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How to Explore Cancun’s Nichupté Lagoon: Kayak + More

Your Friend the Nomad

How to Explore Cancun’s Nichupté Lagoon: Kayak + More

Trying to figure out how to explore that giant lagoon between downtown Cancun from the Hotel Zone?

It’s called Nichupté Lagoon and is a tranquil place to escape to, whether you kayak through the mangrove forests or go for a walk beside the water.

Nichupté Lagoon was one of my favorite places I visited on my recent two week trip through Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Although I’d been Cancun before, I’d never spent any time on the lagoon and I’m so glad I did this time!

If you’re also interesting in exploring the Cancun lagoon, this article will give you some ideas on how to do it! Plus, I’m sharing the exact Cancun lagoon kayaking experience I booked with an honest review of what I did and didn’t like about it.

Woman on Cancun kayak tour at Nichupté lagoon

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🌴 My Cancun Favorites 👙

🥾 Day Trip to Chichen Itza & Valladolid: Don’t miss Mexico’s most iconic ruins at Chichen Itza and my favorite Yucatan town, Valladolid! For the best experience, book this VIP private tour from Cancun, or check out this budget-friendly option.

👙 Swim in Cenotes: The Yucatan is home to thousands of gorgeous cenotes (natural sink holes) that make the perfect swimming holes! Rent a car and go explore them!

🏺 Mayan Museum: Learn about Quintana Roo’s Mayan history at this museum, located in Cancun’s hotel zone, then explore the San Miguelito ruins onsite!

🌊 Beach Hop: What makes Cancun so popular? Its beaches! There are many to choose from and each are different—check out a few on your Cancun vacation!

⛵ Boat Adventures: Kayak through the mangroves in Cancun, experience a sunset cruise to Isla Mujeres, or rent your own luxury yacht for the day!

🌺 Where to Stay: Oceanview penthouse with private pool at Nizuc Resort & Spa, swim out suite at beachfront luxury Atelier Playa Mujeres (all-inclusive, adults only), lagoon view suite at Casa Tortugas, or budget-friendly quirky La Villa du Golf à Cancun.

Find more of my Cancun favorites and Mexico travel tips at the bottom of this article!

Cancun Lagoon Travel Guide

About Nichupté Lagoon

Nichupte Lagoon is a natural reserve in Cancun, Mexico that takes up over 3,000 hectares (11.5 square miles).

There are seven individual lakes within Nichupte Lagoon, and thousands of tiny mangrove islands. This incredible ecosystem is home to a diversity of fauna and flora and it is a lovely place for birdwatching, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

The lagoon is located between downtown Cancun and the Cancun hotel zone, which is a long island in the shape of a ‘7’ that connects to downtown via bridges. Cancun’s lagoon connects to the Caribbean Sea through the Nizuc channel and Sigfrido canal.

Cancun lagoon map

Cancun Lagoon Kayaking Tour

Kayaking is my favorite way to experience all that Cancun’s lagoon has to offer. Technically you could rent a kayak and explore the lagoon alone, but joining a kayaking tour is a lovely way to support a local business and see parts of the lagoon you might otherwise overlook.

This is the exact Cancun lagoon kayak tour I went on. It lasts about 2-3 hours, depending on your kayaking speed. The kayaking tours are offered twice daily to a small group of people, and tour goes in the follows the same route.

You start by paddling down large canals beside Cancun’s hotel zone until you reach an opening in the mangrove forests and paddle in! The majority of the time is spent in these smaller, quieter canals where you’ll observe a diversity of wildlife—herons and other birds, fish, and perhaps even a crocodile. We were hoping to paddle past an adult croc, but only saw a tiny baby crocodile sleeping on the mangroves. You may also see stingrays, starfish, jellyfish, and a diversity of fish and birds.

We were extra thankful that our guide encouraged us to do our best not to disturb any wildlife and grab any trash we saw floating in the water. By advocating for the protection of natural ecosystems and cleaning up trash on a daily basis, eco friendly tours like this end up blessing the local community!

Also Read: 12 Cancun Hidden Gems: Cancun Off The Beaten Path

We were the only people on our tour, which made it extra tranquil as we explored the mangroves. Our guide encouraged us not to bring any electronics besides our GoPro (with this handle that makes it float) and let us leave our belongings in the company’s truck.

