The Internet Says These Are The Best Family-Friendly Things To Do In Cancun

Family vacations are the stuff dreams are made of, literally. After all, a great trip can cement memories in your kids' minds for years, if not decades. That's why choosing the best destination for your next holiday is essential — no wonder you've decided on a trip to Cancun. This popular destination is packed with family-friendly things to do. Whether your brood wants to whoosh down a water slide, soar above trees on a zipline, or soak up some rays on a soft beach, they'll do just that and so much more in Cancun. You won't hear the dreaded "I'm bored" mantras while on vacation here. 


The fact that Cancun is home to some of the area's best all-inclusive resorts only adds to its allure for families with kids of all ages. Many of these accommodations are filled with attractions like water parks, lazy rivers, and entertainment, with the kid-approved bonus of access to all the food and drinks they can handle. Don't have much time off work? No worries, Cancun is an easy place to get to for a weekend trip, and you'll have plenty to keep you occupied. We studied multiple articles written by family travel experts, researched each attraction, and sifted through online reviews to ensure the places on this list are the best family-friendly things to do in Cancun. All you have to do is have fun.


Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres

It's not hard to see the allure of Isla Mujeres. A quick 35-minute ferry ride from Cancun, this idyllic isle is home to beautiful beaches, Mayan ruins, a turtle farm, and the MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum (more on that later). Another bonus for families traveling with young children: The beaches are fronted by calm, shallow waters, which make for safe swimming.


Be sure to visit Playa Norte during your day trip to Isla Mujeres. One of the best beaches in the Caribbean, you'll find this pristine spot on the north end of the island.  It lies a mere 0.4 miles from the ferry. That means your kids won't have to complain about their little legs getting tired on the walk to the sand. Plus, it's close to the downtown area's restaurants, bars, and shops. If your kids are confident swimmers, book a snorkeling tour. Tip: Ferries depart from Puerto Juarez every half hour from 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and every hour after.

Snorkel with rays at Xcaret Park

If you're vying for a parent of the year award, take your kids to Xcaret Park. Pronounced esh-car-et, this is one of the Riviera Maya's most popular attractions for good reason — it's packed with family-friendly things to do. Part eco-archeological park, part theme park, part water park, there are so many activities on offer that you'll want to arrive early and leave late for your best chance at trying them all. From swimming in underground rivers and exploring Mayan ruins to watching cultural performances, there are over 50 activities to choose from. 


Add on an Adventure Kids package for even more excitement. Children can feed sting rays and snorkel with them in a natural lagoon. Don't worry, it's safe! This half-hour program is designed for kids between 4 and 10 years of age. Over 48,000 people have reviewed this impressive park on Tripadvisor, giving it a 4.5-star rating for its fun children's zone, interesting shows, underwater river, and butterfly area. They do mention the high prices, which can be well over $120 per person for those over 12 and over and around $90 for kids between 5 and 11, depending on which package you choose. Kids 4 and under get in free.

Explore the history at El Rey Ruins

Unlike Chichen Itza, which takes over two hours to reach (more on that later), the El Rey ruins are super easy to get to. They're located right in Cancun's Hotel Zone. In other words, you won't have to drag the kids away from the beach for an entire day — just half an hour should be enough to explore the historic ruins and the attraction's namesake, a sculpture that likely depicts a king.


Dating to the Post Classic era (between 1200 and 1450 A.D.), the ruins are intriguing. While you might be wowed by the history that lurks within these ancient walls, your kids may be more interested in the ruins' quick-footed residents, iguanas. The grounds are small, and there's no shade, so be sure your family members wear sunblock and hats. If the kids still have energy to spare, visit the nearby Mayan Museum of Cancun to learn more about the Mayan past and culture.

Board a Captain Hook Dinner Cruise

Ahoy matey, is your crew hungry? Book a journey on the Captain Hook Dinner Cruise and set sail on the high seas for a tasty meal and show that your kids arrr (sorry, we had to) bound to enjoy. Be on board 45 minutes before the ship departs, which is 6:30 p.m. every day, for an unforgettable evening of fun. Cannon fire signals your departure, while a full-on "battle" will erupt later in the evening. When the captain says, "Enemy ship aside," prepare to see "pirates" jumping from one ship to another in an attempt to protect their vessel and its passengers. 


They're armed with swords and guns to make things feel even more realistic. Dinner, dancing, games, and contests take place throughout the evening, with plenty of seafaring excitement for pirate lovers. Your kids are sure to be amazed. Are you worried it will feel too hokey? It could, but Tripadvisor reviewers claim this cruise is "hilarious fun," "a great overall experience," and they think the "engagement from the performers was great." 

