Family Trip to Tulum, Mexico
We had the BEST trip to Tulum, Mexico over Spring Break! I've always wanted to visit Tulum, but I always saw it advertised as more of a couples/singles destination. I did a lot of searching though, and found Dreams Tulum, the only all-inclusive resort catered towards families in the area. I immediately reached out to them about working together and helping them promote their resort, so that other people knew there was a spot for families in Tulum! It has been a work dream for me to work with a resort (was even on my vision board), so when they said yes I was SO excited. I'm going to give you all the details of our trip, and anything I would have changed and answer any of the questions you have sent me about our trip! If you have any questions, send me a DM on Instagram.
Flight to Mexico
I booked our flights through Expedia, and the cheapest option was to do an overnight in Toronto on the way there, and an overnight in Montreal on the way home. It was a savings of over $1000, so even with the added hotel night cost it seemed worth it. I can tell you now in hindsight, I'd probably pay the extra money to fly direct (which is available, they're just more rare). The girls were great though, even with the added travel time. I think kids are just excited to be on vacation, they don't really pay attention to where they are. On the way there however, we had a major delay. We woke up at 6am in Toronto to go back to the airport to catch our flight, and I got a text when we were in the lobby that our flight had been delayed 4 hours. We decided to head back up to the room and try and sleep a bit longer - we all fell asleep for a few hours thank goodness. We checked out of the hotel around 11am and headed to the airport. Long story short our flight kept getting bumped, and it ended up being an 8 hour delay. It was a long day in the airport, but the girls were great. They just ran around and played with the toys in their carry-ons. Air Canada also ended up giving everyone passenger a $300 travel voucher for the delay, so we have $1500 towards our next trip! The flight from Toronto to Cancun was just over 3 hours.
Cancun to Tulum
We landed in Cancun around 8:30pm. We had booked a private transfer with the company Amstar to get to the resort. Tulum is about an hour and a half from the Cancun airport. We somehow scored a brand new Denali, so Jason was happy. The drive went by so quick. The girls just watched a movie on their tablets and we were there! We did not bring car seats, I read up a lot before we went and they're not required in Mexico. I even asked the rental agency if they had car seats we could rent and they never got back to me. I think if it's really important to you then you should bring yours from home, or ask Amstar to rent one.
Flight to Winnipeg
On the way home we took the same Amstar private transfer from the resort to the airport, this time in one of their vans. Everything went smooth at the Cancun airport, and we got on our plane for the 4 hour flight to Montreal. Then we got a shuttle to our hotel in Montreal, ordered in Subway, went to bed and woke up and got a shuttle back to the airport. Our flight back to Winnipeg was 3 hours and went great. However we landed in a snowstorm, so that wasn't the welcome we were expecting in April.
Each of the girls pack a carry-on backpack for the plane. I fill it with a bunch of snacks (here's a reel showing the snacks I packed), their tablet, headphones, a little game/activity from dollarama, wiki sticks, LED writing pads, coloring, an activity book, gum and suckers for takeoff and landing. Lots of the items can be found here.
On our way there, Zara had a bit of a head cold, so her ears hurt her SO much on the landing into Toronto. I had bought these little plane ear plugs for the girls to wear, but I forgot to take them out of our carry-on suitcase and the flight attendant had to put it up at the front of the plane. We gave her all the gum and suck on candies we had but nothing was helping, I felt so bad for her. The pain was so bad she ended up throwing up. Luckily I was quick to get the barf bag. After that I made sure to have the ear plugs on hand, and they worked SO well. No more issues with their ears hurting. Highly recommend them for little kids on flights.
As I mentioned above, we stayed at the Dreams Tulum resort. I arranged a free stay at their resort in exchange for photos/videos they could use in their marketing materials. I researched a ton of resorts until I found one that looked like the perfect spot for a family vacation! It's the only all-inclusive resort in Tulum for families. The resort was amazing. It was everything we hoped for and more. I'll break down some of the areas below:
The food was great! We mainly ate at the World Cafe buffet because it had so many options for the girls and they loved picking out there own food. Breakfast had everything - fresh fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, waffles, pancakes, french toast, omelettes, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, baked goods, desserts, and other savory options. Lunch had a big salad bar, fresh fruit, pizza, meats & cheeses, fajitas, baked goods, other hot options and a dessert bar. Dinner was a lot of hot options - pasta, lasagna, pizza, eggplant parm, chicken parm, salad bar, bread bar, steaks and a dessert bar. Always lots to choose from. Although the food is amazing, by the end of the week you are pretty sick of eating the same thing for most meals. It always feels good to go home and cook again!
They also have 5 a la carte restaurants for dinner. We loved the Mexican, Italian and French restaurants. The Sushi wasn't the best, and we missed our reservation for the Teppanyaki (I wrote down the wrong time, it's the only restaurant you need a reso for). You also need to bring long pants for the French restaurant.
