16 Unique Things to Do in Cancun, Mexico


7 min read
A crystal ocean with sand, palm trees, and buildings to the side under a blue sky
Cancun is a tourist hotspot that offers a range of unique activities to try

Cancun, located in the state of Quintana Roo, is a popular tourist destination. The beach paradise features an array of fun attractions and things to do for kids and adults. From relaxing on stunning white sand beaches to trying adventure activities and water sports, you won't get bored when visiting this Mexican location!

Along with classic tourist activities, you can discover many unique things to do in Cancun, Mexico. These unusual attractions range from an underwater museum where you snorkel between exhibits to a theme park with caves to swim through. No matter what you enjoy doing while on vacation, these 16 exciting activities are sure to make your trip more memorable and adventurous!

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16 Unusual Things to Do in Cancun

Cancún Things to Do Map

Using the map of Cancún things to do, you can explore all the things to do.

© ratherton via Depositphotos
Statues underwater with greenery growing on them
Snorkeling around the Cancun Underwater Museum is a highly unique experience

Snorkel around exhibits at the Cancun Underwater Museum

The fascinating Cancun Underwater Museum is just what it sounds like! It’s a museum that’s housed completely underwater. To view the museum displays, you must snorkel beneath the ocean.

You can find many tour operators offering snorkel tours of the Underwater Museum, which include boat rides to and from the attraction and snorkel gear. Once under the water, you’ll discover over 500 sculptures. Along with being an interesting attraction, the sculptures act as an area for coral growth and as a shelter to marine creatures.

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Feed turtles at the Tortugranja Turtle Conservation Center

Located on Isla Mujeres, just a short boat ride from Cancun, the Tortugranja Turtle Conservation Center is a turtle rehabilitation center that’s open to the public. At the center, you can see a range of turtles, including babies and an albino turtle.

You can also buy food for the creatures and will learn more about the center’s conservation efforts. While it doesn’t take long to explore the conservation center, visiting is a fun experience that’s worth the trip.

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Another of the unique things to do in Cancun, Mexico, is visiting Chichen Itza
Visiting Chichen Itza is another of the unique things to do in Cancun, Mexico

Visit the renowned Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is the largest of Mexico’s Mayan Ruins and is one of the most important archeological sites in the country. The ruins are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are a must-see landmark in North America.

One of the cool things to do in Cancun, Mexico, is to stay at the ruins until nighttime when there’s a light and sound show called Kukulkan Nights. At this event, the Great Pyramid of El Castillo is lit up with different colored patterns, allowing for a unique view of the landmark.

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Swim with whale sharks

Whale sharks are a gentle species of shark that don’t pose any danger to humans. The water surrounding Cancun is one of this creature’s main habitats, and swimming with the sharks is a fun thing to do when on vacation in Cancun.

You’ll get to swim up close with these animals and will likely spot sea turtles, tropical fish, and dolphins too. Swimming with whale sharks is also an ideal activity for families visiting Cancun with kids.

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A coral reef under the ocean with purple coral in the front
Cancun features many beautiful coral reefs to snorkel around

Explore coral reefs on a scuba diving trip

Cancun’s oceans are home to beautiful coral reefs, tropical fish, and other marine life. Scuba diving when in the area is, therefore, a must! You can find an array of scuba diving tours to try that will allow you to see these underwater features up close.

Best of all, guides are used to diving with all ability levels, from beginners to experienced divers. Once under the ocean, you can see colorful fish, sea turtles, and much more. Many tours will also take cool underwater pictures for you.

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© czuber via Depositphotos
People standing outside Coco Bongo nightclub that's covered with bright signs
Coco Bongo is one of the most exciting nightclubs in Cancun

Party at Coco Bongo

Partying at Coco Bongo is one of the many cool things to do in Cancun, Mexico. It’s also one of the most fun things to do at night in Cancun. This nightclub hosts amazing DJs, and there are various other live shows and performances to watch.

While you can just turn up to the club, purchasing Coco Bongo tickets in advance is recommended. These tickets provide entrance to the club, and even access to an open bar. Spending the night dancing, drinking, and having fun at Coco Bongo is an incredible experience!

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Visit Xplor theme park

Xplor is an exciting jungle theme park that features eco-attractions as opposed to traditional theme park rides. Activities you can try include ziplining, swimming in caves and cenotes, and riding ATVs.

If you’re looking for some activities to try at night, Xplor Fuego allows you to enjoy all the attractions of Xplor after dark. When visiting Xplor via an arranged tour, you’ll also have access to a delicious buffet lunch or dinner.

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A beach with umbrellas and greenery and ocean crashing onto the shore
Playa Delfines is a stunning beach to relax on, and you may spot dolphins

See dolphins at Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines is a stunning white sand beach located within the hotel zone. The beach also features calm, shallow waters and lots of space to relax.

