mexico
yucatan
Caribbean Coast

he coast of Mexico on the Caribbean side has clear warm waters filled with tropical fish, mangrove forests and wetland lagoons to explore, plus Maya ruins, some right at the beach. Kids of all ages will have a fun time on the Caribbean Coast, and this is also a great place to bring the grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles for a multi-generational trip.

Croco Cun (Puerto Morelos) - If you want to see crocodiles, this is the place. This "crocodile farm" and zoo has many different species of crocodiles, snakes, spider monkeys, and parrots.
Tres Rios Ecopark (north of Playa de Carmen) - Float down a clear sparkling river that orginates in a cenote, all the way to the beach. Canoes and kayaks are available, or bike on paths through the subtropical jungle. For an additional fee (kids under 5 are free), snorkel or take a 90 min. boat tour to the coral reef. Horseback riding on the beach or jungle trails.
Xcaret (south of Playa de Carmen) - Spend the day at Xcaret, an "eco-archeological" park, developed around the Maya ruins of the port city of Pole, enhanced with native flora and fauna.
Xcaret (south of Playa de Carmen) - Spend the day at Xcaret, an "eco-archeological" park, developed around the Maya ruins of the port city of Pole, enhanced with native flora and fauna.
Bring your swim suit so you can snorkel in the "underground" rivers (life jackets provided, you can rent snorkels) or meet stingrays.
There is a magnificent Butterfly Pavilion, situated in a canyon, covered with a net. Butterflies are hatched here, and you can climb around the canyon amidst the huge, beautiful butterflies.
In the Aviary, see green parrots (favorites of the Aztecs), endangered quetzal birds, scarlet macaws, and flamingos.
Discover colorful tropical fish of the Caribbrean in the Aquarium and view sea turtles and manatees up close in other pools.
In more exhbits see Yucatan regional wildlife, jaguars, bats, spider and howler monkeys, tapirs.
In addition to the ruins of the old Mayan port city, the museum has Mexican folk art and recreation of a 19th century mansion
Don't miss performances throughout the day and evening, sucn as voladores, horse exhibitions, Mexican folk dancing, tour of the Mayan village and dances.
Akumal - Akumal Bay is like a big bathtub with little waves. The water is very, very warm and shallow, way out into the bay. "Little kids can easily play forever on the beach," says a friend. At the tidepools, you'll find crabs and sea anemones. In the bay, snorkeling is excellent - lots of colorful tropical fishes, a sandy bottom and bits of coral.
For bigger kids, there's the "Bubblemakers Club." The Akumal Dive Shop teaches beginning scuba lessons to kids 8-12. If adults want to plan a day of diving, day care is available at the Akumal complex.
For a more "rustic" lagoon, pack a picnic and spend the day at Yalku Lagoon, next to Akumal.
Aktun Chen Cave (near Akumal) - Take a tour of Aktun Chen, a cave with a sparkling clear cenote, fed by an underground river. It's an easy walking tour (okay for little kids) on boardwalks and there's plenty of stalactites and stalagmites. Outside the cave there is a little zoo, with monkeys, snakes and other local fauna.
Xel-Ha Lagoon National Park - The Xel-Ha lagoon is a wonderful place to snorkel, hang out on the beach, or check out the archeological exhibits. The lagoon is a combination of fresh water and sea water, with lots of wildlife (manta rays, tropical fish, dolphins) and channels to explore. Raft on big inner tubes or hike on the trails in the park. Little ones may want to just ride around the lagoon in four wheeled carts, the "train." You can rent life vests or snorkeling gear.
Tulum - At Tulum is a beachside Maya ruin, perched above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. At the entrance to the archeological site, don't miss the market (mercado), where can see the "dance of the flying men," the voladores.
At the ruins, climb up the "Castillo," and keep your eye out for the "diving" god, an upside down figure. There's a pint-sized cenote and, some walled structures are decorated with painted frescoes. Look for iguanas around the ruins.
After you've toured the ruins, run down to the beach to play. The small beach has some big waves, but it's shallow. Bring your swim suits.
Grand Cenote (road to Coba) - If your kids are good swimmers, stop off at the Grand Cenote for a memorable swimming experience. This cenote has stalagtites hanging down into the incredibly clear water. A wonderful place to snorkel!
Coba - Take a day trip to visit the Maya ruins of Coba. To get to the ruins, you'll walk through dense forest, or rent bikes to ride to the sites. Look for butterflies and toucans, and best of all, you can hear monkeys in the jungle. The Nohoch Mul pyramid is higher than Chichen Itza, but much more crumbly.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve - Sian Ka'an is a huge reserve, comprised of over a million acres of tropical forests, wetlands, lagoons, inhabited by birds, jaguar, deer, manatees and monkeys. Most of the reserve is off limits to tourists to preserve the natural environment (Sian Ka'an is a Unesco Natural World Heritage site).
Tours into a part of the reserve are available through the Amigos de Sian Ka'an, a non-profit organization. Older kids will enjoy this day trip and the three hour boat ride through the Chunyaxche lagoon and freshwater channels lined with mangroves, decked out with orchids and bromeliads. Bring a swim suit for a swim in the freshwater channel (with a life vest). Call (98) 84 95 83 for a reservation.
Day trip to Chichen Itza - From the Caribbean Coast, the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza are just a couple of hours away.

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