A getaway to the Caribbean can mean more than kicking back with a cool drink and sitting in the sand – it’s a great goal but there are also many water adventures to be had in Central America and the Caribbean. The region offers unique opportunities for unforgettable moments of fun and amazement, and especially to enlarge a child’s world – even more so if you’re raising water babies who’ve had swimming lessons since they were infants. Whichever your destination, be it Belize, Honduras, Aruba, Jamaica or any of the other countless islands and nations, here are some opportunities for family fun that engage with the natural world.

Swimming with Whale Sharks or Manatees

Swimming with these gentle giants is the opportunity of a lifetime. Your family can experience whale sharks off of Holbox Island, Mexico and Utila, Honduras. These are massive plankton feeding animals so it’s safe to take a tour and swim along beside of them. Their massive size and gentleness will impress you. While they seem to swim slowly, you’ll find yourself challenged to keep up with them. The manatee is another gentle giant and also a plant eater. Manatees can be found in the waters of Mexico, Belize and other portions of Central and South America. A guided tour will help ensure that you succeed in meeting this often shy creature.

Explore the Second Largest Reef System in the World

While the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is well known, the second largest reef system in the world is in the Caribbean and offers similar opportunities for sea exploration. Whether you and your family snorkel or scuba, you’ll enjoy the riches of marine life on the reef. The reef extends from Mexico down to Honduras, so you’ll have your choice of places to visit. When heading out with your family, a good tour guide will be able to explain the marine life and corals that you are viewing. You’ll see tropical fish and bright corals. You might even catch a glimpse of a timid moray eel, or dolphins frolicking in the afternoon sun. Every outing will bring a new discovery. Also, from several Caribbean islands, such as Ambergris Caye in Belize, you can see the extent of the reef from the shoreline.

To get started wakesurfing, you’ll need to have access to a boat with a wakeboard tower, a wakesurf board, a rope, and a patient driver who can gradually increase the boat speed as you get comfortable riding the wake.

Visit Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Park

Many of us enjoy visiting national parks during our travels. Did you know that in the Caribbean, many places have national marine parks? These are designated places that seek to introduce visitors to the wonders of the reef system and marine life, as well as teaching how to help preserve these fragile ecosystems. Two of these are located off the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker in Belize. A tour guide will lead you around Hol Chan Marine Park pointing out the reef elements and talking about the fish and aquatic life that you encounter. Within the park, you’ll swim closely with brightly colored fish, as well as three different types of sea turtles. Here, children can learn that it’s important to watch but not to touch, even if the turtles or fish come very close.

Often coupled with the visit to Hol Chan is a visit to Shark Ray Alley. While swimming with sharks may seem very intimidating, it shouldn’t be. It’s an incredible opportunity to swim with nurse sharks. When your guide brings the boat into the park, he will pay the park warden then begin to chum the water. The sharks will clamor for the snacks while your guide urges you to dive in. Don’t worry, the nurse sharks are more interested in the snacks than you, so you have an up-close opportunity to share their watery environment with them. In the frenzy, they may bump into you but that is the biggest risk you and your family members face. While watching the sharks, you will also see a variety of rays gliding elegantly through the water. Turtles also enjoy the area. During one outing, a shark and a stingray were seen tussling over the rights to a conch. Ultimately, the ray won but these are just not the experiences one expects to see every day. Both Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley are adventure opportunities that are appropriate for all members of your family who can snorkel.


The Yucatan Peninsula offers the unique water adventure of cenotes. Essentially, these sites are sinkholes that connect with underground rivers and water sources. While the peninsula is primarily dry, the ancient Mayans relied on cenotes for reliable water sources. Whether you choose to vacation in the coastal Cancun or the inland cities of Merida or Valladolid, there are mystical cenotes to experience nearby. It is also possible to combine these water activities with a visit to an ancient Mayan site. During the journey to these locations, you’ll have the opportunity to see exotic birds and wildlife, such as parrots, toucans, pecorinos or jaguars.

