19th June 2017

Our Family Holiday in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

I’m writing this post whilst at work…in Reading…and I’m reminiscing back to our last family holiday to Mexico and realised that I hadn’t shared anything about it on my blog, and this is not cool. So, I apologise, and hopefully, I’ll be shortly making up for that.

Read on.. ¡Arriba, arriba! ¡Ándale, ándale!

August is the one time of year my little family and I get to spend two unbroken weeks together. We work hard and have so much going on throughout the year that this time together means a lot to all of us.  We get to relax, have fun, eat lots of delicious food, discover new cultures and do things we usually wouldn’t even think about doing.  You may have read that the previous year we went on a mini-European adventure. This year we wanted a lot more sand..and water…and snooze time!

Mexico - You're Amazing

Once we’d decided on Mexico for our location, preferring a more authentic local experience for our children we booked a hotel in the Riviera Maya. A nine-hour flight was nothing and once we landed the heat nearly knocked us off our feet, so we were extremely keen to get to our hotel and freshen up.

As soon as were checked in we tore off our shoes, discarded our travel clothes and suitcases, and made a beeline for the pool.  I don’t really have any choice about this, and they do this to me every time! 😉

Personally, I was dying for a tequila…or even a margarita would have done the trick – when in Mexico right?

What we enjoyed the most

I enjoyed Mexico far too much to choose a favourite thing about it.

I loved the people, the food, the weather, the drinks, the crystal clear sea, the sand that felt like warm velvet; just everything about the place.

Mexico - You're Amazing

But, I’ll attempt to narrow down our most favourite things for you.

Our hotel

We stayed in an Eco-Hotel (this one if you’d like a nosy) where the beach and surrounding jungle are untouched. Animals roam free, fish swim freely around your feet and coconuts fall as you lay on your lounger reading your book.

Mexico - You're Amazing

Cenotes are naturally dotted around and we often took advantage of the cool, calm depth of them desperately trying to spot a turtle. We got lucky on many occasions. Some of these cenotes are found in caves and others are open to the sky above, either way, swimming in these pristine waters is quite magical.

The water’s so clear you don’t need goggles, and there’s no salt or chlorine to get in your eyes.

Mexico - You're Amazing

We watched the sunset as our room was very close to the beach and we took advantage of the hotel snorkelling trip racing out to sea in search of something pretty, new and bright.

Mexico - You're Amazing


There are hundreds of Mayan ruins spread across Mexico and we chose to visit the popular ocean-side ruins of Tulum. Standing above the waves next to the castle-like buildings is an amazing experience at any age, and we were there a lot longer than we anticipated to be.

Mexico - You're Amazing

These ruins are unique and different to any other Mayan ruins as they sit on 12-metre cliffs and overlook the gorgeous Caribbean Sea, which is so blue, you won’t believe your eyes!

Mexico - You're Amazing

After making new friends…

Mexico - You're Amazing

We took ourselves off the main track and attempted to find this amazing beach we’d heard about from the staff at the hotel. After around 30 minutes of walking, which felt like 30 days in that heat…we found it. Pure white sand..crystal clear sea and hardly a soul to be seen. Bliss.

We rented some comfy loungers from Playa Pescadores and prepared ourselves for spending the rest of the day here.

Mexico - You're Amazing

Taco’bout a feast!

Mexico - You're Amazing

This beach was possibly one of my most favourite beaches ever. It was perfect. I did, however, drink quite a few Mojitos…but I think my photos confirm just how lovely it was and if there’s one thing that Mexico really excels at, it’s beaches.

The water is some of the purest I’ve ever experienced. Cool, clear and quite breathtaking.

Mexico - You're Amazing

One thing to note is that the currents here can be strong, so keep an eye on the kids. It’s more of a splashing kind of sea than a swimming one.

Akumal Bay – “place of the turtles”

Just when you think you’ve already found your dream beach out comes a new rival. Akumal was just as pretty as Tulum beach but with one added extra – you swim with turtles! I know.. amazing right?

Mexico - You're Amazing

I feel like I really should first talk about the fact that if you ever go it’s so so important to respect the turtles and the environment they live in. Do not touch them, don’t wear sun cream in the water, don’t get too close and please don’t take anything out of the sea. The turtles here are known as ‘Green Sea Turtles’ and they are endangered. We saw a few people disrespecting this and it’s just not right! All for the sake of a selfie! tut-tut.

Get there early

Known to be a sea turtle hot spot due to the sea grass that stretches along the sea bed not far from shore we arrived as early as we could as we’d heard it can get quite manic. The turtles linger for hours in the bay, casually munching on the grass, giving you a chance to get up close and personal.

