7 hidden gems of Cancún

There are so many things to do in Cancún. Go beyond the ordinary and discover the hidden gems of Cancún if you're in search of adventure.

Cancún is a world famous Caribbean vacation destination — with good reason! But during your stay at Occidental Tucancún and Occidental Costa Cancún, you’ll find there are still plenty of secret things to do in Cancún and experiences for the traveler with a taste for adventure. If you’re wondering what to do in Cancún, here are just a few Cancún attractions to discover.

Isla Contoy

Looking for your own private island? At just under two square miles, every inch of Isla Contoy is packed with natural wonders. A visit here is one of the most unique things to do in Cancún. Located north of Isla Mujeres, the eco-system on this gorgeous secluded island and national park is diverse and fascinating. More than 150 bird species nest here annually, including the frigate, the brown pelican and the double-crested cormorant. Sea turtles also nest on Isla Contoy amidst lush palm trees and sparkling white sand.

MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte)

An art museum beneath the waves? Now that’s a real hidden gem. In 2009, a massive underwater contemporary museum of art called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) was created in the waters surrounding Cancún, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. At one of the most amazing Cancún attractions, you’ll discover more than 500 evocative, life-size sculptures submerged between 10 and 20 feet deep. No scuba diving experience? No problem. You can experience MUSA aboard a glass-bottomed boat or snorkeling, too.

  • Good to know: Many of MUSA’s sculptures are the work of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, though several were created by local Cancún sculptors.

Grand Mambo Café

Dancing is one of the most fun things to do in Cancún. Located in downtown Cancún in Plaza Hong Kong, Grand Mambo Café is the place to get down during your Riviera Maya, whether you want to try Salsa, Merengue or Bachata. With a great mix of locals and visitors of all ages, it features live music Wednesday through Saturday. The party usually goes late!

Puerto Morelos

Located between the Riviera Maya resorts of Cancún and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos is one of the most charming and peaceful spots in the region. The fishing here is legendary, as is the snorkeling – the reef just off-shore is part of the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. But no matter what you end up doing in Puerto Morelos, you’ll fall in love with the laid-back Caribbean vibe of this colorful village.

Croco Cun Zoo

Get up close and personal with some of Cancún’s wildest characters. Croco Cun Zoo is a wildlife sanctuary filled with all kinds of creatures great and small. Keep your eyes on the trees above for playful spider monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Say hello to a slithery boa constrictor – don’t worry, he’s friendly. And if you’re feeling brave, have an encounter with the Zoo’s incredible crocodiles.

Isla Blanca

First things first: Isla Blanca, located a short drive from Cancún, is not an island. It’s a peninsula! But the important thing is that Isla Blanca is absolutely gorgeous and secluded. It’s the perfect beach for a romantic rendezvous, away from the crowds (especially on weekdays). The white sand beaches and sparkling sea provide ample eye candy. Pack your swimsuit and enjoy …

El Rey Archaeological Area

The El Rey Archaeological Area is an under-the-radar historic attraction in Cancún – meaning that there are usually far less crowds to deal with. All the better to enjoy an evocative gem from the Yucatán Peninsula’s rich past. Another great thing that distinguishes El Rey is the fact that visitors can still climb on the 47 different structures that make up the site, which was once a primary Mayan maritime hub, as well as an important spiritual destination.

  • Good to know: Located right in the Cancún Hotel Zone near KM 18, it is one of the most easily accessible Mayan experiences for guests of Occidental Tucancún and Occidental Costa Cancún. Both resorts offer excursions to discover El Rey Archaeological Area.