Cancun is a tale of two cities, with the Zona Hotelera offering majestic Caribbean beaches and Maya culture and Cancún Centro providing the local flavor.
One look at Cancún's aquamarine Caribbean waters and it makes perfect sense why planners back in the 1970s were so eager to develop the area as Mexico's next big resort destination. With about 19km of powdery white-sand beaches in the Zona Hotelera and a quieter 15km stretch of coast north of downtown, Cancún is a beach bum's haven. You'll find some of the most swimmable waters on the Zona Hotelera's north side, between Km 4 and Km 9, while north of Cancún Centro, Isla Blanca beckons with its long stretch of relatively undeveloped coastline.
When most people think of Cancún, wild party town comes to mind. But rest assured that you can also soak up some Maya culture in between the fiestas. The Museo Maya de Cancún, a world-class museum with some 400 Maya artifacts on display, is a must-see and it's adjoining San Miguelito archaeological site is well worth checking out as well. For a day of ruins-hopping, head about 2km south to El Rey, known for its small temple and several ceremonial platforms. Cancún's Maya sites may not have the wow factor of say, a Chichén Itzá, but they provide intriguing historical context when paired with the museum visit.
From Yucatecan comfort food and atmospheric downtown taco joints to Michellin-starred haute cuisine in the Zona Hotelera, Cancún's diverse culinary scene keeps your tummy thoroughly content. Classic Yucatecan menu items such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork with achiote and orange juice) and panuchos (bean-filled fried tortilla snacks) rank among Mexico's most iconic dishes, while thatch-roofed restaurants serving high-quality fresh fish and seafood add yet another facet to the varied dining experience. A growing number of establishments specializing in contemporary Mexican cuisine draw on Caribbean and indigenous Maya recipes to create innovative regional dishes.
Outdoorsy types and children will truly appreciate the activities on offer in Cancún. Great diving and snorkeling sites are nearby, including a famous underwater sculpture museum, and in addition to ocean dives, you can hook up tours to explore nearby cenotes (limestone sinkholes) and their fascinating underwater cave systems. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a day trip from Cancún to Isla Contoy, an uninhabited island that provides great hiking, bird-watching and snorkeling opportunities. And, of course, there's the beach, where water activities range from swimming and kayaking to kiteboarding.
Why Isla Mujeres is one of the best day trips from Cancún
5 min read — Published October 21st, 2021
Retreat for the day to Isla Mujeres' stunning, turquoise-water beaches, just a quick boat ride from Cancún.
Discover some of the most unique and fulfilling experiences your next destination has to offer.
Tips & Travel trends to help you pick the perfect time to visit this destination.
Plan a day trip full of local flavor and get back in time with these same-day options.
Browse the various transportation options to make your trip that much easier when you arrive.
Ways to maximize the fun without spending a dime on your next great adventure.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Cancún.
A white sand beach with manta rays gliding through the shimmering turquoise waters. No hotels. No nightclubs. No roads or cars of any kind. It’s hard to believe you’re just 40km (about 25 miles) from Cancún. This is Isla Contoy: a pencil-like island and oft-overlooked national park that has been a wildlife sanctuary and research area for over 60 years. For a few fortunate visitors, Isla Contoy also is a magnificent day trip, a place to explore, to admire little-seen birds and sea creatures and to get a glimpse of what the region must have looked like long ago. Isla Contoy location Parque Nacional Isla Contoy is at the confluence of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, a short distance north of Cancún’s Isla Blanca. It’s just 8km long and 20m across at its narrowest point. Meaning of Parque Nacional Isla Contoy Parque Nacional Isla Contoy means Contoy Island National Park. The word “contoy” is of Maya origin but the exact meaning is disputed. Some say it is an amalgamation of the words “Kom” and ‘To’oy,” which together mean “low shelter” – a reference to the island’s shallow waters that have provided refuge to fishers, sailors and pirates for centuries. Others say “contoy” is a mispronunciation of the Maya word “pontó,” which