Vacationing in the Caribbean- the Halal Way
By Anisa Tayab
I always wanted to go away somewhere down south, sit on a warm beach and enjoy a mocktail! I was always afraid to take a trip because I didn’t know what to expect and if it would be appropriate for my kids to be around people drinking and in swim wear all day. I just didn’t know how my kids would react to so many “new” experiences around them.
When my boys were 5 and 3, we decided to take the plunge and took a trip to Mexico. After weeks and weeks of researching we chose a resort that we thought would accommodate our needs the best. We wanted to have a relaxing time while not comprising our beliefs or having to explain the actions of others to our kids.
Location, Location, Location
Cancun is known to be a party city in Mexico. The hotel zone is full of hotels, clubs and lots of party goers. It is a popular destination for spring breakers. We knew we wanted to stay far away from that environment. We chose a five star resort in hopes the other guests at the resort would be mature guests and not the party crowd. This made a huge difference in my opinion. Once we got there, most of the other guests were mature adults, young families or extended families vacationing together. We also chose a resort that was away from the hotel zone. We were not able to walk to another resort on the beach so it was completely private.
I have yet to find a resort that offers Halal options (wouldn’t that be great?!) but most resorts do have a variety of seafood and vegetarian options. If you mention your dietary concern to your wait staff immediately they may even be able to “cook” something special just for you. Mention your dietary concerns at check in so there is a note on your file in case you order room service. From my experiences I found that most staff is more than willing to help you out to make sure your stay is enjoyable.
Since most resorts are all inclusive, you’ll find a lot of people drinking around you. Your kids will see multi-coloured drinks and want to order them. Keep in mind, almost everything you see can be made “virgin” which means non-alcoholic. Some of our favorites are Mud Slides (Banana and Chocolate Milk), Virgin Pina Colada (pineapple and coconut) and Miami Vice (strawberry and pina colada). Keep in mind the juices are fresh so we would order pineapple juice and mango juice all day.
To avoid any confusion with our order, we always take our own tumblers with us. Tervis and Contigo make great ones. The staff will rinse it out between drinks and they will learn that your cup means no alcohol!
Can’t wear a bathing suit? No problem? We all know about the burkini but you don’t have to invest in one. I always wear a bathing suit and cover it up with a rash guard on top and active wear (tights or lounge pants) on the bottom. This gives me the chance to change my outfit every day. There are so many rash guards to choose from and they protect you from the UV rays.
I also found by lounging around the kid’s pool you see more modest swim wear since it is all families. Most moms have the same concerns as each other. What surprised me was that my kids didn’t even mention anything about the exposure around them because they were too busy playing and having fun. I think adults tend to pay more attention to those around us than kids do.
The sun in the Caribbean is very hot! I didn’t think I would burn (I’ve never burnt in my life) but not only did I burn but my entire family did. It’s so important to wear a strong sunscreen and keep re-applying. There is nothing worse than burning on vacation. Always wear sunscreen and a hat!
Most resorts offer entertainment at night. We asked for the show schedule at check in so we could pre-plan our nights. Most resorts have family friendly shows: Michael Jackson, Circus themed and Fire Acrobats are some of our favorites.
Relax and Enjoy
An upcoming vacation is a great time to teach your kids about different countries, the currency used there and the culture of the country. We always try to learn the native tongue of the country we are visiting together as a family before our trip.
Don’t forget why you wanted to take a vacation. Sometimes it’s hard to just relax but it’s important to take a break from our daily routines and enjoy our families and make memories.
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