Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular beach holiday stops. It used to be the place where uni students would head because Cancun flights were cheap (and for the most part, still are), but most visitors don’t ever get beyond their beachfront property. And with turquoise water for miles and miles – Cancun sits on somewhat of a peninsula, so the view is fantastic – you can’t blame them. But here are a few suggestions to help spice up that Cancun beach break with some fun and adventure.
There’s an “eco-archaeological park” called Xcaret about an hour out of Cancun that’s a total riot – it reminds me of what Disney would be in Mexico. The strange term reflects the attraction’s set of offerings, great for families wanting to help their wee ones learn a little bit more about the country with their flora and fauna park. There’s also services for the parents, such as the spa area. The most popular option I’d say is the night show, which features traditional Mayan music and dance.
Getting here isn’t too difficult – there are a number of transport options, many of which are free with your Xcaret ticket or other tour combinations. Resorts also have discounted tickets, so check online and with your resort for the best options from where you’re staying.
Another popular stop is the Hidden Worlds Adventure Park. The star of the attraction here are the caves, which were the caves used in filming an IMAX ‘amazing caves’ video recently. There’s also a roller coaster zipline ride, abseiling, zipline water rides, snorkelling, nature walks, and wildlife spotting rides. Some of it is silly and over the top, but it’s fun, and you can’t say that it’s not nice to splash around on a wet day in Mexico!
Similar to Xcaret, Hidden worlds offers a transport service which is included in some packages. There are also other ways to get here, so be sure to explore your options.
It’s one of the world’s wonders, so Chichen Itza is by all means worth the 2.5 hour drive from Cancun to visit. Just look at that photography – the mathematically exactly symmetry is not a photographic trick. That’s El Castillo, the most iconic part of the site, but you’ll also find other great stops, such as the Temple of a Thousand Warriors, as well as El Caracol and La Iglesia. Unfortunately due to safety issues of the visitors as well as to prevent further erosion of the buildings, many sites are no longer available for public access.
You can get to Chichen Itza via bus or organised tour; skip the temptation to drive, as the insurance and other hassles to make this arrangement just aren’t worth it. Be sure to try and arrive as early in the day as you can; the site gets quiet warm in the afternoons so you’ll want time to take a break in the shade for a cervesa and cool off.
Rio Secreto is just south of Cancun (near Xcaret) and it’s one of Mexico’s largest underground cave systems, with passageways stretching for miles and miles. These caves are tens of thousands of years old, so they are filled with some of the most detailed and extensive cave formations in the world – more stalactites and stalagmites than you can count.
The only downside to this tour is that you can’t take pictures (since it’s wet and underground, that’s probably not such a bad thing), but they do sell you a few pictures for a hefty price. It’s still worth it for the memories, but skip the souvenirs, I say.
Posted : Thursday, November 25th, 2010 at 13:02
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.