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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ASTONISHING Animals of Cancun and the Riviera Maya

They were here long before the tourists, the hotels…even before the Mayans who called this place their home.

Who are they? They are the unbelievably colorful, beautiful and sometimes dangerous animals of Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

While there are many, here we present seven animals to marvel your eyes, and maybe help your heart skip a beat…

 

The Jaguar

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To the Mayans he is Balam…The largest of the big cats in the Americas, the jaguar features prominently in the mythology of native cultures, including the Maya and the Aztec. Dense forest is his preferred habitat, and like the tiger,  enjoys swimming.  While they tend to stay far away from noise, you can see them in places like Xcaret Park.

 

Black Iguana

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They are the largest of the ctenosaura lizards, and can grow as long as 1.5 meters ( 4.9 ft.) Known for their large spiny crests (especially on males), you can find these lizard kings and queens sunning themselves all over Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and even sunning themselves on your favorite archaeological monument like the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza or Tulum… After all, it is their home.

 

Spider Monkey

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You’ll find these mischievous creatures throughout the Mayan World…their long, spider-like limbs give them their name. Often weighing as much as 20 lbs, their arms are much longer than their legs, and their tails can support their entire weight and can be used as an extra limb. You might just see them in the jungles of our area, especially if you are on a Xenotes Tour.

 

Howler Monkey

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You’ll hear these monkeys before you see them, and their call is quite distinctive. Their characteristically deep howl will announce their presence to everyone and everything in the area. Mexican Howlers form large groups of up to 40 members or more, but due to loss of habitat, are on the endangered species list.

 

Mexican Red Rump or Black Velvet Tarantula

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You can find this creature right here in the Mexican Caribbean and throughout Mexico, but they can also be found as far south as Belize, Yucatan, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Like most tarantulas, they’ll eat anything they can overpower, namely insects, lizards and even rodents, and are important for the control of those species’ populations.

Despite their scary appearance and reputation, tarantulas are not generally aggressive toward humans.

 

Keel-billed Toucan

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With colors much brighter than that character on your cereal box, the Keel-billed Toucan will blow you away with its beautiful and vivid  beak and feathers. Rarely seen alone, you’ll see these beautiful tropical birds hopping through the trees in our jungle forests with six to twelve other friends.

If you take the Tulum Extreme Tour, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these vivid members of our animal kingdom!

 

The Whale Shark

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Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, but fortunately for us they only eat planckton and krill! From May to mid-September, you can find pods of these gentle giants swimming in the waters off the coast of Isla Mujeres and Cancun!

Whale shark tours are always in HUGE demand during those months, so make sure to book your Whale Shark Tour well in advance!

 

Our Caribbean waters and jungles have some of the most interesting habitats for some of the world’s most spectacular animals. We know you came here first for the beaches and the turquoise blue waters off our coasts. But if you really want to be in your own Discovery Channel or NatGeo Animal special, take a tour and meet some of the spectacular animals of Cancun and the Riviera Maya!


 

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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!

 

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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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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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!


The Jolly Roger-the Ultimate Cancun Pirate Ship

My daughter was invited to go out on the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship…

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The invitation was for two , and she asked if I’d like to be her plus-one. She didn’t have to ask her old man twice.

I love any time out on the water, but the idea of being on a pirate cruise at first wasn’t the most attractive, as I imagined it would be a corny, watered-down version of Pirates of the Caribbean.

I could not have been more wrong.

 

What is the Jolly Roger?image

 

The Jolly Roger is a pirate galleon modeled on Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria. A crew of talented pirates provides an ambiance of entertainment and fun for people of all ages.

 

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Our host, MC and CPO (Chief Party Officer), Captain Morgan

 

A very talented and coordinated DJ provided music, which set the stage for dancing and games for kids and adults, as pirates swung from ropes and acted out their stories and mutiny. Our ticket included a full meal, three and a half hours open bar, and a party atmosphere and entertainment.

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A company group smiling for the cameras…Little did they know what they were getting into.

 

And a Bottle of Rum…the Drinks

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Left: A Father/Daughter pre-party selfie, with our NINJA Personal Pirate, Marisa behind us. Right: My daughter, armed and dangerous.

So we set off from the pier at Playa Linda. My daughter and I decided that as honorary pirates, rum would be our poison. I decided to go straight Cuba Libres all night, and my little girl (who is not so little anymore) went with Piña Coladas (which I think are gateway drugs, but that’s another post for another day in another blog).

