You’re onto something if you’re thinking about visiting Cancun with teens! Located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, this popular seaside destination is known for its pristine beaches, thrilling adventure parks, and all-inclusive family resorts. Cancun can be the ideal choice for a family vacation full of exciting activities and rich history. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Cancun with teens, then keep reading.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Table of Contents
Best Things to do in Cancun with Teens
One of the most popular things to do in Cancun with teens is exploring underground waterways along the coastline called cenotes. Xcaret runs a tour called Xenotes, offering a guided tour of some of the areas unique natural swimming holes.
You can schedule a pick from your resort or hotel and go on several different memory-making adventures!
Xenotes offers different packages where you can swim in the crystal-clear waters of these protected cave lakes, or kayak between connecting cenotes while you take in hanging gardens far above you. For the brave, go with a rappelling or ziplining tour straight down into a cenote!
2. Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto is another spectacular cenote that is a must-see when you travel to Cancun with teens! Just 90 miles south of Cancun, it’s worth the short drive to this ecological site that offers different half-day tours for the whole family.
What makes Rio Secreto different is that it’s a connected system of cave lakes and an underground river full of breathtaking geological formations.
The classic tour includes everything you’ll need to venture into the cenote, including a wetsuit, a hard hat with a light, a towel, and even a meal at the end. You can also opt in for transportation from Cancun for an additional fee. Other tours take you deeper underground where you’ll see limestone caves that others rarely get to experience!
These tours include a cycling portion above ground, and chances to rappel, snorkel, and more in the calm waters of the cenotes. You can even book a private tour in exclusive caves that include a personal photographer.
For more water-based activities in a natural setting, consider a day at Tulum’s Xel-Ha. This is a water park set on an inlet of the ocean. Plus, it’s an Xcaret park, so you know there are top-notch opportunities for all kinds of water-based and land-based adventures in a natural setting!
In addition to exploring several cenotes, guests will have unlimited access to turquoise waters for snorkeling, cliff jumping, and swimming. You can enjoy native tropical fish, or even swim with dolphins and manatees!
The aquatic theme park has something for every member of the family, including a water park for young kids with water slides and wading pools. Challenge yourself with rope courses and ziplines over the water or relax in water tubes under mangrove trees.
When you’re ready to get out of the water, there are nature trails and even ancient ruins to check out. There are also a handful of restaurants and cafes at Xel-Ha for when you get hungry. This is an all-inclusive experience so meals and drinks are included.
Just as exciting, the thick tropical forests surrounding Cancun offer a variety of activities for thrill-seekers. Take your young people to Selvática for guided tours that include multiple experiences for a day that will leave you more than satisfied!
You can see the adventure park from the treetops with dozens of ziplines and rope courses, including bungee swings, water courses, and fast superman-style zip lines. On the ground, try your hand at mudding in an ATV before you swing on a rope into 2 different cenotes to cool off.
Selvática offers half-day and full-day small-group tours of the park with friendly guides for anyone that’s 3 years of age or older. You have to be 16 to drive the ATVs.
Tours include lunch, and alcoholic drinks are available for purchase. You can add transportation from select locations for a small fee, as well.
Xavage is a one-of-a-kind adventure park by Xcaret with 10 fun activities for those who are not faint of heart!
Choose between a Basic or All-Inclusive admission for access to different parts of the park. With Basic admission, you can enjoy a children’s water park with a family pool, canals for kayaking, and 4 levels of rope courses.
The All-Inclusive admission is really where your adrenaline gets pumping, with white water rafting, jet boat tours, monster truck ATV courses, and superman zipline courses! What’s great about both admissions is that it includes unlimited snacks and a buffet meal.
TIP: Purchase tickets in advance to get a discount.
6. Xplor Fuego
From 5:30 to 11 PM, you can explore the park’s many land and water activities, including their many popular zipline courses, ATVs, and cenote tours. It’s a special way to see the park with everything illuminated by torches and colorful lights.
The ziplines include the tallest courses found in the Riviera Maya, as well as the fun Hammock Splash where you ride a hammock into a cenote for a swim! Or explore the park’s jungle trails and underground caves (some of which are underwater) in a special amphibious ATV.
You won’t just get a guided tour of the famous underground rivers of Cancun. You’ll get up close and personal with self-guided rafts, swims, and spelunking expeditions.
The park itself is absolutely beautiful at night, with everything centering around El Corazón. Take a picture or enjoy a complimentary BBQ buffet that comes with your admission. In between adventures, you can rest in hammocks around the park.
7. Boat Trip to Isla Mujeres
A great way to see Isla Mujeres is by visiting the Garrafon Reef Park on the island. Just four miles off the shores of Cancun, admission to this beautiful natural park gives you access to the island for the entire day!
