Explore Cancun with Kids, IMG Cred: Travel Mamas

Visitors Splash in the Waves Below the Mayan Ruins at Tulum

Mexico is known for its family-centric culture, where children are not just tolerated, but welcomed with genuine enthusiasm. For your next family vacation, consider Cancun, home to powdery sand beaches, turquoise ocean waves, fun kid-friendly attractions, and nearby historic Mayan ruins.
Xcaret: World-traveling mom, Jennifer Miller of EdventureProject.com, recommends the 200-acre Xcaret ecopark as “a wonderful way to introduce kids and adults to the history, culture and ecology of Mexico.” Children of all ages will enjoy wandering through the park’s animal exhibits featuring jaguars, lions, monkeys, and more. There’s also a Butterfly Pavilion, Bat Cave, and Coral Reef Aquarium. You can book a stingray encounter, dolphin swim, or underground river snorkeling adventure at the Water Activities Center.
The Xcaret Night Show gives insight to the proud people of Mexico. A three-course meal is available during the show. While the food is not spectacular, it adds to the fun of the evening. The show begins with the glow of candles and the scent of burning sage. The sunken stage bursts to life with a reenactment of the ancient ball game of Pok ta’pok, a mythical sport that dates back to 1000 BC. You might want to take young children for a walk during the potentially frightening war scene between Spanish settlers and Mexico’s native people. Kids will enjoy the show’s dance, music, and colorful costumes representing different regions of Mexico.
Xel-Ha: Xcaret’s sister property’s name, Xel-Ha means “where water is born.” Water is central to this park, which covers 35 acres in bodies of water plus 173 acres of dry land. Kara Williams of TheVacationGals.com recommends this park to families with young children for its miniature train through the jungle, children’s playground, and plentiful hammocks perfect for a daytime siesta. She says, “I have a fond memory of my then one-year-old daughter sleeping on my chest on one of the Xel-Ha hammocks in the shade.”
Watery Adventures: Water lovers can book a snorkeling excursion, deep sea fishing trip, or Sub-See Explorers Yellow Submarine cruise with Aquaworld. Children as young as three can pet dolphins and even get a kiss from these friendly ocean mammals in their Dolphin Interactive Experience, while those five and older can swim with the dolphins.
Water park lovers should check out Wet n’ Wild for waterslides, a lazy river, bumper boats, wave pool and more. The on-site Kids Park offers a pool and miniature slides for children seven and younger.
Mayan Ruins: Your trip wouldn’t be complete without exploring one of two significant Mayan ruin sites located near Cancun – Chichén Itzá and Tulum. Both can be quite hot, especially if visiting during summer so dress the family in light, breathable clothing and slather on the sunscreen.
Chichén Itzá is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and was once the ceremonial center of the Yucatan. These ruins may have been built as early as 600 AD. The most famous and impressive pyramid, Kukulkan Pyramid, is over 75-feet-tall.
Built in the 13th Century AD, Tulum is smaller in size but closer to Cancun (81 versus 126 miles away). Kids will be more impressed by the huge iguanas sunning themselves amongst the ruins than the history of the ancient stone temples and former Mayan residences. Reward children for good behavior during your tour of the ruins by marching down a wooden staircase to take a well-deserved dip in the warm ocean waves.
With affordable flights from the U.S. and Canada, Cancun makes for an easy tropical retreat sure to please every member of the family.
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