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…
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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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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

Cozumel vs Isla Mujeres

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Cozumel or Isla Mujeres

If you want to visit an island, Isla Mujeres is the best ride you can take, definitively the crossing by boat to the island is more enjoyable, beautiful and fast compared with the visit to Cozumel.

Once you arrive to Isla Mujeres you’ll be in North Beach which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in this world. The small and unique village of Isla Mujeres surrounds you with an atmosphere of relaxation and freedom that your not going to feel in any other place of the Riviera Maya. Although many people prefer to experience crossing by ferry to the island, I think the best and economic option is a boat tour  called The Islander that has a beach club on Isla Mujeres. There you will have the best beach with all the comfort you can get: bath, restaurant and bar on the beach at a super price. If you choose to go by ferry you will not find these facilities unless you pay for them.

You can do different activities on the  Isla Mujeres or Island of Women  like: rent golf carts, bicycles, swimming with dolphins, visit the Sea Turtle Farm, snorkeling on the reef or jug in the park, and shopping. Indeed Cozumel is definitely the best option if you want to have a good day of snorkeling or scuba diving, taking a submarine ride  below 30 meters underwater or diving! The reefs in Cozumel are superior in beauty than in Isla Mujeres, so the call is yours!