Snorkeling adventure at Maui’s Molokini Crater and Turtle Town

We asked Instagrammer michaeldizon to take us along as he and his wife Niki and kids Jake and Liam explored the Hawaiian Islands in December. Here’s their trip report:

Snorkeling is one of those activities that everyone in our family could do. With two kids in tow (one 8 and the other 11), it was a great way to kick off our stay in Maui. Quicksilver was easy to find in the Harbor. After signing a waiver form, we boarded their boat and enjoyed a continental breakfast while receiving instructions from the crew about safety and how to put on the equipment.

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Our first stop was Molokini Crater, which was roughly a 20-minute boat ride from the harbor. The water was cool and clear – perfect conditions for snorkeling. Donning the snorkel mask and fins make you superhuman; not only can you breathe underwater, but you get more power out of your kicks when you swim. To make it easier, we put on flotation devices around our waists, which made our one-hour stay at the crater less strenuous.

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And one hour was the perfect amount of time for us. At that point we boarded the boat and were ready to go to our second location, Turtle Town. En route, the crew served a buffet-style lunch of pulled-pork sandwiches, potato salad and drinks. Afterward, a crew member passed out home-baked chocolate chip cookies, which was a nice treat and gave us the energy we needed for our last stop.

Turtle Town was less deep than Molokini Crater, and that allowed us to get closer to the coral and see the underwater life. Like its name suggests, it’s a popular spot for turtles, but we weren’t so lucky that day and didn’t encounter any. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful spot where the world underwater is just as colorful and vibrant as it is above the surface.

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Jungle Valley Adventure with Princeville Ranch Adventures Part II: Zipping through the air with the greatest of ease

We asked Instagrammer michaeldizon to take us along as he and his wife Niki and kids Jake and Liam explored the Hawaiian Islands in December. Here’s their trip report:

One of the most popular activities offered in tropical destinations is ziplining. In theory, it sounds insane: Strap yourself into a harness, connect that harness to a wire strung high between two trees, and jump, hoping that wire and that harness will get you safely to the next platform.

In reality, ziplining is … awesome. It’s safe, fun, requires just about zero athletic ability, and makes you sound cool to friends and family alike. And anyone can do it, from my 8- and 11-year-old sons to my 70-something parents.

During our trip to Kauai, my family signed up for Princeville Ranch Adventure’s Jungle Valley Tour, which combined ziplining through the rainforest with more mild-mannered adventuring such as kayaking, hiking, and swimming. This was the part of the tour my sons were most excited about, and it did not disappoint.

Our guides, experts in the flora and fauna of Kauai, also turned out to be experts in ziplining. They cleverly didn’t tell us we were hiking up to the lines until there we were, 60 feet above the rainforest without even realizing it. They helped us into our harnesses, secured us with two lines for safety, and eased our fears. After one guide zipped across to wait for us on the next platform, it was our turn. IMG_0013

My kids, who had never ziplined, jumped up to the front of the line and whooped and hollered their way across the rainforest. Then it was my turn. Do I step off? Jump? Ease my way down? Finally, after the guide jokingly said he would push me after the next question, I jumped – and suddenly was whizzing high above the trees, feeling free and exhilarated.

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At the next platform, we did it all over again, this time with everyone – including me – eager to go first!

Jungle Valley Adventure with Princeville Ranch Adventures Part I: Hiking, kayaking, and a hidden swimming hole

We asked Instagrammer michaeldizon to take us along as he and his wife Niki and kids Jake and Liam explored the Hawaiian Islands in December. Here’s their trip report:

Of all of Hawaii’s islands, Kauai is known for its bounty of natural beauty. Dozens of Hollywood movies have been filmed in Kauai, with its landscape filling in for everything from Jurassic Park to the alien lands of Avatar.

We decided that the best way to explore Kauai was to get up close and personal with the nature the island is known for. That’s where Princeville Ranch Adventures came in. The huge ranch offers a variety of tours including ziplining, ATV off-roading, and horseback riding. We chose the Jungle Valley Adventure, a five-hour tour that included a little bit of everything: hiking, kayaking, ziplining, and a dip in a hidden swimming hole.

My family of four (including two adventurous boys ages 8 and 11) was welcomed to the town of Princeville by its natives – chickens! They roam freely on the ranch and in the nearby area, squawking away at everyone they meet. Our true welcome came once we found the ranch, where two friendly and knowledgeable guides were eager to get us started!

Word to the wise: Princeville Ranch Adventures rents hiking sandals for just $5, and it’s the best investment you can make. The hiking trails are MUDDY, which just adds to the adventure! We hiked up a hill and past some curious cows, taking in the breathtaking scenery as we made our way to a nearby stream.

