Most families prefer to spend their days at the beach or pool, with day trips to some of the surrounding beaches or villages. Consider tour operator, Best Day, for a wide array of tour options.
Book a catamaran sail over to tiny Isla Mujeres, where you can rent a golf cart to drive the entire island or simply stroll the small downtown, picking up and a lazy lunch. Isla Mujeres is also home to Garrafon Reef Park, with great reef snorkeling, kayaking, a climbing tower and a zip line that deposits riders in the Caribbean.
Xcaret, south of Cancun, is so heavily advertised — you’ll see its buses and billboards from the moment you touch down in Mexico — that you might fear it’s just a tourist trap, but it’s well worth an entire day’s visit. Billed as an “ecological theme park,” Xcaret offers tons to do, including a raft tour through the jungle, a sea turtle nursery, horseback riding, a butterfly pavilion and a replica of a Mayan village, where spectacular, traditional dancing and music is performed at night.
And if your family has even the slightest interest in archaeology, plan a visit to the Mayan site of Tulum, about 75 miles south of Cancun. Perched on a cliff over the Caribbean, the park is compact but picturesque, with crumbling stone temples overlooking the ocean; hire an English-speaking guide to best appreciate it.