Nature tourism: Things to do in Cancun & The Riviera Maya!
Adventure tourism activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya deserve your attention! They happen everywhere: in the sea, on the land and even underground. If you prefer the outdoors, the nature and parks, there are plenty of experiences waiting for you to enjoy with your significant other, with your friends or with your family.
In Cancun and the Riviera Maya, there are many tours and activities for you to discover the wonders of the Caribbean with a dose of adrenaline and excitement.
In this article, we have selected the best of the best, the crème de la crème, of adventure activities in the Riviera Maya.
And for those who want to have fun while being full eco-responsible, know that the activities marked with a leaf symbol (this 👉 🌿) are the one that a perfect mix between adventure and sustainability.
As a bonus, in this post you will also find all type of useful information in order to choose the activity or tour that really fits your needs and expectations: who is their target audience? When is the better time to do them? and above all, how much does each one cost? We will tell you all about adventure tourism activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya!
And don’t forget, Odigoo, your winged travel advisor will also give some useful tips!
Exploring the sea, cenotes and lagoons: tame the waters of the Caribbean
Powerful toys for grownups: Jet Ski / Jet Pack
Do you like the speed? You are not afraid of the sea and the waves? Then come and try one of these extreme sports that are totally appealing for those looking for adrenaline.
JET SKI: Unload your rage in the waves!
Arguably the most iconic adventure activity in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The jet ski is a powerful machine that will take you for a high-speed ride through the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
- Who can Jet Ski?
Jet Ski can be ridden by kids from 12 years old and over. Of course, all the underage kids (less than 18) must ride with one of their parents. Usually, Jet Ski are for two passengers. However, there are some models for up to three passengers.
⚠️ Beware of Jet Ski rentals that act with dubious work ethic and may offer rides for underage kids without proper supervision. Always remember the minimum age to drive a motor vehicle alone is 18 years old. However, some people may be less concerned about safety and willing to rent a jet ski to a minor. Do not forget that, even though it is a recreational activity, it also involves risks.
- Where can you rent a Jet Ski in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
In Cancun and the Riviera Maya, it is quite easy to rent a jet ski in the beaches.
The main places to find Jet Ski rentals are: Cancun’s Hotel Zone, Punta Maroma, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel island, Puerto Aventura and Chemuyil beach.
- For how long you can rent a Jet Ski in Cancun?
Usually a jet ski rental package last between 30 – 60 minutes.
It is also possible to find rentals of up to 4 hours as part of excursions or offers combined with other activities (parasailing or snorkeling)
- How much does a Jet Ski rental cost?
The price of a jet ski rental can change according to several criteria: how long it is, if the rental is done by a group of tourists (it can be private or collective - up to 10 people) and, of course, the season. According to what we have seen, the rental of a jet ski in Cancun and the Riviera Maya ranges between $ 50 and $ 75 USDs.
💡 If you are traveling in low season: remember there is always chance to negotiate the price!
THE JET PACK: Iron Man’s new gadget!
Invented in the late 2000s, thanks to the combined efforts of two French and German companies,
The Jetpack uses the force of water to propel you above the sea up to 30 ft high at a speed of more than 25 miles per hour.
- Who can ride the Jetpack?
It is an individual activity. It is for adults and children from 12 years old who like adrenaline. People over 286 lbs. (130 kgs.) cannot do this activity.
You don't need to be an airplane pilot to ride the Jetpack, the power of this machine will be managed by an instructor according to the user's skills and previous experience.
- Where to find Jetpack rentals in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
The Jetpack is mostly done at the sea. So, it is available at different locations in Cancun and the Riviera Maya: Cancun’s Hotel Zone, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.
- How long is a Jetpack ride?
According to our research done in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Jet Pack rides last about 30 to 35 minutes.
The time is usually distributed in a 10-minute training and the rest is for you to play like if you were wearing Iron Man’s suit! The training usually consists on a brief explanation by the instructor about the jet pack operation and the safety rules.
- How much does a Jetpack rental cost?
According to our research, a Jetpack rental for an average period of 30-35 minutes is between $85 and $130 USDs depending on the company. The price is the same for adults and children.
