7 Must-Do's on Your First Time in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

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We’re here! Now what?

So it’s your first time in Cancun or the Riviera Maya, you’ve arrived at your hotel and you’re wondering how to make the most of your time here. We’ve put together a short list of ideas for you to get a great taste of the Mexican Caribbean so you can keep coming back for more!

 

1. Go to Xcaret

How to define Xcaret? It’s part archaeological site, part eco-theme park, part Mayan-themed Broadway show, and all incredible! You and your family will have an entire day of swimming in underground rivers, experiencing local wildlife, learning about the Mayan culture, all in a stunningly beautiful natural park setting. It’s a must, again and again.

And we haven’t even mentioned Xel-ha or Xplor….

See here for more on Xcaret.

 

2. Experience the Magic of the Mayans

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Amazing stone carvings at Ek Balam…
First time in Cancun
Climb Nohoch Mul pyramid at Coba…

Before there were sun-baked tourists here, it was the home of the Mayan culture. Spectacular examples of this civilization abound in the area, from world-reknowned Chichen Itza and Tulum to lesser known but no  less inspiring sites like Cobá and Ek Balam.

See how these cultures we may see as primitive, built wonders that still persist today.

Learn how to visit these awe-inspiring sites here.

 

3. Do Absolutely Nothing. Enjoy some down time.

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Sand in your toes and a cool breeze…nothing better.
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Even hyperactive kids get into the relaxing act…

Work. School. The Routine. Let it all come to a screeching halt at least once or twice during your vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Wake up late. Turn off the cell phone and the IPad for the kids and yourself. Order room service. Spend a day out by the hotel pool and beach and play a little and just kick back and soak in some of the turquoise blue and powder white that made you want to come down in the first place.

Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 

4. When the going gets tough, the tough go….SHOPPING!

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From local markets in downtown Cancun and Isla Mujeres to the stimulating Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, and then on to luxury brand Mecca Fashion Harbour at La Isla, you can shop till you drop while here.

Take advantage of strong foreign currency exchange rates to find good deal, or put your bargaining skills to the test with market vendors to bring home something to always remind you of your time in paradise.

Want to put together your own private Shopping Tour? Click away!

 

5. Island Time

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Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres

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With stunning beaches, beautiful views and plenty of local color, experience Isla Mujeres, the island that existed long before Cancun.

Enjoy a sail around the island to go snorkeling or enjoy a fabulous sunset cruise. A quaint “downtown” area will offer you great food and drink, picturesque shops and lots to photograph.

A day on the island is just what the doctor ordered. Here’s how to see it best.

 

6. Playa del Carmen

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Para bailar la bamba….Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen
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Playa by night…

We locals just call it Playa. 30 years ago it was little more than the dock to take the ferry to Cozumel. Today, it’s the most important part of the Riviera Maya, and a place teeming with culture and excitement.

Spend your day walking along famous Quinta Avenida, a cobblestoney walkway extending for miles right near the beach with shops, restaurants, bars, galleries and plenty to keep your eyes and mind stimulated.

Enjoy time on an outdoor king sized bed at Playa Mamitas beach and meet people from all over the world and enjoy a drink, a bite or dance to your favorite music outdoors. It’s an international party!

And guess what? Xcaret, Xplor and a bunch of great attractions are less than half hour away! Find out more here…

 

7. Aaaaaaargh!

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Admit it, you have an inner pirate just dying to get out right? The whole family can arrgh like a pirate and be part of a full-length pirate adventure show on the Jolly Roger!

This show is non-stop laughs, excitement and fun for all ages. Find out more here.

 

Now if you think this is all you can do while on holiday in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, please know there is much, much more. This is just the beginning.

For more ideas on how to make the most of your time, budget and energy while here in the Mexican Caribbean, check out ecotourism-cancun.com. It’s a local company owned and staffed by long-time residents who really know the area and care about your experience while here.

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Ek Balam-The Mayan Magical Mystery Tour

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You’ve been to Chichen Itza…maybe even Tulum or Cobá. But what if we told you that you could visit a stunning Mayan archaeological site full of wonders, and where scientists are still making discoveries every day?

This place is Ek Balam (black jaguar in Maya), located about 2 hours from Cancun (2.5 hours from the Playa del Carmen). It’s a stunning site with at least 45 impressive Mayan structures and with priceless Cenote Maya and Mayan community nearby.

