Cancun is the perfect destination for your next family vacation. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or seeking adventure, this hot spot on the Yucatán Peninsula has it all! Some of the best things to do in Cancun with kids include playing on white-sand beaches, exploring ancient ruins, diving into cenotes, and visiting family-friendly theme parks.
There are plenty of resorts and attractions to enjoy in the Cancun hotel zone. When you want to get out and explore, there are plenty of exciting adventures to be found! Want to know more about my family’s favorite things to do in Cancun with kids? Keep reading for a diverse array of activities for the whole family.
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Table of Contents
Check Out the Top Family Activities in Cancun
1. Visit the Best Cancun Beaches
If there’s one thing Cancun is known for, it’s the stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. And it may seem obvious that one of the best things to do in Cancun with kids is head to the beach! 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 with young kids because of the small waves, the shallow water, and lots of activity.
There’s bungee jumping from a nearby tower, volleyball courts, snorkeling, and more. Beachfront restaurants and lounge chairs dot the sand, allowing parents to enjoy the view while kids play.
Another popular beach outside the hotel zone is Playa Delfines. 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 aren’t restaurants on the beach, so bring your own snacks or try something from one of the local vendors selling food along the beach.
2. Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun
You can usually find whale sharks in Cancun’s warm waters from mid-March to mid-September. One of the most unforgettable things to do in Cancun with kids is to swim with these gentle giants! This is a perfect activity when visiting Cancun with teens and older kids.
There are plenty of Cancun tours to book, and boats head out to Isla Mujeres, Holbox, and Isla Contoy. Most of them look like this full-day tour, which leaves from Playa del Carmen for Isla Mujeres. Your guide knows all the best spots to find whale sharks. And after your memorable experience, you’ll enjoy lunch and a swim at a secluded beach!
3. Go Snorkeling in Cozumel
If your crew is looking for the best place to snorkel in Cancun, it’s hands-down in the waters off of Cozumel. Just be prepared, because the trip from Cancun to Cozumel starts with an hour-long car ride followed by a 45-minute ferry (that can be quite choppy if it’s a windy day). But if you have a chance to go snorkeling at El Cielo Beach, take it!
El Cielo is located on the southwest side of Cozumel and is famous for its resident sea stars and sting rays. The shallow waters are crystal clear, too, offering prime viewing for snorkeling tours! It’s just one of 3 stops on Cozumel on this 4-hour small-group tour that’s perfect for families. You’ll also visit two different coral reef gardens and see tropical fish and sea turtles.
4. Cancun Water Sports
When it comes to the best things to do in Cancun with kids, water sports should be at the top of your list. You’ll find a variety of exciting water activities for families at many of the beautiful beaches along Cancun’s hotel zone.
There are vendors offering gear rentals for a day of kayaking, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and even jet skiing. Or if you prefer a guided experience, you can book a guide to take you on a water-propelled jetpack adventure or a scuba diving tour!
One great idea is to take surfing lessons. Cancun’s gentle waves make it a great place for beginners, and most instructors are wonderful at teaching kids.
Whether your children are riding their first wave or honing their skills, surfing is an excellent way to bond and enjoy the ocean.
5. Take a Day Trip to Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos
A day trip to Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos is a great choice for families in Cancun. This is a must-do if you want a unique experience! On this full-day tour to Las Coloradas and then Rio Lagartos, you’ll explore nature and have a memorable adventure.
Las Coloradas, located about 3-hours outside of Cancun, is famous for its bright pink saline lakes. The color comes from the high salt levels and microorganisms living in the water. After touring the lakes, you’ll learn how salt is processed.
Then you’ll take a guided boat tour through nearby Rio Lagartos, a natural reserve. The park is home to flamingos and herons, and you may even see some crocodiles. The tour also includes a buffet lunch at a local restaurant and round-trip transportation.
6. Explore Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a quick 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, with ferries leaving every half hour throughout the day. The island is known for its stunning crushed coral beaches and turquoise blue water. It’s the perfect place for snorkeling with the kids and spending a day at the beach.
