I think the last time we went on a holiday was to Waikiki in 2012 … anyway, it had certainly been a long time between drinks! So Ali and I decided we were due for a break and something exotic and fun was top of the list – and azure waters and warm temperatures were must-haves.
Ali went searching on the internet and came up with a very affordable 7 day adventure to Cancun, Mexico.
We booked the trip through applevacations.com and secured an all-inclusive deal, meaning it covered flights, transfers and taxes and all food and beverages. Having never done anything like this before, we were a little apprehensive (could this be for real?), but we set that aside and readied ourselves for whatever was thrown at us.
Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar was a delightful resort, with flamingoes, swans and other aquatic birds around the lobby water gardens and a massive (one kilometre!) swimming pool that seemed to travel the length of the property. It was summer in Mexico, so we expected heat and humidity and we certainly got it! It was bearable, but best time of year to go is between December and April.
The guest rooms were set among tropical gardens that teemed with wildlife. The families of coati (a creature that looks like a little monkey crossed with a cat) entertained us and there were peacocks roaming and calling out to an array of birds that created a very special soundtrack. However, the birdcalls did make broadcasting my radio show for smoothfm a little challenging!
We found the rooms to be lovely and clean, with great air-conditioning, thankfully. The kids’ room was filled with balloons and a basket of chocolate on our arrival, which was a lovely touch and a great surprise for them.
The food was plentiful and varied, with a great mix of restaurants – Mexican, Japanese, Mediterranean, Brazilian, American steakhouse and a French gourmet (in our opinion, the only one to stay away from) and spectacular buffets. You could find make-your-own burger bars on the beach and help yourself to soft-serve ice cream stations (of course, that was very popular with our kids) and there were three swim up bars in the pool. Here’s a handy hint - when booking an all-inclusive, make sure you book into the hotels’ restaurants as soon as you get there, as they fill up fast.
Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar is completely kid and family-friendly... the staff were kind, helpful and ready to give you a quick Spanish lesson if you were keen. There were so many different activities, from the free catamarans, kayaks and snorkel gear, to the archery range, kids clubs and paint your own bowls and plates. And, of course, all the food and drink you can handle and to cap it all off, there was great nightly entertainment.
It was the perfect trip for our three kids, aged 19, 15 and 9 years old. They had enough independence to do as they liked, they could help themselves to (virgin) Pina Coladas and they still wanted to go jet skiing with Mum and Dad!
Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar is close to Playa del Carmen, a gorgeous part of the Mayan Riviera. We took day trips to Tulum to visit the oceanside Mayan ruins, Akumal for some snorkelling and an amazing journey into the cenotes (underwater caves), where I have never experienced such clear and sparkling fresh water. I highly recommend taking a tour of the cenotes, but make sure you use a reputable company as apparently there are a lot of dodgy deals out there - book through your hotel and you will be fine.
We also did some shopping at 5th Street in Playa del Carmen, although it was not as cheap as we had hoped. It's a famous tourist area with loads of the little stores selling identical Mexican wares, which are colourful and fun … however, the prices start high, so be ready to haggle!
– Cameron Daddo is an Australian actor and radio host. He lives in the United States with his wife Ali and children Lotus, River and Bodhi.