Best Cancun tours

18 Best Cancun Tours And Excursions For The Ultimate Adventure (2023)

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Cancun is the busiest destination in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Although it offers the convenience of hotels, restaurants, and shopping, it could also feel like it lacks character, and is too overdeveloped. Luckily, Cancun is within hours of many natural and historic landmarks like colonial cities, crystal-clear cenotes, and mysterious Mayan ruins.

👉 To explore these places, take one of the best Cancun tours.

Quick disclosure: The Discovery Nut doesn’t support animal entertainment in any form. You will not find tours that involve captured or trained animals in this article. All the Cancun tours below have been carefully sourced to offer the best cultural experience, provide insight into the Mexican culture and enhance conservation and education about species in the region.

✅ Check my complete guide to tipping in Mexico to fin out how much you should tip your tour guide.

The Best Cancun tours: a complete overview

Best Chichen Itza tours from Cancun begin before the sunrise so you can avoid the crowds.

1. Most popular Cancun tour – Chichen Itza, Valladolid and a cenote

💛 6,856 Reviews – 5 stars 

One of the most popular Cancun tours is a day trip to Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chichen Itza is one of the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, that attracts millions of tourists. Visiting it is a great way to learn the history of the Mayan civilization that stretched from today’s Mexico to parts of Central America.

After a busy day exploring, refresh yourself in the waters of the (cenote) Saamal, and enjoy a delicious buffet meal. The tour also includes a stop in Valladolid, a colonial town that boasts many historical landmarks and gorgeous pastel-colored architecture.

What’s included:

  • Hotel pick-up from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, or a designated meeting point
  • An English-speaking guide
  • Access the Chichen Itza for additional cost
  • Lockers and life jackets

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How to get from cancun to tulum

2. Best Value Tour from Cancun – Tulum Ruins, Snorkeling, Cenotes and Caves

💛 2,372 Reviews – 5 stars

The Discovery combo tour will introduce you to cenotes, one of the most famous natural landmarks in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are sinkholes filled with groundwater that are popular for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Over 6,000 cenotes dot the entire peninsula, and while some have become very popular, many are still waiting to be discovered.

During the tour you visit to Tulum Ruins, an archeological area perched along the Caribbean Sea, a snorkeling stop where you can explore the second-largest barrier reef in the world. The last few stops are limestone caves and a jungle walk.

Tulum cenotes and snorkeling is one of the best Cancun excursions.

What’s included:

  • A round-trip transportation from your hotel
  • A bilingual guide
  • Entrance fees
  • A buffet lunch
  • The Natural Marine Reserve Fee 13 USD per person is payable upon pick-up in cash

What’s not included:

  • Gratuities

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3. Best eco-friendly Cancun tour – snorkeling with whale sharks

Snorkeling with whale sharks in the Caribbean Sea is a one-of-a-kind adventure that you will not get anywhere else. Whale sharks are the largest fish in this ecosystem, but you can also see other marine creatures like manta rays, dolphins, turtles and other animals. 

This is one of the best Cancun tours for animal lovers!

Unlike big group tours that often have many people and can feel impersonal, this Cancun excursion is capped to a small number of participants. The tour is accompanied by a professional biologist who will tell you about how to act around whale sharks and have a great experience observing these marine creatures. 

👉 Always keep your distance and remember that you are a guest in their home, not the other way around!

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Tulum is home to some of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula that make some of the best Cancun tours.

4. Best cenote tour from Cancun – Tulum cenotes

💛 1,591 Reviews – 4,5 stars

One of the most popular Cenote tours from Cancun offers a glimpse of Tulum and some of the best cenotes in the area like Cenote Chen Há and Mariposa.🤿 Tulum is a designated pueblo magico in Mexico’s Caribbean, famous for its turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, photogenic hotels, and dozens of cenotes in the area.

The tour includes a guided walk through Tulum ruins perched above the Caribbean Sea, and a swim on the beach below the ruins for an additional fee. It’s one of the best Cancun tours if you are visiting Rivera Maya for the first time, and want to get a taste of this destination without renting a car or figuring out how to plan your itinerary.

