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The Best Way To Explore Nichupte Lagoon In Cancun!

Last updated on May 1st, 2024 at 01:04 pm

Nichupte Lagoon is every bit as important to Cancun as the pristine white sand and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. An incredible ecosystem in its own right, exploring Nichupte Lagoon is definitely worth including in your Cancun itinerary.

In this post I’ll share what I believe to be the best way to explore Nichupte Lagoon. I’ll give you some tips and advice for getting the most out of your experience and, for those seeking even more adventure, I’ll offer some additional options for exploring this incredible place.

What is Nichupte Lagoon?

Nichupte Lagoon (also written as Nichupté Lagoon and Laguna Nichupte) is a mixed fresh and sea water lagoon covering an area of over 3,000 hectares.

It is the meeting point for seven lakes or bodies of water, namely Bojorquez Lagoon, English River, Mediterranean Lagoon, North Basin, Central Basin, South Basin and Laguna del Amor. It also includes the Nichupte Mangrove Flora and Fauna Protection Area which was established in 2008.

Protection of the Nichupte mangroves is essential to the coral reef system of the West Coast National Park of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc. Archeological remains of the Mayan culture had also been found further adding to the need for the area to be protected.

Image shows Cancun's Nichupte Lagoon

Where is Nichupte Lagoon?

You will find Nichupte Lagoon right in the heart of Cancun, Mexico. In fact, Nichupte Lagoon extends along the entire Hotel Zone and a smaller part of downtown on Cancun’s eastern coast.

Image shows part of the Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun and is taken from the roadside

How Deep is Nichupte Lagoon?

Although Nichupte Lagoon is very large, it’s actually not as deep as you might think at approximately 1.5 to 2 metres. There are some shallower areas, however these are really only accessible by jet ski, paddleboards, kayaks and boats.

What Lives in Nichupte Lagoon?

There is plenty of wildlife on, in and around Nichupte Lagoon. This incudes birds, fish, iguanas, turtles, crabs, starfish, stingrays, leopard frogs, crocodiles and apparently even dolphins!

Can You Swim in Nichupte Lagoon?

Given the presence of the Nichupte Lagoon crocodiles, the answer is no! That said, there are apparently some areas where crocodile sightings are less prevalent and therefore swimming is deemed safe. My advice however would be not to swim unless advised by authorities that it is safe to do so.

Image shows a sign warning people against swimming in Nichupte Lagoon due to the presence of crocodiles

The Best Way to Explore Nichupte Lagoon

There are plenty of water activities available for visitors to enjoy but for me, the best way to explore this vast home to bird and marine life is by kayaking Nichupte Lagoon.

Let me say from the outset, I am not an experienced kayaker, far from it! My first time kayaking was in Alaska back in 2019 and my second in Costa Rica in 2020. Kayaking in Cancun was, however, the first time I had been in a single kayak.

Whilst there are various kayak tours to chose from, I joined this sunset kayak experience operated by Go Kayak Cancun and can highly recommend it.

Why Choose Kayaking?

There are various benefits to kayaking which make it such a good choice for exploring Nichupte Lagoon, including:

Environmental

  • Powered by a person and not a machine, a kayak has less impact on the surrounding environment than alternative modes of transport. This is especially important where there are protected mangroves
  • You feel as though you are part of the environment within which you’re kayaking, close to the vegetation and wildlife in its natural habitat whilst maintaining respectful distances

Exercise

  • your arms and core muscles will get a good workout
  • notwithstanding what were generally calm waters, kayaking can help improve your balance

Being Outside

  • fresh air, nature and vitamin D are always welcome
  • kayaking is a fun and relaxing way to explore and learn and is often a real adventure!

Confidence

  • kayaking is relatively easy to learn, especially with the assistance of a good tour guide
  • you can build your confidence in your kayaking technique and water sports generally
Image shows the author of this blog post exploring Nichupte Lagoon in the best way...by kayak!

What to Expect on a Kayak Trip on Nichupte Lagoon

Getting There

Depending on which kayaking trip you book, you may need to make your own way to the relevant meeting point. This could be some distance from your hotel so be sure to factor in time to get there, especially if you are taking a sunrise or sunset tour (I say this from personal experience!).

What’s Included

Your tour should begin with a safety briefing and some general kayaking tips and advice.

