Outdoors

3 Unexpected Ways to Get Legit Wild (no, Not THAT Kind of Wild!) in Cancún

Of the nearly 60,000 people who pass through Cancún’s massive international airport each day, a good number of them are surely heading for a relaxing week. They are looking forward to digging their toes into white sand beaches, sipping margaritas, and munching on fresh ceviche.

You probably want to enjoy those things, too. But the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Check out the ample selection of Cancun adventures available along the Riviera Maya to ensure that your vacation never becomes boring.

Xcaret Knows the Xecret to Xciting Adventure

cancun adventures
There’s no end to fun at Xcaret theme parks. (Photo: Getty Images)

The most visible, accessible adventure tour options are Xcaret properties. Xcaret runs a massive 80-hectare theme park midway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and it’s only one of their half-dozen locations in the Riviera Maya region.

Depending on your tastes, you can take an easy-going raft tour through an underground river, go zip lining across jungle treetops, snorkel or swim in cenotes (natural pools), or check out jungle life in its natural habitat, from colorful birds and creeping jaguars, to dolphins and the massive, gentle whale sharks.

Xplor, awe your Xenses, visit the Xenotes, or take a deluxe tour of the ancient city of Xichén Itzá (you may be noticing a trend). Xcaret loves the “X” so much, it even operates a small park themed around Mexico City’s Xochimilco district, with mariachi bands playing on the same wide, flat river boats which still populate the ancient canals of what was once the Aztec empire of Tenochtitlán.

You choose exactly how heart-thumping you want the adventure to be, and Xcaret will figure out the rest.

Take a Swim out to Sea

cancun adventures
See what wonders lie under the sea. (Photo: Getty Images)

With the second longest coral reef in the world, Riviera Maya is definitely a great place to get in the water and see what wild things live there. The reef makes swimming off shore much safer, but don’t head out alone, no matter how adventurous you are.

Cancún has plenty of qualified guides who can find gorgeous schools of brightly colored fish for you to follow, or a pod of dolphins or whales to photograph, and who can make sure you get safely back to shore afterward, no matter what wild sea life you encounter.

Cool off with a Freshwater Dive

Back on shore, the cenotes are perhaps the most unique aspect of adventure tourism in the Cancún area, and definitely offer some of the most thrilling opportunities to explore.

These natural pools provided fresh drinking water for ancient inhabitants, and as the water flowed through underground rivers out to the sea, it created channels in the reef through which boats could land safely.

You can swim and snorkel in open cenotes or explore cenotes in pits, basins, or caves. The most adventurous can go diving into the depths and explore the channels between them.

cancun adventures
Head for a swim in a cenote. (Photo: Getty Images)

In the jungles offshore between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, you’ll find the Ruta de los Cenotes (or “Cenote Route”), a series of at least seven pools, each of a different type.

Every cenote is different, but in most the crystal clear water will allow you to explore not just ancient mineral and rock formations, but also some of the fish and other aquatic life that live here. For these experiences, especially any kind of diving, you should seek out a qualified guide with top-notch equipment.

Cancún has so much adventure to offer, it can be hard to figure out just where to start. Don’t hesitate to tell a tour guide what you’re looking for. With so much choice, there’s something exciting for just about everyone.


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