When most travelers think of Cancun, they imagine spending their time lazing in pool chairs and dipping into the turquoise waters off a white-sand beach. While it’s important to get in quality relaxation time, there are dozens of adventures to be had within a day’s time of Cancun that will make your trip so much more than a poolside retreat. Check out some of these nearby destinations and get planning.
1. Tulum: Seaside Ruins
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Tulum is a great place to go exploring for the day as it’s only a two-hour bus ride from Cancun. Though the site is well-known to tourists, it’s not as popular as Chichén Itzá. It’s also smaller in scale, which makes it easy to see in a few hours time. That doesn’t mean it’s any less spectacular though; Tulum is the only set of Mayan ruins that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Spend time strolling along the lush green lawns and finish your visit with a dip in the warm sea.
2. Cenotes: Swimming in the Dark
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There is something mysterious about the cenotes scattered throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Perhaps it’s the way the sunlight only illuminates part of the pool below, leaving the rest in eerie shadow. Or perhaps it’s the history of certain cenotes being used for Mayan ritual sacrifices, like the Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá. Either way, these pools are great for cooling down below ground. The cenotes are also a great place for scuba diving and snorkeling.
3. Isla Mujeres: Escape the Hustle and Bustle
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Just a couple of miles off the coast of Cancún, Isla Mujeres is a great place to escape the major tourist tracks for the day. Rent a golf cart and set out to find a quiet beach along the coast or make your way down to Garrafon Natural Reef Park. Here you can swim with dolphins, snorkel, hike, and even zip-line. For something quite different, scuba dive at the MUSA underwater museum just off the coast. The island offers a lot of great activities without the high frequency of tourists found on the mainland. If you’d like to stay on Isla Mujeres, check out Casa de Los Sueños.
4. Xel-Ha: The Natural Aquarium
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If you have any interest in snorkeling or exploring the sea life of the Caribbean, spend the day at Xel-Ha. This aquatic theme park is a two-hour drive from Cancun and features a natural lagoon full of hundreds of tropical fish. Visitors have full access to swim and snorkel in the lagoon, and have the option of scuba diving and swimming with dolphins as well. This park has exceptional sustainability practices and invests in local products.
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Keep in mind that these trips will not take you far from Cancun. That means you have plenty of time to return to your hotel and relax for the evening. Also note that all of these day trips can be self-explored. However, if you’d prefer to book with an agency so that you don’t have to worry about logistics, check out Excursopedia for any of these Cancun day trips.