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Off Island Tours and Trips

Beyond The Beach - Bucket List Adventures

Discover wonders beyond the pristine beaches that hug Isla’s shores. From the untouched beauty of Isla Contoy’s wildlife sanctuary to the ancient whispers of Mayan ruins, we’re about to embark on an odyssey that will take us across the Yucatan.

Dive into the crystal-clear mysteries of cenotes, those natural sinkholes that dot the landscape like jewels. Experience the world of Xcaret’s Eco and Theme Parks, where thrill, culture, and nature blend into a big, leafy hug of eco-conscious fun.

So, lace up your most comfortable shoes and let’s step beyond the beach into a world where every turn on the path reveals a new snapshot of wonders. Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime.

Explore Beyond Isla Snapshot

Isla Contoy: An Eco-Paradise Wildlife Sanctuary

Mayan Ruins Across the Bay: El Meco, El Rey, San Miguelito, and The Cancun Mayan Museum

The Big Four: Chichén Itzá, Tulum, Cobá, and Ek Balam – A Longer Trek

Cenotes: Nature’s Swimming Holes

Xcaret Parks and Mayan Tours: Where the ancient world meets exhilarating adventure

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Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy, an eco-paradise, sits where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico, just 30 km north of Isla Mujeres. A national park and wildlife sanctuary for over 150 species of tropical marine birds and a nesting ground for endangered sea turtles. With visitor access limited to 200 people daily to preserve its pristine condition, early booking is a must for this incredible experience.

Tours set out in the morning, stopping for a snorkeling detour at the Ixlaché Reef before reaching Contoy. You’ll have the option to explore freely or join a guided tour to uncover the island’s secrets, including a visit to the Contoy museum and the don’t miss panoramic views from the observation tower.

Lunch is beachside with freshly grilled fish or chicken, complete with all the taco fixings, salads, sides and ice cold drinks. After lunch there’s time enough to explore the winding paths, relax on the beach and make friends with the manta rays that will literally bump into your legs and demand to be petted!

There are group and private tours available – the trip is around 8 hours.

Just Across the Bay - El Meco, El Rey, San Miguelito, & The Mayan Museum.

El Meco

Just a stone’s throw (if you’re really good at throwing) across the bay from Isla Mujeres, and a few kilometers north of Cancun’s ferry docks, lies the hidden Maya gem of El Meco.

This not-so-massive but massively cool archaeological site has three plaza groups, more than 14 structures and countless iguanas. The icing on the cake? El Castillo. It’s a 40-foot-high pyramid that you can climb to the top of (well, you could as of January 2024) to be greeted with postcard-perfect views of Isla Mujeres flirting with the turquoise waters and Cancun photobombing from the right.

The best time for a visit? Crack of dawn at 8:00 am – you’ll practically have the place to yourself. Imagine: You, wandering through time among the ruins, with dragonflies darting, butterflies fluttering, and gangs of iguanas sunbathing. If luck is on your side, a family of Tejons (imagine a raccoon on a tropical vacation) might mosey on over to say “¿Qué onda?”

El Meco started off as a humble fishing village around the 3rd century, blossoming into the ancient world’s equivalent of a buzzing port meets mystical retreat, thanks to its proximity to Isla Mujeres, the Mayans’ sacred getaway. Craving more El Meco lore? Click here.

How to get to El Meco:  Just catch the ferry to Puerto Juarez, snag a taxi, and you’re a few kilometers away from stepping back in time. Tip your driver to come back for you in an hour or so, and you’re all set for an adventure that’s part history lesson, part nature walk, and 100% awe-inspiring.

As of May 2024, El Meco is still closed for renovations. Keep checking back.

Hours: Will Be Open Daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

El Rey

Just when you thought Cancun was all about shimmering pools and cocktail umbrellas, surprise! At the south end of the hotel zone, hidden by the shadow of towering hotels, lies El Rey, Cancun’s not-so-talked-about Mayan treasure.

Here, you can meander through 47 structures and ancient platforms where the only crowds you’ll bump into are families of sunbathing iguanas. Once a sleepy fishing spot in the 2nd century, this place bloomed into a bustling center for salt production.

The main attraction? A small pyramid that serves as a nobleman’s final resting place, discovered in 1975 with a copper ax and some seriously stylish seashell and bone accessories.

