Looking for fun and exciting things to do on your Cancun Vacation? This 5 day Cancun itinerary will help you plan your adventures in this Caribbean Paradise.
A trip to Cancun is the perfect way to escape everyday life’s busy hustle and bustle and relax in a sweet tropical paradise. From perfectly relaxed beach days to wild nightlife or adventurous excursions, there can be an activity for every type of traveler.
Cancun has been a vacation hot spot for years. With white sandy beaches, stunning turquoise waters, and warm temperatures, it’s no wonder tourists are continuously flocking to this blissful destination.
Imagine yourself lounging in a hammock beneath the swaying palm trees, sipping on a refreshing margarita. The crystal-clear waters are the perfect playground for water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, or even swimming with magnificent whale sharks.
For the history buffs, you can explore many different Archeology sites created by ancient Mayan Civilizations.
As far as the party scene, there is no shortage of nightlife in Cancun. Discos, clubs, restaurants and bars. You will be sure to find it all.
This article is your guide to an exciting 5-day Cancun Itinerary. I have been living in Quintana Roo for several years now and have spent weeks visiting this beautiful part of the Riviera Maya.
Is 5 Days in Cancun Enough?
Is 5 days enough? In my opinion, no!
I am the kind of person who never wants to leave the beach and always tries to extend my trip. But 5 days is a good amount of time to explore, relax, and get a taste of paradise.
If you have more time, a week is a good amount of time to have some fun day trips from Cancun as well as spend ample time sunning yourself on the white sand beaches.
Where is Cancun?
Situated on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Cancun is exceptionally accessible.
The Cancun International Airport is only 25 minutes from the happening hotel zone which makes for easy arrivals and departures. Travelers from all over the world come to bask in this Caribbean sunshine.
When to Visit Cancun?
In my opinion, there is never really a bad time to visit Cancun. Different seasons will bring you different experiences.
Late November to March is the high season in Cancun. The weather brings ideal warmth in the day and cool breezy evenings.
Expect daytime temperatures of 82-88 degrees Fahrenheit (28 – 31 Celcius) and cooler evenings of 73-77 degrees Fahrenheit (23-25 Celcius). The humidity remains lower and the ocean is great to cool off from the heat.
Personally, I love the climate in March-May. This is when it starts to get really hot, but from being in the Riviera Maya for two years I have really become accustomed to the heat and sometimes I find 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 Celcius) chilly!
The summer months of June, July, and August bring high temperatures and high humidity levels. If swimming with the whale sharks is on your bucket list then this is when you will need to visit as that is when the sharks migrate to this region.
September, October, and November are the rainy months in Cancun. Tourism is lower but there is still fun to be had. Due to the low season, I bet you can find some awesome deals on vacation packages.
If you’re concerned about what to pack for your trip to Cancun depending on when you are visiting, be sure to check out our guide to what to wear in Cancun for any season.
Where to Stay in Cancun
There are a few different zones you can choose to stay in Cancun all offering slightly different experiences.
Hotel Zone Cancun
The Hotel Zone is by far the most popular place to stay during a trip to Cancun.
It is a 14-mile or 23-km stretch of sand along Cancun’s shores. Most tourists choose to stay in the hotel zone due to its abundance of all-inclusive resorts, beaches, villas, restaurants, and shopping. On the back side of the hotel zone is the Nichupte Lagoon which is another popular tourist point.
Costa Mujeres is a newly developed area of Cancun that is 18 miles or 30 kilometers north of the center of Cancun. It offers beautiful new all-inclusive resorts on pristine beaches. It is more of a secluded destination with the intention to preserve the forests, mangroves, beaches, and surrounding nature.
Downtown Cancun is a fun place to stay if you are ready to self-explore. Check out our anti-all-inclusive guide to Cancun to learn more about what to do in this area of Cancun.
Downtown Cancun is full of hotels, Airbnb, and condo rentals. You can really get to know the local personality of Cancun with restaurants, taco shops, markets, and more. Airbnb and hotels are also a bit more budget-friendly in Downtown Cancun.
Ok now grab that sun hat and passport. Here is your 5-day itinerary for Cancun. Caribbean bliss is calling!
Day 1- Settle in and hit the Beach
Wherever you decide to stay, allow yourself some time to unwind from your journey and settle into your accommodation. Then grab your swimwear and towel and hit the beach.
Cancun has some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the Riviera Maya. Go dip your toes in the Caribbean Sea and let it wash away your worries.
If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort take full advantage of the beach and its amenities.
In the evening, you might want to wander around the Hotel Zone area for a little while. Not only will you find hotels, but many restaurants, taco shops, nightclubs, and bars.
There is no shortage of good food in Cancun either. Whatever flavor you are craving you are sure to find it in Cancun.
One of my favorite places that is a must-visit is Surfin Burrito. The burritos are huge, the staff is fabulous and the vibe is funky. It’s a perfect stop for your first night in Cancun. The burritos are so delicious that you might stop back for more later on during your 5 days in Cancun.
Another great place to check out in Cancun is the Parque de las Palapas. It’s a public square in the downtown of Cancun that is popular with tourists and locals. The park comes alive after 6 p.m. and is full of small shops, street vendors, and live entertainment. It’s a great place to enjoy as a family and experience some of the traditional Mexican culture.
Day 2 – Day trip to Isla Mujeres
While visiting Cancun, your trip will not be complete without spending a day at Isla Mujeres. If you think the water in Cancun is blue, wait until you witness the waters as you cross to Isla Mujeres.
You will want to spend the entire day at Isla Mujeres so get a good sleep the night before and wake up early to take full advantage of the day.
Getting to Isla Mujeres is extremely easy with three ferry terminals in different locations in Cancun. Ferries run from 5:30 in the morning and the last ferry leaves Isla Mujeres at midnight. The boat ride is only 20 minutes and the ferries run every 30 minutes.