means “pelican” – one of the most commonly seen birds on the island. Ecology Parque Nacional Isla Contoy is one of the most important nesting places of seabirds in the Mexican Caribbean. The island’s dense mangroves and lagoons provide ideal shelter for over 170 bird species like brown pelicans, olive cormorants, brown boobies, red flamingos and white herons. During the winter, over 10,000 birds call the small island home. The island’s turquoise waters also mark the beginning of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second longest in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Isla Contoy’s marine diversity includes over 240 species of tropical fish, crustaceans and eight species of rays. The park’s northern shores also are important nesting grounds for hawksbill, loggerhead and white turtles in the summer months. Whale sharks, too, are sighted nearby between May and September. The island has been protected from development for over 60 years, a big reason for its amazingly rich ecology today. Isla Contoy history As early as 300 BC, the Maya used Isla Contoy for fishing and as a place to collect shells and stingray spines, which were used for rituals, jewelry and small tools. The Maya didn’t construct any permanent settlements on the island, most likely due to the lack of fresh water. The only known ancient structure on the island are the ruins of a Maya shelling station, with fragments of carved shells and simple pottery found nearby. The arrival of the Spanish (and foreign-borne diseases) in the 16th century halted Maya travel to and from the island, and instead it became a place of rest and shelter for conquistadors exploring and plundering the region. By the early 1800s, Isla Contoy was primarily an outpost for local fishers. It wasn’t until 1892 when the explorer John L. Stephens documented the remarkable number and variety of birds on Isla Contoy, that naturalists became aware of the existence the island. Over the course of the next century, ornithologists from near and far visited Isla Contoy, nicknaming it Isla de Pajaros (Island of Birds). Recognizing its ecological value, the Mexican government declared Isla Contoy a nature reserve in 1961, the first in the Yucatan Peninsula; it became a national park almost four decades later in 1998, encompassing 230 hectares (about 640 acres) of land and 49 sq km (19 sq miles) of ocean. How to get to Isla Contoy The only way to get to Parque Nacional Isla Contoy is on a guided tour from Cancún or Isla Mujeres. The national park limits its capacity to 200 visitors per day, with permission parceled out to a limited number of approved tour operators. These restrictions have served to protect and preserve the national park and its myriad creatures for decades. Excursions Several Cancún-based tour operators offer virtually identical trips to the national park: an early morning boat departure with a quick stop on Isla Mujeres, then open-water snorkeling on Ixlache Reef on the way to Isla Contoy, and finally arrival on to the island where visitors are given about three to four hours to explore its interpretive trails (either independently or with a bilingual guide), climb the 27m (88ft) observation tower or just relax on the beach. There’s also a small museum with exhibits on the island’s habitats. Continental breakfast, buffet lunch and open bar are normally included. Excursions run around US$100 for adults and US$80 for kids; hotel pickup also can be added for a small fee. Asterix Tours is a good option, providing reliable and high quality service. Eating and sleeping There are no hotels or restaurants on Isla Contoy, and camping is not permitted. Except for a few park rangers and biologists who reside on the island to monitor and study its ecosystem, Isla Contoy is completely uninhabited. Tour operators provide food and drink for guests. Admission and other practicalities Admission to Isla Contoy costs US$15 per person, including the docking fee and reef tax. This fee typically isn’t included in tour prices, and is collected when you arrive on the island. Be sure to bring cash; exact change also is appreciated. Things you should know and bring Biodegradable sunscreen is the only kind of sunblock allowed in Isla Contoy’s waters in order to protect the reef and marine life. If you can’t find any, wear a long sleeve rash guard and hat instead. Bring binoculars for birdwatching. Wear comfortable shoes and mosquito repellant for light hiking on well-marked paths. Don’t forget to bring a bathing suit and towel. All tour operators provide snorkel gear.
