Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Cancun Family Vacation Guide: Attractions, Weather

Cancun dolphin
Isla Mujeres dolphin waits for families to join it in the water.

A Cancun family vacation offers a safe, well-developed resort area and plenty of great things to do.

Four visits to Cancun have shown me that this popular city on the Caribbean coast in Mexico is an ideal choice for any family planning a trip to the Caribbean for the first time.

Cancun is convenient to visit because it is easy to reach for most U.S. citizens. The city located off the Yucatan Peninsula is a 1.5-hour flight from Miami and a four-hour flight from Chicago.

Because Cancun is the No. 2 destination in the Caribbean, airlines have many flights from throughout the United States. They make it simple to find a good day and time for a flight as well as making it common to find a flight without any stopovers.

In addition, the number and popularity of flights to Cancun drive down the price of airline tickets compared to many other, more remote Caribbean destinations such as Aruba.

Cancun is a comfortable family vacation because the majority of the hotels and restaurants for tourists are located on the thin strip of land that forms a box around the Nichupte Lagoon.

The strip of land pushes most of the hotels and restaurants closely together along one main road, Kukulkan Boulevard. Buses, which run often through the day and night along Kukulkan, are cheap transportation for tourists up and down the strip.

Family Attractions

Cancun Attractions Video

One of the most popular family attractions in Cancun is Dolphin Discovery on Isla Mujeres. Visitors can swim and interact with dolphins via a variety of programs. Prices usually range between $125 and $200 and include ferry transportation

Isla Mujeres is a fairly quick boat ride. Go to Playa Langosta on Boulevard Kukulcan in the hotel zone at kilometer 5.

The area also has attractions that are both interesting and educational at the same time. Visitors will find Mayan ruins at Calakmul, Palenque, Tulum, Uxmal and especially Chichén-Itzá.

Chichén-Itzá is a full day trip. But it is well worth the 1.5-hour drive both ways because of the massive and highly photographic ruins. Our three children were fascinated by the experience.

The Cancun Interactive Aquarium on Boulevard Kukulcan in the hotel zone is within walking distance of some hotels. For others, it’s easiest to visit using the inexpensive public bus system.

Aquarium attractions include swimming with the dolphins, touch tanks, dolphin shows and an underwater snuba “aquarium trek”. Ticket prices vary according to the program.

The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art has two underwater galleries that tourists can view by snorkeling, scuba diving or glass bottom boats.

The Punta Nizuc gallery with 33 fiberglass and concrete sculptures is at the southern tip of the hotel zone. It is about six to 12 feet deep and best for snorkelers and glass bottom boats. Prices range from $40 to $70. The Manchones gallery by Isla Mujeres has 473 sculptures and is about 25 to 30 feet deep. It is best for scuba divers. Prices range from $90 to $140.

Other popular family attractions include snorkeling, scuba diving and other water sports in Nichupte Lagoon.

Best Times to Go

The Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza are a great family excursion and highly educational.

Many children love to play on the beach and swim in the ocean. Despite its location in the Caribbean, Cancun is not always warm enough for swimming year round.

The winter months of December through February have an average high temperature of about 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 28 degrees Celsius. Temperatures at night on average drop into the high 60s Fahrenheit or 20 Celsius. Waters may become uncomfortably cool from the night temperatures and the trade winds. We found that out during a February visit.

So families that enjoy the beach may want to wait until the spring. Spring break is a popular time to go for families and college students alike because of warmer temperatures. But it also is a crowded time to go.

Cancun monthly rainfall
© 2023 Scott S. Bateman

For good weather, the best time to go to Cancun for families is March through June when average monthly rain is lightest and the daytime high temperatures average between the mid-80s and low-90s Fahrenheit. Early June is better than later June as well as July and September because of high heat and a growing risk of rain.

The least popular time to go is in September and October during the peak of the Caribbean hurricane season. Because of that season, Cancun sees an average of nine inches of rain per month during those two months.

Anyone on a Cancun family vacation will find a destination with high-ranked hotels; easy access to shopping, restaurants and nightlife; and a lengthy list of family activities.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
January 21, 2023

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