Yucatan with children
We are interested in bringing our three young children (ages 6, 4, and 1 year) to the Yucatan for a vacation, but more than them having a good time, we want to be sure we EAT WELL. Never having been to the Yucatan before (and perhaps being spoiled by several trips to Oaxaca with amazing food), where should we go?
Should we avoid the resorts? Cozumel? Playa? Riviera Maya? Cancun?
Please help. Our stomachs are in your hands! Thanks.
Hola from Playa del Carmen! We have been living here for three years with our three children, now 4, 6 and 14. My advise would be that you arrange to rent a villa or large condominium for your family and rent a car. While the traffic here can be harrowing, renting a car affords you greater freedom and flexibility. Reputable rental companies (ask me for a recommendation) will be able to arrange for housekeeping, child care and chef services if you desire. Playa is very family friendly and there are lots of good eats to be had. Mentioned previously, La Parilla on 5th Ave. and Dr. Taco on 10th Ave. are excellent options. Be sure not to miss La Cueva del Chango on calle 38 between 5th Ave. and the beach. Great food served in the jungle with lots of critters running around to amuse the kids. This is a truly "Playa" experience. For a healthy breakfast, head into town to El Nativo next to DAC market on the corner of Ave. 30 and Constituyentes. They have opened a second store accross the street to handle all the overflow. Be sure to try the coconut shrimp at Playa Maya Hotel on the beach. You have a great lunch and the kids can romp in the sand. For an early dinner (before 7pm) check out Super Carne, a butcher shop/restaurant on calle 1 sur. Excellent arrachera meal at a very reasonable price. Be sure to check out the Small World bookstore just down the street a bit. Good selection of used books in English including children's titles.
Keep in ming, Playa is a tourist town. We lack some of the history and culture of older towns. That being said, because everyone has come to Playa from somewhere else, we have a wide variety of other regional cuisines. It's overwhelming, really. Let me know how else I can help. When are you planning you trip?
For the past six years I've taken an annual trip to the Riviera Maya with my son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons who, on our first trip, were four and six. We usually rent either a condo or a villa somewhere between Akumal and Tulum. One advantage to renting a villa is that more often than not there are caretakers who will cook for you if you do the shopping. It can be a wonderful way to experience local cooking in your own home. I think the large resorts, and even the larger resort towns, may be fine for adults looking for a good smattering of night life, but our boys were in heaven having a beach outside their front door and a pool in their backyard. There are a couple of restaurants in Akumal and quite a few more in Tulum that are very good, but there's not much there in the *amazing* category. Often it's the real holes in the wall where you find some of the best food and the best deals--like the barbequed chicken with rice and beans to go in Akumal Pueblo. Take a look at locogringo.com. Lots of info on rental properties and some good info on area restaurants as well.
I returned last night from a wedding week with good friends in the MexRiv for which I feel partly responsible what with tales of exotic lands. For a family almost parallel to yours, here's what they raved about. Half day at Xcaret. Half day at the Tulum ruins. The 4 kids, 3 to 14, can't understand the 800-1200 years of antiquity, or the "Chucky Cheese" size door passages of Tulum. But someday they will .
They LOVED the Alux restaurant, and the complex of caves it occupies, 1KM west of Juarez in Playa. Especially when I told them the hidden treasure there has not yet been found.
They didn't have time to see the dolphin show at Puerto Aventuras. It's worthwhile.
A couple side notes: Taxis can't legally transport your family. Also, Majahual which "Eat Nopal" suggests (and he is among the top 3 mexican experts on Chowhound) was totally destroyed in the last hurricane. Even the ship dock. No electricity, no buildings. Nothing remains.
Puerto Morales has been rebuilt, save for the dock, and the "caracol al mojo de ajo" (broiled conch with garlic) at the Pelicanos restaurant is without equal.
EN, you now have me totally addicted to El Yucateco habanero sauce from Merida, your old stomping grounds. I bring my own bottle on my Mexico trips for huevos and frijoles, mostly, and a drop in my chiladas. I favor the red; the green is so hot it could make a freight train take a dirt road.
Back to the point of children -friendly restaurants, definitely La Parilla on Ave. cinco/ calle seis in Playa for lunch or dinner, as well as Dr. Taco (lunch) on Ave.10 between calles 8 & 10.
I would recommend a 2 week stay so you hit the major destinations. Where to stay... what do you want to spend? You want to eat well... what types of experiences are you looking for? Nice restaurants? Street food, etc.,?
Musts.... Merida, Puuc Route, Campeche, Riviera Maya, Bacalar, Various Centotes, Henquen / Bubble Gum Haciendas. Here are some recs I made to a friend:
Within 60 minutes of Puerto Aventuras
• Dos Ojos Cenote: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&tab=wi&hl=en&q=Cenote%20Dos%20Ojos
• Gran Cenote: http://www.grancenote.com/cenote_info.htm
• Xel Ha Water Park: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Xel+Ha
• Mayan Ruins at Tulum http://www.cancuncd.com/m_cancun_pictures/Ae13-tulum.jpg
• Xcaret Theme Park http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Xcaret
Day Trips from Puerto Aventuras
• Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Chichen+Itza
• Izamal colonial town: http://images.google.com/images?q=Izamal&ndsp=20&svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&start=0&sa=N
• Cozumel Island http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Cozumel
• Rio Lagartos Bio Reserve http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Rio+Lagartos
• Bacalar Lagoon http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Bacalar
• Majahual fishing village: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=majahual
• Uxmal & Puuc Route: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Puuc
• Campeche walled city: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Campeche+wall
• Edzna Mayan ruins: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=edzna
• Hacienda Santa Rosa: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Hacienda+Santa+Rosa
• Hacienda Uayamon http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Hacienda+uayamon&btnG=Search+Images
• Hacienda Temozon http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Hacienda+temozon
• Hacienda Yaxcopoil: http://images.google.com/images?svnum...