Looking for trip ideas for your Cancun summer vacation? This selection will have you in the water and face to face with some of the sea’s most beautiful creatures, flying through the jungle canopy and discovering Mexican traditions.
Swim with the whale sharks, a Cancun summer vacation highlight
If you are traveling to Cancun or the Riviera Maya this summer, you have the chance to swim alongside the gentle giants of the sea, the whale shark. This is an incredible wildlife encounter with the world’s largest fish.
Whale sharks travel thousands of miles through the tropics during the year in search of feeding grounds with rich pickings of plankton and fish roe. From mid-May to mid-September they migrate to the Mexican Caribbean. Hundreds of whale sharks gather near the islands of Holbox, Contoy and Isla Mujeres to feed on plankton and fish eggs, in what biologists say is the largest whale shark aggregation or gathering in the world.
Imagine watching a creature as big as a bus appear from the depths and swim right past you, its gaping jaws open to scoop up the plankton. Seeing your first whale shark is an awe-inspiring sight and it can be even more amazing if the manta rays are feeding too. Also partial to plankton, fish eggs and tiny fish, they suddenly leap from the water and glide through the air in spectacular flight.
Whale shark trips are available from June to mid-September.
Jump right in
As temperatures sizzle you’ll want to head straight for the water, whether that’s the Caribbean or the surprisingly cool waters of a Riviera Maya cenote or sinkhole deep in the jungle.
On your Cancun summer vacation, plan a morning of snorkeling at one of the coral reefs in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, the Puerto Morelos National Park or head further south to the island of Cozumel or Akumal in the Riviera Maya.
As soon as you go below the surface you’ll begin to see the treasures of the reef: shimmering fish in all shapes and sizes. Some, like the butterfly, squirrel and damselfish, flit through coral gardens or stay close to the crevices that are their refuges, others like the queen angelfish glide by in pairs. Jacks, French grunts, blue tangs and pork fish congregate in shoals around the reef crest and can number hundreds of fish. From sea turtles to parrot fish, wherever you look you’ll see colorful marine creatures and you’ll be instantly entranced.
Leave the beach and reef behind one day and head into the jungle to explore the Yucatan Peninsula’s hidden limestone world, its caves, underground rivers and the mysterious natural freshwater wells known as cenotes. The cool, crystal-clear waters in shades of turquoise, deep blue and emerald green are irresistible. You can start your cenote exploration in the Riviera Maya, where the world’s longest underground rivers discovered to date are right here in the Tulum area.
How about a visit to Cancun’s latest attraction this summer, Xavage? This new park from the Xcaret Group is all about one word, adventure: on land, in the water and in the air.
Try white water rafting, the excitement of a jet boat course or kayaking along a jungle waterway. Take to the air for a zip line flight or pit your climbing and balancing skills against a thrilling rope course. Test drive a Rock Crawler vehicle across challenging terrain and if you have the kids with you, there’s an adventure playground that they will love.
A very Mexican evening
Plan a very Mexican evening at Xoximilco, a park to the south of Cancun Airport that is inspired by the ancient Aztec canals and world-famous floating gardens of Xochimilco on the outskirts of Mexico City.
At Xoximilco, the mariachis strike up under a star-studded sky, tequila flows and a tasty selection of Mexican cuisine is served on board a colorful trajinera or Mexican-style gondola that sails along tree-lined waterways. This is a Mexican experience you won’t want to miss, full of color, music and song, a true fiesta to share with family and friends.
After a welcome drink and a tasty traditional snack of esquites (corn cooked in lime juice and topped with cream or mayonnaise, grated cheese and chili powder), you’ll be ready to board your trajinera. There is a boat for each Mexican state and all are really colorful with unique designs associated with the state in question.
Musicians from different parts of Mexico will serenade you during the evening. Guitar trios from the Yucatan perform romantic trova ballads. The tempo quickens with La Bamba and La Cascabel, famous jarocho tunes from Veracruz. Ranchero classics from northern Mexico will have you on your feet and then the mariachis strike up and you’ll want to sing along with them.
You’ll see scenes representing life in Xochimilco: hear the retelling of ancient Aztec legends, watch traditional dances and meet women paddling canoes filled with flowers, produce and warm tortillas for your meal.
How about visiting a trio of Mayan cities during your Cancun summer vacation? Tulum, Muyil and Coba are all in the Riviera Maya and within driving distance although you may want to pace yourself and visit them separately.
The spectacular views of the Caribbean from the cliff top city of Tulum makes this an obligatory Riviera Maya visit and it doesn’t matter how many times you have been there, it is always beautiful, right down to the iguanas basking in the sun on the walls of ancient temples.
Head inland from Tulum on the Mexican Caribbean coast to the ancient jungle city of Coba, one of the largest archaeological sites in the Maya World; it is said that 90 percent of its temples and palaces have yet to be excavated. For spectacular views of the surrounding forest and four nearby lakes, climb Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid in the northern Yucatan.
Keep a look out for huge blue morph butterflies, toucans, parrots and even spider monkeys as you walk along the jungle trails leading to clusters of ancient temples, it’s part of the thrill. And after your Coba visit you might want to cool off with a swim in one of the cenotes in the Tulum area.
Twenty minutes to the south of Tulum, the archaeological site of Muyil, also known as Chunyaxche, is in the forest on the shores of a lagoon in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Once a Maya trade center, it received goods brought by canoe from the Caribbean and shipped them overland to other cities in the Yucatan.
You can combine your Muyil visit with an unforgettable boat trip following the ancient merchant route through the Sian Ka’an wetlands and you’ll see birds, crocodiles and other wild creatures en route. Exploring these three archaeological sites on your Cancun vacation is a chance to have your own jungle experience with plenty of wildlife sightings.
Ready to book your trip?
All these trips and many more can be booked with Thomas More Travel. Visit the website and call in at the tour desk in your resort for more exciting tour and activity recommendations for your Cancun summer vacation.