From my research before travelling, it seems that most of the tour companies operating in the Lagoon will provide you with the following:

  • a kayak and paddle
  • life jacket
  • tour guide
  • storage for belongings and/or possibly a dry bag
  • water
  • snack
  • photos
Image shows a kayak awaiting guests on a kayaking tour of Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun Mexico. Kayaking is the best way to explore Nichupte Lagoon

What to Take

Most tour companies will have a list of things you should take with you, however I took:

  • water
  • waterproof case for my phone/camera
  • dry bag
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • small towel

What to Wear

Kayaking is a water sport so you’re going to get wet! In addition to water spray, you will need to get into the water in order to get into the kayak so your feet and shoes will also be wet. This is what I wore:

  • water shoes
  • long sleeve rash guard to protect me from the sun
  • quick drying shorts (made from fabric with UV protection)
  • sunglasses
  • hat

I would advise against jeans! One person in our group did wear them and they were sodden and uncomfortable by the end. Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to wear jeans when in or on any water.

Image is taken by the author of this blog from a kayak on Nichupte Lagoon.

Getting onto the Water

Once your safety briefing and lesson are over, it’s time to head out onto the water. My guide was careful to ensure all kayakers got from the starting point and out across the water safely, particularly as there were various boat rides operating in the area. Follow the advice of your guide in this instance, particularly when it comes to managing the wake of a passing boat (if in doubt, face into the wake).

Image shows a kayak on the shore of Nichupte Lagoon

Exploring!

This is the fun part! As you move into the Lagoon there is opportunity to see the different colours of the water – tidal movement causes this to change.

Image shows the turquoise waters of the Nichupte Lagoon. Exploring by kayak is the best way to see Nichupte Lagoon

Travelling into the different channels you will start to see more wildlife, particularly birds and then in quieter areas you will hopefully be as lucky as I was and see a stingray!

Our guide then led us through the mangroves. This is much more of a squeeze but here you can use your hands to move your kayak along when it’s too narrow for paddling.

Image shows kayaking through the mangroves on Nichupte Lagoon

I saw several starfish in these quieter waters however and then, the best of all, a baby crocodile! Unfortunately, the baby (estimated at about 5 months old) swam off the log it was perched on as I was getting set to photograph it! My tour guide however did supply me with the photo below, albeit taken on a trip before mine.

Emerging from the mangroves we had some some wonderful views of a Caribbean sunset.

Image shows the sun setting over Nichupte Lagoon with 2 kayakers in view.

We had a stop for some water and an energy bar (included with our tour) which was a great opportunity to take more photos and speak to the guide before heading back to our starting point.

Throughout the tour our guide was explaining what we were seeing, providing background and historical information and showing us things we simply would not have seen for ourselves.

My tour was scheduled to take two hours but was closer to three by the time we finished. Overall, it was an excellent experience and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

Image shows kayakers in Nichupte Lagoon. The best way to explore Nichupte Lagoon is by kayak.

Nichupte Lagoon Kayak Trip Tips

Kayaking in Nichupte Lagoon is one of the best things to do in Cancun. To ensure you get the most out of your trip, here are my tips:

  • give yourself time to get to the meeting point – the Hotel Zone is 22.5 kilometres long so you could be some distance from where you need to be at the appointed time
  • wear comfortable, quick drying clothing with UV protection
  • take sunscreen and bug spray (reef safe and biodegradable)
  • make sure your camera battery has enough charge for the duration of your trip (at least)
  • if you’re a beginner or still relatively inexperienced, don’t panic in the busy water or when dealing with the wake of a boat. Stay close enough to your guide to hear their advice
Image shows kayakers moving through the mangroves in Nichupte Lagoon. The best way to explore Nichupte Lagoon is by kayak.

Further Ways You Can Explore Nichupte Lagoon

In addition to kayaking, you may want to consider some further options for exploring Nichupte Lagoon such as this wildlife tour or this fly fishing trip.

Other adventurous options include:

1. This Jungle Tour Adventure with Speed Boat and Snorkeling

2. This Standup Paddleboarding Experience

3. This Jet Ski and Snorkel Adventure

4. This Romantic Dinner Cruise

Final Thoughts

Nichupte Lagoon Cancun is, notwithstanding its size, a hidden gem in a sea of Caribbean beauty (see what I did there?!). Granted it’s not a jungle or a beach or a Mayan ruin but its calm water, flora and marine life make it a special place visitors can go to explore, learn and have fun in Cancun.

There are plenty of ways visitors can experience the Lagoon, but for me, the best way is by kayak. My experience of kayaking in Cancun is one that will stay with me and I would strongly encourage you to include it within your itinerary.

If you are looking for further things to do in Cancun, be sure you read my post on making a perfect Cancun itinerary here, my post on taking a cenote tour here and my post on the best way to visit Chichen Itza here.

If you need any general assistance with planning a trip to Cancun, click here for my Resources page.

Image show beautiful sunset over Nichupte Lagoon. The best way to experience the lagoon is by kayak.

Disclaimer – Information correct at the time of writing but do check before visiting

Disclosure – This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you book something using them, I will earn a small commission but you will not pay anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

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