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If you want to experience more than in-your-face commercialism, consider taking a day trip out of Cancún. You can rent a car and plan an excursion on your own. Or, better yet, participate in an tour by a reputable tour operator that’ll provide transportation and a well-organized itinerary.

Day Trips from Cancun

Chichén Itzá

One of the most important, most studied, and most reconstructed Maya sites, Chichén Itzá is huge (at 2.5 square miles). It's often crowded, but absolutely worth seeing. The city was at its height from the 7th to 9th centuries (abandoned in the late 13th) and is renowned for its pyramid, El Castillo; the ball park; the Temple of the Warriors; and El Caracol (the snail), a round building believed to have served as an observatory.

About 115 miles west of Cancún,
Tags: family | editor pick | culture | history | day trip


Visit this 30-mile-long island for its deserted beaches and some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkeling, especially along the 20-mile long Maya Reef. You can easily book an organized day trip for scuba diving or snorkeling from the tour desk at your hotel or resort. Plan on spending a full day on this beautiful island, but try to schedule around the cruise ship docking schedules to avoid massive crowds. See our Cozumel Travel Guide.

1.5 hours southeast of Cancún (includes a 30-minute ferry trip),
Tags: beach | family | snorkeling | day trip

Isla Mujeres

Despite the rapid development in the Riviera Maya, this five-mile-long island with postcard perfect beaches remains virtually untouched and is ideal to discover by bike or moped. Fishing, boating, and a wide range of water sports are offered. It’s easy to find places renting jet skis or offering parasailing trips right on the beach.

8 miles east of Cancún,
Tags: beach | family | day trip


The heart of the Yucatan, this vibrant city has a picturesque main square, a grand palace and cathedral, the oldest Jesuit church in the state, several stately historical homes, art museums, and dozens of top quality restaurants. Getting here will take four to five hours by car, so you might want to plan an overnight trip to visit here.

198 miles south of Cancún,
Tags: family | dining | culture | history | day trip

Playa del Carmen

Located about one hour from Cancún, Playa del Carmen is a very different tourist destination. Here, you’ll find hundreds of Mexican artisans, jewelers, and craftspeople selling their goods, along with more established stores that sell silver jewelry, homemade cigars, handcrafted leather goods, and other merchandise at negotiable prices. Playa del Carmen is also where you’ll find dozens of upscale restaurants, beautiful beaches, and a handful of truly spectacular tourist attractions, like Mayan ruins, the XCaret theme park (, and caves to explore. See our Playa del Carmen Travel Guide.

42 miles south of Cancún (less than 60 minutes by car), 77710,
Tags: beach | shopping | day trip | adventure | road trips

Reserva Ecologica El Eden

Wildlife lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to this 500,000-acre park full of swamps, sand dunes, and tropical and rainforest Animal viewing (spider monkey sightings are common) and bird watching are just a few of the possible activities. Plan on taking a 30-minute drive to get here by car.

30 miles northwest of Cancún,
Tags: day trip | wildlife

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