Treat the family to a fun day out on your next Cancun vacation. Here’s a guide to some great Riviera Maya family trips and ideas for exploring further afield.
Watery fun, snorkeling is top of the list After days on the beach, in the pool or at the Royal Resorts kids club it’s time to do some exploring and there’s one thing in the Mexican Caribbean that fast becomes a family favorite, a snorkeling trip. If your children can swim they can learn to snorkel and they’ll soon be ready to take the plunge and join you to explore the wonders of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second longest coral reef system in the world.
Shallow water reefs in the Cancun-Isla Mujeres area, Chankanaab Park on the island of Cozumel and Puerto Morelos and Akumal in the Riviera Maya are ideal spots for snorkeling, offering sightings of angel fish, parrot fish, sergeant majors and even sea turtles.
An alternative is to spend the day at Xel-Ha Park. This chain of turquoise inlets, lagoons and cenotes is a snorkeling paradise offering face to face encounters with a variety of colorful reef fish. And although you’ll want to dive into the clear water over and over again in search of new species, there are other fun activities on offer.
Follow the paths through the forest to the park’s cenotes, smaller inlets and caves. Leap off the cliff of courage into the water and then drift across the lagoon on a giant inner tube. You can also try your hand at zip lining, swim in a cenote and walk across the floating bridge at the mouth of the inlet where larger fish such as snappers and jacks swim placidly by. You’ll see dolphins, manatees and stingrays in different parts of the park and for an additional fee you and your children can swim with them.
During your day at Xel-Ha, you’ll learn about the mangrove forest that plays such an important role in the lives of reef fish as a breeding and feeding area and a refuge for juvenile fish. As you walk along nature trails around the lagoon and in the forest keep a look out for iguanas, coatimundis and raccoons and discover the ancient Mayan traditions associated with bee keeping.
For a panoramic view of the park’s inlets and cenotes and the Riviera Maya coast, climb Xel-Ha’s latest attraction, a lookout tower that is also a huge water slide that your children will love.
On the outskirts of Cancun Hotel Zone, Ventura Park has more fun pools, water slides and rides that will keep your children happy all day.
Park life Spending the day at the Riviera Maya’s nature parks is a top family vacation activity and one that everyone will enjoy.
Heading the list is world-famous Xcaret Park just south of Playa del Carmen. Spending the day here is as much about fun in the water as it is about you and your children discovering the country’s rich traditions and wildlife.
Relax on the beach, swim in one of the park’s underground rivers and go snorkeling. You can see more treasures of the deep on a visit to the aquarium. Visit the sea turtles; there are tiny hatchlings, juveniles and huge turtles approaching maturity. Manatees swim in the lagoons and there are dolphins too (additional charge for dolphin swims and encounters).
Walk through the huge aviary, home to 90 species of birds from southeast Mexico, from hummingbirds to parrots, macaws and toucans. Sit for a few minutes in the peaceful sanctuary of the butterfly pavilion and don’t miss the regional wildlife enclosures where you can watch the antics of spider monkeys and coatimundis, deer grazing with their fawns and see the majestic jaguar.
Opened in 2017, the Children’s World area in Xcaret offers pools, water slides and cenotes for children under the age of 12 to swim in. As the little ones splash about in the water and run across rope bridges, parents can cool off and recharge in a shaded rest area.
As you wander through Xcaret you’ll see crumbling stone temples in forest clearings that are all that remains of an ancient Mayan port called Pole. There’s also a replica of a Mayan village where craftsmen work and the representation of the ancient Mayan ball game in the evening is a highlight.
During the day, you’ll see the Papantla Flyers from Veracruz climb a 30-meter pole and tie ropes to their feet. They then cast themselves off, circling the pole and gradually descending, emulating the flight of birds in an ancient ritual to honor the sun god. In the afternoon, you can watch the charros or Mexican cowboys display their equestrian skills as you enjoy a late lunch of mouthwatering traditional cuisine.
Be sure to stay on for the unforgettable Xcaret evening gala performance that showcases Mexican history, music, dance and song. It takes you from the days of ancient Mayan rulers to the sights and sounds of a Mexican fiesta, complete with a mariachi band. Your children will soon forget that they are tired and be so enthralled that they will be shouting “Viva Mexico” with the rest of the audience.
A shorter trip that younger children might enjoy is Crococun located just to the north of Puerto Morelos. They’ll see crocodiles, spider monkeys, parrots and toucans and can stroke white-tailed deer and other tame creatures.
For a fun morning in the Riviera Maya with older children, Xenses Park is a world full of illusions where what you see is what you don’t. There are two circuits with 17 different attractions that take park goers into a fantastic realm where nothing is what it seems. With names like the Pinwheel, Way of Dwarfs and Giants, Xensatorium, Xitrico Garden, Flutterfly and Sludgerie, the experiences take place on the ground, underground, in the air on zip lines and in the water and bring visitors into contact with nature.
After a visit to Xenses, head to Playa del Carmen for lunch and more optical illusions at the 3D Museum of Wonders where you can literally walk into 3D drawings on the walls, floors and ceiling. Not tired yet? Take the children to L’Aquarium, Playa del Carmen’s huge new aquarium.
Jungle Adventures How about a day of jungle adventures? These are fun Riviera Maya family trips for older children who will soon find their adventurous spirit. They can fly through the jungle canopy on thrilling zip line circuits and swim in cenotes or sinkholes at Xplor Park, Selvatica or Aktun Chen. Other adventure tours include zip lining, abseiling down a cliff, kayaking, biking and nature walks and ATV drives.
Taking the family to Xenotes Oasis Maya gives you the chance to explore the jungle and spend the day at four different cenotes on the Ruta de los Cenotes inland from Puerto Morelos. Swim, snorkel and rappel down a cliff wall. Go kayaking, float in an inner tube and splashdown in a cenote on a fun zip line. Venture into ancient caves and enjoy a guided walk along nature trails in the jungle.
If all the members of the family like horseback riding, there are several ranches offering rides through the jungle to a cenote where you can cool off with a swim.
If you want your children to learn about nature, how about a trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve? A trip from Muyil to the south of Tulum combines a visit to the Muyil archaeological site in the jungle with a fun boat ride across the lagoon into the mangroves where you’ll float-swim through a canal. There’s even time for the beach and of course you’ll see plenty of wildlife along the way. Other Sian Ka’an options include visits to Mayan communities where you’ll have the chance to meet local people and learn about their lives and traditions.
Discovering Mayan culture A day trip to the area’s famous archaeological sites is an option if you have older children, especially if you combine it with time on the beach or cenote visits. Tulum and Coba in the Riviera Maya are good sites to start with before heading to Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Always plan early trips to the archaeological sites so that you can beat the midday heat. If you do decide to go to Chichen Itza, the colonial town of Valladolid is a good place for a break and lunch and there are cenotes en route to Chichen where you can cool off.
Book your Riviera Maya family trips with Thomas More From tickets to nature parks to snorkeling, dolphin swims, zip lining adventures, boat trips and much more, book your Riviera Maya family trips with Thomas More Travel. Visit the website now to get started and if you are staying at Royal Resorts visit the travel desk for more options.
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