Ek balam

For over 1000 years, the site at Ek Balam was the seat of a Mayan kingdom, and today the place is known mostly for the breathtakingly-preserved stucco work at the tomb of King Ukit-Kan-Le’k-Tok’, buried in the largest side of a pyramid.

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The pyramid structure, which you can climb to get right up to the stucco work, also gives you some amazing views.

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Beside the tomb there are well over 40 other structures to admire, such as:

The Entrance Arch, built on the road leading into the city.

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The Oval Palace, which contains important relics and is oriented to movements of the sun, moon and stars.

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Structure 17, the Twins, up on the pyramid.

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• The Carved Stela of what is believed to be an image of King Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’

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• The Mayan Ballcourt

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Make sure your camera is charged, as you will be snapping away all day!

Sacred Water

An important spiritual center and source of water for the surrounding community, the Cenote Maya will be one of the highlights of your trip to Ek Balam.

Before going to the area of the cenote, however, your first stop is with the Mayan shaman for his blessing, and to ask for permission to go into the sacred Cenote Maya.

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The Cenote Maya  (we know cenotes as sinkholes) has a diameter of 260 feet (80 meters), and thousands of stalactites above and stalagmites below that will make you feel like you are in a Jurassic World Underwater Cathedral.

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The water is cool and clear, and you can enter either by rappelling into it or by a side entrance. We suggest rappelling as it’s easy and safe and so much fun! Once you’re down there you can swim, dive in, play on the rope swings and marvel!

Another high point of the trip to Ek Balam is the food.image

The ladies of the community will prepare a delicious lunch of traditional regional specialties, including lime soup and tamalesYou’ll love the hand-made tortillas!

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Before Chichen Itza even existed, the city and kingdoms in the area now known as Ek Balam had flourished and all but vanished. Discoveries are being made in this magical place every day….be a part of history in the making!

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For detailed information on Ek Balam, and how you and. Your family can enjoy a wonderful day trip out there, contact ecotourism-cancun.com today! We’re sure you’ll love it!

At ecotourism-cancun.com, our mission is to find you the most exhilarating vacation tours and excursions experiences around, and to help you save time, money and effort doing it!

Swimming with Turtles- an Absolutely Brilliant Experience!

If you’re reading this post, it may be because you either aren’t the standard run-of-the-mill tourist or you’re a veteran of Cancun and Riviera Maya vacations. Either way, you want something different, right?

We’re going to share news about a set of thrills, deep in the Mayan jungles of the Riviera, that will give you something to remember forever, as you’ll have a full day of excitement and adrenalin, surrounded by the natural wonders of our area.

Get Ready for Snorkel Xtreme!

Swimming with turtles

 

 

The First and Ultimate Thrill! Snorkeling and Swimming with Turtles

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swimming with turtles
Strap on a mask, fins, vest and a new snorkel and take to the water with these beautiful creatures!

Start the day off at Turtle Bay, where you will enjoy the best ocean snorkeling while surrounded by amazing marine turtles.

 

Thrill #2: Rappelling

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He’s screaming from excitement, not because he’s afraid of heights. No, really…

We will then gear you up to rappel into the depths of the Mayan jungle. It’s totally safe and super fun!

 

Thrill #3: Zip Lines!

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swimming with turtles
Fly through the air with the greatest of ease…apparently the Eagle pose is a thing now…

Experience the thrill of flying over the jungle canopy in the fastest zip-line circuit in the region!

 

Thrill #4: Cenote Swim and Snorkel

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It really is like being in a whole new world in there…

Snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of a mystical Mayan Cenote with underground river while exploring astounding rock formations.

 

Your experience is capped off with a fantastic Mexican meal, as you and your friends and loved ones recall what an amazing time you had, and plan your return next time!

Contact us at Ecotourism-Cancun.com today to see how you and yours can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience like Snorkel Xtreme!


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At ecotourism-cancun.com, our mission is to find you the most exhilarating vacation tours and excursions experiences around, and to help you save time, money and effort doing it!


Cenotes Unlock the Secrets to Underwater Mayan Mysteries

Almost 15 years ago, a team of Mexican archaeologists found three human skeletons; one of them was carbon-dated to be 13,600 years old. In 2008, divers located the remains of a MASTODON as well as a human skull that might be the oldest evidence of early man in the region.

