Cancun is the perfect destination for families looking to get away. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or seeking adventure, this Yucatan hot spot has it all. Known for its gorgeous beaches, archaeological ruins, and year round temperate climate, Cancun is a dream vacation. There are plenty of resorts to enjoy, but if you want to get out and explore, here are the best things to do with kids in Cancun.
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Best Things to Do with Kids in Cancun
1. Spend the day at a beautiful Cancun beach
It may seem obvious to head to the beach in Cancun, but not every beach is created equal. For a change of scenery from the hotel pool, head to Playa Tortugas. This is a favorite for families because the waves are small, the water is shallow, and there is a lot of activity. There’s bungee jumping from a nearby tower, volleyball courts, and snorkeling. There are beachfront restaurants and lounge chairs on the sand allowing parents to enjoy the view while kids play.
Another popular beach is Playa Delfines outside the hotel zone. The beach offers free umbrellas, so bring towels and secure a spot early. Life guards monitor the beach during the day, offering an extra set of eyes for parents. There are no restaurants on the beach, so bring your own snacks or try something from one of the local vendors selling food along the beach.
2. Make a day trip from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres, a quick 20 minute boat ride from Cancun, is known for its beautiful crushed coral beaches and turquoise blue water. It’s the perfect place for snorkeling with the kids and spending a day at the beach. Visitors can get around by foot, or rent a bicycle or golf cart. The island is compact and easy to navigate. Kids will enjoy a visit to the Tortugranja (Turtle Farm), a sanctuary where they breed sea turtles that are released into the local waters. Finish the day with shopping and delicious fresh seafood from any of the restaurants. *Tip: There are several places to catch the ferry in Cancun. Take the ferry from Puerto Juarez, it’s cheaper than the hotel zone.
3. Visit one of the Xcaret Eco Theme Parks
One of the best known eco adventure parks in the area is Xcaret, an eco-archaeological theme park with over 50 attractions. Plan on spending an entire day at this park which features a snorkeling tour, swimming in underground rivers, and archaeological sites. There are also traditional Mayan performances, animals, food, and a night time light show. Something for everyone!
Xel-Ha is another adventure park in Riviera Maya located on the Caribbean Sea. The park offers snorkeling in its cove and cenotes (underwater caves), cliff jumping, zip lines, and a kid friendly obstacle course. There are manatee and sting ray encounters as well as snuba activities. Definitely a full day of adventure for families.
Xplor is located right next to Xcaret, but focuses more on exploring underground. Visitors can zip-line, ride in amphibious vehicles, swim in underground rivers, and try spelunking. At night the park transforms into Xplor Fuego with fun adventures like zip lining in a hammock and swimming on a lava stream!
4. Swim with the whale sharks in Cancun
Every May to October the whale sharks return to the area around Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla de Mujeres, and Isla Holbox. Whale sharks are the gentle giants of the sea and swimming with them is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Most companies require children are good swimmers and able to snorkel for the best experience.
5. Explore Mayan ruins outside Cancun
Most of the Mayan ruins are a long drive from the hotel zone, so we would recommend visiting with older children. Take a guided tour of Chichén Itzá, just over 2.5 hours driving from Cancun. Here you will learn about the ancient Mayan civilization while touring this UNESCO World Heritage site. Another option is to explore the Mayan ruins at Tulum, about 2 hours from Cancun. The setting of Tulum is stunning, a walled Mayan site majestically overlooking the sea. Go early, walk the ruins, and spend some time relaxing at the beach.
6. Go snorkeling with starfish in Cozumel
To reach Cozumel from Cancun, it’s an hour long car ride, plus a forty five minute ferry, but if you have the chance to go to snorkel at El Cielo beach, take it. El Cielo is located on the southwest side of the island and the water there is very shallow, allowing for prime viewing of the resident starfish and sting rays.
7. Have an ATV or Jeep adventure
Several companies offer a chance to get off the beaten path with an ATV jungle or beach adventure. These typically take place in the jungle landscape of Cozumel and can involve anything from a simple tour to a full day experience. This Jeep tour takes visitors on a Jeep tour before taking a snorkeling tour of the world’s second largest reef. If ATVs are more your speed, there are several companies offering jungle tours through the palm trees with opportunities to see caverns and cenotes along the way.
8. Visit the cenotes
Cenotes are natural swimming holes found throughout the Yucatan peninsula. They are made when limestone collapses and reveals these hidden pools of water underneath. They are perfect for families to explore. Xenotes Oasis Maya Tour takes you to four different cenotes, each with its own personality. Families can enjoy fun activities like kayaking, zip-lines, rappelling, and snorkeling. Another option is to take a tour to some of the better known cenotes, like Dos Ojos, Cenote Azul, and Gran Cenote. Be sure to bring water shoes for hiking and swimming.