The Mayan Riviera lends itself to family vacations. With a temperate climate year round, amazingly beautiful beaches, fun things to see and do around every palm tree, and a family-oriented culture, you will find plenty of activities to keep all ages busy and happy!
CENOTES AND CAVES All over the Yucatan peninsula are natural water pools called cenotes. Some are underground or partly sheltered by rocks, others look like rocky, shallow ponds. You can explore the cenotes by scuba diving, kayaking or swimming, both above and below ground, on our your own or via guided tours, but be prepared for very cold water.
SNORKELING The coast of the Yucatan peninsula runs parallel to the 2nd largest reef system in the world, so it is certainly worth the effort to go snorkeling! Just about any location along the coast will provide plenty of adventure, but Akumal Bay has resident turtles all year round and is a definite crowd-pleaser. Equipment is available for rent at the dive shops, as are guided tours in the water.
Yal-Ku Lagoon is wonderful place for both adults and children. With no ocean waves and several easy entry stairways with railings that lead straight into the lagoon, even an inexperienced snorkeler or swimmer will be right at home. There is a great variety of gorgeous fish that are not intimidated by humans, but the water can become murky when the ocean water mixes with the fresh water of the lagoon. It is requested that visitors wear biodegradable sunscreen to protect the underwater wildlife, and it's a good idea to wear a t-shirt for sun protection as well. An enjoyable place to spend all or part of day, Yal-Ku has beautiful grounds with great flora and fauna, garden sculptures, and places to sit and take in the beauty.
MAYAN RUINS There are several small archeological close to Akumal, including a small structure in the Akumal Pueblo, Xel Ha ruins, and a few other off the beaten track sites. The nearest large site to Akumal is in Tulum, a collection of structures right on the coast about a 20 minute drive south. Tulum is definitely appropriate for school-age kids who are able to handle a 45-minute tour, and fine with a baby if you have a carrier and can protect him or her from the sun. If you need to cool off, there’s a small beach below the ruins where you can swim in the waves. For more information about other ruins within driving distance, check out our Mayan Ruins page.
OTHER OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
CEA Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA) is an organization in Akumal that works towards environmental stability in the area through research, education, ecosystem management, and advocacy. The Sea Turtle program focuses on protection, conservation, research and management on four local beaches and has an active volunteer program. The CEA office is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Stop by for a tour and more information.
Playgrounds In Playa del Carmen there is a shaded playground at Calle 22 and Avenida 40. If the weather is rainy or too hot, there are indoor playgrounds in the Burger King at Calle 15 and Juarez and also on 20th Avenida. The McDonalds near the Chedraui grocery store on Calle 1 Sur and the Highway also has an indoor playground.
Parque de la Ceiba is an incredible park on the west side of the highway, taking up one full block between Avenidas 60 & 65 Sur and Calles 1 and 3 Sur. Parque de la Ceiba has a full recycling program, a great kids play area, clean bathrooms, a snack counter, and a marvelous market on the 3rd Saturday of every month (Sabado del Tianguis).
The Jungle Place is a sanctuary for endangered spider monkeys located about 15 minutes south of Akumal in northwest Chemuyil. The wonderful owners provide food, shelter, access to medical care and plenty of love to rescued Spider Monkeys who were victims of the illegal pet trade, poaching, and habitat destruction and have nowhere else to go. "Tours" are available and the experience is absolutely unforgettable, as you are able to sit inside the monkeys' natural habitat, feed them, and let them play with you. Reservations are required; contact information is on the website.
Crococun Zoo is an interactive and conservationist zoo project south of Cancun and north of Puerto Morelos. It was originally established as a crocodile farm and now offers 60-75 minute tours with the opportunity to interact with the animals. You will able to touch, hold and feed great variety of the wild (and all local) animals like parrots, spider monkeys, snakes, deer, turtles, coatimundis and others.
Puerto Aventuras Marina is a great place to spend time with friends and family. Dolphin Discovery is based on the island in the middle of the marina, so it is possible to watch dolphins, sea lions, and manatees playing in the water. If you arrive at the right time, you can even watch a dolphin show from the walking path! The marina itself has a great selection of shops and restaurants, and is also the location of CEDAM, a unique museum dedicated to shipwrecks and undersea discoveries in the Mayan Riviera. Take a walk along the docks to watch the fishing boats come in or admire the yachts moored in the channel. Follow the signs for the Puerto Aventuras Complejo Turistica and have some fun!
Movie Theaters The two movie theaters in Playa del Carmen are Cinemex and Cinepolis. Both are extremely reasonably priced, comfortable, clean, and have a good selection of movies --- most in English with Spanish subtitles. Cinemex is located in the Centro Maya Shopping Center on the south end near McDonald's and the food court. On Wednesdays there is a special price of 35 pesos per adult ticket, which is well below what you pay in the U.S. or Canada! Cinepolis is located in the ejido of Playa del Carmen at the Plaza Las Americas Shopping Mall on the corner of the Arco Vial (Avenida 115) and Calle 46 North.
Museo Maya de Cancun The Mayan Museum of Cancun opened in November of 2012 and focuses on pre-hispanic artifacts. The hours are Tuesday - Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.; closed on Mondays. The museum is centrally and conveniently located in the Cancun Hotel Zone, KM 16 of Kukulcan Blvd. General admission is 57 pesos. Admission is free for those under 13 or over 60 and on Sundays for residents with official identification.
Hekab Be Library This small but mighty library in Akumal runs entirely on donations and provides great programs for children and families of the area. It's a wonderful and happy place to stop in and borrow a beach book for your vacation reading (in either English or Spanish or ???) or donate books or school supplies for their ongoing activities for children and families of the area. Dedicated to promoting literacy and learning in the region, the library is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (closed from 1:00-2:00 p.m. for lunch) and Saturday from 9:00-1:00 p.m.
3D Museum of Wonders. This museum, which opened in Jan 2016, is the largest 3D art museum in the world! This 3D art, which is the creation of international artist Kurt Wenner, originated as 3D pavement/sidewalk art. This museum allows people of all ages to interact with it in an extreme;y fun way! Highly recommended to people of all ages, including children. Located in downtown Playa Del Carmen in Plaza Pelicanos.
Playa Del Carmen SAYAB Planetarium Fantastic new planetarium in Playa del Carmen, bursting with information and technology to help us to better understand our planet and the universe. Great fun with lots of interactive activities for kids and adults of all ages.