Playa del Carmen
Welcome to Playa del Carmen, Mexico! Today is an arrival day and there are no activities planned until the Welcome Meeting at 5pm this evening. Look out for a notice in the hotel reception for more details on this meeting. After the meeting, consider going out for an optional dinner at a nearby restaurant to get to know your fellow travellers.
If you’ve arrived early and have some time to kill, there’s plenty to see and do in Playa del Carmen. You and your family might like to spend some time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving into underground caverns or strolling along the white sandy beaches. For an adventure further afield, consider taking a ferry across to Cozumel and enjoying some of the famous reef diving it has to offer.
Begin travelling towards Merida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yutacan. En route, take a stop off at Chichen Itza, possibly the most famous Maya temple site in all of Mexico. Marvel at the temple of Kukulkan standing high over the ruins, then explore the nearby ‘ball court’. Disputes were typically settled here by way of a ball game that only used the elbows, hips and wrists – stone carvings depicting violence suggest that it wasn’t a casual or friendly sport. After a guided tour of the site, get back on the bus and continue to Merida.
Merida has a rich Maya and colonial heritage, serving as a bridge between two very different cultures. The city’s focal point is the Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the fortress-like Merida Cathedral and the white limestone Iglesia de la Tercera Orden; both colonial-era churches built using relics from ancient Maya temples. Once you check in to the hotel, explore this colourful city at your own pace.
After waking up and enjoying your breakfast, head out on a half day tour of Sotuta de Peon. Built in the late 1800s, this large estate or hacienda is a restoration project of a landmark located deep in the heart of what was once an ancient henequen plantation. You’ll get a true glimpse into the historical practices, styles and traditions of this period before heading back to Merida for the afternoon.
With a free afternoon at your disposal, perhaps consider visiting the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan or strolling the city streets to soak in the arts and culture. Spend some time relaxing in the green and shady Plaza Grande with the 16th-century cathedral sitting on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other.
In the morning travel west to the coast before taking a boat ride to visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere reserve, home to vast flocks of flamingos, herons and more than 200 different bird species. Near the extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you’re likely to be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.
Once you return to Merida, you’ll have some free time to relax. Perhaps take a swim in the hotel pool or embark on one last walk around the town.
Say farewell to Merida and continue on to Valladolid. Today we visit the Coba archeological site.
This vast Mayan archeological site dates from 600-900 A.D. and there were an estimated 100,000 people living in its domain. We explore the grounds of the site with the opportunity to ride bikes from one site to the next. Today we will also have a local experience and have lunch with a local family.
Arriving in Valladolid, we’ll check into the hotel and enjoy a guided walking tour around the town’s charming colonial era churches and architecture.
Take a short drive towards the beautiful coastal town of Tulum – a place of gorgeous seas, blindingly bright sand and ancient ruins. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya and stood at the height of its progress during the 13th and 15th centuries. It offers a perfect combination of total relaxation, tranquillity and seclusion, yet you can easily run out of time just by engaging with the interesting activities in the area.
Once you check in to your hotel, the day is yours for exploration. Either spend some time catching the sun by the hotel pool, check out the impressive ancient ruins of Xel-Ha Tulum or go for a swim in the pristine waters at the beach.
Travel outside of Tulum and head towards Coba, the highest archaeological site in the Yucatan region. These huge ruins sit within thick jungle next to two lagoons, and were believed to have been significantly important to the Maya who resided here. The design and purpose of the settlement was very different from other Maya cities, mainly because it housed various settlements in a single area. Once arriving at Coba, we take a leisurely bike ride around the ruins, learning more about ancient Maya culture along the way. The ride takes 1.5hours.
Heading back to our hotel its time to relax, swim, shop and eat some delicious food before the trip comes to an end tomorrow.
Today marks the final day of this Mexico adventure and you’re free to depart with your family at any time. If you want another day by the beach, consider booking additional accommodation. Alternatively, the airport in Cancun is a 2-hour drive away and we can pre-book a departure transfer for you and your family.
Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
Merida - Hacienda Sotuta de Peon half-day tour
Merida - Celestun Biosphere Reserve tour
Valladolid - Walking tour
Tulum – Coba Archaeological site bike tour