Wondering where to hang out with monkeys in the Caribbean? These all-inclusive resorts are all in prime primate territory…
Hotel Xcaret – Riviera Maya
The Hotel Xcaret is surrounded by impressive gardens, natural river formations and a private cove, where even a short stroll might result in a monkey encounter. But if your casual strolls aren’t proving successful, you can head over to Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park, which is just a short gondola ride away from the resort (or you can take a luxury air-conditioned bus for a quicker ride). Head to the park’s Monkey Island and you’re guaranteed to see the resident spider and howler monkeys. Other Park residents include sharks, dolphins, jaguars, manatees, turtles, butterflies, flamingos and more.
Iberostar Tucán, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Up the coast from Occidental at Xcaret is the Iberostar Tucán, which has its very own rainforest refuge. During a walk through the on-site reserve you might pass a turtle or two and stumble across a royal palm turkey. You’re also likely to spot howler monkeys (see image above), who live here year-round. If you’re extra lucky, you might see them out with their babies. And if you’re wondering what’s making that strange noise outside your balcony, well, howler monkeys weren’t named for their discreet social interactions.
Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, Tulum, Mexico
The Grand Bahia Principe Tulum is the perfect place for mixing classic all-inclusive relaxation with cultural excursions (the Yucatán Peninsula is a great place for history buffs) and wildlife encounters. It’s one of the best all-inclusives in the Caribbean for swimming with dolphins, and it’s also within easy reach of prime monkey territory. From the resort you can set off to the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve on a jeep safari in hope of spotting wild howler and spider monkeys. The Grand Bahia Principe Tulum is also the closest all-inclusive resort to the acclaimed The Jungle Place (thejungleplace.com), which is just 20 minutes away. This sanctuary takes care of endangered spider monkeys who have fallen victim to the illegal pet trade, poaching and habitat destruction. Make sure you book in advance.
Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa, Barbados
Pick up the all-inclusive package at the Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa and prepare for full relaxation. And monkeys. Green monkeys, to be precise. These curious primates are not native to Barbados, but came to the island in the 17th century via slave trade ships from West Africa. Green monkeys are also not green, which is a shame. You’ll see them hanging out across the property, but for even more wildlife-spotting head to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, located just a few miles east of the Sugar Cane Club. The reserve is home to free-roaming green monkeys, maras (strange rabbit-like creatures that aren’t actually rabbits), brocket deer and iguanas.
Oualie Beach Resort, Nevis
Oualie Beach Resort isn’t a full all-inclusive resort, but it does offer a package designed for guests who want all meals paid for upfront, as well as unlimited beer, house wines and most mixed drinks. And when you stay on Nevis, you’ll be in the realm of the vervet monkey. Like the green monkeys on Barbados, the vervet monkey isn’t a native, having also arrived on slave ships from West Africa. But they’ve done well adapting to their new home, so much so that they’re often seen as a nuisance. Vervet monkeys, thousands of which now roam freely on the island, like to head out on raiding parties to steal crops from farms and orchards. To see these monkeys in a more natural state away from human settlements, you can hike up into the mountain forests where they live.
Belizean Dreams Resort, Belize
For unadulterated Caribbean-coast wildlife excursions, it’s hard to beat Belize. With an all-inclusive package at the Belizean Dreams Resort you’ll be just a short hop from pristine rainforests teeming with wildlife, including howler monkeys and gangly but beautiful spider monkeys. Belizean Dreams offers a whole bunch of tours including jungle hiking, wildlife-spotting cruises on the Sittee River, and boat trips down Monkey River in search of the black howler monkey. And for extra adrenaline in the jungle, Belizean Dreams is also one of the top all-inclusive resorts for zip lining.