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14-day trip for a family with young kids to Playa and Mayan ruins.

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14-day trip for a family with young kids to Playa and Mayan ruins.

Old Sep 20th, 2011, 06:56 AM
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14-day trip for a family with young kids to Playa and Mayan ruins.

Hi:

I wanted to get your feedback on this 14-day itinerary for two families (4 adults with 3 kids: 4, 5 and 6 yrs old) during the Christmas break. We want to balance the Mayan ruins with the beaches keeping the kids' enthusiasm in mind. Thus, we have restricted ourselves to only 3 ruins (Uxmal, Chichén Itzá and Tulum). We are also renting a SUV for convenience so we can get to the ruins easily.

Day 1: Leave USA and fly into Cancun, and check into a Cancun hotel.
Day 2: Check out of Cancun hotel, and drive to Merida. Attend "Mérida on Sunday" festival.
Day 3: Late afternoon, get to Uxmal (sound and light show at night), return to Merida.
Day 4: Morning, go to Uxmal for ruins in detail, and proceed to Celestún National Wildlife Refuge. Return to Merida.
Day 5: Morning, check out from Merida and drive to Chichén Itzá ruins to see in detail, and procced to Playa del Carmen to check into an AI resort.
Day 6: Just relax and spend day at resort.
Day 7: Spend a day at Xcaret eco archaeological park for family fun.
Day 8: Day trip to Cozumel in a ferry for snorkeling. Chill and spend the rest of the day at resort.
Day 9: Spend second day at Xcaret eco archaeological park for family fun.
Day 10: Just relax and spend day at resort.
Day 11: After lunch, quick trip to Tulum for ruins and spend day at the beach.
Day 12: Just relax and spend day at resort.
Day 13: Just relax and spend day at resort.
Day 14: Check out from resort and leave for USA.

Some questions:
* Should we also go to Isla Mujeres as well?
* Will we need a car in Playa? That is, will taking a taxi to all the places be cheaper than renting ($100/day incl taxes)? I found this fare sheet (http://www.playa.info/playa-del-carm...axi-fares.html) but I am not sure how accurate it is.
* Do you recommend two days to visit Xcaret? It has so many things to do that I did not want to rush through everything in one day. Plus, the price for the second day is only $20 more (http://www.xcaret.com/xcaret-2-days).
* Do you recommend spending any time in Cancun at all?
* Any other thoughts on places we should visit or experiences to have?

Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
D
dukkar is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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Hi, there! I'm going offer a few bits based on our 2 trips to the area last year (for whatever they're worth).

I haven't been to Uxmal but we loved 2 ruins that are close but not on your list WAAAAY more than either Chichen Itza or Tulum (though the latter has a nice setting). Especially with kids, consider Ek Balam, just 20 minutes north of Valladolid. It's in a jungly setting and you can climb all over the temples. There are some amazing sculptures and no crowds (we were there by ourselves). It would be easy to find with a van.

The other one we loved was Cobá which is along the road between Valladolid and Tulum. You can climb there, too, and the various sites are spread out so you can rent bikes to ride or take bicycle taxis through the jungle from place to place.

Aside from Ek Balam, getting to ruins 1st thing in the morning helps with crowds. Tulum especially, will be packed by 10 or 11 in the morning and you can't really climb anything so appeal would be low for kids with the crowds, I'm afraid.

Heading twice to Uxmal will likely mean 6+ hours on the road for that one ruin - that's a lot with kids.

I haven't been to Xcaret (not my thing, maybe yours). Heading to Cozumel for the day for snorkeling seems like a whole lot of time on the road/boat for questionable snorkeling - those reefs have really taken a hit from traffic and hurricanes. In Akumal (between Playa and Tulum) you can snorkel in the bay with sea turtles and the snorkeling in the reserve at Puerto Morelos (a bit north of Playa) is amazing. Both of those would be closer, cheaper, and (imo) cooler than Cozumel.

I wouldn't add another place to stay - save Isla for another trip and - if you're anything like me - avoid Cancun for less populated/built up places.

You could look into the Jungle Place Spider Monkey Reserve, although with a big group it's not cheap. It's located a few minutes west of the main road just north of Tulum. We really loved our visit there:
www.thejungleplace.com

With kids I think I'd keep the rental car in Playa if you think you might be interested in the places I mention for snorkeling and monkeys.

You can see the photos and blogs and read the travelogues and reviews for our trips at the link below. Happy trails!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections/
hopefulist is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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Not sure if Heidi and Joel who run the Jungle Place would let smaller children into the cages with the monkeys. Their website says 8 years minimum, although I have heard a few anecdotal reports over on TA that they sometimes make exceptions but ONLY if the children will pay attention and take direction from them. Their first concern is for the monkeys.

Another suggestion is, if you have the car and do decide to visit Coba (very interesting site and you can rent bikes and bicycle taxis), nearby is a monkey reserve called Punta Laguna, admission is not expensive but it is advised to hire a guide to hike around with you, otherwise you might not know where to look to see the monkeys.

Akumal is a good suggestion for snorkeling, it is free from shore and if you do not have your own gear you can rent it from one of the dive shops there. Just snorkel from out in front of the Lol-Ha restaurant. Have not been to Cozumel yet.
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Old Sep 20th, 2011, 11:05 AM
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Ooo - good point on the Jungle Place.
hopefulist is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2011, 11:47 AM
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I'm not sure how patient your kids are, but ages 4, 5, and 6 and ruins - I think will be tough. It's a lot for them. They will all look the same to them and if you get a guide, you'll be in a group and have to occupy the kids while the guide explains what you're seeing. By the time you get to the last ruins your kids will be wiped out and not care. That's my personal experience. Me - I am fascinated by Mayan culture and the ruins, but I can not imagine trying to bring three kids of those ages to three different ruins. I would play it by ear.

As far as Xcaret - you definitely can spend two days here with the kids. They will love it. We spent a full day there - got there when it opened, left after the show, and didn't see even half of the place. My husband and I had been there about 10 years ago and going back this year, it's really grown. I highly recommend it with the kids.

When you get to the resorts, the tour reps can show you all kinds of activities you could do that you may want to pick from. I would skip Cancun - unless you end up doing a tour from there. If your kids end up liking snorkeling, Xel Ha is a great place to spend a day and it can be combined with Tulum. You can even get discounts with Xcaret, Xel Ha/Tulum and save more money (get the 2 day Xcaret and then the Xel Ha/Tulum package). Personally, I'd go to Xel Ha to snorkel and spend the day there before going to Cozumel, especially with kids. All of your food and drinks for the entire day are included there and it's a great beginner place to snorkel - and you can see a lot there! They also have other activities as well.

I second hopefulist's recommendation for Coba as well. Of the ruins we've been to in Mexico - Coba has the most unique setting. It's the least excavated and it's in the jungle. Sort of an Indiana Jones feeling. Last we were there you could still climb the big temple. It's also not as far as some of the others on your list.

Have a great trip!
ShellD is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2011, 04:27 PM
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Thank you for all the posts so far.

D
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