Boat rides depart Cancun as early as 9 AM. After you enjoy a scenic boat ride, you’ll arrive at Garrafon 25 minutes later and have free reign of the park and Isla Mujeres.
Garrafon Park offers a variety of activities, including snorkeling the reefs off the coast, kayaking, ziplines, and swimming with the dolphins. You can also rent a golf cart at the park and spend the rest of the day exploring this wonderful island!
There are tourist shops and restaurants, as well as historic sites. It’s also really cool to walk around Punta Sur. This nature reserve has a lighthouse and stunning views of the Caribbean Sea at Mexico’s westernmost point!
8. Cancun Water Sports
Mexico’s premier tourist destination, you can try all kinds of water sports when traveling to Cancun with teens, no matter your skill level! Along the 14-mile-long Zona Hotelera, you’ll find a variety of local tour companies that will take you out.
Try an unforgettable hour-long parasailing trip with stunning views of the coastline and the sea from above.
Or go with Jet Ski Cancun and zip through the water all day. They offer jet ski rentals, or you can choose from a few different jet ski tours.
9. Take Surfing Lessons
The entire length of the Zona Hotelera, or Hotel Zone, you’ll find welcoming surf schools that offer classes and rentals. Surfing the waves off the white-sand beaches is a wonderful time and it’s perfect for adults and kids of all ages, as well!
The waters off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula create decent waves that are perfect for new and moderately experienced surfers alike.
From Punta Cancun down to El Rey, you can walk into a dozen different surf schools. One of the top-rated is 360 Surf School. You can book a single-person or family lesson. Book one day or multiple days as well! They’ll teach you everything from how to wax your board to the physical and mental skills needed to stay on your board.
Another great option is Good Vibes Surf School, that’s known for its patient and welcoming instructors. You won’t feel rushed during your session, and you’ll get on the waves on your first day!
Cancun is the perfect place to try out snorkeling for the first time! While you can’t swim in the protected waters of the Nichupté Lagoon, the westward beaches reaching out into the Caribbean Sea provide a great setting for both new and experienced snorkelers. Book a tour on your family trip to Cancun from one of the many quality tour companies in the Hotel Zone.
Cancun Adventures has a variety of small-group tours geared towards families, like trips to Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres. You can enjoy seeing tropical fish up close and gain experience snorkeling! They also offer combination tours that include catamaran or speed boat rides.
Total Snorkel is perfect for beginners with tours just for first-time snorkelers. There are also packages that include parasailing and snorkeling or snorkeling by moonlight or in cenotes.
11. Swim with Whale Sharks
When you’re looking for things to do in Cancun with teens, swimming with whale sharks is something they’ll never forget! This unique experience is your chance to get close to the gentle giants off the coast of Islas Murejes.
I recommend this tour for anyone who knows how to snorkel. Your guide will pick you up, take you on a scenic boat ride to find the whale sharks, and then you’ll jump in with your snorkel gear!
After getting close to these majestic animals as they feast on plankton, you’ll go to a relaxing beach on Isla Mujeres for a swim and a delicious lunch. Throughout your tour, your guides will share interesting information about local sea life and point out views at each location you visit.
12. Sunset Cruise
Everyone should experience a Cancun sunset from the water. Book a catamaran sunset cruise to Isla Mujeres and back for a fun time!
This five hour tour starts with an afternoon on the northern end of Isla Mujeres. You can go with guides for a tour of the town center, or just explore the island on your own. After that, you’ll rejoin your group at Playa Norte and enjoy a swim in the turquoise waters.
To round out your cruise, everyone will reboard the catamaran for drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic are available) and music. This tour is like a party on the water that’s perfect for all ages. Dance the night away while you take in the reds and pinks of a Caribbean sunset with Cancun in the foreground.
13. ATV Rides in the Jungle
While you could visit an adventure park, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a curated experience with your own guide. The whole family will have a blast in the jungle with this ATV tour at an ecological park!
You’ll start off with a muddy run through jungle trails on ATVs. Next, observe a Mayan ceremony and cool off in a beautiful cenote. Follow up with zipline courses for all skill levels. Make new friends on this small group tour and finish the day off with a delicious meal at a local restaurant.
14. Cobá Ruins
A trip to Cancun isn’t complete without seeing some of the ancient ruins scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s pretty easy to rent a car and drive there in about 2-hours or there are tours available.
You’ll enter the archeological site in the jungle and realize that Cobá is different from the other Mayan ruins you’ll find in the area. It’s a large, uncleared site, full of trees and vines. It feels much less like a museum, which is the feel of the other sites that are more structured and manicured.
