Avoid the crowded tour buses bound for Chichen Itza and Tulum, and instead head to the less-trafficked Mayan city of Cobá for a daylong tour ($119), which includes transportation to and from your hotel. Climb Nohoch Mul, the tallest Mayan structure on the Yucatán Peninsula, visit the town of Tres Reyes to learn about contemporary Mayan culture, and then have a traditional meal that includes handmade tortillas, rice and beans, and chicken spiced with achiote and other native ingredients.
Leave the beaches behind to discover the best diving sites in the Yucatán at the inland cenotes ($157 for two dives, including transportation, equipment, and lunch), sinkholes that double as entrances to underwater cave systems, of which this region has three of the world’s largest. Certified divers — you’ll need to show your Open Water Certification — should spend at least half a day exploring Chac-Mool and Kukulcan, both of which offer superb displays of light and shadow.
Ride ATVs through dense, narrow jungle paths on a two-hour tour ($60–$70) of the undeveloped coast south of town. Your guides will help you spot troops of spider monkeys and lead you to spectacular dry caves and little-known, completely unexcavated archaeological sites overgrown with vegetation.