Daylight pours in through a hole in the ceiling that sits about 20 metres above my head. I watch as birds circle in the glow, and gasp as I bring my eyes down towards the cyan water that fills the base of the cenote (sinkhole) in which I stand.
To my left, a group wearing matching orange t-shirts stands huddled together. They are chatting in Spanish, and from what I can make out, it sounds as though they are daring each other to dive into the cool water that fills the base of the cave.
The group is comprised of people of all ages – from a child that looks to be only five years old, to what I assume to be the grandparents – a multigenerational family, happily exploring the Cenote Hubiku in Temozón.
It makes sense that they’ve chosen Mexico’s Riviera Maya for their family getaway. It offers all of the benefits of a beach getaway with beyond-the-beach adventures to keep everyone engaged.
WHERE TO STAY:
From serenity for seniors, to go karts and coasters for the kids, the Barcelo Maya Grand Resort combines a beautiful beachfront getaway, with the thrill of an action-packed adventure park all in one spot.
The on-site amusement park features ziplines, a rollercoaster, and go karts and is the only amusement park of its kind to be built on a resort property in the Riviera Maya.
To relax and unwind, the grownups can enjoy beachside bliss on the two-mile stretch of private beach that sits near the second largest coral reef in the world, perfect for snorkelling, or just suntanning on the sand.
The on-site U-Spa features a hydrotherapy circuit with hot and cold plunge pools, plus, saunas, steam rooms, and a world-class fitness centre. For a true wellness through water experience, try the luxurious couples float treatment, where you can soak side-by-side in adjacent tubs while gazing at the stars that stud the ceiling above your head.
Right on site, is a range of rip-roaring rides for the kids, found at the newly opened Ventura Fly & Ride Park, featuring a mix of high-flying excitement (six ziplines, a bungee swing, a 16-foot-high ropes course, and a plane roller coaster), and down-to-earth action (a go kart track, an off road circuit, and a quad cycle closed circuit track).
Other Barcelo property highlights that will keep the kids engaged include an on-site bowling alley, a mini golf course, four waterslides, and a surf ride.
Featuring spacious swim-out suites -perfect for large families, all-inclusive meals and amenities, and access to the four hotels on the expansive property, it can be easy to stay and play all in one spot, but exploring the surrounding area as a family is what will really make your multigenerational getaway a memorable trip.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Venture beyond the beach and enjoy a day tour of the area that includes swimming in a stunning cenote, peeking at prodigious pyramids, and noshing on freshly-made churros in a historic village. Offered through Vacaciones Barceló , the Chichen Itzá Plus Riviera Maya culture tour is the perfect way to see it all in a day.
The tour begins with a visit to the Hubiku Cenote, one of the biggest cenotes in the area. The light-filled limestone cave is a stunning sight, and you can take a dip in the refreshing freshwater that fills the base.
Next, you’ll head to Chichen Itza – the most important archeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There, you’ll be mesmerized by the pyramid of Kukulkan (also known as El Castillo), a Mesoamerican step-pyramid that dates back to between 800 and 900 CE. Wander through the Temple of the Jaguars and The Great Ball Court, and then check out the Mayan Planetarium and Cenote Ik Kil which can also be found on site.
Finish off your day with a stop in the colonial city of Valladolid, also known as “the real Mexico.” The Spanish colonized the city in 1543, and the unique architecture has remained intact, with some of the stones on the buildings taken from old Mayan temples.
The park located in the centre of the city is often filled with vendors (the freshly-made churros are a must try), and live music and dancing, the perfect spot to sit and people watch.
Neighbouring the city square is the Cathedral San Gervasio. Rebuilt in 1706, this stunning church is still in use, and is an architectural landmark that shouldn’t be missed during your visit.
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