What to Do on Mexico's East Coast
The best places to visit in eastern Mexico
The east coast of Mexico needs no introduction. Its crown jewel, Cancún, has always lured holidaymakers to its turquoise waters and bustling streets, with Cozumel and the paradisiac towns of the Riviera Maya stealing loads of limelight in recent years. Here’s our round-up of what to see and do on Mexico’s east coast.
Top Cancún Attractions & Excursions
A museum that makes quite a splash—the Cancún Underwater Museum offers a unique cultural experience… under the sea. Swim up to the over 470 submerged statues created by different sculptors each part of one of the largest, artificial underwater attractions in the world.
Plan day trips from Cancún to nearby islands! Isla Contoy is a sanctuary for exotic sea birds, drawing bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts to its natural park. Across the bay from Cancún, find a smidgeon of serenity on Isla Mujeres, home to blissful beaches, a turtle farm and picturesque sea cliffs.
Dine & Dance
With its prime location on the Yucatán peninsula, Cancún is an ideal spot for sampling regional cuisine. At your resort’s restaurant or dining destinations across the city, look out for local specialties like sopa de lima and ceviche. Tempted to discover Cancún’s legendary nightlife? If so, you better check out world-famous Coco Bongo!
Cut to Chichen Itza
By far the most popular Cancún excursion is a visit to Chichen Itza, one of the most studied and visited ruins of the Mayan world. Learn about each fascinating facet of this incredible complex, including the Kukuklan Pyramid, the Great Ball Court, The Wall of Skulls and much more.
Riviera Maya Attractions & Excursions
Travel to Tulum
Discover the ancient Mayan mecca of Tulum, now a bohemian, seaside town with brilliant beaches and incredible, cliffside ruins. After a tour of historic relics, pop into the sprawling, natural aquarium of Xel Há for snorkelling. Other must-sees in Tulum are Playa Paraiso and the Aktún Chen Natural Park.
X marks Xcaret
Xcaret is an eco-archeological park near Playa del Carmen where you can find underground rivers, a butterfly pavilion, turtle farm, horses, a beach and Xcaret's one-of-a-kind celebration—the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, a show which features performances from more than 300 artists.
Cenotes of note
Uncover these natural sinkholes containing freshwater pools across the Riviera Maya. Dive down (or take the stairs carved out of limestone) to the blue waters of the Ik Kil cenote or explore the popular caves of Dos Ojos. The tropical surroundings of Gran Cenote and Chaak Tun are also worth the trek.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen was traditionally seen as a more laidback alternative to thriving Cancún, though it’s become much trendier in recent years. Take a hammock break to enjoy the city’s captivating cultural scene of colourful galleries, nightlife spots and bustling shopping streets.
Cozumel's spectacular reefs are without a doubt the region's best-known attractions. The reefs, part of the larger Mesoamerican ecosystem, serve up dazzling beauty defined by amazing coral formations. Top dive spots include the Santa Rosa Wall, Palancar Gardens Reef and the Chankanaab Reef. Be sure to pack reef-safe sunscreen before your trip!
Punta Sur Ecological Park
Fine-white sands, tropical wetlands, a historic lighthouse and a lagoon teeming with crocodiles—you’ll find all of these and more on Cozumel’s largest nature park: Punta Sur. Here, you can discover the island’s biodiversity, visit a nautical museum and enjoy the park’s secluded beach.
You don’t have to leave the island to marvel at Mayan wonders. Explore the ancient site of San Gervasio, a sacred centre where Mayans once worshipped the goddess Ixchel. Other interesting archeological sites include El Castillo Real and the former ceremonial site of El Cedral. For a unique Mayan experience, join a purification ceremony at the Temazcal Mayan Steam Lodge.
Heaven is a place…
…in Cozumel! For one of the island’s hidden gems, head to the southern tip where El Cielo beach awaits. Swim among the friendliest marine life in the seas (starfish, gentle stingrays and more!) and float on waves shimmering in unreal shades of turquoise. Seclusions, serenity…and you!
Eager to explore the east coast? Go for it! Decide which destination fits what you’re looking for and explore our packages in Cancún, the Riviera Maya
for the perfect price. Need more Mexican inspo? Check out our travel guide for what to do on Mexico's west coast