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Cancun Off the Beaten Path

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Cancun, with its turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, is a Caribbean paradise that needs no introduction; however there is much more to experience than laying on the beach and sipping on cocktails by the pool. Dare to be adventurous and discover some of Cancun's best kept secrets...

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveler
  • Like a Local

7 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

7 Places

Hotel Xbalamque Resort & Spa

Hotels

Cenotes Dos Ojos

Caverns & Caves, Reefs, Scuba & Snorkeling

Musa Museo Subacuatico de Arte

Specialty Museums, Scuba & Snorkeling

Contoy Adventures

Islands, National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas

Mercado 23

Flea & Street Markets

Xcaret Eco Theme Park

Nature & Wildlife Areas, Theme Parks, Water Parks

Hacienda el Mortero

Restaurants

Monica U's City Tips

  • To discover a bit more of the "real Cancun," use public transport and ask the locals for directions. They'll be happy to help!
  • Use your negotiation skills to make a deal with a cab driver and hire him for a day. A wise investment when sightseeing.
  • Change your dollars to pesos in advance; while most of the places in town will take your dollars, you will lose out a little on the exchange rate.
  • Save
    Hotel Xbalamque Resort & Spa
    Hotels
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    While not the greatest in terms of accommodation, the traditional Mayan 'Temazcal' (sweat lodge/steam bath full of traditional Mayan medicinal herbs) at this small downtown hotel/spa will leave you feeling utterly relaxed. For the ultimate indulgence, why not pair the treatment with a full hour body massage?

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Couples
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Have lunch at 100% Natural, just across the street from Hotel Xbalamque, to top off your healthy escapade.
    • Make a reservation in advance.
    • A Temazcal is a type of sweat lodge that originated with pre-hispanic indigenous people in Mesoamerica as a part of a curative ceremony believed to purified the body.
    • Allow at least 2 hours for the treatments, plus half an hour to rest and drink tea.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #156 of 177 Hotels in Cancun
    • Interesting decor, frightful checkin 11/11/2017
    • Spa was wonderful 11/06/2017
    • Hotel Xbalamque Resort & Spa
    Address:
    Av. Yaxchilan No. 31
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
  • Save
    Cenotes Dos Ojos
    Caverns & Caves, Reefs, Scuba & Snorkeling
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    If you are looking for a truly memorable adventure, rent a car and drive about 90 minutes south of Cancun towards Tulum. Here'll you discover an amazing natural wonder dating back to the times of the pre-historic Mayans - the Cenotes 'Dos Ojos.' Cenotes are underwater caverns that, according to the Mayans, have curative properties, and are also believed to be portals to the underworld. This amazing example gets its name (two eyes) from its shape, and it is the perfect spot for snorkeling, swimming and underwater diving.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Rent a car and drive down to Tulum (about 90 minutes). Dos Ojos lies just 10 minutes further.
    • Refrain from using sunscreen here, as it affects the ecosystem's flora and fauna.
    • Buy a snorkeling mask and take it with you, so you don't have to rent one.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 30 Nature & Parks in Tulum
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Scuba Diving Adventure! 11/15/2017
    • Simply natural 11/15/2017
    • Cenotes Dos Ojos
  • Save
    Musa Museo Subacuatico de Arte
    Specialty Museums, Scuba & Snorkeling
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    Monica U Says:

    Take the ferry from the Hotel Zone to Isla Mujeres where you can appreciate Cancun's first underwater museum, complete with ecological underwater sculptures created by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor. There are over 400 underwater sculptures to explore in total, all of which were created from special materials that promote marine life, and were designed to become artificial reefs. If you are not into diving, you can book one of several snorkeling tours in the area instead.

