28 Best Things to Do in Cancun | 2024 (with Photos)

Andreas Rukovski

Andreas Rukovski - Travel Writer

Published: July 11, 2023

Hey! How’s it going? I'm Andreas, and I've curated the ultimate guide to the 28 best things to do in Cancun for 2024, complete with stunning photos. Discover the wonders of this incredible destination and make the most of your trip by planning ahead. Enjoy an unforgettable time in Cancun!

Top Things to Do in Cancun for an Exciting Trip

Cancun, Mexico, is a paradise destination known for its stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Stepping out of Cancun Airport, you'll be greeted by stunning scenery and a vibrant atmosphere.

Whether you're a nature lover, history enthusiast, or adventure seeker, Cancun offers a multitude of activities and attractions to make your trip an unforgettable experience.

From exploring ancient Mayan ruins to diving into the colorful underwater world, here are the top 27 things to do on your next Cancun vacation.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Visit Chichen Itza.

Top Choice Hotel

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Tora Cancun

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Coco Bongo

Best Time to Visit

Sunny beach paradise, visit in spring or fall.

Average Temperature

Warm and tropical climate with average temperatures around 80°F.

Transportation Options

Taxis, buses, rental cars, bicycles, scooters, walking, shuttles

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Cancun, Mexico is a vibrant city that offers an enchanting blend of rich culture, stunning natural beauty, and thrilling adventures. One of my top recommendations is to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the downtown area. Explore the bustling local marketplaces where you can indulge in traditional Mexican cuisine, shop for unique handicrafts, and meet friendly locals who are always eager to share their stories. As you stroll through the colorful streets, take in the sights and sounds of mariachi bands playing lively tunes, adding a touch of authenticity to your experience. Finally, don't forget to visit the iconic Mayan ruins of El Rey, located right in the heart of the city. Wander among the ancient temples and imagine the history that once unfolded in this magnificent archaeological site. This combination of cultural exploration and archaeological wonder is sure to provide you with a truly personal and unforgettable travel experience in Cancun.

If you're seeking a more tranquil and natural escape, I highly recommend exploring Cancun's breathtaking beaches. Picture-perfect white sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and palm-fringed shorelines await you. Spend your days basking in the warm Mexican sun, sipping on refreshing coconut water, and indulging in a good book. For a touch of adventure, you can also try out snorkeling or diving in the vibrant coral reefs located just off the coast. The underwater world here teems with colorful tropical fish and mesmerizing marine life, offering an incredible opportunity to create your very own underwater adventure. As the sun sets, find a cozy spot on the beach and witness the sky transform into a canvas of vibrant hues, serving as a perfect backdrop for a romantic walk along the shore. Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the city's vibrant culture or laze on its stunning beaches, Cancun offers a wide range of personal experiences that will create memories to last a lifetime.

What You'll Need to Bring

  • Valid passport
  • Cash and/or credit card
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Swimsuit and beach towel
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Travel adapter
  • Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
  • Lightweight clothing and swimsuit cover-ups
  • Medications and personal toiletries
  • Spanish-English dictionary or translation app

What Not to Miss

  1. Chichen Itza: Ancient Mayan ruins
  2. Isla Mujeres: Beautiful beaches and snorkeling
  3. Tulum: Picturesque coastal ruins
  4. Xcaret Park: Nature park and cultural experience
  5. Cenotes: Natural sinkholes for swimming and diving
  6. Coco Bongo: Famous nightclub with energetic shows
  7. Xoximilco: Mexican fiesta boat tour
  8. Playa Delfines: Scenic beach with stunning views
  9. El Rey Ruins: Small Mayan ruins in the Hotel Zone
  10. Mercado 28: Local market for shopping and dining

What to Avoid

  1. Overcrowded tourist spots
  2. Excessive alcohol consumption
  3. Walking alone at night in certain areas
  4. Accepting unsolicited offers or invitations
  5. Buying counterfeit products or engaging in illegal activities
  6. Ignoring local customs and traditions
  7. Drinking tap water
  8. Leaving valuables unattended
  9. Paying inflated prices for tourist services
  10. Engaging in risky water activities without proper guidance and supervision.

1. Explore Cancun's Hotel Zone

Cancun's Hotel Zone

Cancun is divided into two distinct areas: Downtown, also referred to as Ciudad Cancun, and Cancun Island, commonly known as The Cancun Hotel Zone or "Zona Hotelera."

