As adults, the childhood vacation memories that play back over and over in our heads are highly-sensory ones. This is why getting away not only provides a break from the everyday hustle and bustle, it can also be hugely beneficial to nurturing young, impressionable minds! What could be more captivating than a whole new culture, language, cuisine, and environment?! Luckily, all of Sunwing’s destinations amount to more than the sum of their silky-soft beaches and clear, turquoise waters. So, round up the kiddie troops, steal your teen away from his new crush he met at the Teens Club, and hit up the on-site NexusTours rep at your resort to arrange these eye-opening experiences in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America:
Dolphins are a huge hit with the youngsters. They’re friendly, warm, adorable, and all with a bit of mischief. A day splashing around with these playful creatures is a win-win for kids and parents (dolphins are said to have a therapeutic effect on people - perfect for those frayed nerves) at the Dolphin Royal Swim in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In this dynamic and immersive experience, kids are introduced to these intelligent animals through learning a variety of dolphin behaviours. Next, they’ll be able to interact with them, with dorsal drags, handshakes, hugs and kisses. Have your camera ready, this experience will make for great Kodak moments worthy of holiday cards.
If your kids love Indiana Jones – heck, if you love Indiana Jones – then you’ll enjoy the wealth of archaeological sites in Mexico. There’s no better way to de-code and experience this enigmatic culture than at Xel-Há in Cancun, and Xcaret in Riviera Maya. Walk among ancient ruins of the Xel-Há, which are over 2,000 years old, then visit the eco-park on site. Suit up and swim its coves and cenotes, home to a rich diversity of marine species like angelfish, pufferfish, groupers, rays and more.
A short drive from Cancun, Xcaret was once the most active ports of the Mayan empire, and it features a vast network of river systems that facilitated maritime trade. Once the family has had its fill of its monolithic structures, head to the eco-park to find an astounding array of wildlife like sea turtles, tapir, jaguars, spider monkeys, a bird sanctuary, and a butterfly pavilion.
You might recognize Dunn’s River Falls from the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. This natural attraction is one of Jamaica’s national treasures and the wide-eyed wonder of your kids when lay eyes on it. Lagoons and freshwater pools dot the landscape and make for an idyllic place for a refreshing swim in this 26 hectare park. As you trudge along to your final destination, the unmistakeable sounds of the cascading falls become louder. Climbing the tiered falls is a popular activity, and if your little climber is having difficulty, the guides can help you out. Make sure you have your cameras charged and ready, the views from the top are endless and span across the tropical landscape. Lush vegetation envelop the falls, which provide some respite from the tropical climate. If it was good enough for Bond, it’ll be good enough for the kids.
A slice of wetland paradise in Costa Rica’s driest province, Palo Verde National Park, is the casa of 300 exotic bird species that can be seen in the networks of mangrove, lagoons, marshes, grassland and forests that make up the park. Lace up the hiking boots, load up on bug repellent, and set off on foot through this tropical forest. Equip your kids with their own binoculars – they’ll love spotting the over 250,000 birds that reside in this paradise.
Head off the beaten path on a Jeep safari through Cuba’s Yumuri Valley, which is still relatively untouched by tourism. Travelling deep within Matanzas province, you’ll trundle past sugar fields, sleepy villages, and rolling hills. The first stop is aptly called Coral Beach where you and the little ones can wade into warm waters, while teens can snorkel in the outlying reefs, teeming with multi-coloured corals, sponges and fish. Your Jeep excursion will take you next through the provincial capital lined with pastel-coloured houses and colonial plazas. Saturno Cave is your final stop. Chockfull of gnarled stalagmites and stalactites, you and the whole brood can swim in its crystal-clear waters and take in the cool coral formations.
Choosing the right excursion for your family usually depends on the size of your group and your interests. However, once you’ve selected that off-site activity or attraction through your NexusTours rep, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re in good hands with trusted professionals who have been facilitating “ooh” and “aah” experiences for over 40 years.