Just up the road is the Museo Maya de Cancun. They’ve got the original ‘The King’ sculpture and a treasure trove of artifacts. And for those hungry for more Mayan history (because who isn’t?), jump here for everything El Rey.

How to get to El Rey:  Jump on the ferry to the Cancun Hotel Zone and grab a taxi.

Entrance Fee:  Only 50 pesos for a ticket to the time machine.

Hours:  Open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every single day, because history never takes a day off.

Museo Maya de Cancun & San Miguelito Mayan Ruins

Less than a mile up the road from the serene El Rey is the Cancun Mayan Museum. Packed to the brim with over 3,500 artifacts that whisper tales of the past. Only 10% of these gems take the stage at any given time, making each visit a unique peek into the Mayan world.

This isn’t just any museum. It’s a time machine where you can trace the evolution of Mayan creativity, from their day-to-day pottery to the kind of beaded jewelry that would make today’s fashionistas weep with envy.

Ever heard of Pakal, the superstar king of Palenque? They’ve got his death mask. And there’s also La Mujer de las Palmas, a lady who strolled the Yucatan sands some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. 

But there’s more! Step outside to meet the San Miguelito ruins, a hidden chapter of the Mayan narrative, discovered in the ’50s on what used to be a locally owned coconut ranch. These ruins, nestled among coconut palms and lush greenery, are not just ruins. They’re the echoes of a Mayan community that once buzzed with life, love, and the daily grind.

And here’s a bit of trivia to dazzle your fellow travelers – the land was owned by Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, the OG ‘Father of Tourism.’ of the Yucatan. Fast-forward to today, and his legacy thrives, with his descendants keeping the flame of history and culture burning brightly on Isla Mujeres.

How to get to here:  Jump on the ferry to the Cancun Hotel Zone and grab a taxi. If you visit El Rey first, it’s a 20 minute walk in the sun or a 3 minute ride in A.C.

Entrance Fee: Around $100 pesos – small investment in your historical enlightenment.

Hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, closed Mondays because everyone needs a day off.

World Famous Mayan Ruins - A Much Longer Trek

For the intrepid explorer who wants to soak in the full glory of the Yucatan’s ancient marvels, staying in Cancun or Playa del Carmen turns the journey into a breeze.

Whether you’re keen to mingle with fellow history buffs on a tour, eagerly awaiting the first whistle of the Mayan Train, love the idea of a bus ride, or prefer the independence of mapping your own route by car, you be swept off your feet into a world where ancient stones tell tales of yore.

Jump to Chichén Itzá, wander down to Tulum, explore Cobá and discover Ek Balam.

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Ek Balam
Chichén Itzá

Nestled in the heart of the Yucatán, Chichén Itzá stands as a towering testament to Mayan brilliance, a city that has captured the imaginations of millions. Recognized both as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World, it’s a place where history is written not in books, but in stones and shadows.

Center stage is El Castillo, the Pyramid of Kukulkan, This isn’t just a pyramid; it’s an 80 foot astronomical calendar boasting 91 steps on each of its four sides and when combined with the temple platform at the top, equals 365—the total number of days in the Mayan Haab calendar.

While climbing the pyramid might seem like the ultimate bucket-list check, think again. The authorities have slapped a hefty $100,000 pesos fine on anyone caught attempting it, not to mention the potential for a less-than-pleasant stay courtesy of the local police. But the local dogs? They scamper up and down without a care (or a fine) in the world.

The Equinoxes and The Snake
Twice a year, Chichén Itzá throws its biggest bash—the spring and fall equinox. This is when the sun and the pyramid sync up to reveal the magical “snake of light”, a play of light illusion of a serpent is slowly slithering down the pyramid. The effect symbolizes the descent of the Mayan god, Kukulcán which mean’s feathered serpent god in Maya. if you go, wear white—it’s like the ancient Mayan dress code for banishing bad juju and soaking up all the good sun vibes.

Chichén Viejo: The Off-the-Beaten-Path Gem
For the true history enthusiasts, Chichén Viejo, recently opened to the public, offers a more secluded peek into the Mayan past. A reservation is your ticket to this exclusive part of history, limited to just 50 visitors daily, making it a precious opportunity for an intimate encounter with the ancients.

Want to uncover the secrets behind Chichén Itzá’s awe-inspiring structures that have stood the test of time? Click here to explore more!

