Our family decided to drive on the wild side by taking an Xrail excursion to Jade Caverns. We boarded a van and proceeded to drive approximately 20 minutes to the location in the jungle where we were asked to put all of our belongings in a locker. We originally thought we would put our backpack inside a garbage bag and take it with us. The backpack included snacks for the kids and towels for everyone. However, the employees advised not to take anything with us on the trip. We expected, based on the description of the excursion, that there would be mud and lots of it, but the employees said that there is no place to put the backpack on the Xrail. We chose to put our backpack in a locker ($6 fee) and we are glad we did. The only place you could put a backpack would be between your legs but it would be difficult to hold on to it otherwise. We highly recommend closed toed water shoes or something that can get wet and dirty. If you have nicer sneakers, they will be covered in mud and will be very difficult to clean after your excursion. Rental crocs are available if you do not want to ruin your sneakers. The all-terrain Xrail seat two people. We had a group of 7 people on our excursion plus our guide and two other employees who drove with us. The guide is in the lead Xrail setting the pace. The two other employees follow behind in case there are any mechanical issues. After taking a few pictures, we all jumped in our Xrail and were off. It really did feel like a race. Each car maneuvered through the jungle. Todd and our older daughter started off in front of me and our younger daughter. It seemed like Todd was purposefully hitting the mud puddles. Both the girls squealed when the mud began to fly. I tried to avoid the bigger puddles not to have us get completely covered. Believe me, there were people in our group who were covered from head to toe in mud. View the video here!
We drove at least 20 minutes in the jungle before we arrived at the Jade Caverns. The stalactite formations in the cavern were really cool. The guide offered to have us jump off from the top of the cavern into the water. At first people were very apprehensive about doing it. The water did not appear clear and you could not see the bottom. The guide assured us that the water was clear and he put his water bottle into the water to show us how clear it really was. I really thought jumping into the water was an opportunity that I could not pass up. So we walked to the top of the cavern and was given the choice to jump from either 10 feet, 15 feet or 20 feet. I decided to jump from 15 feet. I was a little nervous but jumped in any way! I went in a bit deeper than I expected but soon swam to the top. My older daughter wanted to try it too so she jumped in! After about 15 minutes at the caverns, we had to move on.
Shortly after driving a few minutes my Xrail began to sputter. The guide offered to switch my Xrail with another one that one of the employees was driving. Apparently these vehicles do break down occasionally which is why they had extra vehicles following everyone. The switch was quick and we were off again. In my second vehicle, the rollbar was lower than in the first vehicle I was given. When we hit a big puddle, I hit my head into the rollbar. Even though I had a helmet on, it did hurt. I was sure to avoid the big rocks and puddles to minimize hitting my head (it did happen a few more times). My second vehicle also did not have as good of steering as the first vehicle, now I know that I should have kept the sputtering vehicle instead of taking the one where I kept hitting my head on the rollbar!
We continued driving the Xrails to another spot that the guide described as an old coral reef cave. We walked through the cave and explored inside before heading back the same way we came into the jungle when we started the trip. By the end of the trip everyone was covered in mud. There were outdoor showers where everyone could rinse off and try to clean up. You will have mud everywhere so just expect it and enjoy the experience while you can! I recommend wearing either a bathing suit or clothing that you won’t mind throwing away if it does not come clean. We all wore our bathing suits but it took several washings to get the silt out of them. I am glad we rented the locker for our clothes and backpack.
After cleaning up, the employees will try to sell you pictures of you starting out in your Xrail. If you don’t bring your own camera, they will capture cool pictures for you. You must bring a waterproof camera or pack your camera in a ziplock bag. Even though I had my camera in a ziplock bag, my fingers were covered in mud every time I pulled it out of the ziplock bag to take a picture. There was just no way to clean my fingers mid trip except for when I jumped in the water at Jade Caverns! You may want to cover your face so bring a handkerchief (they are available for sale if you want to buy one). I wore my glasses under the googles they provided and my glasses kept fogging up. I could not see so the guide was kind enough to give me his handkerchief to borrow to clean my glasses. Next time, I think I would wear my contact lenses if I do this trip again or treat my glasses with something so they don’t fog up. We returned to the port by taxi and had plenty of time to shop before boarding the boat again. My husband and I really enjoyed this trip. The girls did not enjoy the mud or the bumpy ride through the jungle but I do think this was an amazing experience. I hope this description of our experience helps you to better plan your next trip!
