A lot of us travel for relaxation. A lot of us travel for adventure. And for many, the two are one and the same. And even better? If you don’t have to travel even farther to adventure further! For instance, did you know that there are several fantastic resort properties that have ample opportunities to pack some action into your vacation without even leaving its grounds? Some are even included in your stay, with no additional charges to worry about, even if you do have to reserve your spot with their activities desk or your concierge.
We’re talking about snorkeling tours just steps from your room; bike rides through the untamed jungle around your hotel; your choice of so many hot springs that it’s common to lose count; or water slides so fast, it took longer to get up the steps to the top.
Whether it’s wild, wet, or soft adventure your customers are looking for, combined with easy access to a change of clothes, a midday nap, or just some good old-fashioned refreshment, these are some of ALG Vacations® staff’s favorite picks for on-site adventure amenities.
Explorean Cozumel, Cozumel, Mexico
The name says it all, and their goal is to get guests out there! No TVs in the room and no room service means more reason to fully immerse yourself in your setting, here on this peaceful island off the coast of Cancun. And you can even do it literally—Cozumel is one of the best access points to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
Better yet, activities like snorkeling off the sands of El Cielo beach, paddleboarding in the ocean, and kayaking are all included! Guests get one complimentary excursion a day, including top-tier, premium tours like via Jeep, bike, or even off-site exploration of parks like Chankanaab and Punta Sur. And best of all, you can do any or all of these on your time—the staff handles your scheduling and outing details, even down to bringing drinks and snacks to you for anything longer than four hours.
Find out about other Exclusive Perks here.
The Springs Resort & Spa, Arenal, Costa Rica
There are few destinations as renowned for eco-adventure as Costa Rica, and right at the base of the Arenal Volcano, this luxury resort does it right. Not only are there just under 30 natural hot springs and freshwater pools scattered throughout the 165-acre property to soak in, lending the resort its name, there’s also the extraordinary and comprehensive Club Rio Adventure Center. From here, families can sign up to go river tubing, kayaking, or even horseback riding through the many trails in this jungle paradise. If they’d rather stay a little more put, there’s putt-putt on site and a full-size rock-climbing wall to test your strength and mettle. A little less physical but also for the daring are staff-guided tours of the animal sanctuary, with wild cats of the region and other exotic creatures protected by the property on full display in well-maintained habitats.
Atlantis Paradise Island, The Bahamas
Speaking of animal habitats, you can’t beat Atlantis Paradise Island for marine life! Experiences with some of the world’s most beautiful and precious species aren’t just an option during your stay—they’re a guarantee! Open-air marine habitats are built right into the expansive resort property, teeming with thriving fin friends and others from under the sea. But that’s only part of the adventure—the other half is Aquaventure, an absolutely enormous water park with high-speed slides—including the famous Leap of Faith, a 60-foot near-vertical clear tube shoots you through a shark-filled lagoon—and the Rapids River, with both slow and fast currents. For those who seek additional thrills, the Power Tower is unmissable as the tallest feature in the park, standing at 120 feet tall with multiple ways to slide down it.
Dreams Natura, Cancun, Mexico
Another option for those who want on-site water park convenience plus thrills is this relative newcomer to The AMR™ Collection, now part of World of Hyatt. This all-inclusive luxury family resort’s on-site water park has a lazy river that meanders around the grounds and three water slides when you want to kick it up a notch. Another option for a burst of adrenaline? The novel rollglider that gives you a birds-eye view—and feel—of the property! And for the little ones, their own water park has four mini slides, a giant splash bucket, and water spray jets that will prime them for future daring.
For more on-site water parks that are free for guests to enjoy, read Six On-Site Water Parks for Hassle-Free Fun.