What’s included:

  • Multilingual tour at Tulum Archeological site
  • Visit to two cenotes
  • Round-trip transportation from your hotel.

What’s not included:

  • $15 conservation fee to access cenote (has to be paid in cash)💰

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Some of the best Cancun tours include a stop in Tulum ruins.

5. Best Cancun tour for adventure lovers – Jet Ski + Parasailing

Parasailing off the coast of Cancun is the ultimate adventure. This small group Cancun tour offers a fun parasailing experience followed by a thrilling jet ski ride. You get a bird-eye view of natural sandbars, Nichupté Lagoon, and Isla Mujeres as you soar above the water, and ride in a shared jet ski.

The tour offers a personalized experience with a small group capped at 10 people. The tour includes door-to-door hotel pick-up and drop-off with activities, locker room with towels.

What’s included:

  • A pick-up and drop-off from your hotel
  • Jet ski and safety equipment for both activities
  • Air-conditioned vehicle
  • Bottled water

What’ not included:

  • Dock fee (USD 10 per person, payable at check-in)
  • Gratuities

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Private Isla Mujeres tour is one of the best Cancun excursions for couples.

6. Best Cancun luxury tour – Private Isla Mujeres Excursion

💛 265 Reviews – 5 stars

Private catamaran cruise from Cancun is one of the best Cancun excursions for couples! Regular catamaran tours can have too many people, which takes away from the experience, but a private catamaran tour is a different ball game👌

It’s also one of the best Cancun luxury tours if you travel with a group of friends and can split the price.

Your captain will take you to Isla Mujeres or other great spots around the bay on a half-day trip. During the tour, you can go snorkeling at the coral reef, stop at secluded beaches, and lounge on the 32-foot (10-meter) catamaran’s deck. All at your own pace! 😃

Remember to put on a reef-friendly sunscreen not to hurt any wildlife and preserve the reefs.

This is an excellent tour if you are traveling with a group of friends and can split the cost of the catamaran which covers up to nine people. The tour also covers snorkeling gear and you can even customize your itinerary as you want. Hotel pick-up and drop-off can be arranged for additional cost. 

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7. Best Cancun Tour Off the Beaten Path – Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos 

The pink lakes of Los Coloradas is one of my favorite spots in the Yucatan Peninsula. 🤩

But it takes time and effort to visit Las Coloradas independently because of their remote location at the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, and if you travel by yourself, you also need to rent a car to get there. 

Taking a guided tour of Los Coloradas from Cancun is the best way to avoid the hassle, as it saves about six hours of driving. The tour also includes a stop in the Rio Lagartos, a reserve that is home to many species like flamingos, pelicans, eagles and crocodiles. During the tour, you will get a chance to learn about how salt is produced and take a Mayan mud bath. 

This is one of the best Cancun tours if you want to see the stunning pink lakes and spend time in the nature!

What’s included:

  • A round-trip transportation
  • A boxed meal and a restaurant lunch prepared by local villagers

What’s not included:

  • The Ría Lagartos reservation tax
  • Gratuities

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8. Best Chichen Itza Cancun Tour – Chichen Itza, Cenote & Valladolid

Chichen Itza is a popular attraction, and it gets very busy. The best way to skip the crowded bus tours and long lines at Chichen Itza is by taking a personalized excursion from Cancun or other destinations in Rivera Maya. The private tour of Chichen Itza includes a stop in Cenote Ik Kil or Xcajum, wihere you can enjoy the deep clear waters of the natural wonders and swim at your own pace. 

This is one of the best Chichen Itza Cancun tours that lets you customize the itinerary and avoid crowds at a popular landmark!

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Some of the best Cancun excursions include stops in cenotes where you can swim and snorkel.

9. Best snorkeling Cancun tour – Half day cenote & turtle adventure

Tulum is home to some of the best snorkeling in Mexico 🤿 But some of the best spots can be tough to navigate – and many of them are hidden. This guided half-day cenote tour takes you to float through caverns and rock formations along the waters of a cenote. After cenotes, you will visit Akumal, one of the most well-known places for snorkeling with sea turtles, and a popular stop for many Cancun tours.

