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Cancun Tourism: Best of Cancun

About Cancun
Cancun’s a pretty well-known spot for spring breakers (and spring breakers at heart)—but its fun-loving spirit, miles of resorts, and nonstop nightlife is only one small part of the story. The city is one of Mexico’s all-around gems—literally made for vacationing. Its velvety beaches are some of the best the Caribbean has to offer, while scuba divers and snorkeling buffs will find plenty of action in the surf—including the Museo Subacuático de Arte, with its more than 500 underwater sculptures. On the outskirts of the city, sites like the pyramids of Chichen Itza give a deep-dive on the area’s sacred Maya heritage.

Travel Advice

Essential Cancun

3 days in Cancun

Postcard-perfect beaches, prime snorkeling and scuba diving, and incredible Mayan ruins.
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A family-friendly weekend in Cancun

Cancun has a reputation for being rowdy, but I also found it to be quite family friendly, with activities for all ages to enjoy. On a trip to the city with my in-laws, husband, and 11-month-old baby, we had no trouble getting around, and everyone had fun. It helped to plan in advance though, so here’s my cheatsheet for the perfect family weekend in Cancun.
Holly Kapherr, Winter Park, FL
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun
    The Hyatt Ziva is ideal for multigenerational travel because it’s basically two hotels in one—one side is for families, the other is adults only. There’s also the KidzClub with great activities like water volleyball, arts and crafts, and even video games; our baby was too young, but if your kids are ages 4–12, drop them there (for free!) and then enjoy some quiet pool time. We also loved the family-friendly live entertainment every night.
  • Chichen Itza
    Most of the tour buses that go to Chichén Itza don’t have or allow car seats, so we rented a car from the Enterprise in downtown Cancun instead. From Cancun, it was about a two-hour drive, and then we hired a certified tour guide at the ruins (and it was well worth it). We loved shopping for souvenirs at the market, and were delighted to find the “secret” popsicle stand near the main entrance to cool down after our tour.
  • La Ruta de los Cenotes
    For a break from the beach, I highly recommend Ruta de los Cenotes—a 21-mile-long road near Puerto Morelos with dozens of cenotes. We especially loved La Noria and Kin-Ha; at both, you could either jump in from a platform or climb down a ladder into the cool, calm water. Arrive early to avoid the crowds, and bring towels and flotation devices if your kids need them. Most cenotes have lockers to store your valuables.
  • Isla Mujeres
    For a fun day trip, we took the 15-minute Ultramar ferry to Isla Mujeres. The beautiful Playa Norte beach has peddlers selling snacks like grilled shrimp skewers and frozen mango slices, but we went straight to Lola Valentina restaurant and sat on the patio with a mountain of guacamole and chips to watch the street performers. Afterward, we went shopping on Miguel Hidalgo Avenue—a pedestrian-only street that turns into a lively party at sunset.
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  • Whale Shark Tour from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Riviera Maya
    If you’re visiting Cancun from May through September, don’t miss the chance to swim with whale sharks. We went out with Ocean Tours and the experience was amazing. They picked us up from our hotel (extra convenient!); the guides were bilingual and super friendly; and they provided everything we needed: life jackets, snorkeling equipment, snacks and cold beverages, and the confidence needed to swim alongside the world’s largest fish.
  • Interactive Aquarium
    Our toddler-to-be loved touching the starfish and sea urchins in the tide pool area at this aquarium, but older kids will love the dolphin swim experience. We adults also did the underwater walking experience, which takes place in one of the aquarium’s vast tanks full of fish and invertebrates—it was fascinating!
  • Croco Cun
    At this zoo-like spot, you actually get to interact with the animals, which was a really fun way to learn about Yucatan wildlife. We fed white-tailed deer, wore a boa constrictor, and even walked a boardwalk next to native crocodiles. The property is largely untouched, so it’s a really natural, comfortable place for the animals to live. And best of all: kids under five get in free.
  • Cancun Food Tours
    For a fun night out with the family, book the Lucha Libre experience with Cancun Food Tours. We had the best time watching the wrestling match (from ringside seats!) and learning more about the sport (including whether Nacho Libre is real—he is, sort of). They even gave us masks to wear, plus we got to enjoy delicious tacos and a tequila tasting during the match and walk through a super cool night market afterward.
  • Captain Hook: Pirate Show and Dinner Cruise in Cancun
    One of our favorite family-friendly things we did in Cancun was this immersive, pirate-themed adventure. Sailings depart every day at 6:30 p.m. and include a cannonfire send-off, live music, games, and a “battle” with an enemy ship. It sounds cheesy, and it is, but we had a blast. And kids eat free at the buffet with a paying adult; get the $55 surf and turf for yourself.
  • Lorenzillo's
    The oldest and most celebrated restaurant in Cancun is also one of the most expensive, but it’s family friendly and lots of fun. The service is welcoming and attentive (a plus if you’ve got hangry little ones), and there’s nautical decor, live lobsters, and fish tanks to entertain the kids while you finish your wine. Oh—and there are crocodiles in the lagoon outside. Big ones!

Explore Cancun by interest

Bring the kids

Where to find fun for all ages

All about the Maya

Ancient ruins and history with local guides

Cancun on a dime

Eats and activities that won’t break the bank

If you're feeling fancy-ish

Luxury experiences that are totally worth it

Get off the beaten path

Hidden gems and spots locals love

Doable day trips

Take a detour to these nearby and noteworthy stops

Spring break forever

The party starts (and never ends) here

Drinks with a view

Take it in: Rooftop bars and beachfront faves

Hit the waves

Party boats, underwater excursions, and more