Escape to the Yucatán Peninsula on this laid-back, family-friendly itinerary for a week. Based in Playa del Carmen, you'll visit ancient ruins by bicycle or "bicitaxi," enjoying pristine white-sand beaches, swimming in limestone cenotes, and floating down an underground river. A memorable day trip takes you wildlife spotting in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, where you'll learn how the locals protect this unspoiled slice of paradise.


  • Pedal through ancient Maya ruins on a bicycle tour
  • Swim in limestone cenotes and float down underground rivers
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tulum
  • Explore mangrove forests by canoe and see animals in their native habitats

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen
Day 2 Cobá, Nuevo Durango & Punta Laguna Excursion Playa del Carmen
Day 3 Free Day in Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen
Day 4 Adventure to Río Secreto: The Maya Underworld Playa del Carmen
Day 5 Cenotes of Chemuyil, Tulum Archeological Site Playa del Carmen
Day 6 The Ancient Canal Experience in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Playa del Carmen
Day 7 Transfer to Cancún, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen
Welcome to Playa del Carmen

Welcome to the Riviera Maya! Located on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, this stretch of Caribbean coast is famous for its white-sand beaches, pearl-blue water, ancient Maya ruins, and rich Indigenous culture. Upon your arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you an hour south to your hotel in Playa del Carmen. After check-in, take the kids to the beach to burn off some pent-up energy and soak up the last of the day's sun with a refreshing drink in hand.

Day 2: Cobá, Nuevo Durango & Punta Laguna Excursion

Spot spider monkeys on today's canoe ride through the jungle

Kick off your first full day in Mexico with a packed schedule of activities for the whole family. Start by exploring the archaeological site of Cobá, known for its 137-foot (47 m) Nohoch Mul Pyramid. The ruins of this grand Maya city date back to 300 BCE, and you'll explore its many highlights and hidden corners. Since walking can often feel monotonous for kids, hop on bicycles for a tour of the site accompanied by your local guide. Those who are too young to bike or those with mobility issues can opt for a comfortable bicitaxi.

Continue to Nuevo Durango, a small ecotourism and organic food production community. Here your family will get a glimpse into local life as you enjoy a traditional meal and meet Don Manuel and his family. A visit to Nuevo Durango will offer a rich experience of local life as the people here have managed to maintain their cultural identity in both language and customs.

Your next stop is Punta Laguna, part of a 12,350-acre (5,000 ha) area known as Otoch Ma'ax Yetel Kooh ("the home of the spider monkey and the puma"). Since 1950, local Maya families have been protecting the reserve where animals like spider monkeys, howler monkeys, birds, jaguars, and pumas can be observed in complete freedom. Kids will especially enjoy the canoe ride through the biosphere, where with a little luck, they will be able to spot several species of local wildlife, including playful treetop primates.

Day 3: Free Day in Playa del Carmen

Snorkeling is a perfect activity on your free day in Playa del Carmen
Snorkeling is a perfect way to spend your free day in Playa del Carmen

Today is free for you to explore at your own pace and get to know the city of Playa del Carmen. Internationally well known for being in the heart of the Riviera Maya, this small cosmopolitan is bursting with a variety of marine life, white-sand beaches, and stunning submarine caverns such as cenotes and rivers.

Families interested in local projects may opt to visit the Nativa Natural Park, located in Solferino. This sustainable ecotourism initiative allows you to live an experience in nature. Your family will explore the 185-acre (75-ha) property, where you can enjoy flora and fauna of the region. You could also visit the Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ. This show combines culinary and performing arts in an intimate theater designed to engage audiences of all ages through the five senses. 

Plan your trip to Mexico
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Thousands of these limestone sinkholes and underground water caves exist in the region. Cenote Azul is ideal for children; it has shallow water and several places to rest, as well as a jumping platform for adventurous kids. You'll also find a picnic area to enjoy lunch with your family after swimming. For beach-loving kids, head to Playa Xpu-Ha, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Riviera Maya. You could also choose to go snorkeling at Puerto Morelos Reef National Park. Children will be fascinated by the tropical fish, turtles, octopuses, rays, starfish, and coral that call these clear turquoise waters home.

Day 4: Adventure to Río Secreto: The Maya Underworld

Making your way through the underground waterways
Adventure underground on a trip down the Río Secreto

Today is for adventurers, as your family has the opportunity to explore one of the greatest wonders of the natural world: the Río Secreto. It is one of the largest underground river systems in the world and a great introduction to caving for adventurous kids. After donning your helmets and life jackets, you'll descend into a world of turquoise water, soaring caverns, and shimmering stalactites and stalagmites. Float along the clear underground river as you learn more about its geological formations from your experienced guide.

Day 5: Cenotes of Chemuyil, Tulum Archeological Site

Explore the ancient Maya ruins of Tulum today

Today's adventure begins in the community of Chemuyil, a small beachfront town near Tulum with plentiful white-sand beaches and shallow waters. A local guide will share their knowledge on how the community is preserving the area, and then take your family on a bicycle trip through the town and to three different cenotes of different shapes and sizes. Spot rare and endemic birds around the cenote's shores before cooling off with a refreshing dip in the clear waters. 

Next, you'll visit Tulum, one of the most famous archaeological zones in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You and your family will spend the day exploring the area with your guide, who will explain why these ruins played a particularly important role in the area's maritime and terrestrial trade. You'll also learn about the site's function as an astronomical observatory and defensive system.

This old Maya city sits in the middle of a mangrove ecosystem on a cliff facing ​​the Caribbean Sea. You'll find spectacular views from the site of both the surrounding forest, as well as the open water. From the archaeological site, you'll have access to the Playa Ruinas ("Ruins Beach"). After spending some time exploring the ruins, kids will enjoy descending to the beach for some time to play.

Day 6: The Ancient Canal Experience in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Spot manatees and dolphins on a tour of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Today you'll visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (known to the Maya as "a place where the sky is born to live"). The ancient canal experience is a recreation of a Maya trade route that once connected the Caribbean Sea through a lagoon system allowing the movement of goods. 

you'll start at the Muyil Community Center to join a group of travelers to start the tour. This community-based ecotourism cooperative focuses on the conservation and preservation of ecosystems by promoting unique experiences with a commitment to responsible tourism. You and your family will travel by boat through the reserve visiting the Muyil and Chunyaxche lagoons until arriving at the Xlapac dock. Once there, kids will love cooling off with a swim in the refreshing waters.

After this magical experience, you'll visit the Capelchen Lagoon, where with a little luck, you'll be able to observe manatees and crocodiles in their natural habitat. The tour ends at Playa Boca Paila, where you can see the mixing of the water of the lagoon system and the water of the beach. 

Day 7: Transfer to Cancún, Depart

Tire kids out before your flight with a final visit to the beach

All good things must come to an end. Depending on the time of your flight, you may be able to enjoy some morning beach time before you transfer from your hotel to Cancún International Airport for departure. Safe travels! 

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Map of Mexico's Riviera Maya for Families - 7 Days
Map of Mexico's Riviera Maya for Families - 7 Days