The east coast of Mexico needs no introduction. Its crown jewel, Cancún, has been luring holidaymakers to its turquoise waters and bustling streets, with Cozumel and the paradisiac towns of the Riviera Maya stealing loads of limelight in recent years. Here’s our round-up of what to see and do on Mexico’s east coast.
Top Cancún Attractions & Excursions
A museum that makes quite a splash—the Cancún Underwater Museum offers a unique cultural experience…under the sea. Swim up to the over 470 submerged statues created by different sculptors and comprising one of the largest, artificial underwater attractions in the world.
Plan day trips from Cancún to nearby islands! Isla Contoy is a sanctuary for exotic sea birds, drawing bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts to its natural park. Across the bay from Cancún, find a smidgeon of serenity on Isla Mujeres, home to blissful beaches, a turtle farm and picturesque sea cliffs.
Dine & Dance
With its prime location on the Yucatán peninsula, Cancún is an ideal spot for sampling regional cuisine. At your resort's restaurant or dining destinations across the city, look out for local specialties like sopa de lima and ceviche. Tempted to discover Cancún's legendary nightlife? If so, might as well check out world-famous Coco Bongo!
Cut to Chichen Itza
By far the most popular Cancún excursion is a visit to Chichen Itza, one of the most studied and visited ruins of the Mayan world. Learn about each fascinating facet of this incredible complex, including the Kukuklan Pyramid, the Great Ball Court, The Wall of Skulls and much more.
Riviera Maya Attractions & Excursions
Travel to Tulum
Discover the ancient Mayan mecca of Tulum, now a bohemian, seaside town with brilliant beaches and incredible, cliffside ruins. After a tour of historic relics, pop in to the sprawling, natural aquarium of Xel Há for snorkelling. Other must-sees in Tulum are Playa Paraiso and the Aktún Chen Natural Park.
X Marks Xcaret
Xcaret is an eco-archeological park near Playa del Carmen where you can find underground rivers, a butterfly pavilion, turtle farm, horses, a beach and Xcaret's one-of-a-kind celebration—the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.
Cenotes of Note
Uncover these natural sinkholes containing freshwater pools across the Riviera Maya. Dive down (or take the stairs carved out of limestone) to the blue waters of the Ik Kil cenote or explore the popular caves of Dos Ojos. The tropical surroundings of Gran Cenote and Chaak Tun are also worth the trek.
Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen was long looked to as a more laidback alternative to thriving Cancún. Recently, its popularity has blown up, making it a trendy Riviera Maya destination. Take a hammock break to enjoy the city's captivating cultural scene comprised of colourful galleries, nightlife spots and bustling shopping streets.
Cozumel Attractions & Excursions
Punta Sur Ecological Park
Fine-white sands, tropical wetlands, a historic lighthouse and a lagoon teeming with crocodiles—the nature park of Punta Sur is the largest on Cozumel. Here, you can discover the island's biodiversity, visit a nautical museum and enjoy the park's secluded beach.
Cozumel's spectacular reefs are without a doubt the region's best-known attractions. The reefs, part of the Mesoamerican reef system, serve up dazzling beauty defined by amazing coral formations. Top dive spots include the Santa Rosa Wall, Palancar Gardens Reef and the Chankanaab Reef.
You don't have to leave the island to marvel at Mayan wonders. Explore the ancient site of San Gervasio, a sacred centre where Mayans once worshipped the goddess Ixchel. Other interesting archeological sites are El Castillo Real and the former ceremonial site of El Cedral. For a unique Mayan experience, join a purification ceremony at the Temazcal Mayan Steam Lodge.
Heaven is a Place
… …in Cozumel! For one of the island's hidden gems, head to the southern tip where El Cielo beach awaits. Swim among the friendliest marine life (starfish, gentle stingrays and more!) and float on waves shimmering in unreal shades of turquoise. Seclusions, serenity…and you!
Content courtesy of Air Canada Vacations