He took photos of us throughout the experience and even offered to share some high quality images of the wildlife we saw along the way, but all the photos you see on this article are the ones we took on our GoPro 11.

Overall, it ended up being one of my all time favorite kayaking experiences and reminded me of kayaking through the bayous of Louisiana and Ten Thousand Islands in Florida. Even if you don’t typically like kayaking (I’ll admit it usually isn’t my favorite activity), this experience is still worth it as it takes you places you’d never be able go in a larger boat or even on a paddle board.

More Cancun Lagoon Tours

Although I loved my kayaking experience, there are plenty of other Cancun lagoon tours if you’re in the mood for something different.

🌅 Cancun Lagoon Paddleboarding at Sunrise or Sunset: Another tranquil ecotour of Cancun’s gorgeous lagoons. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to explore the mangrove forests as much on this Cancun SUP tour (compared to on this kayak tour) but this is a great tour for anyone who wants to experience chill, peaceful sunrise or sunset on the lagoon. Tour details.

🚤 Nichupté Lagoon Speedboat Adventure Plus Snorkeling: This is one of the most popular tours in Cancun with almost 900 five star reviews from vacationers! You’ll drive a two-person speedboat through the lagoon and also get the chance to snorkel at the coral reef. The tour itself is focused on more the boat ride than learning about the lagoon, but still gives you a chance to jet through this beautiful nature reserve. Tour details.

🤿 Nichupté Lagoon Jetskiing and El Meco Reef Snorkeling: This Cancun jet ski tour combines a fun ride through the lagoon with snorkeling. The whole experience lasts only two hours but gives you a glimpse of the lagoon, and the chance to snorkel at Cancun’s El Meco Reef. Tour details.

Also Read: My Favorite Cancun Day Trips: Cenotes, Ruins + More

Woman watching the sunset at Nichupté Lagoon Cancun

More Places to Experience the Cancun Lagoon

Waterfront Park (My Favorite)

This small park beside the Bonita Blue Mangrove Canal Zone and Puente Calinda bridge is my favorite spot to chill by the lagoon on Cancun’s Hotel Zone. I’m not sure if it has a more official name, but it shows up on Google Maps as ‘The waterfront park‘.

The sunsets here an incredible, but its also a lovely place for a picnic, walk, or just to watch the boats come into the lagoon from the nearby canal that connects to the Caribbean.

Tajamar Malecon

Tajamar Malecon is Cancun’s waterfront boardwalk that is situated on the western side of Nichupté lagoon near downtown Cancun. It’s the perfect spot for walk or bike ride and people watching!

Cancun Lagoonfront Restaurants

There are tons of Cancun restaurants with a view of the lagoon. I enjoyed dining at The Pink Coconut Cancun, a vegan restaurant overlooking the lagoon. A few other options to choose form include La Buena Barra, Navíos, Cancun Lighthouse Restaurant, The Caribbean galleon, and Puerto Madero Cancún.

Also Read: Visiting El Rey Archaeological Zone in Cancun

Cancun Lagoon FAQs

Are there alligators in Cancun’s lagoon?

No, there are no alligators in Cancun but there are crocodiles in the lagoon. Although crocodiles live in Cancun’s lagoon, they keep to themselves and do not attack humans unless threatened.

How deep is Cancun lagoon?

The depth of Cancun lagoon varies, but is only up to 6-8 feet deep in most parts.

What are the best hotels on Cancun’s lagoon side?

Some of the highest-rated hotels on Cancun’s lagoon include:

🐢 Casa Tortugas Hotel (One of my favorite Cancun hotels): This gorgeous hotel on Cancun’s lagoon is one of the only boutique hotels in Cancun. The property features a beautiful infinity pool and it is close to Cancun’s beaches but still tucked away and private. Check current prices.

🌴 Sina Suites: Budget-friendly suites on Cancun’s lagoon. Each suite features a kitchen and balcony. The property has a pool and onsite bar! Check current prices.

🚤 Villas La Marina: Simple, clean villas on Cancun lagoon, each with several bedrooms and a kitchen, making this a great place for families and groups! The property features a pool with a view of one of Cancun’s lagoons. Check current prices.

