This adventure guide for one week in Quintana Roo, Mexico will take you on a road trip from Cancún to Akumal and end in Tulum. The Mexican state within the Yucatán Peninsula is packed full of activities for all the adventurers out there. My adventure itinerary was created for our trip in September so you’ll have all the information you need for the perfect vacation. The itinerary covers how to get around, where to stay, what to eat, and things to do in each city.
Adventurers Guide to One Week in Quintana Roo
Transportation: We flew round trip out of the Cancún Airport, giving us a full day to explore the Caribbean version of Las Vegas. Renting a car in Mexico can get tricky with insurance, some rental centers require high deposits of up to $2,500 USD. Do your research on how car insurance works in Mexico prior to your arrival.
My recommendation if you’re traveling during the off-season is to wait until you’re at the airport to book your rental car. The rental companies at the airport will have more competitive pricing opportunities than you will find online and will negotiate with you. Have them explain the two different insurance options to you before you agree to rent with them.
Adventure Guide: 2 Days in Cancún
Where To Stay
On our last night in Mexico, we had a breathtaking Caribbean sea view. We stayed right in the center of the Hotel Zone to be close to the beach but not too far from the airport for our early flight the next day.
Located on Cancún’s tranquil south shore, ten minutes from the airport, this luxury all-inclusive resort offers accommodations that each come with whirlpool tubs, 24-hour room service, top-shelf drinks, and free WIFI.
Over-the-top amenities are included for everyone, families and couples alike, such as the Playroom for kids, a lounge designed just for Teens; an endless variety of gourmet dining options and bars, a FlowRider® Double Wave Simulator, and world-class entertainment for the nightlife. With the added indulgence of an AWE SPA® for pampering and a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Moon Palace has something for everyone in the family.
This sophisticated beachfront resort lies along white sand beaches, across the street from La Isla Shopping Mall, and within walking distance of some of the best restaurants and shopping malls in the city.
Exotic drinks, barefoot luxury, and activities overlooking the resort’s 8 infinity pools are just part of the exquisite details within this All Inclusive concept. Music worships you at every step, with changes in rhythms that match the emotions you feel and the space around you. The sound is never the same, but always relaxing, exciting and harmonic.
If you are seeking a unique type of adult-centric vacation with fun in the sun by day, and sexy signature-themed parties by night, Temptation Cancún Resort is the place to be. They have seven restaurants, a late-night snack bar, plus a gourmet cafe/deli, representing more than 15 cuisines from around the world. In addition, you will enjoy round-the-clock domestic and international brand alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage service at six different bars.
Where To Eat
Quieres un, café? Brunch at one of the delicious local restaurants. We started our day with coffee and food after an early arrival before heading into the hotel zone. We ate at an adorable coffee shop which had a huge menu of pasteles, and traditional Mexican dishes ranging from sweet crepes to savory huevos rancheros. We had a tough time choosing, so we ordered both (plus a chilaquiles verdes con Pollo).
Flamingos Seafood Kitchen: a spectacular sea view and a large garden area where diners are invited to grill and roast meats during the weekends, children’s play area for the whole family to enjoy, and be sure to check out their Fish Market.
Tuch Cantina Yucateca: known for it’s tasty adult beverages, and creative house shots, they serve traditional mexican cuisine such as Poc Chuc, lime soup, and dogfish empanadas.
Parole Cancún: located in the Bohemian Square complex in Cancun’s hotel zone over the Nichupte lagoon. This Italian restaurant in Cancun is distinguished by its classic dishes with a contemporary twist. Exquisite fresh homemade pastas, fish and seafood prepared with authentic Italian ingredients are the stars of this concept. Read: 5 Reasons to Visit Parole
Things to Do in Cancun
Head to the north side of the hotel zone and spend the day beach hopping down to the Caribbean side. There are 11 public beaches within the hotel zone making it a great spot to rent wave runners. Each beach is unique and offers visitors warm turquoise-colored water along the white sand. Go on a reef and shipwreck snorkeling tour or visit the Chichen Itza ruins with a cenote swim.
Adventure Guide to a Week in Quintana Roo
On our last day of the trip, we stayed in Cancun & explored local restaurants, shops, and accommodations. I regret not planning a water activity for that day, so I would highly recommend doing so. Because it looks like a blast. Next time we’re in the area we plan to rent surfboards, kayaks or paddleboards to explore the area further. There’s also parasailing, ziplining and ATV tours, and don’t forget to try out the flyboard flight!
