The truth is that Cancun is not a destination that caught our attention, but it is the gateway to the Yucatan Peninsula and since our flight arrived there, we decided to spend a few days exploring. Did it manage to captivate us? Yes and no. It’s a wonderful place to get over jet lag, relax on the beach and try your first taste of Mexican food (albeit at almost hurtful prices). But it commits the sins of any crowded destination. To learn more about the place, in this post we reveal 20 things to see and do in Cancun, as well as the best excursions.
If you want more information, visit our Fishing the Riviera Maya All-you-need-to-know Travel Guide.
First, let us tell you that Cancun is divided into two parts. The first is the city of Cancun, where the common people live and which offers more authentic places. And south of the city stretches a 25 km road, bordered on one side by a lagoon and on the other by long stretches of beach. This is what is known as the hotel zone and where most of the accommodation and large hotels are concentrated.
What to see and do in Cancun
1. The Best Beaches in Cancun
All travellers (or almost all) arrive in Cancun with one mission: to enjoy the beaches (that is, if the sargasso allows it). Ok, but what are the best beaches in Cancun?
And I’m sure there are many more, as Cancun has about 20 km of beaches (not to mention the nearby islands). We stayed in the northern part (at Kin Ha, in an Airbnb for about 40€ a night) and the beach here was smaller, but the water was calmer than the beaches further south.
What is Sargassum?
Sargassum is a macroalgae characterised by its greenish-brown colour and slightly unpleasant smell. It is a real plague that has hit the Riviera Maya in recent years. The causes are environmental and the problem is that Sargassum multiplies rapidly and uncontrollably. Why are there Sargassum plagues? Essentially because of global warming, which increases the temperature of the water, and the over-fertilisation of the water.
2. The all-inclusive Resorts
The experience of staying in one of their famous all-inclusive resorts, even if it is only for a day. We are not a big fan of these resorts, but a little treat like this once in a while never hurts anyone, you only live once!
3. Visit the City of Cancun
But don’t make the mistake of not getting out. Give the city of Cancun a chance, the less touristy area is possibly the most authentic and you should visit it too. A good place to breathe in the local atmosphere is the Parque de las Palapas, where you can also eat well and very cheaply.
4. The Nightlife
If you like to go out at night, a mythical place is the CocoBongo. For us, the disco years are far behind us and we didn’t go, but it’s a good plan if you’re into that sort of thing. OK, we’re two grandpas, but we still don’t play cards in the bars in town. Only from time to time though.
5. The Archaeological Sites
Not many people know this, but there are three archaeological sites in Cancun: San Miguelito (70 pesos), El Rey (55 pesos) and the Temple of Alacrán Yamil Lu’um (free). If you plan to visit other Mayan ruins like Chichén Itzá or Cobá and Tulum, we don’t think it’s worth the trip. But it is always nice to get closer to the memories of past cultures.
6. El Castillo Ruins
Perhaps the most important in this area is the archaeological site of El Meco, north of Cancun, where the ruins of “El Castillo”, a pyramid with 5 levels and a height of 17 metres, stand out. The visit can be done on your own (55 pesos), but is also included in this complete tour of Cancun with guide.
7. Shopping Centers
If you want to take a break from the beach and fancy a bit of shopping (even if only visual), you can go to one of the shopping centres, such as Plaza las Americas (in Cancun city) or La Isla Shopping Village (in the hotel zone), where there are lakeside restaurants (watch out for crocodiles) and a huge panoramic Ferris wheel.
8. Playa Delfines
Take a city bus (see below for more information) and go to Playa Delfines to take a photo with the famous colourful “Cancun” sign. If you don’t want to wait in line, go early!
Are you in a lazy mood and want to spend a few intense but well-organised days? A short tour through Yucatan is perfect for you 😉.
Fishing in Cancun
Cancun isn’t only renowned for its all-inclusive five star resorts, stunning white sand beaches and extravagant nightlife. It also offers a great fishing destination with outstanding inshore and offshore conditions.
For offshore fishing it is one of the best places for Billfish, Tuna, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi. Whilst Bonefish, Jack Crevalle, Tarpon, Permit and Snook are the top species when inshore fishing. Find more information on fishing in Cancun here!