Last year we had travel credits to burn with Southwest that were about to expire. We spent time looking at all the places Southwest flies and when I saw that Cancun was an option I knew immediately that I wanted to take the kids there. I love the mix of tropical ecosystem, beautiful beaches, vibrant culture and rich history. We think we came up with the perfect way to spend six days in the Tulum area as a family!
DAY #1: FLY TO CANCUN + DRIVE TO AIRBNB
The flight from Denver to Cancun is short and easy, it’s also very nice that a checked bag comes free with every Southwest ticket!
It was nice to fly directly into Mexico, customs was a breeze then we were out into the muggy heat to pick up our rental car.
Public transportation is very affordable and easy in the Cancun area but we decided to rent a car this time so we could move around more easily with little kids. Renting a car was also very affordable. We drove from Cancun down to Tulum which is just about an hour and a half. We stopped at a grocery store along the way to pick up some breakfast essentials. I always love going to grocery stores in foreign contries.
We choose to rent an Airbnb instead of going with an all inclusive resort and loved having our own kitchen and private roof top pool.
We loved our rental and highly recommend it if you are in the area. The complex was quiet and felt like a tropical retreat.
We got to our rental pretty late so we settled in and enjoyed the pool before heading to bed. We really enjoyed the air conditioners that each room had!
Day #2: TULUM RUINS + GRAND CENOTE
We stated our second day out nice and early so we could get to the Tulum Ruins before the crowds and heat.
The ruins are very close to where we are staying so we felt like we had the place to ourselves.
The littles markets at the entrance are bustling with lots of things to purchase.
We did decide to hire a tour guide for our visit because we wanted to learn more about what we were seeing.
The ruins are stunning set right on the edge of the Caribbean Sea.
It’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot but the tropical atmosphere makes it nice. The tunnel entrance was a highlight.
The kids did a pretty good job listening to our guide.
But when they got bored they just ran around in the fields.
This place is just gorgeous!
When we were done at the ruins we shared some Coco Frio, the kids were so excited to try drinking from a coconut, but they didn’t like it LOL.
We drove into town and found a little taco shop, the one Cory wanted to try was closed and the one we found was okay.
After lunch we decided to visit Grand Cenote that is really close to Tulum. This place was amazing, the Cenote was partially open to the sunshine and partially a cave. There were bats flying in and out, turtles and fishing swimming with us and stalagmites reaching down from above.
I was worried that it would be too cold or maybe scary in the caves with bats flying around, but she was in awe. Her face was lit up and she loved it all so much. Cannon loved it too, swimming around exploring everything, I was never worried about him not loving it.
We brought the kids’ life jackets from home so we always knew they would be safe have a jacket that fit well. This cenote did have jackets for adults and kids available. .
After swimming there were showers and places to change before going back to our rental.
When we got back Emmy and Cory were very worn out so they took a nap. Cannon and I decided to test out the roof top pool and hang out in the loft together.
For dinner we drove down to the beach and found the cutest little pizza place.
This had to be some of the best pizza I have ever had.
We all loved it!
We walked around a bit after dinner, said hello to the ocean, then went to bed way too late.
It was a very full, magical start to our trip!
Day #3: XEL HA
For our third day in Mexico we visited Xel Ha.
Xel Ha is a eco water park in a beautiful inlet from the Sea. We swam with sting rays, jumped off cliffs and floated on lazy rivers through a Mangrove Forest. There were sea caves and Cenotes to explore. We had the best time.
Meals were provided with entrance at the park and we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner there. We stayed way longer than I thought we would there was so much to do!
We left after dinner and the kiddos ended the day with a swim in the roof top pool.
Day #4 – CHICHÉN ITZÁ, VALLADOLID + CHOO HA CENOTE
Our fourth day in Mexico we visited Chichén Itzá. It’s about a two hour drive to the Mayan ruins from Tulum. It was really interesting to drive through the Yucatan peninsula and see all the little towns. Seeing the ruins was amazing, and very interesting to imagine how life must have been in the past. We opted for an audio tour this day so we could move more at the kids’ pace.
It was very hot so far off the coast but we loved learning about the history of the area.
It’s always a good idea to arrive as early as possible to beat the giant tour busses. We had lunch in the little Colonial town of Valladolid on the way home.
The tacos were good!
Then stopped at Cenote Choo Ha to cool off. The water was cool and clear with lots of fish. We really have loved having a rental car on this trip so we can move at our own pace!
It was very cool climbing down into the cave!
By the time we got back to our rental we were ready to take one last dip in the pool then go to bed!
Day #5: AKUMAL BAY, SWIMMING WITH SEA TURTLES
For our fifth day in Mexico we visited Akumal Bay.
Famous for their abundance of sea turtles and magical little reef. We hired a guide to take us out to swim with sea turtles, rays and lots of amazing fish. We saw baby turtles and swam about a mile and a half in the bay, it was amazing! Our guide even towed Emmy and Cannon along in a buoy when they got tired.
I highly recommend hiring a guide from Akumal Dive Shop, we got to see lots of wildlife and it was done in a way that protects the reef and turtles.
After out guided tour we walked down to a little beach club for some amazing sea food for lunch. The kids enjoyed the pool at the club and got to explore some tide pools.
We really wanted to hit one more cenote but had to hurry back to our rental for the Covid tests needed for our travel home. We had one more swim in our rooftop pool, then had to pack our bags. Sad to leave out sweet little jungle house as the kids called it.
Day #6: TRAVEL HOME
Our travel day home turned out to be around 14 hours when all was said and done, it all adds up given that the flight is only about four hours! We had to get up around 5 am to get packed out of our rental and return the rental car.
Driving north to Cancun to the airport was a little sad we wished for a couple more days, but life and responsibilities call!
The Cancun airport is small and easy to navigate, we were all sleepy from our very early wake time and late nights.
These two kids have become such good little travelers, we really are lucky!