Can you swim in Nichupté lagoon?

While swimming in Nichupté lagoon is technically allowed, most people avoid it because of boat traffic and crocodiles. The lagoon itself is close to Cancun’s Caribbean beaches, which are much more popular for swimming.

What types of animals are in Nichupté lagoon?

Nichupté lagoon is home to a diversity of wildlife, including herons and other birds, fish, crocodiles, and even some oceanlife like starfishes and stingrays.

Yacht in Cancun lagoon with sunset in background

Where to Stay in Cancun

👙 Atelier Playa Mujeres: Escape to the secluded beaches north of Cancun and stay at this luxury resort in a room with your own swim-out pool! This is an all-inclusive, adult-only resort.

🌺 Nizuc Resort & Spa: Stay at Punta Nizuc, which is known to have the best snorkeling in Cancun! This resort has a beautiful property and many rooms have private pools!

☀ Casa Tortugas: Stay in a lagoon view room at one of Cancun’s best boutique hotels, located conveniently in the hotel zone.

🌿 La Villa du Golf à Cancun: This quirky budget-friendly boutique hotel is situated in a quiet neighborhood with a beautiful pool and garden.

Getting Around Cancun

🚕 Taxi: I’ve taken a lot of local taxis in Cancun and usually have a positive experience, but every so often a taxi driver tries to rip me off. Be sure to ask for the price before you get in the car so they can’t overcharge you!

🚘 Private shuttle: Many tourists choose to book a private shuttle from the airport to their hotel. Ask your hotel about this option.

🚌 Public bus: Cancun has a surprisingly good bus system with busses running between the hotel zone and downtown every few minutes. The busses are cheap ($12 pesos), safe, and efficient. I also highly recommend ADO buses for regional travel between Cancun and other parts of Mexico!

👟 Walking: Some parts of Cancun are walkable, but it is very spread out. If you only need to travel short distances between your hotel and the beach, walking is always a great option!

🚙 Renting a car: Renting your own car is the best option if you want to explore more of Mexico outside of Cancun. Compare local rental companies here.

🚌 Guided tours: If you don’t rent a car, you can still visit other parts of Mexico on day trips with a local guides. I usually book tours through Viator and have always had a great experience—I always read reviews before booking to make sure I’ve chosen the best possible tour.

My Favorite Things to do in Cancun

🥾 Day Trip to Chichen Itza & Valladolid: Don’t miss Mexico’s most iconic ruins at Chichen Itza and my favorite Yucatan town, Valladolid! For the best experience, book this VIP private tour from Cancun, or check out this budget-friendly option.

⛵ Boat adventures: Kayak through the mangroves in Cancun, experience a sunset cruise to Isla Mujeres, or rent your own luxury yacht for the day!

👙 Swim in cenotes: The Yucatan is home to thousands of gorgeous cenotes (natural sink holes) that make the perfect swimming holes! Rent a car and go explore them!

🏺 Mayan Museum: Learn about Quintana Roo’s Mayan history at this museum, located in Cancun’s hotel zone, then explore the San Miguelito ruins onsite!

🌊 Beach hop: What makes Cancun so popular? Its beaches! There are many to choose from and each are different—check out a few on your Cancun vacation!

More Yucatan & Quintana Roo Travel Guides

✨ The Ultimate Bacalar Itinerary: 1-7 Days in the Lagoon of Seven Colors

☀ The Perfect Valladolid, Mexico Itinerary: 1-7 Days

🚤 Ultimate Guide: Muyil River Float and Mayan Ruins

🛵 The Ultimate Guide to Renting a Scooter in Cozumel

🐢 How to Visit Xcacel Beach Turtle Sanctuary Near Tulum

Cancun Travel Guides

Final Thoughts: Nichupté Lagoon Cancun

I hope you get to experience the magic of Nichupté lagoon in Cancun like I did! If you have any questions about this gorgeous natural ecosystem, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer! And as you plan your other Mexico adventures, be sure to browse my other Mexico travel guides.

This post How to Explore Cancun’s Nichupté Lagoon: Kayak + More first appeared on Your Friend the Nomad.

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