Driving down a narrow sand road, the turquoise Caribbean on one side, the glimmering Laguna Chacmuchuch on the other, you feel like you’re a thousand miles from Cancún. But Isla Blanca sits just 20km north of the city – a sublime, pencil thin, virtually untouched peninsula, a hidden corner of Cancún. There’s no traffic, no high-rise hotels, no glittery nightclubs. Instead, you’ll find a ribbon of white sand along the peninsula’s oceanside, empty except for a handful of rustic beach clubs and the occasional beachcomber; and a lagoon on the other side, known for its steady wind and shallow waters that brings fly fishermen on grand slam missions and kiteboarders flipping and flying like giant butterflies. Meaning of Isla Blanca Though Isla Blanca means ‘White Island,’ it’s actually a long peninsula, attached to the mainland by a thin strip of land. Often during tropical storms or hurricanes, the sea crosses over its narrowest section, creating a momentary island – the reason behind the ‘island’ name. ‘White’ is a reference to the color of its sand. Isla Blanca beaches Isla Blanca has over 20km of Caribbean beaches. Most are nameless and gloriously wild but can be tough to access due to long stretches of barbed wire fencing. While the beach itself is public by law, the land between the road and the beach is mostly private and has few access points. A handful of beachfront parking lots (M$30-50) offer access to the windswept beaches; keep your eye out for openings here and there between fenced-off plots too. Otherwise, continue north until you reach a fence blocking the road, about 3.5 km from the start of the sand road. Here, Cielito Lindo restaurant charges M$50-100 per vehicle or group (depending on the toll-taker’s mood) to cross its property to continue north along the road, which opens onto beaches on both the ocean and lagoon sides. The toll also allows you to park on the restaurant’s property, which fronts a beach confusingly called Isla Blanca. Isla Blanca also has a handful of simple beach clubs with random assortments of beach chairs and umbrellas plus menus consisting of cold beer and freshly caught fish. (There are bathrooms too - though many are just porta potties.) Look for hand painted signs along the road, directing you to the beach clubs. The best of the bunch is Cabañas Playa Blanca (fka Pirata Morgan), with a well-maintained beach, palapa shade and even electricity after sunset. Kitesurfing Kiteboarding conditions don’t get much better than Laguna Chacmuchuch, the vast saltwater lagoon along the western shores of Isla Blanca. Its waters are flat and shallow, just knee-to-waist-deep; there’s very little boat traffic and few natural obstacles; and it has strong, consistent winds from November to June. Combined, these conditions make the lagoon a world class kiteboarding spot, a safe place for beginners to learn the sport, and for freestylers to practice tricks without worrying about crowds. Several kiteboard shops use the lagoon, some coming from as far away as Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Ikarus, one of the region’s most reputable kiteboarding operations, has a lagoon-side base camp here plus two launching sites. It offers lessons and rentals and also has a restaurant and a few simple hotel rooms for extended kiteboarding vacays. Fly Fishing Spanning over 150 square kilometers, with seemingly endless islands, flats and mangrove channels, Laguna Chacmuchuch is home to a rich variety of fish species year round – truly, an angler’s dream. In fact, the fishing grounds are so abundant, the chances of getting a grand slam in a single day – hooking a Permit, Tarpon, Snook and Bonefish – are excellent, especially from May to September. From Cancún, fishing trips run around US$400 per day for two people, including guide, equipment, food and drinks. Transportation to and from your hotel is typically included too. Several Cancún-based tour operators offer fishing trips in Isla Blanca; Fly Fish Isla Blanca is a good option with reliable boats, local captains and top notch service. Entrance fees and practicalities Isla Blanca is free. Entrance fees are charged by beach clubs, usually around M$50 per person. If you want to travel the entire length of the sand road, you’ll have to pay M$50-100 per vehicle or group to cross through Cielito Lindo restaurant’s beach lot. Sundays are especially busy with locals though they tend to hunker down at beach clubs and restaurants; the rest of the week, Isla Blanca is virtually empty. Cell phone service is intermittent – plan ahead, if you need a ride back to town. Bring cash; credit cards aren’t accepted anywhere on Isla Blanca. Tips for drivers There are no gas stations on Isla Blanca; be sure to fill your tank before heading down the sand road. Stay on the hard-packed sand road to avoid getting stuck; getting a tow truck to Isla Blanca is difficult and expensive. Stick to the speed limit (60km) – not only is it safer, police do occasionally patrol the road for unsuspecting speeders. Getting there Isla Blanca is a long thin peninsula located 20km north of downtown Cancún. A 9km-long sand road runs through it, petering out about 6km from the peninsula’s northern tip. The easiest way to access Isla Blanca is to drive yourself. From Cancún, head north on Avenida Bonampak, a paved road that passes a string of beachfront resorts before becoming Isla Blanca’s sand road. Taxis make the one-way trip for around M$300 from downtown Cancún, and M$800 from the Zona Hotelera. Be sure to agree on a price before getting in and make arrangements with the driver to be picked up (just don’t pay your return trip fare in advance!). Alternatively, colectivos (shuttle vans) make three daily trips (M$25) to Isla Blanca from downtown Cancún, stopping along the sand road until reaching Cielito Lindo restaurant. The red and white minivans leave at 7am, 11am and 4pm from Farmacia Canto near Parque El Crucero (Av. López Portillo at Calle 7) – look for the ‘Isla Blanca’ sign on the front. Colectivos make the return trip at 7:30am, 11:30am and 4:30pm. If the last colectivo is full (or you miss it), you’ll have to hoof it back to the paved section of Avenida Bonampak, where the resorts begin and taxis stands can be found.
