25 Awesome things to do in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Looking for Awesome Things to do in Cancun and the Riviera Maya in 2024? 

Welcome to warm Mexico! If you’re planning a trip to the stunning paradise of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, then buckle up because you’re in for a wild and unforgettable ride. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, powdery white sand beaches, and ancient Mayan ruins, this tropical destination has it all. To help you make the most of your time here, we’ve put together a list of 25 awesome things to do. So grab your sunblock, put on your flip-flops, and let’s dive right in!

1- Beach Bumming Bliss:

Let’s start with the obvious one. Relax and soak up the sun on the gorgeous beaches of Cancun and the Riviera Maya. With so many to choose from, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon your own slice of paradise. Some of our local favorite beaches are: Punta Norte in Isla Mujeres, Playa Delfines in Cancun, Punta Esmeralda in Playa del Carmen, Fatima Bay in Puerto Aventuras, Xpu-ha in the Riviera Maya, Akumal Bay, Xcaxel in Chemuyil and the famous Tulum beach, look for the public access close to the ruins.

Playa Delfines, Cancun
Playa Delfines in the hotel zone.

2- Snorkeling Delight:

Strap on your mask and snorkel and dive into the vibrant underwater world of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Get up close and personal with colorful fish, magnificent coral reefs, and maybe even a sea turtle or two. If you are an adventurous snorkeler then the underground cenotes are waiting for you!

Coral Reef in the Riviera Maya
Healthy Coral Reef in the Riviera Maya.

3- Spearfishing in the Caribbean:

If you’re an experienced snorkeler looking for a unique and thrilling adventure, spearfishing in Cancun and the Riviera Maya could be just what you’re looking for. Dive into the warm waters, hone your skills, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this tropical paradise while practicing responsible fishing. Just remember to respect the environment, follow local regulations, and have an amazing time exploring the underwater wonders of the Riviera Maya! Contact us if you need help organizing a trip like this.

practice the most sustainable way of fishing
Spearfishing: the most sustainable way of fishing.

4- Underground Adventures:

Dive into the mystical Cenotes of the Riviera Maya, these natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear freshwater. Swim, cliff-jump, snorkel, or even go cave diving in these unique natural wonders. The most accessible cenotes are located south of Playa del Carmen, right between Puerto Aventuras and Xpu-ha Beach. Some popular cenotes are Chikin-Ha, Kantun Chi, Jardin del Eden, Cenote Cristalino and Azul. If you are near Tulum we recommend you to visit Dos Ojos, Taak Bi Ha, or the new Atik Cenote. Close to Cancun there are cenotes at Puerto Morelos, look for Ruta de los Cenotes.

Tulum Private Tours Riviera Maya Mexico
Cenote in the Riviera Maya.

5- Swim with Whale Sharks:

If you’re visiting during the summer months, don’t miss the chance to swim with gentle giants. Join a tour and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of whale sharks in their natural habitat. You can read our guide: Everything you need to know about Whale Sharks in Cancun.




Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cancun
Whale Shark Private Tour by TheCustomTour.com

Where to swim with whale sharks in Cancun?

6- Coba Ruins in the Jungle:

Hop on a bike or pedicab and go off-road through the lush jungle at Coba. Feel the excitement build as you navigate through rugged terrain and discover hidden Mayan ruins and ancient treasures. This is the perfect Indiana Jones adventure! 

Cancun Best Private Tours in Mexico
Coba Ruins the best jungle adventure.

7- Discover the MUSA:

Scuba dive into the depths of the ocean and visit the Cancun & Isla Mujeres Underwater Museum. Marvel at the incredible sculptures submerged beneath the surface, creating an otherworldly experience. Salon Manchones is located off the coast of Isla Mujeres and it is eight meters deep, therefore recommended for advanced free divers or scuba diving only. If you aren’t certified for Scuba then you can snorkel at the gallery of Punta Nizuc Departing from Cancun.

MUSA Underwater Museum
MUSA Underwater Museum.

