Sometimes, you need a vacation in the traditional sense – relaxing somewhere warm and coastal, without a care in the world. Mexico, and Cancun in particular, can deliver this kind of refreshing experience. When you have a rental car at your command, you can see the many attractions in Cancun and the surrounding area. Whether you want to try out somewhere new every single day of your trip or are more interested in focusing on a few favorites, you won’t be bored south of the border.
Here are just a few Cancun parks, attractions and areas to check out when you’re in Mexico. The experiences on offer range from peaceful natural sightseeing to adventure trips, and you’re sure to find something that suits your interests.
When you have your whole family in tow, Ventura Park is a can’t-miss destination. This adventure park is one of the latest attractions near Cancun, and it contains themed areas, each promising a unique kind of fun.
Wet ‘n Wild Water Park is packed with waterslides and other water activities. Aah! Ventura is the spot for zip line rides and aerial attractions. Fun World is for kid friendly rides, Underworld is a high-tech arcade and Grand Prix is a go kart track by the seaside. Dolphinaris gives visitors a chance to swim with dolphins and get up close with these loveable marine mammals. There’s so much to do at Ventura Park that you will likely need more than 24 hours to see it all.
Another of the adventure parks near Cancun, Xplor Fuego, offers a range of outdoor activities for thrill-seekers to enjoy, such as impressively tall zip lines that rise above the trees. You can get behind the wheel of an amphibious vehicle designed to zip through caves and across bridges, traveling down a breathtaking torchlit track.
There are multiple underground water experiences for you to discover at Xplor Fuego. Rafting trips let you paddle by hand through a stalactite-lined cave system. If you want to get even closer, you can forego the raft and take a swimming expedition among the rock formations. The hammock splash is a more fast-paced way to dive into the water: This ride consists of a modified hammock mounted on a zip line, dropping you into the placid waters of a cenote at night.
Not all the park attractions near Cancun are designed for fast-paced thrills. Some of the region’s most notable and enjoyable sights are ancient structures dating back thousands of years to when the great cities of the Mayan empire dotted the landscape. Chichen Itza is one of the largest of these archeological wonders, with 17 Mayan buildings across a single complex which illuminate the lives of the ancient residents of the Yucatán peninsula.
At Chichen Itza, you can discover unique, fascinating and well-preserved stone structures, including a playing court for a Mayan ball game and El Caracol, an observatory where ancient astronomers watched the skies. The Pyramid of Kukulkan is the centerpiece of the area, and is designed to catch the light perfectly during the vernal and autumnal solstices, drawing viewers from around the world.
The Isla Mujeres is a gorgeous island destination, with beaches, nature parks and other must-visit destinations for you to explore. The Playa Norte on the north side of the island is one of the most renowned beaches in Mexico. You could spend a whole day relaxing under the palm trees and not feel like you’ve wasted a single minute of that time. Elsewhere on the island, you can stroll the grounds of the ruined Hacienda Mundaca, once the home base of pirate Fermin Mundaca.
The MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum is one of the most unique sites near Isla Mujeres. Designed to protect the local coral reefs, the installation of submerged art pieces is visible up close to divers and also visible from glass-bottomed boats. The Tortuga Granja is a turtle farm and aquarium tasked with preserving sea life in the area.
Playa Del Carmen
The city of Playa Del Carmen, one of the fastest-growing destinations in Mexico, is home to its own assortment of fun and exciting things to see. When you have a rental car for a weekend, you can drive the 42 miles from Cancun and discover beloved Playa Del Carmen attractions such as Xcaret, an outdoor eco park that allows visitors to meet sea life such as sharks and rays.
The underground river and cave system Rio Secreto provides another amazing setting for a day trip, with the hidden caverns and crevices promising unique and unspoiled views. If you’re an experienced diver, you can take a ferry to the nearby island of Cozumel and delve down to a large and vibrant coral reef, home to over 150 species of sea life.
Riviera Maya, the region that contains Playa del Carmen, contains other exciting attractions within driving distance of Cancun. You can spend a day or more exploring the city of Tulum or set aside a whole week to stay in one of the all-inclusive resorts up and down the coast. Tulum is well known for a distinctive set of Myan ruins, and the jungle site of Coba is home to the highest pyramid in the region, topping out at 120 steps and 137 feet. The Mayan village of Rancho Felipe serves as a center of cultural education.
The outdoor life in the Riviera Maya region is exciting and varied. You can explore the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to see the local fauna up close, or dive into a fresh-water cenote. Xplor Park, sister to Xplor Fuego, is a top destination for high-excitement thrills such as diving, zip lining and jet skiing.
…And Many More!
There are so many things to do, sights to see and places to go around Cancun that no one trip can cover them all. After your first vacation in the region, whether you focus on thrills, relaxation or a combination of both, you’ll come home with plenty of ideas about what to do the next time you venture down to Mexico. There’s more than one way to have a true Cancun experience, and each visit can offer its own unique perspective.