This is a very minimalistic park with tons of walking, but it’s also the largest of all the ruins! So, eat before you go and wear good shoes.
You will pay admission at the entrance if you choose to go on your own, and there’s even an option to rent a bicycle to explore the grounds. If you prefer to have everything arranged ahead of time, we recommend booking a Coba tour.
Tulum is not only home to the most beautiful Mayan ruins, but the surrounding area is worth taking a day to explore. Just a short drive south of Cancun, Tulum offers more beautiful beaches on the open water of the Caribbean Sea, but also much less crowded beaches than Cancun. It’s an easy starting point, also, if you’re planning on visiting the other sites mentioned in this post.
The Tulum Archaeological Zone sits on bluffs overlooking the ocean with a perfect view of the sunrise. It’s significant because it’s the only walled city the Mayans ever built. In fact, “Tulum” translates to “wall” in Mayan.
16. Day Trip to Chichén Itza
UNESCO named Chichén Itza one of the New 7 wonders of the world, and it’s the most visited ruins site, known for its impressive and historically important structures.
While traveling to Cancun with teens, you can explore 26 different Mayan ruins across two eras of the Mayan reign, including the famous El Castillo.
The ruins are open to guests every day, and you’ll need tickets to enter. At night, there are separate tickets for a light show, which is a really cool way to see the ruins!
Try to book tickets well in advance because this is a popular place and there are a limited number of tickets sold per day. When you get your tickets, you can also find out about group or private tours around the complex. You can enjoy significant discounts on admission if you are a Mexican citizen or own a residence in the country.
17. Mayan Tours Cancun
The best way to see the Mayan ruins while you’re in Cancun with teens is to book a full-day Mayan Ruins tour that allows you to visit at least 2 of the archeological sites that are close to each other.
This tour includes a scenic drive with lots of information from your knowledgeable guide. After visiting Tulum and Cobá, you’ll cool off with a cenote swim and lunch in Playa del Carmen.
If you prefer a full-day tour of the Cobá site, go with a private tour like this one and meet your guide at the park. You’ll ride bikes around the grounds and even climb some of the pyramids.
It’s a wonderful way to learn about the history of the Mayan ruins at Cobá and learn valuable information from a local.
18. Day trip to Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos
Not too far north of Cancun is the small, off-the-beaten path of Las Coloradas, and it’s worth a visit! This fascinating place is famous for its flamingo pink lakes, which result from man-made lakes used to extract salt.
Don’t let this disappoint you too much, since salt extraction here has been a long-standing tradition dating back to the Mayans. Still, when visiting Cancun with teens, the lakes are worth a trip (make sure to take lots of pictures).
If you prefer, you can book a small group tour where your guide will give you the full story of the history of Las Colorados. On the tour, you’ll also visit Rio Lagartos. This beautiful national park has acres of mangrove trees, white sand beaches, and salt marshes. It’s also home to pink flamingos, which are the same shade of pink as the salt lakes!
19. Cancun Street Food Tour
Downtown Cancun is a great place to enjoy the local food culture. Why not have a fun day with the family by booking a small group food tour with a resident guide with a passion for the city.
They’ll pick you up from your lodgings for 3 to 4 hours exploring a local market and street food stalls. You’ll get to try Yucatecan food, Mexican barbacoa, ice cream, and more. See the sites and take in vibrant street art as you sample delicious Mexican classics.
20. Shopping in Playa del Carmen
As you explore the coastline, don’t miss out on the best shopping in Playa del Carmen. About a block north of the beaches is Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue.
This is a pedestrian street that runs about 20 blocks lined with everything from restaurants and gelato shops to artisan stalls and big brand stores. There are even pharmacies if you need them. It’s a great place to pick up a swimsuit or souvenirs to take home.
In classic Mexican style, don’t expect an open and closing time on 5th Avenue! You can expect most of the shops to be open around 10 AM to 10 or 11 PM. This actually works out to be a benefit of traveling to Cancun with teens who like to sleep in!
Most shop prices are in pesos, but US dollars are accepted. While you should carry pesos on you, most locations will accept cards these days.
21. Cirque de Soleil JOYÀ
After days of outdoor family activities, spend an evening at a Cirque de Soleil JOYÀ in Cancun. This show celebrates every aspect of Mexican culture and history. I highly recommend not skipping dinner. Get the VIP tickets, or at least the Dinner, Show, & Champagne tickets.
The show is split into four different themed acts, and the delicious food prepared by the chef aligns with each act! If you’re going to Cancun with teens, this is a must. The gorgeous theater is also just a short drive from the Hotel Zone, and you can add transportation to and from the show when you purchase your tickets.
Whether you’re visiting Cancun with kids or teens, you’re sure to find plenty to entertain them and create memories that will last a lifetime!