Cancun is famous for luxurious mega-resorts, laid-back locals, and a backyard full of ancient Mayan ruins, but make no mistake—most people go for the glorious beach. Long, dreamy stretches of sun-drenched white sand and the turquoise Caribbean combine to create the kind of sand-and-surf getaway we envision in our mind’s eye.

By all means, bring the kids. Hotels here know what families are looking for in a beach vacation, and they deliver. Here are five of Cancun’s best beach resorts for families:

Omni Hotel and Villas: With its well-run kids’ program, zero-entry pool and babysitting services, this resort caters particularly well to families with little ones. Older kids can take advantage of an array of beach and water sports, while their parents appreciate the full-service spa and all-inclusive pricing. There are 341 rooms, suites and villas; larger families will find the extra space they need with a three-bedroom villa. Dining options include nine restaurants, two snack bars, and themed buffets at dinnertime. Nice touch: At check-in, young kids get backpacks full of toys, games and books for the duration of their visit, plus milk and cookies on their first night. If you visit May through October, be sure to check into Omni's turtle release program.

Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort: The best thing about this oceanfront property is the family-friendly accommodations. One- and two-bedroom villas offer separate living and sleeping areas, plus a balcony, full kitchen and washer/dryer. There’s an on-site market where you can shop for cooking ingredients, and the resort also offers several restaurants serving a variety of international cuisines. The kids’ club offers daily activities and there’s also an all-inclusive dining option for kids 12 and under. Nice touch: One of the resort’s eateries offers service on the beach, so you don’t have to leave the sand and surf.

Dreams Cancun: This oh-so-plush resort landed on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of Top 10 Resorts in Mexico for good reason. Start with larger-than-average rooms and all-inclusive pricing, then add in a terrific kids’ club, five restaurants, and an enormous pool and you’ve got a winner for families. Though it’s in the midst of Cancun’s hotel zone, the grounds are landscaped to feel like a lush and tranquil tropical hideaway. Nice touch: There’s a natural saltwater lagoon where you can swim with dolphins.

Beach Palace Resort: This swish property in the hotel zone is a great pick for families that want to be in the thick of the action. It features three pools, six dining options, and a relaxing spa. The kids’ club offers an array of fun activities for the 4-to-12 crowd, from face painting and dance lessons to video gaming. Teens get their own disco and every night there is a themed party or show for the whole family. Larger families of up to six can stay comfortably in a deluxe suite. Nice touch: The hotel lends Walkie-Talkies to families so parents can stay in touch with their kids anywhere on the resort. All-inclusive pricing even extends to 24-hour room service, water sports, taxes and gratuities—and kids stay free all summer.

Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort: Located away from the bustle of the city just a few miles from the airport, this sprawling complex (and sister property to the Beach Palace) actually contains three sections within it, with seven outdoor pools and a dozen dining options. Kids’ club activities include cooking workshops, piñata-making, mini golf, a climbing tower, plus a game room that features Xbox 360 and Wii and table games like air hockey and pool. Two-bedroom deluxe suites will sleep large families of up to six. Nice touch: The once-a-week chocolate tastings are a crowd pleaser. All-inclusive pricing extends to 24-hour room service, water sports, taxes and gratuities—and kids stay free all summer.

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