Even though international travel is still changeable, the USA’s southern neighbors are close and easy to get to – plan to get your vaccinations and/or rapid test before you leave home – and these are just a few water sports adventures that you can experience when you vacation in the Caribbean or Central America. Additional water sports include stand up paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking and parasailing. While you want to take advantage of all of the available water sports in the location you choose it’s also an opportunity to explore some of the more unusual water adventures in the area, and gain mind-opening and unforgettable memories for all the family.

In the realm of culinary creativity, “Hannah Gregory MasterChef” and I struck a chord over Instagram, exchanging tips on recreating the classic American half-and-half. The US half-and-half after meeting in our TeamCocoGang group. The ubiquitous diner staple had been on my mind since March and yet I was resisting the urge to slug single cream into my filter coffee. I would like to officially thank Hannah for her assistance in getting me to cross that hurdle.

Hannah Gregory is an inspirational woman. You might have seen her on MasterChef earlier this year (no spoilers here if you haven’t managed to catch up). Her love of travel and world cuisine has always permeated her cooking and she recently founded WanderSups, a fantastical adventure-inspired private chef supper club. Says Hannah, “all WanderSups events – no matter how big or small, follow one mantra – PREP | COOK | SUPS | PLAY.”

Hannah Gregory MasterChef

Intrigued by Hannah’s culinary adventures? Discover her journey through globally inspired dishes.

Hannah: So, funny story as it happens. One of the first dishes I had travelling that I became obsessed with was Shrimp Bobo which is a Brazilian dish. A friend and I were backpacking in South America and we ended up on Ilha Grande, a small, beautiful island just off of Rio and after weeks of rice, beans and churrasco we were really craving something a little different. We found this super cute café on one of the side streets and explained to the maître d’ that we wanted something authentic, but not rice and beans (although holy macaroni, what I would give for a plate of authentic Brazilian rice & beans right now). We were served the most incredible Shrimp Bobo in huge coconut shells – it’s a really creamy stew made from manioc roots (more commonly known as cassava) and full of fresh, sweet shrimp and I was instantly addicted.

When I got home I had a small dinner party in my VERY small flat in South London and decided this was the dish I would make. I searched high and low for the illusive manioc root – at the time – we’re going back a bit – I hadn’t made the connection between manioc and cassava and spent a good week looking all over London for it. Finally, I learnt that they were indeed the same thing, and hopped to the greengrocers ACROSS the road from my flat to grab one.

A key part of the dish is to boil the root and then pick out the stringy fibres – I missed this part. First problem. You then blend the cassava with coconut milk to create a smooth sauce – of course, my blender blew up mid-blitz. Second problem. Finally, my guests arrived, and I dished up my lumpy, stringy stew. After the first spoonful, I froze. I’m not sure if it was because it was lumpy or if it actually was undercooked, but I had read that if cassava is not cooked properly it is toxic as it contains cyanide. Worried that I was poisoning my guests, and with a dramatic “Stop, I think I’m about to kill you!” I dashed their plates away, knocking over everyone’s glass in the process. I ended up sending my brother to the Turkish restaurant across the road to pick up kebabs for everyone.

HOC: How far you’ve come! Does any dish still evade your recreation?

Hannah: Bingas bloody Wingas! A friend and I were on a road trip in the U.S. and were just north of Portland. The original plan was to drive back to Portland and have a boujee night with cocktails and jazz bars (I was clearly in Portland Maine, not Oregon) but we were so tired from a long drive that we thought we would just look on Google Maps, see where the closest eatery was and go there. The trusty knife and fork symbol informed us that there was somewhere a three-minute drive away. This seemed odd as we were on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere but we figured, why not?

We arrived – a stand-alone purple building in the middle of nowhere stood before us, illuminated in purple neon with a giant dog guzzling chicken wings on the front of the building.

We were greeted by our server for the night, Doreen. Doreen was an absolute peach. She handed us a menu that wasn’t so much a menu but a long list of every sauce you could think of to douse your wings in. The concept was simple: decide how many wings you want, decide if you want them smoked or fried, and decide what sauce. My eyes were instantly drawn to Buffalo Bacon Nacho – three glorious things, all in one sauce. Had to be a winner right? Doreen explained that it was the most decadent, unctuous wing sauce she had ever come across (and Doreen ate a lot of wings). Nacho cheese, crispy bacon mixed through, spiked with house buffalo sauce. Sounds simple right? Let me tell you, I have been trying to recreate this dish for 2 years, probably once a week we eat wings and I have come close to it, but no cigar. There has been more than one occasion – ok, there have been lots of occasions – when BA does a flash sale and I check to see if Boston or Portland are on the list just to fly and get these wings – I haven’t caved… yet. Maybe one day I will unleash my inner Kardashian and fly across the world for a meal.

