Beyond the Beaches: 5 Attractions That Showcase the Best of Cancun

Cancun, Mexico is practically synonymous with “spring break”, that time of year when college kids head to the tropical resorts and have wild beach parties. But Cancun is more than just a party place for college students, it’s actually full of some great things to do that include nature seeing, ancient Mayan history, and more.

Bird watching in Isla Contoy
Bird watchers will find Isla Contoy to be a tropical paradise that houses over 100 species of birds (and 4 species of sea turtles), as part of a protected National Park. It’s quite easy to reach Isla Contoy, as there is a ferry available about 10 minutes from downtown Cancun.

It’s quite the natural paradise that is kept in pristine condition, as the amount of visitors is purposely kept low – only 200 visitors are allowed per day. One of the best ways to visit Isla Contoy is through an all inclusive tour that includes awesome snorkeling adventures around the island.

Hit up the casinos
For many years Cancun was a casino-free zone due to local laws, but things changed around 2010, and many casinos have sprung up over the years. Some of the top-rated casinos that belong to resorts include:

  • Red Casino at Grand Oasis Cancun
  • Dubai Palace Cancun
  • Casino Palace Cancun
  • Royal Yak Casino and Sportsbook
  • Casinos de Fantasia Cancun

If you don’t feel like strolling into a physical casino but still want to do a little gaming during your vacation, you can always use your resort’s WiFi to play a casino online.

Cancun Scenic Tower
The Cancun Scenic Tower offers spectacular 360° views of the Caribbean coast, the hotel zone, and the rest of Cancun from 100m (300 feet) in the air. The deck slowly rotates for around 15 minutes, giving you plenty of fantastic photo opportunities. The Cancun Scenic Tower operates every day from 9am to 9pm.

Mercado 28
Mercado 28 is an enormous flea market with over 600 stall vendors where you can find all sorts of local souvenirs, handicrafts, jewelry, artwork, and more. It’s an open-air flea market with plenty of food and drink vendors as well, so you can make an entire day out of browsing the endless selection of local wares.

Tourists should of course be prepared to haggle over prices, and be aware of typical resort souvenirs being sold by vendors at inflated prices. But searching for truly authentic, original handicrafts and other souvenirs is totally worth it.

Maya Museum and the San Miguelito Ruins
Located on Museo Maya’s 80 hectare property within the Hotel Zone of Cancun, visitors can explore the San Miguelito Ruins, which houses many unique Mayan relics. You’ll see artifacts from Chichen Itza and other Mayan sites, as well as explore temples, pyramids, and the homes of the ancient Mayans.

The site has four distinct areas; The Chaak Palace, the North Complex, the South Complex and the Dragon complex. The Chaak and Southern Complex are noteworthy, as these areas have well preserved pyramids and small structures.

Aside from the San Miguelito Ruins, the Museo Maya itself hosts three galleries with tons of information on Mayan history and culture. Entrance is only $5, which is an amazing deal for so much to see.


The Yucatan Times