Family Vacations: Mexico

 A week on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is pure bliss for a family of water lovers. Beachfront resorts deliver a full measure of sun, sea, and sand. Start in Puerto Morelos, then head south to Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Resort-hopping gives you easy access to the best beaches, offshore reefs and cenotes.
Plan your Trip. This day-by-day guide lists details on lodging, restaurants, sports & recreation and sights described in Mexico: Water Glories. Use the websites, phone numbers, maps to plan your trip.
Learn More. Riviera Maya has information on tours, marine sports and special events. From November through February the weather patterns may bring an occasional cooler wind, but even in winter, water temperatures range between 78 degrees and 80 degrees.

DAY 1 —Cancun, Puerto Morelos


Choose a carrier that has non-stop service from your gateway.
Virgin America has three weekly flights (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) to Cancun from two west coast gateways. Continental Airlines has non-stop flights from several east coast gateways. Avoid connecting flights in Mexico City, which often involves a 4-hour layover.
Getting There
Virgin America
Continental Airlines
Rent a car at Cancun International Airport.

The National counter is outside the  baggage claim area. Check the tires. Jungle roads are often rutted and unpaved.

National Car Rental

Stay at award-winning Zoëtry for two nights.
This boutique, all-inclusive resort, set on the white-sand Bahia Petempich beach, has 90 two-room suites, all facing the sea. The vacation experience here is a mix of swimming, sailing and formal dining. The resort is a 30-minute drive from Cancun International Airport, north of Puerto Morelos.
Zoëtry Paraiso del la Bonita
Chetumal-Cancun Hwy Km. 328, SM 31
Bahia Petempich, Puerto Morelos
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77580
+52 998 872 8300
888.496.3879 U.S. toll free
View Map
DAY 2 Puerto Morelos
Have a Janzu water massage in a therapeutic sea-water pool.
In a series of gentle movements, you are gently rocked, stretched, pulled and submerged. The physical sensation is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Hydromassage is a speciality here.
Zoëtry Thalasso Center & Spa

Sail along Bahia Petempich on a catamaran.
When the breeze picks up in the late afternoon, the skipper hoists the sails. The best spot on the sunset sail is in front of the catamaran. You can stretch out on the blue net and feel the water racing beneath you. The sun slowly sinks behind the jungle and the sky turns indigo. Torches are lit up and down the beaches and in front of the resorts, waiters are creating paths with luminarias to guide guests to dining tables close to the shore.
Sports & Recreation
Zoëtry Marina La Bonita


Have a special celebration dinner at La Canoa.
This is the night to dress up and order a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. La Canoa has the largest wine cellar in the Riviera Maya. The French chef uses the spices and chilies of several tropical countries to create fusion cuisine. Try the gazpacho and the spice-rubbed yellow fin tuna.
Zoëtry La Canoa

DAY 3—Riviera Maya
Check into Maroma Resort for two nights.
This resort has one stunning amenity: its location on one of the last wild Caribbean beaches in Mexico. Pathways glow each evening from hundreds of candles. Located 30 miles south of Cancun.
Maroma Resort & Spa
Hwy 307 Km. 51
Riviera Maya
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77710
+52 (998) 872 82 00
866.454.9351 U.S. toll free
View Map

Snorkel in an underwater oasis.
The world’s second largest barrier reef lies right offshore and offers prime-time entertainment. The water is shallow and it’s fun to watch cobalt blue damselfish dart among sea fans.
 Polyps wave feathery tentacles to catch plankton. The parrot fish, its scales a bright iridescence, tear at the coral with snapping jaws. Year-round water temperature of 77 degrees to 82 degrees adds to the pleasure.
Sports & Recreation
Maroma Resort Marina
Have a private dinner in a lookout tower.
Atop the Mirador observation tower, you have an unbroken view of the sea. Dining under the moon and stars piques the appetite. Try the lobster enchilada with mole sauce; soft shell crab with achiote, habanero, avocado and citrus salad; or braised short ribs with tamarind.
Maroma Resort El Restaurante

DAY 4—Playa del Carmen, Cozumel
Catch the early morning ferry to Cozumel.
The crossing takes 30 minutes in the plush seats in the inside cabin. You have to take the 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. ferry if you want to catch the 8:30 a.m. dive boat. The schedule varies by the season. Check timetable of departures on the website. The ferry terminal is in downtown Playa del Carmen, about a block and a half from the main square and Plaza Playacar.
UltraMar Cozumel Ferry
Main Pier, Playa del Carmen
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77710
+52 (998) 881 5890
View Map

Dive Colombia and Palancar reefs.
The kaleidoscope of multi-colored marine life in exceptionally clear water makes Cozumel a diver’s dream spot. Moray eels, sea turtles, nurse sharks, giant anemone, great groupers, queen angel, hermit crab, parrotfish, giant sponges, cactus coral, gorgonian fans are some of the sea life you encounter at more than 40 dive sites. 
Sports &  Recreation
Aqua Safari Dive Shop
3 blocks south of the ferry dock
Av. Rafael E. Melgar #429
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77600
+52 (987) 872 0101
View Map
Taste traditional Maya cuisine.
Tucked in among the street stalls on the pedestrian thoroughfare is this gem of a restaurant that serves old-world Maya cuisine. Two dishes to sample are blackened turkey simmered in burnt pepper sauce, and fish fillet stuffed with plantain and corn and wrapped in chaya leaf.
Yaxche Maya Cuisine Restaurant
5th Avenue and 22nd Street
Playa del Carmen
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77710
+52 (984) 873 30 11
View Map

DAY 5—Tulum
Check into Dreams Tulum for two or three nights.
At the southern end of the Riviera Maya, this is the best all-inclusive resort. The resort sprawls like one of Mexico’s famed silver cities, with a grand manor, botanical gardens and town square. Scattered among the colonial-themed districts are restaurants, shops, and hacienda lodging. The party scene is at the pool with the swim-up bar. Maya ruins and freshwater cenotes are nearby.
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Hwy 307 Km. 236.7
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77760
+52 (984) 871 3333
866.237.3267 U.S. toll free
View Map

Experience a Maya healing ritual in a Temazcal.


Steam blossoms inside a domed sweat lodge as a shaman ladles herb-infused water on fiery rocks. Thick vapor and muted chanting fill the stone enclosure. The shaman continues to shake rattles and chant, inviting everyone  to focus on the healing they wish to receive.
Dreams Tulum Spa


DAY 6—Coba, Riviera Maya
Explore the ancient Maya city of Coba.

Coba has the only pyramid that you can still climb to the top. After the 138-foot hike up Nohoch Mul’s steep face, you reach the precinct of the Maya priesthood. The prize is the unbroken view of the Maya jungle from the top altar. The ball court is a corridor between two stone walls. The players used only their hips and elbows to get a  ball through a hoop. Because the excavated parts of the city are scattered throughout the park, you may want to rent a bike. Coba is 44 km (26 miles) northwest of Tulum. Go at 8 a.m. when the gate opens to avoid the tour buses from Cancun.

Coba Coba Archaeological Park
Coba Hwy.
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77740
View Map
Swim in a cenote.
The refreshing crystal-clear water of the cenotes deep in the Maya jungle offer a once in-a-lifetime experience for swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers. Look for the Dos Ojos banner on the west side of Hwy 307. The entrance is 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) north of Tulum. You can also rent snorkel gear. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday, the cenote is run by the Maya community.
Sports & Recreation
Dos Ojos
Hwy 307
Riviera Maya
Quintana Roo, Mexico
— CT Editors. Photography by Donna Peck.

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