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Kayaks awaited us at the stream, and the guides made it easy for the novices among us to figure out how to go with the flow as we glided to our next destination. A short hike later we were high above the rainforest and ready to zip through the trees (more on that in part two).

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Our adventure ended with a nice picnic lunch and a cool dip in a hidden swimming hole with a waterfall before we hiked and kayaked back to civilization. We explored many places in Hawaii, but our boys enjoyed this true adventure the most!

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Aloha Friday – Step Up Your Stay at Starwood Resorts in Hawaii (Mexico & the Caribbean too)

We are in the final booking week of Sunsational Savings at all Starwood Resorts!

Book by July 22 and travel July 1-December 15, 2013 and bask in the splendor of Starwood Resorts on the sun-drenched beaches of Mexico, the Caribbean and the Hawaiian Islands. Apple Vacations offers the most convenient and affordable ways to get there.

Apple Vacations is celebrating Starwood with a host of exclusive value-added extras like guaranteed room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts, food and beverage credits, spa discounts and more!

Click here for specific resort details.

And check out our Pinterest board featuring Starwood Resorts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Fourth of July from Apple Vacations!

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Oahu – Hawaii

Happy Fourth of July & It is #tbt (Throw Back Thursday). So I am re-posting my blog from last year featuring vacations that are Made In The U.S.A.
Enjoy!

I was in Macy’s this winter and a man came up to me and said “point me to the direction of clothes only made in the U.S.A,” that’s all he wanted to buy. The same applies to vacations. Some people want to keep their spending within the U.S. Others simply don’t have the funds for a vacation AND a passport.

I love traveling all over the globe, but for those who want to focus on travel within our beautiful country, this blog is for you. There are a variety of destinations Apple Vacations offers that are within the U.S. that I want to highlight. Imagine the fireworks, cook out’s and celebrations these destinations have to offer!

First up, is one of our most popular destinations and our 50th state – Hawaii. In Hawaii you can relax on just one island, or take a multi-island vacation and discover the unique characteristics of each. There is a perfect Apple Vacation for singles, couples, families, spa vacations, golf vacations and even girls getaways. Apple Vacations offers over 150 of the best hotels and condos on six islands to suit every preference and budget. Look to our Hawaii micro site to find the resort for you.

Hawaii is on my travel list! I can’t wait to go. I keep a book of the articles I read on Hawaii with the places I want to visit, hotels I want to stay at, islands I want to explore, food I want to try, and excursions I want to do. When I am ready to book, I’ll have it all ready.

Puerto Rico is another great choice. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, citizens of the U.S. are not required to carry a passport to enter Puerto Rico. When I was young, I remember my dad taking off each winter for a golf vacation to San Juan with his friends. It always sounded so amazing and exotic. After all, the island is known asthe island of enchantment”. Puerto Rico features world class resorts, championship golf, 300 miles of shoreline, fabulous shops, exciting nightclubs and casinos. The Latin flare in Puerto Rico inspires amazing cuisine as well.

“No Passport Required” is the slogan for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Apple Vacations offers Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas. The U.S. Virgin Islands offer pristine beaches, warm weather, and crystal-clear waters. They are also culturally diverse as residents are literally from everywhere including Africa, England, Holland, Denmark, Spain, France, India and the United States. Visit St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S.Virgin Islands and home to one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. The most visited port in the Caribbean, Charlotte Amalie is known as the shopping mecca of the Caribbean with its winding streets of world-class duty free shops. St. Croix Turtle Beach on Buck’s west end has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic. For a more laid-back vacation, bask in the mesmerizing natural beauty of St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a short ferry ride from St. Thomas. Two thirds of St. John is designated as a National Park, featuring spectacular trails, secluded coves and dazzling white beaches.

Last but not least, if the beach is not for you, head for the mountains. Apple Vacations offers ski & mountain vacations in 7 regions in 2 countries. Find the perfect one for you here.

Happy 4th of July to everyone!

Kaanapali Beach Hotel – a great choice for families in Maui

I wrote a resort review of The Kaanapali Beach Hotel. But, I also wanted to highlight why Kaanapali Beach Hotel is an excellent choice for family vacations.  Kaanapali Beach Hotel is a beautiful beach-front location. One of the best views and most picturesque beaches you can find, perfect for swimming and close to snorkeling.  But they also offer value, convenience, cultural activities and entertainment to keep families happy from the moment they arrive until it is time to depart.

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When I go on vacation, especially with my son, I like for our family to experience the local culture, food and traditions. I especially like for us all to learn something new about each place we visit. In Hawaii, a stay at Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel, will be a must for my family!