And yes, I did ask Doreen for the recipe, I have also emailed them countless times begging for it. They are not giving that s**t up for anyone!

Hannah’s culinary journey: deliberate destinations or serendipitous discoveries?

Hannah: I think a bit of both but leaning towards the former although I was doing it subconsciously until a friend pointed it out to me. I just thought everyone planned their trips around food. It is so alien to me that food isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind because it is all I think about.

It first became apparent when a friend and I went to the States – we went on a Dawson’s Creek / Bruce Springsteen pilgrimage but I had an ulterior motive. We were flying into Boston and I had always wanted to go to Maine and New England to eat lobster from roadside shacks and experience real clam chowder so I managed to weave that into the trip, then I thought as we were going to Wilmington NC, it would be rude not to head a little further south and experience some real southern soul food.

I never over-plan my trips, I usually just book a place to stay the first night and then see what happens. It was only after a few days in that my friend pointed out that I was planning our days and our route solely around restaurants and diners. I just thought she was being pernickety but then a few months later another friend and I went to Central America with no other plan than we wanted to hit Mexico, Belize & Guatemala – the same thing happened again. Before I knew it I was hunting out cooking lessons, street food festivals, and restaurants and then our route evolved from that. That’s when I realised that my love for food and travel was so intertwined and WanderSups was born.

When it comes to tracking down where to eat – I’m not entirely sure how I do it. There is certainly no formula but I am like a bloodhound on a scent when it comes to finding good, authentic, local cuisine. One of my first jobs out of university was working for a lifestyle concierge company and putting together itineraries for clients of things they should see and do when travelling – maybe it stems from that.

If I am in the UK I will always consult the Waitrose Good Food Guide – I trust them implicitly. If I am further afield and I have time to do the research then I will check out blogs and ask IG for recommendations – I always think word of mouth is the best way to go. I never engage with things like Trip Advisor because I think it just brings out the worst in people.

If I am in a city or a built-up area I always look up – some of the best places are on roofs so look for the telltale signs of festoon and canopies – some of the most memorable meals I have had are from chasing the sounds of laughing friends and clinking glasses happening high up above me, especially in places like Marrakech and Tulum. And my number one rule: always eat where the locals eat. However, that did backfire for me once when I ended up eating goat intestines in rural Africa. We live and learn.

Hannah’s cherished travel memory for a quick pick-me-up?

Hannah : This is a bit Pinterest / vom-inducing but on my office wall I have post-it notes on which I have written things that have made me happy and content so that whenever I feel a bit low or am struggling to remember life pre-covid, I have an instant pick me up close to hand.

The majority of them are travel based and the general theme is road-tripping. It is my absolute favourite thing to do in the world. I think freedom and independence sense that it gives, knowing you can go anywhere, in your own time, listen to great music, eat great car snacks and drop in at roadside diners and restaurants. My two favourite trips of all time were driving from Maine to North Carolina and driving across Malawi. If I need a pick me up I always put on the playlist that I was listening to and it brings it all flooding back.

HOC: Sounds ideal! Where’s next for you when travel is more achievable?

Hannah: Um the whole world… I am not coping very well with this feeling of being trapped on an island so am desperate to just see everything I possibly can as soon as I can. But currently sitting top of the list :

Malawi – I have spent a lot of time here but my boyfriend has never been and I am desperate to take him and hope he falls in love with it the same way I have.

Amalfi coast road trip – we are both desperate to do this, hire an Italian sports car and live the Insta life.

Deep South states – I need to do another research trip and the deep southern states are calling my name. I am thinking of taking a month and pootling around Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas…

For more from Hannah Gregory, check out her travel-inspired food tips over here – including how to craft the perfect hotel club sandwich dupe! Hannah will also be appearing in our next print volume STAYCATION, out in early January.

