This 10-day tour of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula is the family trip of a lifetime. Start in the village of Puerto Morelos, where you'll snorkel among the coral beds, colorful fish, and the occasional shy octopus of Puerto Morelos Reef National Park. Visit Mérida to tour ancient Chichén Itzá, then cruise Valladolid's Ría Lagartos Reserve while the kids count flocks of pink flamingoes. See the ruins of Tulum, take a jungle adventure with ziplining and cenote swims, and explore the peaceful waters of Sian Ka'an Reserve.


  • Snorkel with colorful tropical fish at Puerto Morelos Reef National Park
  • Walk among the ancients at Chichén Itzá
  • See pink flamingoes and equally pink beaches at Ría Lagartos Reserve
  • Fly through the jungles of Tulum via zipline

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Puerto Morelos Puerto Morelos
Day 2 Snorkel Tour of National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos Puerto Morelos
Day 3 Bus Ride to Mérida, Explore Mérida Mérida
Day 4 Tour of Chichén Itzá, Free Afternoon in Mérida Mérida
Day 5 Free Day in Mérida, Zoos & Museums Mérida
Day 6 Transfer to Valladolid, Boat Tour of Ría Lagartos Reserve Valladolid
Day 7 Free Morning in Valladolid, Transfer to Tulum Tulum
Day 8 Tulum Jungle Adventure Tulum
Day 9 Float in the Muyil Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Tulum
Day 10 Transfer to Cancún, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Puerto Morelos

Beach views of lovely Puerto Morelos

Welcome to the Yucatán Peninsula, otherwise known as the Mexican Caribbean! Upon arrival at Cancún airport, you'll meet your driver to be transferred to the charming fishing village of Puerto Morelos, a drive of approximately one hour. Upon arrival, you'll be dropped off at your hotel, and the rest of the day is yours.

Puerto Morelos is a small town with beautiful white-sand beaches, most known for its proximity to the Mesoamerican Reef System—the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Despite being so close to the popular tourist destinations of Cancún and Playa del Carmen, the town has managed to retain a low-key feel. You can start your visit with a walk along the seaside section, where you'll find plenty of restaurants and shops, not to mention those ocean views.

If you're looking to get the kids out into nature right away, visit the Botanical Garden of Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin, a lush 160-acre (65 ha) reserve dedicated to the endemic flora and fauna of the region. Here, you'll find easy walking trails surrounded by plants and trees, some of which were used in traditional Maya medicine. The gardens are also home to various animals, including lizards, birds, and a large troop of spider monkeys! Later this evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and stroll through the town square, where you'll likely find live music and other entertainment. 

Day 2: Snorkel Tour of National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos

Snorkeling in the beautiful marine park of Puerto Morelos
Snorkeling in the National Reef Park 

Introduce your family to the wonders of underwater exploration today with a snorkel adventure in the Puerto Morelos Reef National Park. The reef, which runs parallel to the Yucatán Peninsula and is only outsized by Australia's Great Barrier Reef, is a haven for extensive species of fish and underwater plants. While the reef can be seen from the shores of Puerto Morelos, swimming out to it is prohibited due to its status as a natural protected zone, so a guided snorkel tour is the best and safest way to view this amazing coral ecosystem. 

Your guides will take you out to the reef by boat and will accompany you into the water, sharing their expertise on the types of marine and plant life found here. See the different kinds of coral, including elkhorn coral (an important reef-building species that is on the decline), as well as a wide variety of fish, snails, sea sponges, and shrimp. The kids might even catch glimpses of curious octopuses or sea turtles! After your tour, you'll be returned to the main harbor and can spend the rest of your day enjoying some family time at the beach.

Day 3: Bus Ride to Mérida, Explore Mérida

Welcome to Mérida 

It's off the colonial city of Mérida! Your driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the central bus station in Cancún. From there, you'll hop on a modern, air-conditioned luxury bus for the 4.5-hour drive. After hotel check-in, let the kids stretch their legs with a self-guided walk through the city. One of the best places to soak in the local atmosphere is a stroll along the spectacular Paseo de Montejo, one of Mérida's most iconic streets. 

Begin at the Monumento a la Patria, a beautiful sculpture that showcases the history of Mexico. Stroll down the street and take in the beautiful old mansions, many of which are now businesses, then stop at The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), where you and the kids can learn more about the roots of this region. The area also has plenty of shops and restaurants, so be sure to make time for lunch or ice cream at a local café!

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Day 4: Tour of Chichén Itzá, Free Afternoon in Mérida

A lizard lounges at Chichén Itzá

Explore the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. This pre-Columbian Maya city was once the most revered center of worship and pilgrimage in the Yucatán Peninsula. You'll be met by a local guide who will escort you around the site while sharing their insight and knowledge of this fascinating ancient world. Older kids will love seeing things they might have only read about in books brought to life, and the younger ones will enjoy the wide-open, grassy areas for running and playing and might even catch a glimpse of the many lizards that like to sunbathe here.      

See the stepped pyramid of Kukulkán (El Castillo), built in honor of the feathered serpent god, as well as El Caracol and the Temple of The Warriors, letting your imagination run wild as you learn about the life of the Maya. Afterward, head back to Mérida, where you can continue your exploration of the city with a stroll to Plaza Grande, the city's vibrant main square, where you can purchase food from street vendors or maybe catch some live entertainment. 

