Adventure Tourism

Last Updated Sep 7, 2023

For some people, the perfect vacations in a beach destination are all about relaxation, amazing views, long walks by the sea and taking naps from the comfort of a pool side lounger (* the harmonious cry of a seagull is heard in the distance *) ... For some other people, it is completely the opposite! Are you the type of person that can’t stay still even when you are on vacations? Do you consider yourself as someone that is always looking for adventures, sport activities and exploring unusual places? Then adventure tourism is perfect for you! Through this post, we share with you an overview of the most popular activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. 👉 Table of Contents.



But first, let's forget about a misconception when we talk about adventure tourism: is this type of tourism just limited for the most athletic and fittest? This is not true! If you want to discover Cancun and the Riviera Maya through all the activities included in adventure tourism, the providers will make sure the activites are adapted to your needs and, above all, to your level of physical condition, whatever it may be! If you are thinking about coming to Cancun looking for adventure, it doesn’t matter what is your previous experience as an adventure traveler. Here, there are activities for everyone:

  • For the seasoned travelers, in other words, those who are looking for adventure all year long and have been out in the wild exploring many places;
  • For the moderate risk takers, those who like risk as long as it is controlled;
  • And finally, for the couch potato adventurers, those wanting to add a bit of excitement to their vacation activities and have more photos for instagram, but without going out of their limits.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer a wide range of activities and excursions that are the perfect mix of exploring wild ecosystems and outdoor adventures. Most of these activities are available for all ages. And all with a dash of adrenaline! Sports, entertainment and physical challenges, fill yourself with excitement during your stay in the Mexican Caribbean. Keep scrolling down through this post and get ready to discover all the excursions and adventure tourism activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. ¡There is a whole program designed for adventurers of all types! Ready? Follow the parrot!

Table of contents

What is adventure tourism?

Before getting into adventure tourism activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, we consider it is important to give some more specific details about what the concept of adventure tourism really is.

Tourism focused on the discovery and exploration of natural environments

Adventure tourism is defined as a group of recreational activities that take place in the heart of nature. This type of tourism includes physical activity, a cultural exchange and, of course, activities in nature. You don't necessarily have to go base jumping or go scuba diving with sharks to be an adventure tourist (although those activities definitely qualify). For all those who live in big cities, wild ecosystems are a tremendous source of amazing discoveries and wonders. Immersed in it, human beings become more easily aware of all the natural forces that surround him, of all the ways life thrives beyond concrete and large buildings. The experiences in nature are valuable because they allow us to be more conscious about all the living treasures in our planet. The majesty of the mountains, the power of the ocean currents, the darkness of the underground caves, the clear crystal water in the cenotes and so many other incredible experiences that adventure tourism let you live through activities such as climbing, rafting or scuba diving. As for Cancun and the Riviera Maya, nature lovers will have a large number of options to have an adventure to choose from. In fact, the State of Quintana Roo has a wide diversity of magnificent ecosystems that are among the richest and most biodiverse on the planet.

Lush jungle, mangroves, cenotes, coral reefs, lagoons ... The region is a nature treasure of a thousand faces. Adventure tourism is a perfect way to explore them while enjoying sports and recreational activities.

Do you want to have an adventure in Cancun, check out this itinerary, we can plan something like this for you:

Jungle Adventure in Cancun

JUNGLE ADVENTURE IN CANCUN: Get ready for a five-day trip to Cancun! Relax on the beautiful beaches 🏖️ and explore the jungle 🌳 while learning about the secrets of the Mayan civilization. 🏯

Tourism that combines recreational and sports activities...

Nature also offers many opportunities to physically challenge yourself and practice different sports activities. Adventure tourism gives everyone the opportunity to measure themselves with the elements of nature, to try to tame them and even to conquer them. Climbing a summit, paragliding from the top of a cliff or diving to the bottom of an underwater cave are some of the sports activities that are part of adventure tourism. In general, tourists who want to do this type of activity are asked only one requirement: good physical condition. In certain cases, a certification or license may also be required to carry out the activity (diving, parachute diving, etc.). However, not all adventure activities require the strength and endurance of an elite athlete. In most cases, these activities are based, of course, on a certain degree of physical effort, but above all they are designed in order to make the participants have a good time while exploring the nature. You don't have to be a skilled athlete to fully enjoy adventure tourism. So, relax! No need to break a sweat from here! The ecosystems that surround Cancun and the Riviera Maya are just perfect to enjoy a nature tour as well as to do adventure tourism activities.

