Riviera Maya Vacation in Mexico | Barceló Maya Grand Resort, Xcaret, and Cenotes

We took a family vacation with our 1 year old son to Mexico. We stayed near Puerto Aventuras, a town on the Riviera Maya just south of Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. During our trip, we visited Xcaret theme park and some cenotes.

Watch our travel video to get a better idea of the area:


Where we stayed in Riviera Maya

We stayed at the Barceló Maya Grand Resort. This hotel is located near Puerto Aventuras, about 2 hours south of Cancun, Mexico. We chose this hotel because it was all-inclusive and on the beach. Having a 1 year-old that wasn’t sleeping through the night yet, we knew we weren’t going to do a ton of traveling around. So we wanted something where all of our meals were taken care of and we could have fun on the beach without having to go too far.

The resort also had a lot of pools, including a kids pool with water slides that were fun.


What we did in Riviera Maya

Xcaret Adventure Park

Just a little bit away in Playa del Carmen is Xcaret. It’s sort of a mixture of nature reserve, zoo, beach resort, and adventure theme park. There, we went on river rides, snorkeling, and chilled on the beach. It’s not really something for a baby, so our son Emerson was left with the grandparents while we went for the day.

Cenotes: Chikin Ha & Azul

The Yucatan Peninsula is know for its cenotes – underwater caves that often have small ponds that come out to the surface. The water is typically very clear with some beautiful rock formations.

These cenotes are everywhere, and there were some right across the street from our resort. We went to Cenote Chikin Ha and Cenote Azul to go snorkeling and cliff jumping!

We discovered many of these places by looking on TripAdvisor. You can also find other top places to go and things to do in the Riviera Maya, along with creating and saving a shareable itinerary.


Map of the Places We Went


Travel lessons from our Mexico trip

You learn something new with every trip. Here are a few tips:

  • On long flights with young kids, take whatever you need to keep them entertained. As miserable as it is for you, it’s even worse for them. We downloaded tons of kids shows from Netflix onto our iPad, had some of his favorite toys, and had plenty of snacks. Walking up and down the aisle also helps too.
  • Depending on your kids’ age, think through the effort it’ll take to get around, see things and eat. We decided we didn’t want to think about making food or even finding restaurants, so we chose an all-inclusive resort so that the food is already included and available. We also knew we didn’t want to do a ton of moving around with a 1-year-old, so we chose a resort that had plenty of activities there and nearby.
  • Stay clean! Our son Emerson caught “Hand, foot and mouth disease” which is a miserable and painful sickness while in Mexico. He most likely got it from touching a million things and putting his hands in his mouth. Betsy also got it from him, most likely because she shares food with him. So wherever you are, be sure to be sanitary when you can. You can get sick anywhere, but it’s no fun when you’re traveling.

Travel gear that was helpful on our location trip

Here are some recommended items we took on the trip that helped make it easier, or was used for taking our photos and videos.

Canon EOS Rebel T4i – This is a nice entry-level DSLR camera that I used on the trip. It’s easy to use and takes solid pictures. There are newer versions of the rebel that offer more features, but you can get the older models for fairly inexpensive now.

GoPro Hero5 Session – This is what I used to film the majority of the video, including all the underwater snorkeling scenes. It’s an incredible little action camera that’s waterproof and has mild stabilization. It’s a cube shape and doesn’t have a viewing screen like its newer models, but is perfectly convenient quick action recording in Full HD. Find it on Amazon or eBay.

Kolcraft Cloud Umbrella Stroller – This is a super small and lightweight umbrella stroller that’s easy to carry around when you want to travel light, especially on airplanes. It’s become our default stroller for most trips.

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