9 days in Mexico, April, with teens?

Old Oct 7th, 2018, 05:23 PM
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9 days in Mexico, April, with teens?

Looking for a first time trip to Mexico the first week of April. We live in WA state and have a 14 and 16 year old. I'm not sure this is possible, but would love to be in a town off the beaten path and rent a cabana on/near the beach where we would stay the whole 9 days. Maybe rent a car? Would like to experience the culture and food, but also be able to enjoy the beach. Not knowing much yet about the geography, Mayan sites would be great to see, too.

Any areas that I should research? As you can see, I am just beginning my search. Thanks!

Last edited by giesen5; Oct 7th, 2018 at 05:28 PM.
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Old Oct 7th, 2018, 05:36 PM
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Maya=Yucatan. So start there, geographically speaking, if Mayan ruins are a priority.
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Old Oct 7th, 2018, 07:16 PM
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I strongly urge you to get a decent guidebook, perhaps the Moon Guide, which I thought better than the most of the half dozen I consulted when planning my time in the area.
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Old Oct 7th, 2018, 07:29 PM
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I 2nd the Moon Yucatán Peninsula guide, also available as an ebook: https://www.powells.com/book/-9781631214103

These Map Chick guides are really awesome, too: http://www.mapchick.com/

Since April is spring break time I'd get the guide and read about locations that avoid the worst of that and plan to book well in advance. My photos with blog links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there.
Happy trails!
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Old Oct 8th, 2018, 06:42 AM
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The locogringo.com web site is a good resource for the Mexican Caribbean. Many beautiful beach towns, each with their own character, between Cancun and Tulum.
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Old Oct 8th, 2018, 08:36 AM
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Yes, the Yucatan Peninsula is where you want to be for Mayan ruins.

The best beaches are on the Caribbean side of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mayan Riviera, but nothing there is really off the beaten path. There are areas which aren't covered in large resorts though, so if an area with smaller hotels and restaurants is what you mean by "off the beaten path", then look at places like Akumal and Tulum among others. There are still plenty of tourists around though.

For beaches not on the Mayan Riviera, Isla Holbox is a good option - the issue there is that it's not a good base for day trips to ruins because it is an island. There are other beach areas on the gulf side which are on the mainland that would be a good base for day trips - around Progresso and Celestun. The downside is that the beaches and the water isn't as nice, but the upside is fewer tourists and lower prices than the Mayan Riviera - although cruise ships do stop at Progresso, so it gets busy when a cruise ship is in.

So it's really a matter of priorities - what does being off the beaten path mean to you and how important is that versus being on the nicer beaches.
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Old Oct 8th, 2018, 10:00 AM
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I'm in Seattle and vacation twice a year in Puerto Vallarta. It's a great family destination. There are small towns all around the Bay of Banderas where PV is located. But no Mayan ruins nearby if that is a priority.
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Old Oct 9th, 2018, 08:26 AM
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Progreso and Tulum come to mind if you wish Mayan ruins and be close to beach...
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Old Oct 15th, 2018, 09:40 AM
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We live in Seattle as well and have been many times to the Yucatan-most recently 2 years ago. I would encourage you to look at Playa del Carmen for a first trip with teens because if you stay somewhere central near to 5th avenue they will be able to be very independent and walk everywhere. You can also arrange any sort of tours easily from there, grab a cab or catch a bus. If you want something more off the beaten path then I would suggest Akumal about 40 minutes south of there. We prefer the Hotel Akumal Caribe because it has the best beach location with the clearest calmest water around that area. and you can see the turtles that the area is known for. https://hotelakumalcaribe.com/

They have some very cool bungalows and also a kind of rustic hotel and you can rent bikes or even golf carts I think. They also rent condos nearby I think. There are 5-6 restaurants within walking distance and the hotel's restaurant is very good and no pricey. From there you can arrange for a cab to Tulum to see the ruins or get on a bus from the nearby highway.

Which place I would choose would depend on your family-if you get bored easily, go to Playa-lots more restaurant choices, shopping, etc. but much more designed to cater to tourists-Starbucks etc. We actually prefer to split our time, 2-3 nights in Akumal and then 5 nights or so in Playa-last time we stayed almost a month there-but we are retired and wanted to see what is what like staying longer. But even as first time visitors I would be tempted to split my time between Akumal and Playa because each is fun, maybe 3 nights in Akumal, then 5 or 6 in Playa.If you take the Alaska flight it usually arrives late afternoon so it will right around dinner time before you get to Akumal, so that is a short day. You can arrange directly with the Caribe Hotel for a shuttle to pick you up at the Cancun airport and go directly to Akumal and then take you to your hotel in Playa after and then to the airport for your departure. Or you can easily get down the highway from the airport by local bus-but you will have a bit of a walk from the highway into Akumal or Playa towards most of the hotels closer to the beach. And the local bus comes into the other terminal at the airport so you have to figure out the walk to get there but it isn't too hard.

Also, I would mention that we felt that the beach zone in Tulum felt over run by tourists the last time we were there. We don't prefer Tulum because the beach zone is far from the town and we find the beach hotels really pricey for what they are-we much prefer Akumal in that area or Playa if we want more of a city. But be aware none of the towns are "cheap" Mexico in general-the whole peninsula is well developed for tourists and you will pay more for food lodging etc. than in places like central Mexico. But I think it is comparble to Baja or Puerta Vallarta. And we do love the warm blue water on the Caribbean side of Mexico.

I am of two minds about renting cars-I like the freedom, but we have been stopped for "supposedly speeding" to be shaken down for bribes by the police-which is an annoying experience. We even lived in Central Mexico for 3 years and had that happen to Mexican friends there and in the Yucatan. So lately we either prefer buses or when we go with another couple we arrange for private van service. It is not inexpensive in the Yucatan, but honestly with 4 people it has been worth it to us to not be at the mercy of bus schedules deal with luggage etc. We use Tucan Kin which we have used 3-4 times now and really like them-but there are other companies and they all seem to have similar rates:

cancun airport private transfers to tulum and akumal

Also, just so you know, most of the places in beach areas of the Yucatan are pretty developed-even places that people consider rustic like Holbox are much more developed -so not so many cabanas on the beach type rentals, just FYI.

Anyway hope that helps-we love the area and would encourage you to check it out!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2018, 05:38 PM
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Thinking of changing gears and heading to Costa Rica, Osa Peninsula area, instead.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2018, 02:19 AM
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If you are considering going to Costa Rica I would recommend you take a look in Nicaragua as well, depending on the political situation of course. Through extensive travel in Central America I have found Nicaragua by far the most charming and beautiful. Especially the areas around Granada (including lago Cocibolca and the island of Ometepe) and Leon are incredible.
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