Family holidays to Mexico

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Visit the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean coast and you’ll wonder why you even asked.

Beachy and sunny this is the area with exceptional resorts where you don’t have to travel far to find ancient history.

On the Pacific coast, head for Puerto Vallarta where the Sierra Madres supply adventure and kilometres of white sand does everything else from fantastic water sports to turtle watching.

And if you need cities in the mix: Oaxaca is home of one of Mexico’s most famous Dia de Los Muertos festivals, Mexico City is ridiculously exciting and Acapulco is the city of extreme water-sports and luxury lifestyles but with an extraordinarily eco-conscious heart.

Why go on holiday in Mexico

  • Direct flights

    There are direct flights from London to Cancun and Mexico City.

  • Native languages

    Over 60 native languages exist in Mexico today – only India has more.

  • Rich culture

    Mexico traces its roots back to Mayan and Aztec civilisations, has more World Heritage sites than anywhere in the Americas and even the country’s traditional cuisine has UNESCO World Heritage status.

  • Wild life

    Grey Whales, Whale Sharks and Monarch Butterflies all migrate through Mexico annually. The country is one of the world’s top-five most bio-diverse with almost 3000 native bird and animal species and 30,000 indigenous plant species.

  • Lush landscape

    Mexico’s amazingly rich landscape is made for outdoor adventure whether it’s white water rafting in jungle forests or diving and surfing on the coast.

Where to go

Flights from the UK aren’t cheap but the cost is balanced by Mexico’s good value accommodation, activities, food and travel. If money is no object, Mexico has 14 Five-Diamond resorts – more than Canada, the Caribbean and Hawaii combined.

  • All-inclusive hotels on the Caribbean coast are best for families. Look outside Cancun for lively fun with less party atmosphere.
  • South west coastal resorts like Puerto Vallarta have very affordable luxury hotels on the beach with great kid’s activities and easy access to the mountains.
  • Mexico City has a wide choice of international hotel brands and boutique heritage hotels.

Mexico City

Forget everything you’ve heard about Mexico City and consider: it has a population of 20 million and the crime rate is a third of Washington DC. It’s a huge and thrilling capital, packed with astonishing sights, historic monuments and endless activity. Not the first choice for an entire family holiday. But if you have a flight stopover on the way to the beach, think about spending a day or two – especially with older kids.

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Riviera Maya

Just an hour’s drive west of Cancun, this is where the Caribbean coast does its best beaches and fewer crowds. The weather’s fantastic all year round, the sea is world famous for diving and there’s jungle to explore if you can drag the kids off the pure white sands. The Mayan sites at Tulum are also in this area, the Sian Ka’an UNESCO biosphere reserve is where to see turtles and Xel-Ha is the world’s largest, natural aquarium – a magical experience for children. Playa del Carmen is a popular family resort for all-inclusive hotels and superb water sports.

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Los Cabos

To the far south of the Baja Peninsula (just over the border from Southern California) Los Cabos is surfing heaven for teens and laid-back beach vibe for families. Iconic towering sea stacks and monumental rock formations define the awe-inspiring coast. The hotels are superb and think of everything. And a mix of friendly local life, cute shopping, intriguing galleries, museums and great restaurants steers Los Cabos clear of a bland resort experience.

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Puerto Vallarta

The historic town of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast is the best of all worlds: hiking and horse riding in the Sierra Madres’ foothills and beautiful beaches. There’s tradition in the holiday equation here too and it’s a great town for fiestas, art events, children’s festivals and spectacular food (Basilio Badillo AKA Restaurant Row is one of the south west’s foodie hotspots). Visit in August and kids can help with hatchlings at the local turtle farm.

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City of cliff divers, high glamour and awe-inspiring beaches, Acapulco is the grand old dame of Mexico’s Pacific coast resorts. Perfect for families who want the thrill of serious water sports, lively resort life and eco-experiences like camping on sensational Ventura Beach. Naturally there are dozens of enormous resort hotels here, self-catering is another good option and 5-star camping near Saint Jean de Monts is ideal for families.

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What to do

  • Swim with dolphines, Puerto Vallarta
    Whether kids want to spot or get into the water with these amazing creatures, there’s an experience to fulfil their dreams.
  • Tulum Mayan Ruins, Riviera MayaThe only Mayan city built on the coast is a day trip from Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
  • Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park
    Home to colonies of sea lions and Mexico’s only hard coral reef this adventure in conservation is unforgettable for children and just over an hour from Los Cabos.
  • La Quebrada Cliff Divers, AcapulcoFive times a day the legendary Acapulco cliff divers perform their feats of daring – they dive with torches in the evening.
  • Riding in the Sierra Madres, Puerto VallartaHave a day away from the beach and explore the Sierra Madres foothills on a guided horseback tour.
  • Xel-Ha Aquarium, Riviera Maya
    The world’s largest natural aquarium where kids can swim and dive with the aquatic residents.
  • Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve, Riviera MayaFrom glimpsing spider monkeys, dolphins and turtles to swimming and kayaking with ancient Mayans this mesmerising biosphere is another side of Mexico’s Caribbean.
  • Ventura Park, Cancun
    Seven worlds in one vast park include wet ‘n’ wild, Grand Prix, Dolphinaris.
  • Isla Mujeres, Cancun
    Tropical island escape just 15 minutes by boat from Cancun and packed with kid-size excitement – visit for the turtle farm.
  • Xcaret, Riviera Maya
    Mayan culture and an amazing theme park with children’s events and festivals all year round.

Educational value for kids

  • Taxco is known as the prettiest town in Mexico, unspoiled and historic it’s fascinating for older children and less than two hours from Acapulco.
  • Eco-adventures all along the Caribbean and Pacific coast.
  • Visit at least one of the Mayan sites near Riviera Maya.
  • Join in local fiestas and celebrations, even sinister seeming Dia de Los Muertos has a kid’s festival the day before.
  • If you’re in Mexico City make time to visit the Diego Rivera Museum and older teenagers might like to tour Frida Kahlo’s studio.
  • Mexico’s resorts are famous for water sports and most offer beginner’s courses for kids.
  • Eat local. Traditional Mexican cuisine has World Heritage status and introducing kids to new tastes is an interesting experience. Just watch out for chili in food, too strong and it can cause stomach upsets in younger kids.

Getting around with kids in Mexico

How you decide to travel around when you arrive in Mexico really depends on what type of holiday you’re having. Most resorts will have regular transport to main attractions or be able to organise reliable and inexpensive taxis. If you want to tour independently, car hire is convenient and easy to arrange. Make sure you know the area you’re driving around, have a paper map as well as GPS and keep your phone charged. Always carry water and snacks in the car, even on short journeys. Before you travel in Mexico look at the UK Government Travel Information site for up to date advice.

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