Surrounded by dense tropical forest, the contemporary Museo Maya de Cancún is a welcome respite from the beach and buffet lines of the neighboring high-rise hotels. The sleek museum contains engaging exhibits on Mayan history and art, as well as one of the Yucatán's most important collections of Mayan artifacts, most of which were discovered at key archaeological sites in the region. Behind the museum, a jungle path winds through the trees to San Miguelito, a one-time thriving Maya community that is now a collection of crumbling stone temples, dwellings and pyramids. Together, the museum and the ruins are a powerful introduction to the ancient Maya civilization and a reminder of the people who once lived here. History In 2012, eight years after hurricane damage forced Cancún’s anthropology museum to close, the shiny, new and very modern Museo Maya de Cancún opened its doors (this time integrating hurricane-resistant reinforced glass). Designed by Mexican architect Alberto García Lascurain, it came at a time when Cancún, a city known more for its white-sand beaches and girls-gone-wild party scene, sorely needed more cultural offerings for its visitors. And culture it got, with a sleek museum showcasing hundreds of Maya artifacts found at archaeological sites around the Yucatán Peninsula; it also happened to share the property with San Miguelito Ruins. What to see at Museo Maya de Cancún Set on a rare plot of intact jungle in the Zona Hotelera, the Museo Maya de Cancún integrates the outdoors into its contemporary design: open-air spaces, floor-to-ceiling windows, views of the tropical forest and glimpses of the glimmering Laguna Nichupté…all a reminder of what the Zona Hotelera looked like centuries ago. Museum Exhibits The exhibition halls themselves are located at the top of a spiraling outdoor staircase, a nod to the snail shell, a Maya symbol representing physical and spiritual birth. (There are elevators too.) It’s a small museum, made up of just three exhibition halls. Two showcase the museum’s permanent collection, which includes over 3500 artifacts, about 400 of which are displayed at any given time. The first hall focuses on the archaeological sites of the modern day state of Quintana Roo, while the second covers the greater Maya world. Multi-media exhibits complement the intricately painted pottery, beaded jewelry, funerary masks and behemoth stelae (stone slab monuments). A third hall hosts temporary Maya-themed exhibits and also is home to the celebrated La Mujer de las Palmas (The Woman of the Palms), a 12,000-year-old skeleton of a woman discovered in a cenote near Tulum. San Miguelito Ruins A short walk along a winding jungle path from the rear of the museum leads to the archaeological site of San Miguelito, a former Maya maritime community that once included El Rey Ruins, just down the street. Access to the Caribbean and Laguna Nichupté made San Miguelito a strategic Maya port, and it flourished between CE 1200 and 1350. The community was abandoned soon after Spanish conquistadors arrived in the mid-16th century. A leafy circular path takes visitors through the 80-hectare site, passing the remains of residences, a columned palace and temple, and even an 8-meter-high pyramid. Small placards explain the importance and function of most of the structures. Things you should know English translations are available for most of the placards in the museum and the ruins. Multi-media exhibits include English captions. To avoid crowds, visit before 11am or during the Mexican lunch hour from 2pm to 4pm. Backpacks and large bags are not permitted in the museum; free lockers and a bag-check are available near the ticket booth. Bring insect repellent for strolling through San Miguelito Ruins, especially in the late afternoon. Climbing on and entering San Miguelito’s structures is not permitted. Respect the barriers and ‘do