Wondering where to stay in Riviera Maya for families? Here’s the only guide you need to plan the perfect stay with kids, from luxurious all-inclusive resorts to more boutique properties where you can carve out your own adventure!
It’s not exactly a secret that the Riviera Maya in Mexico is a dreamy destination. This gorgeous stretch of of the Caribbean coastline is home to some of the most popular travel destinations that include gorgeous white sand beaches, picturesque seaside towns, and bustling cities.
What might be surprising to some is the number of all-inclusive resorts and smaller hotels that cater to families with children and the full range of amazing activities available for the little ones and young teens. Mexico is generally very family-oriented, so rest assured that you and your crew will have a great time!
Many resorts and hotels in the Riviera Maya were built with families in mind, so you’re sure to find the best options. That said, each part of the Riviera Maya has a different character so it’s important to decide what area you want to stay in and then narrow it down to specific resort and hotel options – not all properties are created equal. You can also read our in-depth guide to Playa del Carmen vs Cancun if you’re debating between those two areas.
Scroll down for a list of recommendations on where to stay in the Riviera Maya for families, whether you want a property with stunning views of turquoise water or you’re more interested in taking advantage of a location that’s perfect for days out exploring.
Where to Stay in Riviera Maya for Families
If can be difficult to choose where to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Here’s an explanation of what each area offers and great all inclusive resort and hotel options to consider.
Cancun is famous for being an exciting beach destination for adults, and the fame is well deserved. This bustling coastal city has a lively nightlife and party scene, but it also offers plenty of lodging options and attractions for families of all types.
The Caribbean waters that bathe Cancun are calm and shallow, while the white sand is powder-soft, making them fantastic for the little ones to have a lot of fun while swimming, snorkeling, or building sand castles.
Family-friendly attractions in Cancun include All Ritmo and Ventura waterparks, the Interactive Aquarium, and Parque La Palabra in the downtown area.
You can also take a catamaran tour or swim with sharks for unforgettable experiences. It is also a great base point to visit nearby Xcaret theme park, the Mayan ruins of Tulum, Cobá, and Chichen Itza if you want to venture further, as well as other Riviera Maya destinations like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel, and more.
As for lodging options, Cancun is home to impressive resorts that feature incredible swimming pools, waterslides, kids’ clubs, playgrounds, organized activities, as well as cribs, and other baby amenities.
Family-friendly lodging options in Cancun:
Moon Palace Cancun
Moon Palace Cancun is an amazing, huge all-inclusive option featuring a lazy river, a water park, and a kids’ zone. It’s one of the biggest all-inclusive resorts in Mexico! This is one of the closest resorts to the Cancun airport, making it ideal for a quick visit to Riviera Maya. The rooms all have private balconies with either seating or a hammock. One of the Moon Palace sections is set apart from the rest and features the golf course, spa, a. Because Moon Palace is so big, it offers some unheard of amenities you won’t find elsewhere in Riviera Maya – even an ice skating rink! If your budget allows, stay in Moon Palace The Grand for unlimited access to its water park, spacious suites, a dynamite kids club and elevated dining options. Read our in-depth Moon Palace Cancun review to help you decide if it’s the right all inclusive resort for your family!
Hyatt Ziva Cancun
Hyatt Ziva Cancun is a luxury all-inclusive resort with great swimming pools, water slides, and a kids’ club. Ziva is widely regarded as one of the best all inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya for families. There are plenty of ocean views here thanks to the resorts location at the tip of the hotel zoneThis property also features the Turquoize tower, an adults only “resort within the resort” concept – a nice option if you’re planning a multigenerational trip to Cancun and some of the guests want to stay in a quiet kid-free area while still spending plenty of time together.
Puerto Aventuras is a fantastic destination for a family vacation in the Riviera Maya. Located only 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, it offers a slower pace and a relaxing, atmosphere, while boasting fantastic beaches with calm, clear access to the Caribbean Sea. It’s a fairly new community, having been established in 1998 around high-end features like marinas and golf. Unlike many of the areas in this Riviera Maya guide, Puerto Aventuras didn’t start out as a a small traditional village.
