7 min read

Best eco-activities in Cancun

Best eco-activities in Cancun

Ecological Activities for nature and environment lovers. Find out in this top all the eco-activities that Cancun has to offer.

Surely you are traveling to Cancun for the first time, or you have traveled before. You might even be a Cancun resident and want to know the best ecotourism activities to do. Well, you are in the right place, here we tell you in detail about the sustainable tourism activities you can do in Cancun to have fun and enjoy your stay in Cancun while taking care of the environment.


What is ecotourism?

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recognizes ecotourism as an operational type of tourism, and defines it as follows:

“Ecotourism is a type of nature-based tourism activity, in which the visitor's essential motivation is to observe, learn, discover, experience and appreciate biological and cultural diversity, with a responsible attitude, to protect the integrity of the ecosystem and to promote the well-being of the local community.”

Source: UNWTO

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Who benefits from sustainable tourism?

  • To local communities and inhabitants. 🛖

  • The environment and ecosystem of the area. 🌱

  • To the animals and species, both terrestrial and aquatic, that inhabit the region. 🐵🪸🐢

  • Generate economic benefits to communities, organizations, and authorities involved in the conservation of natural areas.

  • Increase awareness of the conservation of both cultural and natural assets for tourism and local inhabitants.

  • Planning projects for conservation and conscious use of nature. 📈


What sustainable activities can I do in Cancun?


In Cancun, it is possible to find sustainable activities to have fun, which, at the same time, support the protection and care of the environment.

Join us and learn more about the sustainable activities you can do in Cancun!


1. Beaches

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Coastal cities like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum have activities that invite us to rest, disconnect, and enjoy the stunning blue sea.
These are some measures you can take to make your days on the Caribbean beaches more eco-friendly.

  • Consider taking public transportation or soft mobility to get to the beaches, most trucks or taxis go to these places and hotels are always very close to the beaches, besides, walking, rollerblading and biking can help you stay in shape during your vacations.

  • Use biodegradable sunscreen if you plan to sunbathe on the beach, and if you plan to swim, we recommend wearing only clothing with UV protection, as sunscreen can cause irreversible damage to corals and the marine ecosystem.

  • Carry an ecological bag with you at all times, and avoid using plastic bags on the beach or streets to avoid pollution.

  • DO NOT touch any marine species, this may alter their pH or their environment, besides, they may feel attacked, remember that YOU are in their territory.

→ Also read our 7 best public beaches in Cancun article here.


Beach cleaning

beach cleaning

Beach cleaning promotes sustainability and the balance of the ecosystem and reefs, as well as plays an essential role in the reduction of waste that pollutes the seas and oceans, not only in the Caribbean but in the world.

Which agencies have beach cleaning programs in Cancun?

Some of the agencies that have beach cleaning programs in Cancun are the following:

  • Cancun Sailing
  • Snorkeling4trash
  • Corazón de Mar


How can I join a beach cleanup program in Cancun?

Cancun Sailing has a beach cleanup volunteer program, where you can actively participate with a couple of clicks. All you have to do is fill out the form with your information, and that's it! You can find out when there are updates and campaigns to join through your email or directly on social networks.


2. Sustainable aquatic activities 🌊


Cancun's maritime zone offers an endless number of aquatic activities, which you can enjoy alone, with your family, with your partner, or with friends.

You can do different water activities that, at the same time, do not cause any negative impact on the environment and here you can learn about some of them.


Paddleboarding 🏄

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We recommend paddleboarding near Isla Mujeres, or in calm waters, where there are no strong waves, to make the most of this experience.

This activity is ideal since you don't need anything more than a board and a paddle to enjoy the natural wonders of the Caribbean Sea.



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Kayaking, besides being a low-impact sport, is also a good way to relieve stress and increase endurance, it is also ideal to avoid polluting the Caribbean since you don't need anything more than a board and a pair of paddles, and it is ideal for all ages.

Don't forget to bring comfortable clothes, a whistle, or a signaling device, and appropriate footwear, all of which will help you to practice this sport in a safe and ideal way


Kitesurf and windsurf

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Kitesurfing and windsurfing are two derivatives of surfing, since you need a surfboard or similar to practice them, however, they differ due to the equipment needed to carry out each of these.

Windsurfing is carried out on a suitable board with a sail, while kitesurfing has a kite, which allows you to soar through the air in moments.

Both activities are ideal for families, couples, friends or solo, however, the corresponding safety measures must be taken for the proper execution of the same.

Both have no negative impact on the marine ecosystem.


3. Catamaran tour ⛵


If you want a fun and relaxing time, a catamaran tour is the answer.
This is a good alternative to spend time with your family, friends, or partner, plus, the catamaran tour usually includes drinks and food, which will be ideal to have a nice time on the way to Isla Mujeres.
But why do we say that traveling by catamaran is a sustainable experience? Simple, catamarans, like any boat, ship, or yacht, use fuel, however, and unlike the aforementioned, they have a sail system, which, moments after setting sail, helps them to navigate with the force of the wind, of course, with the help of an experienced captain at the helm of the catamaran.

Some agencies such as Cancun Sailing practice “greenwashing” which contributes to the conservation of the marine ecosystem in various programs such as BLUE FLAG, which promotes information on environmental management, water quality, safety, and environmental education, among others. 


4. Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve

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The Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve aims to preserve a specific natural area located on the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo.

This reserve has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and is one of Mexico's main carbon reservoirs.

The Sian Ka'an biosphere contains nine different ecosystems, in addition to three aquatic habitats, including the Mesoamerican Reef System shared by Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras.


What to do in Sian Ka'an?