Follow Hannah @wandersups

Check out WanderSups to create your own travel-inspired dining experience.

Travelling to a private island sounds like the epitome of luxury travel. What could be more relaxing than exploring an unspoilt tropical island, snorkelling in the sea and looking for shells along the powdery white beach? Whilst many people assume that the dream of private island travel is out of reach, some private island resorts are surprisingly affordable. In reality, there’s a private island for everyone, with many catering to families and groups of friends as well as affluent couples. Here are some of the best…

1. Tetiaroa, French Polynesia

Accessed by a seven-seater private plane or helicopter, Tatiaroa is a string of 12 islands a located 30 miles north of Tahiti. On one of these islands, you’ll find The Brando – a luxury resort made up of 35 beachfront villas. The rest of the atoll is untouched.

Tetiaroa was purchased by actor Marlon Brando in 1966 after he visited Tahiti to film Mutiny on the Bounty. Today’s resort, which opened in 2014, seeks to continue his vision that this dream atoll remains unspoilt. The resort is exquisitely Polynesian and has beautiful white-sand beaches where you can spot sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds.

Each guest is provided with their own bicycle to explore the island, and families are welcome to stay too.

2. Cayo Espanto, Belize

Cayo Espanto is a private island resort located just off the coast of Belize which features just seven villas. It’s accessed via a seven-minute boat ride from San Pedro, Belize’s second largest island. Just four acres in size, the island has the feel of a castaway dessert island, but with more than a hint of luxury.Each bohemian beach shack on the island features a large veranda where you can enjoy an evening meal, a modern outdoor shower and a private heated infinity pool.

Staff are summoned via a walkie talkie and arrange everything you could need, from arranging excursions via a helicopter to a babysitter for the night.

3. Beachcomber Island, Fiji

If the thought of a private island sounds a little dull, then you’ve never heard of Fiji’s Beachcomber island.Every night the music is pumping, the bar is open late and the dancefloor is packed until the small hours. In addition to a great party, you can also relax and enjoy the white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters that Fiji is famed for.

Perfect for couples, families and groups of friends alike, Beachcomber island has accommodation to suit all. Budget travellers and backpackers can stay in the 42-bed Grand Dorm, whilst families can enjoy a private lodge. For something special, opt to stay in an oceanfront bure just steps away from the beach.

Parents can enjoy two hours of free babysitting each evening and there are lots of activities for families to enjoy too such as mini golf, beach volleyball and dance competitions.

4. Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas

A handful of private islands are owned by cruise lines and are only accessible to cruise passengers. One such island is Royal Caribbean’s 140-acre island, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas. The island recently underwent a $200 million refurbishment which saw the addition of some incredible features including the tallest water slide in North America, a 1,600-foot zip line and the largest freshwater swimming pool in the Bahamas.

The island is only equipped for day visitors currently, with cruise ships docking at the island’s pier in the morning and departing in the evening. However, the cruise line is considering making the island available for overnight stays in the future.

This private island has something for everyone, with private luxury cabanas available to hire, a huge kids’ splash park with slides, water cannons and tipping buckets, and lots of beautiful beaches to enjoy.

Where would you choose?

Whether you have a Champagne lifestyle or a lemonade budget, there’s a private island for you. If you want total isolation, a non-stop party atmosphere, or something in between, a private island can provide everything you dream of for your next getaway. Which one would you choose?

This guest post was provided by Simon Hansen from Family Travel Planet.

Most of us spend our lives dressing up dolls in dresses, writing diary entries describing what our groomsmen or bridesmaids will wear, and dreaming up the most lavish of locations in which to say our “I do’s”. And, luckily, the globe is littered with paradisiacal islands that weave into any dream wedding stereotype, from white sand beaches on Fiji’s Turtle Island, to fantastical flora and fauna pouring out of Italy’s Borromean Islands. If you’ve always dreamt of a luxury wedding atop an island straight out of a glossy magazine, then here are some to cast your eye over…

Borromean Islands, Italy

Italy is famed for more than just its divine pizza and pasta past, but weddings galore too. If you’re craving a Clooney-esque extravaganza then why not head to the pretty Borromean Islands? Once described by Gustav Flaubert as ‘heaven on earth,’ the tiny islands reside on the Western side of Lago Maggiore and are speckled with palm trees, flora and fauna and lemon groves, making them utterly idyllic for the exchange of vows. Albeit optional, a championed place to say I do is the Stresa town hall, a former ancient fisherman house. Then, flee to the surrounding alcoves and expansive gardens – Flaubert wasn’t far wrong in his commendation.