Fun things to do at Playa Delfines include sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. This beautiful beach is also the perfect place to see dolphins, hence its name, which translates to “Dolphin Beach.” You’re almost guaranteed to spot them from the shore, and boats from Playa Delfines allow you to get even closer to these animals.

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Turquoise water with boats on it and small buildings with red roofs behind them
Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island that's well worth visiting

Sail to Isla Mujeres on a catamaran

Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island close to Cancun. One of the Non-touristy things to do in Cancun is hopping aboard a catamaran to reach this stunning destination. On your catamaran trip to Isla Mujeres, you can admire the scenic ocean views as you enjoy drinks from an onboard open bar.

Once on the island, you can explore downtown and swim and snorkel in the crystal clear waters. You'll also be treated to a buffet lunch before sailing back to Cancun.

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Wander around the San Miguelito Ruins

The San Miguelito Ruins, or San Miguelito Archeological Site, is another set of Mayan Ruins in Cancun. The ruins are located about a ten-minute drive from the hotel zone. This famous landmark in Cancun is also on the same site as the informative Cancun Mayan Museum.

The museum features exhibits on archaeological sites throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico as a whole. These displays include artifacts from Chichen Itza and other historical sites. Having explored the museum, you can then wander around the impressive San Miguelito Ruins.

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Turquoise ocean surrounded by sand, greenery, and palm trees under a blue sky
Isla Contoy is a beautiful paradise that makes a perfect day trip destination

Take a day trip to Isla Contoy

Taking a day Trip to Isla Contoy is another of the great unique things to do in Cancun. Being close to Isla Mujeres, you can combine a visit to both islands in one day. Isla Contoy features stunning beaches and offers many water activities to try.

Along with exploring the island and relaxing on the beaches, you can swim and sail. The area is also home to the Ixlache Reef, which is the start of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest reef in the world. Therefore, Isla Contoy is the ideal location for snorkelers and marine life enthusiasts.

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Two people parasailing in the sky
Parasailing is an adventurous activity to try in Cancun

Try jet-skiing and parasailing

If you love water sports, one of the adventurous things to do in Cancun is going on a jet-skiing and parasailing adventure. During this experience, you’ll get to parasail high above the ocean, taking in views of the Cancun Hotel Zone, Isla Mujeres, and the Nichupte Lagoon.

Next, you can hop on a jet ski for an exhilarating 30-minute ride. This activity is perfect for those who enjoy outdoor experiences and is also a fun thing for kids to do too.

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Enjoy a private street art tour

When exploring downtown Cancun, you’ll notice that there is lots of creative street art. A great way to see the best pieces of artwork is on a street art walking tour.

The tour begins at Jardin del Arte, and a local guide will take you to the most beautiful murals in the area. Your guide will also point out local places of interest and give more information on the sites you see and the artists whose work you view.

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© czuber via Depositphotos
Green grass with ruins on it and trees to the side under a blue sky
El Rey Archaeological Site houses fascinating Mayan ruins and is home to iguanas!

Spot iguanas at El Rey Archaeological Site

Conveniently located in the Cancun hotel zone, the El Rey Archaeological Site is another area of Mayan Ruins in Quintana Roo. Interestingly, the ruins are also home to many iguanas.

When visiting the site, you’ll be able to appreciate the ancient ruins while you try and spot one of many iguanas. This attraction is also the ideal palace to take some unique vacation photographs.

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An underground cenote with turquoise water and greenery-covered walls
Discovering one of Cancun's tranquil cenotes on ATV is a fun experience

Drive an ATV to a cenote

One of the many Cancun hidden gems is the area’s tranquil cenotes. A fun and unique way to reach these subterranean pools is on an ATV tour. On the tour, you can drive your own ATV or ride on one with a driver.

You’ll then head to a beautiful cenote where you can swim and take pictures. After a relaxing swim, you can also try an exciting zipline course!

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A beach with crystal water, mountains, and greenery under a blue sky
Tulum is a beautiful city and an ideal day trip location when staying in Cancun

Go on a day trip to Tulum

Another great place to visit when in the Riviera Maya area is Tulum. Luckily, reaching Tulum from Cancun is quite easy, especially if you take an organized tour. The tour guide will collect you from your hotel and then you’ll drive to this historical city.

The first stop on the day trip is the Tulum Archaeological Site. Here you can view incredible Mayan ruins and take in the stunning views of the Caribbean coastline. Next, you’ll visit Mayan Beach to snorkel in the surrounding waters.

Your last stop of the day is Xtun Cavernas, a relaxing cenote located in the middle of the Yucatan rainforest. This exciting and memorable day trip is a must when visiting Cancun and is sure to please everyone in your group!

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In Summary

Cancun is an incredibly fun destination that's ideal for families, couples, and groups of friends. No matter what activities you enjoy while on vacation, the above list of unique things to do in Cancun should inspire you to try something a bit different when in this tropical paradise!

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!