Wondering about the best things to do near Cancun Airport? You’re in the right place! I live in Cancun and in this post, I will share my favorite things to do near the Cancun International Airport.}
There are plenty of fun things to do near the Cancun airport and this is great news if you need to spend time there before or after a flight.
Unlike some cities where it is expensive and time-consuming to get from the airport to activities, in Cancun it is easy to head to the beach, ruins, or shopping before catching a flight.
You can make the most of your vacation time by taking advantage of these sites near the airport – keep reading to learn about the best things to do near the Cancun airport.
Things to Do Near Cancun Airport
The Cancun hotel zone is a long stretch of sandbar filled with hotels, restaurants, and sites that connect to the mainland near downtown Cancun and the airport.
From the airport, it is fast and easy to visit sites in the southern section of the hotel zone. Here are some activities to check out near the airport.
1. Relax at Playa Delfines
Not far from the airport, in the hotel zone, is arguably one of Cancun’s best beaches – Playa Delfines. This beach is different from many others because there are no hotels or buildings built in front of it.
This means when you arrive there all you get is a long beautiful stretch of white sandy beach and turquoise water.
The entrance to Playa Delfines has a large palapa for shade, as well as a “mirador” known as the Dolphin Beach Viewpoint, which is an elevated viewpoint where you can snap pictures and enjoy great views.
Playa Delfines is also home to the colorful Cancun sign, so make sure you get your picture taken there as well! This beach can have big waves and strong currents, so be careful swimming and always listen to the lifeguards.
This large beach has plenty of space for you to stretch out and find a peaceful spot, or if you want more activity you can try to join in on a game of volleyball or take surf lessons. Playa Delfines is located at kilometer 20 in the hotel zone.
2. Explore Cancun Hotel Zone
The design of the Cancun hotel zone makes it easy to get there from the airport. You do not have to go all the way to downtown Cancun to head into the hotel zone.
Regardless of where you spend your vacation, if you have some spare time before or after flying, the hotel zone is worth checking out.
If you have never been there before, the number of hotels along the beach will blow your mind.
Get a ride to the hotel zone and go for a stroll, grab some food, and soak in the views.
3. Nizuc River Viewpoint
Located on the southern end of the Cancun hotel zone, Punta Nizuc is a land strip that sticks off of the land that makes up the narrow hotel zone. You can think of it as a small peninsula stretching further into the ocean.
Punta Nizuc is famous for its amazing beaches, turquoise waters, and coral reefs that are just off the coast.
You can easily spend the day at Punta Nizuc watching the boats travel the channel between the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte Lagoon, taking a snorkel or scuba diving trip to the reef.
The reef just off the coast of Punta Nizuc is home to the Cancun Underwater Museum, where you will find sunken statues surrounded by sea life.
You can also go on a walking tour to see a variety of seabirds, land animals, and rock formations.
Punta Nizuc is only a 12-minute drive from the Cancun airport, making this an easy and amazing spot to get to.
4. Cancun Scenic Tower
The turquoise waters surrounding Cancun are beautiful to look at from the beach, so you can imagine how breathtaking to see from the sky.
Enjoy a ride up in the air on the Cancun Scenic Tower to look down on the clear water, see the outlines of the coral reefs, and take in the Cancun skyline from up high.
The Cancun Scenic Tower is located at kilometer 4.5 in the hotel zone, which means in normal traffic it will take you less than a half hour to get there from the airport.
The tower experience lasts around 15 minutes and gives you panoramic views of the area along with an onboard explanation of the area’s history. Tip: Book the experience in advance to avoid waiting in line.
5. La Isla Shopping Village
If you have a few extra hours in Cancun, check out La Isla Shopping Village. This is one of the area’s most popular shopping centers.
It is located in the hotel zone at kilometer 12.5, which is about 25-30 minutes away from the airport.
This open-air shopping center has bridges and waterways to walk around, over 100 stores, restaurants, and entertainment including an aquarium, and movie theatre, and you can take gondola rides in the water canals!
There you can find everything from fast food, cafes, and ice cream shops to formal, gourmet restaurants.
La Isla is a great place to spend a few hours strolling around and doing some end-of-vacation shopping!
7. El Rey Ruins
Everyone knows that there are large Mayan ruins all throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. However, you might be surprised that just 15 minutes from the airport, in the hotel zone, is an archeological site with Mayan Ruins.
El Rey archeological site is located at kilometer 18. It was an important trade side for the ancient Mayans, and they also used it to bury royalty and study astronomy.
Today you will see the remains of large buildings and platforms that served as the foundation for buildings that are long gone.
Visiting El Rey ruins is a great way to learn more about the ancient Mayans without having to travel far.
