Exciting Excursions to Try in Mexico
Updated: Jul 16
During my Norwegian Cruise Line trip in January, we stopped at two ports in Mexico: Cozumel and Costa Maya. These two ports had astonishing views and I was so glad to be able to visit some of the best excursions those ports had to offer! These exciting excursions were booked through NCL and we had $50 excursion credits per port (due to our free-at-sea promotion).
Check out my first-time cruise experience with Norwegian Cruise Line where I also talk in-depth about their free-at-sea promotion.
Cozumel: Tulum Mayan Ruins
Price: $119.00 adult - $75 child
Duration: 7 hours
Cozumel is an island east of Mexico that is a part of Quintana Roo. This island has been one of the biggest tourism spots thanks to its beautiful aqua waters and various marine life. We decided to check out the well-known Mayan ruins in Tulum. What’s unique about this specific Mayan ruins is that it is off of Mexico’s Caribbean coast. You can see the Mayan structures with a beautiful backdrop of blue skies and aqua waters!
Since Tulum is on the mainland of Mexico, we had to take a boat (included in excursion price) to get to the excursion. They pass out little trash bags just in case you get nauseous during the little boat ride because it can get pretty choppy. The boat ride took approximately 45 minutes. Once you arrive on the mainland (city: Playa del Carmen), you will be instructed to find your tour guides who will be holding up signs stating which excursion they represent. From there, they will take you on a one-hour bus ride to Tulum Mayan ruins. The tour guide will provide you with a bag of snacks (juice, granola bar, chips). Also, they will make a stop at a gift shop on the way to the ruins. They have a selection of unique arts, liquor, cigars, apparel, and even snacks!
At the ruins, the tour guide will lead and narrate you through the park. They will hand you some headphones so that you can hear them better when they’re narrating the tour. There were plenty of tour groups when I went, so the headphones definitely helped me better understand the tour guide.
One of the coolest things the tour guide mentioned was how there were still original paints on the Temple of the Frescoes. I have always been fascinated with the Mayan culture since learning about them ages ago in middle school. I absolutely LOVED hearing the history behind these amazing structures from the tour guide. Each structure at the ruins represents different buildings in this Mayan community. In fact, this area was a major trading and religious area for the Mayans. The most breathtaking view on the ruins has got to be the Castillo (pyramid/castle). The castle sits majestically in the middle of the ruins with a beautiful background of the Caribbean waters.
There is a secret beach at the bottom of the ruins that you can actually swim at when visiting the site! Also, be careful of the wild iguanas roaming around the island - they don’t bite, but just be aware of them!
The tour guide narrated our visit for about 45 minutes and gave us some time to explore the ruins ourselves for another 45 minutes. The ruins are big, so make sure to give yourself ample time to get back to the meeting point (usually at the entrance of the ruins).
After the ruins, we headed back to Playa del Carmen to walk around and eat. This area was nice as it had many shopping and food areas to choose from. The restaurant we ate at took our pictures and plastered it on a bottle of tequila - which was a neat little souvenir for us! If you decide not to eat with the group, make sure you keep track of time! From the restaurant, the tour guide directed us to get on the little boat so we can make our way back to the island of Cozumel.
Costa Maya: River Tubing at 7 Color Lagoon
Price: $149/person (includes lunch)
Duration: 5 ½ hours
This river tubing adventure takes place on Bacalar Lagoon. The Bacalar lagoon is also known as the “7 color lagoon” because its water clarity is like no other. The gorgeous shades of aqua in this lagoon are honestly so indescribable! This was my boyfriend & I’s favorite excursion that we did. The excursion itself was extremely relaxing and the tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable!
The excursion starts with a 1.5-hour car ride to Bacalar. During the ride, the tour guide gave us interesting information regarding the lagoon and cenotes that surround this part of Mexico. Upon arrival at the tubing area, the tour guide will instruct you to leave belongings in the van. The van will meet you at the destination point and you can guarantee 100% trust in the van driver/tour company with your belongings. There are bathrooms to use at this facility. Also, there is a little shack that sells apparel and water shoes if you forget to bring yours. You will be equipped with a lifejacket, tube, and paddle. There will be a boat that will pull you through parts of the lagoon that don’t have ample water current. The tour guides will be swimming around you to make sure no one veers off course with their tube. Sit back, relax, and ENJOY this breathtaking experience!!! Trust me when I say it feels like a dream!
Throughout our ride, we saw many stromatolites. Stromatolites are limestones formed by blue-green algae. They are extremely slippery, but they hold an important purpose. Stromatolites are one of the first organisms on Earth to perform photosynthesis and create oxygen! These rock formations made the lagoon an even prettier sight.
You spend 45 minutes tubing down the river and will end up at a beautiful location for lunch. The lunch menu isn’t too shabby either! Originally, we were supposed to get ham and cheese sandwiches but instead, they provided us with chicken fajitas and lemonade! The food was SO GOOD! You also have the chance to swim around and jump off the pier. Definitely cherish these moments, for the stunning views of the lagoon from this location is like no other! I wish this excursion was a little bit longer because I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful view. NCL rates this excursion as challenging on their website, however, I did not feel like it was a challenge at all. The tour guides do a good job of making sure everyone is safe and stays on course.
Mexico is filled with such stunning wonders! Both excursions mentioned were exceptionally amazing and I couldn’t have imagined a much better experience. Doing these excursions didn’t give us enough time to explore the ports itself. If you were interested in exploring the port, make sure to look at the duration of the excursions to ensure you will have enough time back. If you don’t care about exploring the port, then definitely check out these excursions mentioned - you will not regret it! Even if the excursions are long, the tour companies will make sure you get back in time before the cruise ship leaves. Happy exploring ~