The Cancun Hotel Zone serves as the primary tourist hub, offering a vibrant atmosphere with some of the best resorts in Mexico, catamaran excursions, lively nightlife, and gorgeous beaches.

True to its name, the Hotel Zone boasts numerous hotels, along with a plethora of nightlife options. Restaurants and bars line the main Kukulcan Boulevard, which extends from one end of the Hotel Zone to the other.

2. Embark on Scuba Diving Adventures

Scuba Diving Adventures

Cancun, Mexico is a paradise for those passionate about water sports, offering an ideal setting to embark on an exciting scuba diving journey.

Located close to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world's second-largest reef system, Cancun is home to a diverse array of marine life.

Prepare to encounter playful dolphins, tropical fish, eels, lobsters, nurse sharks, and eagle rays as you explore the depths.

Isla Mujeres, the MUSA museum, and the captivating cenotes in the vicinity are some other great destinations for scuba diving and offer some of the most exciting things to do in Cancun.

3. Visit Chichen Itza and Discover its Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is a captivating archaeological site located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza holds immense cultural and historical significance.

One of its most iconic structures at Chichen Itza is the El Castillo pyramid, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, which is a true marvel of ancient engineering.

The site is also home to the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and the Sacred Cenote.

4. Explore the Underwater Museum

Cancun Underwater Museum of Art

Discover the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA), featuring a remarkable collection of 500 sculptures created by renowned international and local sculptors.

These captivating artworks can be found in three distinct galleries submerged between three and six meters (9.8 and 19.6 ft) deep in the pristine waters of the Cancún National Marine Park.

With a permit to sink a total of 1,200 sculptures in 10 different areas around Cancun, MUSA aims to promote marine life conservation.

Punta Nizuc coral reef is an excellent choice for a snorkeling tour, allowing you to witness numerous underwater statues in relatively shallow waters.

5. See the El Rey Ruins in the Hotel Zone

El Rey Archaeological Site

This archaeological site, within walking distance to the Cancun Hotel Zone, holds great significance as it was once a thriving center dating back to A.D. 1200.

The El Rey ruins showcase the remains of ceremonial buildings, plazas, and tombs, providing a glimpse into the daily life and religious practices of the Mayan people.

Strolling through the ancient ruins, you'll encounter intricately carved stone structures and lots of iguanas that have made the site their home.

The compact size of the El Rey ruins allows for an easy and enjoyable visit, making it an ideal attraction for those short on time and one of the most interesting things to do in Cancun.

6. Enjoy an Isla Mujeres Day Trip

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres ("The Island of Women") was named after Ixchel, the ancient Maya fertility goddess.

Conveniently located just a 20-minute ferry ride away from Cancun's Hotel Zone, this picturesque island awaits exploration.

Isla Mujeres boasts a breathtaking rocky coastline and enchanting bays that offer mesmerizing views. Its main beach, Playa Norte, has consistently been ranked among the best beaches in the world.

While on the island, you can witness local sea turtle conservation efforts by visiting the turtle conservation center.

7. Go on a Sunset Sailing Trip

Sunset Cruise

Experience the enchanting sunsets of Mexico's Riviera Maya and Isla Mujeres as you embark on a sunset sailing excursion along the coast.

Many sunset sailing trips departing from Cancun also include an open bar and delectable snacks, ensuring a truly relaxing and enjoyable journey.

These unforgettable voyages typically last around 2 hours, allowing ample time to soak in the breathtaking views and create lasting memories.

Sit back, unwind, and let the magic of the sky at sunset transport you to a world of tranquility and natural beauty, making for one of the most romantic things to do in Cancun.

8. Enjoy the Nightlife of Downtown Cancun

Coco Bongo

A significant draw for visitors on their vacation is the vibrant Cancun Nightlife.

After a day spent at the beach, many seek to explore the diverse array of nightclubs and enjoy the most exciting things to do in Cancun at night.

For many party-goers, Coco Bongo is a top spot, where an exuberant atmosphere reigns supreme, with acrobats and fun acts to keep you entertained.

Alternatively, the City Nightclub showcases top-notch DJs, while the Mandala Beach Club offers a fun outdoor nightclub experience.

For fans of techno and house music, Dady O beckons with its pulsating beats and energetic ambiance.

9. Shop at La Isla Shopping Village

 La Isla Shopping Village

La Isla Shopping Village is a must-visit destination for shopping enthusiasts and travelers looking for a unique shopping experience in Cancun.

