Covering where to stay, what to see and how to pack, this 3-day travel guide to Cancun, Mexico allows for the perfect mini vacation!
Cancun is not just for spring-breakers or timeshares. With a three-day weekend, anyone can make a quick trip down to Mexico for the perfect mini vacation! If you’re short on time but are desperate for a getaway, it might be time to book a flight to Cancun.
Cancun Travel Guide
How To Get There
Now that Southwest Air is offering regular international flights, we joined their #southwestpassport campaign and took a direct 4-hour flight from LAX.
Once there, local taxis, buses and shuttles are abundant and easy to request for transportation around town. If you’re comfortable driving in Mexico and plan to explore the area, I highly recommend renting your own car for the most flexibility on your vacation.
What To See
Although it’s impossible to see all of these locations in 72 hours, do your best to squeeze in a few during your trip.
Tulum & Coba Ruins
If you’re up for an archaeological adventure, seeing some of Mexico’s most famous Mayan ruins are a must. The Tulum Ruins and its gorgeous beaches are widely popular. They have been restored, however you are restricted from actually touching or getting too close to the ruins themselves.
In comparison, the Coba Ruins offers a more hands-on experience, little to no restoration with the freedom to explore the grounds at your own pace without a tour. You can even climb to the top of the pyramid — the second largest one in Mesoamerica!
I highly recommend booking a private tour versus a group tour — otherwise you will be spending all day in the car while your driver picks up and drops off numerous people at their hotels.
In Playa Del Carmen, you can spend the afternoon on La Quinta Avenida – the town’s main street for dining, shopping, and nightlife – before exploring one of my favorite spots, Rio Secreto. This underground secret river and sea caves may be one of the best kept secrets of the Yucatan Peninsula. This tour includes entrance fees, lunch and hotel pick up.
Thrill-seekers will love snorkeling and diving the many cenotes in and around the Cancun area. You must be accompanied by a guide to dive, but getting the opportunity to swim in these stunning underground pools is well worth the extra few bucks.
If you don’t have your own car, this tour visits four different cenotes where you can rappel, zip line, kayak and snorkel!
Snorkel With Turtles in Akumal
Snorkeling in Akumal surrounded by turtles should be at the top of everyone’s list! In addition to the turtles at Akumal Bay, you can venture a bit further north to Half Moon Bay and see a variety of corals, sponges, tropical fish and stingrays. This snorkel tour includes transportation and snorkel gear — plus visits to two different cenotes!
Consider Xel-Ha the greatest Disneyland-esque eco-park of Mexico; cliff jumping, ziplines, river tours, jungle trails – they have it all. Xel-Ha is perfect if your time is limited and you want to experience as much as you can at once.
The biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an is less commercial and is a bit more nature-oriented than other touristy sites, with five different tours ranging from reef snorkeling to bird watching at sunset. Sian Ka’an was hands-down my favorite experience in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s located near the small town of Tulum, so this is a great stop if you plan on visiting the Tulum Ruins.
The northern part of Cancun’s hotel zone on the outlying 8-mile stretch of beach is the place to go for partying and nightlife – if that’s your thing. We can’t say it isn’t fun, because it is.
Where to Stay
The Grand Fiesta Americana – Coral Beach Cancun has ocean views from every room and is located right in the heart of downtown. You’ll get the best of both worlds at this 5-star hotel — beautiful beaches and plenty of nightlife and nearby restaurants. Not convinced? You can hop on a ferry right out front to take a day trip to Isla Mujeres!
Cancun Packing Essentials
Insect Repellent Towelettes: In a tropical climate with plenty of wildlife and areas of sitting water, at some point you’re almost certain to encounter bugs. Insect repellent towelettes are easy to pack in your carry-on and will prove to be surprisingly convenient.
Photo Equipment: I highly recommend bringing a GoPro for underwater photos and water activities — especially for the cenotes and outdoor water activities. (See our complete travel camera buying guide here.)
Sweater: Obviously it’s Mexico and you’ll need plenty of swimsuits and sun hats, but nights in Cancun can get a little chilly. Pack a light sweater, or hooded jacket if you’re traveling during winter months.
This post was written by me through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of Southwest Airlines. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.