8- Island Hopping:

Take a boat trip to the nearby islands of Isla Contoy, Isla Mujeres, Holbox or Cozumel. Snorkel, relax on the beach, and enjoy the laid-back island vibes. You can take the ferry from Chiquila if you wish to relax at Holbox. You can take the ferry from Cancun hotel zone or from Puerto Juarez in case you’re looking to explore the vibrant Isla Mujeres. Catamaran tours often visit Isla Mujeres as part of their itinerary. Cozumel is the largest of the Caribbean islands of Mexico so you can even take a cruise, fly into the international airport of Cozumel or just take the 40 minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. In order to visit Isla Contoy you need to book a tour as there are no other options to get there on your own.

Isla Contoy, protected park
Isla Contoy, paradise island.

9- Kite Surfing at El Cuyo:

Escape the crowds and head to the tranquil island of El Cuyo, relax on pristine beaches, take Kite Surfing lessons and embrace the slow-paced island life. This paradise is still authentic and not crowded. You can visit Las Coloradas (pink lakes) from this quiet town. If you need a recommendation for a Kite Surfing instructor please contact us.

Kitesurfing at El Cuyo
Kitesurfing at El Cuyo

10- Dinner Shows at Xcaret or Cirque du Soleil Joya:

If you’re planning on buying tickets to the Mexican Disneyland then spend a day at Xcaret, an adventure park that combines nature, culture, and tropical vibes. Swim in underground rivers and be mesmerized by a spectacular show at night. You can buy tickets to the Xcaret show only in case you are not interested in spending the day at the park. If you want to avoid the crowded Xcaret park, Cirque du Soleil is the perfect option for entertainment lovers looking for a more intimate experience. You can book tickets to these shows with or without dinner included. 

Xcaret Show
Dinnner Show at Xcaret.

11- Sailing or Fishing in the Caribbean:

Hop aboard a luxury yacht or catamaran and set sail on the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy the sea breeze, try some fishing or go snorkeling, and enjoy a delicious lunch on board. Boats usually depart from the Cancun area and visit Isla Mujeres. For Playa del Carmen and Tulum we recommend the marina located in Puerto Aventuras, Riviera Maya. If you need help planning a private luxury Yacht, fishing charter or  Catamaran feel free to contact us.

Private Luxury Yacht
Private Luxury Yacht by thecustomtour.com

12- Sea Turtles in the wild:

Turtles are swimming and nesting up and down the Riviera Maya coastline. You may find different species of sea turtles while scuba diving or snorkeling. Learn more about sea turtles in Cancun and the Riviera Maya by clicking here. Make sure to book a tour with a responsible tour company and help protect these gentle creatures.

Sea Turtles in Cancun and the Riviera Maya
Sea Turtles in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

13- World famous Chichen Itza:

Embark on a day trip to Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Marvel at the impressive El Castillo pyramid and learn about the fascinating Mayan civilization. We recommend booking a private tour to experience a more relaxing day, and avoid the big tour buses. Everything you need to know about Chichen Itza before you go.

Cancun Best Private Tours in Mexico
Chichen Itza early morning by TheCustomTour.com

14- Tulum Mayan Marvels:

Explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Discover the fascinating history and take in the breathtaking views. Don’t forget to snap a selfie! If you’re looking for a Ruins & Snorkel adventure we recommend booking a private tour with the experts at: Tulum & Turtles Tour.

Tulum Ruins Riviera Maya
Tulum Ruins Riviera Maya

15- Foodie’s Paradise:

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are a food lover’s dream. Indulge in delicious tacos, fresh seafood, and traditional Mexican cuisine. Don’t forget to try some mouthwatering street food! Our favorite food tours in Playa del Carmen and Tulum are with Eating With Carmen. If you are in Playa del Carmen you can check this list of favorite local hotspots.

