures around coral reefs, lagoons, and cenotes--an exciting blend of history, culture, and adrenalin-fueled activities awaits, including ziplining, rappelling, ATV jungle riding, and touring archeological sites. These tours can last from 2 to 12 hours, and usually include gear and round-trip hotel transportation.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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4. Zipline, Playa del Carmen

Suggested duration: 5 hours
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5. Cancun Golf Club at Pok-Ta-Pok

Suggested duration: 6 hours
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6. Playa Delfines

Escape the tourist crowds by visiting Playa Delfines, one of Cancun's few uncrowded beaches. With slightly rougher sand and choppier water than some of the other spots nearby, this stretch of coastline compensates for a lack of modern amenities with fine views and a peaceful atmosphere. Ideal for those tired of throngs of vacationers, this little getaway also offers public parking--another rare plus. All that said, you do need to be mindful of riptides and heavy currents if you decide to swim here, so check the signs for the current conditions.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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7. Swim with Dolphins

Get as close as you can to the most playful mammals in the sea at one of Cancun's interactive dolphinariums. Your professional trainer will introduce you to the amazing world of these highly intelligent creatures, providing facts about their anatomy and behavior that will come in handy once you take the plunge in the water. Your new marine friends will show their affection by giving you the famous belly ride, after which you can put on snorkeling gear and enjoy incredible underwater views of dolphins speeding and twirling. This thrilling experience can last from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Zipline

Leave the glitzy hotels and lively party scene of Cancun behind by gliding on the super-thin cables of the largest ziplining circuit in North America. This adrenaline-fuelled adventure from Cancun usually combines various outdoor activities--in addition to ziplining and rappelling, you can also drive an ATV on jungle trails, explore a hidden grotto, or cool off by swimming in a pristine cenote. After you appease your appetite for adventure, finish off this fun-filled journey with a tasty Mayan lunch under a thatched roof of a "palapa." Depending on the mix of activities you choose, your tour can last between 3 and 10 hours.
Suggested duration: 5 hours
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9. Speed Boats Tours

Make the sparkling waters of the Caribbean Sea your private rollercoaster on an exhilarating speedboat ride from Cancun. Get behind the wheel of the popular wave-runner (two-passenger speedboat) and steer it through azure lagoons and mangrove channels following your expert guide. A narrated tour via powerboat allows you to enjoy 360-degree turns and tsunami-style submersions performed by a skillful skipper. You'll feel the adrenaline rush as your boat roars across the waves of Nichupte Lagoon, before heading out to the open sea for a snorkeling adventure along the protected Punta Nizuc coral reef. The duration of these tours spans from 15 minutes to 6 hours.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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12. Shark Diving

Get as close as you can to the biggest fish in the ocean on a Cancun shark diving adventure. You'll follow a PADI certified scuba diving instructor to the ocean floor and look for shipwrecks and corals teaming with tropical fish some 15 m (50 ft) below the surface. You can also arrange a visit to the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), the largest underwater sculpture garden in the world. Tours range from 2 to 6 hours.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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13. Zona Arqueologica El Rey

Conveniently located in the heart of Cancun's hotel zone, Zona Arqueologica El Rey represent the remains of a former Mayan fishing port. The settlement reached its peak in the post-classic period, from 1200 to 1500 AD. Explore the stone ruins sprawled across the site, contrasting the hotels and resorts in the background. While visiting the historic site, you'll spot a staggering amount of iguanas that inhabit the place, as well as some colorful birds.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Nature & Wildlife Tours, Tulum

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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