Coco Cafe is a cute coffee shop with coffee drinks, tea, baked goods, and quick salads and sandwiches. We loved going here in the afternoon for a little snack and a break from the sun. The Ice cream/smoothie bar is also right beside it where you can get ice cream and fresh smoothies. The girls obviously loved the ice cream.
Seaside Grill is right on the ocean and serves breakfast and lunch. The atmosphere is stunning, but the menu is limited, so we only did one breakfast here. The girls preferred the buffet for breakfast.
Barefoot Grill is beside one of the pools and serves hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and a few hot sides each day during lunch. We ordered from here a few days and ate by the pool which the girls loved.
The swim-up bar turned out to be a trip highlight for the girls. They loved swimming up and sitting on the seats and ordering a fruity slushy!
As a family of 5, we needed two rooms. I was unsure at first as to how that would work because I didn't want the girls in their own room, but our rooms were adjoining, so we just left the door inbetween them open! It was the perfect set-up. Both rooms had a huge bathroom with shower and jacuzzi tub, big closet, safe, living room sitting area with desk couches and a coffee table, a tv and then the girls had two queen beds and we had a king bed. They also both had a balcony overlooking the garden with a few chairs. The set-up was perfect for our family. We'd put the girls to bed in their room and then stay up for a bit on our side.
Before we got to the resort, we were pretty set on not using the Explorer Club for kids. Just being in a different country we didn't feel great leaving our kids with people we didn't know. Well that lasted all but a day once we got there. The staff were INCREDIBLE with the girls, and the girls loved going. We went with them the first day to check it out (parents are allowed in between 1-2pm every day) and then the next day they asked to go back. We were hesitant, so the first time we left them for a quick 20 min workout (which was right next door), and they had the best time. The staff were so hands on and engaging. Each time they made the cutest craft, one time they painted Zara's nails, braided Everly's hair, played the floor is Lava and other fun games. It let Jason and I go to the gym a few mornings, get some photos for the resort and then we also went on a solo catamaran one day while the girls were playing there. It was so nice to have a few moments just the two of us! The Explorers Club is also where the waterslides are, which were so fun. We often went there during the family hour so we could all play together. It's for ages 3-12.
They also organized other fun things for the kids around the resort. One night there was karaoke, another night a hot potato game (Zara won!), and then a night where they set up bikes and scooters and made a track for them to race, with a blow up bull to ride in the middle. The girls thought it was so much fun!
The girls were lucky enough to try the spa! They have services for adults and kids. They each got a mini facial in this beautiful straw hut surrounded by the jungle. It was such an incredible experience and probably one they won't get again! They have a waiting area with a pool and loungers and snacks which was so relaxing. Then they walk you to your treatment room, which is set up with snacks and drinks and the most beautiful ambiance. The ladies who performed the facials were so great with the girls. I definitely recommend booking in a service while your'e there!
The gym was really great. They have two actually, one indoor and one outdoor "jungle" gym. It was too hot to workout outside, so we stuck to the indoor one. They had all the equipment we wanted. Treadmills, bikes, rowers, dumbbells', racks, etc.
Each day they had a few activities going on around the resort. Yoga on the beach, zumba in the pool, beach volleyball, pool volleyball, dance lessons, spanish lessons, pinata games, beach games and more. In the evening they also had a few shows, for both kids and adults. We only ever stayed up for the kids shows because the girls were so tired by the end of the night. The entertainment staff was so fun though! One night they even had a beach movie for the kids and brought cookies and popcorn. The girls loved it.
There was one large rectangular pool that was pretty shallow and got gradually deeper. We loved this pool because the girls could all stand and dive for toys. Then they had another large pool with a dolphin statue in the middle, a platform to sit on, a swim up bar, a bridge, and a little kids pool area. We spent a lot of time at that kids pool. They had towels available around each pool and by the beach so it was easy to find one.
The Ocean had seaweed on the shore line time of year, but it wasn't a huge issue. You could just push past it and go in and swim if you wanted. The girls didn't love the salt so we didn't end up swimming in the ocean much. It was also pretty rocky, so if you do want to swim take water shoes so its easy to get out! The beach was beautiful though with really soft sand and we spent a few afternoons building sand castles which was a lot of fun. They have beach/pool toys for sale but they're super expensive so I recommend bringing your own.
They have a Catamaran you can take out, either with a staff member or by yourself if you know what you're doing. Jason learned how to drive one on our honeymoon, so the staff member let us take it out on our own which was so fun! We took the girls one time but Everly and Zara were pretty scared. I think watching Soul Survivor wasn't the best idea because they're terrified of sharks now lol. They also have kayaks and I think paddle boards you can take out too, but it's pretty wavy. They also have a few wooden swings on the property which were fun to swing on. Oh and in the evening they would have a live band playing by the bar and the girls and we would all go dance for a bit before bed, it was so fun. Rosie could have danced all night. They also have a play structure on the beach which was fun for the girls!