Towels all spread out under the biggest palm tree we could find, snorkel gear on and raring to go.

About ten metres in the sea floor turned from sand to seagrass, crystal clear. We must have been in the water about five minutes before Lucy spotted her first sea turtle bobbing around feeding off the grass, then all of a sudden more appeared!

It’s an Incredible Experience

At one point a turtle was just swimming along next to me! He glanced around and finding nothing remotely interesting ducked back under the water, swam straight to the bottom and continued to munch on the swaying sea grass.

Mexico - You're Amazing

All a tiny bit surreal and probably one of our most favourite experiences. I swear I saw tears in Lucy’s eyes. I’ve seen turtles before but only in zoos or sanctuaries, so seeing one in the wild is just mesmerising.

Mexico - You're Amazing

So that’s how swimming with turtles went and that’s one more thing ticked off the bucket list…Water magical place!

The only thing left to mention is that unfortunately there were lots of companies, some unofficial, scouting for you to book them as a guide.  We refused, it’s just not our thing.  This didn’t go down well and they threatened us with calling the police numerous times. They didn’t, and we knew they wouldn’t. We’d already been warned about these people so were ready for their behaviours. Just keep walking and looking out for the ‘public swimming’ sign where they won’t bother you.

Anyway, it didn’t spoil our day and if you go, please don’t let it spoil yours either. It may be worth checking out what the current rules are as I do know they guides and the government were in conflict at the time we visited.

Playa del Carmen

After spending our days lazing on loungers, swimming in the sea and eating yummy food we often found that we needed a little bit of liveliness in the evenings and Playa del Carmen was so close to our hotel it was the obvious choice.  If you love to people watch then a stroll down Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) will definitely fit the bill. The pedestrian-only street is full of people all the time and the miles of restaurants, bars, shops and ice cream stands will tempt you like no other.

We wandered up and down it lots and each time saw something new and interesting. The food is amazing with so many different choices.  One evening we sat eating on the rooftop of a restaurant covered with canopies watching the most intense thunderstorm! I could have stayed for so much longer but the rain was getting pretty heavy!  The weather is so beautiful here that the shower was pleasant and we enjoyed walking home in the rain.

I know nachos may seem pretty boring but in Mexico, they are totally different, they are the real thing! I ate so many nachos, I’m surprised I didn’t turn into an avocado!

One of my favourites things about my visit to Playa del Carmen was the food (I know, I know, it’s always about the food with me). Honestly, having lived in the UK all my life I’d never truly experienced really good Mexican food until I visited the country…and then I was blown away. Mexican food is one of my favourite cuisines now. I could eat tacos every day!

Xel-Ha Eco Park – “where the water is born”

When you think of Mexico, you might picture a Mariachi band bringing life to your dinner, a huge plate of spicy tacos or a picturesque white sand beach. But jumping off a cliff in the middle of the jungle? Probably not. But you can do that here!

Mexico - You're Amazing

There are lots of parks like this one to visit in Mexico, each similar to one another.  We chose Xel-Ha (pronounced as shel-ha) as 1) it was closer to our hotel and 2) It looked like they had a bigger variety of activities to choose from.

We snorkelled, swam, jumped off cliffs (I’m a baby, went last and squealed all the way down), floated down the lazy river and through underground cenotes, walked across rickety bridges, ate, explored caves and freaked out every time we saw a giant stingray.

Mexico - You're Amazing

It is a fantastic place to explore and we spent the whole day here only leaving at closing time! Our tans were topped up, our bodies aching but we loved every moment!


As far as family beach holidays go, this one was near perfect.  We found Mexico to be tropical, friendly and full of life and I can’t wait to return.

Mexico - You're Amazing

Things you should definitely remember:

44 responses to “Our Family Holiday in the Riviera Maya, Mexico”

  1. Reading this reminds me of my own trip to Mexico a few weeks ago! Wish I was back there now after looking at your pics – seems you guys did pretty much everything I did, though I didn’t visit the Xel-ha park. Maybe next time I go, hey? 😉 cos I’m deffo going back! x

    • hellocuppies says:

      I wish I was back there too! I’d definitely return as there’s so much I still want to see there. The humidity made it difficult to do everything we had planned. The kids just needed to be near water all the time! Amazing country though isn’t it xx

      • I’d take the humidity in Mexico over the humidity in Reading right now! Currently in the garden and it’s 29c in Woodley! Like being back in Mexico minus the margaritas! xx

        • hellocuppies says:

          Ooh you’re making it worse!!!! I’m at home with a poorly child in this heat! Margaritas definitely would make it easier… x

  2. nicolemwooley says:

    My parents took my brother and me to Mexico as kids and it is still to this day one of my favourite vacations. It sounds like you guys did all the same stuff we did. Such a great place for family vacations!!