There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Puerto Aventuras to keep the whole family happily entertained. These include golf, snorkeling, diving, golf, and a whole slew of ecotourism opportunities such as visiting Xcaret and Xel-Ha eco-parks, which in turn feature the chance to swim in “cenote” sinkholes, exploring Mayan ruins, and snorkeling in underground rivers.
Of course, sunbathing, swimming, and simply relaxing at the beach is always an option. Puerto Aventuras is ideal for that, as it is less crowded than other Mayan Riviera destinations.
Family-friendly lodging options in Puerto Aventuras:
Puerto Aventuras Hotel & Beach Club
Puerto Aventuras Hotel & Beach Club is a casual resort featuring beautiful outdoor pools, beach access, a spa, and 2 bars. You can snorkel right off shore here, which isn’t the case for even some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the region. While it has an on-site restaurant, this isn’t an all-inclusive resort. However, it’s a wonderful budget-friendly option for a family that plans to rent a car and explore independently – there are plenty of great things to do nearby! I nearly booked this for our family when we though we’d need a few extra days of hotel due to the Southwest airlines meltdown.
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is part of the world-famous musical-themed chain of resorts. Boasting unique family-friendly amenities such as its signature musical attractions, a skate and bike center, a gymnastics area, and kids’ and teens’ clubs, it is a favorite with travelers of all ages. Like Moon Palace Cancun, this is a huge property – some families love all of the options at the mega all inclusive resorts while others don’t like traversing the massive grounds and prefer a more intimate style.
Dreams Aventuras Riviera Maya
Dreams Aventuras Riviera Maya is a beachfront all-inclusive resort boasting 4 awesome swimming pools, a water park, and a kids’ club for children ages 3-12. A fitness center and a deluxe spa are also available. Though it’s owned by Hyatt, the dining options aren’t as high end as they are at the flagship Hyatt Ziva Cancun; however, it’s also only half the price for most dates! This is a solid pick if you’re looking at budget-friendly all inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya.
Coral Maya Stay Suites
Coral Maya Stay Suites is a budget-friendly apartment complex a few steps from the beach that offers suites that can accommodate up to 6 people, a game room, and a swimming pool. It’s the perfect option if you want to spread out and settle in, as the largest option is nearly 1400 square feet and boasts 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen.
Playa del Carmen
One of the most popular options for where to stay in the Riviera Maya for families, Playa del Carmen is a former fishing village that has grown exponentially in the last few decades, resulting in a fabulous blend of historic charm and coastal city excitement.
Sublime white sand beaches with inviting waters mix with seemingly endless modern resorts, dining, and shopping options, while the picturesque downtown and main 5th Avenue area maintain their small-town, traditional Mexican, hippyish vibe.
Playa del Carmen is the perfect spot to please all types of travelers, offering dreamy beach relaxation, exciting water sports, great day trips, killer shopping options, delicious cuisine, and a lively nightlife scene, all in one place.
Favorite activities in Playa del Carmen include sunbathing, strolling along the quaint main street looking for crafts, swimming in a “cenote” sinkhole, snorkeling, and other water adventures.
Additionally, the bus station is conveniently located within walking distance, making it a great base point for other Riviera Maya destinations and attractions, including Cancun, Tulum, the Coba Mayan ruins, Akumal, and many more. A short ferry ride will take you to peaceful Cozumel in no time too.
Family-friendly lodging options in Playa del Carmen
Mahekal Beach Resort
Mahekal Beach Resort offers a unique proposition: it’s a semi all inclusive resort in the heart of Playa del Carmen. You can choose room-only, a breakfast and dinner plan or a fully inclusive experience. Because it’s walkable to 5th Avenue, most guests choose the breakfast and dinner plan (with the option to swap to lunch some days or add-on lunch a la carte) and enjoy a mix of relaxing at the three pools and beach with days off exploring places like Xcaret Park, Rio Secreto or a day trip to Cozumel. The food is excellent and focused on locally-inspired Mayan cuisine. Every room has a private balcony to enjoy the Caribbean breezes. With under 200 rooms, it’s one of the smallest all inclusive resorts and has attentive service to match. We stayed here for our first family trip to Mexico and absolutely loved it – read my in-depth Mahekal Beach Resort review for more details.
