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Eat, Swim, Love: Our Family Vacation to Mexico

BY Camille Lai

This year our family vacation took us to Mexico! I’ve always wanted to go but must admit I always thought of Mexico as a couples’ or girls’ trip destination. Well, the stars never seemed to align for Greg and I go without the kids, and my girlfriends have already been. Then Young House Love shared this blog post about their Family trip to Mexico, and it inspired me to pitch this destination for our 2022 family vacation. Thanks Sherry and John!

We had the best time in Mexico, escaping from our jobs, school, and daily life routines. We relaxed, did a lot of swimming and snorkeling, had fun sightseeing and so much eating. I didn’t spend as much time planning an itinerary as I usually do because we were emphasizing relaxation for this trip. To support this “theme,” we went ahead and arranged for a rental car at the airport ( we did Ubers and trains on our NYC vacation in 2021, and it was stressful with the kids.) Keep reading to hear about our Mexico experiences and see tons (too many, sorry, not sorry) of photos!

P.S. You can shop some of my outfits on the Shop My Home page under the Lifestyle section.

Our Favorite Restaurant Experience, Porfirio’s – Cancun

We flew into Cancun and wanted to do some sightseeing and have dinner before driving an hour plus to our Airbnb. Quite simply, Mexico reminded us of home – Jamaica. The views, the air, THE PEOPLE! We all agreed we wanted Mexican food for our first meal and I’m gonna admit that I definitely threw a very vocal vote behind Porfirio’s Contemporary Mexican Kitchen because it looked so pretty from the outside (come on, no one is shocked at this, lol). But we all loved it!

It was a beautiful venue, the food was amazing (lobster tacos yummmmm), and our servers legit made me happy (ugly) cry by surprising me with a birthday treat while singing Feliz Cumpleaños (happy birthday) loudly and enthusiastically, which everyone loved except the baby…peep him bawling in the photo, lol!

Our “Jungle” Airbnb – Akumal

Like I mentioned before, our Airbnb was an hour + from Cancun. We stayed at ARKAH, retreat in a jungle paradise in the city of Akumal, which is about a 30-minute drive to Tulum. We loved staying here! It’s a bit off the main road but super quiet and relaxing. We loved that the pool was only a few feet away! We had hot water and ac, and the hosts were very attentive even though we didn’t see them at all. Also, check out that price point…$80/night.

You can watch a video tour of our ARKAH apt here.

A Perfect Spot for Eating, Browsing, and Snorkeling with Turtles – Akumal Beach

We did two snorkeling excursions on our trip. The first one we did was at Akumal Beach. This beach was 10 minutes from our Airbnb, boasting numerous restaurant options and home to the Akumal Dive Center. All of this added up to stress-free convenience for us. While Zachary (my 10-year-old middle) and I went snorkeling, Greg, Daniel (12), and the baby hung out at the LolHa Restaurant, enjoying the cool breeze, drinks, and appetizers.

While there were tons of other options for snorkeling tours, we chose the dive center because it covered a private tour (as opposed to the seemingly popular group tour) and a boat ride out, so we only had to swim back in instead of out and back in (remember our theme of relaxation? lol). We saw 3 gorgeous turtles and a sting ray too. Up close. It was an amazing experience, to say the least! The tour lasted around 30 to 40 minutes, and that was perfect for us! After that, we joined the rest of the fam lunch.

We loved Akumal Beach and went back for lunch there another day. We also had breakfast at the Turtle Bay Cafe, another restaurant there, picked up snacks and water from a general store on site, and shopped at the market. Yes, yes, that’s where I bought a pair of earrings from Shein, thinking it was a “made in Mexico” product (insert cry laughing emoji).

More Eating, Snorkeling, a View of the Mayan Ruins, and Ven A Luz – Tulum

We did the 30-minute drive over to Tulum twice during our stay. This day we had no real plans. We saw signs for ziplining and a cave/cenote tour and headed in that direction. Basically a long winding trail. We got there and were attacked by mosquitoes as soon as we opened the car doors. I’m not kidding. Walking from the car to the reservation office, we had already made up our minds that this was going to be a no go. We couldn’t imagine enjoying ourselves with the swarms of mosquitos…plus the baby. So we made our way back down the winding trail and headed to Tulum!

Tulum was in its down season, so there weren’t a lot of guests at the Las Palmas Beach Club. Honestly, we chose this restaurant after a quick Google check and the fact that parking would be covered…easy-peasy. Some construction was happening near the covered restaurant, but we planned on spending most of our time at the beach anyways. Our server was very nice! He got us all settled with a couple of beach beds under a huge umbrella, a small table for drinks and a bucket of ice and water that came with the purchase of this setup.

Of course, he pitched us the upsell – a boat tour to see the Mayan Ruins and snorkel with Turtles. We were game because 1. I had wanted to go to the ruins but got outvoted/talked down with arguments like, “Who’s going to carry this heavy baby?” (we didn’t travel with a stroller) and 2. Greg and Daniel would get to do some snorkeling since they missed it the first time in Akumal. Zachary was excited to go again too! I stayed in the boat with the baby and was happy seeing the ruins from the water and learning all about the history from our boat captain :).

The food from the restaurant wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad either. Greg had more Civehe, and I had more soft tacos, lol.

Ven A Luz Photo Op with a Side of Gelato

This was all me. There was no voting or discussions. I really wanted a photo op at the famous (infamous?) Ven A Luz “come into the light” statue. My research told me to expect a long line, but we went late in the afternoon, after our water excursion and eating, and there were only 6 people in line. I counted, lol. The entry fee was $3 USD per person. You’ll need cash (USD or Pesos). Even though there is street parking, we couldn’t find any close enough, so we opted to pay for parking.

On our way back to our car we discovered Aldo’s! Tons of different gelato flavors. It was an awesome treat to finish off the day 🙂

Honorary Foodie and Views Mention – Akumal and Tulum

Ok, did you make it down here? This is too long, isn’t it? I know, it’s long, lol. Anyway, if you made it down here, here are some shots from two more restaurants where we enjoyed the food and the views: La Lunita Restaurant and Casa Maria Mexican Grill.

La Lunita Restuarant – Akumal

Casa Maria Mexican Grill – Tulum

All in all, this was a 10/10 family vacation for us. Mexico is a couples’ destination, a girls’ trip destination, AND a family vacation destination! Where are you headed to next?

1 Comment

  1. Sounds amazing!

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Camille Lai

Mother, Creator, Interior Design Enthusiast, and Founder of the House of Lais.

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