Plan the best family trip to the mayan riviera

We only write about destinations we have personally visited with our family. This post contains affiliate links. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to UNICEF.

We know that it’s hard to find time to properly plan for a trip with kids, so we have put together all the information and resources you will need to plan a memorable family trip to the Mayan Riviera. 

The Mayan Riviera is a well-traveled region of the world and it’s pretty easy to travel there. That said, there were a few things I wish I had known prior to going, which we write about in the some of the blog posts listed below.

We recently spent 28 amazing days with our kids in the Mayan Riviera. We based ourselves in Playa del Carmen and with the help of a rental car, we explored the many natural and cultural wonders of the area. We had an incredibly fun time and we all agree that it is one of our favorite family trips to date!

We hope the following resources will help your family have the best trip ever!

WHEN TO GO

When planning a tropical vacation you want hot sun and blue skies, right? Visit holiday-weather.com to see typical weather in the Mayan Riviera by month.

WHERE TO STAY

All-Inclusive Package Deals

Of our 7 trips to Mexico, 5 of them have been to an all-inclusive resort. Typically , we are very active travelers, but there’s nothing quite like being pampered in a tropical paradise for a week or two. The simplest way of booking your trip is to buy a package deal with flights and hotel included. These agencies make it easy…

OneTravel.com - All Inclusive Packages - Mayan Riviera

Great selection of all-inclusive packages and last-minute deals.

Expedia.com Mayan Riviera All-Inclusive Packages

When booking our own travel, we use Expedia 9 times out of 10.

Enjoy member-only savings on discount vacation packages.

Family Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts

These amazing all-inclusive resorts don’t skimp on the luxury or pampering, just because they are also family friendly…

Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa  (we loved our stay here with our 18 month old daughter)

Seadust Cancun Family Resort

Crown Paradise Club Cancun

Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda

Vacation Property Rentals

Our most recent trip to Mexico was our first off-resort vacation. We stayed at a 3-bedroom Airbnb in Playa del Carmen, just a few blocks off the beach. We loved having a bedroom for each of the kids, a full kitchen and laundry facilities. We use Airbnb or VRBO almost everywhere we travel. With two small kids, we love having all the comforts of home.

If you planning to stay in the Mayan Riviera a while, have kids who need good sleeps, or simply want a cheaper alternative to an all-inclusive, a vacation rental is the way to go. 

Airbnb Mayan Riviera Vacation Rentals

Sign up here and get a $35USD credit towards your first stay

VRBO Mayan Riviera Properties

Family friendly VRBO rental properties

Home Exchange - Mayan Riviera

With the large number of people who own vacation properties in Mexico, it’s worth checking to see if a free home swap is available…

GETTING AROUND

If you are staying at an all-inclusive, chances are good that you have airport transportation included in your package. If you need to arrange your own transport, here are your alternatives:

Private Transfer

Want your driver to meet you at the Cancun airport gate with your last name on a sign? Booking a private transfer is a nice, reasonably cheap luxury to get your trip off on the right foot.

Car Rental

We rented a car on our most recent trip and despite the occasional unpleasant experience, I am so glad we did rent a car as it improved the quality of our trip immensely. It opened up the whole area to explore on our own timetable, not needing to wait for a tour bus, etc. We were able to get to the major attractions in the region at opening time, thus avoiding the crowds and the hot midday sun.

There are a few things I’d like you to be aware of before you rent a car in Mexico. If you are going to rent a car, please read the blog posts below:

Compare Cancun Airport car rental prices here. (If you find yourself getting excited about the prices, stop and read the blog post below)

Family Can Travel Blog Post: Beware These Scams Renting a Car in the Yucatan Peninsula
Family Can Travel Blog Post: Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula - What You Need to Know

THINGS TO DO

Mayan Ruins

There are three major Mayan ruins which are an easy day trip from the Mayan Riviera. Our blog post, “How to Easily see the Best Mayan Ruins” has everything you need to know for a great day trip.

Chichen Itza

Recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is a must-see!

Tours

Tulum

Dramatically perched high on a seaside cliff, Tulum offers some spectacular scenery. 

Tours

Coba

Nestled deep in the Mexican jungle, Coba is the only one of the three where you can still climb the main pyramid. 

Tours 

Eco Parks

Blessed with so much natural beauty, it’s no surprise that the Mayan Riviera is home to some of the world’s best eco-parks.

Xcaret and Xel-ha are the feature parks in the area and both are definitely worth a visit.

Xcaret by Mexico - Fun with the best of Mexico

Set in the jungle along the Caribbean Sea, Xcaret is family-friendly eco-park with tons of nature-based attractions. Xcaret was named the Best International Theme Park in the world in 2016.