not enter’ signs to help prevent further erosion of the buildings. Tickets and other practicalities Tickets cost M$80 and can only be purchased onsite; the price of admission includes access to the adjoining San Miguelito archaeological site. The museum and ruins are open year-round Tuesday to Sunday. Note: The last entry to the ruins is at 430pm. Getting there The Museo Maya de Cancún is located on the southern end of the Zona Hotelera. There’s a bus stop in front. Take any R-1, R-2 or R-27 city bus (M$12); look for the ‘Hoteles’ or ‘Zona Hotelera’ sign. Taxis also are easy to flag down in Cancún – just be sure to agree upon a price before getting in. Finally, if you’re staying nearby, you can walk to the museum; the Zona Hotelera is lined with well-maintained sidewalks. Driving yourself isn’t worth the hassle. Parking at the museum is free but the small lot fills up by mid-morning. In a pinch, try the free lot at Playa Delfines, about 1.6km south; otherwise, head to the pay lot at Plaza Kukulcán, a shopping mall about 4.5km north of the museum.
You don't have to leave the Zona Hotelera to find Mayan culture in Cancún. Before the beach umbrellas, resorts, banana boats and Spanish conquistadors arrived, San Miguelito was a thriving city, a strategically placed trading center that controlled large parts of the present-day Zona Hotelera and beyond. Wandering the ruins is one of the top things to do in Cancún, and it's well worth dragging yourself away from the beach to explore. San Miguelito today is a relatively small Mayan archaeological site, but there’s still something special about the ruins here, not least the juxtaposition of ancient structures with modern resort towers peeking out from behind the trees. Strolling under the thick jungle canopy, and passing remnants of residential platforms, palace-like edifices, and even a three-story pyramid, you can begin to imagine what life might have been like in this important coastal city. It's a great primer before visiting more imposing ruins dotted around the Yucatán peninsula. Paired with a visit to the impressive onsite Museo Maya de Cancún, home to one of the region’s most important collections of Mayan artifacts, a trip to San Miguelito is a thought-provoking reminder of the people who walked these beaches before tourists and colonizers; it may even change the way you look at Cancún today. San Miguelito History A flourishing maritime community for many centuries, San Miguelito peaked between CE 1200 and 1350, when it was one of the most powerful settlements on the island of Cancún, growing to include the nearby site of El Rey. Today, the Zona Hotelera’s main boulevard divides the two archaeological sites. Access to both the Caribbean and Laguna Nichupté helped make San Miguelito a strategic port and regional powerhouse. Yet, for reasons unknown, San Miguelito declined rapidly in the 14th century. The site was abandoned soon after the arrival of the Spanish in the mid-1500s, its last remaining population decimated by European diseases. San Miguelito remained virtually untouched until the early 1900s when American archaeologists Thomas Gann and Samuel Lothrop visited and created the first modern-day descriptions and site maps. The Mexican government only started excavating and restoring the site in the 1970s and work continues today. Meaning of San Miguelito San Miguelito means ‘little Saint Michael’, a reference to the name of the coconut ranch that operated on the site from 1950 to 1970. The original name of the Mayan city remains unknown, though Nizuc is often mentioned as the pre-Spanish name for the promontory on which Cancún now stands. How to navigate San Miguelito The entrance to San Miguelito is through the contemporary Museo Maya de Cancún. Passing through the museum’s stark white lobby and into its gardens, you’ll find a winding jungle path that leads to the