The amazing biodiversity in Cancun

In addition, due to the high flow of tourists in Cancun and the Riviera Maya (youth and family tourism), adventure tourism activities and excursions are perfectly adapted to the different types of tourists and their physical condition. As a matter of fact, most providers of adventure tourism activities offer different levels of difficulty in their products. Thus, participants can choose whether they want to push their limits or simply want to enjoy a sporting activity amidst breathtaking landscapes. Adventure tourism has no age restrictions, it is both for young people and for those not so young. On land, in the air or in aquatic environments, there are a thousand ways to enjoy nature with family or friends.

Tourism that involves risk

It would be inappropriate not to warn you about the potential risks of adventure tourism, as it forms the very basis of the concept of adventure. If you choose to enjoy adventure tourism, you must consider the risk factor, whatever the activity you want to do. It is obvious that some sports activities are more dangerous than others, but unforeseen events can always happen. That is one of the main reasons why adventure tourism activities and excursions must be always supervised by teams of professionals. These staff must be trained to go along with and guide you through each activity while making sure the conditions of the environment safely enough. They also have to provide you the appropriate equipment to develop the activity. Thanks to the efforts and expertise of the staff you will be able to enjoy sports and recreational activities safely. But you have to always keep in mind that adventure tourism always involves a certain degree of risk. Nature can be unpredictable. It should not be overlooked while carrying out adventure tourism activities there is always responsibility for everyone: the staff, the tourist (individual or group). Adventure tourism requires a certain degree of awareness of what can and cannot be done to make activities as safe as possible. All safety measures and recommendations in each activity are designed to keep risk at its lowest. However, prudence and sanity must be an essential part of our behavior when doing them. In some cases, the provider will require you to sign a release form as an exemption of any liability. Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer daily excursions and adventure activities for several thousand tourists from around the world. The safety of tourists is the #1 priority for all the providers in charge of these activities. From picking up their customer at their resort until they take them back to it, tourism companies in Cancun closely supervise all the actions while tourist are with them. So, come and enjoy adventure tourism in Cancun with complete peace of mind. Pleasure, amazing discoveries and exciting experiences will be in the program of your activities, conquering the Mexican Caribbean!

Where can you do adventure tourism activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

The Caribbean Sea for "idyllic" adventures

It is impossible not to mention it, its reputation precedes it. To hear its name is enough inspiration to start dreaming about paradise. Yes, its fame is such that people come from all over the world to admire the amazing landscapes, sunrises and sunsets. Pure beauty.

It is the king of the Caribbean, the emperor dressed in blue, the... Is it too much description already? - ok, sorry, we also get excited when thinking about it 😅 – Obviously we are talking about the Caribbean Sea, whose turquoise waters bathe the coasts of Cancun and all the Riviera Maya.

Sailing through the Caribbean Sea is already an adventure, as well as an unforgettable experience.

Kayak in the Mexican Caribbean

Sailing the Caribbean Sea is in itself an adventure, as well as being an unforgettable experience. You will find activities that are the perfect mix between adventure and pleasure in the Caribbean Sea. You will also find the main water activities in Cancun and Riviera Maya 👉 here.

The neighbor islands. of Cancun (Isla Mujeres) and Playa del Carmen (Cozumel) are also among the amazing gems of the Caribbean Sea. This sea hides many other treasures. As a matter of fact, the Carbbean sea is not only an stunning place with amazing colors and weather, it is also home to one of the richest ecosystmes in the world, the Cancun Great Barrier Reef..

This is the second largest coral reef on the planet! Therefore, adventure tourism not only happens above the Caribbean Sea but also under the sea. Don't act like you don’t know what we are talking about, this whole deal is about exploring the depths of the sea and taking a look at everything that lives on the seabed. 🐙 🐠 🐬 Among the iconic activities of adventure tourism in the Caribbean Sea, as you may already guess, is scuba diving. This activity allows you to fully appreciate the beauty of the seabed.

