Visiting the Mayan ruins and the Mexican Riviera

On Our first of the many visits to Mexico, we stayed at the Barceló Maya Palace in Riviera Maya and visited the Mayan Ruins.  Barcelo was a very kid friendly property from the swimming pools to kids activities to food choices.  The kids has a blast! The Riviera Maya is a tourism and resort district in Mexico. It straddles the coastal Highway 307 along the Caribbean coastline of the state of Quintana Roo, located on the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. This district historically started at the city of Playa del Carmen and ended at the village of Tulum.

The Riviera Maya are has a large number of all inclusive resorts and is close to the archeological sites operated by the Instituto Nacional de Archeological such as Tulum on the coast, Cenote and Chichen Itza and Coba located some distance inland. The self-named ecoparks, more like water theme parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha.



Hmm, what is my next move.. let me see if I can carry it first!


We did a day trip to Chichen Itza which is the 2nd most visited archeological site in Mexico.  The Kukulkan Pyramid known as El Castillo is square based stepped pyramid 75 feet tall, it is one of the seven new wonders of the world.

Kukulkan Pyramid was built for astronomical purposes and during the vernal equinox (March 20) and the autumnal equinox (September 21) at about 3pm the sunlight bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid’s main stairway.  This causes 7 isosceles triangles to form imitating the body of a serpent roughly 37 yards long that creeps downwards until it joins the huge serpent’s head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway.


Breakfast with a view


Sun is on my face!


One mickey mouse please.. which is really just soda with lemon slices for mickey ears!


Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá. The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Maya, it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. The architecture of this walled city is similar to that of Chicken Itza.  Tulum was protected on one side by steep sea cliffs and on the other side by the 16 ft walls with watch towers.  There are three major structures of interest at the Tulum site. El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God are the three most famous buildings.



God of Winds Temple from the north

DSC_0929 Tulum beach

Great Palace

DSC_0939Temple of the Frescos

Temple of the Frescos was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun. Niched figurines of the Maya ‘diving god’ or Venus deity decorate the façade of the temple. This ‘diving god’ is also depicted in the Temple of the Diving God in the central precinct of the site. Above the entrance in the western wall a stucco figure of the ‘diving god’ is still preserved, giving the temple its name.

Pyramid El Castillo(Image by Wikipedia)

The Castillo was built on a previous building that was colonnaded and had a beam and mortar roof. The lintels in the upper rooms have serpent motifs carved into them. The construction of the Castillo appears to have taken place in stages. A small shrine appears to have been used as a beacon for incoming canoes.

We also did a day trip into the Playa de Carmen city to have some authentic tacos and stroll along 5th Avenue stores and watch the Mayan women weave crafts.


We don’t usually don’t go to the same place twice, since our bucket list is endless, but we have been to Mexico 3 times so far.  The convenience for getting there and the amazing white beaches are the draw for the kids.  They love walking up to the endless buffet for snacks after frolicking on the beach .. sipping virgin cocktails at the swim up bar and all the water activities.

If you are heading to Riviera Maya near Cancun, Stay at the Barcelo Maya Palace It is the Premium Level at the Barceló resorts, the suites are well appointed and you will have access to the 6 select restaurants serving specialty cuisine. While the kids are in the kids club you can also benefit from the excellent luxury treatments at the Spa.  The resort has 3 swimming pools including shallow areas for kids and fun slides, waterfalls and castles in the pool.  There are plenty of loungers around the pool from where you can enjoy the sun, sipping on a cocktail.

See other Family Friendly resorts in the Mexican Riviera and read the reviews. 

What is your favorite beach destination? Have you been to the see the 7 wonders of the world?

8 thoughts on “Visiting the Mayan ruins and the Mexican Riviera”

  1. How fun! During college I learned about all of those locations in my many art history classes. I would love to be able to see them in person 🙂 Looks like a wonderful trip and so great you were able to share that experience with your children!

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