This post is the third of three experiences of how we were able to enjoy snorkeling with our kids. Our third attempt at snorkeling with our girls was on a guided tour on a glass bottom boat tour in Costa Maya, Mexico. On this day, the weather was sunny and warm, a huge improvement over the rainy day we had in Roatan. The tour lasted approximately 2.5 hours. We boarded taxi’s and were taken to approximately 20 minutes away to the boat dock. We were told it is possible to see elk coral and a variety of tropical fish. Our two girls were told by the crew to sit up high on the storage bin so they could see the fish better from above. The rest of the passengers sat in the normal seats along the side of the boat looking at the viewing glass. We saw several small coral formations, many blue tangs, a starfish and a lionfish through the glass. After going above the reef to see it through the glass, we anchored and were invited to jump into the ocean.
I started out snorkeling with my youngest daughter while Todd began snorkeling with our older daughter. My youngest daughter’s snorkel gear was a bit too big for her even though it was a child’s size (I began to think oh no, not again!). The leaking was not as bad as it was in Roatan but I still told her not to submerge her face in the water. I also told her that if she needed to wash her eyes, we would return to the boat but we would get right back into the water. I didn’t want to give her the option of leaving the water for good without really trying snorkeling first. She agreed to try and was thrilled when she saw her first fish. Every time she spotted another one, she would lift her head to tell me. It was so cute and we were both so excited that she was actually enjoying herself. We continued to swim together holding hands and pointing out fish to each other. After about 30 minutes in the water, we returned to the glass bottom boat to drive back to shore.
We had the choice of staying in the town of Mahahual or return to port for a little shopping. The Town of Mahahual is relatively undeveloped. The people are friendly and are willing to make sure you have a good time because tourism and fishing seem to be the only opportunities here. My family enjoyed this excursion. If you have multiple children who are varying ages, a glass bottom boat trip and snorkel adventure may appeal to all of them. Another couple was on the trip with an infant. The infant and the mother stayed on the boat looking for fish through the glass while everyone else snorkeled. Both of my girls enjoyed snorkeling this trip and I am certain they will enjoy our next snorkel trip. If you are interested in reading our first attempt at snorkeling in the Bahamas go to post 1 of 3, or our second attempt at snorkeling in Roatan, Hondoras with our kids, go to post 2 of 3 and view our video.
This post is the second of three experiences of how we were able to enjoy snorkeling with our kids. Our second attempt at snorkeling with our girls was on a guided tour on the Jolly Roger catamaran in Roatan, Honduras. View the video here.
Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with us at all. When our cruise docked, it was pouring rain. Many passengers decided to cancel their snorkel trips and beach excursions. We were determined to snorkel at the second largest barrier reef in the world and what others described as the best snorkel stop on our cruise. We took 30 minute bus ride to the boating dock and boarded our catamaran. Because it was raining very hard, everyone was cold and wet within minutes. The crew passed out garbage bags so everyone could put their towels, clothing, and backpacks in the bag in an attempt to keep it dry. Then off we went, heading out to the reef with rain spraying everywhere! The kids looked very apprehensive about the trip and huddled among the adults in an attempt to stay out of the spray of water. I kept telling the girls that we would be wet in the water anyways so the rain shouldn’t stop us from having a good time but secretly I just kept hoping it would stop raining soon. When we arrived at our spot on the reef, it stopped raining! I just couldn’t believe it, so we gathered our gear and jumped in. The water was wavy from the storm. Todd began snorkeling with our older daughter and I started out with our younger daughter. My younger daughter’s snorkel gear was a bit too big for her even though it was a child’s size. It would leak every time she submerged her face in the water. She ended up getting salt in her eyes and I told her to blink her eyes to try to get the salt out so that she could continue to snorkel. After a few minutes, Todd realized this was not working out very well and returned with her to the catamaran to wash her eyes. After cleaning out her eyes, my daughter refused to go back into the water. My older daughter did not have any issues the equipment fitting her well (she was 11 years old) and she had a great time snorkeling. The crew on the catamaran was wonderful to my youngest daughter while everyone else finished snorkeling. The captain of the catamaran was kind enough to get her watermelon to eat (which was part of our lunch, but he let her eat watermelon early). After everyone else returned to the catamaran, we had lunch of chicken, rice, and watermelon. Oddly enough, the rain started again and it continued to pour the entire ride back to the dock! It continued to rain the entire day in Roatan except for the 45 minutes we snorkeled in the water. The snorkeling in Roatan was the best I have ever experienced. We saw many fish and large coral formations. We invite you to check out our video of the snorkeling and you will see how rocky the water was while we were swimming in it attempting to take good video! After returning back to the port, we had plenty of time to shop and look for souvenirs.