Sian ka'an is more than a protected natural reserve, it is also Lagoons, Cenotes, Mayan Ruins, and an ideal spot for incredible sightings of terrestrial and marine species.
You can explore the reserve on foot, by boat, or even hire a tour guide to get to know it in depth.

On the shores of the reserve, you can find various lodging options such as beach bungalows, eco villas, and hotels in Punta Allen.

The best places to visit in Sian Ka'an are:

  • Punta Allen
  • Canales de Muyil
  • Sian Ka'an Reef
  • Boca Paila Beach



It is forbidden to touch or get too close to marine or terrestrial species in the reserve and any act that affects or endangers the ecological balance of the reserve.


Why is the Mesoamerican Reef important?

The Mesoamerican reef has ecosystemic functions, essential for coastal communities, which are protected by the reefs when storms or earthquakes occur, in addition, they provide a gigantic support to the fishing trade, local consumption, and tourism.

Learn more about the Mesoamerican reef in this Infographic:

mesoamerican reef infography


5. Eco-bricks


Who says you can't put your waste to good use during your travels in the Caribbean? 😎

Eco-bricks are PET bottles, which are usually filled under pressure with previously cleaned and dried waste, which are then used for the construction of various things, including eco-benches, modular furniture, walls, and even entire spaces.

This helps enormously to stop the generation of waste that ends up in the oceans and land, which harms the animals and living beings that inhabit these environments.


How to make an eco-brick?

  • Remove the label or print from your PET bottles.
  • Wash and dry the bottle thoroughly
  • Save the cap of your bottle
  • Fill the bottle with household garbage that is NOT organic or recyclable (plastic wrap, aluminum, etc.).
  • Wash all debris such as yogurt containers and plastic wrappers.
  • Compress the garbage as you go in to avoid air spaces.


How do EcoBricks benefit us?

Eco-bricks benefit us in the reduction of CO2 gases, since many of the construction materials are pollutants. In addition, they are lighter than conventional bricks and easier to store.

In addition, the construction and manufacture of eco-bricks is almost zero cost.


6. Isla Contoy

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This island limits its daily access to 200 people per day, which is essential for the preservation of its integrity and environment.

Isla Contoy is, in turn, one of the most acclaimed activities for travelers who want to do challenging activities, which in turn, bring them as close as possible to nature.

In Isla Contoy you can also find 10 sea turtle nesting sites, where you can meet the Hawksbill turtle, the Loggerhead turtle, and the beautiful White turtle.

You may wonder who lives in Isla Contoy, the answer is nobody, only a few park rangers and biologists who are dedicated to research and protect the area.


Where is Isla Contoy located?

Isla Contoy is located at the northern end of Isla Mujeres and has been declared a protected natural reserve and was also named a National Wildlife Refuge in 1961. It is 8.75 km long and has 230 ha of land area.


7. Safaris and photo tours

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Do you want to share photos on your networks and at the same time preserve the environment? Participate in safaris, tours, or photo walks. These activities promote environmental awareness, as they allow you to appreciate the beauty of nature in its purest state and, at the same time, keep that memory forever frozen in images. These types of experiences are fun, but also educational, for all ages.

By enjoying life in the jungle, the sea, and natural landscapes through your cell phone, camera, or GoPro, you can reduce the environmental impact caused by other types of activities, which usually have extreme direct contact with animals and nature, affecting its balance.

8. Environmental Education workshops

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You can find environmental education workshops in Cancun. These activities are ideal for the whole family, as they promote the preservation of local ecosystems. These types of activities promise to involve you in the rich biodiversity of Quintana Roo and the Caribbean Sea, learning about the importance of reefs, mangroves, and rainforests. Through practical activities, such as tree planting, beach cleaning, bird watching, and even recycling.

By taking these types of workshops, you can also lead a sustainable life that minimizes the environmental impact or deterioration day by day with small actions, which lead to big changes.


Examples of environmental education workshops in Cancun

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One of the greatest examples of environmental education in Cancun is the "Sea Turtle Conservation Workshop". This workshop is held in collaboration with local organizations dedicated to the protection of sea turtles, an endangered species in Quintana Roo. By taking this workshop you can learn not only about the biology and life cycle of sea turtles, but you can also learn and understand the challenges they face daily due to pollution, excessive hunting of this species, and the degradation of their natural habitat.

Don't miss activities such as the release of sea turtles, data collection on nests in Cancun, and protection of nesting areas.


9. Sideral or stellar observation

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Cancun is, without a doubt, one of Mexico's favorite destinations for nationals and foreigners due to its beauty and biodiversity. However, Cancun is not all about parties, tanning on the beach, and water activities. 

If you enjoy visiting the beaches during the day, organize a visit at night, and enjoy a spectacular starry night, accompanied by the sound of the waves. Be sure to choose a quiet location, with no light pollution nearby.

And remember, if you visit the beach and bring any food or waste with you, avoid leaving it lying around at all costs. This can cause serious damage to the ecosystem.

Some hotels and resorts also offer astronomical observation trips or tours, these tours usually include telescopes and specialized guides, with which you can learn and identify the constellations, planets, and other celestial objects.

If, on the other hand, you are a lover of the celestial, and would like to contemplate the clear night sky without any visual pollution, then we recommend a short trip from Cancun to places like Yucatan, Tulum, or Sian Ka'an.

Within Cancun, you can also meet local astronomers, who offer unparalleled experiences; or visit an observatory to witness an astronomical event that may occur during your visit to Cancun.



Let us know in the comments if you have already done any of these sustainable activities in Cancun, or if you know of any other.

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