Cancun has often been the hot spot for college students to revel in the sun during spring break or cruise ships to stop for a shore outing. But recently the state of Quintana Roo where Cancun is located has been trying to break their bad-boy image and attract more families. i wouldn’t reccommend this destination for families with young children, but there is a lot to offer families with school-age children and teenagers.
Travel a few miles down the Pacific coast and the highrise hotels and crowds of fun-loving youngsters are replaced with family resorts and condominiums. It is a beautiful area with white sands, turquoise blue waters, and swaying palm trees. But along with the water are a variety of other activities the entire family will love. We recently returned from a visit and loved it.
We stayed at the Grand Mayan Resort, halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, about 20 miles down the coast. Our resort was similar to many that we saw as we traveled down the coast. The rooms were spacious and accommodating. They had a variety of family activities set up during the day: including crafts, sports, dancing, and games.
The Grand Mayan has a large pool system with two kiddie areas and a play structure. They are located on the beachfront so there is a lot of sand to play with. Swimming is not that great at the resort so we went down the coast to enjoy the surf. They are bringing in sand and trying to improve the ocean bottom, which is currently quite rocky.
We spent a lovely afternoon body surfing in the waves and relaxing on the sand at the beach in Playa del Carmen. If you want a beautiful beach travel about 30- miles down the Pacific Coast to Playa del Carmen or farther to Akumal. Beaches along the Pacific coast are in better shape than those in Cancun, since the recent hurricane destroyed most of the beaches by carrying the sand out to sea.
We also visited the ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza (on different days). It was incredible to see the magnificent structures that were built so many years ago. The preservation and intricateness of the stonework was amazing.
The people were great and many of them speak English, or at least a smattering of it. As long as you keep things simple you should be able to communicate. We stopped and asked strangers directions a number of times and they were all helpful and friendly.
The eco park, Xel-hà, was a favorite. We spent the entire day at the park, snorkeling and enjoying the lush jungle surroundings.
On another day we visited the cave Aktun-Chen with its large cenote and toured the wildlife preserve with monkeys, parrots, snakes, and other animals. We also soared through the jungle canopy on zip-lines at the extreme action adventure park Selvatura.
One evening we drove back to Cancun and were entertained with a swashbuckling adventure on the Captain Hook Pirate Cruise.
There were more things we wanted to do but just didn’t have time. I guess we’ll have to go back.
For more information see my other Cancun blogs
- Cancun – A Family Destination
- Getting around in Mexico
- The Ruins – Tulum and Chichen Itza
- Xel-hà – Eco park
- Eco Adventures
- Action Adventures
- Pirate Dinner Cruise