The eco-aquatic activities podium
Among the sports that allow you to enjoy aquatic environments without altering them, here is the podium of activities that mix adventure tourism and ecology.
🌿 #3 KITESURF: Let’s sail!
Let us introduce you to a true extreme water sport. Kite surf is ideal to enjoy the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Kitesurf is the perfect combination of a board sport like windsurfing and an outdoor activity like flying kites. This one allows you to play both with the ocean waves and with the the wind.
This activity requires you to improve your body control, to learn how to use the sails and the equipment as well as a better understanding of the weather and the natural conditions surrounding you. If you really enjoy speed, acrobatics and strong emotions, you will have an amazing time with kitesurf.
- Who can kitesurf?
Kitesurfing is accessible to everyone from 10 to 90 years old! There are lessons for all ages and all levels of expertise: children, beginners, intermediate and advanced kitesurfers.
This extreme sport, dangerous if it’s not properly supervised, requires both theoretical and practical knowledge. That is why it is offered by specialized kitesurfing schools.
- Where can you kitesurf in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
Kitesurf is a very popular sport in Cancun and the rest of the Riviera Maya. Many schools offer lessons adapted to your level of expertise all along the Mexican Caribbean coast.
From Holbox to Tulum, there are multiple locations to kitesurf: Isla Blanca, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras and even the shores of the Sian Ka'an reserve, you will have many options to choose from when it comes to finding the right kitesurfing school for you.
- How long are the kitesurfing lessons?
Kitesurf is an activity that requires professional training and supervision. There are lessons available for all levels of expertise: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Usually, kitesurfing schools teach you both from a theoretical and a practical perspective.
Lessons according to the different levels of expertise can last form 3 hours up to 12 hours. As you can see, these are quite long. So be sure to plan in advance and have enough time in your schedule to learn how to kitesurf. The learning process can be as long as four days. It will depend on the type of training and your kitesurf school.
- How much do kitesurfing lessons cost in the Riviera Maya?
In the chart below, you will find the average prices in different kitesurfing schools in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
Kitesurfing is an expensive extreme sport. Due to the long training required to master this activity, the budget will be quite substantial.
|Private Lessons||$ 160/240||$ 250/450||$ 470/585||$ 670/720|
Encourage yourself to learn with other people and share the exxperience! Shared lessons can be funnier and less expensive!
If you are already familiar with kitesurfing, lessons and equipment rental will be more affordable.
🌿 #2 PADDLE BOARDING AND KAYAK: exploring the aquatic corners of Cancun and the Riviera Maya
You can paddle board and kayak in some of Cancun’s most famous lagoons: - Nichupté Lagoon in Cancun’s Hotel zone or the lagoons in the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve (located south of Tulum). If you prefer you can also go with your board or kayak into the bluish immensity of the Caribbean Sea.
Kayaking and paddle boarding are the perfect combination of sport and exploration of the wild world while wandering on the surface of the water.
In addition, these are 100% ecological activities that will allow you to experience adventure tourism and ecotourism.
- Who can kayak / paddle in Cancun?
Kayak and paddleboard activities in the Riviera Maya are not dangerous and are available to everyone.
Due to the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea and lagoons, kayaking and paddle boarding are not considered dangerous activities (watch out for crocodiles anyway! 🐊 🚫 🏊).
The people excluded from these activities are: children younger than 6 years old, pregnant women, people with rheumatism or who cannot swim.
- Where can you practice kayaking / paddle boarding in the Riviera Maya?
Kayaking is usually done in the lagoons of Quintana Roo (Nichupté, Sian Ka'an, Lake Kan'Luum, Punta Laguna, etc.).
There are kayak rentals in almost every beach from Holbox to the Sian Ka'an reserve south of Tulum.
Half-day excursions are available to get into the lagoons and explore the mangroves. It is also possible to find outings in the sea to enjoy the spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea.
You will find several tour companies that offer kayak trips on the coast of Cancun and the Riviera Maya: Cancun hotel zone, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum and even in Punta Allen.
