Cancun is topping the charts this year as a top place to visit during the summer, particularly for families. Beyond sipping tropical drinks at all-inclusives and soaking in the sun on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, families would be wise to explore all that Cancun has to offer, like Mayan ruins, friendly whale sharks and sea turtle hatchlings. Take a look at five reasons to take the family to Cancun before school goes back into session:
1. Whale Sharks. The friendly (and toothless) whale sharks make several small islands off the coast of Cancun, including Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres, their homes from mid-May to mid-September. These gentle giants feed on plankton, so there is nothing to fear as you snorkel the warm waters with these wonderful creatures. Tours often last four to six hours, including travel by boat out to the islands, lunch and snorkeling.
2. Sea Turtles. Sea turtle moms-to-be journey up onto the beaches to lay their eggs during nesting season, which occurs between May and November. During the summer, sea turtle hatchlings come up from the sand and begin to make their way back into the ocean. Several resorts, such as the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun and the JW Marriott Resort Cancun, offer sea turtle protection programs, which allow guests to participate in the nightly release of baby turtles alongside marine biologists.
3. Mayan Ruins. Cancun offers easy access to ancient Mayan ruins, including those found at El Rey, Tulum and Coba. Or, take a day trip to Chichen Itza (112 miles from Cancun). It’s inexpensive to hire a guide when you arrive and it’s best to do so to learn the history of the ruins. If you go to Tulum, bring a swimsuit and a towel. The ancient city is set up on a cliff just above the ocean.
4. Ziplines. For the adventurous, head to Xplor, Cancun’s popular adventure park. You’ll find 14 ziplines at Xplor that take guests over jungles, through waterfalls and even into caves. Xplor claims the highest zipline in the region at 45 meters above ground. At neighboring Xel-Ha, you can also try out a zip bike, which lets you pedal up high over grottoes and caves. Both parks offer a 10% discount on tickets purchased online at least seven days in advance.
5. Underwater Walks. Where else can you walk underwater? I’m not really sure, but you certainly can at Xcaret Park. All you need is a swimsuit and a special helmet that enables you to breathe underwater as you walk along the seabed amongst schools of fish and other marine life. Children as young as eight can participate and this is a great activity for those who want to get up close with sea creatures, but don’t like to snorkel or scuba dive.