Once you’re on the island, you can get around by foot, or rent a bicycle or golf cart. The island is compact and easy to navigate.
Playa Norte on the northeastern shore is known to be one of the best beaches in Cancun. There are cabanas and loungers for rent and restaurants and bars just off the beach.
Kids will enjoy a visit to the Tortugranja (Turtle Farm), a sanctuary where they breed sea turtles that are released into the local waters. Then, 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, since it’s cheaper than the hotel zone. Or if you prefer, book a catamaran trip and try some snorkeling along the way.
7. See an Underwater Museum
Visiting the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) is a unique experience that’s not to be missed in Cancun. MUSA is an underwater museum located off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc.
You can visit through guided tours like this one, where a knowledgeable guide provides insight into the art installations, marine ecosystem, and the significance of MUSA’s conservation efforts. During your tour, you’ll explore MUSA by snorkeling!
MUSA features a stunning collection of over 500 sculptures submerged in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. These sculptures are made from environmentally friendly materials that encourage coral growth, making the site a living reef.
The sculptures not only provide a breathtaking visual experience but also raise awareness about the preservation of the world’s coral reefs and the importance of marine life conservation.
8. Go on a Pirate Ship Dinner Cruise
If you have theater kids or want a different kind of sunset cruise experience with the family, consider booking your spot on one of the pirate-themed cruises to be found in Cancun! Both Captain Hook Pirate Dinner Cruise and Jolly Roger Pirate Show offer high-quality experiences from the moment you step aboard.
Enjoy swashbuckling fun during the entire 2-hour experience! You’ll head out on open water for a delicious dinner and open bar while you enjoy an interactive show.
The cast stays in character the entire time and you’ll have plenty of opportunities for photos. At the end, they clear the deck, bring out a DJ, and have a dance party!
9. 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. And while you don’t need the kids to have a great time here, this park is definitely one of the top things to do with kids in Cancun. There are challenging adventures for older kids and entertaining areas dedicated to younger children as well.
Xcaret is an amazing experience, being a water park, theme park, and an eco-archaeological park in one! Plan on spending an entire day here.
You’ll go on a snorkeling tour, swim in underground rivers, and visit archaeological sites. There are also traditional Mayan performances, animals, food, and a nighttime light show. Something for the entire family!
But did you know that Xcaret has 8 different unique theme parks in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
There’s also Xel-Ha, a family-friendly water park in Riviera Maya. Xel-Ha Park is popular for its diverse water slides, but that’s just the beginning! You can go snorkeling in coves and cenotes, cliff jumping, or ziplining, or take on a kid-friendly obstacle course. There are manatee and stingray encounters as well as scuba activities. It’s a full day of adventure for everyone.
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!
10. Explore Mayan ruins near Cancun
Most of the Mayan ruins are a long drive from the hotel zone, so I recommend visiting with older children. Chichen Itza is a popular archaeological site, being one of the most well-preserved sites.
You can 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.
My family also 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 Tulum ruins, and spend some time relaxing at the beach.
Need to stay close to the hotel zone or don’t want to rent a car? Across from Playa Delfines are the El Rey ruins. There’s a small entrance fee and it’s worth the stop. You’re free to roam the archaeological park and you’ll probably see some wild iguanas!
If you want to explore Cancun on your own, I recommend booking a rental car. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car in Cancun.
11. Zipline at Selvática
One of my favorite ways to explore Cancun is on an outdoor guided adventure, and that’s what you get at Selvática. You’ll see the rainforest from the canopy while you challenge your courage with zipline courses, rope bridges, off-roading tours, cenotes swims, and more!
Have you gone ziplining before and think you’ve seen it all? Not this one. Selvática’s 10 different courses include an Aquazip where you’ll get soaked, a zipline coaster, and a “superman-style” zipline! Plus, it’s perfect for everyone in the family ages 3 and up (8 and up for ATV tours).
When you book your tour, it includes lunch reservations at the park. And you can choose to upgrade for transportation to and from Cancun.
12. 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 through the jungle 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.
13. 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’re magical to experience and perfect for families to explore.
