The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

U.S. News & World Report

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

Best Cancun Tours

Experience some of Cancun's history with a visit to Chichen Itza. (Getty Images)

From Mayan ruins to the turquoise Caribbean Sea to abundant coral reefs, there is so much to see in and around Cancún. To make the most of your time on the Yucatán Peninsula, consider signing up for a guided tour. U.S. News selected 12 of the top tours in Cancún relying on expert opinion and traveler sentiment. Whether you pick an easygoing bus tour or a thrilling speedboat excursion, you're sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.

Amigo Tours – Chichen Itza Plus

To beat the crowds at the ancient Mayan site of Chichén Itzá, this excursion starts at 7 a.m. A bilingual guide leads the 12-hour tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site while giving a history of Mayan culture and the ruins. The tour also includes a lunch buffet and the opportunity to swim in a cenote, a natural well. Reviewers enjoy the swim and praise their guides, while others advise bringing bug spray and cash for additional fees. Tours, which are offered daily and include pickup at a location of your choosing, cost approximately 867 pesos (about $45) for adults and 778 pesos (about $41) for children ages 3 to 12; children younger than 3 can join for free. The company also offers tours of the site at sunrise, as well as tours of Tulum and Isla Mujeres, among others.

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Jungle Tour Cancún Adventure

Travelers on this two-hour excursion will drive their own speedboat while exploring mangrove canals and the Punta Nizuc bay alongside a guide. Afterward, tourgoers will snorkel through the clear waters of the Punta Nizuc coral reef, which is part of the world's second-largest coral reef. Reviewers say the tour is super fun and appreciate the guides' attention to safety. If purchased online in advance, tickets start at $45 per person for a shared boat. Additional dock fees are not included in the ticket price. Prices for kids at least 3 feet, 8 inches tall cost around $45. Children who are shorter than 3 feet, 8 inches and are at least 3 years old ride free. Tours operate at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. No boating experience is required.

Cancun Sailing – Premium Tour to Isla Mujeres

Public ferries from Cancún to Isla Mujeres are readily available, but if you're looking for a tour option that allows for swimming and snorkeling, reviewers say this excursion from Cancun Sailing fits the bill. The seven-hour tour also includes transportation, a buffet lunch and an open bar, at no extra cost. Reviewers describe the tour as fun but wish they had more time for snorkeling. Others complain about the crew's conduct and warn that the tour is not appropriate for kids. Tickets start at $124 for adults and $75 for children ages 5 to 11. Children 5 and younger can join for free, though Cancun Sailing recommends alerting them if you're traveling with kids so they can place you on a more family-oriented tour. Cancun Sailing also offers a less expensive option of this tour that does not include some premium features like transportation.

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Caribbean Connection – Contoy Eco Adventure

Only 200 people per day are allowed to visit Isla Contoy, a protected natural reserve and bird sanctuary north of Cancún. Caribbean Connection takes you by boat to this preserved area, where you will have ample opportunities to swim and snorkel after you take a guided tour of the island. You'll also stop at Isla Mujeres on the way back to Cancún. Reviewers say they enjoy the excursion, but that it has a party atmosphere that may not be appropriate for children. Tickets start at $99 per adult and $85 per child ages 5 to 11. There is an additional fee for hotel pickup and a $10 preservation tax that must be paid in cash. Breakfast and lunch are included in the ticket cost. The tour runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Caribbean Connection also offers whale shark tours, among others.

Cancun Adventure – Cobá and Tulum Private Tour

This private tour, limited to 12 people, takes travelers in an air-conditioned van from their hotel to the archeological sites of Cobá and Tulum accompanied by a guide. You'll spend two hours at each site with free time to explore on your own. The trip includes a buffet lunch of traditional Mayan food. Tourgoers say they enjoy the trip and learn about Mayan history. The price of the tour varies depending on the number of participants; two people can expect to pay around $640. Tours depart daily and hotel pickup starts as early as 7 a.m. The company also offers tours to Chichen Itza, Isla Mujeres and Tulum only, among others.

Xcaret – Tour Xenotes

In addition to seeing four different kinds of cenotes (semi-open, cavern, open and ancient), tourists will get to rappel into a cavern cenote, zip line, jump from cliffs, kayak and swim on this daylong tour. The trip also includes round-trip transportation and a "jungle picnic" with wine and beer. Tourgoers describe the adventure as fun and exciting, but also exhausting. Tickets cost approximately $130 per adult and approximately $65 for children ages 6 to 11. Children younger than 6 may not take the tour. Tours are offered Monday through Saturday. Hotel pickups are available between 8 and 10 a.m. Xcaret also operates a variety of adventure parks and other tours.

