Outdoor Adventures Near Cancún

© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy
Photo of Benjamin Kempton
Travel Writer31 March 2021

Visiting Cancún? Want to do more than sunbathe? Get outdoors and explore the Mexican paradise with eco activities around Cancún, natural aquariums in the Caribbean Sea and more.

Zip-lining though the Mexican jungle, diving in cenotes and snorkeling the Caribbean Sea is tiring work – you’ll need somewhere to rest after all that outdoor adventuring. So to help you out, we’ve hand-picked a selection of the best hotels and resorts near the destinations. Book on our website now and make the most of the Culture Trip Feel Good Booking Guarantee.

Xplor, Playa del Carmen

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  • You won’t have more fun anywhere else near Cancún than Xplor eco adventure park. Zip-line through the trees across 14 routes with the Caribbean Sea glimmering in the background. Grab the wheel and drive through the jungle on amphibious vehicles, with caverns, narrow roads and hanging bridges along the way. Raft or swim through prehistoric rivers in the underground caverns. And look out for the only five-in-one waterslide in the world.

    Enjoy a multitude of zip-lining routes at Xplor | © Charles O. Cecil / Alamy

    Hotel Xcaret

    Hotel Xcaret
    Courtesy of Hotel Xcaret México / Expedia
    The mother of all resorts, Hotel Xcaret is part of the most well-known theme/water park in Mexico, Xcaret, of which Xplor is a part. The only resort that offers access to all the parks and tours by Xcaret, it’s perfect for a jam-packed holiday of family fun, and the flamboyant architecture pays tribute to the traditions of Mexico.
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    Mayan Ruins, Tulum

    There are a handful of must-visit Mayan ruins near Cancún, but none are quite as naturally spectacular as the Tulum ruins, which sit on a cliff above a picture-perfect white sandy beach. The archaeological site was once an ancient city that was a seaport for trading jade and turquoise. Inquisitive travelers will love the theories and myths that surround the structures.

    The Mayan ruins in Tulum are perched on a seaside cliff overlooking the Caribbean | © Martin Moxter / Alamy

    TAGO Tulum

    Hotel, Luxury
    4.5/5 (127 Reviews)
    Tago Tulum
    Courtesy of Tago Tulum / Expedia
    From $500 Per night per room
    After a day exploring the ruins and the natural beauty surrounding it, treat yourself with a luxurious place to stay afterward. There are lots to choose from in Tulum, but TAGO is one of our favorites. A day here begins with sliding open your floor-to-ceiling wooden doors and taking a dip in your private balcony pool. For the rest of the day, drift dreamily on the beach club swings, then head over to the Mexican-inspired TAGO Restaurant with a final stop via the shaman-led wellness center.
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    Xcaret, Playa del Carmen

    The whole family will love a day at the nature theme park Xcaret. Swim in underground rivers and get up close to the creatures of the Aviary, the Coral Reef Aquarium and the Butterfly Pavilion. From swimming with dolphins to floating down a lazy river, visiting a traditional cemetery to snorkeling the inlet, Xcaret will entertain you for days. There’s also a section for younger ones called Mundo de los Niños, and you won’t want to miss the live performances – the night show, a celebration of Mexican and Mayan history, is our favorite.

    Snorkeling is just one of the activities at Xcaret | © Kamira / Alamy

    Occidental at Xcaret Destination

    4.2/5 (2051 Reviews)
    Occidental at Xcaret Destination
    Courtesy of Occidental at Xcaret / Expedia
    From $228 Per night per room
    You get the best of both worlds at Occidental at Xcaret Destination: all the fun activities for kids, being connected to the nature park by a gondola, but also respite from the action amid tranquil open spaces. Look out for the wildlife, too, including monkeys, iguanas and the raccoon-like coati.
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    Xel-ha, Tulum

    Ready to see the largest natural aquarium in the world? That’s what you’re in for at Xel-ha near Tulum, an eco-park where you can swim in grottos and cenotes (natural sinkholes), explore Mayan ruins, jump off the Cliff of Courage, cross the floating bridge, ride bikes or fly kites. There are plenty of other activities and exhibits to keep you occupied, or you could spend your time relaxing in the sun or napping in a seaside hammock. Xel-Ha also features a delicious buffet restaurant and a children’s area.

    Xel-ha in Tulum is a natural aquarium | © Holger Leue / Alamy

    Villa Pescadores

    4.5/5 (131 Reviews)
    Villa Pescadores
    Courtesy of Villa Pescadores / Expedia
    From $265 Per night per room
    After an adventure-packed day at Xel-ha, a private villa is the perfect place to retreat, and Villa Pescadores is one of our favorites. You’ll find it on the white sands of Tulum National Park. More beachside cabana than traditional villa, these rustic retreats feature handmade furniture, canopy beds and private balconies. In the bathroom, you will find locally sourced toiletries. But the real win? The spot on Playa Pescadores. A stay comes with access to the beach club where daybeds and hammocks make for lazy afternoons. The dining experience is typical Tulum – relaxed and forward-thinking. Head to the beach grill for mezcal-infused fish and the catch of the day.
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    Aventuras Mayas

    See the Yucatán Peninsula with a sustainable tour from Aventuras Mayas. Explore ancient Mayan archaeological sites and enjoy zip-lining excursions, cenote rappelling, and snorkeling along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere. Make the most of the Cenote Chukum tour, which explores a 130ft (40m) cenote named Chukum-Ha after the surrounding chukum trees indigenous to the area.

    Rappel into a cenote with Aventuras Mayas

    Nizuc Resort And Spa

    Resort, Hotel, Villa
    4.8/5 (928 Reviews)
    Nizuc Resort And Spa
    Courtesy of Nizuc Resort and Spa / Expedia
    From $582 Per night per room
    For our final place to stay, we thought we’d show you our highest-rated hotel in Cancún – and you can see why. Sleek modernist architecture complements the soothing Caribbean Sea that can be found on its doorstep. Once you’ve enjoyed the five outdoor pools, head to the private beach for further relaxation. Then amble over to the spa for a dose of pampering.
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    These recommendations were updated on March 31, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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