Our favorite family vacation was to Cancun a few years ago. At the time our youngest was just 6 months old. We were able to relax, explore ruins, and enjoy the Mexican culture. We would gladly do that trip again.
Day 1: Arriving: The flight was more simple than I imagined. It was a 40 min flight to Houston, and then a 2hr. flight to Cancun. The Customs officer was really sweet to my kids. He made a big deal about stamping their passports, and they loved it!
I was glad that we had already booked our transportation to our Resort. We were pestered by a lot of people begging to give us a ride. I am not sure if they were all legit. We had booked our airport transportation with an excursion we would be taking later in the week. For an additional fee of $30, they added a 1hr stop at Walmart for grocery shopping. Instead of feeling tedious to buy groceries, we actually had fun trying to shop like a local. We were often confused about what we were buying. We definitely used up the whole hour just trying to find food items we recognized enough to be able to cook. We also bought some extra things we weren’t familiar with just to try them out. They were good!
Link to Almas LDS Tours: https://www.almaldstours.us/?lang=en
We had been warned that oftentimes Mexican Resorts don’t live up to American standards. NOPE! When we pulled up we kept staring and saying, “This can’t be what we reserved!” This place was incredible!! Trip advisor gives it 4 stars, but I think it deserves more! Upon checking in, we were pestered over and over to do a timeshare presentation. We were promised a better deal on our resort fees, a free breakfast, and a good deal on excursions. We decided to take one for the team and sign up.
Link to Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort: https://www.vidanta.com/en/web/riviera-maya/mayan-palace
Day 2: Pool/ Beach Day: We decided to take a day to enjoy the grounds, and boy did we enjoy them! We had seen a picture of the large main pool online, but what they didn’t show was the MANY other pools that were even more scenic and private. These varied pools contained swim-up bars, numerous cabanas (we never struggled to find one), and pool seats. We were enjoying the pool so much we almost forgot about the ocean in front of us.
Day 3: Presentation and Beach: This was the day we had signed up for the timeshare presentation. They first treated us to a fantastic Mayan themed Breakfast. As much as I dreaded the presentation, I’m so glad we were able to experience the restaurant! The presentation was long. They “claim’ no longer than an hour and a half, but it was more like 3-31/2 hours. They start to get VERY pushy at the end. They don’t want you to leave without signing something. Thankfully our kids were starting to have meltdowns. Their crying and restlessness were driving our agent crazy and disrupting the other sales agents, so they eventually gave up. Let me be clear, that was the most obnoxious timeshare presentation I have been to, but it was worth it for the discount vouchers. Thanks to the grueling presentation, we were able to reserve a shuttle to visit Tulum, the beach near Tulum, and Subway for just $5 a person. We spent the rest of the day walking around enjoying the nature of the resort and walking on the beach.
Day 4: Chichen Itza/Cenote/ Restaurant/ Ek Balam: Before we left on vacation, we had arranged a private tour with a company that was recommended. I would highly recommend them as well! The ride to Chichen Itza was about 2 hours. It was in an air-conditioned bus playing American music from about 20 years ago haha. They also played Disneys Road To Eldorado for the kids. Our guide spoke perfect English and answered our millions of questions on just about everything!
Chichen Itza was magnificent! It’s tall and majestic. Our guide, Miguel, did a wonderful job explaining the meaning of each of the carvings, etc. seeing Chichen Itza was surprisingly my kids’ favorite part of the trip! Who knew?
Our excursion also included a stop at a cenote for swimming. It was beautiful. The water was very cold (it is a cave after all) so we didn’t swim for long, but it was still amazing to see.
For lunch, we were taken to an authentic Mexican restaurant that included traditional Mexican dancers. It was fascinating and we all enjoyed the show.
We continued onto our final stop called Ek Balam. The area hadn’t been excavated for long and was probably my favorite stop. There were still areas with marble looking carvings. Tourists were allowed to climb all the way to the top of the Mayan temple. I got about halfway and was paralyzed with fear from the height. I backward crawled back down before even reaching halfway. It was only then that I wished I hadn’t allowed my 2 older boys to climb to the top! When we asked our guide (Miguel) if people fall off of the sites often, he shrugged his shoulders and said “Probably. Mexico doesn’t really keep track of that stuff the way the US does, plus it would take about 45 minutes to get to the nearest hospital.” YIKES!
Day 5: Pool/ Beach day: We enjoyed another wonderful day at the beach. The beach closest to the resort was a little rocky. We discovered a beautiful sandy beach completely empty about a 20-minute walk down the shore.
Day 6: Tulum: There were monkeys following us in the trees all the way through the tropical forest trail that led to Tulum. We didn’t have a guide at Tulum. I wished we had. It was still incredible to look at all the sites, but we didn’t really know what we were looking at. The beach next to Tulum was a beautiful turquoise color, but it was very crowded and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the beach at the resort.
Later that night, we finally participated in the evening activities the resort continuously mentioned. I wished we would have been watching them all along! They had mariachi bands, dancers, lively colors, and great food!
Day 7: Wildlife: Our family was burnt out and wanted a relaxing day at our favorite pools. We also enjoyed walking around the resort. We always made sure to apply a TON of bug spray with DEET before leaving our building. They had an animal reserve with flamingos, iguanas, monkeys, etc. Animals would crawl and swing around the resort. It was fabulous. Oftentimes on our way to somewhere else, we would stop to watch the amazing creatures hanging around.
Day 8: Last day: As much as I love to travel, I am usually anxious to get back home to my own bed after a long vacation. Not this time! I didn’t want to leave. Our luxurious 2 bedroom suite was spacious enough for us to not feel cramped. Our cleaning ladies always did a fantastic job and left mints on our pillows. I loved the beach, the tropical atmosphere, and the Mexican culture. Never at any time did I feel like my family was in any danger. I loved our visits to Tulum and Chichen Itza. I think the combination of touring, beauty, and relaxing by pools and beaches was the perfect balance to create a fantastic vacation!
I hope this gives you some ideas of what to do on your next trip to Cancun! Happy Travels!