Cancún offers plenty of unusual things to see and do off the beaten track, from hidden cenotes to leaning towers, street art, and archaeological sites. Many people come to Cancún for the beaches, parties, and the nightlife scene, but the region is also chock full of culture, history, and experiences that are as intriguing as they are mysterious.

    If you'd like to check out all the history and culture this region has to offer, explore the top 10 things to do off the beaten track in Cancún.

    1

    Isla Contoy

    Go bird-watching and swim with sharks

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    Isla Contoy is one of the most important sites for bird nesting in Mexico and is an island sanctuary with more than 150 species of birds you can view in the wild. In addition, it's also an important nesting site for sea turtles, and you can book a tour to swim with whale sharks in the summer here. It's an idyllic spot with soft, white-sand beaches, groves of palm trees, and tonnes of natural unspoiled wildlife to see.

    Note that the island limits visitors to 200 per day, so it's important to book your travel in advance. It's about 19 miles north of Isla Mujeres, and getting here requires a ferry trip of a couple of hours.

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    2

    Mambocafé

    Salsa dance the night away

    Mambocafé is one of the top traditional Latin dance clubs in Cancún with DJs and live musicians offering up salsa, bachata, and merengue music all night long. This is a club that entertains after hours where the party never ends. Some visitors here dress in their finest to show off their dance moves, but the atmosphere is laid back and casual, and the club doesn't have a dress code.

    Live music begins every weekend night after midnight. The club is located in the heart of city centre Cancún, so it's an easy jaunt to local amenities.

    Lokalizacja: Av Xcaret MZA 2 LTE 6 LOCAL 31 35, 77505 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

    Otwarte: Wednesday–Saturday from 10.30 pm to 3 am (closed Sunday–Tuesday)

    Telefon: +52 998-884-4536

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    3

    Las Coloradas

    See naturally pink-colored lakes

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    Las Coloradas, or the Red Ones, is the name for the various pink lakes that can be found in their namesake fishing village that offer a unique and stunning sight. The waters in these lakes are actually pink, and the phenomenon is 100% natural, without dyes or other interference. The reason for the pink colour is the high salt content, which is conducive to the growth of red plankton. The natural reserve encompassing the lakes covers 150,000 acres.

    It takes about 3 hours to get here by car from Cancún, but you'll find plenty to do here to keep you occupied. Besides fishing and touring the lakes, you can see a wide range of natural wildlife here.

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    4

    Cancún street art

    See giant colourful murals all over the city

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    Cancún street art is a newer phenomenon, an urban art project that offers large-scale, colourful murals created by both renowned and up-and-coming artists. These murals have been popping up all over the city, giving visitors a chance to visit what essentially has become a gigantic, free-to-all open art gallery across the city.

    Many of the murals have been backed by a marine conservation group and showcase marine themes. Others highlight the cultural legacy of Cancún. Each has its own unique vibe that's representative of the artists who created them. The largest concentration of paintings can be found in the Hotel Zone on Avenida Bonampak.

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    5

    Yamil Lu'um archaeological site

    Explore the Scorpion's Temple

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    The Yamil Lu'um archaeological site is also known as the Templo del Alácran, or Scorpion's Temple, and was an important spiritual site for the Maya circa 1200 CE with stunning historic views. The ruins here offer a stunningly beautiful setting that is accessed by passing through flanking hotels.

    Yamil Lu'um is located in the Hotel Zone around 20 minutes from city centre. The ruins consist only of outward-sloping remains of the outer walls, but the feeling of hundreds of years of Mayan culture is still present here.

    Lokalizacja: Blvd. Kukulcan 12.5, El Rey, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

    Otwarte: 24/7

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    zdjęcie: Mauro I. Barea G. (CC BY-SA 3.0) zostało poddane edycji

    6

    Isla Holbox

    See flamingos in their native habitat

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    Isla Holbox is a day trip well off the beaten track that offers a tropical wonderland that's home to thousands of birds, including wild flamingos. The island is an unspoiled stretch of wilderness with white sands, clear blue waters, and a true sense of peace, serenity, and harmony with nature. Even better, you can charter a tour from here that offers you the chance to swim with whale sharks, whose babies are playful and like swimmers.

    Getting to Isla Holbox takes about 4 hours by car, or you can take a charter plane to get here much quicker. However you get here, the photo ops and experiences at Isla Holbox are what you'd expect to find in an island paradise.

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    7

    Xoximilco

    Experience a true Mexican fiesta

    Xoximilco offers the chance to see what a genuine Mexican fiesta is like, with traditional boats and picturesque surroundings inspired by a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The boats are traditional trajineras that originally were used to transport fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other products from port to port. When you get on board one of these boats, you'll be treated to traditional cocktails and authentic local dishes while you enjoy music from a mariachi band.

    You can board the boats in the Hotel Zone. It's an easy 25-minute jaunt from the centre of city centre and offers an entirely different kind of Cancún nightlife.

    Lokalizacja: Chetumal Km. 282, Juárez, 77580 Puerto Morelos, Q.R., Mexico

    Otwarte: Monday–Saturday from 7.15 pm to midnight (closed on Sundays)

    Telefon: +52 998-883-3143

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    8

    Puerto Morelos

    Pet a crocodile and go snorkelling on a coral reef

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    Puerto Morelos is a quiet and quaint fishing village that offers superb beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving, amazing food, arts and crafts markets, and cenotes. You can go diving amongst a genuine coral reef and even head for a unique petting zoo where you and the kids can touch creatures like snakes, deer, Mexican hairless dogs, and crocodiles. 

    If you've never tried swimming in a cenote, which is a natural limestone swimming hole, you can do so here. It's all just about 20 miles down the coast from central Cancún.

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    9

    Cenote Suytun

    Tour a natural limestone underground swimming hole

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    Cenote Suytun offers an amazing underground semi-open natural swimming hole with stunning stalactites, a walking platform, and plenty of amenities from bathrooms to life jacket rentals. This is amongst the more popular cenotes in the region, so going in the early morning or late afternoon gives you the best chance of avoiding crowds. The best time to catch the natural light beam through the roof is before 2 pm.

    You can also take a tour to explore the cenote if you like. It's about a 2-hour drive to get here from Cancún, so plan for a day trip.

    Lokalizacja: Carretera Ticuch Km 8 S/n, 97780 Valladolid, Yuc., Mexico

    Telefon: +52 999-227-5696

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    10

    Faro Inclinado

    See a leaning tower that refuses to be brought down

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    Faro Inclinado, or the Leaning Lighthouse, is a local symbol of strength and resilience and offers a photo opportunity with a unique architectural oddity. This lighthouse was hit by a severe hurricane in 1967 but wasn't knocked down. Instead, the foundation degraded and caused the tower to tilt, but it's never fallen. In fact, later efforts to remove the lighthouse failed, as it refuses to go down.

    The Leaning Lighthouse is nestled between Cancún and Playa del Carmen on the beach of Puerto Morelos. It can be viewed at any time, along with its twin, which still functions today.

    Lokalizacja: 77580 Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico

    Otwarte: 24/7

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    zdjęcie: Jaontiveros (CC BY-SA 3.0) zostało poddane edycji

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