Three Fun Mayan Riviera Adventures for families with young children


June 3, 2013 by Terumi

visiting the mayan ruins in Tulum with kids

Sometimes the hardest thing about being in an adventurous place with kids is when you want to go exploring and you know that it could be really tough on them.  In the Mayan Riviera, I totally wanted to see ancient ruins and swim in cenotes.  (There is zip-lining too, but we did that recently in Costa Rica so I’ve had my fill.  I also know that years ago near Coba the hubby and I watched one of our guides hook up the zipline rope to a tree on the other side of the river before we zipped across and that was terrifying.)  We’ve found that the easiest thing to do when traveling with kids is to get our own vehicle so you can always get up and go without having to worry about bus schedules, missed shuttles or asking someone to PLEASE stop for a bathroom emergency. We rented ours online and picked it up at Alamo in the La Isla mall in Cancun before we headed south to the Mayan Riviera.

The boys had fun at the Ixchel Ruins on Isla Mujeres so we were able to convince them to visit Tulum which was a short drive away (maybe 40 minutes?) from the Bahia Principe in Coba.  We really talked it up telling them it was from LONG AGO.  (I don’t know about you, but LONG AGO is very fascinating in our house for the 4-year olds right now.)  We also told them if they were really good on our adventure, we would go swimming.  (And I had a bunch of gummy bears in my pocket just in case of a meltdown.)

There is definitely a long walk into Tulum from the parking lot so we probably should have taken the trolley they have running for about 2 dollars each.  I was really thankful for my gummy bears and a big jug of water.

visiting mayan ruins with kids in mexico

The guys loved the scale model of what Tulum used to look like.

visiting Tulum in Mexico with kids

And they thought the iguanas all over all the ruins were really cool.

looking for iguanas at Tulum ruins in Mexico with kids

As promised we went swimming.  The ocean here was very rough the day we went.  I noticed a life guard and many people in the water but I didn’t want the guys to go in the water alone.

swimming with kids near tulum mexico

And because we went here in our own vehicle, we were able to keep the trip short and sweet.

Likewise, when we decided to go to Aktun Chen (Indiana Joe’s) to see the cenote it was a really easy drive.  I read somewhere that this was a good cenote for young children.

cenote with kids in cancun mexico

cenote with kids in cancun mexico

The day we went we were the only people there.

swimming in a cenote with kids near cancun mexico

There are pictures advertising wildlife, but I’m not sure this should be the biggest draw.


The monkey was a little aggressive.

be careful with wildlife and kids on trips

The cenote on the other hand was amazing.

visit a cenote with kids in cancun

I thought the guys would be terrified, but they had so much fun swimming around and there were so many fish in the water.  Our guide was so good with them.  He even took the Bean so I could swim around on my own.

visiting a cenote with kids in cancun


swimming in a cenote with kids in cancun

I couldn’t believe how many tunnels and caves existed under where we swam.





And I can’t say enough good things about the guides at Aktul Chen.  They were so sweet and friendly with my family.  They even showed us this neat fruit, I think they called it Sapote.  It reminded me a little of a lychee.


One more adventurous place I couldn’t get out of my head was a place called Muyil.  It was an ancient Mayan city I hadn’t heard about and it looked so peaceful and beautiful in a picture I’d seen.  So on our last morning at our hotel in Akumal we woke up early and drove the 45-ish minutes to get there.

mayan ruins near cancun that are empty

It turns out it was absolutely empty when we got there.  We were alone.

off the beaten path mayan ruins near cancun with kids

We explored a bit before the mosquitos got to us, but it was absolutely spectacular and serene.  The boys wandered around pretending to be mini archeologists and I just took it all in.

off the beaten path mayan ruins in cancun with kids

I love that we can share these adventures with our guys and I know as they get older the exploring will only get better.  I thought these places were all pretty great for the preschool set.

(PS. something we missed: Akumal bay beach.  For some reason we thought it was south of our hotel but it was actually north so we spent a lot of time looking for it and didn’t have any time once we arrived.  It looked like it would be a fun place to visit the next time.  I also wanted to go to a gelato shop in Tuluum that I read about on this blog, but unfortunately it was closed when we drove by. Next time I think we might also consider staying at a smaller hotel in Tulum now that we know how easy it is to get around by car.  And I also decided we would rent a car way too late to get a reservation for the Jungle Place Spider Monkey Sanctuary.  After seeing the little monkey at Aktul Chen, I am even more curious about how monkeys are treated in this area, so I hope to see this place the next time we come.)



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