Families around the world love Mexico’s Riviera Maya as a beach vacation destination. 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.
Blessed with beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear blue Caribbean water, the Riviera Maya is ideal for long, lazy days at the beach. But if your family is looking to explore beyond the beach, there are also plenty of activities to keep your brood busy. Here are four unexpected things for your family to do in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
1. Explore the Island of Isla Mujeres by Golf Cart.
Isla Mujeres is a charming, quiet island just off the coast of Cancun. To get to Isla Mujeres, head to the Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal (Puerto Juarez) in Cancun. Ferries to the island depart every 30 minutes throughout the day, and the journey takes about 20 minutes to cover the four miles from the mainland to the island.
You can’t miss the numerous golf cart rental options when you arrive. Go with whomever you like best. The prices are generally consistent at between $50 and $75 per day.
Start by heading to the far end of the island where you can explore Punta Sur and the outdoor sculpture museum. Full of unique sculpture and art and walkways winding down to the steep cliffs, here you can look out on awesome views of the ocean on one side and Cancun’s bay on the other.
2. Go Sailing on a Hobie Cat.
Hobie Cats are small, fast and fun sailing catamarans that don’t require much sailing experience to manage. Many of the resorts along the Riviera Maya have Hobie Cats available to rent. If your resort or hotel does not offer on-site rental, head to Playa del Carmen where a number of outfits rent them by the day.
Expect to pay around $35 per person per hour for up to three people on a Hobie Cat. Especially with small children, one hour will probably be enough time to explore further off shore, including the barrier reef, which runs the length of the Riviera Maya.
3. Take in a Cirque du Soleil Performance.
Did you know that there is a Cirque du Soleil in the Riviera Maya? The brand’s newest show opened in November 2014.
JOYA tells the story of a rebellious young girl sent away on a fantastical quest by her mischievous grandfather. Drawing inspiration from nature, including the Monarch butterfly, the intimate theater is constructed of local materials within a mangrove forest. The show is open to children ages five and up.
4. Check Out the Underground Caves of Rio Secreto.
The Riviera Maya is home to the world’s largest number of Cenotes, or underground freshwater-filled caves. These underwater sinkholes were formed millions of years ago when limestone caves collapsed, revealing underground pools. While some Cenotes are unmarked and you can simply drive to them and explore on your own, more developed Cenotes like Rio Secreto are better suited to families with young children.
Book one of three daily departures, and join a group in walking and floating your way through these caves. Admire the well-preserved crystal-like stalactites and stalagmites as you swim through the turquoise water and take in the peaceful stillness found deep within the caves. Enjoy a lunch or cool drink from the restaurant on site after your tour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colorado-based family travel blogger Sarah Fazendin has spent her entire career working in travel, adventuring across 30+ countries in the process. These days, Sarah keeps busy juggling a career, a couple of kids, and a head-spinning daily schedule. But she still makes time for travel. On her travel blog, A Week at the Beach, Sarah’s mission is to inspire busy moms everywhere to make more time for travel.