If you’ve been dreaming of a family holiday to Cancun, it can seem a bit daunting—after all, this is supposedly the home of wild parties and spring break shenanigans. However, scratch the surface of this popular sun-soaked city and you’ll find ancient culture, delicious food, rich animal life, and plenty to keep both little ones and bigger kids entertained. Here are some of our favourite activities for any family holiday to this historic and scenic destination.
Give your kids a chance to get up close and personal with some of Mexico’s amazing animal life at the Interactive Aquarium. This holiday highlight will let your children marvel at piranhas, rays, clown fish, sea lions, and more of the region’s famous wildlife—plus, if they are real adventurers, they can hop on in with the dolphins or even snorkel alongside sharks.
This one-of-a-kind playground is a great way to get the kids outdoors and trying new things—they’ll be raving about adventures like their zip line, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rides, and other exciting activities. These aren’t just for kids, either—the whole family can join in, making memories together. Now, doesn’t that sounds nicer than a wander through a souvenir shop?
This boulevard is one of Cancun’s central delights. Safe and clean, this wide strip is a main drag that connects many of the city’s resorts—while no one would claim that it has old-fashioned Mexican charm, it is a good concentration of restaurants, shops, and other sights to entertain little ones, with plenty of trees and access to beaches.
4. Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a gloriously laid-back island about five miles long, with friendly beaches. It can be reached via a 20-minute ferry ride off the mainland, so it makes for a good break when the city is getting to be all a bit much. However be warned: The undertow can be significant, so you’ll want to double-check before sending little swimmers into the water—even grown-ups may choose to relax on the sand instead, building sandcastles and making fun memories. The island is also home to Dolphin Discovery, which will allow your family personal encounters and swims with not only dolphins, but also manatees and sea lions.
5. Chichen Itza
For a day trip from Cancun, consider Chichen Itza, home to Mayan ruins and plenty of history. Among the main buildings, which include such colourful names as the Temple of the Jaguar, the Temple of the Descending God, and the Temple of the Warriors, you’ll encounter architecture that dates to over 1,000 years ago. The kids will love wandering through the temple grounds, and you’ll all find yourself marvelling at this ancient—and advanced—civilisation.
The numbers of shallow, bio diverse reefs in Cancun make it a great place to get wet and explore some underwater life. This reef system is the second-largest in the world, making it a must-visit for any enthusiastic swimmer or outdoorsy kid.
Cancun is heaven for swimmers and snorkelers, but it’s also a fabulous place to try diving—and it’s also the only place in the world where you can visit an underwater museum! Statues were sunk here beginning in 2009 to give coral a protected area and place to grow, and as time goes on, the site takes on an ever-changing and eerie personality. Whether you’re a certified, experienced diver looking for a fun distraction, or you want to introduce your kids to the water, there are dives available to the underwater museum for all experience levels.
8. Yucatecan cuisine
The Yucatan in renowned for its culinary traditions, and no wonder. The geographic isolation of the region helped it to develop its own flavours over the centuries, and now you’ll find a heritage that combines the fresh, spicy tastes of Mexico with a variety of dishes from Europe and North America. For a great family-friendly dining, try out authentic Mexican food at Pik Nik, or dine outdoors in the relaxed setting of Tacun.
9. El Rey ruins
These ruins are easy to find, in the middle of Cancun’s hotel zone. Inhabited as early as 900 AD, El Rey provides a glimpse into ancient life in a way that few other sites can, and with the ease of staying right in the city centre.
Half the fun of this vibrant city is strolling along and discovering a new favourite restaurant, beach, or hideaway. There is no lack of things to do in Cancun—the city has evolved well past its party reputation to become a relaxing destination for travellers of all ages.