Hotel Xcaret Mexico
Hotel Xcaret Mexico is a favorite, high-end luxury resort near Playa del Carmen that belongs to the Xcaret Parks. Besides boasting the best amenities, including 6 pools, kids’ and teens’ clubs, a lazy river, and suites that accommodate up to 5, your stay includes unlimited access to their 9 parks. That’s an amazing value! This is one of the best all inclusive resorts in the area if you’re planning a trip that includes older children and teens, as you can spend each day enjoying the different eco parks without needing to leave the property. Read our in-depth Hotel Xcaret review for more details.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Riviera Maya is one of the most luxurious resort options you can choose in the region. It’s north of Playa del Carmen and adjacent to the posh Mayakoba development. Grand Velas Riviera Maya has one of the highest price tags in the area but the quality to back it up: spacious suites, amazing dining options and a perfect stretch of turquoise water lapping up on its white sand beach.
Paradisus Playa del Carmen
Paradisus Playa del Carmen is a large all-inclusive resort that features great swimming pools, a kids’ club, a spa, and other family perks. It is surrounded by the jungle and the sea, allowing for a great experience amidst nature while enjoying the comforts of a modern beach destination. It’s a little north of downtown Playa del Carmen so most families will opt to take a taxi.
Best known for the sea turtles that nestle on its beaches, Akumal is a lesser-known Riviera Maya coastal destination that is slowly but surely coming onto travelers’ radars, especially among marine life aficionados that prefer a more relaxed atmosphere and want to spend a lot of time exploring the Caribbean Sea.
This small town on the Mayan Riviera boasts some of the prettiest, most swimmable beaches in the world while offering unique family-friendly experiences. Swimming and diving with sea turtles is a must-do in Akumal due to the abundance of these charming creatures, always following the keepers’ rules, of course. Bring snorkeling gear for your kids so that they can go out in the water with you even without a tour!
Other favorite activities to be enjoyed by the whole family in Akumal include visiting and swimming in “cenotes”, exploring the nearby Mayan ruins in Tulum, and hopping over to Xcaret Park for family-friendly adventures.
Family-friendly lodging options in Akumal
Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort
Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort gets rave reviews in our Facebook group! It’s a small beachfront resort and you can even snorkel right in front. Even though it’s small, it still offers a free kids club starting at age 4 and some unique activities like Spanish classes, yoga and even a weekly craft fair. Enjoy the breathtaking views over sparkling waters from nearly all of the dining options – even the buffet restaurant! Don’t be sheepish about sending the kids to an activity while you relax with a massage or facial in one of the treatment rooms looking out into the sparkling Caribbean Sea.
Hotel Akumal Caribe
Hotel Akumal Caribe is an affordable beachfront hotel with a swimming pool and a restaurant. It is a great option for families looking to stay by the beach without breaking their wallets. There are several different room types available traditional hotel rooms, suites and even bungalows up to 2 bedrooms. There’s one on-site restaurant, Lol-Ha, offering traditional food with amazing sea views!
Las Casitas Akumal
Las Casitas is a pretty village resort by the beach, located close to the Akumal Reef. Family perks include lush gardens and a kayak available for guests’ use. These are all two bedroom casitas that will accommodate 5-6 guests, and all of them have a kitchen, living room and dining room. This is a great place to settle in for a long stay in Riviera Maya! It’s walking distance to Lol-Ha and the other waterfront areas of Akumal.
Located a mere 15 miles from Cancun, Puerto Morelos is a splendid small beach town and a wonderful option for where to stay in Cancun for families if a quiet escape is what you’re after.
Puerto Morelos boasts white sandy beaches, perfect azure waters, quaint resorts, and incredible snorkeling. It is a good option for families who prefer peace and quiet, without straying too far from livelier Cancun. Restaurants and bars close around 11 pm, so it is not a bustling and noisy party destination. On weekends and holidays, you’ll find lots of locals enjoying the stunning beach here – a good sign of a great destination!
Activities in Puerto Morelos revolve mainly around snorkeling, beach relaxation, swimming, delicious food, and visiting The Leaning Lighthouse (El Faro Inclinado), which was bent during a hurricane in 1967.
The Mesoamerican reef, a huge barrier reef, is located offshore just a 5 minute boat ride away, attracting a stunning array of marine life like sea turtles, stingrays, colorful schools of fish, and other underwater creatures! This excellent tour is really reasonably priced and had plenty of kid-sized gear for our family.
