Home / Caribbean / Swim with sharks in Mexico or ride fearsome rollercoasters in Abu Dhabi for a thrilling warm weather break

Swim with sharks in Mexico or ride fearsome rollercoasters in Abu Dhabi for a thrilling warm weather break

IF your looking for a warm weather holiday then you can’t go wrong with Mexico or Abu Dhabi.  But the two hotspots have very different vibes.

Art Director Nikki Ackerman found white sands and whale sharks in North America while Shopping Editor Nana Acheampong hit the Middle East for fearsome rollercoasters and sand dune racing. So which will you jet to first? 

Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s east coast endless chic beach shops around the corner and white sands

The pad: The Reef 28 in buzzing Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s east coast has a cool city vibe, with endless chic beach shops around the corner on Fifth Avenue and white sands a hop away.

This boutique adults-only, all-inclusive hotel oozes luxury. Every room is a suite, complete with a rainfall shower and private terrace, and at the rooftop pool with sea views, attentive staff keep the margaritas flowing.

Explore: For your culture fix, book a guided tour of Tulum’s Mayan ruins an hour’s drive away. You’ll stop at beachside bar Villa Pescadores for an ice-cold beer before tackling Coba’s 138ft-high pyramid – the tallest in the country that can still be climbed.

It’s worth it for the lush view from the top. Day trips with Easy Tours cost £38 per person.

A guided tour of Tulum’s Mayan ruins will give you a culture fix

For something more chilled, take a catamaran cruise to stunning Isla Mujeres.

Snorkel with a rainbow of fish, pick up basket bags and vanilla tequila souvenirs and feast on barbecued fish on the beach. Trips cost £60 per person with Albatros Sailaway.

Between June and September you can brave swimming with sharks

Hit the water: If you visit during whale shark season (June-September), you can snorkel alongside the friendly giants that grow up to 40ft long. Don’t forget your waterproof camera!

Boat trips cost £100 per person with Azalea Tours.

You can relax in a cabana while drinking a cocktail

Refuel: At The Reef 28, expect a waist-busting buffet of fruit, churros and omelettes made to order, or opt for breakfast burritos delivered to your room.

For dinner, head to El Asiatico for Far-Eastern delights like beef yaki udon noodles, or dig into classic empanadas and fajitas at La Cantina del Mezcal. Main restaurant Ventiocho serves melt-in-the-mouth fillet steak and crispy breaded garlic prawns.

Catch the free shuttle bus to sister resort Coco Beach for a teppanyaki cooking demo at the lively Japanese restaurant and enjoy juicy lobster.

Nikki stayed at the boutique adults-only, all-inclusive hotel The Reef 28

Don’t miss:  Coco Bongo’s late-night show is 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel and crammed with eye-popping, hilarious and impressive live music, dance and acrobatics. Entry including unlimited drinks costs £47 (Cocobongo.com).

Book it: Seven nights all-inclusive at The Reef 28 costs from £929 per person, including return flights from the UK and transfers (Holidaygenie.com).

Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi has sun, sea, sand and so much more

The pad: Check in to the Southern Sun for its stylish rooftop pool alone. Up on the 27th floor, it boasts incredible views, plus there’s a gym, steam room and sauna – and you can even watch TV from your bath, thanks to the glass bathroom!

Blue-flag Corniche beach is a 10-minute stroll away, and come evening, sip drinks by candlelight at the hotel’s alfresco lounge, Balcon.

Explore: Adrenalin seekers should make straight for Ferrari World. Formula Rossa is the world’s fastest rollercoaster, with top spe of 240kmph in just 4.9 seconds – so fast you have to wear protective goggles! On Flying Aces, get that stomach-in-your-mouth feeling on the world’s tallest loop at 63m. Entry costs £63 (Ferrariworldabudhabi.com).

Thrillseekers can ride dune buggies in the desert

Later, catch the sunset on a desert safari tour and race in 4x4s over dunes before taking a camel ride and feasting on a buffet under the stars, £46 (Arabian-adventures.com).

After some culture? The sheer size of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which has room for 40,000 worshippers, will leave you in awe. Or for 360° views as far as the Arabian Gulf, visit the 74th floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. Entry is £20 per person (Jumeirah.com).

Hit the water: Kayak through Abu Dhabi’s mangroves to snap scenery and visit private beaches, £35 (Sea-hawk.ae). Or hop on an hour-long speedboat tour for a view of the city’s incredible architecture on the shore, £45 per person (Theyellowboats.com).

Nana enjoyed kayaking through Abu Dhabi’s mangroves Every day is hump day and there’s plenty of opportunities to see camels

Refuel: Head to chic Asia de Cuba for dishes like shrimp churros, £9, and Chilean sea bass, £36. It’s not just the food that’s decadent – the beach-front terrace at Nation Riviera Beach Club next door is one of the city’s hottest spots, too (Asiadecuba.com).

Or enjoy the sea breeze on the floating pavilions at Sontaya and feast on fried soft shell crab, £20 (Sontayaabudhabi.com). Meanwhile, French-style bistro Le Beaujolais serves a mean beef bourguignon, £16, and has great-value house wine.

You’ll feel like royalty in Abu Dhabi’s ornate settings

Don’t miss: For a splurge, book dinner at the seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel. It’s dripping in gold and marble and you’ll feel like royalty just stepping inside.

At Mezlai restaurant, tuck into traditional slow-cooked lamb medfoun, £29, and chocolate biscuit mousse, £12 (Kempinski.com).

Book it: Double rooms at Southern Sun start from £50 (Tsogosun.com). Fly from the UK with Pegasus Airlines from £225 return (Flypgs.com).

Plan your trip at Visitabudhabi.ae.

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