riviera maya family travel guide

Riviera Maya Family Travel Guide

If your family’s idea of a perfect vacation involves long, lazy days at the beach, be sure to consider Mexico’s Riviera Maya for your next getaway. With miles and miles of soft sand, safe swimming and clear, warm Caribbean water, the Riviera Maya is first and foremost an amazing beach destination.

The area known as the Riviera Maya stretches along the Eastern coast of Mexico, starting in Cancun and extending South through Playa del Carmen almost all the way to Tulum.

map of riviera maya

But in addition to these amazing beaches, Mexico’s Riviera Maya is super easy to access, safe, and offers a wide range of accommodations, including plenty of comfortable vacation rentals perfect for families and multi-generational groups.

There’s been a lot of development in this area, with parts of Cancun starting to look more and more like the Las Vegas strip. But there are still beautiful areas that have retained authentic charm and Mexican culture, and these are the gems worth seeking out for an amazing family vacation. I’ve gathered everything you need to know in this Riviera Maya Family Travel Guide.

Top Things to See and Do in the Riviera Maya

Take a ferry over to Isla Mujeres and rent a golf cart to explore the island.

The best way to explore the island of Isla Mujeres, including the charming town and dramatic cliffs around the sculpture garden, is to rent a golf cart. From the moment we set foot on the island, we were offered golf cart rental from a number of authorized rental companies surrounding the main pier, when walking to dinner along the main street, and from our hotel concierge. How much is it to rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres? The prices ranges from about $50 – $75 per day. Here’s what you can explore in a day on Isla Mujeres.

Explore the underwater world in a Cenote.

Snorkeling in a Cenote is a fun and unique way to see underwater life. It would be impossible to list them all, so I’ve put together a list of the Riviera Maya Best Cenotes for families.

Sneak away from the kids and practice yoga with some amazing teachers.

According to my research, about 20% of the hotels in Playa del Carmen offer yoga, and nearly all of these classes are open to the public. Given the number of hotels offering yoga, I’m confident you can find a hotel that fits your budget, travel style and will allow you to work in some yoga during your vacation. Here’s a complete list of all the hotels in Playa where you can join a yoga class.  

Don’t miss the famous Mayan Ruins located in the Riviera Maya.  A visit to one of these ancient sites is a nice complement to a relaxing beach vacation. Especially for kids, this is a great way to learn about the history and culture of Mexico.

There are several well-preserved sites and this guide to the Riviera Maya ruins should help you decide which site fits in best to your vacation itinerary.

Explore an underwater cave and river.

Rio Secreto is an underground cave and river system. While there are many caves in the area, including the popular fresh-water snorkeling holes called Cenotes, this one is still a living cave with a river streaming throughout the network of caves, many of which have not even been explored.

Swim with Sea Turtles in Akumal.

The whole family will love snorkeling with the giant sea turtles in Akumal, Mexico. This is a fun (and free!) opportunity to view wildlife of the Yucatan Peninsula!

Check out the underwater world just off shore.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef runs the length of the Riviera Maya. Located very close to shore, this is a great opportunity to book a snorkeling trip and see this living coral reef.

Riviera Maya Family Travel Tips

My family always books an airport transfer when traveling to the Riviera Maya. This allows for a stress-free start to our trip. Here’s why we love Transfers USA.

Playa del Carmen is a charming, beachfront town on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars, hotels and of course white sandy beaches. It’s easy to get around on foot, by taxi and more. Here’s what you need to know about getting around this town.

The Riviera Maya has so much to offer. One way to make it easier to plan the perfect vacation to Mexico’s Riviera Maya is to narrow down your search by general location. First, start by determining where you want to stay, Cancun vs Playa del Carmen, then you’ll be better able to organize the perfect beach vacation from there.

Save money by indulging in tasty and cheap street tacos while in Mexico! Here’s where to find the best street tacos in Playa del Carmen.

Family Friendly Accommodation in the Riviera Maya 

Here are a few options if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort. for your family in the Riviera Maya…

Paradisus Playa del Carmen is one of the most family-friendly all-inclusive resorts I’ve ever experienced. Rooms feature kitchenettes, 24-hour room service, and some are even swim up! Kids LOVE that! Here are five reasons why Paradisus Playa del Carmen is an ideal all-inclusive for families.  

The Hacienda Tres Rios all-inclusive resort is located about 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s warm Caribbean Sea. Set in a lush, natural mangrove forest, all 273 rooms here are just a quick walk to the beach, fashioned in a semi circle around a winding chain of pools. This resort is super family friendly, but what we loved most is the natural lagoon and the Cenote, or freshwater, underground pool, right on site.

And if you’re in the process of expanding your family and looking to book a Babymoon in Mexico, be sure to check out the Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Imagine being shuttled between your expansive suite and the beach in an air-conditioned van.  Drifting to sleep each night ensconced in massive, soft pillows. Enjoying a variety of dining options, with something to quench each and every craving. Grand Velas is the perfect getaway for moms to be!

Despite massive development and rapid growth along Mexico’s Riviera Maya coastline, the charming town of Puerto Morelos has amazingly survived as a laid-back fishing village. The town’s locals are dedicated to preserving the nearby coral reef, which is the second largest barrier reef in the world. As a result, Puerto Morelos has seen very little large-scale resort development. If you’re planning a family vacation to the Riviera Maya, consider staying in Puerto Morelos where you’ll find plenty of family friendly accommodation options.

And finally, here are a few other suggestions of family-friendly hotels in Playa del Carmen.

Want more? Consider heading further South to Tulum. Check out my Tulum Family Travel Guide here!

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