    Good for
    • Trendsetter
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Get there early to avoid the crowds.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 2 Museums in Isla Mujeres
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Completely Wasted a Day 11/07/2017
    • Interesting- crazy idea made into reality 11/05/2017
    • Musa Museo Subacuatico de Arte
    Address:
    Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 15.3 Hotel Zone
    Kukulcan Shopping Mall
    Isla Mujeres 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 206 0182
    Price range:
    US$35 - US$35
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 2:30 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    Contoy Adventures
    Islands, National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Immerse yourself in a natural paradise at Isla Contoy (also known as 'Bird Island'), located just 30 minutes north of Isla Mujeres. Protected by the Mexican government since 1961, the island features about 150 different bird species, 250 varieties of fish, 98 types of flora and 3 breeds of marine turtle at risk of extinction. South of the island, you can also explore Ixlache Coral Reef (the second largest in the world). The museum, the manglers and the lighthouse are also well worth a look.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • At the museum you can meet a marine biologist who will explain how the ecosystem works.
    • Getting here: Take a taxi from the Hotel Zone to Puerto Juarez, and then a ferry to Isla Contoy.
    • Visits are limited to 200 tourists per day.
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Isla Contoy
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Romantic beautiful scenery 10/06/2017
    • A little diamond in Mexico 09/11/2017
    • Contoy Adventures
    Phone:
    +52 998 578 9014
    Other:
  • Save
    Mercado 23
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    If you want to experience shopping in an authentic local market, then Mercado 23 is for you. This place is an adventure for the senses. Stroll between the stalls of ripe fresh fruit, local herbs and seeds, fresh meat and chicken, and even clothes and shoes. There are also several small restaurants serving simple and traditional Mexican food, including 'comida corrida' - an entrée, main, dessert and water all for the price of a few dollars.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Vendors are used to bargaining, but they are not as aggressive as the sellers at Mercado 28.
    • The market has become a little more commercialized in recent years,so you will also be able to find souvenirs and piñatas here.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 158 things to do in Cancun
    • Food and atmosphere were great! 11/11/2017
    • Local at its finest 09/27/2017
    • Mercado 23
  • Save
    Xcaret Eco Theme Park
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, Theme Parks, Water Parks
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    This amazing eco theme park lies about an hour's drive from Cancun in the Mayan Riviera. It is definitely an all-day adventure, and handily filled with attractions for the whole family. Visit the Hacienda Henequera, a 19th century mansion with original machines that were once used in the production of 'henequen.' Float down the underground rivers on top of a tube, or snorkel in one of the many natural pools. Immerse yourself in nature at the butterfly pavilion, the aviary and the orchid house, plus come face to face with jaguars, marine turtles and pink flamingos. Later, watch the 'Voladores the Papantla,' a traditional Mesoamerican ceremony in which acrobatic dancers imitate the flight of birds. Finally, at night, attend the 'Xcaret Mexico Espectacular' show, an exploration of Mexico's history through dance and song. A must-do for the whole family.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Many travel agencies offer tours/transfers to Xcaret, but the best deals are from agencies in downtown Cancun.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 124 things to do in Playa del Carmen
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Had a great time! 11/18/2017
    • Great zoo 11/18/2017
    • Xcaret Eco Theme Park
    Address:
    Carretera Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Km. 282
    Playa del Carmen 77710
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 883 3143
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:30 am - 9:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    Hacienda el Mortero
    Restaurants (Mexican, Latin)
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    This fantastic Hacienda may be located in the Hotel Zone, but it is one of the few places frequented by locals and tourist alike. Step back in time here and discover the best Sunday Brunch in Cancun! The place simply oozes old-world atmosphere with amazing attention to detail, and its great-value buffet features some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine around. From pozole and tamales, to barbacoa, to cochinilta pibil, to mixiotes de pollo, you'll find all the Mexican favorites well-represented here.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • There is a live Mariachi band from 7-10pm every night.
    From the community
    Ranked #69 of 828 restaurants in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fun and delicious 11/18/2017
    • Dinner at Hacienda el Motero 09/13/2017
    • Hacienda el Mortero
    Address:
    Blvd Kukulkal Km. 9.5
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 848 9800
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:00 pm - 12:00 am
    Other:
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