Cancun With Kids

We recently did a trip to Mexico with the kids to Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, and Mazatlan and were blown away by the great food, fantastic beaches, and friendly vibe of the Pacific Coast. Here’s a guest post from a Cancun local.

Top Attractions for Kids and Families in Cancun, Mexico

Beach vacations with the family, what better way to spend some quality time together? Frolicking in the waves, exploring the jungle and learning about new cultures, the Riviera Maya is an ideal place for the whole clan.

With accommodations ranging from luxurious all-inclusive resorts to more economical hotels, beach houses for rent and places to pitch a tent, the Mexican Caribbean offers something for all tastes and budgets. The tours and activities are endless, the hardest part of your vacation will be choosing which exciting adventures you’ll take, and which you’ll leave for your next visit – you won’t have time to do them all!

For most kids, the beach and the swimming pool are enough to keep them happy and entertained for a whole week. The beaches of the Mexican Caribbean are world famous for a reason, sparkling warm turquoise waters and baby-powder soft sand, shells to be collected and waves to be jumped.

The Hilton swimming pool and resort hotel in Cancun, Mexico.

While traveling with kids remember that safety comes first, do not leave kids unattended in the water – there can be some powerful currents in spots! The sun is very strong this far south so use a waterproof sunscreen and reapply frequently, especially if spending hours in the water. Quick dry surf-shirts are a kid’s best friend. Bring your beach toys or purchase them when you arrive – building elaborate sand castles and burying parents up to their necks in sand is a right of passage on family vacations. For little ones, a life jacket is a good idea, inflatable floaties and tubes provide a sense of security and fun in the water.

If you can drag the kids away from the beach, there are a multitude of places where they can still enjoy time in the water. Eco-parks like Xcaret and XelHa are full of surprises and fun for everyone. Snorkel with multi-coloured fish, visit the aquariums, meet some sea turtles and enjoy the flora and fauna of the jungle. Xcaret has an incredible night show that is not to be missed, lights, music and dancing provide an entertaining look at the culture of Mexico. Don’t tell the kids they’re learning something!

Snorkeling is an absolute “must do” in the region. The world’s second largest reef runs down the coast and you’ll find a whole new world in places like Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos and Akumal. Beginner and advanced snorkelers will love the Yal Ku lagoon in Akumal, a protected inlet with calm, clear waters, chock full of sea life. Swimming with sea turtles is an experience you’ll never forget!

For the more adventurous families, the possibilities of fun in the jungle are endless. Selvatica is one of the most popular day trips in the region, with high-flying zip lines over the trees and a dip in a refreshing cenote. Xplor eco-park offers zip lines, amphibious vehicles, and underground rivers in a beautiful setting. Rio Secreto takes you into the depths, exploring an amazing series of underground caves and cenotes (natural, fresh water sinkholes).

For high speed fun, there are ATV tours throughout the region, jeep trips through the jungle and horse back tours up and down the coast. Get your adrenaline pumping!

A great beach for sun and play in Cancun.

The Mexican Caribbean is also home to some of the most amazing historical sites in the world. While very young children may not enjoy the long trip to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza (about three hours from Cancun), the Tulum ruins are closer and easier to do with kids.

Set on cliffs above the Caribbean sea, Tulum’s ruins are beautiful with a fascinating history. Tulum also sits on one of the most spectacular beaches of the region, after getting your fill of Mayan history, you can refresh and play in the waves looking up at the ancient structures.

The Coba ruins (about 30 minutes from Tulum) are unique, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan is found in the heart of the jungle and is the last ruin open to the public for climbing. An experience of a lifetime!

Amazing hotels, perfect beaches, the crystal clear sea, cenotes, water sports, eco-parks, adrenaline-filled tours, and ancient history – the options for a family vacation in the Mexican Caribbean are endless. It’s easy to see why so many people return year after year and always find something new to do. Treat your family to a trip they will never forget.

[Photos by: cvander, lightmatter]

About the author: Kelly is a Canadian who visited Mexico on vacation and never went home. She lives in Cancun with her husband and young child. She blogs at the CancunCanuck.

Further Reading

13 questions and comments

  1. Rhonda from Canada

    Hi David: I have just found your website & am enjoying it. We are going to Mexico in mid February. We will be staying at the Moon Plaace Resort near Cancun. Can you suggest any attractions & day trips that are a must for that area? I hope you have to answer before we leave. Thank you.

    1. David Post author

      Hi Rhonda. This was a guest post so I don’t have personal experience with Cancun. From what I’ve seen and heard however, the cenotes around the Yucatan look incredible. That would be at the top of my list of things to do.

      We’re planning a trip for Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan right now, so I’m just as excited as you. Let me know how your trip goes when you get back.

      Good luck,

  2. A.J from San Francisco

    Cancun has the most kid friendly beaches in Mexico. (Though I guess I haven’t been everywhere.) The food is very kid friendly and there are lot of good restaurants. Absolute 5 star luxury hotels. Incredible. I wonder if people plan this or go without plans. Hmmm. It’s worth getting out of Cancun and visiting some of the day trip attractions that are within a close drive.

  3. Cancun Carol

    Thanks for the information, you mention some good tips for the kids and family. Im really excited about our next trip to Cancun, we are bringing the entire family with us this time.

      1. David Post author

        Hi Nicky, take a look at Jet Blue — they’ll probably have the best deals for you, and they have direct flights too. Could also search Kayak if you’re looking for some more options or different dates. Good luck.

  4. Jordan from Seattle

    I brought my small family to enjoy this historic setting in an attempt to avoid the tourist crowds to the north. We stayed at Las Villas Akumal in a fabulous two-bedroom villa with a spacious balcony overlooking the ocean. We had all the amenities of a top class hotel with the comfort and atmosphere of a private residence on the beach, and all at a very excellent rate.

  5. Steve

    Down on a cruise, then a convention, then some time with the kids and the whole family. Cancun is a wonderland.

  6. Jen

    The best beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean. And lots to do for kids. Resorts have kid friendly activities – kid’s club get togethers I think they’re called. Restaurants have great food for the adults and kid friendly menus for the young ones. A great family vacation spot! Hurricanes can be a bit of a worry but they’ve never affected us.

  7. Jake from Houston, Texas

    Stay at the beach. Sleep at the beach. No seriously, incredible beaches there. Enjoy.

  8. Sheri from New York

    Just planning our trip to Cancun with the 2 kids and this was reassuring. Thanks. We’re on a tight budget but the beach is there for everyone right?

  9. U.K. from Atlanta

    Nice piece. Cancun is an eclectic mix of things to do, great beaches and great swimming. And there are times of the year when you can feel like the only one there. There are some great deals to be found on hotels – sometimes just a few weeks outside of the peak season.


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