Unique things to do in Cancún
Book unforgettable activities hosted by locals on Airbnb.
Travel like a local
Yes, Cancun is a popular place for beach lovers to enjoy its white sands and aquamarine Caribbean waters, but go beyond the Hotel Zone and the spring break antics, and you will find a region teeming with activities that delve into its rich culture and history. When it comes to authentic things to do in Cancun, visit Cancun Centro for food tours, experience Tulum and Coba for a day, and explore Riviera Maya by kayak, among other Airbnb Experiences.
Dive into local beach life
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Your guide to Cancún
Where do locals hang out in Cancun?
Parque Urbano Kabah
This isn’t your typical city park. Here spider monkeys swing through the trees as iguanas get their daily sunning in — all while joggers enjoy a 1-mile loop and children run around a playground. Inside the park, you get to experience real Cancun, where locals on their day off enjoy the trails, a small zoo, the tiny Casa Mayan Museum, and a reprieve from the beach resorts and city center. On Sundays, it’s common to find families enjoying late afternoons and evenings in parks and plazas, and this is one of the best spots to experience it firsthand.
Museo Maya de Cancún
Locals enjoy beating the heat at Museo Maya de Cancún in the afternoon. While the architecture is modern, the history that lives within Museo Maya de Cancún y Zona Arqueológica de San Miguelito is ancient. It houses 3,500 artifacts (featuring roughly 400 on display at time) that showcase the ritual and domestic objects of the ancient Mayans who lived along Quintana Roo. Don’t miss the 12,000-year-old skeleton of La Mujer de las Palmas (The Woman of the Palms), a woman discovered in a cenote near Tulum. Afterward, head out to the quiet jungle-clad San Miguelito Ruins to imagine what Cancun looked like thousands of years ago.
This is the real-deal nightlife scene in Cancun. Situated in the heart of Cancun Centro, here is where you can find live mariachi music, hit the bars, and enjoy tacos, sopas, empanadas, and more of the best food in the city.
What do locals eat in Cancun?
There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal, especially in a place like Cancun. Families love to get together for tamales, sopa de lima, and other comfort foods; consider a cooking class to learn how to make some of these specialities. Tacos are a big deal here, and one of the best ways to eat like a local in Cancun is to join one on a walking tour to some of the best downtown taco spots.
For those who want more, head outside of Cancun on day trips to ancient ruins including Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Isla Mujeres and stop for lunch to try traditional Yucatan comfort food such as cochinita pibil (typically shredded pork wrapped in banana leaves) and huevos motuleños, as well as some of the region’s freshest seafood.
What are the best day trips from Cancun?
Culture and wonder in Tulum and Coba
Tulum, once a walled city that served as the port of Coba, is known as one of the best preserved Mayan cities along coastal Yucatán. The Temple of the Frescoes is one of the major draws to Tulum, where you can see remains of once colorful murals and impressive faces and figures etched into the exterior of the two-story building. Most visitors descend a long, narrow staircase at the end of the guided portion to dip their toes in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Experience Chichen Itza
Head into the jungle to visit Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for the 79-foot (24-meter) step Kukulcan Pyramid—more commonly known as El Castillo—as well as the Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court. Chichen Itza is most famous for myths about figures such as Kukulkan, a feathered serpent god, who is believed to make an appearance as a long, slithering shadow cast upon El Castillo’s north-facing steps at sunrise and sunset during spring and fall equinoxes.
Scuba diving in Cozumel
Home to the National Reef Marine Park, Cozumel is an underwater museum. Take scuba tours to explore the colorful reefs. Within the park is Chankanaab which translates to “little sea” and it’s an otherworldly exploration into the region’s protected flora and fauna.
Relaxing in Isla Mujeres
Boat and catamaran tours to Isla Mujeres operate daily (always check schedules). On the island, stay on shore for local art, dining, and shopping. For those who want to get in the water, go snorkeling through coral reefs, or scuba diving at Museo Subacuático de Arte. It’s one of the largest underwater museums in the world, with more than 500 permanent life-size sculptures.