Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a fabulous family-friendly beach destination. With easy flight access into Cancun, plenty of accommodation options, beautiful beaches and an ultra kid-friendly culture, it’s always a great option for a warm weather family getaway.
After years scouting the best places to stay and the best things to do in the Riviera Maya for families, I’ve seen pretty much everything in the area. And today, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of my first in a new collection of custom tours available exclusively to clients of A Family Travel Blog! This Tulum Experience for Families is a wonderful, kid-friendly excursion in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
Located at the southern end of the Riviera Maya, Tulum is famous for wide, white sandy beaches and a laid back, bohemian vibe. If you have one week in Mexico and are up for a little adventure, splitting your time between Tulum and a larger resort further north is a great idea!
This exclusive tour, which I custom designed and is only available to my clients, works well if you’re staying anywhere near Playa del Carmen or south of that along the Riviera Maya.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be picked up (exact time depends on the location of your resort) in a private vehicle. (Be sure to grab a few pool towels to bring with you for the day!) Your first stop of the day is the Tulum Ruins, the area’s most famous Mayan ruins. Inhabited as early as the 6th century, Tulum is one of the only walled cities built by the Mayans. You will arrive right at 8:30am when the site opens. The Tulum ruins site becomes very crowded (and very hot) by 9:30 or 10:00am so you’ll be glad to be there early.
Here, you’ll spend about one hour walking through the ruins. The area is well maintained and the signs are very informative, so depending on the age and interest level of your children simply reading the signs and having a look will give you a nice overview of the site. Generally, I find that with younger kids it’s enough to walk through the Tulum ruins at your own pace, read the signs and have a look. However, if you would like to use one of the local guides, there are several on site and they are all very good, you can hire them on the spot for around 500 pesos ($25).
For families interested in a more in-depth tour of the site, I have access to a fabulous Mayan history expert and can arrange for him to accompany you throughout the day.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Then, continue on to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, about a 20 minute drive from the ruins. This massive reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, covers 10% of the state of Quintana Too, over 1.3 million acres, making it the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean and the largest coastal protected area in all of Mexico.
Here, you’ll board a small boat with a local guide and set off into the fresh water lagoon. Travel across the lagoon, and the suck into narrow, ancient “channels” which were carved into the limestone and mangroves by ancient Mayans. It’s incredibly impressive to see how they remain functioning today!
After a short boat ride, arrive to a small pier. Here, you’ll turn your lifejacket upside down (“put it on like a diaper” the guides will tell you!) and hop right into the fresh water channel. Enjoy a real life lazy river experience as the current pushes you along. The water is refreshing and it’s amazing fun to get right up into the Mangroves, check out the flora up close and marvel at how clear the water is. After about 30 minutes floating, get back into the boat and enjoy drinks and snacks as you head back to your vehicle.
After this refreshing float, make you way back to the vehicle and continue on to Muyil, only a short drive from the biosphere. Here, you will find an impressive amount of Mayan ruins, including two particularly impressive structures, the “cathedral” and the “castle.” Archaeologists are currently researching the role of Muyil, but believe it was an inland seaport that connected mainland to the Caribbean via the Punta Allen Peninsula.
Particularly after seeing the Tulum ruins, and the accompanying crowds, you’ll be impressed by the compete lack of people here. It’s almost as if no one knows these ruins exist!
You’ll again be admitted into the site, and can walk around at your own pace. This will only take about 30 minutes.
Now, it’s time for lunch. Continue on towards Tulum and stop at a local favorite restaurant right in the heart of town. Enjoy a local meal of traditional fire-roasted chicken tacos and a variety of sides at a typical Mexican restaurant. After lunch, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel and resort.
Here’s what’s included in this custom Tulum Tour for Families, priced at $119 per person:
- This tour takes about 5 hours and is well paced for children of all ages.
- Round-trip transportation from your hotel or resort in a private vehicle stocked with drinks and snacks and everything you need to stay cool and comfortable throughout the day
- English speaking driver who will be with you throughout
- Entrance into the Tulum Ruins, Sian Ka’an Reserve and the Muyil Ruins
- Lunch at a local restaurant in Tulum (a hidden gem!)
- A detailed itinerary complete with kid-friendly facts and information about each of the sites you’ll be visiting
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