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5 ways to explore Cancun

With its pristine white-sand beaches, lively nightlife scene and fascinating local history, Cancun and its surrounding area has been a long-time favourite vacation destination for Canadians looking to unwind in the tropics.

To help you make the most of your next getaway to Cancun, we compiled a list of five of our favourite ways to explore this vibrant destination. Whether you want to visit the archaeological sites of Riviera Maya, discover the untouched natural landscapes of Isla Holbox or lounge on the pristine shores of Playa Mujeres, this vacation hotspot has something for every traveller.

Cancun sign overlooking the ocean at sunset
Explore the hustle and bustle of Cancun’s Hotel Zone

Cancun’s Hotel Zone is famous for its sparkling white-sand shores, world-class resorts and bustling nightlife. By day, you can head to the water to try out parasailing and snorkelling or stay on land and tee off at one of Cancun’s championship golf courses. The Hotel Zone comes alive at night, where you can enjoy Vegas-style entertainment in the heart of paradise; whether you want to visit the world-famous Coco Bongo cabaret or set sail on a sunset dinner cruise along Nichupte Lagoon.

Where to stay: You can stay in the heart of the action at the brand-new Royalton Suites Cancun Resort and Spa. Located just steps from downtown Cancun, this top-rated luxury resort is ideal for travellers looking to experience all that Cancun has to offer. Upgrade to Diamond Club™ to enjoy complimentary access to Level 18 Rooftop Cabana Lounge, one of the area’s newest nightlife venues right on-site!

Crystal-clear waters overlooking the pristine beach with lush palms
Discover the untouched landscapes of Isla Holbox

Hidden away from the tourist hotspots off the northern coast of Cancun is Isla Holbox, a tropical island oasis in the Yum Balam Nature Reserve. Cars aren’t allowed on this remote island, making it the perfect place to kick back, relax and truly appreciate Mexico’s natural beauty both on land and at sea. Spend your time on the island strolling barefoot along the pristine shores, snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters or swimming alongside majestic whale sharks (depending on the season).

Where to stay: Enjoy the best of both luxury and nature when you plan your Isla Holbox getaway at Mystique Blue Boutique Suites. This contemporary beach resort offers world-class service and nature-focused activities on the island’s pristine shores. Take a scenic bike ride through the local villages or head out on a scuba diving excursion ($), before soaking in a spectacular sunset from your suite’s balcony.

View of Mayan pyramid from the ground at sunset
Soak in the local history in Riviera Maya

From the ancient port city of Tulum to the mystical pyramids of Cobá, Riviera Maya is famous for its Mayan archaeological sites. With a rich history dating back thousands of years, these archaeological sites are a must-see on your vacation to Cancun. Explore the breathtaking ruins of Tulum, located on a cliff overlooking the coast; or tour Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the New World. Adventurous travellers can even climb the pyramid at the archaeological site of Cobá!

Where to stay: Embrace the Mayan culture at the luxurious Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort. Not only is there an authentic Mayan ruin located right on the resort’s beach – it also offers an expansive Mayan-inspired spa. While at the spa you can indulge in a traditional Temazcal treatment: a steam bath performed by a Shaman that incorporates hot stones and local plants to promote physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Palm trees and palapas on a pristine beach with two boats docked off the shore
Relax on pristine beaches in Playa Mujeres

Vacation like a VIP in the exclusive enclave of Playa Mujeres, just 30 minutes outside of Cancun. This luxurious resort area is home to pristine white-sand beaches lined with lush palms and world-class resorts. Relax and unwind under a shady beachside palapa with your favourite drink in hand. Elevate your beach day by taking a scenic catamaran ride to Isla Mujeres, an island off the coast that’s home to spectacular shores and excellent snorkelling conditions.

Where to stay: Stay on the renowned shores of Playa Mujeres at the brand-new Riu Palace Costa Mujeres. This beachfront resort offers sweeping ocean views from around most of the property including from the terraces, bars, restaurants and lobby. Spend your day strolling along the resort’s beach area lined with hundreds of palm trees or head to the water park at nearby Riu Dunamar to cool off.

Local art resting against a wall
Stroll down famous 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen

Located just 45 minutes from downtown Cancun is the lively beach town of Playa del Carmen. Originally a quaint fishing village, this town is now famous for its lively nightlife, bustling shops, local art galleries and boutique hotels. Spend the day strolling down Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue where you can sample fresh fruit from local vendors, shop for souvenirs, watch talented street performers and tour local art galleries tucked away in charming courtyards. Don’t forget to take your picture by the iconic Playa del Carmen sign!

Where to stay: Downtown Playa del Carmen is just a short walk away when you stay at Riu Yucatan. This beachfront resort offers the perfect blend of entertainment and relaxation. Spend the afternoon lounging by one of the resort’s oceanview pools before heading into Playa del Carmen in the evening to experience its bustling nightlife.

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