Entrance Fee:  About $600 pesos. The 7:00 pm Light and Sound show on the Weekends is $700 pesos. An Official Certified Tour Guide in English will cost you $1000 pesos.

Hours:  Open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, everyday.


Perched majestically above the Caribbean’s shimmering turquoise waters, Tulum stands as the last great masterpiece of the Mayan civilization. Think of Tulum as the Mayan world’s trade hotspot, where jade and obsidian weren’t just rocks but the currency of empires.

Legend has it that Tulum was once called Zama, or ‘City of Dawn.’ Makes sense, right? Every morning, it’s the first to greet the sunrise. The name ‘Tulum’, however, translates to ‘wall’, maybe a local nickname thanks to the impressive barricades encircling the city.

The city’s pride? A pyramid dedicated to Kukulkan, a deity with a flair for drama, perched on the cliffs like it owns the place. It wasn’t just an architectural marvel but also a lighthouse for ancient mariners, guiding them like the pyramid at El Meco and the shrine at Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres.

Don’t skip the Temple of the Frescoes. Peek inside to see the murals that tell tales of life, the afterlife, and divine realms, painted with the finesse of ancient storytellers.

Step into the past and delve into the stories behind these ancient stones.

How to get to here: 

Entrance Fee: Around $100 pesos

Hours:  Open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm – 7 days a week


Inland about 40 km (25 miles) from the turquoise waters of Tulum, is the Mayan world’s best-kept secret. Picture this: an expansive network of ancient roads, temples, and pyramids, all nestled in the lush embrace of the jungle, far from the hustle of tourist crowds. With a history stretching back to 100 AD and a peak population of 50,000, this place was the ancient equivalent of a bustling metropolis.

Covering 27 square miles, much of Cobá’s allure is cloaked under the jungle canopy, with secrets whispering for discovery. Trek the ancient pathways on foot, pedal through history on a bike, or glide in a rickshaw—each offers a unique window into the past.

At the heart of Cobá looms Nohoch Mul, standing tall at 42 meters (137 feet). The view from the top? Absolutely unrivaled—think endless jungle, stretching into the horizon. Unfortunately those days are gone, though you can still climb some smaller structures.

Now wandering on your own is fun, but Cobá’s layers unfold best with a guide. Trust us, the stories and legends you’ll hear are the threads that stitch this ancient tapestry together.

Discovery how Cobá went from a tiny community to a major player in the world of the Maya.

Entrance Fee:  $100 pesos. Bike rentals and rickshaw’s $50 – $100 pesos, A Guide will cost you around $500 pesos.

Hours:  Open 9:00 am to 4:30 pm – Every single day.

Ek Balam

Ek Balam, or “Black Jaguar” for those not fluent in Mayan, has got everything: ruins that haven’t been Instagrammed to death, ancient pyramids you’re actually allowed to climb and almost perfectly persevered stucco sculptures.

Much of the ancient city still lies buried under the dense jungle with only one-tenth of the whole area fully excavated with over 40 structures. The crown jewel? The Acropolis pyramid, soaring 95 feet into the sky, inviting those daring enough to climb its heights for killer views of the jungle’s endless green sea.

But the real magic of Ek Balam isn’t just in its towering structures; it’s in the stucco sculptures that seem to defy time itself, thanks to the foresight of the Mayans who deliberately buried the Acropolis.

Nestled under protective palapa awnings, these rare artistic marvels show a vivid picture of myths, gods, and the everyday hustle and bustle of its ancient inhabitants, preserved so perfectly you’d think they were just finished yesterday.

And just when you think your journey through the past is complete, Ek Balam offers one more hidden gem—Cenote X’canche. A stone’s throw from the ruins, this cenote is a natural cathedral of crystal-clear waters, towering trees, and stone walls adorned with the adventurous roots of trees, beckoning for a refreshing plunge.

So yes, do bring your bathing suit, it’s the perfect spot to cool off after all that exploring, proving once again that the Mayans thought of everything.

Entrance Fee:  $500 pesos. 

Hours:  Open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm – Daily

Cenotes: Nature's Swimming Holes

Step off the island and plunge into nature’s version of a swimming pool, but with an extra dose of mystique. Cenotes aren’t your average watering holes; they come in all shapes and sizes, from sun-drenched open-air pools surrounded by jungle to the enchanting subterranean caverns with sunbeams streaming through the openings.

