We love Mexico and think it’s the perfect family friendly destination. We’ve honestly never had a bad time there. We’ve hit all the main areas – Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, but there is so much more to do in this country than those 3 destinations. We set out to find the perfect family itinerary for Mexico.
Mexico is a really huge country – lots of families don’t think of it that way. There’s a lot more than just the beach! Colonial towns, mountains, canyons and more make up the country of Mexico and there is so much for a family to see. A great itinerary is one that combines Colonial Mexico and the beach! There’s also the backpacking option!
Start by flying into Cancun Airport. Cancun has direct flights from tons of cities in the United States and is a great starting point for many other places in Mexico. The Yucatan Penninsula, in particular, has sooooo much to see. From Cancun, hire a private car service and you’re off!
Day 1: After a personal greeting at the airport, travel by private vehicle to Merida (approximately 3 hours), a beautiful Colonial town that, surprisingly, people do not know about. Merida has Mexico’s second largest historic downtown. In the heart of the city, you’ll find the Zócalo – the city’s central square with mainland America’s oldest Cathedral. Everywhere in the city is an explosion of color and culture.
Upon arrival in Merida, check into the adorable boutique hotel, Rosas y Xocolate. There’s no better way to experience the Colonial culture than staying in a Colonial style building! Beautiful colors, a great pool and a central location make this a fantastically unique place to stay. When you arrive, sit by the pool and relax after your drive…..maybe with a margarita 🙂 In the evening, enjoy one of the restaurants in the hotel or venture out to the middle of town to experience the local restaurants in the historical center – only about 5 blocks away.
Day 2: After breakfast, take a walking tour of the Unesco World Heritage site of Merida. A city such as this has amazing history and even kids enjoy the walking tour and the experience of the sites and sounds of the city. Make sure you have a family friendly tour! Lunch can be enjoyed in town and a little pool time afterwards is a must.
Day 3: Today take the family to a cenote! Cenotes are underground caves with the most breathtaking water ever. Depending on ages of your kids, this experience makes for a really fun snorkeling/swimming experience. There aren’t many places in the world where you can find cenotes besides Mexico. Upon arrival back in Merida in the afternoon, take part in an afternoon food tour and experience Mayan food fresh from the vendors.
Day 4: Today say goodbye to Merida and hello to the beach! Isla Holbox to be exact! Holbox is a lesser known island with crystal clear water, white sand and a whole lot less people than the Riviera Maya. Private transportation is easiest and it’s about 150 miles. Along the way, stop for lunch and pictures of the beautiful country and it’s people.
Holbox island has a vibe much like the Tulum of old (before people discovered it). The ecosystem is very important to the residents of Holbox and it’s very unspoiled.
Upon arrival in Holbox, check into Casa Las Tortugas, a funky eco-hotel set right on the beach. if you’re wanting super luxury, Holbox isn’t for you. But you will experience amazing beach culture with this hotel. Not to mention amazing sand. Relax for the rest of the day after your drive and swim in the warm Caribbean Sea.
Day 5: Make sure you visit during whale shark season (May to September) so you can take advantage of swimming with the amazing creatures. I have yet to experience it because when I tried to go, it was raining, but, from what I’ve heard, it’s an experience like no other. Whale Sharks are about the size of a school bus and totally harmless to swim next to. A fantastic experience for the whole family. After a swim, feast on some of the best Ceviche you will ever have.
Day 6: Use your second to last day to relax on the beach! Every trip needs at least one day where there are no plans and nothing to do. Especially a family itinerary to Mexico! Take some time to paddle board (one of our kid’s favorite things to do), kayak. Take a walk on the beach.
Last Day: Depending on when you go to Isla Holbox, there is always something going on. Festivals and culture exist right along side the beach. The town is tiny and unpaved and it’s fun to grab a golf cart and explore. For a good list of what’s going on and when, go here.
A trip to Merida and Holbox can be as chill as you want or as packed full of activities as you want. There is no cap on what to do and see in Mexico. With our family, we try to find a balance between culture and relaxation time. It’s no secret that kids love a beach and Holbox has about the most pristine beach for miles around. Our family, in particular, love a Spanish Colonial scene and could spend hours just walking around and exploring. I truly believe that every family should experience this culture and try to break out of the typical “let’s go to Cancun and sit at an all-inclusive” scene. And this itinerary is just the tip of the iceberg! Check this post for an amazing summary of waterfalls in Mexico. If you need help planning, give me a shout at email@example.com