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Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

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Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

Hi, We are planning a trip to Yucutan for December, and want to avoid the whole Cancun/Cozumel scene. Will be with our two kids, aged 6 & 9.

We were thinking:

- 2 nights in Merida

- 2 nights in Eco Paraiso in Celesten

- 2 nights in Hacienda San Jose

Is this too ambitious? We want to spend a day exploring the city, a day looking at flamingoes, maybe a day caving, a day at a mayan site... We're a very active, outdoorsy family that likes exploring.

Flight arrives late (930pm) Friday night.

Any advice much appreciated. In particular - are we smart to head to Merida first? Is our intinerary too ambitious? How bad are the bugs, really, at Eco Paraiso? Is HAcienda San Jose a good base for exploring anything, or is it just too far away?

Many thanks in advance for tips and advice.

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1. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

>....want to avoid the whole Cancun/Cozumel scene....

Hate to see a question go unanswered...Not sure what you think that scene is, or what you know about the Riviera Maya. Plenty of folks (like us) think it's paradise....but we love Merida too. And I'd suggest that 2 nights there - for what it has to offer - is way too short. We'll be doing Celestun as a day trip in January, but 2 nights at the expense of M seems like a lot. Sorry, no experience with haciendas. Good luck...

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2. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

Sorry, I meant no offense! When I think of Cancun/Cozumel I think of big resorts, hundreds of rooms, crowded beaches, etc. So what I meant was that we prefer to avoid that this time around - we are looking for more of an off the beaten track kind of trip. I didn't mean to suggest that the Mayan Riviera wasn't gorgeous and wonderful.

Appreciate your thoughts on 2 days being too short for Merida...

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3. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

I personally dislike picking up and moving to a new hotel or resort every day, but that's me. I'd rather not spend time packing and registering and getting settled. Merida is a great central location for that part of the Yucatan peninsula and you can get to all those places in a relatively short time from there.

I would make Celestun a day trip from Merida, although I know nothing about the Eco Paraiso. And I would skip the Hacienda San Jose as a place to stay. Or I would only stay there as it is 45 minutes from Merida.

Will you rent a car? My recommendation would be to not pick it up until the day AFTER you arrive. Driving in Merida at night can be pretty intimidating when you first arrive. Best to first tackle it during the day.

Here's a suggested itinerary that includes most of what you want:

Arrive Merida at night. Take taxi to hotel.

DAY 1: Explore Merida, get bearings. Rent car (which can take a couple of hours, depending upon where and how you do it). Spend night in Merida hotel.

Day 2: Drive to Celestun and see flamingoes. Head back to Merida before dark.

Day 3: Drive to Uxmal and explore the Ruta Puuc (visiting sites of Sayil, Kabah, Labna, etc.).

Day 4: An overnight at Hacienda San Jose or better, Hacienda Chichen. For the latter, you can visit Chichen itza (go early in morning or late in afternoon to avoid crowds). Explore the Balancanche cave. Swim in the Ik Kil cenote. Visit the ruins at Ek Balam (although you may be ruined out by then).

Day 5: Continuation of previous days itinerary, making sure to return to Merida before dark. Check back into your hotel.

Day 6: Fly back.

I hope this was helpful. Have a great trip.

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4. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

I agree with your comments about the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, etc., Katherine--and I live in Cozumel. Merida is a great place for a family trip.

I would be sure to be in Merida on Sunday--a great day for the family. All the center is closed to traffic with much entertainment , food and crafts. Another great outing for the family---much of the beautiful Paseo Montejo is closed to traffic and it becomes a long bicycle route to the center. Bicycle rentals are available on the Paseo.

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5. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

The Eco Paraiso in Celestun is a fantastic place to enjoy nature in an upscale, remote, setting. There is wildlife ie bird watching and the beach is fantastic. You will love it. Perhaps stay there one night instead of two?

The caves at Calcehtok are great for adventurous types and crawling around in the mud will be a highlight for the kids, I am sure.

Also, the Sotuta de Peon tour is one you should not miss; both educational and fun, and there is a cenote included at the end of the tour which again, the kids will love.

Edited: 20 October 2010, 15:16
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6. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

Thank you all for your advice! You are all very kind to offer your expertise... We are really looking forward to the Sunday market in Merida, which sounds like so much fun.

I will take your advice not to try to drive that Friday night (assume finding an open car rental company at the airport at 10pm on a Friday night is not necessarily possible anyway). And also your advice not too move around too much. We're now thinking 4 nights at Hacienda San Jose and then two at Eco Paraiso, with Sunday a full day in Merida and another stop in Merida on our way from H-S-J to Eco Paraiso. We'd try to pick up our car on Sunday in Merida.

At the risk of pressing my luck with your generosity: may I ask a follow-on on car rental? There are some horror stories on this forum...

Can anyone recommend a convenient/fast/reliable car rental company & pickup location in Merida or environs? I would have guessed it might be worth splurging on Hertz (I usually head for Alamo or Budget) but I saw them slammed here.

Thank you all again. Really can't wait for December....

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7. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

We have rented with Alamo on three different trips to Merida. We have had very good service with them. In fact on the last trip, they remembered us as repeat customers and upgraded us to an automatic at no extra charge. They have a location in the hotel zone (I think next to the Hyatt), although sometimes we will take a taxi out to their location near the airport because it's easy to get onto the outbelt and out of the city from there.

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8. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

I've had nothing but problems from Merida car rental agencies, so I'm the wrong person to ask. I have not rented from any of them for years, much preferring to fly into Cancun and rent there.

That said, the fault could have been mine and not the rental agencies. To avoid problems, I now take the following precautions with all car rental agencies:

1) If the agreement I get when I arrive is different in any significant way from the agreement I received from the Web or by phone before showing up, I walk out. I will not give my business who don't honor terms worked out in advance.

2) I buy third-party liability insurance, so if I hit anyone, they will be covered. Others have recommended I get full insurance, but I'm willing to deal with the hassle of fighting with the rental company over damage to their car.

3) With the insurance I make certain I get a toll free number that can be called day or night if I get into an accident. That way police will know that I am covered as paperwork doesn't seem to convince them. Having insurance from your credit card is not accepted proof.

4) Before accepting the car I take photos of the complete exterior, the jack and spare tire in the trunk, and the dashboard showing gas. That way I won't pay for missing equipment, dings and scratches that were not caught before renting.

5) When returning the car, I make certain to photograph everything again.

Since following these procedures, I have never had a whiff of a problem with renting a car. Is it overkill? Maybe.

Have a great trip!

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9. Re: Merida & Environs, 6 nights with kids, advice needed

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