For the ancient Maya, cenotes weren’t just sinkholes; they symbolized the delicate balance between life and death, serving as portals to the underworld while also providing life-giving fresh water.

Scuba divers, in their quest for the ultimate underwater adventure, have discovered treasures from the past: ancient artifacts, jewelry, and even human remains dating back thousands of years.

The crème de la crème of cenotes are found near Tulum and Valladolid, often paired with Mayan Ruin Tours for the perfect mix of culture and cool-off. But if you’re craving for a cenote adventure closer to Cancun, set your sights on Puerto Morelos and explore La Ruta de los Cenotes. Here, you’ll discover over 60 cenotes sprinkled along a 21-mile stretch, all connected by the Great Maya Aquifer’s underground river system.

Whether you’re joining a guided tour or embarking on a DIY cenote crawl with a rented car, these natural wonders of the Yucatán promise an off-the-grid splash like no other.

Xcaret Eco and Theme Parks

Buckle up because we’re diving into the heart and soul of Riviera Maya’s eco-adventure universe – the Xcaret eco parks and tours. This is where Mother Nature meets exhilarating adventure, wrapped up in a big, leafy hug of eco-conscious fun.

Our adventure begins at the flagship park, Xcaret, a perfect blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Float down a lazy river through ancient Mayan caves. Mingle with local wildlife, explore traditional haciendas and ancient Mayan villages, and don’t miss their spectacular shows; they’re a cultural love letter to Mexico – a perfect finale to a day of sun, fun and discovery.

Next up on our eco-adventure is Xplor, this is where you strap on your helmet, muster your bravado, and zip-line through the jungle like Tarzan on a coffee binge. If you’re not screaming with delight, you’re doing it wrong. Underground rivers and amphibious vehicle trails make Xplor the go-to for adrenaline junkies.

Floating gently onto Xel-Ha where you can snorkel in crystal-clear lagoons, teeming with marine life and surrounded by mangroves. Float down magical underground rivers and cenotes, or wander the jungle trails and explore the remains of the Mayan civilization. For those craving more action – dare to ride the 30-meter-tall waterslides of the Scenic Lighthouse, jump off the Cliff of Courage or glide on zip lines into refreshing waters.

Need some adrenaline? Discover your adventurer spirit at Xavage with one-of-a-kind and thrilling attractions on water, land, or air. Ropes Course where you will pass through different obstacles while being suspended in the air. Feel speed on a Jet Boat ride that performs 360° turns in narrow canals. River rafting, zip-lining, and off-roading your way through a park that laughs in the face of danger.

Now, let’s talk Xenses, an Alice in Wonderland garden party, but instead of tea, you’re sipping on a sensory cocktail of bizarre and delightful experiences. Walk through a town where you can’t tell up from down, and explore gardens that mess with your head and tickle your senses.

But wait, there’s more! The Xcaret family also throws some epic tours, with convenient pick-ups in Cancun.

Xichen Tour: It’s your backstage pass to the ancient Mayan world. Chichén Itzá? Check. Valladolid? Double-check. And to cool down, a refreshing dip into the beautiful sanctuary Tsukán Cenote.

Xenotes Tour: Dive into the crystal-clear, soul-reviving cenotes of the Yucatan. Each cenote is a unique fingerprint of nature where you can zip-line, cliff jump, kayak and snorkel to your heart’s content.

Tulum Tour with Xel-Ha: A visit to the majestic ruins of Tulum is like stepping into a time machine, set to the tune of waves crashing and iguanas photobombing your selfies. After exploring the archaeological site, cool off with a visit to Xel-Ha park.

Tulum Tour with Cobá: Two classic Mayan ruins wrapped up in one magical guided tour so you don’t miss a story, a legend or a perfect ‘gram moment. It’s adventure, it’s history, and it’s all wrapped up in the natural beauty of the Yucatan.

Each park and tour under the Xcaret umbrella offers a unique slice of Mexico’s rich tapestry, blending thrill, culture, and nature into experiences that you’ll be bragging about for years. So, pack your bags, but leave room for memories. You’re about to collect a ton!

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Xenotes Tour
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We have the Mayans to thank for giving the world chocolate. Proving once again they were ahead of their time.