We are headed to Cancun in January for a family vacation… the first so far that requires a passport! So I am in full-on research mode. I’ve been there before without kids, so I know that Xel-Ha is safe for kids, as is Tulum. I’ve also been to Cozumel, Cancun and Isla Mujeres, but it was many moons ago. So I’d like to find some different activities, and be sure that our 8-yr-old will enjoy them.
Also, because my son’s best friend was adopted from Guatemala and is 100% Mayan, the Maya culture is especially interesting to us. Given this, I was absolutely thrilled to find this article in National Geographic: Top 10 Maya-Themed Family Activities — National Geographic… many of these activities are near Cancun! I took notes for our upcoming trip and am sharing them with you below:
1. Tour Kaokao – a chocolate factory in Cozumel. http://www.chocolateskaokao.com/
2. Swim with stingrays in Cozumel. The barbs have been clipped, so it’s safe for kids.
3. Explore the caves of Rio Secreto. (not until he’s older) Just south of Cancun. Do guided tour… helmet, life vest, headlamp for safety. Most of the water is knee-to-waist deep for an adult.
4. Swim in a Yucatan cenote. Gran Cenote is north of Tulum. There are several others near Cancun, and one inside Xel-Ha. Make sure to choose one that has guides and lifeguards. A cenote is a deep sinkhole filled with crystal clear fresh water, formed when the roof of a cavern collapses.
5. Explore Tulum and the Sian Ka’an Biospehere Reserve. Tulum has best view of all the Mayan pyramids, being on the coast. It’s also small, compact and mostly flat, making it easy for families to navigate. (can do a Xel-Ha/Tulum combo package.) “The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the largest protected areas in the Mexican Caribbean (1.3 million acres). Book a tour to see turtles, colorful fish, and possibly dolphins.”
6. See baby turtles at Tortugranja in Isla Mujeres. “One of the most uplifting sights in the Maya world is watching baby turtle hatchlings make their way by moonlight from the beaches to the sea. This is a rare sight, but visitors can see turtles at this hatchery on Isla Mujeres. In this protected area, the turtles are safe from predators. After they’re born they’re placed in ponds where they can grow large enough to have a good chance of survival. Visitors can see the turtles up close; some may have the exhilarating experience of releasing hatchlings into the sea. The admission fee is low (about $3 at press time) and helps support turtle conservation.”
Please read the full article to learn about the many places in Guatemala that are safe and fun for families! Someday we would love to go there, too!!
And, if you have any tips for us regarding Cancun, please share them in the comments below!! (or on Twitter, FB, etc.)