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MASTODON bones and ancient human skulls. What other secrets are down there?

 

Where did they find those ancient treasures? They found them, and much more, in cenotes.

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What are cenotes?

Cenotes (se NOH tays) are surface connections to underground bodies of water, and in the English-speaking world we know them as sinkholes. Ah, but they are so much more here in Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Explore inner space…

There are an estimated 6000 cenotes in the entire Yucatan Peninsula, forming a vast underground network of caves, caverns and the source of much of the fresh water for the entire area.

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Some of the better known cenotes in our home state of Quintana Roo.

 

The best-known cenotes are large open water pools measuring tens of meters in diameter, such as at Chichén Itzá.

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Cenote Sagrado, the Sacred Cenote…at Chichen Itza an important body of water used for ceremonial rites

As far as swimming is concerned, cenote water is often very cool and clear, as the water comes from rain water filtering slowly through the ground, and where there is little or no direct access to sunlight. Some cenotes are open, where sections of cave roof have collapsed revealing an underlying cave system.

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Unlock the door to a whole new world…

 

There are four main different types of cenotes, named for their shapes.

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1. Jug or Pit cenotes are those with a surface connection narrower than the diameter of the water body, shaped like a bottle.

2. Cylinder cenotes are those with strictly vertical walls.

3. Basin cenotes are those with shallow water basins

4. Cave cenotes are those having a horizontal entrance with dry sections.

 

Take a Cenote Tour and Be Ready to Have Your Mind Blown

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The following tours have some stunning cenotes as one of their features. In some you can swim in, rappel into or just simply admire for their natural beauty.

1. Chichen Itzaalong with visiting one of the Seven Man-made Wonders of the World, visit the Cenote Sagrado and swim in nearby Ik Kil.

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Ik Kil, a stone’s throw from the Chichen Itza archaeological site.

 

2. Xenotes-from the same people who brought you Xcaret, Xenotes brings you four Cenote experiences, named for Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

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3. Coba Mayan EncounterYour unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track adventure tour then begins: exciting zip-line flying over a lagoon, rappelling down into an incredibly beautiful cenote where you can enjoy a refreshing swim before going up again.

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You can still climb the Nohoch Mul pyramid.

 

4. Akumal Snorkel Extreme TourTogether with your guide, fly above the trees of the Riviera Maya by zipline, snorkel at Akumal among turtles, fish and coral. Then rappel like an adventurer, and marvel as you make your way along the underground rivers of the Mayan cenotes.

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While white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters of Cancun and the Riviera Maya may have brought you here, the mysterious and stunning beauty of the jungle is what will stay with you forever. If you want to see, hear and feel what it was like to be in the Garden of Eden during your holiday, reserve a cenote tour today.

Click on the different cenotes tours above or click here to enjoy the highest quality affordable tours and excursions in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

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We are Ecotourism-Cancun, and we bring you ultimate vacation experiences in Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the entire Mayan World.

 

 

Experience Isla Contoy-True Caribbean Island Wildlife

Isla Contoy Wildlife

 Isla Contoy

At 25 miles (40 km) away from the busy vacation capital of Cancun, Isla Contoy is a pristine and protected island, where you can observe and enjoy thousands of birds, fish, and other wildlife in a virgin island setting.

Established as a protected natural reserve by the Mexican government, access is restricted to a maximum of 200 visitors per day so as to minimize the impact of tourism on the island’s natural resources.

 

www.ecotourism-cancun.com

There are no permanent inhabitants living on the island. There is, however, a dedicated team of scientists who make Contoy their temporary home as they study its precious animal and plant wildlife. The visitor’s center and research facilities will make you feel like you are producing your own NatGeo show!

www.ecotourism-cancun.com

 

Activities to Enjoy on Isla Contoy:

The Contoy Island Tour from Ecotourism-cancun.com will take you to live an amazing adventure on a virgin island, complete with a visit to the ecological museum…a key feature of this Mexican Caribbean ecotourism tour.

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  •  Sail through the wonderful waters of the Caribbean until reaching the carefully protected reef at Isla Contoy.
  • Marine biologists will teach and delight you with a magnificent explanation about the wildlife that inhabits this place, also known as Bird Island.
  •  As you explore the island and swim in its pristine waters, you’ll feel what it would be like to spend time on a deserted island paradise, far from land and where you are a part of nature.

