The Ultimate Guide to Cancun, Mexico

I fell in love with Cancun for many reasons: the incredible history I learned about the Mayan culture through getting to visit Chichen Itza, the beautiful blue beaches and the greens of the jungle, and the amazing locals and people we met during our stay.  Andrew and I went to celebrate my completion of my Bachelor’s Degree at twenty years old! With endless relaxing on the beach and an all-inclusive hotel, Cancun was the perfect reward for all my hard-work.  Here is my guide to what to see and do in this fun city:

Read more: Packing & Fashion Guide: Cancun, Mexico

Things to Do:

Take a Tour of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is one of the new seven wonders of the world. We were able to explore this beauty with a tour with an archaeologist.  We learned about the intense ball games the Mayans played and interesting stories their culture including their beliefs in sacrifice.

The most interesting part of the city to me was the famous Temple of Kukulcan. Built over a thousand years ago before any technology, the Mayans built the temple to be perfectly aligned with the stars and planets so that it acts as a giant calendar.  In addition, as the sun sets, a snake is seen “crawling” down the pyramid.  Simply incredible.

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Swim in a Cenote

A cenote is a natural sinkhole that results from the collapsing limestone bedrock, which as a result, leaves the ground water exposed.  After our long day of touring Chichen Itza, the tour we took also stopped at a cenote and Andrew and I took the opportunity to jump in and swim with the fishes.  The water isn’t too cold and I was not going to leave the country without saying I got to swim in a cenote.  They are not hard to find in Cancun and other surrounding areas in Mexico.

Tip: One of the easiest and best ways to see the many different aspects of Mexico such as cenotes and Chichen Itza is by booking a tour.

Find the Best tours, Excursions & Activities with City Discovery

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Visit Xcaret

Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park in Cancun that is full of different activities. For example, you can swim in the different rivers, enjoy a meal by the beach, or be up close to a variety of animals and insects.  My favorite part of the park was the Butterfly Pavilion, which is home to countless amounts of the butterflies that fly right by you.

At the end of the night, there is an amazing performance on Mexican and Mayan history that you cannot miss! It will take a full day to really see all of Xcaret so be prepared to walk and bring layers of clothes.

(Read more about Xcaret and other eco-friendly activities in Cancun here)


Xcaret Cancun Park Admission & Optional Activities at special price.

Take a Tour of the Underwater Museum

Although Andrew and I did not have the best experience doing this (read about it here), we still suggest going out and seeing the museum if the water conditions are right.  The concept of the Underwater Museum is to conserve the coral reefs by leading tourist to this museum that holds artificial reefs and hundreds of sculptures for them to dive down and see.  It was fascinating to see the fishes swimming past the different sculptures and figures covered in algae.

Relax by the Beach

One of the many benefits of staying at an all-inclusive resort was our ocean-side room and unlimited drinks by the beach.  For all my leisure travelers, laying by the beach will be your go-to.  The Caribbean Sea also has the clearest waters I’ve ever been in, which makes snorkeling an amazing experience.

However, if you are more of ambitious traveler, I would suggest taking a day trip one of the many incredible beaches and islands outside of the hotel-zone in Cancun.  Some destinations to consider are: Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, and Tulum.

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Can I stay here forever please?

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Explore the ancient ruins of Tulum

Although technically Tulum is a small and beautiful city of its own, I have to include the stunning ancient ruins of Tulum in this guide.  For a small fee of around 65 pesos or 5 US Dollars, you have access to incredible views of the Caribbean and of the seaside ruins that date back to the 13th-15th century! After you are done exploring, head down the steps and take a dip in the crystal blue water below.

Whether you are looking for some serious savings or something new to see, check out these amazing deals!

I had an amazing time exploring the history and culture of a part of the world that I had labeled as a party city.  I look forward to returning back to the Caribbean Sea and hopefully getting to explore more of the mysterious green jungles and see more of the vibrancy that Cancun and Mexico have to offer.

Have you been to any of these places in your time in Cancun or is there anything that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

L x

Read more: Packing & Fashion Guide: Cancun

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23 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Cancun, Mexico

  1. I’ve not yet been to Mexico but I just had to comment as I really liked your post. These photos are incredible – I especially like the parrots cuddling each other.

    I can completely understand why you want to go back and I’m pinning this for later in case I do find myself in Cancun in the future! ?

  2. Never been to this part of the world but I can see how beautiful it is. I could spend a lifetime relaxing by that beautiful beach

  3. Cancun is so beautiful! Your post makes me want to go back 🙂 I was there about 15 years ago (I was a kid back then) but I remember doing a jetski tour through the mangroves in the lagoon + snorkling to see the corals! It was such a great experience.

  4. Makes me really interested to visit Cancun now, especially the Underwater Museum! That sounds so interesting… And the Cenote would be really amazing to check out. This post makes me want to buy a plane ticket there now, haha.

  5. I was in Cancun last year and it was amazing! Your guide was a great resource for someone who hasn’t been before. I’ll have to send it to my friends who are planning on heading there soon!

  6. My impression of Cancun was that it was a proper party place where people went to get very very drunk. It’s so nice to see the beauty and culture that exists there! I realised I was judging a place without really finding out about it and your post has now inspired me to add it to my ‘places to visit’ list. Just goes to show we should never judge. Thanks!

  7. After the Inca Ruins in South America, I am so interested in the Mayan ruins! I feel Mexico has the ultimate mix of good infastructure of lazy resorts and the right set of cultural heritage to draw me in. Great place to celebrate, so congratz on the degree!

  8. I’ve never thought about that aspet of Cancun. I just think pretty beaches and water lol. Great post, very interesting. I might have to check out that butterfly pavilion

  9. Cancun will be part of my travels one day. It is hard to leave the emerald coast of Florida to go to another beautiful place like Cancun.

  10. Wow, how beautiful is that! Now I’m kicking myself for not going there with my friends last spring :/

    Rosalie //

  11. I stayed at the Grand Oasis Cancun Resort. Although the first days were awesome and they have great food options, I had bad experiences with our door not locking, no hot water, and having money & valuables stolen. That is why I do not include them in my guide to Cancun. Good luck with your hotel search, Cancun is an amazing travel destination!

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