Family-friendly lodging options in Puerto Morelos
Hacienda Morelos is a beachfront hotel with a swimming pool and a restaurant, plus it’s an easy walk to the rest of this small town to enjoy affordable local dining options.
Hotel Arrecifes Suites and Hotel Amar Inn
Isla Mujeres is a great vacation spot for families, especially if you want a peaceful place that still very much embraces Mexican culture.
Isla Mujeres is a small island with white-sand beaches and a relaxed vibe, it is easy to explore, conveniently accessed by ferry from Cancun, and usually less crowded than more popular destinations in the area.
Family-friendly activities to enjoy in Isla Mujeres include taking a whale shark tour, snorkeling, and diving, as the surrounding crystal-clear waters are home to a wonderful array of marine life – there’s no filter on my photo above! Unlike many locations in Riviera Maya, there’s rarely a seaweed (sargassum) problem on Isla Mujeres because the beach faces Playa Mujeres and water is flowing through the channel between them.
Another kid-friendly favorite is Garrafón Natural Reef Park, located just off the coast, which offers the opportunity to swim, snorkel, zipline, and kayak.
Family-friendly lodging options in Isla Mujeres
Mia Reef Isla Mujeres
Mia Reef Isla Mujeres is an all-inclusive resort that’s actually located on a tiny island just off the tip of Isla Mujeres and connected by a foot bridge. Mia Reef is unique because it has several different types of water front, including both a very shallow, calm area perfect for young children as well as a snorkeling reef right off of the hotel.
Ixchel Beach Hotel
Ixchel Beach Hotel is located right on Playa Norte, the most pristine waterfront of Isla Mujeres. You’ll get free use of chairs and umbrellas to enjoy the beach, and the hotel also offers a pool if you want a change of pace. There is an on-site restaurant but Ixchel is very close to Isla’s bustling dining scene. Ixchel Beach Hotel offers a variety of room and suite options, all the way up to a 2 bedroom beach front suite that’s almost as large as my house! We initially booked this hotel for our trip to Isla Mujeres with kids, but unfortunately it was no longer available when we had to change our dates.
Hotel Boutique Bahia Tolok
Hotel Boutique Bahia Tolok is a nice seaside option if a smaller hotel with a more intimate feel is what you’re after. It features a pool, a restaurant, and a bar, as well as snorkeling and kayaking opportunities for the whole family. It’s about a 20 minute walk to the shops and restaurants near Playa Norte but closer to some great restaurants in the center of the island – many people who take a family trip to Island Mujeres choose to rent a golf course if they’re staying in this area. The deluxe apartment is perfect for families and has a balcony with a hammock and a sea view!
Planning your Riviera Maya family vacation
We hope this guide to where to stay in Riviera Maya for families helped you plot an unforgettable escape to the Mexican Caribbean!
Keep in mind that the Riviera Maya is big enough that it offers several destination options, but small enough that you can make day trips from one to the other if you wish. Even if you choose one place to stay, you’ll still have the option to explore other spots too!
Don’t miss these helpful articles as you plan your family trip to Mexico:
- Packing for Mexico: The List You NEED to Read
- Renting a Car in Mexico: An Insider’s Guide
- 7 Best Beach Towns in Mexico That Aren’t Cancun: A Local’s Guide
- Tips for Amazing Mexico Family Photos
- Playa del Carmen vs Cancun, Tulum & Costa Mujeres: Pros and Cons of Each Spot for a Family Vacation
- Things to do in Cancun: Family Excursions Worth Booking
- Rio Secreto Review: One of Riviera Maya’s Most Unique Tours
- Playa del Carmen with Kids: Best Activities that Parents Will Love Too!
- Playa del Carmen to Cozumel: Day Trip Ideas & Logistics
- Mahekal Beach Resort review: Is this tropical paradise right for you?
- Xcaret Park: 20+ Tips & Tricks to Make the Most of Your Visit
- Hotel Xcaret, Mexico with kids: everything you need to know about visiting with a family
- Moon Palace Cancun Review: Is More Always Better?
- Best Places to Stay in Yucatan for Families
- Incredible Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula
- Should you bring a car seat to Mexico?