[ Getting Outdoors in Cancun

Cancun: Greener than you think

Every intersection that has an island, and every roundabout are green zones

When you first come to downtown Cancun, you'll probably be driving, walking or taking buses on the main thoroughfares, getting an impression of too much traffic and too much concrete - although there are green islands in the middle of many intersections and all the roundabouts, usually with beautiful flowering shrubs and trees. But there's more. When you want to explore, or when your destination is in walking distance, leave the main avenues on any side street, and behind many condos and commercial buildings you'll find neighborhood parks that make for a much nicer walk, with paved paths (yes, cracked and broken from tree roots, but still, cement paths) and in some cases, playground AND exercise equipment.

There are far more such stretches of grass than Google maps show. In the center of town, there's a long park area between Bonampak and Ave Tulum in the section just north of Plaza las Americas.  From either avenue, just walk down any street : Tierra, Lluvia, Agua, Fuego - and follow the paths to a delightful stretch of green, that Google doesn't even hint at.

Heading north from there, between Bonampak and Nader there are a number of small, shady park spaces.

Some of these neighborhood parks are recognized by name.  Parque Gaia is an extensive park, mostly shady, between Acanceh and Circuito Copan - that is, just a couple of blocks west of Plaza las Americas.

I don't know the name of the park that runs for about five blocks from calles Reno and Venado on the north (Just south of Xcaret / behind Office Depot) to close to the southern curve of Labna - all just a block west of Ave Tulum, but I cut through there instead of walking along Av Tulum. You'll nearly always encounter joggers and dog-walkers in this pleasant neighborhood.  Some parks are (nearly) litter free and posted to try to keep them that way; others get no respect at all;  but I still find these routes to be a great way to walk through town, away from traffic.

I need to pinpoint more locations, but near Mercado 23 there is good exercise park.  Other neighborhood parks with exercise equipment are in SM 45, east of Kohunlich, and Region 518, Parque Barrio Maya and Parque Terra Nova. I love these facilities: the equipment is sturdy and simple, as you use your own body weight to create a workout. Fun, free, outdoors, how can you beat that?

Exercise equipment in neighborhood park
Exercise equipment in neighborhood park
Exercise equipment in neighborhood park
Park with basketball hoop and paved area

Major Parks

Both Parque Kabah and Ombligo Verde were closed for over five months in 2020 because of the pandemic, but they reopened in September 2020 with shortened hours, 6 am to 1 pm, and a maxiumum capacity of 600 visitors in a day. The government news, in Spanish, was posted here.

Parque Kabah
Entrance to Parque Kabah, with a parking lot, on Av Kabah across from Mega Soriana

Cancun's largest and best-known park, with its northeastern border (and entrance) on Kabah across from Mega Soriana, and its southern border on Av Nichupté, is surrounded with fencing for security - for people and critters. You may be lucky and spot a lot of coatis (coatimundis) scampering about. Several kilometers of paved walking paths have maps at intervals. Good for walking, jogging and enjoying nature - but not for dog-walking, as dogs are not allowed at all. There is a bit of a pond with turtles and a center where classes or presentations may be held. Some of the trees have identifying markers. A relaxing spot for getting away from the bustle of town. Closed by dusk.

Parque Ecológico El Ombligo Verde

A wonderful green space between SM 31 and SM 32; that puts it west of the Mercado 28 area, heading towards Las Plazas Outlet, still on the east side of Av Kabah; a short hike north of the stadium. Like Parque Kabah, it has protective fencing and paved paths. Besides being a lovely natural reserve, the park is an event site for many initiatives, especially those concerned with the environment, health, veganism and animal welfare.