Day Trips from Cancun and the Riviera Maya
Collected by Michelle da Silva Richmond, AFAR Local Expert
No matter where you go, you'll find much to do in this area. Archaeological sites such as Tulúm and Cobá are a draw for some, while other visitors prefer to explore tangled jungles, mysterious cenotes and natural aquariums such as Xel Há or frolick with gentle whale sharks. There are no wrong choices here.
Carretera Federal & Cancún - Chetumal Km 230 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
While not as large as other ancient Mayan cities in the region, Tulum draws in visitors for its stunning setting of centuries-old temples perched on a cliff by the Caribbean Sea. You’ll pass a large market with souvenirs, a casual Mexican...
Carretera Chetúmal-Puerto Juárez Kilómetro 282, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Each May since 2007, the area has been reenacting La Travesía Sagrada Maya (Sacred Maya Journey), a ritual which was conducted for more than 1,000 years by the ancient Maya. Tracing the steps of their ancestors, current inhabitants of the area...
Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juárez Km 240, locales 1 & 2, módulo B, 77780 Q.R., Mexico
Xel-Há is one of the area's most popular attractions. The name identifies both the archaeological site and the ecotourism marine park and the site attracts hundreds of visitors from around the world, throughout the year. Ceremonial centers and...
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Just when it seemed like the Riviera Maya Riviera had become nothing but a sea of all-inclusive beach resorts, you stumble upon the quaint little Mexican village of Puerto Morelos. There are almost no huge developments, no shopping outlets, and no...
La Gloria, Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
If you're not a fan of huge resorts and big hotels, Isla Mujeres is the perfect getaway from Cancun. Just catch the ferry to the island located 13km to the northeast of Cancun. The ferry ride in itself is enjoyable, as you float over shallow reefs...
Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Isla Mujeres, home to a protected sea turtle hatching area, is the perfect place to visit for nature lovers. The turtle hatchery is dedicated to their conservation and ensures the population is sustained. The small place is typically crowd-free...
Central Commercial Marina 2A, 77750 Puerto Aventuras, Q.R., Mexico
At first I thought he was dead, lying in the sand motionless, his massive shell covered in barnacles. I floated above him for a few moments. He must have felt my presence and, like Rip Van Winkle waking from his nap, this ancient loggerhead sea...
Sagitario, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Located near the Maya ruins of Tulum, Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an (CESiaK) is a nature lover's paradise. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and established in 1986 as part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, it is the largest protected...
Isla Contoy, Quintana Roo, Mexico
An easy day trip from Cancun, Isla Contoy is a small island nature reserve with beautiful beaches and more than 100 species of birds. Bird watching tours can be arranged through travel agencies and hotels, as the island is uninhabited, and...
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Just eight miles across the water from Cancun proper, Isla Mujeres was once relatively unknown among tourists. But for some 1000 years, Isla Mujeres was a sanctuary dedicated to the Maya goddess Ixchel. In recent years, it has become a sanctuary...
Malecón, 8, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
If you think that a beach can't get much more beautiful or romantic than Cancun, then hop on a boat and take a trip across the water to one of Cancun's outer islands. Isla Mujeres is a good choice. Though no longer the best-kept secret it once...
Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
A visit to old Mayan Ruins is a must when you are vacationing in Tulum. It's a perfect trip to sneak in some history and activity without too much effort and without loosing sight of ocean and the beach. Being built in 13th century Tulum Ruins...
Carretera Federal Cancún-Tulum, km 1266.8, Puerto Aventuras, 77734 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Swim in a mystical cenote believed to be the gateway to the Underworld by the ancients. These subterranean rivers, formed by the last Ice Age, are said to be sacred and are guarded by aluxes, or elves whose permission is needed to enter their...
Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo, Mexico
This tiny island is north of Isla Mujeres and Cancun and is only 26 miles long and offers visitors in search of a "Robinson Crusoe" experience the perfect escape. Long, sweeping beaches beckon with water sports, snorkeling, sport fishing, and...
Boca de paila Km 5.5, 77766 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Rustic luxury is the vibe at Amansala, where all accommodations are cabana-style. How rustic? Well, lights go out at 11 each night, after which time candles provide illumination. Ocean breezes do the work that is relegated to air-conditioners at...
Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
We love this little island... It's only the 12th time we visit and it does not get old. It's laid-back, friendly, authentic, relaxing, and yummie. Just a boat ride from Cancun, but don't come just for the day trip and buffet on the beach. Come to...
México 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Tulum, Mexico, is a magical place that has never yet seemed to be to crowded or overrun. It is the smaller sister of Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. The whole area is made of limestone and lowland jungle with amazing, crystal-clear...
Carretera Cancún -Tulum Km 282, Puerto Juarez, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
The Riviera Maya’s most beautifully styled adventure park begins with a reception area inside a natural cave. Tours here include Latin America’s highest zip lines over the tropical forest, amphibious vehicles you drive through caves...
Cerrada Las Golondrinas 24, Alfredo Bonfil, 77560 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Located off the coast of Cancun, the Cancun Underwater Museum features more than 500 sculptures scattered across the ocean floor, allowing art lovers a unique perspective personal while snorkeling or scuba diving. Since 2010, sculptures have been...
Playa Xcalacoco Frac 7, Riviera Maya, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
The Viceroy Riviera Maya is a 41- villa resort set on the sugary-white-sand beach along the Riviera Maya. Surrounded by a lush jungle ambiance dotted with dense with ferns, palms and guava trees, it offers a luxurious retreat for guests 16 and...
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