Five best day trips from Cancun

Best 10 Day Trips from Cancun, Mexico

Cancun has great hotels and terrific nightlife, not to mention stunning beaches, but it’s just the gateway to the Mayan world. There are water parks, nature reserves, and archaeological sites that you really shouldn’t miss. Even if your main interest is to relax and unwind, you should still visit some of these day trips to Cancun during your stay.

Chichen Itza

Named one of the wonders of the New World, this pre-Hispanic city has been the political, religious and military center of the Yucatan Peninsula for centuries. Admire the amazing Mayan art and architecture of this ancient city. Hire a guide to fully appreciate the archaeological excavations. Chichen Itza is 125 miles from Cancun, two to three hours away, about halfway between Cancun and Merida. If you go on your own, take care to arrive early before tourist groups enjoy the site with fewer people.

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Tulum was once a busy Mayan ceremonial center and trading port. The ruins are in a picturesque location on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The archaeological sites in Tulum are small, consisting of about 60 buildings, and can be viewed in about two hours. Tulum’s beach is perhaps the most beautiful in Mexico. Tulum is located 72 miles south of Cancun. A visit to Tulum can be combined with a visit to Xel-Ha (see Next item on the list) for a full day excursion.


Xel-Ha is an aquatic theme park where interconnected freshwater lagoons combine with saltwater streams to create a unique ecosystem with many tropical fish. It’s a great place for kids and beginner snorkelers. Other activities include swimming along the river on inner tubes, swinging over the cenotes and swimming with dolphins. If you get tired of being in the water, you can take an eco-hiking tour of the surrounding jungle. Xel-Ha is 68 miles south of Cancun.

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Playa del Carmen.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Playa del Carmen has become a cosmopolitan city, now the largest on the Riviera Maya. If you’re interested in shopping, nightlife and fine restaurants, this is the place, but the beach is also appealing. Go for a day or, better yet, an evening stroll down Quinta Avenida and admire the stores and people watching. Playa del Carmen is about 35 miles south of Cancun.


This is a unique ecological theme park with water sports, archaeological digs, a recreated Mayan village and jungle trails. You can spend a full day at Xcaret! You can swim in the underground rivers, snorkel, see a reenactment of a pre-Hispanic ball game, visit ancient Mayan ruins, and end the day by watching the spectacular cultural show that takes place every night. Xcaret is just under an hour south of Cancun, about 40 miles.

06 out of 10.

Sian Ka’an Ecological Reserve

One of the largest protected areas in Mexico, Sian Ka’an has about 1.3 million acres of unspoiled natural beauty with undiscovered Mayan ruins, freshwater canals, mangroves, lagoons and bays. Visitors can learn about its diverse wildlife and take part in conservation projects. Ecological tours of the reserve are offered, as well as kayaking and fly-fishing tours. The Sian Ka’an Ecological Reserve begins just south of Tulum.

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Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres is a 5-mile long island with a tranquil atmosphere. It’s a great place to relax by the water or enjoy a meal at one of the oceanfront restaurants. There are many options for snorkeling, or you can rent a golf cart or scooter to explore the island. Attractions include Turtle Farm, Garrafon Park, and Contoy Island nearby. You can reach Isla Mujeres by ferry from the Cancun hotel area in about 20 minutes.

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The largest island in the Mexican Caribbean Sea is a short ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. It is one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving, with clear water providing visibility up to 200 feet. The center of the island is mostly undeveloped jungle and lagoons with many endemic species of small animals and birds. Chankanaab National Park has a botanical garden with tropical plants and the Chankanaab Lagoon, a natural aquarium with more than 60 species of tropical fish, crustaceans and corals.

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This fishing village is a good place for windsurfing and snorkeling and is also a popular place to swim with sea turtles. You can rent boats for sport fishing or a diving instructor to take you to the closest reefs. At the Environmental Center, you can hire a guide to take you through the jungle to learn about the local flora and fauna. There are beach restaurants with great seafood along the beach. Akumal is located 62 miles south of Cancun.

