One of the best things about taking a vacation is experiencing things you have never experienced before, and there are a lot of unique experiences to be had when visiting the Riviera Maya region. In fact, there are five things you can do near Cancun during your vacation that you can’t do at home in the U.S., and these five activities will take you to different areas of the Yucatán Peninsula. Each area will immerse you in local culture and the natural surroundings of the region, giving you the ultimate Cancun vacation that will give you a better understanding of why this area is so popular among American, Canadian, and European tourists.
Cancun sits at the northern end of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, which is also home to other popular Mexican Caribbean vacation destinations like Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, and Puerto Morelos. Many visitors to these destinations, along with those visiting Cancun, are serviced by Cancun International Airport, an airport that receives millions of visitors every year. A good portion of these visitors come specifically to explore the following five activities that cannot be enjoyed in the United States.
1) Visit the Largest Underwater Museum in the World
There are other underwater museums in the world, but when you visit Cancun, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the largest underwater museum in the world. The Museo Subacuático de Arte, or MUSA, as it is commonly referred to, features around 500 unique submerged sculptures that can be seen by snorkeling or scuba diving. It is located off Isla Mujeres, which is less than 20 miles from the Cancun Hotel Zone and can be reached in about an hour.
2) Swim in Cenotes
Cenotes are sinkholes formed out of limestone rock that fill with groundwater and rain to make these amazing swimming holes that you won’t find in the U.S. There are hundreds of them throughout the Yucatán Peninsula, each with unique characteristics that make them breathtakingly beautiful. You don’t have to go far from Cancun to see some of the best ones in the area, and in fact, there is an entire route of cenotes, Ruta De Los Cenotes, that begins only about 30 minutes from Cancun, in Puerto Morelos.
3) Explore the Jungle
As popular as Cancun is for its beaches, it may be surprising to know that this area of the Riviera Maya region is also surrounded by the Mayan Jungle. The jungle is part of one of the largest tropical rainforests in North America and covers approximately 35 million acres, spreading from Mexico to Belize and Guatemala. There are several ways to explore and experience the jungle, including on an ATV, ziplining through the trees, and walking across suspended bridges, all of which can be done by booking a tour.
4) Tour Mayan Ruins
While Mayan ruins can be found in other places, like Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala, the most impressive sites are located around the Yucatán Peninsula. Most people have heard of the magnificent Chichén Itzá ruins, which are located just outside of Valladolid, about 3.5 hours from Cancun, but there are many other captivating ruins to explore that are much closer. The coastal ruins located in Tulum, Xel-Ha ruins, and the Coba ruins are all within a couple of hours’ drive, and El Meco and El Rey are located right in Cancun.
5) Visit a Magic Town
About 20 years ago, Mexico started designating certain towns with a lot of history and culture as “magic towns,” or “pueblo magicos.” There are a total of 132 towns on the list, and a number of them are close enough to Cancun to visit during your stay. Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Bacalar, and Valladolid can all be visited by either renting a car, purchasing a tour, or taking a taxi or other form of public transportation, and they will be even more accessible when the Maya Train is completed.
There are a lot of places to vacation that don’t really have anything unique about them, but when you visit Cancun, you’ll find that there is quite a bit to see and do that can’t be done in the U.S. This makes it the perfect destination to spend a vacation exploring something new.
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