If your on a budget or just want a different experience in Mexico, break away from the mold and try these DIY Budget Excursions! Most are way cheaper and some free without paying crazy excursion fees! We like to find our own adventures some time without the mass of people. All these places you can catch a Collectivo van (cheapest), taxi (expensive) or even a public bus. Once you get off collectivo vans, you can walk to the remaining parts of destination! Collectivo vans are fairly safe (always be cautious in Mexico or anywhere for that matter). Collectivo prices range from $1 to $5 per person, depending on where your going. Fairly cheap for transportation. Also, Collectivos are white with blue writing, air conditioned and hold up to 14 people at a time. Just take a small map, address of where you want to go!
1)Cenote Azul: $6.00 entry fee. Bring your own snorkel gear.
-Snorkeling, swimming, cliff jumping
-use eco friendly sunscreen only
-Go when it’s sunny so you can see water better
Playa Paraiso-Beach Club @ Tulum: FREE for beach
-Beach near Tulum ruins, but have to pay for everything (Chairs, umbrella, locker, etc. )
-The coral reef is also accessible for snorkeling or diving for a small amount of money.
-There is some seaweed, but they do a good job of trying to keep it clear for the visitors.
La Playa Xpuha (Xpu-ha Beach) :$3.00-$6 entry fee per person.
-Get a discount at the Xpu-has restaurant. Make sure you are at the right restaurant though if you want the discount
-White sand beach, no crowds
-Stunning beach, coral reef not far off shore, snorkeling
-Really nice beach, no rocks , almost no seaweed, nice coral, very nice restaurants around. Perfect water color!
- One of the finest beaches on the whole of the Riviera Maya
- authentic Caribbean bar-this is the spot! Great food, drinks, music, and views.
- Nice little beach bar with lounges and on some time life music.
-This is a rustic beach community for adventurous travelers. The beach is excellent; there is a cenote on the north side and restaurants on the main beach. Cabanas are available for $10-$25 per night. This is a great place for backpackers.
4)Mayan Ruins of Tulum: $4 entry fee per person
- My biggest piece of advice to share would be to go to the ruins on your own, if you can. We rented a car and just drove there and actually saved money compared to taking a
- Go early or late to avoid crowds 8 - 16.30 opening hours
- It is a beautiful park and lots of iguanas. 64 pesos, when I went, they did not take dollars and did not give change!
- The ruins and the site, along a cliff overlooking the turquoise sea, are majestic.
-You can feed the iguanas. Bring a banana to feed the iguanas.
- beautiful swimming spot
- A hot day and there is little shade so hats, insect repellant and sun cream a must!
- A very different archeological site than Coba and Chichen Itza.
-Tulum Ruins is a small site. It has an excellent beach for swimming and cooling off, shopping and food. This makes an excellent half-day excursion and is easy to get to anywhere on the Mayan Riviera from Tulum to Playa del Carmen. You can use a tour company or go there yourself via colectivo
5)Yal-ku Lagoon; $14-$18 entry fee per person
- Many types of fish and turtles. Can bring your own equipment or rent not crowded
-Surrounded by beautiful quiet beaches.
-Wear eco friendly sunblock
-Come early to beat the crowds, and bring your GoPro. Respect the environment (use only certified biosafe sunscreens, don’t stand on coral, etc) and enjoy. Ignore the guys who try to wave you down to sell maps etc, and drive past the gate and all the way to the water (signs will appear about two-thirds of the way through), where you will find parking.
-Lots of snorkeling with An abundance of colorful fish and psychedelic plants
- Go when it’s sunny so you can see water better.
- Dolphin Discovery @ Grand Sirenis: -FREE to see performing dolphins.
-There was a short demonstration at 11:00 with the specialists explaining a bit about the 4 dolphins, 2 older one and 2 juveniles, They are beautiful animals. They swam, raced, jumped and sang a song.
-This place is good to watch the dolphins and Sea lions but extra $$$$$ for that.
