Cancun: what to see and do on the beaches of the Mayan Riviera

September 18, 2019

Cancun is the most famous and crowded city on the Mayan Riviera, along with Playa del Carmen, and is often associated with dream beaches, luxury hotels and entertainment.

Cancun beach on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico

Cancun is the most famous and tourist-crowded city in Riviera Maya, together with Playa del Carmen. It is often associated to dream beaches, luxurious hotels and fun.

Of course, if you are looking for all this, you won't be disappointed. Anyway, Cancun has many other things to offer, do not hesitate to take part in some excursions and visit the unmissable spots.

Zona Hotelera: the center

Cancun is divided into two parts: the "zona hotelera" where it is possible to find several beaches and have fun, and the centre, a characteristic place not crowded by tourists. Many Mexicans, who live here, have a house in the centre and go to work in the hotel area by bus or colectivos.

The most beautiful beaches in Cancun

Some of the most beautiful beaches of Cancun are located in the "zona hotelera". Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol are unmissable spots, they are respectively situated at km 6.5 and at km 9.5 of Boulevard Kukulcan. The first one is less touristic, but the inhabitants come here in the early morning to get a place on this small beach. Bars and restaurants boast tables on the beach.

The second is located close to the most famous clubs of Cancun, such as Coco Bongo. Many young tourists stay here from afternoon to late night.

Sunrise on the beach.

Isla Mujeres, the dream island in front of Cancun

From Playa Tortuga and Playa Caracol it is possible to get on board a Ultramar ferry to reach Isla Mujeres in 25 minutes. It is a real dream island not far from Cancun. It is possible to visit it in one day or overnight for some nights in one of its hotels: the most suggestive accommodations are located in Playa Norte, the most beautiful beach on the island.

Mercado 28: where to buy souvenirs

In the centre of Cancun there is a pictoresque market where it is possible to buy Mexican handicraft souvenirs. They are very original and colourful and cheaper than the ones you can buy in the small shops located in the "zona hotelera".

The market is called Mercado 28. Here it is possible to find clothes, handicraft objects, hats, local alcoholic bottles and every kind of souvenirs. To reach the market you can take a taxi from your hotel or a bus.

Maya souvenirs.

Meeting local people

If you want to visit one of the Mexican favourite places in Cancun, you should visit Parque de las Palapas. The name can make you think of a park, but it is a square where the locals meet in the evening to spend time together, attend some good concerts and eat comida callejera.

It is not far from ADO bus station and, altough it is hidden by the houses, it is really easy to go there: just ask for it or follow the sound.

Archaeological sites

If you love Mayan history and culture, you should visit Chichen Itza, one of the new 7 wonders of the world. In this archaeological site, which extends over 3 sqkm, it is possible to walk through temples and breath-taking ruins. The main pyramid is called Kukulkan Temple or El Castillo by the locals. The other most famous constructions are the Ancient Astronomical Observatory or Caracol, the Temple of the Warriors and the pelota court. There are 7 pelota courts in Chichen Itza, the most important is located close to El Castillo, it is also the largest in the whole Central America.

Chichen Itza means "at the mouth of the well of the Itza" and comes from the words chi (mouth) and ch'en (well). Itza was the predominant ethnic group in northern Yucatan.

Chichen Itza is 2,5 hours from Cancun, there are several tours which include bus transportation, ticket entrance and typical lunch in a restaurant near the site. On the contrary, if you want to do it on your own, you should take an ADO bus in the morning and come back at night at a convenient price.

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