You can finish your trip with lunch and enjoy free time at a beach club hideaway. 👉 When snorkeling with sea turtles, always remember to keep a safe distance. Akumal has seen an increase in tourist activity, which drove many turtles away. Do NOT touch or interfere with any marine creatures while in the water.

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A street food adventure is one of the most popular tours from Cancun.

10. Best Cancun tour for foodies – Cancun Street Food and Market Day Tour

If you are foodie, you can’t miss Cancun Street Food tour 🙂 This curated tour will allow you to experience Cancun beyond the glitzy resorts as you will visit markets, street food stalls, and hidden corners with vibrant street art and mingle with locals.

Foodies will love sampling local specialties from the Yucatan cuisine and taste delicious tacos. It’s best to come hungry for this tour, as you will have a chance to sample all kinds of delicacies and enjoy the local food made with fresh ingredients from scratch.

It’s one of the best Cancun tours to learn about the Mexican culture and enjoy local gastronomy.

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Bacalar Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula.

11. Best Cancun Tour for Adventure Lovers – Magical Bacalar

Bacalar is one of the longer Cancun tours, but it’s absolutely worth it!

The tour to Bacalar departs early morning and brings you back your hotel late at night. During the tour, you get to visit Lake Bacalar which is also called the Lagoon of Seven Colors (Laguna De Siete Colores), and nearby cenotes Azul and Cocalitos.

The tour of the lagoon includes the Pirates’ Channel and Isla Pájaros bird island – some of the main highlights of this gorgeous aquamarine lake. After adventuring in Bacalar, grab a bite in one of local restaurants on the city’s main square. 

What’s included:

  • A round-trip transportation from Cancun to Bacalar
  • A pick-up and drop-off from your hotel
  • A boat ride on the lake
  • A breakfast

What’s not included:

  • Gratuities

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12. Most fun Cancun tour – Rio Secreto Underground River with Crystal Caves

Located underground, Rio Secreto is one of the most stunning natural sites in Mexico’s Rivera Maya.

The area is home to one of the most impressive underground caves in Mexico with spectacular stalactites above the crystal-clear blue water.

👉 Visiting Rio Secreto is possible only with a guided tour.

During this adventure, you get to swim and walk through the river, and learn about the underground ecosystem. 

You can choose round-trip transportation from your Cancun hotel, or meet your guide at Rio Secreto directly. You can add the Tulum ruins for an additional upgrade.

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13. Best Cancun diving tour – Diving for beginners – 2 tanks 2 dives

💛 216 reviews – 5 stars

Scuba diving in the Caribbean is a special experience.

You get to see many amazing creatures like manta rays, turtles, all sorts of fish and colorful corals. 🐠 The introductory crash-course to scuba diving includes two separate dives and allows you to get a taste of this popular water sport. It’s also a great way to master the basics without spending hundreds of dollars on a lengthy scuba diving course that culminates with a PADI exam. 

The class coves the basics of scuba diving with the theory class and a pool diving session before you go in the open water. On one of the dives, you get to see the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art and on the second, the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world. 

What’s included:

The tour covers all diving gear and necessary equipment.

What’s not included:

Gratuities

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Oasis Maya by Xcaret is one of the best Cancun tours packages

14. The best Cancun tour – Cenotes Oasis Maya by Xcaret

💛 573 reviews – 5 stars

This fun Cancun tour will bring you to sinkholes where you can paddle through the underground caverns on kayaks, snorkel in the subterranean aquatic habitats and float on the azure water on inner tubes surrounded by incredible lush flora. Enjoy this small tour that is limited to 19 people and is accompanied by a professional guide who will tell you the tales from the Mayan folklore. 

What’s included:

  • A round-trip transport by air-conditioned vehicle from Cancun and Riviera Maya hotels
  • Snacks
  • A gourmet picnic lunch

What’s not included:

  • Gratuities

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A street food adventure is one of the most economical Cancun tours packages

15. Best Cancun tour for culture lovers – Cooking Class and Local Market

💛 104 reviews – 5 stars

Learning a new way of cooking is a fun experience, but it’s even more fun when you get to do it from start to finish and get training from local chef.