-Check prices for dolphin swimming
7)Chan Yu Yum (Puerto Aventuras beach) : $Free
-“Best spot for free snorkeling in puerto”
-Nice for swimming because most of it it’s closed off so no waves.
-Bring your own snorkel gear
- Puerto Aventuras remains a nice clean city surrounded by a huge marina, a golf course, restaurants and bars.
8)Bel Air Animal Park: $50-$80.00 each.
-The petting area
-The animal park is the hotel. It’s not a separate entity. The exhibits are dispersed throughout the hotel grounds as well as the animal show.
- Great opportunity to see and sometimes touch a wide variety of animals
9-5, show at 4 p.m.
9)Fatima Bay (Beach area): $FREE
-Most not impressed though
- CEDAM Museum-$FREE
- This is one of the very few free attractions in the area. The museum is located in the community of Puerto Adventuras on the way to Tulum from Playa del Carmen. The best time to visit is when you are going or returning from Tulum
- The museum displays many artifacts recovered from various shipwrecks from the area. Just a short walk from the dolphin pens.
- Akumal Beach: $ FREE unless you get a turtle guide for $50
- Best, Best, Best beach
-bring your own snorkel gear and biodegradable sunscreen!
-snorkel here and see turtles.
-Powdery white sand, warm waters and clear blue for viewing ocean life. The turtles are magnificent. Bounced around in the gentle waves for hours. A tropical paradise. The town of Akumal is a quaint little town with unique art work, jewelry, and typical beach attire for sale.
-Go early. This beach gets busy with groups arriving to see the turtles. We went before breakfast and the water was clear. We found the turtles just to the right inside the roped-off area. Love swimming with turtles! The water was calm and easy - good for kids
- Xcaret Eco Theme Park: $ 90 entry fee, per person
-Swimming in the underground river and caves was an experience of a lifetime. The park is well laid out and pays great respect to wildlife and culture. The evening show is well produced leaving you feel more enriched about Mexican heritage. Highly recommend the Mexican Buffet (La Cucina) if eating there. Great food!
-The cenote and dinner show are MUST DO picks at this place as well! Stay late for evening show!
-Fabulous - the evening show is a must do as are the manatees, the turtles and the dolphins. Snorkeling was great fun and the steak sarnie at the beach area was great for an informal dining experience.
- Go when it’s sunny so you can see water better
- Cenote Carwash: $3 entry fee per person.
- Beautiful cenote for a great price. Be sure to go on a sunny day, as the water will be absolutely perfect. We were the only ones there besides a few divers. The washrooms and change rooms are well kept. The ground keepers were very friendly. They were putting up a platform to jump off of when we were there. There are turtles and some small fish. If you enjoy free diving, or just taking a nice lunch break at a cenote, this is the perfect place
-Small Compact Snorkeling site
-bring your own snorkel gear
- Go when it’s sunny so you can see water better
Plastic Flamingo (Unique Shopping): $Depends
-They have cool shirts and some incredibly handcrafted things that you wouldn’t believe! A purse made out of carton, Frida paintings and unique earrings among other stuff. If you need to buy some stuff as souvenirs, this is the place to visit.
Hidden Worlds Family Cenote Park: $unknown
-Great ziplines and cenote cave swimming here. Excellent food.
Gran Cenote: $10 entry fee per person.
- I have been to several cenotes, and this is my favorite. If you’re only going to visit one cenote, then go here. However, other cenotes are also pretty cool and worth a visit. If you want to visit 3, then do Cenote 7 Bocas, Dzitnup, and then Gran, in that order. Be sure to do Gran last. You’ll really enjoy those other ones, but not if you have already been to Gran. If you do them in that order, they will be getting progressively more fun/impressive.
- blue clear crystal water, turtles swimming with you, stalactites hanging from the cave ceiling,… The main advantage of this cenote is its position 5 km. from Tulum. It is a short bike ride (30 min) from town so you can rent a bike and do it on your own in the early morning to avoid crowds.
