Sunday, May 15, 2011

Family Fun Along Mexico's Caribbean Coast

The Mexican Caribbean, the stretch of coast from Cancun south past Tulum in the state of Yucatan, offers lots of fun and activities for the whole family. Children and adults can enjoy the refurbished white sand beaches, have fun with colorful fish, swim with dolphins in ecological parks, go hiking at archaeological sites, and explore underground rivers and forests full of adventure.

Families who base themselves at any of the fine all-inclusive family beach resorts should visit at least one of the ecological parks of the Riviera Maya region. Among the most visited are Xcaret and Xel-Ha. Both parks are located within short distance of Cancun.

The Xcaret Park is located in a jungle surrounding, with an underground river or cenote running through it where families can swim with life vests. There’s a Mayan village replica, where children can learn in a fun way about the history and traditions of this impressive civilization. Inside the park, there's a beautiful beach where you can swim with dolphins or go diving and snorkeling. A family “must” in this park is its hatchery, where children can learn about environmental protection issues to ensure the survival of small creatures. There are also manatees, an aviary, a butterfly park, a bat cave, the corner with deer’s and the jaguar island. If you have time, we recommend the two-day pass so you can return and explore even more.

Xel-Ha park is the largest natural aquarium, declared a wonder by the Mexican Government.  Xel-Ha is a haven for scuba diving and snorkeling, where parents can show their children all kinds of fish and abundant marine life. You can also visit a mural of the Mayan people, visit the apiary, and swim with dolphins or kayaking.

The Chankanaab Park is located in the island of Cozumel. This natural reserve is where you can plan a full day excursion and interact with manatees. Also, the largest nature reserve on the island is Punta Sur, another excellent choice for family outings.

A different corner of the Caribbean to take the family is Puerto Morelos. The coral reef of this small fishing village is the second largest artificial barrier in the world. It also has a zoo and botanical garden.

Another feature for families who enjoy art and adventure is the brand new Underwater Museum (MUSA) between the waters of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. This remarkable achievement, an artistic effort to create new coral reefs where marine life will thrive, is a new concept of seeing sculptures under the sea. You can arrange for a snorkel or scuba tour to really appreciate this accomplishment. The sculpture 'garden' is pictured above (copyright Greenpeace).

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Best Family DestinationsBecause it's close to so many American metropolitan regions and easy and cheap to fly to, Cancun and the surrounding coastline of the Riviera Maya make an ideal family vacation to share experiences. This summer, you'll find great values at hotels and resorts because the "high season" is winter, when the local weather is cooler and less humid.

Read more about what the region has to offer in our new guidebook, The Complete Idiots Guide to the Best Family Destinations.

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