  3. Pooja K says:

    Incredible pics! Love that you went to an eco-friendly hotel. So much more natural and real world than the manicured (though v well maintained) resorts.

  4. thatssodarling says:

    Wow. this sounds and looks like an amazing vacation! So fun! I love all of your pictures too!

  5. Jhilmil says:

    Spotting turtles would have been so amazing! Loved to see this side of Mexico.. all pics are just superb!

  6. Gorgeous. You make me want to hop on a plane and head to Mexico! How fun!
    xoxo Christie

  7. Danielle says:

    Wow, this looks so beautiful! I’ve never been to Mexico but it’s definitely on my bucket list!

  8. elizabethcolette says:

    What beautiful pictures! I have never been to Mexico, but now it’s on my list of places to go. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Emma says:

    Oh my goodness, that hotel… the food and swimming with turtles… you’ve just put Mexico on my bucket list!

  10. This sounds brilliant! Mexico is on my to visit list (most places are to be fair!) and swimming with Turtles is so cool

  11. Kirsty Dee says:

    I’ve never really thought of Mexico as a place I want to go, but you’ve totally sold it to me hehe! I wish people didn’t disrespect animals for a selfie though.

  12. The photos are breathtakingly beautiful. I would love to swim in such a clear water. I never heard the term “cenotes” but they look amazing!

  13. Fab tips. Planning days out in advance definitely help.

  14. Colette B says:

    I’d love to go to Mexico but I must admit I’d have been more inclined to just go with my husband till I read this!

  15. Amazing pictures! And great tips! Bookmarked for referring in future. 🙂

  16. Lauren says:

    Mexico is definitely on my to visit list, this is the latest in a long line of inspiring posts!

  17. Gosh, Mexico looks like absolute heaven! You totally had me at mojito! I’d love to visit one day, maybe when my babies are older!

  18. Steph says:

    I’ve come across this at the perfect time. Yesterday I agreed to a holiday in Mexico with a friend. We just need to try and decide when and where to go. You’re holiday sounds fantastic and your pictures have made me more excited now

  19. Your photos look amazing! I love Mexico as well! I spent like 5 weeks and loved every single day of it! The beaches are so beautiful 🙂

  20. Wow! This is so beautiful! And I am so well jealous of you seeing the turtles! How lucky are you! Those Taco looks so delicious too. I’ve never been to Mexico before but it is on my bucket list. x

  21. Hayley's little things says:

    I really want to do another long haul but haven’t done further than 5 hours with the babies! This has spurred me on to look again!!! X

    • hellocuppies says:

      I think if you get the right flight time it helps. There were lots of under 5’s on ours and they were all so well behaved. X

  22. Scandi Mummy says:

    This looks amazing!! I’ve never been but always wanted to go, after reading this even more so x

  23. Joanna says:

    What an amazing holiday you’ve had! I got all excited reading about Tulum, as I will be going there myself in December, probably to spend Christmas on those beautiful white beaches with crystal clear waters.

  24. Fabiola says:

    Tulum is a beautiful place. I experienced it in November and it was rainy every day 🙁 so I must go back and re-experience it! Beautiful photos and I love how it has culture and relaxation, yet it is so close to Cancun (which has none), great vacation spot. Xo

  25. Eva says:

    What a great holiday!! Mexico is so gorgeous – it’s been way too long since my last visit!

  26. Sonia says:

    I think I’m going to have to visit Mexico soon it looks absolutely gorgeous! I want to go to Jamaica next year but I think Mexico might be a bit of a cheaper option so we might have to settle with this type of heaven instead 🙂

  27. ljdove23 says:

    Wow what an amazing holiday destination!! I have never been but I’ve had friends tell me it’s absolutely idyllic! Your photos are amazing!

  28. Eva says:

    I’ve never been to Mexico but I would love to go! I already love the food 🙂

  29. nicky a says:

    Wow this place looks amazing! I especially like the sound of the hotel you stayed in. I would be ALL over the beaches there!

  30. Joanna says:

    It looks like you had a fabulous trip! I am actually going to Mexico in December and I am very looking forward to it! I will be flying into Cancun but I want to stay in Tulum, so you’re recommendations were great!

  31. Tanita says:

    Oh wow how amazing! This looks like an absolute paradise. I cant quite believe how white the sand is! and how blue the ocean is! It looks like an amazing holiday and place to visit. xx

  32. Ah I love Mexico, haven’t been for 10 years but I adored it. Such blue seas and white sands. I loved visiting the mayan site. x

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