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Cancun Off The Beaten Path

Cancun has a lot to offer travelers looking for warm weather, sea air and sun, but it also has many activities that are hidden jewels, things that are not the typical tourist fare. If you want to experience more of the local flavor of Cancun and Mexico in general, venture further out than the Hotel Zone or El Centro—there’s a great deal to be discovered.

In Cancun, Puerto Juarez offers a look at what day-to-day life is like for Cancun residents. The neighborhood is five miles north of downtown Cancun and is largely residential. There are local restaurants, churches and a beach for entertainment.

And easily accessible from Cancun, the Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm is one of the lesser-known attractions in Cancun, but an interesting adventure to see hundreds of sea turtles. The farm protects the sea turtles’ habitats and works to re-populate this endangered species.

For another look at nature, visit Isla Contoy, a bird sanctuary off Isla Mujeres. This island is uninhabited and provides lots of bird watching. Be aware of the snakes and crocodiles that also inhabit the island.

Further afield and south of Cancun sits Coba, a large Mayan settlement dating back to 2-11 centuries A.D. This site has two pyramids, nine circular altars and numerous roads leading in and out of the settlement. It is near Tulum and the two ruins may be seen in a day’s trip.

KaiLuum II is a lesser-known resort about an hour south of Cancun. There is no sign for it on the highway—turn at Capitan Lafitte’s and head towards the beach. Be aware—there are communal bathrooms, no electricity or telephone, and no children under 16 allowed, but it is a hidden jewel for those travelers that want to get away from it all.

Four hours outside of Cancun is Lago Bacalar, Mexico’s second largest lake. There is kayaking, bird watching and Mayan ruins to explore. Lago Bacalar can be accessed by bus from Cancun, although it would be quicker to take a car. There are also flights from Cancun to Chetumal, 30 minutes’ drive from the lake.


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