Mexican cooking class provides just that! 

You will cook a 4-course Mexican menu after buying all of the ingredients in a local market. This small-group tour will teach you the basics of Mexican cooking and also show some tricks that are used to prepare meals. During the class you will learn how to use a stone mortar and clay pots to cook several flavorful dishes. 

What’s included:

  • A pick-up and drop-off at your hotel and is limited to 10 people
  • Cooking ingredients

What’s not included:

  • Gratuities

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16. Best Cancun tour to skip crowds at Chichen Itza

💛 160 Reviews – 5 stars

If you want to avoid the heat and crowds of Chichen Itza, take the private tour of the famous ruins from Cancun.

🌞 The best time to visit this archaeological area is before the sunrise, and this private tour provides exactly that. You’ll see the ancient Mayan city as the sun rises over its ruins – a special experience that so many travelers miss out on!

👉 You will leave Chichen Itza before most visitors begin to arrive and head to Cenote Ik Kil to cool off. Since it’s a private tour, the itinerary is flexible and you can add on another archaeological site, like Ek Balam, Coba, or Tulum. 

What’s included:

  • A pick-up and drop-off from your hotel
  • A licensed guide
  • A breakfast
  • Bottled water
  • All fees and taxes

What’s not included:

  • Gratuities

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17. The most adventurous Cancun tour: Ziplines and Cenote

💛 243 Reviews – 5 stars

Selvatica is a great place to visit if you want some tropical biplane adventure. Soar above the treetops on ten ziplines of varying heights and distances, including a “Superman” zipline, the Aquazip, where you get soaked in the water, and Tarzania, a zipline coaster. The biplane fun is followed by a swim in a private cenote where you can cool off. 

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Taco and ski-the-line tour is one of the best Cancun excursions for couple

18. Best value Cancun tour – Taco and local beer skip-the-line

💛 244 Reviews – 5 stars

Taco tour is one of the most popular Cancun tours for food lovers.

After you get picked up from a hotel, you will get a skip-the-line access to one of local taco vendors and taste a variety of yummy tacos Mexico City and Yucatecan style, “al pastor” and “surtido.” You can also enjoy a refreshing drink or refreshing Mexican beer and grab a complimentary churro as you listen to the Mariachi band. 

This tour is the best way to skip expensive tacos geared toward tourists and try the most authentic tacos while enjoying the local atmosphere.

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Tulum is a popular destination in Mexico's Rivera Mayan and one of the most popular excursions from Cancun.

Cancun tours: FAQ:

What is the best month to visit Cancun?

If you are looking for nice sunny weather, the best time to visit Cancun is from December through April, when temperatures stay between 75 and high 80’s and the chances of rain are low. If you want to pay lower prices and avoid the crowds, visit Cancun during a shoulder season in October-November or May.

How many days do you need to see Cancun?

Spend no less than 3 days in Cancun if you want to enjoy some of the best things in the area and take at least one of the tours from Cancun. 3 days is the minimum amount of time that will allow you to enjoy beaches, visit Mayan ruins and take a boat tour.

How long is the bus ride from Cancun to Chichen Itza?

A bus from Cancun to Chichen Itza takes about 3 hours. If you want to visit Chichen Itza independently, you need to catch an ADO bus from the main station in downtown Cancun. A sunrise tour of Chichen Itza is a much better option as it allows you to beat the crowds and also stop in a cenote early morning before it gets busy.

What are best Cancun excursions for couples?

Some of the best Cancun excursions for couples are private catamaran cruise from Cancun to Isla Mujeres and Cenotes Oasis Maya by Xcaret.

What are best Cancun excursions overall?

Some of the best Cancun excursions are tours of Chichen Itza, Valladolid and Cenotes; Tulum Ruins and snorkeling; and a Discovery Diving Tour.

Cancun tours: final word

Cancun is one of the best destinations in Mexico with millions of tourists coming here from all over the world. While Cancun offers a lot of convenience, it can also feel like it lacks authenticity. To explore the Mexican culture, swim in cenotes and visit Mayan ruins sites, take a day trip from Cancun to experience the best that the Yucatan Peninsula has to offer.