Tickets

Xcaret Blog Posts

A Day of Amazing Family Fun at Xcaret Park

Top 15 Tips to Have the Best Day at Xcaret Park

A great place to spend a hot day, this all-inclusive, oceanfront eco-park has many great land and water based activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Tickets

Xel-Ha Blog Post

How to Have an Unparalleled Day at Xel-Ha

Xplor - Be Ready for the Adventure

Does your family crave adventure? Try Xplor for a day full of ziplines, cave exploration, underground rivers and much more…

Tickets

Xenses - Live the Unimaginable

An incredibly unique half-day park, where your senses are aroused and nothing is as it seems… 

Tickets

Xoximilco - Family Friendly Mexican Party

The best family-friendly Mexican party you can imagine! Enjoy authentic Mexican food, drinks and music while floating down festive canals…

Tickets

The parks above are all world-class and larger than life. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, check out these smaller parks that we enjoyed during our stay.

Aktun-Chen - Natural Park Mayan Riviera Mexico

Don’t miss the chance to experience a cave walk that National Geographic named one of the Top 10 in the world! 

Tickets

Tulum Combo Tour 

Croco Cun Zoo - Local Wildlife Interaction

A 60 minute guided tour where you can interact with local wildlife. Feed deer, pet Mexican hairless dogs, hold a parrot or even a snake if you dare!

Tickets

Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

A home for rescued and donated primates and other species. An interaction with monkeys you won’t soon forget.

Tickets

Jungle ATV, Zipline & Monkey Combo Tour 

Cenotes

The newest craze in the Mayan Riviera is to swim in cenotes, and we gotta say we loved it! A perfect activity for a hot day, escape the heat with your family and enjoy a swim in one of these natural wonders. They are typically out of the way, so hooking up with a tour is the way to go unless you have your own car.

Choo-ha Cenote, near Coba Ruins

 Xenotes: Operated by Experiencias Xcaret, you can trust this will be a quality tour. Visit four different types of cenotes and enjoy swimming, ziplining, rappelling and kayaking. (Ages 6+) 

Tour info

Kantun-Chi: Enjoy a swim or kayak in four unique cenotes all within this beautiful jungle park. 

Park info

Tour info

Ik-Kil: This cenote has an amazing setting – it’s open to the sky, but is located 85 feet below the surface. Some consider this to be the most beautiful cenote in Mexico. Located very close to Chichen Itza, it’s easy to visit both in the same tour.

Tour info

Choo-Ha: A beautiful, cavern-style cenote, blessed with amazingly clear water (pictured above). I can’t swim very good, so I appreciated the safety rope which spans the length of the cenote. This cenote is very close to the Coba ruins, making it a great place to cool off after climbing the pyramid.

Tour info 

Family Friendly Attractions

Showing just how family-friendly the Mayan Riviera is, here are even more attractions the whole family can enjoy…

Jolly Roger Pirate Night Show and Dinner

Jolly Roger Pirate Night Show and Dinner

An all-inclusive evening cruise aboard a pirate ship, complete with a pirate show and fireworks.

Tickets

Ventura Park

Ventura Park - Cancun's Family Amusement Park

A family amusement park with something for everyone – a water park, ziplines, escape challenges and more…

Tickets

Atlantis Submarine Expedition

Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

Dive to depths of 100 feet in a real submarine to see the world-famous marine life off the shores of Cozumel.

Tickets

Beaches and Day Trips

The Caribbean is one of the world’s most beautiful bodies of water, so naturally we spent a ton of time on the beach. Not being at an all-inclusive resort freed us up to visit many beautiful beaches in the area. Here are our 6 favorites:

Family Can Travel Blog Post: The 6 Best Public Beaches in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
How to Easily Visit the Best Mayan Ruins
A Day of Exciting Family Fun on Isla Mujeres

MEXICAN FOOD

Mexican food is one of our favorite ethnic foods in the world. It’s fair to say that it gets a bit of a bad rap for causing tummy troubles. We’re grateful to report that all four of us didn’t have any issues during our month there. The following blog posts share our favorite restaurants and some food safety tips.

Family Can Travel Blog Post: 9 Family Friendly Restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Family Can Travel Blog Post: Food and Water Safety Tips for Mexico

ODDS AND ENDS

Here’s a few last things you may need to consider for your trip…

Lonely Planet - Cancun, Cozumel & the Yucatan

Travel Guide:

We always bring a Lonely Planet with us on our trips. These days we tend to buy the eBooks instead of a paperback as we like to pack lightly. We recommend the PDF version from the Lonely Planet Store as it gives you an exact reprint of the paper book. Of course, the Kindle version tends to be cheaper to buy, but the layout isn’t as nice as the PDF.  (If you want to go even further, it’s free if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited. If you aren’t a member, simply sign up for a free one-month trial and if you don’t wish to continue with Kindle Unlimited, simply cancel the trial when you get home from holidays)

Dog Sitting:

Do you have a pet? If so, would you like someone to come stay at your house and watch them for free while you are on vacation? If so, check out TrustedHousesitters.com.

Trusted Housesitters

We hope you found this resource page helpful. If you have any experiences you’d like to share, please comment below…

Thank you to Xcaret  and Xel-ha for hosting us on our visits. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed within are our own!

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