Land Activities

Last Updated Sep 7, 2023

The best land activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Hello, dear readers! It’s a pleasure to meet you again for a new article focused on Cancun and Riviera Maya! We know you are hungry for good advice and ideas to plan your vacation, and you will not be disappointed. If staying all day in your all-inclusive hotel is not your thing, you will find in Cancun and in the rest of the Riviera Maya, a wide variety of tourist attractions: tours to Mayan archeological sites, jungle excursions, wandering through small cozy towns, shopping, shows, family activities and... And it never ends! Odigoo has once again given 100% to bring you useful information to prepare for your stay in the Mexican Caribbean. Let's go and explore this land with its many possibilities and discover together the best land activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya! And don't forget: = an eco-friendly activity

Tables of contents



Before heading inland, let's take a short detour to the sandbox!
Among the main activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the ones related to the seaside are essential. Miles of white sand beaches and a magnificent turquoise blue sea; the Mexican Caribbean is an invitation to relaxation and idleness.

Even the seaside towns of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Puerto Morelos seem to bask in the sun.

If you are interested in the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, discover without further delay the best article on the web on the subject. Yes indeed, dear reader, the best!
We are like that at Odigoo. Realistic... and humble
Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself, it's right here 👇

👉 The Best Cancun and Riviera Maya beach article. Let's close this parenthesis to devote ourselves to land-based activities!

Exploring the Mayan world: a thousand-year-old civilization

Visiting Cancun and the Riviera Maya without discovering one of the most fascinating pre-Columbian civilizations in the world is simply unthinkable! That's why exploring the Mayan world is the first one in our article on the best land activities in Cancun and the Riviera!

Tours to the Mayan archeological sites

The cradle of the Mayan civilization, the major archeological sites in the Riviera Maya, and the Yucatan Peninsula are part of a set of remarkable ruins throughout Mesoamerica. As guardians of a priceless heritage, the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo offer visitors an unforgettable experience.

Don’t miss the guided tours in the heart of these ancient cities, some of which are listed as World Heritage Sites. Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Ek Balam, Tulum, Coba… These must-see places are complemented by a myriad of minor sites scattered throughout the Peninsula. 👉 To find out more about the archeological sites, how to visit them, prices, and guided tours, do not hesitate to consult our article: Cultural tours I: the archeological areas in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Meet the Mayan communities in the current world

Contrary to what one might think, the Mayans are not an extinct people. In 2019, there were more than 8 million Mayas in the world!

The Mayan communities in the Yucatan Peninsula are mainly settled inland. Organized tours allow you to visit them. Among the most popular activities is to share a culinary experience with the Mayans In a lively and authentic atmosphere, learn to cook traditional dishes with the community.

Gastronomy in Yucatan

These meetings with the Mayan people are part of the ecotourism offer in Cancun and Riviera Maya. This activities are importante because:

  • They help support local communities.
  • They help to recognize indigenous communities.
  • They contribute to the redistribution of wealth linked to tourism.

Support the development of indigenous communities, participating in the local economy (crafts, textiles, local products).

Fauna and Flora: the ecosystems in Cancun and Riviera Maya

The State of Quintana Roo and, more broadly, the Yucatan Peninsula have real natural treasures. Jungle, mangroves, cenotes, lagoons…

An exceptional heritage that shelters a unique flora and fauna in the world.

Flora and Fauna in the Riviera Maya

It is therefore normal that the excursions and organized tours to discover the ecosystems are among the best land activities in the Riviera Maya.
Let's discover without further delay these wonders of nature!

The cenotes

One of the iconic features of the Yucatan Peninsula is a network of underground rivers and freshwater holes, formed by thousands of years of seepage through the limestone subsoil of the Riviera Maya. They are called cenotes. To access most of the cenotes you have to pay a fee but they are equipped for the needs of tourism. Many of them have snack bars, relaxation areas, toilets, and changing rooms. The cenotes also offer aquatic activities: aquatic activities: swimming (life jacket), snorkeling (to rent on-site), and scuba diving. In the cenotes, you will also find activities related to adventure tourism such as: zip lines, jumps from platforms, or exploration of underground caves.

Cenotes in Cancun

In the cenotes, in addition to swimming in an idyllic setting, you can observe a wide variety of wildlife: 🐟 fishes, 🐢 freshwater turtles, 🦇 bats, but also...
🐊 😱 crocodiles! Yes, you are not misreading, at Casa Cenote near Tulum, you can meet 'Panchito', the mascot of the cenote. He’s nice but be careful anyway!

Crocodriles in Cancún

👉 All the info to visit the cenotes of the Riviera Maya, it's right there! 👀

The natural reserves of the Riviera Maya

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are known for their magnificent ecosystems, true sanctuaries of wildlife. It’s possible to visit these natural reserves of the Riviera Maya through organized tours. These activities related to nature tourism are available in various tours and they are suitable for all audiences.