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It is one of the largest Mayan archaeological sites, although only a few of its approximately 6,500 structures have been excavated. Coba was the center of a complex network of roads and was probably an important trade link between Maya outposts on the coast and the cities within. The tallest pyramid, Nohuch Mul, has 120 steps–if you don’t suffer from vertigo, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the jungle from above. Koba is 95 miles from Cancun.

Five best day trips from Cancun

Tired of bumming around on the beach? Go and discover the Yucatan Peninsula!

Ah, the Yucatan Peninsula. It was once the cradle of the Mayan civilization and home to some of the oldest cities in all of Mesoamerica. Today, it’s one of the best places in Mexico for beach lovers and luxury seekers looking to discover some of the country’s most iconic Caribbean sites.

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Five best day trips from Cancun

For most tourists, the main vacation destination is fantastic Cancun , where beer bars and bamboo clubs can dance to rousing rhythms until the early morning hours and then lounge on the beaches during the day. It’s easy to see why Cancun, with its glistening white sands and endless stream of entertainment, is one of the most developed luxury resorts in the world.

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Five best day trips from Cancun

But there is so much more to see on this cape of the Caribbean Sea, and those thinking about breaking out of the Cancun rhythm and recuperating should definitely consider one of these truly stunning day trips out of town!

Chichen Itza: 1.2 million visitors a year can’t go wrong!

Located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula and certified by UNESCO. The city of Chichen Itza attracts over a million visitors a year, making it one of the most frequently visited archaeological sites in all of Mesoamerica.

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Chichen Itza: 1.2 million visitors a year can’t go wrong!

Its popularity is well deserved. A complex of giant stepped pyramids, ancient monoliths with lichen and magnificent temples with columns. It is second to none, not to mention that it is one of the best places with wonderful Mayan architecture. Simply put, it is not to be missed!

Dive back in time and relax on charming Cosumel

Perfect Cosumel is a place of year-round summer temperatures, shimmering coastal waters, and long, curving white sand beaches backed by sloping palm trees. Yucatans come here to relax, sip rum cocktails and swim in the turquoise sea. Find yourself in the wonderful jungle and shady palm groves where you can find bars and restaurants.

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Dive back in time and relax on charming Cosumel

Mayan ruins in Tulum and the cliffs of Quintana Roo

While Chichen Itza is considered the undisputed “king” of the Yucatán Peninsula list, its little brother to the south is still “hitting it hard.” Tulum may not have the soaring terraced pyramids of Kukulcan and De Los Guerreros, but it proudly “sits” on the rocky cliffs of the Mexican coast, washed by the turquoise waves of the Caribbean Sea. It is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque archaeological sites in the region, and a real must for any traveler interested in Mesoamerican history.

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Mayan ruins in Tulum and the cliffs of Quintana Roo

For nature lovers, the preserve at Sian Ka’an

Just a short drive from the archeological site of Tulum and just over three hours from Cancun itself, another of the great sites of the Yucatan Peninsula that sits on the Mexican coast. The reserve covers nearly 325,000 hectares . Dense mangroves and tropical forests make it one of the most magnificent and natural habitats in the region, where visitors, spot such elusive creatures as the South American puma and the wild Caribbean ocelot!

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For nature lovers, the preserve at Sian Ka’an

Stylish and fashionable Playa Del Carmen

Located less than an hour south of Cancun. Between fashionistas strolling the streets of Quinta Avenida and the sparkling sandy beaches of the Yucatan, visitors to this sleek and chic getaway enjoy one of the most popular cities in the region. Today, Italian and European coffee shops surround a central neighborhood filled with happy faces and Versace champagne lovers. Nearby, colorful coastal coral reefs teem with tropical sea life, and crystal-clear water shimmers under the Mexican sun.

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Stylish and fashionable Playa Del Carmen

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