- Some fish and turtles swimming around and iguanas hanging off of the rocks. Beautiful way to spend a few hours.
- Miniature Art Galley (in Tulum): $unknown
- Those pieces of art are very high quality and very colorful. I highly recommend to visit this place, even for the pleasure of your eyes.
- Ecopark Kantun Chi $50 entry fee per person, all day.
- The place features 5 cenotes and an underground river.
- This site has been the best so far, offering different types of experience along the tour, from underground caves with magnificent pools and stalactites rooms, to open air large swimming areas
- They have 3 packages to choose from:
$29USD- Access to 4 aboveground cenotes. No guide.
$59USD- Access to 4 above ground cenotes. Guided tour of underground rivers and caves.
$79USD- Access to 4 above ground cenotes. Guided tour of underground rivers and caves. Guided tour of a 5th private cenote that offers cliff jumping. Traditional mayan lunch.
19.Coba Ruins: $?
-Coba is deep in the jungle a 45 minutes drive off of Hwy 307 just before Tulum. There is a lot more to see here than Tulum including large temples/pyramids. Taking a collectivo here can be done but its not recommended. It’s better to rent a car and drive yourselves in or take a tour.
20 Cirque Du Soleil: $70 per person. Show only.
- Between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen
-JOYÀ: Show at Riviera Maya, Mexico | Cirque du Soleil
- Muyill: $5 entry fee per person,
- There is only 3 buildings but their shapes are very cool, 2 of them are very photogenic and you will walk maybe 1km around.
- However, find your way to the Lagoon, boat ride and canal float.
- There is a path behind the Castello which leads into the jungle. Follow it and you will come upon a hut where you can pay another small admission fee and walk on a nature trail into the Sian Ka’an Reserve (Sian Ka’an Biosphere ).There is a steep wooden tower which you can climb for a great view and at the end there is a lagoon, on which you can pay for a boat tour if you feel like it.
- The nature trail has a boardwalk and is really interesting. Total cost for both the ruin and trail is around $10.00 US. Well worth the time and money. You can also rent a boat to take you to the Sian Ka 'an canal for about $40.00 US each. This was one of the highlights of our trip and I have reviewed it separately.
-Small ruins compared to Tulum
- It’s always best to try to time your arrival as soon as the ruins open for the day. Most are open by 8 am.
- Playa del Carmen (Shopping, Sights): $Depends
- walk down 5th Avenue, the local strip, and you can pet wild lions, play with a boa constrictor, sit on a curb and watch a Maruichi band perform for one of the local restaurant cafes. You can enter one of the many beautiful restaurants for a healthy delicious sampling of Mexican or international cuisine.
- Crococun zoo $30 Adult
-Fun experience, lots of animals
-Interactive with birds, crocs, snakes, deer
-Lots of monkeys
OTHER: Cozumel is slightly closer to Mayan Riviera than Cancun, so consider a day trip via ferry from Playa del Carmen to the Caribbean island of Cozumel where you will enjoy world-class scuba diving, snorkeling and aquatic sports, or, simply spend the day relaxing on the beach.
-The water ferry ride takes about 45 minutes each way. (Playa to Cozumel and vice versa). 30 minutes from Mayan Riviera to Playa)
-$20 roundtrip on water ferry only.
-Calica Cruise Shore Excursions in Playa del Carmen - Save 65%!
- Cozumel Caribe Club on the North for Beach. Other beach south Cozumel is Playa Palancar
-There’s a 100 peso pax entry fee that is credited to your meals and drinks. You can spend all day there, snorkel, enjoy the beach and your family can snorkel. It is about a $6 cab ride from the ferry to CCC.
-They have a covered restaurant if it rains and a small pool.
At the end of the day, catch a cab back to town, Shop and have dinner in town and then catch a late ferry back to PdC.
Always plenty to do in the Caribbean! Please share your DIY Budget Excursions you found!