Since you guys really seemed to enjoy our last 72-hour travel guide to New Orleans, we figured we'd come back with another one! Sometimes, you just don't have the amount time in a city that you'd like to. To be honest, 72 hours is a pretty good time frame to get an overarching sample of a city.
We've got some suggestions of things to do, see, and eat if you only have 72-hours in Cancun Mexico!
The Tulum Ruins:
Let's begin with my absolute favorite place we visited, Tulum! Tulum is not exactly in Cancun. It is about 130 km to the south, but is super-accessible by both tour buses and public ADO buses. Having only seen a fraction of its glory, Tulum is absolutely beautiful. The number one stop has to be the Mayan archaeological site that is right on the water. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the beauty and history of this amazing city.
Do you like hiking and maybe a little bit of a physical challenge with an amazing view of the jungle as the reward? Well, then your place is Coba. While being another location out of Cancun, many of the tour buses also make a stop at the Coba archaeological site. The site is what remains of a Mayan village with residential buildings, sporting arena, and temples. Climb to the top of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid to get an untouched, incredible view of the Yucatan. WARNING: This is a pretty intense climb and even harder to climb down from. Please assess your physical condition before making the climb to avoid any accidents or injuries!
Playa del Carmen:
On your way out of Cancun, you can pass through Playa del Carmen. This little coastal city is filled with things to do! It is right on the water with shops, restaurants, and bars lining the area. There is even a fantastic outdoor mall with some shops you may be familiar with (Starbucks) mixed in with some local establishments. If you are looking to get out of Cancun, but want that beach city vibe, Playa del Carmen is 100% recommended.
While there are a ton of beaches to visit in Cancun, we recommend heading down to Playa Delfines! While it is still within the hotel zone, just much further down, you can still access it on the city bus. Keep an eye out for the super colorful Cancun site and that is your stop! White sand, free beach umbrellas (that is if they are not all taken) and breathtaking water. NOTE: We definitely suggest bringing any drinks you may want with you while you are there, because, while they do have people selling drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) those drinks are marked up about 3x the price and take forever to be brought to you!
When visiting Cancun, we suggest you visit Mercado 28. You won't need to spend a ton of time here, but you certainly could if you wanted to. Mercado 28 is a huge open-air flea market, and when we say huge, we mean HUGE! You can definitely get lost in there. It is a great place to find some delicious food and great souvenirs for a good price. This is definitely a place to hone your bargaining skills. Be prepared for people to call out to you from each stall you pass and in some areas it can get a little claustrophobic.
Right off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a fantastic place for a few days, a day trip or even an afternoon trip. Just the ferry trip over to the Isle is gorgeous. The water doesn't look real. There is so much to do on this one tiny island. From beaches to the lighthouse, the turtle sanctuary, and the underwater Mayan ruins. it's just a super-cute getaway destination!
The first place we ate at in Cancun was 100% Natural. This is a great, mostly-vegan restaurant with amazing lentil and mushroom burgers! We highly suggest getting one of the juices, and, you HAVE to get the sweet potato chips! They are so delicious. Not the most English-friendly restaurant, but they do have English menus!
Cheesters is very close to the Hostel Ka'beh, where we stayed. When we got back really late one night, it was really the only place that was still open. To start, their smoothies are incredible! I went back more than once in 72 hours to get one of their smoothies. Now for the food, they serve a variety of pasta and pizza dishes in insane portions. You are definitely going to be sharing one of these meals. They, unfortunately, don't have any vegan options on their actual menu, but were very accommodating by making us a special pasta dish with a bunch of veggies. Not very English-friendly, so we mostly spoke Spanish while there.
This little hole in the wall restaurant is directly next to Cheesters and caters to a vegetarian and vegan clientele. NOTE: This is actually where we learned how to say vegan in Spanish.... vegano. I know, it seems obvious. They served a simple menu of sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies. This is a great place to grab some lunch, which is basically all you can get there because their hours are very short. We kept missing when they were open and only ended up being able to get smoothies from there.
This was the only restaurant we went out of our way to get to, and it was completely worth it! The menu was huge with both cooked and raw options. The two meals we suggest the most are the Raw Tacos or the Raw Pizza. I mean come on, any chance you get to have really good raw, vegan food, you take it! It is so worth it.
Tulum and Coba
The only tour we actually went on in our time in Mexico was on the Tulum/Coba tour! It is a 12-14 hour tour that includes the bus, entrance into both the Tulum and Coba archaeological sites, swimming in a cenote and food. The base price does not include drinks, but you may buy an unlimited drink band from the bus driver, which we recommend. You will get hot and need lots of water and they also offer some juices and beer as well. This tour is a great way to get a ton done in one day, and by visiting these sites with a tour, you learn more about the sites.
*Now, as I said above, we only went on one tour during our time and that was due to both money and time. But, if you are more focused on tours and/or have more time in Mexico, Chichen Itza and MUSA, Cancun's Underwater Museum, are highly recommended.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER,
IT'S AN ADVENTURE!