Adventure Guide: Day Trip to Akumal
Akumal is a small Caribbean community known for its sea turtles! Spend a day swimming with Sea Turtles in Akumal. The town is just a short drive from Playa del Carmen or Tulum making for an easy day trip. You can see the sea turtles on your own or take a guided tour.
We decided to try our luck and explore on our own. Vendors will try and tell you that you MUST join a tour/wear a life vest to see the turtles- this is not true. There are roped-off buoyed areas protecting major turtle feeding areas; if you stay inside the designated swim areas you can explore on your own as we did.
My recommendation would be to arrive at the beach early because the visibility in the water goes down as people swim throughout the day and stir up the sand. If you aren’t going through a guided tour, arriving at the beaches early are your best chance to see some turtles.
Make sure each person has their own mask/snorkel if you choose to search for turtles on your own. Our group had two snorkels/masks for 6 people to share, and only a few of us were able to go snorkeling and spot some turtles. There are plenty of vendors along the town center that sell masks and snorkels for your convenience.
Adventure Guide: 4 Days in Tulum
Along the Caribbean coast, the town of Tulum offers seaside Mayan ruins to explore, sandy beaches for relaxing, and undersea caves for diving. Logan earned his PADI Diving Certification a couple of months before his birthday so that he could dive the cenotes in Mexico.
You can also visit the Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park while you’re visiting Tulum. The park has ziplining, hanging bridges, rappelling, cenotes, and all kinds of adventures!
Where to Stay in Tulum
Are you the penthouse pool with a view type person or a walking distance to the beach, shopping type? These rentals are going to blow you away.
We spent four nights in a jungle paradise. The three-bed three-bath penthouse came with a private rooftop pool, penthouse roof suite, and two bed/bath on the main floor. It was absolutely beautiful and completely surrounded by the jungle.
Where to Eat in Tulum
Budget Friendly: Antojitos La Chiapaneca: Mexican $$
Best Ocean View: Mezzanine; Authentic Thai and casual beach menu includes a legendary Happy Hour if you’re looking for a boozy brunch on the beach, $$$$
Best Tacos: Las Antorcha Food Truck; location varies
Instagram Worthy: Kin Toh; Mayan-Mexican cuisine in a treehouse venue offering guests an experience they’re sure to remember. Enter the restaurant and you will be surrounded by sounds, smells, and decor. Engaging each of your senses. Make reservations in advance, $$$$$
Things to Do in Tulum
Visit ALL OF THE CENOTES! A cenote is a freshwater-filled Mexican sinkhole. The word cenote is of Mayan descent and was originally called dzonot or ts’onot, meaning well. The cenotes played a crucial role in the development of the Mayan civilization. There’s always the classic bike tour you can take to visit the cenotes too.
If you love cenotes, check out all my favorite instagrammable cenotes in Tulum posts! Details on which cenotes give you the best adventure. Find out where you can swim, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak & explore!
Just a few weeks before our trip to Mexico, Logan had completed his PADI dive certification! Dos Ojos was unanimously the favorite dive of the group. Noted as “The World’s Best Cavern Dives” the name Dos Ojos translates to “two eyes”. Which refers to two nearby cenotes connected by a massive underwater cave system shared between the two.
The two caverns start and end in the same area. Each dive routes are unique, giving divers different areas of the cave to explore. The first dive is 500 meters (1,600 feet) along The Barbie Line and leads divers along the opening of the second eye with plenty of daylight to see the stalactites. The dive along The Batcave Line is a much darker route. With little to no daylight entering the cave system. Divers will ascend up the cave to an open-air pocket filled with bats flying everywhere!
There is a 3-in-1 Discovery Tour where you can go reef snorkeling in addition to cenotes caves. Included is a visit to Tulum Ruins.
Kayaking at Casa Cenote
There are over 3,000 unique cenotes throughout the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The cenotes are mostly found in the crater area that formed from the meteorite impact (the same meteorite responsible for the dinosaur extinction in this area). The cenotes are great for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and more! The extensive underground river systems, make this area of Mexico the best place to experience cave diving.
There is a kayaking and snorkeling experience that will take you through the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. You may enjoy this if you are interested in learning more about the UNESCO-listed site’s unique environment.
For the more adventurous, there is cenote paddleboarding and snorkeling in Tulum. Get up close and personal with easy access to the water as you paddle through the mangroves. Just be careful to watch out for alligators!
The ancient Tulum ruins date back to the 13th century. This Mayan archaeological site is located within Tulum National Park and offers breathtaking overlooks of the sea. Further inland, you’ll find the Cobá archaeological site with pyramid-shaped temples and panoramic views of the jungle. There is also a tour that will take you on a half-day trip to the Coba Ruins.