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  •  Manta rays will swim right up to you long the beach.
  • Enjoy a delicious grilled fish for lunch, part of that morning’s catch freshly brought to you by fishermen from the nearest island.
  • On the way back we will take you to Isla Mujeres to enjoy a little island shopping in their picturesque “downtown” area.

 

Isla Contoy is truly one of the jewels of the Mexican Caribbean! If you are coming to Cancun or the Riviera Maya for your next vacation, definitely make sure to spend some time on Isla Contoy! Contact ecotourism-cancun.com today and check out our Facebook page and if you like our information, give us a like!

Marvel at Magical Mayan Mysteries at Cobá

 

Cobá

As  one of the world’s top vacation spots, sometimes visitors do little more than spend their time on the beach, at the malls, at nightclubs or visiting only the most popular archaeological sites like Chichén Itzá.

While Chichén is one of the most  important Mayan archaeological sites, there is MUCH more to our area. Here we’ll tell you about an amazing Mayan experience in Cancun and the Riviera Maya that will make your holiday here extra special,  with features, tips, and a link to find out how YOU can marvel at its wonders!

Cobá is the Mayan site where you bring out your inner Indiana Jones. With thousands of unrestored structures there slowly being discovered,  you can enjoy a more authentic Mayan experience.

At about two and a half hours from Cancun, this massive Mayan city is well worth the travel time. Cobá  features:

  • Nohoch Mul-The largest climbable  Mayan pyramid in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. The view from the top is breathtaking.

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Nohoch Mul Pyramid, from the bottom and from the top.
  • Stelae –standing stone relief panels full of religious and political meaning. There are dozens well worth seeing, as the detail and workmanship are stunning!

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Dozens of stelae in amazing condition tell the story of the Mayans at Cobá
  • Ballcourts-so far two different sized Mayan ball courts have been unearthed…will there be more found?

  • The Lake at Cobá-a beautiful area to walk around and enjoy and see brilliantly-colored birds and other native wildlife.

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Cobá is named for its lakes, and you’ll love kayaking in them and ziplining over them!

 

  • Sacbes (sacred white stone paths) lead you to Nohoch Mul. At about a mile from the entrance, you may want to hire a tricycle pedicab!

Ecotourism.com Coba Extreme
The temple at the top of Nohoch Mul. You may want to use one of the “Mayan Limos” to get there…

 

Cobá Extreme,  Mayan Enounter 

The Coba Extreme Tour is your encounter with the Mayan culture and it starts with a 1,500 year-old historical journey to the Ancient Mayan city of Coba.

Your Maya Encounter journey then leads you to an authentic Mayan village, a self-sufficient Mayan community living next to an important part of the region’s lagoon system.

Your unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track adventure tour then begins: exciting zip-line flying over a lagoon, rappelling down into an incredibly beautiful Cenote (sink hole) where you can enjoy a refreshing swim before going up again. Then climb into a canoe and paddle on a lagoon of enormous beauty.

And to end it all, enjoy a delicious traditional lunch prepared by the women of this lovely Mayan community.

Contact ecotourism-cancun.com today and find out more about Cobá, and check out our Facebook page and like it today!

 

Jungle Tour Cancun and Riviera Maya, a highspeed adventure!

Cancun and Riviera Maya are multicolored destinations filled with tourist attractions in the Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy all kinds of land and water activities; there are tours for all tastes and ages: diving tours, extreme tours, eco tours, among others, but definitely one of the most famous is the Jungle Tour.

Adventurers looking for high speed excitement and beautiful landscapes, arrive to the Marina at the Hotel Zone in Cancun to ride their own high speed boat through the amazing Nichupte lagoon mangle channels and get to the Caribbean Sea. 

It has never been so thrilling to feel the air running throughout your body and separate the waters while riding your boat;  the views and liberty of being at open waters and crossing Nizuc bridge, while make you vibrate.

After, Punta Nizuc, the second largest coral reef in the world, inhabited by millions of fishes and other creatures of different colors, sizes and shapes, becomes the underwater hidden treasure that visitors long to discover with their snorkeling mask, swimming through the crystal waters and admiring all the beauty and majesty of this paradise.

