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How to Plan a Family-Friendly Cancun Vacation

Enjoy lazing along postcard-worthy beaches and exploring historic sites on a stress-free family getaway.

U.S. News & World Report

How to Plan a Family-Friendly Cancun Vacation

Mayan Riviera Paradise in Cancun, Mexico.

With all-inclusive resorts, sprawling pool complexes and a wealth of cultural and outdoor attractions, it's easy to organize a trip that youngsters and adults alike will enjoy.(Getty Images)

Apart from its party reputation, Cancún, Mexico, is also renowned for its white-sand beaches, well-preserved Mayan ruins and all-inclusive resorts. Beyond hitting the beach, exploring fascinating sites or playing a round of golf, you and the gang can unwind at one of the area's all-inclusive resorts offering kid-friendly amenities, high values and added convenience. And in addition to affordable family-friendly accommodations, Cancún makes an ideal choice for an easy family escape thanks to its pleasant year-round temperatures and easy-to-reach location.

While you will need to ensure you – and the kids – pack your passports, getting to Cancún is easy. There are several U.S. cities offering direct flights to Cancún, making the first leg of travel easy for children. And, once your flight lands, most hotels and resorts in Cancún's Hotel Zone are within short drive, which is another plus as you can start your beach day as soon as possible. "Families tend to appreciate the accessibility of Cancún. Many resorts are only a 15-minute drive from the airport, so it's possible to get your vacation started almost right away and truly make the most of your vacation time," says Kelsey Blodget, executive editor at Oyster.com. "Also, parents know that traveling with kids can be challenging and the shorter the trip, the better. They certainly don't want to face a long drive after a flight," Blodget adds.

With that in mind, here are some smart tips to help you plan a fun family vacation in Cancún.

Use a Tour Company to Streamline Your Travel Plans

Reputable tour companies like Apple Vacations provide affordable vacation packages from popular U.S. cities to vacation destinations across Mexico, including Cancún. A unique aspect about Apple Vacations is their "Exclusive Vacation" flights to Cancún and other major vacation destinations. These flights are filled exclusively with other vacationers traveling to the same destination and most are non-stop. "As the one-stop shop for air-inclusive packages, excursions, transports and insurance, Apple Vacations makes it easier than ever for families to travel to Cancún," says Ali Gerakaris, senior marketing manager for Apple Vacations.

Consider an All-inclusive

Staying at an all-inclusive resort ensures there's no sticker shock after your trip. Because arrangements are made (and paid for) before you arrive, the cost of accommodations, meals, rooms, drinks, entertainment and even select water sports are often included. "Plus, because there are so many big chains in the area, it's often possible to use your loyalty points toward a trip," Blodget says.

A great all-inclusive pick is IBEROSTAR Cancún, located on one of the finest beaches in the heart of the Hotel Zone. There are more than 400 ocean view rooms, villas and 10 pools including an infinity pool with swim-up bar. And with complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property grounds, the resort's spa area is a place for parents to relax while children are safely supervised in the kids club. The all-inclusive dining options include four specialty restaurants, including a Japanese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant and a steakhouse. Another added perk: the on-site golf course.

"With its diverse landscape and rich history, Cancún has something to offer for the whole family. In addition to the many activities offered at Iberostar, guests can venture out to swim in the beautiful cenotes, visit the shops in the Cancún Hotel Zone or explore the Mayan ruins. There are fun options for every member of the family," says Claudia Simon, director of marketing, North America at Iberostar Hotels & Resorts. Plus, Iberostar offers a Kids Stay Free promotion each year, so make sure to check the company's website for specials.

Think Outside the Hotel Zone Box

Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, a family-friendly resort, opened in December 2016, and is located on the Caribbean beachfront just north of nearby Playa del Carmen, and about an hour drive from the Cancún International Airport. Situated on 590 acres of oceanfront, and surrounded by preserved mangroves and lagoons, the property has 214 guest rooms, including 41 suites. There is also a kids club, where activities range from storytelling to creative arts and crafts to exciting games. "The region is filled with lush nature and a rich Mayan culture which we will utilize across all aspects of the property from the unique design and native cuisine to indigenous spa treatments, local partnerships and authentic Mexican hospitality," says Lin Schatz, general manager of Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya.

Plan Some Daytrips

There are a wealth of kid-friendly activities you can enjoy in Cancún and its surrounding areas. If you're traveling with budding foodies, take a cooking class at the the Mexico Lindo Cooking School, which teaches visitors (ages 12 and up) authentic Mexican cooking techniques. Another fun activity is touring the Cancún Wax Museum, located at La Isla Shopping Village in the Cancún Hotel Zone. The museum has 23 rooms displaying more than 100 characters from movies, sports and music. And if you're interested in brushing up on Mayan culture, several Mayan archaeological sites are located near Cancún such as Tulum, Coba and more. All of the well-reserved sites are within easy reach of Cancún by bus, car or on one of many tours.

Another can't-miss attraction: Cancún's Underwater Museum, which features hundreds of statues that double as home for fish and other underwater organisms as a reef. After checking out the museum make sure to enjoy some sea turtle and whale shark spotting. In Mexico, you can swim with whale sharks, which can be found off the coast of Cancún, Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox between May and September. Plus, sea turtle nesting season takes place between May and November. Many hotels in the area offer guests the chance to help release the baby turtles back out to sea once hatched.

For more activity, try catching sailfish with the kids. Sailfish season takes place between January and June off the coast of Cancún in Isla Mujeres. Sailfish are one of the fastest fish species in the world, clocking speeds of up to 68 miles per hour, and can jump over 8 feet out of the water. Not only are these fish mesmerizing from a boat or catamaran, but they are even more stunning from below in their natural habitat.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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