TOWN OF TULUM
We decided to head into town one day to actually see Tulum. It s a pretty typical Mexican town, but with lots of cute little restaurants and "photo op" places. I think a lot of influencers go here so a lot of places have become pretty curated. We didn't spend a ton of time in town because it was like 40 degrees and the girls were so hot, but the girls bought a few souvenirs from the shops and we stopped at a few mango and coconut stands which the girls loved. Best mango we've ever had. We decided later in the day to go into town, so we opted to take a taxi so it would be quicker. I DO NOT recommend this route. It was $70 US there and $70 US back to the resort (it was about a 20 min drive). I heard that taxis were expensive before we went, so I knew this was normal. Our hotel did tell us there was a shuttle we could catch outside of the resort that you can take into town for like $3/person, so definitely do that if you want to go into town!
Amstar Airport Transfer (Cancun - Tulum) - $210 usd (return trip)
Resort - this totally depends on when you go and for how long. You can check pricing for your dates here.
Taxi from resort to Tulum - $70usd
Shuttle from resort to Tulum - $3usd
Flights - $900/person
Hotel during our layovers - ~$150 on the way there and back
Q: Was it safe?
A: VERY, on the resort we felt 100% safe. We even went into town one day and felt safe as well. We didn't go into town at night so I can't comment on that, but just be smart and you should be fine.
Q: What did the resort cover for you?
A: Our stay was covered, we paid for our flights and transfer to the hotel.
Q: How to eat healthy on vacation?
A: Like anything for me, it's about balance. I always started the day with a good breakfast - omelette, fruit, bacon and green juice. The rest of the day I really ate whatever I wanted! There are always fresh veggie and fruit options, so I made sure to fill my plate with lots of that always. But I also indulged in pizza, burgers, fries, pasta and desserts! I honestly don't eat much different than at home. I'm always trying to stick to 80% healthy, 20% whatever I want.
Q: How was the pool bar?
A: We don't drink, so I can't comment on the alcohol, but it looked pretty stocked!
Q: Dietary restrictions at the resort?
A: Every time we went to a restaurant they asked if we had food allergies or intolerances, so I think if you do they'd be able to accomodate you!
Q: Tours off the resort?
A: There are LOTS. We looked at a few options, but Zara was still pretty young for the snorkeling and stuff we were interested in, so we decided to pass this trip. They have a place right at the resort where you can book everything, so no need to book ahead of time if you don't want to!
Q: Is there room service?
A: Yes, there is 24 hour room service! It's a more limited menu, but they have something for everyone.
Q: What age would you say is good to bring kids to a resort?
A: Jason and I actually talked about this because we saw a few babies and we were like wow I would never want to deal with naptime here lol. I think for us, once your kid is out of napping stage. Unless they're super flexible and can fall asleep anywhere, it would just mean a lot of time spent in your room. Also we spent lots of the day swimming, so I'd say if your kids are too young to swim it may not be ideal.
Q: Was it busy/crowded?
A: Not at all! I was actually so surprised, especially because I saw like 6 weddings while we were there. The resort is spread out so well and we never had an issue getting a lounger by the pool or the beach. Nothing felt crowded.
Q: What drew you to Tulum? How does it compare to other parts of Mexico?
A: I have just always seen other peoples pictures of Tulum and it looked beautiful! It's very similar to other parts of Mexico. It's near the Mayan ruins, cenotes, other excursions. We've also been to the Playa Del Carmen and it's beautiful there as well!
Q: What do the evenings look like with kids?
A: We would do dinner at 6:30 when the restaurants opened, and then we'd go to the kids activity or go dance to the live music after. We'd usually head back to the room around 8/8:30pm, get the girls to bed, and then we'd just hang out in our room. They usually go to bed at 7:30pm at home, so they had later nights, but they were totally fine with it! Honestly we were so tired too from the long days that we were often sleeping by 10/10:30. It was nice because we actually felt rested!
Q: How did you tip?
A: We used Canadian and American money. They'll accept either, and can exchange or break bills at the front desk. Then we left a big tip for the Explorer Club staff at the end because they were so good with the girls!
Q: Would an older couple without kids enjoy the resort?
A: YES. The resort itself is pretty quiet, not a big party resort. The rooms are away from all of the pools and activities so it's quiet for sleeping. There's also a spa you could enjoy, the ocean, and you can even rent Bali Beds if you want a little more quiet/privacy.
Q: What sunscreen did you use for the kids?
A: So I brought a bunch of natural ones, like Think Sport and Green Beaver, but they're SO thick that it was almost too hard to make it even on their bodies and there would be little spots that would burn. Halfway through the trip we just caved and bought a Hawaiian Sport 50 sunscreen from the gift shop just so we could make sure they were totally covered. It was also way easier to apply, and I was reapplying every time they finished swimming, so I needed it to be quick. It was just for a week so it wasn't a big deal!
Q: Did anyone get sick from the food/water?
A: NO! We were all healthy. They have bottled water everywhere which is what we drank, but we also drank slushy drinks from the bar and their juices and had no issues.