Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

6 Great Western Caribbean Shore Excursions

Stingray City is one of the best excursions in the western Caribbean. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Stingray City is one of the best excursions in the western Caribbean. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Six of the best western Caribbean shore excursions are exciting and memorable. Some of the best are obvious. Others have an unexpected surprise.

All of them usually require signing up with an excursion operator. These tours often cost $50 to $100 or more per person with occasional discounts for children.

Following are some of the best and most memorable excursions in the western Caribbean based on our many trips to the region.

1 - Grand Cayman

Stingray City is one of the first and most famous of all the excursions where visitors can interact directly with exciting sea creatures. The story began when fishermen anchored their boats at a sandbar to unload untrails from their catches.

Stingrays began to eat the entrails and started living at the sandbar. Fishermen eventually got into the water—which is about three feet deep—and fed the stingrays by hand. Eventually, the stingrays became used to human contact.

Stingray City is now one of the most popular family excursions in the Caribbean. Excursion operators take visitors on boats out to the sandbar. Visitors get into the water with snorkeling gear to watch the stingrays glide by them—and in some cases touch them.

Unlike most of the popular excursions, this one usually costs less than $100 per person. It’s one of the best values for the money of any excursion in the Caribbean.

2 - Jamaica

Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios is another famous natural attraction. These cascading waterfalls are about 800 feet long and 180 feet tall, making them easy to climb. Visitors form a daisy chain and hold hands as they climb up the cascading platforms of water to the top.

It is an ideal Caribbean family excursion. We had a great time climbing them and of course got very wet.

Excursion prices start at less than $100 per person. But prices may exceed $100 if they include other stops such as The Blue Hole.

3 - Cancun

Chichen Itza
Mayan observatory at Chichen Itza. © 2020 Scott S. Bateman

The best shore excursion for anyone visiting Cancun sadly isn’t anywhere near the city. But it’s well worth the 90-minute drive by excursion bus to get there.

Chichen Itza is an astonishing complex of massive Mayan ruins. First built around 900 A.D., it is the second most-visited archaeological site in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Chichen Itza is a highly educational and interesting excursion for adults and children alike.

These tours usually cost about $50 to $75 per person.

4 - Belize

The Central American country of Belize has another Mayan connection that is the most visited excursion in that country.

Visitors can go river cave tubing at Sibun Caves Branch Archaeological Park. After a one-hour drive, they go hiking through the jungle to a river that goes underground. After jumping in the water with a tube and lighted spelunker helmets, they float on the river through a long cave where Mayans held religious rituals.

Tours cost about $70 to $90 per person depending on the date, amenities and other factors.

5 - Panama

Western Caribbean cruises that travel down the Central American coast often stop at Panama for one of the most famous attractions on the continent: the Panama Canal.

The canal offers a chance to experience education, adventure and ecotourism in one visit. It offers adventure on Lake Gatún and an educational experience on how the canal works at the Lake Gatún locks.

6 - Cozumel / Mexican Riviera

The Mexican island of Cozumel and Riviera Maya on the east coast of Mexico are close to each other and share some great shore excursions.

Cruise visitors to Cozumel can take a 45-minute ferry to Playa del Carmen, the dominant city on Riviera Maya coast, to enjoy one of the best tourism districts in the Caribbean at Fifth Avenue. Riviera Maya resort visitors can visit the same with just a quick drive.

Resort and cruise visitors to the area also can drive 38 miles south of Playa del Carmen to tour the Mayan ruins at Tulum.

The Tulum ruins are the only known seashore ruins of the Mayan people. Their location on a cliff adds to their beauty.

The ruins are the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico after Teotihuacan near Mexico City and Chichen Itza.