Forget the all inclusive hotel packages in Cancun, and embrace the rustic charm of Tulum, Mexico. Open spaces abound, children can run wild on fine white sand beaches, and splash around in underground cenontes. All the while astounded by exotic fauna thriving on this stretch of the Mayan Riviera.
Do: Children of all ages will love cenotes (cave-like flooded pools for swimming) and play hide and seek in the Mayan ruins. Meanwhile you will find no shortage of low-key restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques, teeming with local artifacts and and handmade souvenirs. At Casa Cenote you can kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive. The walls seem to be crumbling on the beachside Mayan ruins which date back to the 1200s. Take a daily yoga class at Ahau Tulum and let the ocean breeze cool you. For a day trip head to Vallodalid, an old Spanish colonial town about an hour outside of Tulum, where you pass the Coba ruins and tons of amazing cenotes along the way.
Eat: Tulum is full of incredible restaurants. Make sure to try the über green, open-air Hartwood Restaurant, on the jungle side of Tulum’s beach road. The restaurant is built around a tree and uses no electrical appliances- impressive. The chef Eric Werner formally from Brooklyn is taking local eating to the next level. The other must visit is Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK) located far down the strip of Tulum. A small ecotourism and education center, it serves as a model for sustainable development in sensitive tropical ecosystems. Their small bites are incredible and you can eat in the observatory where you can see the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the jungle and salt marshes on the other. Enjoy the Xikilpak, a locally made humus-like dip with ground seeds, onion, tomato and coriander.
Stay: Hotel Essencia welcomes children and families while serving up grown-up treats i.e. margaritas poolside, and bilingual nannies. Book a garden suite with its own plunge pool. In addition to the main pool there is a kids’ pool, nearby beach, and there are children’s yoga and cookery classes, as well as chocolate spa treatments for them too. A garden suite with plunge pool starts at $685. Want a more eco-chic flow? Try Amansala starting at $245 per night or push the boat out at a Nalum private retreat for three to four guests.
Get there: Fly into Cancun, Mexico. Tulum is a 90 minute drive from the airport.