Riviera Maya with Teens and Tweens, IMG Cred: Sharlene Earnshaw

Break with The Family

 

With the winter holidays behind them, teens across the country are looking forward to their next vacation from school – spring break.  Traditionally, spring breakers flock someplace full of sun and fun, like the beaches of Mexico. While the spring break scene in Cancun may be a bit more “festive” than you would prefer on a family vacation, nearby Riviera Maya offers the same beautiful beaches, balmy weather, and plenty of fun for even the most jaded teenagers. Here are a few activities that are sure to score you some bonus points with your kids on your Riviera Maya adventure.
Swim with the dolphins:  Who doesn’t love a dolphin? With their ever present smiles and fun loving nature, time spent with these adorable pinnipeds is sure to create some special memories. . Dolphin Discovery, located just outside of Playa del Carmen, offers the opportunity to kiss a dolphin, train a dolphin, and even glide through the water on a nose of dolphin! They also have manatees and sea lions for visitors to swim with. Worried about the animal’s welfare? Rest assured that Dolphin Discovery puts the safety of their animals first and lives up to not only the minimum standards of Mexico but the full standards of The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums – the only company in Latin America to do so.
Visit Mayan temples:  I am a firm believer that every family vacation should have an educational aspect, and an hour or two at the ruins in Tulum will provide a much better education than a month’s worth of world history taught out of boring text books. I recommend taking a narrated tour so that you and yours will have a much better understanding of all that went in to building this incredible settlement in the middle of a thick jungle. Besides being educational, the ruins are quite beautiful and the iguanas that sun themselves atop the pyramids really do act like they own the place. If all else fails, the kids will love splashing around in the waves on the pristine beach below the ruins as well as watching Tulum Voldadores put on a show as the flyers fall from a tall pole towards the earth, only to circle around the pole in expanding circles as the rope unwinds and eventually touches the ground.
Explore the cenotes: The Yucatan peninsula sits atop a vast system of underground rivers which have been accessed for fresh water by the Mayans for hundreds of years via cenotes, or massive sink holes in the middle of the jungles. These days, cenotes at places like Hidden Worlds have become major destinations for adventure lovers.  This “family cenote adventure park” offers guests the opportunity to rappel into a cenote, swim through an underground cave, and even zip line into a cenote with an exhilarating splash landing. Let me tell you, you haven’t truly lived until you have ridden the Avatar, a zip line/roller coast hybrid, through the hot jungle and into the chilly waters underground.
Give them their adrenaline fix at Xplor: Xplor is to teens what Disneyland is to preschoolers, heaven on earth.  Where else can kids spend the day in their bathing suits while experiencing 13 zip lines (Including a few with water landings), navigating an amphibious vehicle through thick jungle and partially submerged caves, and exploring the underground rivers via hand paddled boats or a casual cave swim? All that adventure is certain to result in some hungry kids so be sure to take advantage of the all you can eat buffet that is included with entry to the park.

 

Photo: Sharlene Earnshaw

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