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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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!

Xoximilco, the new attraction in Cancun … Know It!

The original Xochimilco located in Mexico City , is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country . Its historical monuments , traditions and culture have survived the passage of time. Xochimilco is a true example of how Mexico ‘s pre-Hispanic customs remain: the chinampas , canals , trajineras therefore has earned the title of Cultural Heritage granted by UNESCO .

On board colorful lit trajineras, set sail through the most beautiful canals of Cancun, delight yourself with the incomparable sound of marimba and the songs of the Mariachi; try the exquisite flavors of the Mexican cuisine by tasting several culinary delights, enjoy a unique atmosphere filled with joy and folklore, and be part of an outstanding fiesta of music and color. Come to Xoximilco and discover a true Mexican fiesta.

Dare to try the chapulines (baby crickets) or taste our traditional food. Discover the real Mexican cuisine, a perfect blend of fresh and contemporary ingredients. Your dinner includes an open bar of tequila shots, beer, sodas and fruit-flavored water.

It is open Monday through Saturday throughout the year, the departure time of the first trajinera is at 6:30 pm , the duration of  Xoximilco tour is 3 hours approximately.


Xoximilco has 40 trajineras , each one with up to 20 people.

Decorated with motifs from the 32 States of Mexico, the famous trajineras, that were once used for transporting flowers, fruits and vegetables grown in floating gardens, have become a means of transportation and a cause of joy for all those who come to Xoximilco se arching for a unique moment they can only experience here in Cancun.

Cancun and Riviera Maya has to offer to the world a key part of the culture of this nation so full of music , color and unforgettable sensations …. Viva Mexico !

 

 

Come to explore Sian Kaan the biosphere reserve in Mexico

Sian Kaan

Sian Kaan, Mayan word which means “place where the sky is born” was the first Biosphere Reserve established in Mexico. It is located south of the state of Quintana Roo, about 2 hrs away  from Cancun. Today is  a World´s Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, and is of high conservation priority for the people and government of Mexico. It is the third largest protected area of the country and is composed of 600.000 acres of tropical ecosystems that range from lowland forest, flooded savannas, mangroves and a portion of the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The reserve is home to more than 800 species of plants and provides habitat for over 350 species of birds, as well as for the jaguar, puma, ocelot, howler and spider monkeys, crocodiles and many species of turtles. In addition, the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an is home to 23 archaeological sites of pre-Columbian culture.
If you want to visit Sian Kaan, it’s best to come to the Riviera Maya or Tulum, were there are nice and green hotels.

The Mayan Jungle Tour

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Mayan Ceremony

If you seek adventure, ecological and extreme tours, look for the Mayan Jungle tour, undoubtedly the most complete.
Here, you will fly on zip lines over the jungle, you will descend into a cenote, do rappel, swim in a cenote (sink hole) walk through muddy  places and shout inside the 4X4 vehicle that will lead you trough the Mayan jungle.

In addition you will take part in a Mayan purification ceremony with a real chaman and of course, you’ll be super happy at the end of the day. My favorite part? the underground river, its beautiful and breathtaking.

Although it seems that it is only for young people in our group there were two couples of  50 years who truly enjoyed the tour, not to mention that they did not know how they came to book this activity. It was great and I hope to return with my children very soon, just have to make shure that they weigh enough to ride the zip line and that they can rappel down the cenote, I do not stop recommending the Mayan Jungle Tour to all who ask me. ¿Where to go?  if I already know all the parks and archaeological sites in Cancun? Or what else there is to visit in Cancun? This is not new, but I think we should cultivate love for outdoor activities and educate people to practice tourism in places that care for nature, now that we live in a world as modern and inside intelligent buildings, it seems that we are going to end up as in the movie Wall-E! Don’t you think? Aaah one more thing, now you can do the  Mayan Jungle tour and visit Tulum at the same time.

 

Xplor Park

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Xplor Park

Xplor is a park in Riviera Maya that is focused on adventure tourism and offers four extreme activities.
One of the activities are the two circuits on the Jungle Canopy, measuring up to 45 meters high, which feature water landings, 2 suspension bridges and a slide, making them different from other zip lines circuits of the Riviera Maya.
It also has the good fortune of having under the ground, an underground river system of indescribable beauty where you can swim and canoe between stalactites with a history of 65 million years.
The latest attraction but by no means the least important, are the amphibious vehicles that you drive yourself to explore the jungle trails on the shore and underground caverns.
The 4 activities that the Xplor park offers are held the same day and are really exciting.
The Xplor Tour has a limited number of visitors per day, so whatever you do on your next vacation to Cancun or Riviera Maya Do not miss this experience, and we will hardly recomended to book ahead if you are looking for comming in high seasoon.