On their way back, visitors don’t realize that they have spend 3 hours already enjoying the Jungle Tour, fun moments and beautiful landscapes make every minute count. The Jungle Tour will leave you breathless, without a doubt it is a “must” on your next visit to Cancun and Riviera Maya.

 

Jungle Tour Cancun
Jungle Tour Cancun

Sian Kaan and other treasured places to discover in Tulum

A journey into ancient history and nature far from human trace

Begin an adventure to one of the places where nature is everything, where time doesn’t exist, nor the remains of a civilization that has consumed everything that is blue and green, where living beings keep on flying and swimming in harmony while we, humans, stare at them in awe. Discover a magical Caribbean paradise that preserves its natural beauty and resources in which we are only visitors.

Not very far from Cancun (2 hours away) lies the beautiful and picturesque town of Tulum with its cultural, natural and historical soul. Its precious hallmark consists on an archaeological site on a cliff by the sea that used to be an important nautical port for the ancient Mayans.

Another relevant archaeological site stands in the heart of the Mayan jungle in Sian Kaan natural reserve only 10 miles from Tulum downtown. Muyil will welcome you with its majestic buildings and lush vegetation, home for the ancient Mayan spirits and endemic fauna and flora species.

After hiking among cultural and historical magical remains, Sian Kaan biosphere natural reserve lagoons will refresh your body and mind. Submerge yourself in the beautiful crystal clear channels, take a boat (accessible through locals offering boat rides to visitors) and admire this place of nature, blessed with so much life and colors. Stare at birds and fishes in their natural habitat, feel the oxygen in your lungs, be glad to be alive!

Last but not least, discover a cenote; the whole area is filled with those gorgeous natural wells of blue and fresh water considered sacred for the Mayan civilization. Kayaking, diving and snorkeling are three of the most important activities to enjoy in the cenotes.

Far from the hustle and bustle, far from your responsibilities and worries, give yourself a sip of fresh air and enjoy a date with Mother Nature in Sian Kaan in the Riviera Maya.

Sian Kaan tour Tulum
Sian Kaan tour Tulum

Xplor Tour Cancun and Riviera Maya


If you are looking for strong emotions and adrenaline in the heights, the Xplor Park tour is just what you need. The park is near Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya and not far from Cancun. It takes about an hour to get there and the adventure begins from the moment one arrives at the entrance of Xplor park, for a cavern that will take you to live an unforgettable adventure full of speed in the heights awaits you.

The van leaves relatively early to Xplor, is a journey on road that passes very quickly because here in the Riviera Maya there is no traffic. Arriving at the Park you will not know where to start but the circuits in raft are an excellent choice, and why not? Take the two of them and row with the special oars attached to your hands. Then you can swim in the incredible underground river full of stalactites and other rock formations that simply beautify the scenery along the route.

After admiring that much underground beauty, go for a refreshing shake at “El Oasis” – where other energizing drinks are also served – and then rush into the impressive 2 zip line circuits with 14 zip lines with extremely fun landings on water. In the “Deer” circuit you will feel the excitement at full speed; and the second circuit, “Jaguar”, is not far behind, for the mixture between height and speed is just the perfect combination!

And to take full advantage of this incredible Xplor tour, directly continue to the amphibious vehicles – amazing vehicles that look like small jeeps – and give a dizzying ride through the jungle on winding roads filled with vegetation, hanging bridges and dark underground caves that will give one touch of adrenaline to your Xplor tour in the Riviera Maya.

Last but not least, the lunch hour, mmm… eat deliciously with the buffet of salads, pastas, meats, desserts and many other culinary delights that will make you regain strength. You will spend an amazing day from the beginning to the end in the Xplor Park Cancun tour, that’s for sure!

Xplor Park tour
Xplor Park tour

 

Exploring Cenotes

Cenotes
Cenotes

The cenotes are spectacular water wells connected by underground rivers, is one of the main attractions in the region of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Some of these natural formations contain many stories and legends. We know that many of them were used by the Maya as sites for religious rituals.

Due to its transparent emerald waters, the cenotes are ideal for diving and snorkeling.

One of the largest underground river systems in the world and most explored is the Nohoch Nah Chich cenote, located at Rancho San Felipe, a small Mayan community near Cancun. You can visit this cenote on the tour call “The Mayan Jungle” wich is one of the best green tours that are offered in Cancun or Mayan Riviera.