Exploring Isla Mujeres is such a fun thing to do. There are so many activities to partake in. Rent a golf cart and take yourself on a tour around the Island. Book a catamaran tour with snorkeling activities and an open bar. Plop yourself at a beach club and spend the day relaxing under a palm tree.
Just be sure you don’t miss the sunset. Playa Norte is where you will want to be. The beach is soft with powdery sand and as the sun goes down the skylights us with pretty pinks, purples, and oranges.
Find a delicious dinner at one of the many fantastic restaurants in Isla Mujeres. One of my favorite places that I always love to visit when I am in Isla Mujeres is Churrossik Park. The churros here are out-of-this-world delicious.
Day 3 – Excursion Day
The Riviera Maya is so rich in tourism that it might be difficult to decide which excursion you want to experience. You can find theme parks, water adventures, jungle tours, historical sites, ATV-ing, cenote tours, tequila tours, horseback riding and so much more.
Xcaret is probably the most famous excursion to experience while in Cancun. It is a grand theme park that displays the different Mexican cultures from around the country in one place.
The park offers over 50 attractions from traditional Mexican dances, archeology sites, aquariums, and the showstopping presentation of Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.
If snorkeling is your thing you will want to spend the day at Xel-Ha, where you can spend the entire day in the water, snorkeling, zip lining, and jumping from heights.
A personal favorite tour of mine is Rio Secreto. The tour will take you through a huge cenote that starts above ground and then leads you down into the caverns. You walk through the whole cenote following your guide up and down the path through the water.
There is even a part where you are fully submerged in the water floating through the passage. Your guide will teach you about the importance of Cenotes in the Mayan Riviera. Book a tour of Rio Secreto here.
For the person who likes extreme activities, consider visiting Xplor where you get to zip line through the jungle. Alternatively, you can go on an ATV tour at Extreme Adventure Eco Park, riding through the Mayan Jungle.
Almost all of the tours will come with some sort of food and beverage options. Whether it is included in the ticket price will depend on what excursion you choose to partake in.
For example, an Xel-Ha ticket is an all-day event where all your food and drinks will be included in the price. Whereas Rio Secreto is a smaller tour and only one meal and non-alcoholic drinks are included.
Day 4 – Shopping, Markets, and a Night on the Town
Cancun has some fabulous shopping from markets to Luxurious designer shops, there is something for everyone.
Looking for that authentic Mexican souvenir? Don’t waste your time with hotel gift shops or stores along the hotel zone strip.
Get yourself to Mercado 28. When it comes to souvenirs and Mexican knickknacks, this market has it all in mass supply and in a cheaper price.
Wander the rows and rows of small shops inside the market and don’t be afraid to barter a little bit for a better price, especially if you are buying more than one item.
Assuming you have worked up an appetite, take a seat in one of the restaurants inside the market and enjoy some traditional tacos and an ice-cold margarita.
Head back to your hotel to freshen up and get ready for an exciting evening on the town.
By now I am sure you have heard of the Disco Experience Coco Bongo. If not before you arrive in Cancun, then by one of the many sales members in your hotel and on the streets of Cancun.
Coco Bongo is one of those trademark experiences that comes with a trip to the Riviera Maya. It is a disco, dance party, and live show all mixed into one with an open bar, dancers, acrobatics, audience interaction, dancing, balloons, confetti, and more confetti! A total non-stop party that will have you dancing all night long.
Day 5 – Take a Day Trip
Your 5 day Cancun itinerary won’t be complete without a day trip to one of the fabulous surrounding places. There are so many options, it can be hard to choose just one (so stay a bit longer and explore even more!).
Chichen Itza is at the top of the list. How can you travel all this way and not cross one of the 7 world wonders off of your list?
A day trip to Chichen Itza is a full and busy day so plan accordingly. The best way to experience Chichen Itza from Cancun is on a guided tour. All your transportation, ticket fees, and refreshments will be provided.
An added bonus is that you can sleep on the bus on the journey. With tours to Chichen Itza, you normally get a guide to lead you through the park as well as a visit to a cenote at the end of your visit. Book a tour to Chichen Itza here.
Another popular place you might want to visit is Tulum. Tulum is a booming beach town like no other and you can easily spend 3 days in Tulum just enjoying all of the sights to see there.
It’s trendy, chic, beautiful, calm, and exciting all the same time. You need to experience it for yourself to understand what I am talking about.
In Tulum, you can spend the day at the beach at a high-end Tulum beach club, explore the archeology sites, or even kite surf on the waves at the beach. The shopping is like no other as well.
You will find that Tulum has its own boho-chic “tuluminati-style”. The apparel is beach-trendy and gorgeous. Do note that there will be a higher price tag, but sometimes it’s just worth it for that perfect statement piece.
Longer than a 5 Day Itinerary in Cancun
If your schedule allows or if you have more than 5 days in Cancun take full advantage and make a trip to Holbox Island.
Holbox is quaint, calm, and secluded and offers more of an untouched feeling than the other surrounding islands in the Riviera Maya.
You will want to spend a night or even two nights in Holbox to fully indulge in the tranquil island life.
Also, this is the best place to experience the Whale Sharks. If this is one of your bucket list activities you must plan your trip in June, July, or August to swim alongside these beautiful giant creatures. Book a tour of the whale sharks here.
Another overnight trip you might want to consider would be a trip to Bacalar. It’s a small town built around a freshwater lagoon that displays the most beautiful colors of green and blue.
For a scuba-diver paradise, take an overnight trip to Mahaual and scuba in pristine reefs buzzing with marine wildlife. It’s not rare to see big animals either such as manatees, turtles, rays, and even dolphins.