Paddle boarding is usually done at the sea, in the calm waters of the Caribbean. However, some tour companies also have excursions in lakes and cenotes.
Rental companies and paddle schools are mainly located close to the beaches. It is easier to find them in Playa del Carmen.
Thanks to the natural barrier that Cozumel forms right in front of Playa del Carmen, all that area is ideal for practicing this activity.
- How long does a kayak or paddle board rental is in Cancun?
The duration of kayak and paddle tours in Cancun and the Riviera Maya can be very variable.
For beginners, these activities can be short outings during a simple initiation or a basic lesson that lasts between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes.
For tourists who want a longer excursion, the classic outings usually last between 2 hours and 3 hours. These could be trips to explore the mangroves, watch the sunset or the bioluminescence in the lagoons.
Half-day outings (kayak only) usually are the most popular within nature lovers who are not afraid to spend some time rowing.
These excursions are organized with a duration of 5h - 6h and will take you to the heart of the nature reserves to observe the local flora and fauna.
- How much does a kayak or paddleboard activity cost in the Riviera Maya?
For short rowing tripslasting between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes, budget around25 - 35 USDs.
For intermediate trips, that is something between 2h30 - 3h by kayak, budget an average of50 – 60 USDs.
These outings can include “sunset”, “sunrise” or bioluminescence activities.
For long tripsthat is a ½ day in a 5h - 6h kayak tour, budget around 150 - 170 USDs.
And finally, what everyone is waiting for, the champion of all categories of water activities that combine adventure tourism and ecotourism.
🌿 #1 SCUBA DIVING IN THE SEA OR IN A CENOTE: Top water activity in Cancun!
Scuba diving is one of the most sought-after adventure tourism activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. One of the most interesting features of this activity is that It can be done in different Mexican Caribbean’s aquatic environments. Diving offers the opportunity to discover ecosystems of wide diversity.
- Who can dive in Cancun?
Diving is an accessible activity for both adults and children from the age of 10 when it is done at the sea and from the age of 15 when it is done in a cenote * (age may vary according to diving schools).
💡 For kids under 10, don’t forget about snorkeling! Diving with a mask and snorkel in the sea is also available for children from 6 to 12 years old.
Snorkeling equipment rental at the beaches and at the cenotes is cheap. These places are usually safe to snorkel and take a look to the seabed or caves.
⚠️ People with inner ear aliments may have difficulties with pressure, so diving is not recommended, as are people with asthma or lung conditions.
- Where to dive in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
Whether it is on an excursion to the Caribbean Sea, to a coral reef or a tour in a cenote deep in the jungle, there will be many locations to consider when it comes to diving.
From Holbox to Tulum, all the way to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos; and let’s not forget Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, in all the tourist destinations in Quintana Roo, you can find a company that will take you to the best diving spots.
In the Caribbean Sea, you can explore the second largest coral reef in the world and swim close to all the marine species that thrive around this incredible ecosystem. A dive that most likely will translate in beautiful encounters with all these incredible species that inhabit the coasts near Cancun and the Riviera Maya (bull shark, nurse sharks, turtles, dolphins, whale sharks ...).
In a cenote, your immersion will not only take you to the heart of this unique geological phenomenon in Cancun, impressive holes in the earth filled with fresh and crystalline water filtered through the limestone subsoils; it will take you on a journey to the core of the underworld revered by the Mayans. A place that extends through kilometers of caves and underground rivers.
- How long will it take to go on a diving tour in Cancun?
Two dives = one full day (9 AM to 5 PM). This is the minimum time that we recommend for to consider in a diving tour in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, whether it is done in the sea or in a cenote.
Diving is an intense and strenuous physical activity, especially for people who are not used to spending too much time in the water. It is usually done in two stages with a dive in the morning and a dive in the afternoon. In the meantime, your guides or instructors will surely offer you a snack.
4 to 6 dives = 2 - 3 days. For those who have already learned to move around the deep waters, there are packages that include more outings.
Usually, the outings in this type of packages are distributed over several days and allow you to alternate your outings at the sea and in the cenotes to fully enjoy all the diving possibilities in Cancun.
A single dive = half a day. Of course, you can opt to just have a fast introduction to diving if you feel that will be enough.
