Yucatan Peninsula Mexico – Si, Children Welcome

Genie Davis February 14, 2011 No Comments


A long time ago and far away I had a romantic honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas. I also toured the museums of Mexico City, walked rugged Mayan ruins, and solved any lack of purified water with a margarita. In others, Mexico, and a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula not far from Cancun, was not the sort of vacation I would have considered with children, had it come up. Well, that was then.

The eastern beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula are amazingly pristine, and afford warm water, soft sand, and amazing snorkeling and swimming along side what is known as one of the longest coral reefs in the world. There are also some beautifully preserved ruins nearby, and gorgeous, luxurious resorts to handle every need. From anyone’s perspective, a vacation to a spot like this is blissful; from a family perspective any place like Mexico with the luxury and beauty might be a stretch to the family budget.

But Mexico offers great bargains to anyone able to be a bit flexible with air fare. For food, accommodations, and activities, this area is remarkably easy on the wallet. Still, what about the kids? Isn’t this an area geared toward adults?

Like my own life, the life of tourism on the Yucatan peninsula has altered, and is in fact a great and welcoming resort destination for families.

the Yucatan Peninsula offers endless soft sand

Ahh, that beach – the Yucatan Peninsula offers endless soft sand

We stayed at three different properties over the course of a six day stay due to a little budgetary juggling, and we had a wonderful time at all three. We started at the high end, at The Hotel Esencia. The Esencia was once a private home, and what a home it was, a veritable mansion with a little bit of hacienda and a little bit of castle thrown in. While the guest rooms and suites inside the main residence are lovely, we chose two nights in a garden cottage. The kids loved the outdoor showers, the flowers, and the meandering paths. The beach itself was peaceful and often virtually deserted; there were fine shells to be found and gentle surf. The hotel has a family designated pool where kids are more than welcome. There are also kid’s activities ranging from kids desert cooking classes, horseback riding, and even pint-sized yoga classes. And yes, there are baby sitting services available too, should you want to indulge yourself at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant for an adult-only splurge. But if the kids are coming along to dinner, they’ll be treated handsomely, with pint-size portions of beautifully prepared entrees, and ice cream held in house- made waffle bowls.

While the peace, quiet, and pampering of the Esencia and its beautiful, broad beach was hard to leave, expenses dictated a change in accommodations. So we moved over to the Iberostar Paraiso Maya Hotel, perhaps its polar opposite in terms of ambiance, but equally comfortable and enjoyable.

The enormous lobby starts the fun with over the top and larger than life Mayan themed carvings. There are three swimming pools and five restaurants to choose from. And there’s even a kid’s club offering activities ranging from ping pong and volley ball to inner-tubing down a man- made river.

Sunset from the Maya Hotel

Sunset from the Maya Hotel

The main pool was a little too active for us, with bell signaled “waves” washing up over bathers. As to the ocean beach, this one was not quiet. There were kids of all ages swimming, boogie boarding, and much Tex-Mex style take out food from the hotel restaurants. There were also sand toys and a friendly staff who praised our kids’ sand architecture.

We loved the evening entertainment at the resort’s Teatro Lindo. The early show is geared to kids, and vibrant with music, a glittery emcee, and magic tricks.

Rooms were commodious if somewhat ordinary, but a trip to the lobby truly provided all the sensory stimulation we needed from the giant stone snakes to the jungle plants.

We concluded our stay at a hotel we thought of as our budget option, and the balance to our splurge at the Esencia. The Hotel Club Akumal Caribe had received some mixed reviews but had a price so low we had to take a chance. We were very glad we did. The beach is beautiful, and at certain times of day almost as serene as the shores at the Esencia, while at others almost as busy as at the Maya without the dedicated care of the staff at that hotel. The beach here was frequented by locals as well as by hotel guests and there was a pleasant, relaxed vibe to both the coast line and the hotel itself. We stayed beachfront in a large, clean room with a kitchenette. An ample grocery store stocked with both food for gringos and plenty of local fruit and veggies is nearby, and we cooked our dinner here, taking it out onto the sand with us both nights for an ocean front dining view that couldn’t possibly be beat. For larger families, there are some condos available along with the hotel accommodations.

There’s a kid’s club here too, staffed by friendly locals rather than hotel employees. The activities are inexpensive and simple, from beach games to pizza picnics. Our favorite activity here was a glass bottom boat ride offered by a local fisherman, allowing us to see all the fish and sea grass the calm water had to offer.

Partly because we did move from hotel to hotel, we confess to sticking solely to the beach and pool at these three very different but equally enjoyable hotels, rather than checking out the area attractions beyond them. Still, there are several notable attractions we heard great things about, and which we’re eager to try out ourselves. The Eco Parks are ecologically themed water parks that offer swimming with aquarium fish and manta rays for kids of all ages. And near the town of Tulum, there are some stellar Mayan ruins, perched on a cliff looking over the sea and easy to access. Both sites we will be sure to check out on our next visit to a part of Mexico where the kids are most definitely welcome.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions

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