This open-air mall, situated alongside a scenic lagoon, offers a diverse range of boutiques, high-end fashion brands, souvenir shops, and international retailers.

Beyond shopping, the village boasts an array of dining options, from local cuisine to international flavors, ensuring a delightful culinary journey for visitors.

Additionally, the mall features entertainment options such as a movie theater and interactive attractions, making it one of the most fun things to do for visitors of all ages.

10. See the Views from the Cancun Scenic Tower

Cancun Scenic Tower

Located within Xcaret Park, the Embarcadero de Cancun Scenic Tower offers an incredible vantage point to admire the city from above.

With a height of 262 feet, this tower provides spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area, making it one of the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico.

Admission is included with your ticket to any of the exciting parks within the Xcaret Group.

If you're seeking an even higher perspective, you can opt for a thrilling private helicopter flight that will take you soaring through the skies for an unforgettable aerial experience.

11. Visit Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines is Cancun's largest free public beach and a favorite among travelers who appreciate its gentle waves and pristine waters.

What sets Playa Delfines apart is its unique location in Cancun's Hotel Zone, as it lacks towering resorts nearby, providing unobstructed vistas of the Caribbean Sea.

For a chance to witness playful dolphins, make sure to visit in the morning and take advantage of the lookout platform.

Also, don't forget to capture a memorable photo at El Mirador and the iconic and colorful Cancun sign, one of the most popular things to do in Cancun, Mexico.

12. Learn Some Mayan history at the Maya Museum

Maya Museum

Located in Cancun's Hotel Zone, the Maya Museum (Museo Maya) offers a perfect opportunity to infuse some cultural enrichment into your beach vacation.

The museum showcases a collection of over 3,500 artifacts, making it one of the must-visit places and most interesting things to do in Cancun, Mexico.

Delve into the captivating world of the ancient Maya civilization, unraveling their intriguing history and discovering the profound connections they share with the Yucatan Peninsula.

Notably, your museum admission also grants you access to the nearby San Miguelito Archaeological site, situated on the same premises.

13. Swim With Whale Sharks

Snorkeling Tour with Whale Sharks

Whale sharks, the largest known fish species, are listed as an endangered species, and swimming alongside these magnificent creatures is a rare privilege.

Whale sharks reach lengths of up to 12 meters and can weigh up to 20 tons.

The Yucatan Peninsula presents a remarkable opportunity to encounter and swim with these gentle giants. The prime season for swimming with whale sharks is between June and September.

Tours depart from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Isla Holbox, offering accessible options to embark on this remarkable adventure.

14. Go on a Kayaking Trip of the Nichupte Lagoon

Nichupte Lagoon

Nichupte Lagoon stands as a vast water expanse awaiting exploration through kayaking and paddleboarding adventures.

Remarkably, Nichupte Lagoon is the sole remaining natural ecosystem following the development of Cancun's expansive Hotel Zone.

The Nichupte Lagoon offers a blend of freshwater seeping from the underlying rocks and the saline waters from the sea, contributing to the lagoon's flourishing aquatic life.

The Nichupte Lagoon is also an ideal spot to watch the sunset, one of the most romantic things to do in Cancun. Take an organized tour or a rental car to this awesome spot in Cancun, Mexico.

15. Watch a Mexican Wrestling Show

Lucha Libre show

Immerse yourself in local culture through an electrifying spectacle of Lucha Libre.

This thrilling wrestling show features two wrestlers: the hero and the villain, engaging in wrestling, acrobatics, and theatrical maneuvers, all in pursuit of victory.

The wrestlers don distinctive masks, adding an air of mystique to their performances. The show usually ends with someone thrown outside the ring.

To partake in the excitement of Lucha Libre, head downtown to Arena Cancun, where these electrifying events take place every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday night.

16. Take a Day Trip to Tulum

Tulum Ruins

Located near Playa del Carmen, the captivating Tulum ruins present one of the unmissable Cancun excursions.

Located about 60 miles away from Cancun, reaching the Tulum ruins is convenient with various tour buses available.

The allure of these ruins lies not only in their historical significance but also in their breathtaking setting overlooking a picturesque beach and the enchanting turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Devote a minimum of 2-3 hours to fully immerse yourself in the experience and marvel at the well-preserved structures that have endured the passage of centuries.