archaeological site. The ruins themselves sit on the west side of the 80-hectare property. The site is divided into four groupings: North Complex, Chaak Palace Grouping, Dragon Complex and South Complex. A pleasant path connects them in a north-south line, shaded by towering trees and thick tropical plants. Starting at the first juncture in the path, turn right (north) to the North Complex, then double-back to see the Chaak Palace Grouping, Dragon Complex and South Complex. To exit, head back the way you came. San Miguelito is small - most people find an hour is plenty of time to visit it. San Miguelito’s Principal Groupings The North Complex was a residential area, with five raised platforms serving as foundations for thatch-roofed homes. Although the houses themselves have long since disappeared, more than 20 gravesites were found beneath the foundations; it was common practice among the ancient Maya to bury loved ones under family homes. Look for the two circular enclosures, thought to have been used for food preparation and storage. The structures in the Chaak Palace Grouping served administrative functions. The most intact edifice is the namesake palace, which sits on the north side of a small plaza. An impressive 30-meters-long, it has well-preserved walls and 17 columns that once held up a flat wooden roof, a Mayan architectural feature also found at Tulum and Xel-Há, and an indicator of the strong ties among these coastal communities. If you look closely, you’ll see original stucco on some of the columns. The main stairway also contains stone etchings of Chaak, the Mayan god of rain. The Dragon Complex is made up of several small structures, mostly alters, shrines and residential platforms that have not yet been fully excavated or restored. The most significant finding is a wall with remnants of a mural depicting fish and turtles – look for it under a protective awning. This grouping was named after two stone sculptures that were found nearby during the construction of the main boulevard along the Zona Hotelera. The South Complex is the most impressive grouping of the site. Arranged around a central plaza are several residential platforms, altars and an east-facing palace with interior columns and two chultuns (stone cisterns used to catch rainwater). Just south of the palace is San Miguelito’s imposing pyramid, an 8m-tall structure crowned by a temple; its stairway faces south towards the El Rey ruins further along the strip. Things you should know There are no tour guides available onsite, so you'll need to explore under your own reconnaissance. Placards describe the importance and function of the site’s main structures, in Spanish and English. Climbing on and entering San Miguelito’s structures is not permitted; respect the barriers and ‘do not enter’ signs to help prevent further erosion of the buildings. Bring insect repellent, especially for late afternoon visits, when mosquitoes are most active. Tickets and other practicalities Admission to San Miguelito Ruins costs M$80, which includes access to the adjoining Museo Maya de Cancún. Tickets can only be purchased onsite. The ruins are open year-round Tuesday to Sunday; the last entry is at 4:30pm. How to get to San Miguelito The San Miguelito site is in the Zona Hotelera in the same complex as the Museo Maya de Cancún, near the Omni hotel complex. The R-1, R-2 and R-27 buses (M$12) stop in front. Taxis also are easy to flag down in Cancún–just agree upon a price before getting in. Parking at the museum is free but the small lot often fills up by mid-morning. If there are no spots, try the free lot at Playa Delfines, about 1.6km south; otherwise, head to the pay lot at Plaza Kukulcán, a shopping mall about 4.5km north of the ruins. Finally, if you’re staying nearby, consider walking; the Zona Hotelera is lined with sidewalks, though there's not a lot of shade.
