Looking for the best day trips from Cancun, Mexico to get away from your all-inclusive vacation?
We have chosen twelve of our favorites to help you get off the resort.
Mexico is one of our favorite winter escapes and we have visited Cancun and the Mayan Riviera regularly since 2000!
Cancun or Playa del Carmen are the spots that keep drawing us back again and again.
We’ve had some amazing adventures in Mexico and here are some ideas for you to get off the resort and explore some of the best day trips from Cancun.
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1. Cenotes Adventure
Cenotes are underground caves filled with water. Some have large openings while others are small and narrow.
A Cenote adventure is an amazing way to explore them doing zip lines, rappelling and snorkelling inside these incredible natural wonders.
Several day trips can be booked from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to the cenotes of the Yucatan. You can choose from adventurous cenote tours, diving tours or easier leisurely tours.
Read more here and watch our video here.
See more Cenote Tours from Cancun
2. Swim with Whale Sharks
They may be the biggest fish in the sea, but they are gentle giants. Growing to lengths of over 12 metres (40 feet) whale sharks are impressive to see.
Just two hours off the coast of Cancun, you can see them if you go at the right time of year. That time of the year would be from May to September and it is spectacular!
We went with Get Your Guide when taking our Whale Shark Tour. Book your trip here.
Easy Cancellation and last minute bookings.
3. Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto is another way to explore Cenotes and it is quite different from the day of adventure.
This it is the longest semi-sunken cave system in the Yucatan. There are 12 km of underground rivers to explore and you don’t need a dive certification.
Visitors are taken in small groups on a three-hour tour and you feel like you have the caves all to yourself.
This Cenote adventure takes you deep into the system swimming under low hanging ceilings, wading through spectacular caverns, and swimming in complete darkness.
It is truly a special experience.
Tours can be booked in advance through Get Your Guide
4. Chichen Itza
The photo says it all.
We visited Chichen Itza a while ago when you could still climb to the top of the main temple.
But to this day we are still amazed by it.
It’s the one of the largest of the Mayan Ruins and it is probably the best and most excavated of them all.
Chichen Itza is also the most visited ruins in all of Mexico and it is a must if you are into archeological sites.
More Cancun Day Trips and Tours
5. Xcaret – Evening show
So, I didn’t quite know what to expect when we went to see the performance at Xcaret.
It’s a giant in the round dinner theatre where you are served traditional Mexican food while watching the history of the country unfold before your eyes.
At first, it is a bit daunting as men play a Mayan ball game dating back to 1400 BC.
I didn’t’ quite understand what was going on until the show progressed through the ages.
My favourite moments happened in part two when the wonderful and talented singers and musicians came on stage to perform many classic tunes that we have all seen and heard.
6. Playa del Carmen
We actually prefer to stay in Playa del Carmen more than Cancun, but if you are staying in Cancun, you really must at least head over to Playa for a day trip to check it out.
The Beaches are beautiful, there are plenty of walking streets, nightlife, shopping, and cafés.
Hot tip: Each day trip and excursion that is offered in Cancun can be booked from Playa del Carmen too!
Cozumel is an island off the coast and you can catch a ferry from Cancun.
It’s an excellent vacation destination on its own and you can either hop over to check out the markets and scene.
But for us it was really is all about the scuba diving scene here.
The water is crystal clear with visibility to 40 meters (120 feet). In 1961 Jacques Cousteau declared the area as one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.
The waters of Cozumel were declared a national marine park in 1996 and because of that, you will see plenty of marine life.
If you aren’t into diving, there are snorkeling excurions to Cozumel as well.
And if you want dry land, don’t worry, there are many day trips from Cancun to Cozumel offering 4X4 adventures, canopy tours, snorkeling and shopping.
Check out the options at Get Your Guide Below.
Tulum is not our favourite ruins of the world, however, it’s the spectacular setting that is worth visiting.
Sitting high on a cliff overlooking the miraculous turquoise waters will take your breath away. A popular backpackers haunt, Tulum also has wonderful beaches.
If you want to escape Tulum there is accommodation there.
9. Snorkelling at Isla Mujeres
Ah! The Beautiful Women Island!
Getting out on the water any time in Cancun or Playa del Carmen is a must and Isla Mujeres is an excellent choice.
It’s closer than Cozumel and the turquoise waters are perfect for snorkeling. The water is warm as a bath and so inviting.
You can do day trips to the island just to hang out on the beach and enjoy a relaxing getaway.
10. Ek Balam
Ek Balam is a lesser visited Mayan Ruin near Cancun and you can climb up this one!
It’s a sprawling complex of 45 structures but you can visit it in a couple of hours.
So you will get your history fix and still have time for other excursions afterward!
There is also a Cenote nearby.
We visited Coba way back in 2003 when we decided to scuba dive our way around Central America.
Something tells me it hasn’t changed much as when I look up information on it, it is still quite unexcavated with many temples yet to be unearthed.
You will wander through the jungle feeling like Indiana Jones as you stumble upon untouched ruins.
Here you can still climb the high pyramids reaching 42 metres in the air!
If you want something more than the nightlife and hotel strips of Cancun, a day trip to Valladolid is a must.
Step back in time in this 16th-century city showcasing beautiful colonial architecture.
Valladolid is becoming more popular each year as people prefer to immerse in the culture of the Mayan Riviera and enjoy a quieter pace than the hectic Cancun and Mayan Riveria hotels.
13. Zipline Adventure
We always love a Zipline and if you are looking to up your adventure travel game, you must give it a go.
What makes ziplining unique near Cancun is that you have forest canopies to sipping over Cenotes to choose from!
If you want a fun day off of the resort, head out to one of the zip lining adventures.
14. Scuba Diving
The waters off the coast of Cancun are some of the best in the world for scuba diving. If you want to go beyond snorkeling and give scuba diving a try, there are plenty of places to Discover Scuba Diving.
These waters attract established and professional scuba divers. We loved drift diving in the crystal clear waters.
Since we’ve been, there is now an underwater museus!
Many resorts offer scuba diving instruction and Mexico is an excellent place to become certified in open water!
15. Sailing Trip
We love taking sailing trips and if you want to explore the coast while taking in the sun, sailing is the way to go.
The Mayan Riviera is a beautiful coast and you must get out on the water. Instead of high speed or party boats, get on a sailboat. Sailing trips often include snorkeling too.
This combines two of our favorite things to do in Cancun: Getting on the water and getting in the water!
So there are our picks for the best day trips from Cancun?
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Do you have a favourite recommendation? We go back to the Yucatan regularly and we’re always looking for things to do.
Let us know what we should do next?