For those of you considering a snorkel trip with your kids, I suggest that you bring your own snorkel equipment. My youngest daughter is 7, the equipment provided by the tour company was just a bit too big for her. We purchased our own snorkeling equipment in an attempt to get her more familiar with the equipment in a pool before having her try out snorkeling in the ocean (I just wish we had brought our own equipment with us!). Your child can practice using the equipment in either a pool or your own bathtub so they become familiar with breathing through the mask and snorkel before going in the ocean. You can also choose to do a beach excursion in Roatan and snorkel directly off the beach instead. You would have calmer water and could more easily clean out your child’s eyes if they get salt in them. I would do this trip again in a minute but hopefully next time we will have better weather and fewer waves! No matter which trip you choose, I hope you have a wonderful snorkeling trip with your kids! If you are interested in reading our first attempt at snorkeling in the Bahamas go to the previous, or our third attempt at snorkeling in Costa Maya, Mexico with our kids, go to the following post.
One of my favorite activities is to explore a coral reef. If you have very small children, the opportunity to snorkel on a reef may be something you feel you just can’t do, or you may be limited to snorkeling while spending a day on a beach. This post is the first of three experiences of how we were able to enjoy snorkeling with our kids.
Our first attempt at snorkeling with our kids was directly off a beach on Norweigan’s private island in the Bahamas. We chose to rent snorkel equipment while spending the day at the beach. All my youngest daughter really wanted to do was build sand castles. Todd and I decided to take turns bringing our older daughter into the water and swimming out to the reef. This worked great for each of us to have individual time with our girls doing things that each child enjoyed. However, it did limit the amount of time where all of us were together at the same time and it limited the amount of snorkel time that each adult had since one of us was always on the beach while the other was in the water. Families will enjoy the convenience of snorkeling whenever they like from the beach, without being dependent on a scheduled boat ride to a coral reef. I don’t know about your kids, but many times, my kids do things on their own schedule rather than on when someone else tells them to do things! Younger children may only want to try snorkeling for a few minutes; while older children may enjoy snorkeling much more than others. Snorkeling from a beach offers the greatest flexibility of the three options we tried but the snorkeling was not the greatest. The reef was much smaller than on our other trips and we found a significant amount of broken coral damaged from prior storms. I wouldn’t let this stop you from attempting to snorkel from the private island, it was a good first attempt for our family and allowed our youngest daughter to build several sand castles that she was most proud of!
Since our youngest daughter was too small to rent snorkel equipment, you could either purchase your own snorkeling equipment in advance or have your child use googles. Your child can practice using the equipment in either a pool or your own bathtub so they become familiar with breathing through the mask and snorkel before attempting to go on a guided tour in the open ocean. If you are interested in reading our second attempt at snorkeling in Roatan with our kids, reference the blog post on Roatan and view the video. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.
Welcome to the Kids Travel Today Blog. We set up our organization because we love traveling with our kids. And, we want to share with you different ideas that we have for traveling with kids.
We will post on a regular basis various ideas, and give you a run down of the different places we have traveled. From time-to-time, we will have guest contributors, who happen to be our daughters, who will provide a kids point-of-view of places that we have traveled.
When we travel with our kids, we not only do it for fun, but we also do it to provide our children experiences with different cultures. Broadening their view of the world, arts, and history is important to us.
We do many things as part of our organization. Not only do we provide this blog, but we also offer eBooks, which outline much of our travels and different things that you can do to entertain your children, whether it be on a long drive or flight, or what different things they can experience once you arrive at your destination. Our eBooks are available on the Nook and Kindle.
We also have a web and social networking presence. Note the following information to view more: