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One of Mexico‘s most popular tourist destinations, Cancun often evokes images of massive all-inclusive resorts, loud spring break crowds, and hordes of tourists. But, even though you can sometimes find a lot of those, if you want to get off the beaten path, there are also some pretty unusual things to do in Cancun. Here are our top picks.
Cancun Underwater Museum
Featuring over 500 sculptures, the MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) is one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world. Located off the coast between Cancun and Isla Mujeres,the statues rest at a depth of between 13 to 30 feet and are made of special materials that promote the growth of coral.
This innovative underwater museum is also a great way to divert visitors’ attention away from the nearby natural reefs aiding in their conservation. The best way to visit the museum is by scuba diving or snorkeling; but, if you prefer not to get wet, you can also take a tour on a glass-bottom boat.
Admire the Wildlife at Isla Contoy
Located about 19 miles north of Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy is one of the most important bird nesting sites in Mexico. Declared as a national park in 1998, the island is home to some 150 bird species. But that is not all, the island is also an important nesting place for sea turtles and you can swim with whale sharks off its coast from June to September.
Official tours to the island leave both from Cancun and Isla Mujeres. However, to help support its pristine ecosystem, visits to the park are limited to 200 visitors per day. So it’s best if you make the necessary arrangements in advance.
Head Out to Valladolid
If you really want to get away from the hustle of Cancun, then a road trip to Valladolid is what you need. Located 100 miles west of Cancun, this charming colonial town is also close to the ruins of Chichen Itza. If you end up in Valladolid, don’t miss visiting the Casa de Los Venados, an impressive private collection of Mexican folk art.
Explore Rio Secreto
Located just about an hour drive south of Cancun, this underground complex of caves and tunnels is a great place for a family adventure. Visitors to Rio Secreto, which means Secret River in Spanish, are guided on a one and a half hour tour walking and swimming along the 600 meters route while enjoying the beautiful and impressive surroundings.
Walk Among Crocodiles
In Croco Cun Zoo, an interactive zoo located in Puerto Morelos, you’ll have the opportunity to get very close and personal to this great reptiles. Visitors also get to learn about the local wildlife from knowledgeable guides. Plus, if you dare, you can hold a snake and feed the monkeys or the xoloitzcuintles — the Mexican hairless dog.
Experience Xoximilco Cancun
If you’d like to experience an authentic Mexican fiesta, you should visit Xoximilco Cancun. Inspired by the original Xoximilco in Mexico City, this picturesque attraction feature the traditional trajineras — some colorful boats that were once used to transport vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Once aboard, you’ll be able to enjoy some typical drinks while you taste the local cuisine and are serenaded by a Mariachi band. What else could you ask for?
Sweat it Out at a Temazcal Ceremony
The word temazcal comes from the Nahuatl language of Central Mexico and translates as “house of heat”. The ceremony is considered to be a healing and purification ritual to cleanse the mind, body and soul. For a temazcal ceremony, participants enter a rather small circular enclosed space that is then filled with burning volcanic rocks in a ritual led by a shaman.
Hang Out With the Iguanas at El Rey Ruins
Located right in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, the El Rey ruins are definitely not be the most impressive you can see in Mexico. However, one of the main reasons that keep visitors coming are the legions of iguanas that populate the site. So if you’d like a chance to get up close and personal with these friendly reptiles, this is your chance!
As you can see, there is a lot more happening in and around Cancun than what goes on in its famed Hotel Zone. Proof that not too far from your perfect beach destination there are also quite a few unusual things to do in Cancun!
Map of Unusual Things to Do in Cancun
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Have you been to Cancun? Are there any other unusual things to do in Cancun that you would like to recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!