17. Spot Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles

Cancun and Riviera Maya offer the perfect opportunity to spot sea turtles by venturing out to captivating beaches like Akumal.

The warm waters teem with a diverse array of sea turtles, ranging from loggerheads to giant leatherbacks.

For those fortunate enough to visit Cancun between May and October, you may bear witness to the mesmerizing sight of female sea turtles diligently laying their precious eggs in beach nests.

From July to December, the hatching season of sea turtles commences, as these tiny hatchlings embark on their courageous journey towards the vast ocean.

18. Swim in a Cenote

Riviera Maya cenotes

When visiting Cancun, Mexico, exploring the captivating cenotes is an essential experience that should not be missed.

These remarkable natural pools, formed by the collapse of the limestone surface in the Riviera Maya region, provide access to the mesmerizing underground river system of the Yucatan Peninsula.

While some cenotes require a short drive from Cancun, it is well worth setting aside time to enjoy swimming or diving in their clear waters.

19. Explore the El Meco Ruins

El Meco Ruins

Located north of downtown Cancun, El Meco presents another captivating set of Maya ruins waiting to be explored.

At the heart of these ruins stands a remarkable 41-foot pyramid, a testament to the architectural brilliance of the ancient civilization that once thrived here.

Reaching the El Meco ruins is a straightforward journey, whether you opt for a bus, a rental car, or a taxi.

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the sight of the ruins visible from the main road, inviting you to delve deeper into their historical significance.

20. Visit the Amazing Theme Parks

Xel-Ha Park

Cancun is home to a variety of thrilling theme parks, offering an array of attractions and experiences.

Xcaret Park offers eco-adventures, cultural exhibits, and stunning scenery. Xel-Ha Park offers snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, tubing along lazy rivers, and exploring hidden cenotes.

For an adrenaline rush, Xplor Park features zip-lining, amphibious vehicle rides, underground river swimming, and cave exploration.

Xoximilco Park provides a festive atmosphere with traditional Mexican music, food, and entertainment on a colorful trajinera boat ride.

Whichever theme park you pick, you are sure to have a memorable vacation experience.

21. Enjoy a Mexican Floating Fiesta


Xoximilco Park is a vibrant and cultural theme park located near Cancun, offering visitors a unique and immersive experience in the traditional Mexican fiesta atmosphere.

Inspired by the historic Xochimilco canals of Mexico City, this park provides an enchanting journey through floating trajineras (traditional Mexican boats) along scenic canals.

Guests can enjoy live music, folklore performances, and traditional Mexican cuisine, all while cruising through the picturesque waterways.

It's one of the most fun things to do in the city and a chance to experience the joyful traditions, music, and flavors of Mexico for those seeking a taste of local culture.

22. Experience a Temazcal Ceremony

Temazcal Ceremony in Xcaret

Immerse yourself in the profound customs of the ancient Mayan civilization through a purification ceremony led by a shaman within the intimate confines of a small, domed hut.

The shaman douses hot rocks with water and aromatic herbs, engendering a purifying atmosphere akin to a sauna or sweat lodge, while their chants facilitate a state of deep meditation.

Lasting anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, this ritual serves to rid the body, mind, and spirit of toxins, instilling a profound sense of well-being and holistic healing.

23. Go Deep Sea Fishing

Deep Sea Fishing

The waters around Cancun offer some of the best ocean fishing anywhere. There are plenty of companies offering fishing trips for everyone from beginners to experts.

There is also an abundance of fish species in the beautiful blue sea including Barracuda, Grouper, Red Snapper, Sailfish, Marlin, and Tuna.

You will be supplied with all the fishing gear and license and the crew will even clean and prepare the fish for cooking should you want to take it home for dinner.

24. Party at Coco Bongo

Party at Coco Bongo

Coco Bongo in Cancun is a world-renowned nightclub that offers an exhilarating and unforgettable entertainment experience.

Known for its high-energy shows, dazzling performances, and vibrant atmosphere, Coco Bongo has become a must-visit destination for party-goers in Cancun.

The club features a fusion of live music, acrobatics, and impressive visual effects, creating a spectacle that keeps the crowd electrified throughout the night.

Whether you're a fan of pop, rock, or Latin music, this iconic venue offers the most fun things to enjoy for an energetic night out.

25. Try the Amazing Local Street Food

Local Street Food

Cancun is a paradise not only for its beaches but also for its vibrant street food scene.

When visiting Cancun, make sure to try local treats and enjoy one of the fun Cancun things to do for locals and visitors alike.