Swimming with whale sharks

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Whale Shark Adventure

During the months from June to September the magnificent whale sharks visit us in Cancun, making this place one of the most visited at this time of year in the Riviera Maya.

The whale shark is dark spoted on the top and white on the bottom, measures 15 feet long but will probably grow to over 60 feet, it prefers warm waters, so it migrates to the Mexican Caribbean Sea to mate and feed on plankton, squid and small fish. It’s a very quiet and friendly animal that is not afraid to cross with people who are near him, but as respect for the shark is forbidden to touch them.

“The Swim with Whale Shark Touroffers you an adventure you can not miss. We do the tours on our boats going from Cancun to Isla Contoy to reach the area where we can find the whale shark, there you can observe and swim around the giant fish in several periods of 10 minutes in pairs, our guides will be with you all times to support you and give you the necessary information to make your experience complete.
Go ahead and make your booking here for your summer vacation.

Swim with Sting Rays

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Sting Rays

Experience this holiday a day full of excitement in Isla Mujeres, which is located in front of Cancun just 35 minutes by boat.
The tour of Isla Mujeres with Dolphins leaves from the hotel zone of Cancun and in addition to the program with the dolphins will include a meeting with Sting rays, where you can coexists with these harmless creatures of the shark family.
The Sting rays have no bones, they are made primarily of cartilage and can measure a few centimeters or up to 5-7 meters long. They are carnivores and they eat small fish, crabs and shrimp, always hunt at night using their sense of smell and special receivers to detect their prey.
Touching the stingrays you ll see them floating through the sea, giving the impression that their Flying, sometimes they remain motionless, almost buried in the sand exposing only their eyes.

After swimming with the dolphins you can  swim with fifteen rays, the activity has a duration of 30 minutes, the trainer will help you get a chance to touch and interact with these curious creatures.
Some say that swimming with Sting rays is an experience not to be missed in life. To learn more about this trip to Isla Mujeres in Cancun click here.

Adventure in Garrafon Isla Mujeres

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Garrafon Natural Park

Garrafon Natural Park is the largest water park in Isla Mujeres – Cancun Mexico  it has one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Isla Mujeres is located just 25 minutes by boat from Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

If your purpose on your vacation in the Yucatan Peninsula is to practice a bit of ecotourism adventure, At Garrafon you will find unique natural beauties and fascinating adventures in and out of the water. Its crystal clear waters and gentle currents allow you to enjoy the wonders of the underwater world. It is the ideal place to practice different water activities like snorkeling, kayacking. You can also do kayak or enjoy climbing a tower or zip line over the ocean.
Garrafon is the perfect place to tan under the sun and taste the great seafood and fast food. Inside the park you can buy handicrafts, traditional clothing or beach cloths.

If you also want to swim with dolphins, you can do it on the same day, since we stop to the Isla Mujeres dolphin station on the way to Garrafon.

Park opens daily from 8:30 AM to 5:30 P.M. And closed on Saturday

Get To Know The Jungle Maya Tour

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Jungle Maya Tour

Have you already been to the archaeological sites? Or do they just not appeal to you, anyway? Do you want a vacation that is different and exciting without being an extreme sport? We recommend this tour for you, as it’s super fun, and has the just the right amount of what you’re looking for: adventure, excitement, and adrenaline, and all in a green, meaning ecological, environment.

Here you’ll fly on Ziplines over the jungle, rappel down into a cenote, explore and snorkel in cenotes and you’ll scream inside your 4 X 4 vehicle that takes you into the Jungla Maya (Mayan Jungle).

What’s more, you’ll take part in a Mayan purification ceremony with a real shaman, and of course, you’ll be super happy by day’s end. My favorite part? I think it was definitely the underground river. It’s beauty is amazing.

Although it seems that it’s only for the young, this is perfect for everyone, from those in their teens to those in their 60’s! The best thing about it is that you can do it with or without visiting Tulum and the archaeological site. If you come to Cancun or the Riviera Maya don’t miss it. It’s the only one that will let you get to know Nature and have fun in a sustainable environment.