The must visit natural reserves in the Riviera Maya:

  • To the north: located in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Ria Lagartos nature reserve will lead you to discover an impressive colony of flamingos that nest there all year round.
  • Just in front of Cancun, Isla Contoy, a protected island almost virgin to any human installation. This natural park is extremely controlled, only 200 people can visit it per day. The place is ideal for bird watching, especially the frigatebird. 🦜
  • To the south: Inland, the Punta Laguna reserve is known to be home to a spider monkey sanctuary 🐒. Further south, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO) is the largest in the entire Peninsula 🐬
Punta Laguna, nature reserve
Did you know?

Cancun has its own nature reserve. A national park consisting of the western coast of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc.

ATVs, biking, hiking: explore the Riviera Maya from every angle!

ATV tours in the jungle of Quintana Roo

There are a thousand and one ways to discover the jungle in the Mexican Caribbean. One of the most popular options for tourists is the ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) tour.

  • Jeep tours are popular among tourists who want to go cross-country and have fun with the chaotic roads in the jungle around Cancun.
    These jungle ATV tours are perfect for venturing into terrain that is not recommended for other vehicles (We are thinking in particular about the car your rented to get around the Mexican Caribbean 😁).
  • Quads and buggies are smaller but also more manageable. They can be rented by the hour, half-day or full-day.
    They are widely favored by young audiences and families.

For those who would like to book an ATV tour, these outings can be done in groups or in a private tour. It is possible to reserve these vehicles for the whole day, for exploring the area all by yourself!

ATVs in Cancún

Odigoo tip:

Ask your hotel concierge directly. Some have privileged partnerships and preferred deals for excursions in ATVs.

👉 More details on ATV tours? read our article: adventure tourism and land activities.

🌿 Bike rental: leisure or sports outings

Cycling is a very pleasant and eco-responsible way to discover the destination of Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

The local government in th towns in the Mexican Caribbean has made an effort to make their urban centers more cycle-friendly and it is quite easy to get around on two wheels.

  • - 🚴 For the ones that just want to enjoy a ride: the hotel zone of Cancun, the malecón of Puerto Morelos and the seaside promenade of Playa del Carmen are very pleasant to cycle through. In Tulum, cycling is the ideal means of transport to travel from the city center to the hotel zone.
  • - 🚵 For the ones that seek bike-related adrenaline: several bike rental companies also offer mountain bike trips and longer excursions such as exploration of Cancun, diking across Isla Mujeres, excursions in the jungle…
Bike rentals in Cancún

Odigoo Tip:

Renting a bike in Cancun gives you flexibility. You can stop for a swim any time you want, or for a drink, without suffering from traffic or parking problems.

So do something for the planet and think about cycling!

Walking and hiking: to each their own

We can't say it enough, walking and hiking are extremely beneficial activities. Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer superb walks to do!

Whether you are more into the city, strolling through the pretty neighborhoods, or more into nature, to trudge on the trails, you’re bound to find a walk that suits you. Do a Street-art tour to discover urban art, stroll through the lively streets of Isla Mujeres, discover colonial heritage in Valladolid, hike on the island of Cozumel, do bird watching, discover the Mayan medicinal path… The list is as long as the Riviera Maya is vast!

The cities, the other face of Cancun and Riviera Maya!

You cannot miss the towns and cities of the Yucatan Peninsula. Visiting the towns of the Riviera Maya will bring you another perspective on the destination. A different and complementary charm.

The main cities and towns to visit!

The Riviera Maya is a multifaceted destination. The cities and towns in the Mexican Caribbean show you all the faces of the destination!

  • Party atmosphere? Cities of the 21st century which live at a thousand miles an hour, a contemporary and cosmopolitan setting, always in full effervescence: Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
  • 🏰 Cities steeped in history? If you appreciate the architecture, typical and colorful atmospheres as well as cultural places, head to Mérida and Valladolid, vestiges of a colonial-era!
  • Do you prefer a realaxing atmosphere? A quiet place, the authenticity of a fishing port, a pretty craft market; in short, the charm of small towns still preserved, Tulum or Puerto Morelos will seduce you!

Puerto Morelos

Among the best land activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the towns and cities of the Yucatan Peninsula offer many “things to do” and “places to see”.

Organized city tours in Riviera Maya will allow you to experience all these activities, outings, and visits (street art, shopping, culinary tours, etc.)

Planning to stay just in Cancun? Here is an article entirely devoted to activities in Cancun or the immediate vicinity of the city. Click here!

From Cancun to Tulum: eat well and party!

