Thanks to basketball, I have been fortunate enough to travel the world. I have seen numerous parts of Europe, been to places in Asia, all over the USA and Canada, the Bahamas and more. However, those were all business trips (except Venice and England). In fact, the last time I went on an actual vacation - where I was not playing basketball, just relaxing, resting and enjoying doing nothing - I was six years old! My sister was 5, my brother was 9 months old and we took a family trip to Jamaica. In case you need help with the math, it has been 20 years since I've been on vacation!
Well, this year my sister and I were determined to go on vacation. I had been playing basketball non stop for 9 years, my sister needed a vacation from her job and after her visit to France in the winter, we both had the travel bug. My sister and I had begun planning our sistacation during the summer while I was in season. The goal was to go immediately after my season ended before I headed back overseas to play basketball. We did a ton of research and decided that we were going to go to the Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort in the Dominican Republic.
Two days before it was time to fly out to the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Maria was tearing through the Caribbean islands. It was too dangerous to travel so flights were being cancelled and many places were without electricity. My sister and I called up our travel agent and agreed it was best to change locations. As much as we had our hearts set on the Dominican Republic, my schedule wouldn’t allow us to push back the dates and we were determined to go on vacation this year! After an evening of a lot of back and forth looking for availability, we eventually landed on the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Although it was not the vacation we had initially planned, we still had an incredible time! We stayed at an all inclusive so the food and drinks were always free. As an athlete, having a free unlimited supply of food is the next best thing after a much needed off day! I will admit that the food was OK, nothing spectacular in my opinion but there was always a variety.
The resort itself was nice and big! There were two sides, the adult side and the family side. We chose to stay on the adult side because we didn't want to have to deal with screaming kids at all hours of the day or kiddie accidents in the pools. The great part about staying on the adult side was that we had access to both sides, whereas the kids had to stay on their side. During the evening on the family side there were always shows; a magic show, a Michael Jackson dance show, a Mayan show, etc, so we would go over and enjoy the show then return to our side.
More views of the hotel
There were also a lot of other activities to do on the resort that we didn't realize until a few days in! There were always sand and pool volleyball games, a zip-line into the lagoon, a foam pool party, a dance club on the resort at night time, paddle boarding, snorkeling, aqua fitness classes, a day spa, and more. The spa was definitely a must do! I also realized that in another life if I didn't play basketball, I 100% would want to play beach volleyball! There was also a gym on the resort which the athlete in me frequented to get in a good lift and cardio sessions. I was even able to drag my sister along some mornings!
Off the resort there were many excursions you could partake in for a fee. One evening we decided to take a sunset boat ride. One thing I should share about me is that I love being on the water and I love being on a boat! Feeling the breeze on my skin as the waves rocked the boat up and down twas like the ultimate escape. I felt completely away from all humanity and one with God's incredible creation. The only other time I felt like that was when I was on the mountains in the Adirondack at night, looking up at the starry sky. I had never felt so small or insignificant or in complete awe of God's creation.
My sister and I also took part in XPLOR and swimming with dolphins. XPLOR was an excursion that we paid for that allowed us to be adventurous off the resort. My sister wanted to do XPLOR because there was a zip-line. Me and heights are not the greatest of friends, but since I was under the impression it was one zip-line, I told myself to suck it up and do it for my sister. Well, I clearly didn’t read the fine print because it wasn’t one zip-line but seven! Once you did one zip-line, you had to compete the other six it to get back on land. My sister was aware of this and didn’t feel the need to inform me. I prayed so much and thanked God profusely when I completed that last zip-line and was back on solid ground. My sister asked if I wanted to do the other zip-line course, I laughed in her face and told her to have fun without me. God got me safely on the ground after doing seven, I wasn’t going to test my blessings six more times, no ma’am!
At XPLOR we also swam in a cave with with real bats which I enjoyed. (I was tall enough to touch the ground, Kesia not so much, so by the end of the swim she was exhausted which was sweet revenge). We also got to use paddle boats in the cave and rode on a zip-line swing over water. That was much more enjoyable than the tree-top zip lines since at least if the zip-line were to snap, I’d have a chance at survival because I can swim. When the zip-line snaps over trees, all you have is the mercy of God.). We also got to drive a dune buggy through the forest and under caves which was quite the adventure!
On a different day we went swimming with the dolphins and this experience only made me love dolphins even more. Such majestical creatures, they’re friendly, intelligent and full of personality. It was awesome being able to touch and interact with them first hand, and of course being taken for a ride in the water! It was an experience that I would highly recommend if you ever get the chance.
One thing that I also liked about the resort that I admittedly didnt like at first was the lagoon. I didnt like the idea of how they created a fake lake area around the entire resort for us to swim in. However, once we saw how violent the waves were on the other side of the rocks, and how calm our area (the lagoon) was, I had a new appreciation for what they had created. I also liked the fact that I knew I could swim fearlessly in the lagoon and not have to worry about a shark or larger fish/mammal trying to eat one of my limbs. The smaller fish and crabs still got in which was fine, it was actually pretty cool swimming everyday with the fish!
Lastly, besides being in Paradise with my sister, enjoying the warm weather, eating to my hearts content and having new experiences, what really made the stay even better were the people. My sister and I made new friends with other people on vacation, but we also made friends with the entertainment group who worked on the resort. They were the ones in charge of putting on the shows, the trivia or games nights, starting the beach volleyball games, etc. They were all really nice, friendly, down to earth people who made our first sistacation one for the books! We are officially hooked and are already planning for our next getaway!
If you're looking to go on vacation, I would recommend considering the Hard Rock Riviera Maya Hotel, you won't be disappointed!
Also, what destinations or resorts would you recommend for our next sistacation?
Thanks for stopping by, and God bless,