Kids’ Cancun: Excitement Abounds in Mexico’s Surprising Family Hotspot

Oma H. Barnett

Though the term “Cancun vacation” historically conjures up mental imagery of inebriated college students on a wild spring break getaway, Cancun has in recent years become one of Mexico’s most popular escapes for families with children of all ages. Cancun is the perfect locale for parents and kids looking for an exotic escape to explore and have fun in a family-friendly environment.

Fun if by land…

For a fun adventure back in time and a must-see site, head out on a Yucatan day trip to visit the famous ruins at Chichen Itza, the ancient hub of the Mayan civilization. The archeological site is over 1,000 years old and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Mexico. Climb ancient pyramids and temples, and explore how one of the most celebrated groups of ancient people lived as you give the kids a history lesson at a site that was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Jungle tours are also a popular half-day trip for families. Take a guided trip through the lush jungles of Cancun with an off-road jaunt in a Hummer or Jeep. The kids will delight in seeing hundreds of species of iguana in their natural habitat, and can keep their eyes peeled for other exotic reptiles and insects nestled in the various jungle swamps. Older kids might like to try a high-flying adventure on one of many zipline tracks among the Cancun treetops.

For the more adventurous families, renting an ATV can be an exciting way to create a unique escape as you set out on a rogue daytrip. Strap the kids in tight, grab a map and spend a few hours as your own self-appointed tour guides!

…even more if by sea

Families that love the ocean will want to take their little water bugs to Cancun’s shores for a day at the beach. Sift through the soft white sand to hunt for sea glass and shells or build a sandcastle with the whole family. Take a quick dip in the blue waters, or rent some snorkel gear to explore the various coral reefs and marine life, including brightly colored fish that will have the kids convinced they’ll be finding Nemo beneath the ocean’s surface.

Charter a sailboat for the day for a fun ocean jaunt, enjoying a leisurely day sail. For families looking for more to explore on their nautical adventure, rent some fishing rods and grab some bait and tackle to take the kids on an unforgettable Caribbean fishing trip.

One of Cancun’s most popular floating attractions for kids and parents alike are the various pirate ship boat tours. Step aboard an authentic pirate ship and prepare to be entertained by singing and dancing pirates as you dine on the high seas. Captain Hook Pirate Cruise is one company that comes highly recommended for these types of tours, and is guaranteed to be a buccaneer blast for shipmates young and old.

Creature confidential

For kids that love animals, Cancun has a multitude of family outings to be had that allow for close and personal interaction with Mexico’s wildlife. One of the most popular attractions is Cancun’s Interactive Aquarium, located in the La Isla Shopping Center. Kids can enjoy the large tanks containing tropical fish and larger marine life, including tiger sharks. Kids of all ages can enjoy a swim with the dolphins, or a visit to the stingray exhibit where you can pet the majestic, winged mammals. Older children might enjoy a dive in a unique plexiglass tank that allows for an up-close encounter with nurse and bull sharks to feed the sharks.

Families headed over to Isla Mujeres will find another opportunity to swim with dolphins at Garrafon Natural Reef Park. Little ones might enjoy a quick swim alongside the dolphins, while older kids who want to get closer to the mammals can share a handshake or hold on to their dorsal fin to take a ride. While at Isla Mujeres, be sure to visit Turtle Park where kids can explore the turtle sanctuary.

Kids will also love a trip to the Crcocoun Zoo, one of Cancun’s most unique wildlife attractions. Get the cameras ready, as brave visitors can hold baby snakes and reptiles for an exciting family photo opp. Tamer tourists can walk through one of the many animal petting areas and feed deer, peacock, turtles, and spider monkeys.

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