8. Enjoy Mexican Food and Cuisine
Whether you are just arriving at the Cancun airport, or waiting for your flight home, it is always a good idea to enjoy local food and cuisine.
If you want to eat like a local, head into downtown Cancun and visit one of the markets.
Among the produce and food stands you will find small taco carts and restaurants serving regional favorites at great prices.
Or, if you want a more romantic meal, head to the hotel zone and find a restaurant with an ocean or lagoon view.
Transportation from Cancun Airport
There are several ways to get to and from the Cancun airport.
It is best to have a transportation plan before arriving since the area exiting the terminals in Cancun can be a bit hectic. Here are the ways to get around:
👉🏽 Shuttle Services
Cancun offers both private and shared shuttle services. These shuttles will take you anywhere you want to go in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
If you are travelling with a small group booking a private shuttle can be an affordable, cost-effective way to travel.
Shuttle vans have certified drivers, and air conditioning, and will get you where you want to go the fastest.
Uber legally operates in Cancun; however, Uber drivers cannot pick you up at the airport.
There are always plenty of taxis at the Cancun airport; however, beware, they will often try to charge you more than the cost of a private shuttle.
If you decide to take a taxi, make sure to negotiate the price with the driver before getting in.
Look for the red ADO letters and buy your ticket at the ADO stand before boarding the bus.
During the day buses leave every 20 minutes to 30 minutes. They are comfortable and air-conditioned and an economical way to travel around the area.
👉🏽 Rental Cars
If you want to explore the Cancun area, a rental car can be a great option.
There are many car rental agencies near the Cancun airport that offer a shuttle between the airport and their office. I always suggest booking the car in advance especially if you are traveling in the high season. I recommend DiscoverCars, as it has thousands of positive reviews and allows you to compare prices from different car rental companies.
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Practical Tips for Cancun Travelers
It is understandable that you want to make the most of every minute of your vacation- right up to your flight check-in time.
The Cancun airport is accustomed to having many visitors passing through it, and in general check-in and security move quickly.
This can make it tempting to grab an extra hour at the beach, but still give yourself plenty of time so you do not miss your flight.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to Do During a Layover in Cancun?
If you have a long layover in Cancun, you can store your baggage at the Cancun luggage locker and either head to the hotel zone or downtown Cancun.
If you have time, head to the hotel zone and enjoy a drink, snack, and some beach time at one of the many beachfront restaurants.
Or, head into downtown Cancun to check out some markets and eat authentic food like a local.
Are There Things to Do at Cancun Airport?
If you find yourself checked and through security with extra time in the Cancun airport you can get a bite to eat or do some last-minute souvenir shopping.
Los Cinco Soles has a large display and shop where you can buy all sorts of authentic Mexican crafts such as colorful pottery, small sculptures, and Mexican candies.
Can I Leave Cancun Airport During a Layover?
Yes, if you are traveling through Cancun and have a long layover, you can use those hours to check out the city.
Just budget enough time to travel to and from the airport and go through security again before your next flight.
What Areas are Close to Cancun Airport?
Sites in the southern section of the hotel zone are close and easy to get to from the Cancun airport.
In less than 20 minutes you can get to Playa Delfines, Punta Nizuc, and El Rey archeological site.
What is the Cheapest Way to Leave Cancun Airport?
The cheapest way to leave the Cancun airport is on the ADO bus. For just over 100 pesos you can catch the bus to downtown Cancun.
Do You Need Pesos at Cancun Airport?
No. You can use US dollars or debit or credit cards at the Cancun airport.
Are There Free Shuttles at Cancun Airport?
The Cancun airport has a free shuttle service between terminals.
This is generally only needed if you are changing airlines, for example, if you flew a domestic airline in Mexico and are switching to an international flight, you will probably need to change terminals.
Final Thoughts: Things to Do Near Cancun Airport
If you find yourself near the Cancun airport, whether on a long layover or staying at a hotel nearby before or after a flight, you can still explore the area.
Thankfully, the Cancun airport is closely connected to both downtown Cancun and the hotel zone, making it fast and easy to see a few sites before continuing on your travels.
Take advantage of this, and make the most of your time in Cancun!
Before You Go…
Here are some useful posts that you may be interested in:
- The Ultimate Guide to Traveling to Cancun Mexico
- 45 Unique Things to Do in Cancun in 2023 (Tips from a Local)
- Is Cancun Safe to Travel to Right Now? [2023 Safety in Cancun Guide]
- The Best Time to Visit Cancun 2023: The Ultimate Guide
- How Many Days in Cancun is Enough? 4 Things You Must Consider (+ Itineraries & Tips)