Mexico vacations offer a great chance to combine resort amenities, beautiful beaches, and cultural interest such as Mayan history. Many families choose to stay in all inclusive resorts, with the benefits of all-included meals, drinks and snacks, plus kids programs, watersports and other activities. But be sure to explore outside your resort!
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
All inclusive resorts in Mexico are a favorite family getaway; some offer a good price point, while others -- especially in the Riviera Maya area -- trend upscale to ever-more luxury.
Photo courtesy of Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau.
With white sand beaches on the Caribbean Sea, Cancun is Mexico's tourism powerhouse. It's 25-km Hotel Zone of double waterfront (ocean and lagoon) is a magnet for shoppers, diners-out, and spring-breakers... And families flock here too. Check out popular resorts.
The 130 km from Cancun south to Tulum offers popular resorts plus fun and fascinating activities. Highlights, down the coast from Puerto Morelos to Tulum, include Mayan ruins, second-largest barrier coral reef in the world, "eco-archeological" theme park Xcaret, lagoons full of colorful fish, and "cenotes" (natural pools of clear water-- lovely to swim in). If you're looking for busy shopping areas, you'll find that too.
Explore off the beaten track, in this area south of the popular Riviera Maya. Families will find lovely beaches and ecotourism opportunities.
Photo courtesy of Hilton Los Cabos.
The long Baja California peninsula extends about half-way down the west side of Mexico, and at the bottom tip sits this popular vacation spot. Los Cabos has two "Cabos" ("Capes"): San Jose del Cabo, and (party-town) Cabo San Lucas, connected by a 17-mile "Corridor" with resorts and golf courses. Los Cabos offers whale-watching in winter; some good snorkeling; horseriding; and sightseeing in the artists' town of Todos Santos. Currents can be strong at the beaches, so choose your resort carefully if you want a swimmable beach.
Moving over to Mexico's west coast: Mazatlan has been one of Mexico's best tourist draws for decades, and has long stretches of beach, a historic downtown, a busy tourist zone, an aquarium, water park, and reputation for sportsfishing. Families can find a couple of "playas" (beaches) that offer calm waters; in other areas, kids can have fun in the waves and learn to surf.
Photo courtesy of Puerto Vallarta CVB.
About half-way up the west coast of Mexico (south of Mazatlan, north of Acapulco), Puerto Vallarta has nearly 30 miles of golden sand. Watersports include snorkeling and surfing, plus kayaking, windsurfing,parasailing, sportfishing. Visitors can explore an old town with cobblestone streets, and ogle the mansions that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton back in the days when they put Puerto Vallarta on the map. Jungle and canopy tours are nearby. Families can find all inclusive resorts and name brand properties.
Photo courtesy of Marival Resorts & Suites Nuevo Vallarta.
This area of beautiful beaches, beloved by surfers, has seen recent development, and now has a number of all inclusive resorts. The "Riviera Nayarit" is north of popular destination Puerta Vallarta. Besides the beaches, features include lush vegetation and canopy tours.
For families who don't want the popular tourist areas and their typically-large all inclusive resorts isolated from the locale, the Costa Maya may be for you. This area south of the Mayan Riviera has uncrowded beaches, Mayan ruins, and opportunities for ecotourism.
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
Visitors to Mexico can easily add a fun and educational dimension to their trip, even if staying at an all inclusive resort: it's easy to take a day trip to Mayan ruins from resorts in the Cancun and Mayan Riviera areas.
About.com's Guide for Mexico Travel highlights many great places to visit in Mexico, including colonial towns with charm and history.
About.com's Mexico Travel site has many articles about health and safety in Mexico, including "Is Mexico Safe?", which discusses concerns about crime and violence along the border with the US.