Little Palm Island, Florida

Elegantly positioned just at the end of U.S. Highway 1 in the Lower Keys, Little Palm Island, Florida, ticks all the “when I grow up, I want to get married in…” boxes! The oasis oozes romance, with lagoon-style pools, deck side hot tubs, private beaches, and other paradisiacal elements to boot. The resort allows for guests 16 and above, so Flora the flower girl might have to stay at home or, alternatively, you can rent out the entire property for 41 to 60 guests. Either way, key lime pie is absolutely essential, as is snapping a photo by a palm tree for the Gram!

Cayo Espanto, Belize

The circumference of Cayo Espanto is peacefully littered with fishing boats and pontoons that stretch elegantly into the ocean. Located below Mexico, bear to Guatemala, this Caribbean spot in Central America captures sunrises and sunsets that are enough to blissfully distract any visitor. The luxury island makes for a perfect spot for those who want to stir away from tradition, with piers to put a ring on it on, and snorkelling on the second largest barrier reef in the world on offer. A fish supper will delight the taste buds for the post-ceremony meal as fresh catches are reeled in from fisher men bobbing up and down on the water.

Turtle Island, Fiji

There’s something oh, so alluring about Fiji. The name itself excites the wanderlust inside us as we dream of those wooden docks and blue seas. All in all, it’s a divine place for love birds to begin the creation of their nest, especially Turtle Island, an utterly dreamy South Seas island. And, it seems, the Fijians know a thing or two about holding an epic wedding ceremony. The bride arrives by raft and is carried in by two warriors to the sound of thundering drumbeats – no, we’re not kidding!

At the on-island resort, a maximum of 14 guests can stay, making it an idyllic destination for those who want an intimate, yet luxurious gathering. However, we must say we’re already cringing at the drama of whittling down the family and friends list! Further highlights, bar the highly Instagrammable destination itself, include canopied king beds, jacuzzis, and verandas that offer coveted South Pacific views.

Paradise Island, Bahamas

With a name like Paradise Island, you know you’re likely signing up for something pretty amazing, especially as this luxury oasis sits snug in the Bahamas. The Bahamas sells itself with turquoise waters and white sand beaches galore. The Atlantis is the ‘place to be seen’ wedding destination once there, oozing elegance across its 20 contrasting wedding and reception venues. Pad barefoot down to the beach, equipped with family, friends and Champers and enjoy a vow exchange on a secluded white sand beach, with tropical settings engulfing the surrounding areas. Simply dreamy!

The Isle of Mull, Scotland

Travel to The Isle of Mull and get married in the spellbinding Duart Castle. Home to sea, scrag and ancient structures, this island will see you lose your Wi-Fi but gain some epic images set against moody and creative backdrops. The Scottish island immerses you in all things nature, and the castle can be seen as you approach by sea. There are two gorgeous spaces for small ceremonies, The Sea and Drawing Room, or marry inside the beautiful Banqueting Hall that presents the Clan Maclean regalia. It’s a Game of Thrones-esque place to wed, and one that will inevitably take the breath away.

Level with me, did you give up chocolate for Lent? If so, I officially allow you to buy yourself the most beautiful easter egg you can find. While you aren’t allowed to eat it, you can marvel at its high-end design, bask in its shimmery glow and visualise the moment when the thing that was just-too-good-to-eat becomes the best thing you’ve eaten all year.

As usual, Pierre Herme Paris have pulled the (easter) rabbit out of the bag with their latest collection. You should head over to or, if you in London, head to one of the boutiques (Covent Garden or Belgravia) or the concession in Selfridges. In the meantime, here’s our top Easter artistic / chocolate feast picks:

This year, move over fluffy baby chicks, the hen is getting in on the Easter action. This piece isn’t just ridiculously tasty, with a strawberry couverture over the chocolate hen, but is inspired by the visionary 19th C sculptor François Pompon, making it a perfect objet d’art to have on the coffee table before you snaffle it on Easter Sunday. The collection of hens and rabbits range from £31 – £45 depending on the size and finish you want to admire at home.