Take a guided tour to Chichén Itzá

Though technically not in the city (it lies 122 miles west), touring Mayan ruins like Chichén Itzá tops many lists of the best things to do in Cancun. This iconic place to visit is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Expect crowds during your trip, as this top tourist attraction receives more than 2.5 million visitors annually. Since this isn't the quickest place to get to (the ride will take about two hours and 15 minutes), we suggest booking a guided tour and bringing snacks and water to keep kids placated on the long drive. 


Many resorts will offer tour packages, but there are plenty of organized trips to choose from if you're hoping to book an excursion on your own. Some even include lunch and a swim in a nearby cenote. Be warned, these tours last all day, so if your kids aren't up for a lengthy adventure, you might want to save this for a romantic couples' trip in the future. Viator offers an air-conditioned VIP Chichen Itza Private Tour, which will travel there in the morning "so that you can avoid the crowds and heat that come later in the day," the website notes. It stops at a cenote for a swim and in the town of Valladolid for lunch and a wander.

Ride the lazy river at Xel-Há

To explore the attractions at Xel-Há, you're going to want to carve out a whole day. A 200-acre fun zone, this natural water park bursts with activities the whole family will love. That said, pack lots of sunblock (biodegradable only, please), arrive early, and get ready for a day filled with adventure. From snorkeling to riding an inner tube along a lazy river to ziplining into the water, there's a seemingly endless array of things to do. Trust us, no one's getting bored here. 


The park is massive, which means you won't have time to do everything. Therefore, we suggest looking at a map before you visit to pick and choose your must-try activities. Here, you'll find a cenote to swim in, cliffs to jump from, an overwater ropes course (if you slip, you're getting wet), a rope swing, jungle trails, and so much more.

Children's World is a must-visit for those with little ones in tow (only kids up to 12 are allowed inside). They, too, can enjoy adventurous experiences on water slides, a crocodile tunnel, a playground, and rope climbing. Reviewers on Tripadvisor say Xel-Há is "great for all ages," "as nice as a tourist attraction can get," and "an absolute delight." Another wrote, "This was the best part of our trip to Riviera Maya."


Explore the underwater world at MUSA

A trip to MUSA, Cancun's underwater museum, is a magical and unforgettable experience perfect for families of older kids (tweens and teens). One of the most popular attractions in the region, it may not be as much fun for younger children, but older ones will surely find this location fascinating. Located off the coast of Isla Mujeres, this unique museum is best enjoyed while snorkeling or scuba diving, although glass-bottom boat tours are also available.


Ultimately a conservation project, MUSA has 12 underwater galleries filled with about 500 statues. Book a tour to explore this majestic spot, but depending on which company you choose, the minimum age for snorkeling participants could be as young as 8. That said, the snorkeling tour at the gallery of Punta Nizuc Departing from Cancun booked on MUSA's site has a minimum age of 4.

Jump into a cenote

It's hard to describe the otherworldly feeling you get from jumping into a cenote (i.e., a water-filled natural sinkhole). Also described as "deep water wells," these magical spots are often found at the bottom of underground caves, and swimming in them is both a relaxing and invigorating experience your kids will remember for years. Thousands of cenotes can be found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, meaning there are plenty to choose from if you're hoping to enjoy this memorable experience. The best way to find them is by booking a guided tour. 


However, some cenotes are sacred to the Mayan people, and some are off-limits to tourists. Open cenotes have been around for longer, their vault or cavern having collapsed years before, leaving a pool-like area open to the air. Cancun Adventures has 3.5-hour cenote and snorkeling tours available for $70 for ages 12 and over and $62 for kids 8-11. You'll get to swim in the calm waters, snorkel amongst interesting sea creatures, and explore caves and caverns. 

Hit the beach

You can't visit Cancun without spending at least one day at the beach — this is what the area is best known for, after all. With so many to choose from, it can be tough to decide where to sprawl your towel. Playa Tortugas is always a good bet for families. Although it can get crowded (this is where you'll find ferries that depart for Isla Mujeres), the beach is large, which means there is plenty of space for people to stretch out. Plus, the water is calm, and there are ample facilities (like umbrella and chair rentals and restaurants).


Playa Delfine is well-liked by reviewers on Tripadvisor. They praise its ample shaded areas, showers and bathrooms, and free public umbrellas. While beautiful, be warned that the waves here can get quite big. Playa Las Perlas, on the other hand, is a local favorite due to its protected waters, which are great for kids who want to swim. Reviewers also enjoy being able to see coral reefs from shore due to the clear water.

Walk with crocodiles at Croco Cun Zoo

You'll only need about an hour to explore Croco Cun Zoo, but you'll learn so much about the attraction's residents that you'll feel as if you've been there for days. Set 24 miles southwest of Cancun's Hotel Zone, the drive to Croco Cun Zoo will take about 36 minutes. All tours are guided by experienced staff members who take their job as animal conservationists seriously. The guides lead tourists around the small zoo, teaching them about the animals who call this area home.