Unfolding from the base of a mild seaside bluff, Playa Delfines is one of the most scenic beaches in Cancún. A languid stretch of sand with turquoise waves and endless views, it’s the only beach in the Zona Hotelera without the backdrop of a high-rise hotel. It feels worlds apart from Cancún’s DJ-driven beach clubs and poolside drink fests. Instead, this is a locals’ favorite, where a picture perfect beach day can be found under a palapa (thatched-roof shade) with traditional Mexican eats, and surfers and sandcastlers alike sharing the sand and sea. Meaning of Playa Delfines Playa Delfines means “Dolphin Beach.” It was named after the pods of dolphins that were once regularly seen here. Today, dolphin sightings are rare; your best chance of spotting one is in the early morning from the beach’s lookout platform called “El Mirador,” also a local nickname for the beach. The view Playa Delfines is known for its panoramic views of Cancún: turquoise waters tipped in white surf, a ribbon of tawny sand and the city’s high-rise resorts off in the distance. The best view is from El Mirador. Look for the huge block-lettered “Cancún” sign in front of it – a choice spot for pics. The beach Playa Delfines is a sloping, expansive beach, with soft, tawny sand and impossibly turquoise blue waters. Found at the bottom of a sandy bluff, it’s the only beach in the Zona Hotelera without a towering all-inclusive hotel on it (or any hotel, for that matter), making it especially popular with locals and independent travelers. Rows and rows of free palapas and a small playground distinguish it from Cancún’s other beaches. Be aware that the undertow can be quite strong at Playa Delfines, at times making the water unsafe – heed the water condition flags and the lifeguards’ whistles. If you need a break from the beach, the Maya archaeological site El Rey is just across the street; its weathered stone temples and beefy iguanas provide a striking contrast to the sand and surf. Surfing Though Cancún isn’t famous for its surf, Playa Delfines’ little rollers make it popular with a core group of local surfers. (Free parking doesn’t hurt either.) The water is warm year-round so there’s no need for wetsuits. The waves typically measure between one to two meters (about 3 to 6ft) high, though during hurricane season (June to November) they can reach five meters (about 16ft) – no joke, especially for beginners. Surf schools occasionally set up kiosks on the beach, offering lessons and equipment rentals. If you’re set on surfing at Playa Delfines, book classes in advance with Academia Mexicana de Surf, a premier school led by local surf legend David “Jamaican” Hernandez. Eating and drinking There are no restaurants or food shacks at Playa Delfines. Instead, vendors ply the beach selling Mexican baked goods from trays balanced on their shoulders and baskets of freshly cut mango, jicama and cucumber sold in baggies and seasoned with lime juice and chili powder. Bottles of water and soft drinks are sold from coolers near the stairway down to the beach and in the parking lot. For a bit more sustenance, you can stock up on picnic items, even gourmet sandwiches and self-serve wine, at the Zona Hotelera’s upscale market Selecto Súper Chedraui near Cancún’s convention center. There are several casual restaurants and fast food joints in that area as well. Admission and other practicalities Playa Delfines is a public beach that is free to everyone. It also is one of the most easily reachable beaches in the Zona Hotelera, with a bus stop and parking lot right on the main avenue and a staircase leading down to the beach. More things you should know Lifeguards are on duty during peak hours, around 9am to 6pm. There are public restrooms and outdoor showers, both free to use. Palapas (thatch-roof shade) are available for free, first-come, first-served. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent (around M$200 per set). Parking is free. A police outpost overlooks the beach and main parking lot. How to get to Playa Delfines Playa Delfines is on the southernmost end of the Zona Hotelera, just off the main avenue. The R-1, R-2 and R-27 city buses (M$12) stop here, and are easy to spot with “Hoteles” or “Zona Hotelera” signs on their windshields. Taxis also make the trip – just be sure to agree on a price before you get in. Playa Delfines is one of the few Zona Hotelera beaches with free parking. The oceanfront lot can fill up on weekends but there are usually open spots during the week; overflow parking is available across the street.
This avenue one block east of Avenida Tulum has emerged as one of the Centro's top restaurant and bar zones.
In the Zona Arqueológica El Rey, on the west side of Blvd Kukulcán, there’s a small temple and several ceremonial platforms. The site gets its name from a sculpture excavated here of a noble, possibly a rey (king), wearing an elaborate headdress. El Rey, which flourished from AD 1200 to 1500, and nearby San Miguelito were communities dedicated to maritime trade and fishing.
A favorite spot for Cancun athletes. Set where the Zona Hotelera meets Cancún Centro, Kilometer Zero has a lush green outdoor gym in the middle of the boulevard, as well as a family-friendly area across the road with a playground, workout area and lockers. The famous Cancún Ciclopista also begins here: a 9km path for jogging, walking, cycling and roller-blading.
Beloved by local nature-lovers and fitness-lovers alike, this jungle park in the city remains mostly untouched. Runners and walkers flock to the 1.9-km dirt trail bordered by lush jungle, athletes work out at the outdoor gym, and kids climb on the sizable wood playground. As you explore, you’ll probably spot some local Cancún wildlife such as coatis.