Sandos Playacar, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
The most robust of the Sandos Hotels & Resorts family, this all-inclusive property includes a great variety of adventures in the cost of your stay. Of course non-motorized water sports are part and parcel; here, this includes aqua aerobics, beach and pool volleyball, and even kayaking right in the Caribbean Sea! But in addition, an 18-hole mini-golf course and bicycle tours are available as part of the all-ages “All Playa Experience.” Plus, there are two mini aqua parks on the premises, making it one of the very few resorts in Playa del Carmen with a brand-new one for guests to enjoy.
You don’t have to go too far off-site to find soft guided adventure if you’re willing to venture a little farther from your lodgings. These may not be on-site, but they’re near enough, and definitely destinations to consider if you want to feel get your pulse pounding with novel excitement.
It doesn’t even matter where you stay in Puerto Rico if you’re looking for access to adventure. From any hotel you choose, you’ll be conveniently close to it, including any of the three bioluminescent bays you choose to visit. Laguna Grande in Fajardo and La Parguera in Lajas offer glow-in-the-dark experiences you won’t soon forget, but Mosquito Bay in Vieques is where the stars shine brightest underwater. This kayaking expedition takes you from beach through mangrove forests all the way to a dark, wide bay as the night draws heavy. You’ll kayak back in a group, your leader lighting the way, for an experience that will really get your heart racing.
On the other hand, if you prefer something faster-paced and more brightly lit, do not skip Toro Verde Adventure Park. The ziplining there is among the world’s best, and that’s no exaggeration. It’s home to the Guinness World Record-holder for the title of the longest zipline in the Americas. It’s not as fast as the others (shorter routes are speedier), but at 7,234 feet long and 1,200 above the ground, it’s far from phoning it in, either! Best of all, it’s only one of eight included in your admission.
If you’ve been on social media in the last few years, chances are, you’ve seen the famous and adorable swimming pigs of the Bahamas. Where they are exactly is Big Major Cay, Exuma—one of the districts of The Bahamas. Where there were once only five little pigs, there are now about 20 of the friendly wonders. While they will come snuffle for snacks, it’s important to follow the rules and listen to your guide, for your safety and that of the pigs. Responsible travelers do not feed wildlife on their own, as human food can be a risk to the animal’s health.
Another animal you can jump in the water with in the Bahamas are nurse sharks, who are docile and approachable in Compass Cay. They’ll even let you pet them when they swim up to the dock during high tide! Or you can choose to swim against less animate companions, like in the Underwater Sculpture Gardens in Nassau.
On Grand Bahama Island, though, commonly booked adventure tours most often include kayaking through the Lucayan National Park’s mangrove forests or taking a Jeep safari off-road along the beach. You can end it with a fish fry in Freeport at Smith’s Point if you’re there on a Wednesday.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
There’s a reason the Riviera Maya sits at the top of so many travel lists for repeat visitors—there’s simply not enough time to explore all the region has to offer! One of the main attractions for adventure-lovers (outside of the jungle treks to Mayan ruins, of course!) is the Grupo Xcaret Parks collection. There are 7 of them, all with different attractions and themes. For instance, Xavage is about extreme adventure, including white water rafting, a ropes course, and custom monster trucks. Xplor has all the ziplines you could ever wish for, then amphibious vehicles to get you grounded again. And Xenses turns your world upside down, inside-out, and sideways, through head-tripping optical illusions and rides and slides that challenge you to use your senses differently. The all-new Xcaret Xailing ferry brings you a different perspective—it takes you to Isla Mujeres where a climb up the Scenic Tower is included with your ticket, even if you don’t opt for additional activities while there.
For most, these are slightly off-site, depending on where you’re staying. However, if you’re a guest at Hotel Xcaret Mexico or Hotel Xcaret Arte an express shuttle takes you right there with included admission to any and all of the parks. Guests at La Casa de la Playa get even more VIP treatment: luxury private transportation along with all-access privileges, included exclusive experiences outside of the norm.
For more adventure travel, check out our series, The Great Outdoor Adventures to Restart Your Travels, visiting the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.