chichen itza

The Best Cancun Day Trips

Located at the Yucatán Peninsula, Cancun is known for its fantastic nightlife and lavish resorts. However, Cancun is not limited to only these two things and has a wide range of things to offer.

There are beautiful wild beaches, awe-inspiring archaeological sites, thrilling water sports, and the most remarkable theme parks to enjoy outside of the “tourist zone”.

You don’t have to be trapped in a resort for your whole vacation!  Here are some of the best locations to cover in a day trip from Cancun:

Chichen Itza

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Not many party people and spring breakers realize they are very close to some of the world’s most important ancient places while in Cancun. Chichen Itza is located in Tinicum Municipality, Yucatan State.

It is Mexico’s most important historical landmark, and UNESCO considers it one of the largest Mayan cities ever constructed. Visit here if you wish to have a glimpse of the sacred Maya Culture.

In this ruined city, you will come across some beautiful Maya temples, and intriguing Maya architectural structures.

A large number of them have survived intact, and they include a Warriors’ Temple, an observatory known as El Caracol, and El Castillo – a perfect step pyramid.  

Another famous artifact to be found here is the Mayan football game stone ring – this is a very early version of something like basketball.

It’s worth it to really take the time to explore Chichen Itza to fully take in the architectural wonder of this monumental stone city.


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Tulum is a beautiful coastal town, and one of the very last port cities built by the Maya civilization. If you want to visit amazing archeological sites, this is the right place to be. The ancient ruins look over turquoise waters and beautiful beaches.

It is 1 hour and 40 minutes away from Cancun and 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen. In addition to the cultural heritage sites, you can find many cafes and places to have a delicious lunch here.

You can also see Mayan spiritual sites in the caverns of LabnaHa – an Ecological Park. There are also other cenotes and caves to explore and actually snorkel in. Forget a day trip – make it two days if you can!

Tulum also features the Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park, an adventure park that offers jungle adventures including rappelling, diving, and snorkeling. You can easily catch a bus or an organized tour from Cancun.


Xel-Ha is a phenomenal ecological theme park with exotic birds and beautiful orchids. It’s a theme park and an ecological preserve in one.  

Here, you can get the excitement of floating on a zip line through a mangrove forest. Travelers can swim with a variety of tropical fish, or just relax in a hammock. Xel-Ha is 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Cancun.


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Situated 76 km away from Cancun, Xcaret is a sister theme park of Xel-Ha. Although they’re sister parks, their offerings are very different.

Xcaret is located in a beautiful setting encompassing an underground river, a coral reef aquarium, sandy beaches, and even some Mayan ruins.

You can indulge in a range of activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, or even swimming in the underground river. You may also try some unusual activities like walking through a butterfly pavilion, exploring a bat cave, or watching a pre-hispanic ball game.

Whale Shark Snorkeling

Whale Sharks are one of the largest fish in the world and getting an opportunity to swim with them is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Between the months of May and September, the Yucatan coast attracts a large population of whale sharks.

Places like Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox offer snorkeling equipment as well as boat rides to provide a chance to swim with these giants or witness them from the boat.

Isla Mujeres

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Isla Mujeres is a small island that is only about 4.3 miles, but it’s an ideal location for a day trip from Cancun. This tiny, sleepy island is perfect for those who seek to enjoy some peace and quiet, or maybe a lazy swim.

If you are lucky, you will also get to snorkel with the sea turtles. One can also find some amazing restaurants and bars. However, the main highlight of this island is its reefs.

After all, the reefs around the Yucatan are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

History lovers can enjoy exploring the Mayan Ruins at Punta Sura and 19th-century Hacienda Mundaca. Nature enthusiasts can find a room for themselves at the Turtle Farm, the Sanctuary of endangered Sea Turtles, or the hatchery. If you are looking for a mixture of exploration and relaxation, Isla Mujeres is an apt spot.

Xplor Park

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There is no better place than Xplor Park for adventure lovers. 75 Km away from Cancun, this jungle playground is situated at the heart of Riviera Maya. It is surrounded by lush green rainforests and has a cave complex of its own.

Xplor Park is famous for providing unforgettable experiences to its visitors – a wild adrenaline rush is guaranteed.

You can slide through the zip lines, paddle rafts, drive an amphibious vehicle through the jungle, explore the underground rock formations, and indulge in all sorts of thrilling activities.

After all the fun and frolic, you can satisfy the appetite you’ve no doubt built up.

Xplor provides an exquisite buffet and delicious beverages to savor after an exciting day. If you are planning to go to Xplor Park in the high season, make sure you make the booking in advance – it gets quite busy!

Take a Break From the Resorts

Even though resorts in Cancun are famous for their comfort and fine dining, it’s nice to take some time to explore. Fun day trips are guaranteed to wake you up and get you moving!

And if you thought that Cancun was only about the party scene – think again. There are more than enough places to keep you amazed when it comes to unique natural wonders and ancient treasures. Next time you’re here, don’t forget to explore beyond the confines of your hotel.

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