The Best Things to Do in Cancun with Kids
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. The best time for visiting Cancun is any time of year. Families can enjoy plenty of sunshine, gorgeous beaches, archaeological ruins, and adventure parks. 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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Where to Stay in Cancun with kids
If you’re looking for the best all inclusive resort in Cancun for families, we would highly recommend Finest Playa Mujeres. This all inclusive resort in Cancun checks all the boxes for families headed to the area. We also love Royal Uno Cancun.
There are also several properties that offer overwater bungalows in Mexico, many are close to Cancun.
Other properties we enjoy include: Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, and Nizuc Resort and Spa.
If you want to explore Cancun on your own, we recommend getting your own transportation. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car in Cancun.
What to do in Cancun with kids
1. Cancun beaches
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 Cancun beach 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. Beachfront restaurants and lounge chairs dot 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.
Lifeguards 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. Cancun day trip 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. Or if you prefer, book a catamaran trip and try some snorkeling along the way.
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3. Visit Xcaret with kids
One of the best-known eco-adventure parks in the area is Xcaret Cancun, 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 nighttime 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 stingray 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 the 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!
Our favorite Xcaret tour is Xenotes. This one is definitely better for older kids with an adventurous streak. Visitors will zip line, jump from cliffs, kayak, and swim in cenotes. This is one of the best tours in Cancun for families!
4. Swim with whale sharks in Cancun
Visitors can usually find whale sharks in Cancun from mid-March to mid-September. There are plenty of Cancun tours to book, and boats head out to Isla Mujeres, Holbox, and Isla Contoy. What’s not to love about swimming with gentle giants of the sea? This is the perfect activity when visiting Cancun with teens and older kids.
5. Explore Mayan ruins near 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.
We explored the Coba ruins with kids, and let’s just say scaling the pyramid is not for the faint of heart. The ruins are about 2.5 hours from Cancun and it’s easy to book a tour through Viator or your hotel.
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 in Cozumel
The trip from Cancun to Cozumel is an hour-long car ride, plus a forty-five minute ferry, but if you have the chance to go snorkeling 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 off-roading 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 in Cancun
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. Our teens loved this on our Cancun vacation.
Another option is to take a tour of some of the better-known Cancun cenotes, like Dos Ojos, Cenote Azul, and Gran Cenote. Be sure to bring water shoes for hiking and swimming.
Looking for other articles about Mexico? Don’t miss the best things to do in Cabo with kids and what to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids.
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Going, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.