I know you want to make the most of your day, but leave space for food and fun; the perfect mix for your holidays! The towns in the Riviera Maya are always ready to give you great experiences.

Starting with those on the table! The towns in the Riviera Maya offer a wide variety of restaurants and eateries. In each townm you will find a wide choice of local and international delicacies: Mexican, North American, Italian, Asian...
All the flavors of the world have come together on the Riviera Maya!

To make the most of your evening in style, reserve time for outings and shows. What would Cancun and the Riviera Maya be without its many party spots, world-class shows, and vibrant nightlife? Coco Bongo, Cirque du Soleil, Hard Rock Café, discotecas o bares de baile... Algo para amenizar todas tus noches, tanto si las pasas en familia como en compañía de tus amigos. 👉 More information? Do not hesitate to take a loo to our tab: Things to do in Cancun and The Riviera Maya.

  • 🍽️ 🍷 The best restaurants in Cancun and the Riviera Maya
  • 👯 Nightclubs and nightlife
  • 🎪 Shows and concerts

Family fun: activities to do with children!

Family vacations are a great way to get together and strengthen ties with your children. These are special moments where the time spent together counts more than anything. So to prepare for your family vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Mayafic needs and the age of your children.

The great theme parks of the Riviera Maya

Among the best activities to do with children in Cancun, the great theme parks of the Riviera Maya, located near Playa del Carmen, are the most popular ones.

Impossible to come and spend your family vacation on the Riviera Maya without booking a day in one of these enchanting parks.

A universe entirely designed for all members of the family to enjoy the day. Just imagine... 😃 💭

  • 👪 Attractions for all ages
  • 🐬 Exotic animals
  • 💃 Local traditional shows
  • 🎠 Playgrounds for the little ones
  • 🕶️ And relaxation for the older ones!

All this in a magnificent setting combining lush vegetation 🌴, reconstructed ruins, rivers and artificial cenotes, and private beaches with direct access to the Caribbean Sea 🏖️

A tailor-made activity for a family vacation with your children with the bonus of a little taste of paradise.

👉 Xcaret, Xplor, Native Park, etc. Want to know more about the great theme parks of the Riviera Maya? Find all the info here!

Shows for the whole family

After a great day of family activities, what could be better than a show to make everyone go to bed with stars in their eyes?

Cancun and Riviera Maya feature many family attractions and shows suitable for all ages such as circus, musical shows, traditional dance performances, and many others. There are several places where you can spend a wonderful evening with your children.

Here are our top 3 of the best shows to see with the family.

  • 1. Cirque du Soleil 🤡

Don't miss this extraordinary show that brings together the greatest circus artists in the world!

Cirque du Soleil returns with a new show in the colors of Mexico where the traditions of the country where it has set up its tent resonate. A show for the whole family.

Cirque du soleil en la Riviera Maya
  • 2. Xoximilco 🛶

If you haven't had the opportunity to get to know the canals close to México City, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then don't hesitate for a second and go discover this life-size replica. Comfortably installed in traditional boats, let yourself be seduced by this colorful atmosphere to the sound of the melodious voices of the mariachis.

  • 3. Xcaret by night 🕺 🎉

An unbeatable Riviera Maya performance hall, Xcaret by night welcomes you for a colorful musical show!

In a festive and good-natured atmosphere, discover or rediscover traditional Mexican dances and learn more about the history of Mexico.

Great memories guaranteed!

Extreme sports: adventure tourism

For those who can't get enough, we've saved the best for last! Adventure lovers and adrenaline seekers, keep reading! 👇

Adventure parks for thrill-seekers

If you like adrenaline-pumping attractions then some theme parks in the Riviera Maya dedicated to this type of activity will give you complete satisfaction.

Thrill-seeking theme parks are flourishing in the Mexican Caribbean. Xplor and recently Xavage have settled on the Riviera Maya, near Playa del Carmen. Dream places for big kids and teenagers who want to measure themselves against the forces of nature, but also against the dizzying speed of roller coasters.

We recommend that you dedicate these days to an adult audience or a family with teenagers because although the little ones are also accepted, they will find few activities adequate for them.

Discovery of the caves: rappeling and speleology

Finally, the last activity reserved for the brave, a descent into the heart of the bowels of the Riviera Maya.

Discover this astonishing limestone subsoil through rappelling and caving excursions. In the company of members of the Mayan communities, go underground and discover a marvelous world, made up of superb caves, ceilings studded with stalagmites, and hidden cenotes!

Claustrophobes, abstain!

This concludes our article on the best land activities in the Riviera Maya! We hope it has been useful to you.

If you wish to know more about any of these topics, do not hesitate to click on the corresponding links to get all the useful details.

See you soon for new adventures in Cancun and the Riviera Maya!

Enjoy reading and see you soon!