If you are feeling super extra, and happen to have struck it lucky at the work bingo night, the Ouef Infiniment Grand, a limited edition for this year, weighing 25kg may be more your sort of thing. It’s created from Pure Origin dark chocolate from Brazil and homes 3kg of mini eggs alone. Weighing in price-wise at £1,700 you may decide to go for one of the smaller repo’s at £48 – £68 depending on the chocolate you plump for.

Finally, looking very mystical and volcanic, enters the Ouef Fragments Egg, which is also new for 2018. A glitzy egg peeks out from underneath the cracked chocolate exterior – teasing the added treasures (mini eggs, yas!) within. This one come in Pure Origin 64% cocoa dark chocolate from Belize, their signature milk chocolate and blond chocolate which promises notes of biscuit.

Here at House of Coco, we’re always on the go – but where do we go to really get away from it all? Idyllic in their isolation, these remote hotel resorts are set across the farthest-flung corners of the globe – offering the chance to truly disconnect from the daily grind alongside unique experiences at the edge of the world. Here are #TeamCoco’s top remote hotel escapes…

Manshausen Island, Norway

Set well above the arctic circle, this section of Norway’s northern coast is about as remote as it gets within Europe, so you’ll need to take 2 planes, a ferry and finally a small boat to reach the isolated private island of Manshausen. It’s here that polar explorer Børge Ousland, (the first person to reach the North Pole and to cross Antarctica in a solo unsupported expedition) chose to create a resort. With floor-to-ceiling windows that invite the outside in, these space-age cabins are designed to make the most of the sensational seascape. With the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in winter and experience the eerie Midnight Sun in summer, #TeamCoco can’t imagine a better place to cosy up.

Awasi Patagonia, Chile

Follow in the footsteps of Scottish explorer-babe Florence Dixie, who first pitched her tent beneath these peaks in 1878 and craft your own epic adventure at this Patagonian retreat. With just 12 design villas set among the pristine wilderness of the Torres del Paine mountain range, each rustic chalet offers luxe touches from cosy sheepskin rugs to a woodburning stove and hot tub. Your own expert guide and 4×4 mean you can explore at your own pace – whether that’s off-roading, puma-spotting or simply taking in the snow-capped scenery.

Mowani Mountain Lodge, Namibia

Deep in Namibia’s desolate Damaraland, this mountain escape feels like you’ve landed on the surface of the moon. Set among an otherworldly landscape of giant granite rock formations it’s easy to see why Mowani means ‘window on heaven’ in Swahili, with thatched bungalows that unzip entirely to maximise the mountain views. Daily safaris offer a chance to see rare desert-adapted elephants and while you won’t find any wifi, this blissfully far from civilisation you’re in for some of the starriest skies to be seen on earth.

Blancaneaux Resort, Belize

A remote rainforest haven in the lush jungles of Belize, Blancaneaux is made up of 20 cabanas dotted alongside the Privasson River in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest. The man responsible for such a cinematic setting? Renowned filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who discovered the property in the early ’80s – keeping it as his family’s private retreat until 1993 when it opened to the public. You can check out nearby Mayan ruins, but the real appeal here is total immersion in nature, whether that’s swimming in waterfalls, exploring the jungle on horseback or simply sitting on your deck at dawn listening to the sounds of the jungle.

Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi

Set in a stretch of desert so desolate it’s known as ’The Empty Quarter’, Anantara’s Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort is an oasis of Middle Eastern opulence. Deep in the planet’s largest uninterrupted desert, this fortress mirage feels a million miles from anywhere, surrounded by an ever-shifting sandscape. Despite its isolation from the outside world, you won’t forego a single luxury here, with plush pool villa, a seriously sophisticated spa and the option to dine in your own Bedouin tent (swoon). #TeamCoco recommend exploring the dunes at dawn by 4×4, followed by a dune-top picnic.