Kaanapali Beach Hotel offers a great program for children. It is an interactive family experience. Upon arrival, children 12 and under receive an Aloha passport with their Hawaiian Name and what it means.  Then, during their stay, children complete various activities throughout the resort.  Kids receive a makana (gift) for each completed activity. This creates fun for the entire family, and children get to take home their rewards. The resort employs full-time Hawaiian “Culture Advisors” (Alaka̕i) right on property. Children can learn about the history, language and traditions of Hawaii right within the resort.

In addition to the miles of amazing beaches and fun pools to keep the family happy,  Kaanapali Beach Hotel also offers daily Hawaiian activities including free lei making,  free hula lessons and free ukulele lessons. They also offer a complimentary welcome breakfast, complimentary Hawaiian Entertainment & Hula Show in the Tiki Courtyard, and Kids 5 and under eat free at the Tiki restaurant.  All of this will help the budget while keeping the family entertained.

Upon departure from resort, Kaanapali Beach Hotel offers a complimentary Kukui Lei Ceremony. Kukui Nut Tree is the State Tree. “Kukui” means Enlightenment. Kukui Nut Lei is part of the employee uniforms.  The staff explain why the Kukui nut is so important to the Hawaiian people then they sing and present a departure gift of a kukui nut lei’.

Kaanapali Beach Hotel was the only Hawaii hotel voted in “Top 10 Family Hotels” by Trip Advisor. Make sure you look into Kaanapali Beach Hotel, for your next stay in Hawaii.

 

Hot Wedding Destinations in 2013

 

Considering a destination wedding in 2013? These 5 romantic spots are ideal for tying the knot in style!

1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Caribbean islands are blessed with all the trappings for a spectacular destination wedding: powder-fine sand, crystal-clear waters and romantic resorts aplenty. But lately the tropic sun seems to shine brightest on the resort area of Punta Cana, thanks to new direct flights from wallet-friendly airlines AirTran and Frontier, it makes getting to this breathtaking (and affordable) stretch of paradise a cinch. The plethora of choices extends to lodging as well. No matter your style, there’s a resort for you: All-inclusive ease!  Resorts in this popular wedding locale come with staff planners to handle the work and packages that make pricing a breeze.

Travel Tip — Welcome your guest! Leave a gift bag in each room full of goodies for your guest. Don’t forget suntan lotion and trinkets to remind them of your wedding destination when they’re back at home.

2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Fiestas don’t get any more authentic than in Puerto Vallarta. It’s the perfect spot to welcome guests with icy margaritas and exchange “I do’s” as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Sheltered by the jungled landscapes of the Sierra Madre Mountains to the east with romantic views of the Pacific to the west, Vallarta provides an exotic blend of cosmopolitan culture, Mexican flavor and nature at her best. Vallarta is home to Banderas Bay, where you can enjoy the thrill of whales up close from December through April. Vallarta is divided into two general areas: Puerto Vallarta to the south and Riviera Nayarit to the north.

3. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Exchange vows on this island paradise where reggae, romance and the Caribbean sun come together. Pioneers of the all-inclusive vacation concept, you won’t find an island that does it better. For many, it’s positively addictive. The country’s pulsating heartbeat is embodied by soulful cuisine, lively reggae and generous smiles from locals who love to show off their country. Getting married here is so simple that more visitors than Jamaicans are wed on the island every year.

Travel Tip – Planning an off-season wedding or honeymoon (May – Dec) can help you save big on hotels & other costs. Jamaica’s tropical climate does not vary from season to season so marry in the “off-season” and save!

4. Maui, Hawaii – U.S.A.

Maui is a hassle-free place to make a tropical wedding a reality. Both independent wedding planners and onsite coordinators at big resorts can pave the way to I do. There are countless reasons brides and grooms flock to this ever-popular Hawaiian isle. For starters, everything about it seems to cater to couples seeking one romantic experience after another (think unlimited sunsets and picture-perfect beaches). Although Maui’s certain to exceed your expectations as a tropical paradise, its unique inland offerings will give you the opportunity to turn a fantastic beach vacation into an unforgettable adventure. Plus, with direct flights from the mainland, the island is easily accessible for wedding guests.

5. Riviera Maya, Mexico

This 112-mile stretch of coastal paradise, with its white sand beaches fronting turquoise waters, tropical jungles and ancient Mayan ruins, provides the perfect setting for your fairy-tale wedding and heavenly honeymoon.

Travel Tip – While a tropical climate might be great for your tan, it can wreak havoc on big, fluffy satin dresses. Consider lighter-weight fabrics, a shorter hemline or a strapless gown to keep you cool on your wedding day.