We love a sunny resort holiday and Mexico has always delivered. We have travelled to Puerto Vallarta and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel and also visited the Costa Maya as part of a cruise out of Florida. Just a few hours flight from the US, Mexico offers plenty of options for a resort holiday to relax and enjoy some local culture - or simply hang out in a full service hotel relaxing and soaking up the sunshine.
This trip we visited the Cabo area with a stay at the Royal Solaris in San Jose Cabo.
The Royal Solaris is actually a time share, so although we simply booked through a normal hotel booking website, we were still exposed to the timeshare sell. Upon arrival at the hotel we received an individual “Concierge” to explain the hotel features to us. However after declining quite sternly for the third time to attend the VIP breakfast, (to find out about the amazing opportunities for time share at the hotel) our Concierge had very little further information to give us! Not a great start to the stay - but thankfully it did not really dampen the experience and we were not bothered about timeshare any further.
The Royal Solaris is an all inclusive resort. This means that all our meals, drinks (including alcohol) and entertainment were included. If you have ever cruised, a resort like this is a very similar experience. Once you arrive there really is no reason to have to spend any money - except for tips if you are wanting to do so.
The hotel had a number of eatery options a pizzeria, snack bar serving hot dogs, burgers and nachos, a sushi station (which was amazing), a buffet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a couple of specialty a la carte restaurants one of which served Churrasco Argentinian (char grilled meats served to the table on swords and carved at your table). Add to that 24 hour room service (with a delivery fee) and a stocked fridge of soda, water and beers in your room - there was no reason to go hungry or thirsty.
Add to this all the bars around the hotel that were also included. Cocktails from the pool bar, tequila shots by the beach, wine with your dinner in the restaurant, late night night-caps in the lobby bar - all included. And the free pour serves of spirits put hair on your chest!
Then there was all the entertainment included. There was a kids club where kids could be signed in from 9am - 5pm (our kids chose not to use this but it was still an option and looked like it had a great range of activities), poolside entertainment that ranged from darts competitions, black jack, movie trivia, aqua aerobics, ping pong tournaments and more - there was never a dull moment poolside.
And in the evenings there was a large theatre with entertainment that for us included a Michael Jackson tribute show and a traditional Mexican dancing show. And if that wasn’t enough the entertainment crew also kept patrons busy in the evening at the lobby bar with activities such as karaoke and various game show type entertainment.
On our first night we joined in on the Karaoke at the lobby bar and discovered one of the entertainment staff, a dancer named Holly, was in fact from Adelaide, Australia (our home town). She had only arrived at the hotel in the last week, there was also one other dancer on staff who had been at the resort for 12 months, also from Adelaide.
The girls were comforted by having someone from home at the hotel, they told us in 12 months they had only come across four other Australian visitors at the resort. And they always seemed to be from South Australia! If you visit, be sure to say hello to the girls - maybe take them some Vegemite.
The resort is located on the beach, we stayed just before Hurricane Bud was heading for town so the beach was rough and not swimmable. However we still enjoyed walks on the sand, listening to the sounds of the sea and getting hair braids from the beach vendors.
From the street in front of the hotel a local bus could be caught for the cost of $1USD to take you to downtown San Jose which was filled with restaurants, shops and art galleries. Just beware the local buses stop at about 8pm so if you are going for dinner you may need to get a taxi back. We visited downtown on a Sunday night and got caught out with no buses or taxis around, luckily the restaurant owner gave us a ride in the back tray of his single cab truck - when in Mexico!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you have been to the Gold Coast or Brisbane and done all the run of the mill attractions, here is a day trip with a difference: Get Wrecked with tour operator Sunset Safaris.
So long as you don’t mind a full day out - getting off the mainland and onto the world’s third largest sand island - Moreton Island - is a great adventure for the whole family.
With a 5:45am pick up from the Gold Coast we boarded a tour bus via Brisbane to catch a catamaran across to Moreton Island that departed at 8:30am. It is a long morning, but with a bus driver at the wheel we took the opportunity to catch a few more moments of sleep before our big day.
The ride across to the island took about an hour and was fairly smooth sailing. We were fascinated that the catamaran just pulled up onto the beach, put down it’s front and off drove the 4WD vehicles ready to explore this amazing island.
Upon arrival at Moreton Island this tour kicks into action - the group was split into snorkelers and kayakers and we were kitted up with wetsuits and life vests to hit the water and explore the Moreton Island wrecks.
There are 15 ships purposefully wrecked at Moreton Island that are home to a myriad of sea life, including coral. From the top of the water, through the transparent kayaks, we got a glimpse of what lied beneath.
The sea was a bit rough, this activity is not for anyone afraid of being out on the ocean, but the current was strong and you could go with the flow most of the way. We have done a few kayak tours as a family, most recently in the Norwegian Fjords at Olden, so were excited to try out a translucent kayak - it was fascinating!
Once we had kayaked we were kitted up with wetsuits and snorkelling gear and a Jet Ski ferried us out to the wrecks. Again, the sea was quite rough and the current strong which meant we pretty well had to just go with the flow, fighting against the current was fruitless.
Snorkelling the wrecks is an amazing activity. There is an abundant amount of sea life to swim amongst and the coral forming near the wrecks was impressive. This is the southern most part of Australia that you will see Great Barrier Reef coral.
The kids love the experience of snorkelling and although the seas were rough and it was hard work, the tour guides were great in providing a buoyant ring to just grab onto when we needed a break. We all wore life jackets so although we couldn’t dive down into the sea, not having one in slightly rough waters would have been a struggle.
Post water activities we refuelled with the provided lunch of salad rolls, potato chips and oranges before boarding a 4WD tour bus that took us out onto the bumpy roads/ tracks of the Island towards the Desert. A 20 minute ride along a one way 4WD only track brought us to a sandy oasis of dunes just begging to be conquered.
With our primitive bits of plank wood we hiked to the top of the dunes to take on the mounds head first! Again, not for the faint hearted, this is an adrenaline run launching yourself off the side of that dune head first with only a thin plank of wood between you and the sand.
“Arch your back, feet off the ground and elbows up” the tour guide suggested as they pushed us off the edge. The comment “Or not” generally followed as tourist after tourist our elbows hit the ground, followed by our faces, as we rolled or tumbled near the bottom of the dune!
It is amazing how sand can find it’s way into every crevice of your body, every pocket on your clothing, every inch of you - following a face plant and tumble in a sand dune at high speed!
Covered in sand and still shaking it out of our ears, hair and nostrils we head back to the beach to catch a 3:30pm ferry back to Brisbane and a long bus ride via Brisbane CBD to arrive back on the Gold Coast at 7:15pm.
This day tour absolutely exhausted our family of four, Miss 8 slept most of the bus ride back to the Gold Coast and she NEVER sleeps in a car! Master 11 stayed awake but was very hungry and tired by the end of the trip.
The time on the island was absolutely jam packed and we were constantly on the go - but with so many activities to get through it had to be that way. There was very little, if any, time to just chill on the beach and enjoy the surroundings. Leaving from Brisbane would cut out the early start and late finish but would still be a full day.
If you have never had the opportunity to visit Moreton Island this is a great option to squeeze in a visit when next in Queensland.
For more details, visit the Sunset Safaris website and check out their Get Wrecked tour.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were guests of Sunset Safaris on this day tour.