“A Shirley Temple, please,” said 9-year-old Cameron sitting tall on an underwater stool at the swim up bar. Teenager Al was body surfing in the sea while I, their grandmother, swayed in a hammock. Kids popped in the pool like Champagne bubbles. The breeze was salty; the sun was sultry; my pina colada soothed my last twitching travel nerve.
I thought Mexico’s Riviera Maya was an exotic wedding venue, but it is actually for all ages. Our resort’s buffet identifies its Generation McDonald selections with balloons above the kid’s section. Surprisingly, the 9-year-old headed for sushi while, predictably, the teen’s first course was fries drowned in catsup. During our week of “all inclusive” dining, the boys vetted flank fillet with cactus leaves, shrimp Mayan ceviche and Mexican chocolate mousse as reasons to return. My favorite was the huge bowl off guacamole that seemed to go with everything but chocolate.
Culture is an integral part of vacation, so we visited Tulum, which was inhabited by the Mayas until the 1500s.The ruins have three major structures: El Castillo, the castle; the Temple of the Frescoes, once used as an observatory; and the Temple of the Descending God where a Mayan Venus still graces the façade. Al climbed ruins and struck poses he posted on Face Book. Cameron wilted in the blazing sun, but I recalled Tulum is the only Mayan city right on the Caribbean. After a refreshing dip, Cameron joined Al in conquering the ancient city.
We went to XPlor Park, home to 14 zip lines, one the highest in Latin America. The boys climbed a circular ramp to the highest zip line while I remained on terra firma wondering how I could earn their respect. A staff person recommended the hammock zip line. I lounged in a hammock and zipped along a scenic river.
After six hammock rides and meandering around the pools and gardens between rides, the boys returned from their high adventures. Our magical underground swim along lighted stalagmites and stalactites ended in a waterfall. We swam the river again, enjoying one of the benefits of XPlor, which is unlimited use of its adventures and its bountiful outdoor buffet. The only restriction is the once-per-admission amphibious vehicle that tears through three miles of jungle, rivers, and caves.
“Mexico?” friends gasped. “You took children?”
Riviera Maya is far from regions in the U.S. State Department’s warning against travel to Mexico. Resort towns have a 98 percent employment rate and prominent police forces. According to RE/MAX, tourist zones in Mexico are up to 26 times safer than tourist areas in New York City, Chicago and Miami.
Yes, I took children; I plan to do it again.