 

Cancun Pirate Ship
Who says pirates can’t dance? From left to right: Turner, Grouch, Captain Morgan, Rasta, Gargola and our personal pirate Marisa.

Our personal pirate Marisa must somehow have some sort of pirate ninja training…it seems I was just setting down my empty cup when it was replaced by another. The same went for Alex’s coladas. And they were good—not watered down, but not quite undrinkable jet fuel either. They were Goldilocks Just Right.

 

The Food

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Eat up people, you’ll need the energy for dancing and games upstairs on deck.

For dining we could choose between a steak or fish option. We each chose a different one, and we were not disappointed.

Buffets can let you down sometimes, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, generous portions, and service from the kitchen staff and our server Marisa.

 

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Has to Walk the Plank

Along with singing and dancing from the pirates and all of us guests (get ready, you WILL dance), there were games…games for men, games for women and games for couples.

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Games for the ladies…
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Err umm, games for the newly married couples.
Cancun Pirate Ship
La Cucarachaaaaa, La Cucarachaaa…glurp, glurp, glurp…

Yours truly was pulled out of the audience to participate in a highly embarrassing one where I had to sing La Cuacaracha while gargling a mouthful of rum. And I won! College did pay off after all.

 

Cancun Pirate Ship
Gargoyle, probably the most entertaining pirate of them all. Don’t let the scowl fool ya.

At one point or another on the trip, everyone was almost falling off his or her seat from laughter. The talented crew REALLY knows their comedy!

 

And then things got dark.

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Grouch has some anger issues to work out…

Grouch and a band of rogues held a mutiny, and a fierce battle ensued between both sides. It wasn’t a cheap fake sword fight with wood or platinum swords. This was a battle with very real looking swords and sparks definitely flew when they connected. Yikes.

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This just got real.

 

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Rastaman Overboard!

At one point someone yelled Man Overboard! as Rasta took the plunge into the deep blue of the night. The guy really jumped into the waters of the bay from a pretty high perch on the ship. These guys and girls ain’t kiddin’.

 

Fun for the Little Pirates in the Family, too!

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Treasure Hunt!!!

Who didn’t have a fantasy to be a pirate when they were kid? Heck, I do that now. The kids on were well-engaged by all the staff and in particular by Captain Morgan. They ran all over the ship looking for gold coins on a treasure hunt, played games up on stage and had meals fit for little pirate palates.

And the singing and dancing at the end of the voyage was a blast for anyone no mater what age. Well played, Jolly Rogers…you had something for the whole family.

 

The Staff…the Difference

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Each couple or group had a lady or gentleman pirate to serve them all night. Besides serving drinks and food, they were also part of the show up on stage and all over the ship. So let me get this right—they dance, sing, act, serve, and take care of their guests…in both English and Spanish (some even in Portuguese).

Singers, dancers, stuntmen (and women), servers, bartenders…what didn’t they do? It can’t be easy to find performers like these.

Follow the leader, leader, leader…

 

If you’re looking for something REALLY fun to do for the whole family on your vacation to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, put the Jolly Roger on your vacation bucket list.

 

To find out more about the Jolly Roger, the primo Cancun Pirate Ship, check out this link here. To see a whole site full of amazing vacation options, check out ecotourism cancun.com. You’ll save time, money and effort and make these the vacation you’ll remember forever.

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 !

 

 

Rio Secreto Underground Adventure

Río Secreto

Rio Secreto (Secret River) provides a magical journey that will bring to life the stories of mystical Mayan underworld, Xibalba … A fun tour on a real underground river, where you can admire the carved wonders over millions of years in the limestone, between clear water, caverns of outstanding beauty. This is an “alive” natural museum, unique in the world. Before opening its doors, Rio Secreto required a year of intense exploration that as for today it only has completed 10 km and 1.5 km so far open to the public. It has three routes: Supreme, Palaces, and Joy, all  accept only 144 visitors a day, with the purpose of conserving the area and generate the least impact. The pat is not dangerous or deep, 20 meters is the maximum depth for  reaching the fall. To swim down to what appears to be the center of the earth you don’t require almost  anything, just a wet suit, swim shoes and a helmet with a lamp, and they provide all of it.

Step into one of the most fascinating places in the world: the basement of the Yucatan Peninsula. While being there, you will discover the importance of preserving nature so that others can enjoy it the same as you. I promise that Rio Secreto will be one of the most beautiful places you’ve known in your life. Rio Secreto is very closed to Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, 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.

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.

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