Off the Beaten Path in Cancun

Young Woman Scuba Dives on a Coral ReefCancun and the Riviera Maya represent the top destination in Mexico, with 7.6 million visitors in 2017. To keep pace with growth, another 5,000 rooms are expected to open up from 2018-2019. As you can imagine, the hot spots can get pretty crowded, especially during peak travel periods. Still, there are plenty of ideal spots to get away from the crowds and unusual, off-the-beaten path attractions in Cancun you won’t find anywhere else in the world. You may have heard of places like Isla Contoy, Isla Mujeres, Holbox Island, Xcaret, Rio Secreto, and Tuluum, but here are a few more experiences you won’t want to miss!

1. La Casa del Arte Popular Mexicano

Museums are a quiet way to experience the authentic culture and indigenous peoples of Mexico. The House of Popular Mexican Art houses the private collection of Gabriela Padilla de la Parra. If it was made by hand in Mexico, you will see it in some form or another here. There are masks, musical instruments, costumes, carvings, paintings, kitchen utensils, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, dolls, and other handmade toys. The displays are colorful and beautiful enough to bring tears to your eyes. Headsets offer free self-guided tours, so you can get the most out of your visit. The store features reproductions of the traditional handicrafts you see in the museum, making it the ideal stop for souvenirs. Just outside the museum, at Avenida Kukulkan and the Embarcadero at KM 4, you’ll find boats traveling to Isla Mujeres, dinner cruises, Captain Hook’s pirate ships docked, and a Mexican theatre.

2. Croco Cun Zoo

Families with young children in tow won’t want to miss the unusual Croco Cun Zoo – a family-run crocodile rescue facility 15 minutes south of Cancun. The interactive zoo lets you see and touch crocodiles, hairless dogs, baby deer, iguanas, monkeys, boa constrictors, parrots, and peacocks, while knowledgeable guides give you the inside scoop on how hurricanes and commercial development have threatened natural habitats. Animal lovers say the place is staffed by passionate caregivers who provide excellent care to the rescued animals. The property also houses a cafeteria, gift shop, and playground for the kids. On a sunny day, you can slip into the shade under the jungle canopy, but don’t forget to bring your bug repellent! 


Choose your own adventure at Cancun’s one-of-a-kind underwater sculpture museum: glass bottom boat tour, snorkel, or scuba dive to get the full experience. Museo Subacuatico de Arte houses over 500 life-sized, ghostly cement figures created by artist Jason de Caires Taylor who wanted to lure tourist traffic away from endangered local reefs. The haunting statues are between 13 and 30 feet below the surface of the water, and have become artificial reefs that attract fish and wildlife in their own right. You can reach the museum by taking the Hotel Zone ferry to Isla Mujeres.

4. Xoximilco

Everyone loves a fiesta. If the clubbing lifestyle is too fast-paced for you, slow it down on a picturesque trajinera gondola out of Xoximilco Cancun Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site 27 minutes south of Cancun. These colorful traditional boats were once used to transport vegetables, fruit, and flowers throughout the area, but they are lit up by night to feature drinks, local cuisine, and live mariachi bands. Each intimate gondola seats up to 20 guests. On land before you depart, you’re treated to traditional carnival games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, marbles, and darts, while sampling esquite, a local snack made from boiled corn with mayonnaise and cheese.

5. Valladolid

The charming colonial town of Valladolid is situated between Cancun and the state capital of Merida, just outside Mexico’s most popular Maya archaeological site, Chichen Itza. Visitors love the quiet streets and pastel mansions. Be sure to visit the Cocoa Museum on Friars’ Road, the Los Tres Toños tequila house, and less-visited nearby archaeological sites like Ek-Balam. After you’ve toured the colonial heart of town, you can dip into one of the local swimming holes (like the underground X’kekén cenote or the open Zaci cenote). Be sure to enjoy a tasty bite to eat before driving back to your accommodations.

For the best accommodations in Cancun, contact Sea Side Reservations. We’ll help you find all the amenities you need, whether you’re looking for a condo, private villa, or resort property. Since 1996, we’ve been committed to guest satisfaction with expert property management that ensures your every desire is met. Our concierge service includes local recommendations for dining, shopping, tours, and other attractions, so be sure to give us a call before you arrive to get the inside scoop!

More info on off-the-beaten-path treasures in Cancun:

  1. Yucatan Living – Cancun Secrets and Suggestions,
  2. The Culture Trip – 7 Unusual Things You Can Only Do In Cancun,
  3. Crococun Zoo – Homepage,
  4. MUSA Mexico – Homepage,
  5. Xoximilco – Tours,
Mexico Reservations

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