Head to Mercado 28, a popular market, to sample various culinary delights such as tacos al pastor, cochinita pibil, and empanadas.

For seafood lovers, a visit to the Puerto Cancun Market is a must, where you can savor ceviche, shrimp cocktails, and fresh fish tacos.

Don't miss out on trying elotes (grilled corn on the cob) topped with cheese, chili powder, and lime juice, a favorite street snack.

26. Explore Punta Sur and Garrafon Natural Reef Park

 Garrafon Natural Reef Park

Punta Sur and Garrafon Natural Reef Park are must-visit destinations located on Isla Mujeres, easily accessible from Cancun.

Punta Sur is situated at the southern tip of the island, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.

Adjacent to Punta Sur, Garrafon Natural Reef Park awaits with its stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters.

You can go snorkeling or scuba diving to witness the vibrant marine life, go zip-lining, or simply relax on the pristine beaches.

27. See the Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

A visit to Las Coloradas is an extraordinary excursion that should not be missed. Located on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Las Coloradas is famous for its stunning pink salt lakes.

The vibrant pink hues of the water are caused by the high concentration of salt and the presence of red-colored microorganisms.

Aside from the pink lakes, you can explore the surrounding mangroves, observe various bird species, and even spot flamingos that inhabit the area.

A day trip to this natural wonder provides a captivating and surreal experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

28. Have a fun day at Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park is a multi-faceted destination that offers a captivating blend of entertainment, nature, and culture.

As a resort, eco-tourism destination, and one of the best adventure parks in Cancun, Xcaret Park provides a diverse range of experiences for visitors.

Wade through the crystal-clear waters of underground rivers, see spectacular shows at the main theater, indulge in delectable cuisine, and delve into the rich history of the ancient Mayans, all with the convenience of a single ticket.

Xcaret Park is a truly immersive and unforgettable destination that showcases the best of Riviera Maya's natural beauty and cultural heritage.

FAQs About the Best Things to Do in Cancun

Let's also look at some frequently asked questions relating to the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico.

What is Cancun best known for?

Cancun is best known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant nightlife.

It's a popular tourist destination in Mexico, offering a wide range of water sports, luxurious resorts, Mayan ruins (Chichen Itza and El Rey), and exciting entertainment options.

Is Mexico City or Cancun better?

Whether Mexico City or Cancun is better depends on your personal preferences. Mexico City, the country's capital, is a bustling metropolis. It offers a plethora of museums, art galleries, historical sites, and architectural wonders.

On the other hand, Cancun is renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant resort scene. Cancun also serves as a gateway to the Yucatan Peninsula, offering access to ancient Maya ruins such as Chichen Itza and Tulum.

How many days in Cancun is enough?

The ideal duration for a trip to Cancun depends on the activities you wish to engage in.

Generally, a week is considered a good amount of time to relax on the beautiful beaches, take boat tours, explore nearby attractions, see the Maya Museum, take day trips to archaeological sites like Chichen Itza or Tulum, and try local cuisine.

Is it worth going to Downtown Cancun?

Yes, visiting Downtown Cancun is worth it for those looking to experience the authentic local vibe.

Unlike the Hotel Zone, Downtown Cancun offers a more affordable dining and shopping scene, as well as a chance to interact with the local community. Downtown Cancun is home to bustling markets, delicious street food, and lively plazas.

What are some free things to do in Cancun, Mexico?

Some free things to do in Cancun, Mexico include enjoying the beautiful Cancun beaches, exploring El Parque de las Palapas, walking along El Malecon Tajamar, browsing Mercado 28, admiring street art in Downtown Cancun, visiting the El Rey Ruins, and relaxing at Playa Delfines.

These Cancun free things to do provide a range of experiences for visitors to enjoy without breaking the bank.

Summing Up: 28 Best Things to Do in Cancun

Planning a trip to Cancun, Mexico? Get ready for an exciting adventure filled with endless possibilities.

From exhilarating scuba diving adventures in the Caribbean waters to exploring ancient Mayan ruins, visiting Cancun, Mexico offers a diverse range of activities to suit every traveler's interests.

Discover the charm of Isla Mujeres on a day trip and enjoy thrilling water sports, and take in the vibrant atmosphere of Cancun at night.

Plan your trip today, visit Cancun, and use this guide with the 27 top Cancun activities for an exhilarating and enriching experience.