Xenotes Oasis Maya Tour takes you to 4 different cenotes, each with its own personality. Families can enjoy fun activities like kayaking, ziplines, 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.
14. Try All the Food
Sampling local food is the perfect way to elevate your family trip to Cancun, especially when you have kids of all ages in tow! Children can be picky eaters, but Mexican cuisine offers a wide range of options, from mild to spicy, so they can find something they love.
When you explore Cancun’s culinary scene with your kids, you’re introducing them to the flavors and traditions of Mexico. Taking a Cancun street food tour or a Mexican cooking class is an excellent way to do this.
These experiences provide hands-on learning and a chance to savor authentic Mexican dishes like tacos, tamales, and churros. Plus, it’s a fun adventure to taste local specialties from street vendors or try your hand at cooking together.
15. Go Shopping
You might want to take a day to relax in the air conditioning and enjoy burning some cash. Or maybe you want to pick up souvenirs at a local flea market. Either way, you’ll find what you’re looking for when it comes to shopping in Cancun.
Located in the Hotel Zone, La Isla Shopping Village is an open-air mall featuring a wide range of stores. You’ll find luxury brands and Mexican boutiques, along with dining options and a scenic lagoon.
Adjacent to La Isla, Kukulcan Plaza caters to a range of budgets and offers shops selling clothing, jewelry, and traditional Mexican souvenirs.
If you prefer designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and more, head to Luxury Avenue. This high-end shopping center is popular for its beautiful setting and variety of high-end retailers.
A popular mall in Cancun is Plaza Las Americas. It boasts a mix of local and international stores, a food court, and an entertainment center. Plus, there are a few different locations you can check out in downtown Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
16. Play at Parque Las Palapas
After a low-key day eating and shopping off-site, spend your afternoon relaxing in downtown Cancun at Parque Las Palapas. This popular city park is a gathering place for visitors and locals alike.
There are cheap food stalls along one side of the park, as well as covered picnic tables. Little ones will enjoy the playground.
You might stumble upon a local event or concert happening during the summer, or just come to enjoy live music and street performers. It’s also a great place to pick up souvenirs from vendors selling handmade items.
17. Learn at the Interactive Aquarium
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Cancun with kids during the rainy season, the Cancun Interactive Aquarium in the Hotel Zone.
With your admission, you’re able to interact with sea stars, manta rays, and other sea creatures. The whole family will have a great time at this small but high-quality aquarium.
There are hands-on exhibits, floor-to-ceiling habitats, and fun shows. The staff at the Interactive Aquarium is welcoming and ready to answer any questions your kids have. Exhibits are in both English and Spanish. And for an additional fee, you can add on experiences like dolphin encounters and sea treks.
18. Croco Cun Zoo
Animal lovers can also visit a local zoo to learn about Mexican wildlife at Croco Cun Zoo You’ll find this hands-on wildlife sanctuary located just south of Cancun.
It’s one of the best things to do in Cancun with kids and the perfect place to get up close and personal with a variety of animals, including crocodiles, monkeys, and birds.
When you visit Croco Cun Zoo, you’ll see the sanctuary through guided tours where you can learn about the animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts.
Where to Stay in Cancun with Kids
Some of the best things to do in Cancun with kids can in fact be found at the fabulous all-inclusive resorts in Cancun for families. After staying at several, I feel confident recommending the following resorts:
- Finest Playa Mujeres: This all-suite resort checks all the boxes for families headed to the area.
- Hilton Caribe Cancun: My family absolutely loved Hilton Caribe, with its top-notch kids’ club, planned family activities, and variety of dining options.
- Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach: If you want to stay in the hotel zone with all kinds of things to do on and off the resort, check this one out.
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya: This luxury all-suite resort in Playa del Carmen will not disappoint with a dedicated family zone!
- Nizuc Resort and Spa: When you stay at Nizuc Resort, you can enjoy a secluded locale, beach access, family-friendly attractions, and more.
Plus, if you’re looking for the unique experience of staying in one of the overwater bungalows in Mexico, you can find many close to Cancun!