Food Tours
Taco Tours

16- Golf in paradise:

Cancun and the Riviera Maya boast a variety of golf courses designed by renowned architects, each offering its own unique charm and challenges. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner golfer, you’ll find a course that suits your skill level and provides an enjoyable round of golf.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya boast a variety of golf courses designed by renowned architects, each offering its own unique charm and challenges. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner golfer, you'll find a course that suits your skill level and provides an enjoyable round of golf.
An enjoyable round of golf by the ocean.

17- Scenic Zip-lining:

Get your adrenaline pumping as you fly through the treetops on a thrilling zip-line adventure. Feel the wind in your hair and enjoy the breathtaking jungle views below. Xplor Fuego, in Playa del Carmen, is the largest zip-line park in the area attracting large crowds and big tour buses. If you’re looking for something more relaxed, less crowded and not so commercialized, then we recommend our favorite zip-line park near Tulum: Tankah Pueblo (aka. The Mayan Village).

Ziplines in the Jungle without crowds
Ziplines in the Jungle without crowds

18- Climbing Ancient Ruins:

Feel like a true adventurer climbing the Ek Balam pyramids in the middle of the Yucatan jungle. This Mayan Ruins are off the beaten path, compared to the other main sites in the Riviera Maya. Ek Balam is the place for you if you’re looking for authentic experiences and cultural encounters. Booking a private tour is highly recommended.

Ek Balam Ruins by The Custom Tour
Ek Balam Ruins by The Custom Tour

19- Discover Playa del Carmen:

Take a stroll along La Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, a bustling pedestrian street filled with shops, restaurants, and lively bars. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and people-watching. 

La Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen. It's the perfect blend of shopping, dining, and beachside bliss
La Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen.

20- Dolphins, Crocs and Manatees in the wild:

Explore the vast Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a boat tour through the mangroves, spot wildlife, and discover the hidden beauty of this ecological gem. If you’re looking for dolphins, crocodiles or manatees in the wild this is the perfect excursion for you.

Sian Ka’an is perfect for wildlife watching.

21- Tequila and Mezcal Tasting:

Get a taste of Mexico’s most famous spirit at a tequila tasting. Learn about the different varieties, sample some top-notch tequilas, and raise a glass to your vacation. Try Don Julio 70 for a smooth tequila or 400 Conejos for a smokey Mezcal. For private Mezcal or Tequila tastings please contact us.

Mezcal Tasting
Mezcal Tasting with chapulines.

23- A relaxing day at the Spa:

Whether you choose to visit a spa within your luxury resort or venture out to a standalone wellness center, you can expect professional therapists, serene atmospheres, and top-notch service. Many spas also offer additional amenities such as yoga classes, fitness centers, and healthy dining options to complement your spa experience. So, get ready to melt away your stress and let the soothing ambiance of the spas transport you to a state of pure tranquility.

Cenote Spa at Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen
Cenote Spa at the Grand Hyatt.

23- Pink Lakes at Las Coloradas:

Embark on a road-trip through the Yucatan Peninsula. If you’re looking for some bird watching and flamingos in the wild, Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos are the perfect day-trip for you. We recommend renting a car or a driver for the day.

Las Coloradas Yucatan
Las Coloradas,Yucatan.

24- Sunrise at Isla Mujeres:

Rise early and drive your rental golf cart to Punta Sur and witness a breathtaking sunrise over the majestic Caribbean Sea.

Isla Mujeres Punta Sur
Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres.

25- Nightlife Extravaganza:

Cancun is famous for its buzzing nightlife scene. Dance the night away at one of the many clubs, sip on tasty cocktails, and party till dawn. Playa del Carmen also offers good nightlife on Calle 12. Tulum is also famous for the electronic party scene. Remember to pace yourself! 

Playa del Carmen Private Tours by The Custom Tour
Cancun and Playa del Carmen Nightlife.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

There you have it, folks: 25 incredible things to do in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. From beach bliss to ancient wonders, this Mexican paradise has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. If you found this article to be helpful please share with a friend and feel free to leave us a comment below. 

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