While you walk, look up — spider monkeys roam free in this attraction, and you never know when one will jump from tree to tree above your head. Visitors will also have a chance to feed, touch, and even hold some of the animals, with the bravest of tourists being rewarded with a walk through a crocodile enclosure. Reviewers on Tripadvisor rave about the entire experience, noting the zoo's "knowledgeable and friendly" staff. Many recommend visiting early in the morning to experience the zoo with fewer crowds.

Play for hours at All Ritmo Water Park

The waterpark at All Ritmo Cancun Resort & Waterpark is a must-visit for families with young and energetic kids. The Tree House is where you'll find the classic giant dumping water bucket as well as waterslides and waterfalls. There's also mini golf, a playground, tennis courts, a beach, and a basketball court on the resort's grounds. And if you're so inclined, you could book a room for the night. An ideal place for those under 12, you'll probably want to opt for the more adventurous Ventura Park (which we mention below) if you're traveling with older tweens or teens. 


Reviewers on Tripadvisor commend the ample activities offered, including trivia and other competitions that take place throughout the day. "This is our 3rd time at this resort and our kids had a great time as always. Great family vacation!" one traveler raved. While some said the resort rooms were basic, and the park can get pretty crowded, many liked the ability to be able to sit close to the action, watching their kids from the sidelines while enjoying a cocktail. Tip: Guests of the All Ritmo gain access to the waterpark for free, which otherwise costs $53 for adults and $27 for kids for a day pass.

Enjoy fun activities at Ventura Park

Meals and drinks are included in your visit to Ventura Park, which is a good thing since getting the kids to leave this adventure zone is going to be a struggle. With over 30 attractions on offer, there are enough exciting things to do that you'll likely be here for hours. The park is divided into sections based on various activities, which makes it easier to navigate. Wet'n Wild is where you'll find the water park; Aaah! Ventura houses the ziplines and other aerial activities; Grand Prix boasts go-karts; and Fun World is where smaller kids can run wild on the playground.


Day passes are sold based on the sections you'd like to visit, with the Platinum Pass offering unlimited soft ice cream (they had us at unlimited). No matter which pass you choose, bring a bathing suit and towels, as access to Wet'n Wild is included in all. You'll also need to bring cash, as lockers, photos, and inner tube rentals cost extra. The park is located about 30 minutes from the Hotel Zone, so you'll have to arrange a ride for your visit.

Attend a concert at Parque de las Palapas

One of the best things to do in Parque de las Palapas is eat street food. This buzzy downtown spot is filled with food vendors of all kinds, making it a haven for lovers of Mexican cuisine. The park, which lies just over 6.5 miles west of the Hotel Zone, is home to free concerts, dance shows, and street performers. There is also a large collection of shops selling everything from sunglasses to T-shirts to touristy kitsch. Friday nights are the best time to visit for live music, which begins at 7:30 p.m.  


Reviewers of this park on Tripadvisor have enjoyed the cheap prices and "great food and entertainment." Many of them also commented on the fantastic churros, so try one (or three) while you're there. While many consider this a safe tourist destination, the U.S. Department of State recommends avoiding downtown Cancun at night. If you do go, be vigilant. Otherwise, the Parque is open 24 hours, making it easy to let the kids run around the playground and grab a bite during the day.

Walk underwater at Interactive Aquarium Cancun

If your kids love sea creatures (and honestly, what kid doesn't?), take them to the Interactive Aquarium Cancun. Located in the La Isla shopping center, this family-friendly attraction is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Here, kids over 8 and adults can participate in an Aquarium Trek, a 20-minute-long experience where tourists walk underwater in a large aquarium while wearing a helmet to help them breathe. Other popular, family-friendly things to do include "petting" a ray or starfish in a touch tank and watching a dolphin show.


The aquarium received the "Humane Conservation" certification from American Humane, which means the staff takes great care of the welfare of its animals. Maybe skip the part where you can swim with dolphins to ensure you're respecting the animals. Reviewers on Tripadvisor mention that while this is a good aquarium, you won't need to spend much time here due to its small size, especially if you don't sign up for the extra encounters.

Our methodology

The key to a successful family holiday is happy kids. The key to happy kids is a variety of fun-filled, child-centric attractions. Whether your little ones like to build sandcastles on a quiet beach, eat dinner on a pirate ship, or zip through the trees in a tropical jungle, finding the perfect family-friendly things to do can make or break a vacation. That's why we worked so hard to ensure all the activities on this list are worthy of a visit.


We scoured online reviews, dug through multiple articles written by family travel experts, and took our time investigating each attraction we've included in this roundup to make sure they belong here — this is a list of the "best" family-friendly things to do in Cancun, after all. To keep you and your family safe, we also made sure to investigate travel advisories so you're aware of any potential risks to traveling to Cancun. Luckily, it's a pretty safe place to visit.