For beginners, the first diving lessons are carried out in a pool and later, your instructors and you will be transferred to the sea or to a cenote for a real dive. Anyway, it is better for you to consider at least half a day for this activity (learning the theory, having a practice in the pool, transfer to the dive site in the sea, getting ready to wear all the equipment, etc.).
For a diving tour, the departure time can be quite variable as it depends on several factors:
- Weather is the first factor, a very rough sea or a stormy weather can stop any diving tour for safety reasons.
- Your diving expertise and if you really feel comfortable being underwater, especially if it is your first time.
- Your ability to withstand pressure as well as your ability to decompress after diving.
- Your diving depth goal. The deeper it is, the less time you can stay due to pressure and decompression stops, but rest assured this only applies to experienced divers 😉.
- f you are interested in watching the undersea life, waiting for the desired species to appear is also important for your diving time. Remember, fish don't have schedules! They are not there to put on a show and there is no guarantee that they will be found where they are expected. Sometimes it is better to explore another location where the chances of finding the species of interest increase.
As a general rule, a "recreational dive" lasts between 45 and 60 minutes.
- How much does a diving tour cost in Cancun?
Diving tour prices in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, whether at sea or in cenotes, are quite homogeneous. You will not have to worry about prices widely shifting from one diving school to another.
Here we will show you the price ranges for the most popular diving tours.
- Introduction to diving (Discover Scuba Dive) in Cancun:
For people who have never dived, this course is a must. Without this it will be impossible for you to go further in underwater exploration.
The initiation requires one or two dives. First you will have to learn the theory in a classroom, then practice in a pool and, finally, a dive in the sea or in an open cenote while being supervised by an instructor.
The price is approximately $ 120 - $ 140 USD for 2 dives.
⚠️ If you want more, additional dives will cost approximately $ 50 USD.
- Maritime excursions: 1 day = 2 dives
Diving excursions at the sea are usually carried out at daylight.
These include two dives (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), lunch with the group and a snack. It also includes roundtrip transportation (which can be done from your hotel) as well as the transfer to the diving "spot."
"Classic" diving sessions at the sea departing from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum cost around $ 90 - $ 100 USD.
However, if you want to explore the coral reefs located close to the island of Cozumel, which is quite famous for its amazing diving sites, it will cost you more. In addition to the price per day of the "classic" diving sessions at the sea, the price of the boat trip must be added.
Diving sessions in Cozumel cost between
⚠️ Beware of unpleasant surprises! Make sure the price of the ferry to Cozumel is included in your package, otherwise you will have to pay it separately.
- Cenote diving tours: 1 day = 2 diving sessions
There are also cenote tour packages available through all Cancun and Riviera Maya. These packages usually include a visit to two different cenotes. As it is done with diving tours at the sea, lunch and round-trip transportation are included in the package.
Since cenotes are generally private areas owned by members of the Mayan community, there is a charge for entry. Therefore, it must be added to the price of the diving tour.
On average, one day diving tour in a cenote costs between $ 130 - $ 140 USDs.
For your consideration: some outstanding parks are Angelita, El Pit and Parque Dos Ojos because they have magnificent cenotes, some of them are completely underground. In addition, these places offer high-quality facilities and activities, which justifies high-cost tickets.
A one-day diving tour in park like Parque Dos Ojos costs costs around $ 200 USD.
- Multiple days packages: 4 dives and more! (sea and cenotes)
If you are a lover of the aquatic depths and a one-day diving tour is not enough to satisfy your passion, there are packages that can extend your diving activity for several days. Packages that include from 4 to 10 dives both in the sea and in cenotes.
Some price ranges:
Diving at the sea:
3 trips of 2 dives each: $250 - 270 USDs
4 trips of 2 dives each: $330 - 350 USDs
Diving at the sea and in a cenote:
3 trips of 2 dives each **: $330 - 350 USDs
4 trips of 2 dives each: $400 - 450 USDs
5 trips of 2 dives each: $490 - 520 USD
*Tour packages usually include round transportation, lunch, snack, bottled water.
**Access fees to the cenotes are included.