Some people avoid Mexico like the plague; others spend years unveiling its deep Mayan history and vast natural beauties. So how can we find a balance? Mexico is not a tourist-filled Tijuana, nor is it a spring break Cancun. After recently spending one month in Mexico, we found the top activities that are not only very safe to do, but will have you exploring some of the deepest Mayan culture and enjoying the best nature has to offer.
1. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico; an estimated 1.2 million tourists explore the ruins every year. In its day it was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans. These days you cannot climb it (if you're interested in climbing, you can visit the much higher Coba ruins), but the grounds are still spectacular. Hire a tour guide inside for less than $40 and get the low-down on the mysterious ancient civilization and the intricate cities they built.
We visited four of the most well-known cenotes on the East Coast of Mexico and all of them I can highly recommend. What the heck is a cenote (pronounced say-no-tah)? Well it’s a deep natural pit, or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Some are out in the open, some are in caves, and others are in deep wells in the ground. If you only have time for two, try these:
The Grand Cenote is located at the major cross-section in Tulum. This is only a short walk down some steps and then you enter two beautiful pools of water, one with a cave to swim through. The bottom is sandy, the water is clear and it’s great for kids and just hanging out.
Also Ik Kil, 3 miles from Chichen Itza. From the top all you can see is a giant hole in the ground, then when you get closer it’s like you are looking into another dimension. Vines & flowers line the walls of the sinkhole, as well as the occasional waterfall. Then at the very bottom, with people bobbing up and down, a great big pool of water. This water is not crystal clean like the other cenotes. It’s dark and catfish swarm it’s depths, but it is breathtaking.
3. Sea turtles at Akumal Beach
The perfect family beach with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A beach littered with palm trees creating premium shade, restaurants behind them and crystal clear waters in front of them. And in the water? Sea turtles. Get the kids' snorkeling gear on and just swim out a little way. There you will find the turtles, swimming around and munching on sea grass with not a care in the world.
Mexico has some amazing islands like Cozumel, where the water is a translucent blue and the sand is white. On Cozumel you can hire a Mexican Ferrari (VW convertible) and cruise around the whole island easily in a day. Stop for fish-bowl margaritas, swim, and even see a Mayan ruin or two.
5. All-inclusive waterpark
The Wet n Wild Cancun entry price includes everything – waterslides, unlimited food, soda and unlimited alcohol. Yes, you heard it here. This place is fabulous with its crazy slides and fun kids' water playgrounds. But when kids swim they get hungry, and it can cost a lot. Not here. Every time the kids complain, simply send them to one of the many food stations around the park – pizza, tacos, salads, fruit, hotdogs, fries, it’s all here. And while they are busy munching and playing, help yourself to a free piña colada or two or three.
Mexico is so much more then what you might picture, and there is something to do for every member of the family. It’s a place where you can enjoy history, learn culture, sunbake and relax, swim, snorkel or just eat. Enjoy Mexico; we know you will find something that everyone will love.
Looking for a place to stay for your Mexican getaway? Explore one of our vacation rentals in Mexico here.
This guest post was submitted by Erin Bender of Travel with Bender. In May 2012, The Benders rented out their house, packed their bags and took their then 2 and 3 year old off to Bali, and have been travelling ever since - that’s over 380 days! Their journey has taken them from the jungles of Bali to the beaches of Thailand, through the cities of Malaysia and then a giant leap to the other side of the world where they traversed the roads of the US, played in the cenotes of Mexico and discovered the ruins of Guatemala. And they are still going!
It’s an open-ended, unplanned round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for toddlers (and they have fun along the way) that you can share by visiting their family travel blog, Facebook page or Twitter.