Cancun Underwater Museum
If you’re PADI trained, no trip to Cancun would be complete without the otherworldly experience of an underwater museum. The Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) is one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world, consisting of over 500 permanent sculptures in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. The MUSA can also be experienced by glass-bottom boat for those who aren’t able to SCUBA dive.
Formed in 2009, the impressive variety of life-size and gigantic sculptures are affixed to the seabed and have been left for nature to colonize. Healthy ecosystems of coral and tropical fish have begun to make the sculptures their home, meaning that as time passes they will transform into unrecognisable coral reefs.
Want to get away from the busy tourist beaches? Isla Blanca is a dream come true. The island is easily accessible by road from Cancun, and still largely untouched by tourism. With a single beach bar reached by a dirt track, you’ll feel like you’re marooned on your very own desert island.
Visit ancient Mayan ruins
While holidaying in Cancun, explore the country’s pre-Colombian history with a trip to some of the many Mayan ruins within easy reach of the city. Lesser-known ruins like El Meco and El Rey are ideal for those keen to learn more about the Mayans. Easily the most famous of the Mayan ruins close to Cancun is Chichen-Itza, with the iconic Kukulcan step pyramid. People flock to the pyramid on the spring and autumnal equinox to witness the “snake of sunlight”, when sunlight hits the temple and casts a shadow that resembles a serpent descending from the top of the pyramid.
There are a huge variety of day trips available to Chichen-Itza, some of which stop at the stunning cenote sinkholes nearby, like Ik Kil. This beautiful azure underground pool was sacred to the Mayans, and today is a popular destination for swimming and diving. The Red Bull cliff diving world series has been held at Ik Kil multiple times.
Take the plunge at a cenote sinkhole
A cenote is a natural sinkhole that forms when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. The area surrounding Cancun is dotted with cenotes, many of which are connected via underground rivers. Tree roots and vines hang from the floor above, and species of fish and other creatures have made their home in the cool turquoise waters. Many cenotes have become tourist attractions in recent years, with steps cut into the rocks for easy access to the pools below – but many daredevils choose the fast route and leap from the edge of the opening into the water below! These beautiful and remote locations make for an unforgettable day out.
Looking for authentic Mexican artefacts, fabrics and knick-knacks to take home? At Mercado 28 you’ll be spoilt for choice. The technicolour display of artisanal goods is enough to make anyone’s eyes water, and the friendly stallholders are always prepared to haggle with holidaymakers keen to get a good price. Why not stop for lunch too, with plenty of authentic Mexican dishes available at the street food stalls.