1/5 Float on a Mexican gondola
Whether it’s through song or dance (and more often than not, both), Mexicans are all about celebrating life. So if you’re looking to get a real taste of their culture, Xoximilco is a brilliant opportunity to experience the cuisine, music and traditions as you float on a Mexican gondola known as a trajinera.
You and your family will need to arrive at Xoximilco Park for 7.30pm, where you’ll be warmly greeted and given a quick run through of the evening before being assigned a guide and a trajinera. English speakers will be on separate trajineras to native speakers to ensure everyone gets the same experience. Your guided float trip will last between two and three hours as you travel through the intricate jungle canals. On your way, you’ll cross paths with other trajineras – each with a different name to represent the different states of Mexico. The trajineras are beautiful, decorated in vibrant neon that adds to the atmosphere of the evening.
On the tajineras you’ll be treated to a mouth-watering tasting menu that will dispel the myth that Mexican food consists of nachos, fajitas and burritos. Instead your taste buds will be introduced to traditional dishes such as mole, tamales and much more. Kids will also have a set menu that will still be as adventurous, minus the heavy spices. The trajinera will be stocked with an abundance of both soft and alcoholic drinks, so you won’t need to worry about running out. Once you’re well and truly stuffed – which you will be, the party will come alive with music from a live mariachi band which completely flourishes the Mexican culture. Dancing isn’t compulsory but you’ll be the only one not taking part – with music that infectious you won’t be able to resist.
Top tip: Apply mosquito repellent before setting off, but if you happen to forget the venue have plenty of repellent outside the toilets
Price: Adults £58.66, children (five-11yrs) £29.33 but if you purchase your tickets online discounts apply
Find out more: xoximilco.com
2/5 Explore an ancient city
Tulum is a firm favourite tourist attraction in Mexico, and definitely a sight you can’t miss on your next family holiday in Cancun. Tulum was once a city built by the ancient Mayas on 39-feet high cliffs facing the Caribbean Sea – the winning combination of well persevered temples with an outstanding location makes for both beautiful pictures and wonderful memories. While Tulum is undoubtedly stunning, there is an unprecedented amount of walking, so the recommended tour for families is the Tulum Express which gives you an insightful short tour of the ruins but still giving you enough time to explore for yourselves.
During the tour you’ll find out how Tulum came to be known as the walled city and how the inhabitants successfully ran the trade industry in Mexico. There are myths that Tulum was a city of sacrifice, however archaeologists are yet to uncover evidence to support the myths. The beauty about discovering Tulum is the power of your imagination, as the guides go through the crux of the history it’s up to you to create the world around you. Once your tour is over, you’ll have about 50 minutes to explore the ruins. If you only get to see one thing, ensure it’s the beach – free from seaweed, the crystal clear ocean will have you transfixed. You’ll have time for a swim but seeing it is just as special.
Top tip: The heat is more intense in Tulum so pack your sun cream, sunnies and hats. Before you go to meet your coach, take bottles of water with you because your guaranteed to need it and it saves you from unnecessarily spending
Price: Adults £34.65, children (five-11yrs) £25, children under five go free
Find out more: cancunadventure.net/tulum-express
3/5 Discover an underground world
Adrenaline, laughter and fun are the ingredients that make Xplor park one of the best activities in Cancun. Xplor park is a unique underground world in Riviera Maya – about an hour drive from mainland Cancun. Explorers will get to enjoy five fantastic activities: zip-lines, rafts, underground rivers, hiking and driving 10k in amphibious vehicles. All of these activities will test families to step out of their comfort zone and try something different with nature and adventure at their core.
Don’t worry about having to change into your swimsuits prior to arriving, the park has changing rooms with locker. They also have a rest area filled with hammocks which will come in handy after those zip lines. And when you’re looking to refuel, because let’s face it all that adventure will work up an appetite, Xplor has one restaurant called El Trogolodita, where you’ll find a mix of healthy food, an international buffet and some light deserts.
For families who really want to embrace this unique adventure, Xplor Fuego is an exceptional tour making it possible for you to enjoy the beautiful sunset and take part in nighttime activities together. Watch as your little one’s faces light up when they see firelights and the luminous caves – you’ll feel the magic just as much as they do. You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie and you wont be under any obligation to do something you aren’t comfortable with – it’s all about having fun.
Insider tip: If you’re going to try the zip lines, you’ll have to climb a lot of stairs to reach the first line, so bring comfy and sturdy shoes
Price: Adults £78, children £40, ticket includes: unlimited natural beverages two circuits with 7 zip lines each, two circuits to drive amphibious vehicles, two circuits stalactite river swim, one circuit to go river rafting, all safety equipment, locker (for 2) and parking
Find out more: xplor.travel
4/5 Island hop
A 30-minute ferry journey from the Cancun’s resort strip lies a beautiful picturesque island called Isla Mujeres (known as the island of women). The island is more laid back and tranquil than Cancun but there’s still plenty to do. Garrafon Park is a must; it’s located at the southern tip of the island where the sun rises first. There you’ll discover natural reefs, take part in zip lining and snorkelling and take in the view from breathtaking cliffs. The sea turtle sanctuary should also be on your list, the aquarium is beautiful, filled with a variety of fish from topical fish to seahorses and manta rays.
A lot of tourists visit Isla Mujeres for a couple of hours but spending the whole day there is worthwhile especially if you want to see the white sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. If you want to see the whole island, you can rent a golf buggy and it will only take an hour. Golf car rentals are extremely popular on the island, you can hire them out for an hour at a small fee of £10, but if you plan on renting one don’t forget your license, it will be the first thing they ask for. There a variety of packages and tours to visit the island but the VIP day trip is probably the most cost effective; your ticket will include the zip line and snorkeling as well as all food and drink.
Top tip: Pack everything you would need for a day on the beach, including spare change on clothes, and if you or your little ones are prone to travel sickness pack some tablets for the ferry journey
Price: £70 adult and £45 children (one-five yrs). Other packages available at lower and higher costs
Find out more: garrafon.com
5/5 Meet the locals
Cancun is famous for its crocodiles. The nichupte lagoon is home to over 2,000 but don’t let that scare you off. They are harmless if left alone and come out during the evenings because excessive noise bothers them. If you want to see these pre-historic animals up close, then a trip to Crococun is perfect for you. Crococun is an interactive conservation zoo just 19 miles from downtown Cancun, that was originally a crocodile breeding farm.
The farm was destroyed in 1988 by Hurricane Gilbero, one of the largest tropical cyclones ever observed in the Atlantic basin. As time went on the concept of breeding developed into a programme of protecting and promoting crocodiles. You’ll have an interactive tour that lasts for an hour or so and your knowledgeable tour guide will make sure you have a memorable experience. You will be able to touch, hold and feed a variety of the local wildlife including; snakes, spider monkeys and Xoloitzunitale, a hairless breed of dog native to Mexico. Once you’ve seen the vibrant wild life, it’ll be time to ask yourself if your brave enough to walk among the crocs.
Top tip: Avoid spending money on taxis to Crococun, you can get a bus or minivan from Playa del Carmen’s bus station for £1 per person
Price: Adult £19, children (six-12yrs) £13, children under five go free