Why pay water park admission fees, lug your things around, and spend extra on food when slides, sprinklers, and more can be steps away and all included?
At the height of summer, few things seem like a better idea than a day at the water park … in theory. Then you realize there’s all that prep and packing, no private rest rooms, and then the time spent sitting in a car all wet and cranky for the ride home. Factor in the cost of entry fees, food, and a locker for the day and it all starts to sound like work.
… But what if you could just walk out of your private door to a water park? Keeping everything you need just steps away from wherever you are? What if there were no fees, all your food and drinks were included and available on demand all day? And no one has to get in a car at all?
That’s the premise behind on-resort water parks, where spending a hot, sunny day slipping and sliding, splashing and swimming is only steps away from your luxurious all-inclusive digs. Here are some of the best ones in locales with seemingly endless summers.
Sandos Caracol Eco Resorts’ Sandos Aqua Park
Open to resort guests, guests of sister Sandos properties in the area, and visitors who purchase day passes, this all-ages eco-friendly park is unique in its size, range, and the fact that it’s set in a real live jungle. This park is naturally built into the landscape in a way that doesn’t impact the environment, including the property’s precious mangrove areas. After all, as you can tell by this hotel’s name, this resort is deeply committed to environmental preservation, sustainability, and minimizing its carbon footprint.
It’s one of—if not the—biggest water parks in Playa del Carmen. With 29 slides for a whole range of ages, an impressive 17 are appropriate for those under 3’7”. For those above that height, there are 12 more, with five available to those that height or taller, and seven for those 4’7” and up.
Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM for the zone reserved for its littlest visitors, 10 AM – 5 PM for all else, with lifeguards present.
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya’s Rockaway Bay
This mega-resort is already a showstopper, a headliner, a marquee performer when it comes to family vacations in epic style. So when they added Rockaway Bay to the all-inclusive amenities available exclusively for that resort’s guests … well, the appropriate decibel level of those cheers would deserve to be ear-splitting.
This enormous park features 23 slides: eight for kids at least 3’5”, nine for kids and teens, and six heart-pounding, high-speed slides for teens and adults. Best of all, four of the high-speed ones are right next to each other and mirrored rides, so you can race your friends and family down!
To take the tone down a notch, there’s a splash pool for the wee ones, too, and a snack bar that opens and closes with the park. But just try to resist waiting the 30 minutes before diving back into the fun! That just might be the biggest challenge here.
Hours: 12 PM – 5 PM; subject to change based on occupancy
Royalton Splash Punta Cana’s Splash Park
When water’s in the property name, you better believe the water park is going to be a star attraction! The kids’ section offers its own water slides, and for a range of ages, there’s a wave pool, seven “monster” slides.
The longest of these is the Black Hole, a 372-foot slide that’s an adventure all its own. Even more remarkable is the Space Bowl, a giant U-shaped, skateboard ramp-looking slide that ricochets your inner tube from arc to arc until it loses momentum. If you’d rather go fast than long, there’s the open-air four-lane racer and the twin enclosed slide.
Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM, with lifeguards present
Riu’s Splash Water World
Take your pick of Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, or Costa Rica to take advantage of this resort brand’s signature water park! There’s an average of eight slides apiece at each of the eight locations, and with the Punta Cana complex bringing up that standard with an extra slide, as the biggest Splash Water World across the brand.
Spending the day at any one of them is a privileged, exclusive experience. All of them are reserved solely for the enjoyment of RIU guests over 48” tall. And if you think these water parks are just for families, think again! The ones at Riu Republica and Riu Montego Bay are actually geared for adults only. In fact, guests at nearly Riu Palace Jamaica and Riu Reggae will want to drop the young’uns off at the kids clubs at their chosen properties to take advantage of this grown-up amenity! But at all the other locations, age is nothing but a number.
Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM; closes once weekly for maintenance and disinfection with exact scheduling dependent on hotel occupancy or demand of each particular property
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana’s Aqua Nick®
Both kids and adults can get lost in a whole other world of cartoons come to life at this whimsical resort, where Spongebob; Dora and Boots; the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; PAW Patrol’s Marshall, Chase, and Skye; and more are just as likely to appear at any given moment as a smile on a child’s face. Chances of spotting one of these “celebrities” are higher at Aqua Nick®, the water park right by Plaza Orange, the character hub. Here, while waiting to see a star(fish … like Patrick!), all are welcome to splash the day away from a tower with four winding water slides, splash pads, spray grounds, a lazy river, and lots to climb.
Admission is free for all resort guests, who also get exclusive early access to the park, but it’s extra for certain “extras.” For instance, for a private sliming (scheduled ones drop down from a main bucket!), it’s $49 for a group of up to five—a steal at just $10 a person and memories for a lifetime. Non-guests can purchase day passes for $100 an adult and $50 per child on weekdays and $125 and $63, respectively, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM
Sunscape Akumal Riviera Maya’s Rex Dino Land
This AMR™ Collection resort already had a splash park just for kids at the Explorer’s Club, but now, exploration has gone prehistoric here! Rex Dino Land is now open and welcoming guests of all ages to enjoy watery “immersion” among the deadliest reptiles ever to have existed. There’s only one slide, but there are plenty of splash buckets and sprinklers to play among.
There’s also a playground and Casa Maya, a toy house, plus a whole indoor family game room with every bonding activity you can imagine. Pool tables, Xbox and Playstation games, foosball, ping pong, and a bungee trampoline let you dry off in fun. And for breaks, a poolside food truck offering grilled snacks and bites can be just the thing.
Hours: 12 PM – 3 PM