What To Do In Cancun: 5 Fun Non-Beach Activities

Written by Joel
Posted in: Destinations
With Cancun tag(s)

For many, Cancun conjures images of pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife, but this Mexican paradise has a rich tapestry of experiences that go beyond the stereotypical tourist attractions. If you’re not sure what to do in Cancun, read on for 5 fun non-beach activities that will connect you with the culture and teach you about the local history.

Immersive Cultural Experiences

You, like many, cherish experiences that not only tantalize the senses but also enrich the soul. Cancun’s historical marvels offer a glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization. Beyond the bustling hotel zones, explore the breathtaking Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza or Tulum, where the echoes of a bygone era still reverberate through time.

One of my hobbies is visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites, so when I was looking for ideas for what to do in Cancun on a recent visit, I chose a tour of Chichen Itza with a Cenote, that included a traditional lunch. Having some experience with exploring ruins in the heat, I suggest choosing a tour with early access which will let you explore while it’s still relatively cool before taking a swim in a Cenote — a naturally formed well.

Ikkil Cenote - Cancun

Choose a tour with a guide to get the most of your visit. Our guide talked about how Chichen Itza played a role in Mayan history and continues to be an important landmark for the local Maya population. Gaining an understanding of the mythology, stone carvings, and pyramids will shape your understanding of this ancient civilization.

The tour I took, linked above, included the chance to swim in a Cenote and a delicious buffet style lunch featuring ingredients from local farmers and included an optional tequila tasting. For me, this tour checked all my boxes: history, culture, food, and fun.

A few things to be aware of with a tour like this are the physical requirements, local taxes, and any limitations regarding taking pictures or video. My day at the ruins wasn’t extremely physically demanding, but it wouldn’t have been good for anyone in a wheelchair or requiring assistance. The cost of admission was included in the price of the tour (it isn’t always, make sure you are clear on the inclusions!) but we did have to pay a tax when we arrived. Finally, you may be surprised to learn that a fee may be required to take pictures or, in my case, video.

Whichever tour you decide to take, make sure you understand what is included in the cost to avoid any surprises.

Educational Adventures

When you want to broaden your horizons, add swimming with whale sharks to your list of what to do in Cancun. Whale sharks are earth’s largest fish and feed on plankton so they’re completely harmless to humans… But if you choose to keep that fact from your friends, I’ll never tell!

Whale sharks migrate past the Yucatan between mid-May and mid-September every year and provide a learning experience you’ll never forget. For families who value broadening their children’s horizons, Cancun presents a unique opportunity.

Swim with whale sharks in Cancun
Swim with whale sharks in Cancun Photo <a href=httpsunsplashcommikeliaophotographyutm content=creditCopyTextutm medium=referralutm source=unsplash>Mike L<a>

Cancun has activities that will excite even the most adventurous adrenaline junkies. For example, soar through the trees on a series of ziplines, test your balance as you navigate ropes courses and hanging bridges, or trade your zipline harness for an ATV where you’ll pass through a forest on rugged trails.

Wondering What To Do In Cancun? Embrace Culture

Cancun is more than a box to check off on your list of places to visit and more than a party and spring break destination. It’s a place with diverse experiences for every visitor. What fuels my passion for traveling is the desire to interact with and learn from different cultures. The last two “must experience” activities on your “what to do in Cancun” list are a lot of fun.

Take Salsa and Bachata dance lessons! In my case, some liquid courage was required to loosen up my hips, but if you’re interested in learning something from a different culture, this is the way to do it! At the end of your lesson you’ll be dancing like a local even if you’ve got two left feet!

Take salsa dancing lessons
Take salsa lessons in Cancun Photo by <a href=httpsunsplashcommitchorrutm content=creditCopyTextutm medium=referralutm source=unsplash>Mitchell Orr<a>

At the top of my list of things to do in Cancun is cooking classes. Finding an amazing restaurant that serves Mexican classics is great but there is something special about learning about the culture, hearing stories, and making a meal from scratch that is even more fun. I take cooking classes everywhere I go because it’s a chance to meet people who are interested in food, cooking, and fun; and lets face it, it’s more fun to completely mess up a recipe with a group of new friends.

So, to the adventurers, the curious minds, and the families yearning for memorable journeys—Cancun awaits, ready to redefine your vacation expectations. Remember, the key to unlocking Cancun’s hidden gems lies in embracing the unknown and being willing to venture beyond the obvious.

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