The jungle of Cancun and the Riviera Maya: exploring the wonders of the Mayan world

After taking a look to what happens in the sea, let’s go to the land activities! In addition to the sea tours and exploration, Cancun and the Riviera Maya have a vast territory covered with lush and humid forests: the jungle. Who has not dreamed of exploring a mysterious and fascinating land? So, let’s make that dream come true in Cancun. It is time to wear an Indiana Jones' hat and a pair of comfortable shoes to walk long stretches of land without worrying about how muddy is the terrain; and don’t forget to bring your binoculars too, so you can appreciate all the amazing discoveries out of the reach of your hand. Enter the heart of the wild in Cancun and let’s conquer the nature!

Adventure tourism offers a wide range of tours, excursions and activities throughout the Riviera Maya: by foot, by bicycle or driving an ATV, there are many ways to explore the jungle. Alone or with a local guide, get deep in the jungle roads. There you will be able to look for the wild animals and plants that inhabit the dense vegetation. Watching wildlife is one of the emblematic excursions of this region, famous for its many protected species, some of which are in danger of extinction. Cancun’s jungle is the kingdom of the monkeys, the tapir, a multitude of birds and, above all, the fascinating jaguar, worshiped and feared by the Mayans since ages ago. Just to add a bit of adrenaline to your jungle tour, don’t forget that a jaguar could be watching you closer than you think! You can also find all the land activities of Cancún and the Riviera Maya in our post about this topic. 👉 Here.

A journey to the center of the Earth: the Secrets of the Mayan underwold.

Adventure tourism in Cancun and the Riviera Maya takes place on land, but also in underground environments! There is another surprising facet of the Mexican Caribbean’s natural ecosystem. Thanks to its geological peculiarities, the limestone subsoil that can be found everywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula has been eroding through the centuries. This phenomenon is the main cause of the formation of innumerable caves, cenotes and underground rivers that are totally available for exploration.

Some of these cavities run for several kilometers beneath the earth's surface, guarding magnificent rock formations (stalactites, stalagmites, etc.).

Besides its undeniable geological interest, this in-between universe also has a very important cultural and mystical value for the Mayan people. Indeed, the cenotes are considered by the Mayans as a sacred land and a passage to the underworld. To this date, some indigenous communities still have ceremonies and rituals on these amazing places.

Cenotes in Cancun and Riviera Maya

The exploration of the limestone subsoil of Cancun and the Riviera Maya can be done in several ways. Adventure tourism offers many activities related to this authentic underground labyrinth. These activities range from swimming in a cenote for the less adventurous, to rappelling deep in caves! For the more experienced adventurers, scuba diving is also available in cenotes and underground rivers. In this case, we label this activity just for the “experienced” because in order to carry it out, an SSI or PADI certification is previously required. In any case, this kind of experience remains an unforgettable adventure in the depths of the Mayan underworld.

Lakes: wildlife territories

A third outstanding ecosystem in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, where it is also possible to practice adventure tourism, lies at the junction between two elements we have previously mentioned. This is the lake areas that run between the jungle and the Caribbean Sea. The Nichupté lagoon surrounding Cancun and the Sian Ka'an reserve south of Tulum are among the most famous of these natural areas between land and sea.

The lagoons of the Riviera Maya, due to their particular geographic location, are extremely rich areas where many marine and lake species coexist. The fresh waters of the rivers and the salty waters of the Caribbean Sea combine to create an ecosystem of rare diversity but also of great fragility. Discovering these protected areas through adventure tourism is an opportunity for visitors who wants to watch more closely the flora and fauna of the region. Thanks to boat trips or through soft mobility such as kayaking or paddle surfing, you can explore these natural reserves of Cancun. This will be one of the best ways to watch these incredible landscapes where the mangroves reign and the animals live in peace. In addition to an incredible concentration of birds, you may have the opportunity to also watch crocodiles, dolphins and even manatees. One of the most outstanding places to explore lagoons and watch wildlife is the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. There you can find a complex ecosystem with several nesting sites for birds and other species. In conclusion, in the areas near the lagoons of Cancun and the Riviera Maya it is possible to live real adventures in the heart of nature. Whether on land, sea or lake, the natural ecosystems of the Cancun and Riviera Maya destinations offer life-size play grounds for tourist who want to go deep in the nature. Adventure tourism offers you something as rich as it is varied, of which the following examples are just a small sample.