Day 5: Free Day in Mérida, Zoo & Museums 

Playful monkeys at Parque Zoológico del Centenario

For your last full day in Mérida, visit the city's zoological park, Parque Zoológico del Centenario. Exhibits include an aquarium, aviary, bird fountain, an open meadow habitat for animals such as zebras, giraffes, and ostrich, big cat enclosures, and a primate area. The park also has a picnic area, a "little train" to transport kids around the zoo, and a lake with boating equipment for rent.

If your family is interested in learning more about the Maya people and culture, visit the Mayan World Museum of Mérida (Gran Museo del Mundo Maya). The museum exhibits more than 1,160 pieces of Maya artifacts, with rooms dedicated to ancient and modern Maya, as well as a film room and a sunset "Light and Sound" show—something the kids might especially enjoy. 

Day 6: Transfer to Valladolid, Boat Tour of Ría Lagartos Reserve

Pink flamingoes at Ría Lagartos Reserve

Your adventure continues with a bus ride from Mérida to the city of Valladolid, which takes approximately three hours. Located just two hours from the popular resort area of Cancún, Valladolid is considered a bit of a hidden gem and has been listed by the Mexican Tourism Board as one of Mexico's most beautiful cities. You'll find sights such as the historic Convent of San Bernardino de Siena, an ex-convent built in Colonial times, beautiful plazas, cobbled streets, and a family-friendly atmosphere. 

Once you've checked in at your accommodations, you can rest and regroup in town or dive right into some of the amazing natural wonders of this region with a tour of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve–one of the main flamingo nesting areas in the Yucatán Peninsula. With a local guide, enjoy a fun-filled and educational afternoon with a boat ride through this natural reserve. See pink flamingoes foraging in the waters and learn about the biodiversity of the mangrove ecosystem.

The tour includes views of Las Coloradas, beautiful salt ponds that sport pinkish hues due to their high salt concentration, and a chance to experience an exfoliating Maya mud bath! You'll disembark on the beach and apply the white clay that is extracted from the sand, which contains minerals, salts, and algae–all very beneficial for the skin, and of course, the kids will love playing in the mud! Afterward, rinse off in the ocean and enjoy free time on the beach before returning to your hotel for the evening.  

Day 7: Free Morning in Valladolid, Transfer to Tulum

Beautiful Valladolid

Explore Valladolid this morning, starting with La Calzada de Los Frailes, an avenue originally built to connect Valladolid with the town of Sisal. The colorful streets are a delightful riot of pastel pinks, yellows, and reds and are lined with boutique-style shops, art galleries, and cafés where you can grab coffee or snacks for the kids. You can also find family entertainment at Vallazoo, a zoo and wildlife reserve located right in Valladolid. See animals such as pumas, monkeys, and exotic birds, as well as farmyard animals like donkeys and goats. The zoo also has mini-golf, boat rentals, and bike tours available.

This afternoon, check out of your hotel and take a 2.5-hour luxury bus ride to the city of Tulum. Upon arrival, you're free to see what the city has to offer. With its beautiful beaches and turquoise waters, Tulum has become a sought-after tourist destination, and there are plenty of things to see and do. If you want something active for the kids, bike rentals are readily available in this eco-friendly town, making it easy to grab some bikes and take a self-tour around the city. Or, if you're wanting downtime, head to Playa Paraiso ("Paradise Beach"), a gorgeous white-sand beach with gentle waves for the little ones. 

Day 8: Tulum Jungle Adventure

Families explore the ruins of Tulum

Discover the fascinating history of Tulum today, followed by a foray into the jungles of the Yucatán. This day tour starts with a visit to Tulum National Park and the Tulum ruins, where expert guides will lead you through this archaeological site, sharing the stories of the Maya calendars, ceremonies, and the Spanish invaders. Learn about Maya culture while walking among the incredible buildings built so long ago by ancient hands. 

Afterward, you'll head to Parque Tankah, a wild jungle adventure park. Kids big and small (not to mention parents!) will love walking through the jungle paths, on the lookout for tropical wildlife, such as monkeys and parrots, as you move between different areas and try different activities. Swim in the blue-green waters of a cenote, which are underground caves or sinkholes filled with water, take a dip in a lagoon, or fly through the jungle via zipline. The tour ends with a traditional lunch before you return to your hotel. 

Day 9: Float in the Muyil Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Floating in Sian Ka'an Reserve
Spot dolphins in the Sian Ka'an Reserve

Visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, which in Maya means "a place where the sky is born." Home to thousands of species of wildlife and plant life, the region was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour starts at the Muyil Community Center, an ecotourism cooperative that focuses on the conservation of ecosystems by promoting responsible tourism. Walk with your guide along the jungle trails, learning about the animals that call this region home and the trees and plants that grow here.

Make your first stop at the archaeological site of Muyil, where you'll see ruins from one of the earliest settlements on the Caribbean coast. From there, you'll head to Chunyaxche Lagoon, a stunning stretch of blue water. A small boat will transport you through a channel surrounded by mangroves to another dock, where you'll be free to take a dip in the tranquil waters. Kids might get the added excitement of encountering some of the turtles, fish, and dolphins that swim here. Later, head back to the community center to enjoy a traditional Maya meal before returning to your hotel. 

Day 10: Transfer to Cancún, Depart 

Goodbye Mexico! 

It's time to say adios to beautiful Mexico and your awesome family adventure today. After you check out of your hotel, you'll take a comfortable coach-style bus to the Cancún airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Family Fun on the Yucatán Peninsula - 10 Days
Map of Family Fun on the Yucatán Peninsula - 10 Days