OK fellow travel junkies . . . I'm not going to bore you by filling this section with a phone book full of tour operators because that's what it would take in Cancun. Instead, I'm going to give you the inside scoop. Most people that come to Cancun want to make the best use of what little time they have. So we are just going to talk about what's hot on the list of things to see and do in Cancun.
Now, all the visitors of Cancun can have the best experience of natural interaction with dolphins, an encounter based in respect and admiration for these incredible marine animals including swimming with the dolphins.
Time soaking up the rays on white sand beaches with crystal clear turquoise blue water is on everyone's list. But let me suggest that you play a variation on that theme while in Cancun. After all, most people are only in Cancun from 3 to 7 days . . .
Just want to hit a beach other than the one in front of your hotel? Take the ferry to Isla Mujeres and as you get off the ferry, go left . . . just keep walking until you hit the best beach on the north end of the island :)
So you are planning to hit the beach in the morning and do some shopping when it starts getting hot? Ask your hotel where the shuttle is to Playa del Carmen . . . take the 45 minute trip down the coast and soak up some rays, jump in the Caribbean to cool down, and stroll down 5th Avenue. You will find some very unique shops in a place with more flavor than Cancun's malls. Have lunch at a European style cafe and head back to Cancun . . . nap for an hour and get ready to burn up the night.
You say you like ruins? Well, you could check out the ruins del Rey in Cancun's hotel zone . . . but they are really among the least impressive piles of rock in Mexico. So jump on one of those shuttles (or a bus), go an hour and a half down the coast and visit the picturesque ruins of Tulum. Hit the beach while you are at the ruins . . . then you can either have some lunch and do the nearby Grand Cenote (taxi ride from the ruins is fastest) or the Coba ruins before returning to Cancun, or just head back up the road.
Ruins and Archaeological Sites
So you like ruins . . . but you want to spend your time shopping instead or the beach today? Perfect. . . . this is the day you want to take a 2 hour trip to Chichen Itza. Now, buy your gifts and souvenirs directly from the artisans who make them while at the ruins. It's not because it is just an alternate shopping location . . . its because you can get items for half as much (or twice as good) as what you would get in Cancun (and the selection includes things you would be hard pressed to find in Cancun). Not only are the ruins worth the time to get there and back, but the money you will save there could pay for the excursion!
Ruinas del Rey: If you are visiting Delfines beach, or you have no time to visit any "real" ruins . . . then, I suppose you may want to stop by this unimpressive little site. Located at Km 17, but not at all representative of the spectacular ruins in the area.
Parque Nizuc: Km 25. Wet & Wild Cancun...
Snorkeling / Scuba Diving : If snorkeling is your gig, any of the local dive shops in the hotel zone will take you to the best spots around Cancun. Though there are a few decent dive spots in Cancun . . . if Scuba is your gig, you are just too close to Cozumel and some of the best dive spots in the world not to go. So jump on a shuttle or bus and go 45 minutes south to Playa del Carmen . . . then jump on the ferry and you should be on the island in another half an hour or so. Don't worry about finding a dive operator there . . . 30% of Cozumel's visitors are there to dive, so operators are everywhere you look.
Xel-Ha: 122 km. south of Cancun is a water theme park with a jungle setting. It's really nice, but you will need to google the place to check their current prices.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve: If you are a nature lover, this is on the south side of Tulum, so you will want to plan a couple of hours to get there.
These are really the places you should think about if you have limited time. That's not to say that there aren't booze cruises, tennis courts, golfing, deep sea fishing, and a host of other things to see and do . . . its just that those things are all easy to find. Just ask the front desk at your hotel for what's close to you.