Though large, whale sharks are gentle and safe to swim with. Meet these creatures on a tour with EcoColors.(Courtesy of EcoColors Tours)

EcoColors Tours – Swim with Whale Shark Tour

This adventure gives travelers the opportunity to swim alongside magnificent whale sharks. Guides lead the small-group tours (capped at 10 participants) to the whale shark feeding ground, where travelers can snorkel alongside the gentle giants. Tourgoers describe the excursion as an amazing experience and report seeing many whale sharks. Others advise wearing rash guards, as you cannot wear sunscreen for environmental reasons, and taking motion sickness medicine before boarding the boat. Tours, which last approximately seven hours, are offered May to mid-September. Tickets start at $165 for participants 8 and older and $137 for children ages 5 to 7. Tickets include a light breakfast and lunch, but not the $5 dock tax per person, which must be paid in cash. Patrons must be at least 5 years old to participate. Tours pick up at hotels in Cancún and arrive at the marina around 7:30 a.m. EcoColors Tours offers other nature tours, such as a sea turtle snorkeling tour.

Nautik Adventures – Isla Mujeres Tour

Explore mangroves, Cancún Bay, Isla Mujeres and the Caribbean Sea by boat on this daytrip. Along the way, you'll swim and snorkel in coral reefs and relax on the beach. Choose from six-hour or eight-hour trips that include drinks, beer and water, snorkeling equipment, water inflatables and more. Tourgoers rave about their experience, saying it's amazing and the best thing they did in Cancún. Prices start at $600 for a six-hour tour or $800 for an eight-hour tour, both for up to eight people. Both tours depart at 10 a.m. and return at 4 or 6 p.m. Nautik Adventures also offers jungle tours, sunset tours and sport fishing tours.

Flavio's Tours – Chichen Itza

Explore Chichén Itzá, an archeological site that was an integral part of Mayan civilization, with a guide followed by a swim in a cenote. You'll also have lunch and visit the Mexican city of Valladolid. Reviewers say they enjoy this tour and rave about the guides and employees. Tours leave early, and prices start at $165 per adult and $85 for children 12 and younger. The company also has snorkeling tours and tours to other Mayan sites, including Coba and Ek Balam.

Community Tours Sian Ka'an – Muyil Forest and Float

Community Tours Sian Ka'an was founded by local Mayans whose mission is to preserve the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. On the Muyil Forest and Float, participants will visit the archeological site of Muyil, enjoy a guide-led walk through the jungle, as well as a boat ride, and then a refreshing float or swim in the Muyil and Chunyaxche lagoons. Along with lunch and snacks, a visit to the local community museum in included in the tour. Reviewers describe the tour as fun, interesting and amazing. The tour, which is limited to 12 participants and lasts about seven hours, runs Monday through Saturday. Ticket prices start at $109 for adults and $99 for children without transportation to the site. The company offers bird-watching and kayaking tours of the reserve.

Ocean Tours – Snorkeling, Tulum Ruins and Cenotes Tour

This tour combines some of the best features of the area near Cancún, including snorkeling, cenotes and Mayan ruins. Tourgoers snorkel alongside sea turtles and stingrays, take a morning guided tour of the Tulum archeological site, see two cenotes and enjoy a walk through the jungle. Reviewers praise their guides and recommend the tour, saying it is fun and worth the cost. Tickets start at $120 for adults and $100 for children ages 4 to 11, and include lunch, snacks and refreshments, but do not include the $10 natural reserve fee. Pickup from area accommodations begins at 7:30 a.m., and the tour concludes around 4:30 p.m. Ocean Tours also offers whale shark tours and tours of Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres.

KayTours Mexico – Puerto Morelos

This adventurous tour, limited to just 10 participants, includes snorkeling in the national marine park of Puerto Morelos followed by a visit to several cenotes for activities like rope swings and zip lines. Reviewers highly recommend the company and describe the tours as fun and amazing. The full-day tour runs Tuesdays and Thursdays and starts at 7:30 a.m. with hotel pick-up between 6:30 and 7 a.m. Tours include lunch and snacks, as well as round-trip transportation. Tickets start at $149 for adults with a 10% discount for children ages 4 to 11. Kids 3 and younger tour for free. KayTours Mexico also offers excursions to Mayan archeological sites, Isla Mujeres, whale shark tours and more.

Lyn Mettler, Contributor

Lyn Mettler has written for U.S. News since 2014 covering a range of travel topics, including ...  Read more

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