Babes in Mayaland

by Dave McBride

Since everything a kid does is life-shaping, there is plenty of shaping going on in an Apple Vacation to the Riviera Maya.

4a It was Bilbo Baggins who said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Outside the doors of the Now Jade all-inclusive resort, kids may be swept off to an ancient ruin, or to a water park for tubing, or to animal and bird preserves. Inside the doors of the resort, kids can swim with other kids in the pools or with turtles and rays in the blue-green Caribbean.

Kids who join the resort’s Explorer’s Club are afforded opportunities to build sand castles, camp out and even learn acrobatics on a bungee apparatus. Young Explorers have plenty of time for adventure even into the dinner hours while mom and dad are sharing some revitalizing alone time.


Parents may remember a visit to Mayan Mexico as a child’s introduction to the wider world. Let your kids know that living nearby are Yucateco Mayan children who are descendants of the people who built the pyramids and who would find things equally strange and interesting on your street back home. They see coatis and howler and spider monkeys as often as you see raccoons and squirrels. Instead of listening to the calls of birds like robins and crows, they hear the songs of painted buntings and toucans and motmots.


According to sociologists, Mayan children have traditionally engaged in less imaginary play than children in the US and Europe. Instead, their play mimicked the adult work they would be expected to do. They pretended to build, or weave, or cook, or wash clothes. Mayan kids learned useful abilities through play. And they were included in productive work in their communities as early as age 3 or 4. Additionally, more often than in the US, kids here would not be expected to play predominantly with other kids their own age. They were almost always in the company of older children and adults, and they acquired a growing self-worth observing and emulating grown-up behavior. By the age of 15, Mayan children would have been expected to be independent.

But change is coming to the Mayan family. Members of the Mayan community living west of Puerto Morelos acknowledge that their older village children are now moving to the town, where money can be made in tourism jobs and where they are not immune to digital technology. Increasingly, children from Mayan families are found with their faces focused on their phones. Smart phones and computers are among the factors fundamentally changing the traditional Mayan way of life.

Veteran Newsman Dave McBride is an award-winning news radio reporter, anchor and program director and creator of fan-favorite Dave’s Raves. Dave has received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Writing for Radio/Large Market and the 2010 and 2011 Murrow for continuing news coverage. He was awarded the New York Festivals World Gold Medal for Best Writing for Radio. In his first year in Florida he received the Florida AP award for Best Long Light Feature in both first and second place. Dave is currently based in South Florida.

The Top Family Vacation Spots For 2016

Summer vacation is right around the corner. Your kids are ready. Are you? Give yourself and your family a much needed break this year: no lunches to prepare, dishes to watch, clothes to clean, or beds to make. Just fun in the sun with your spouse and children. (P.S. These resorts have kid’s clubs so you can enjoy some alone time with your husband or wife).


Riviera Maya     Jamaica     Punta Cana     Bahamas

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Riviera Maya beach

South of Riviera Cancun, Riviera Maya is home to many of Mexico’s best hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Stretching 100 miles, the area offers endless white sand beaches, lush jungles and ancient Mayan cities.

Where To Stay

Grand Sunset Princess All Suite Resort

Grand Sunset Princess All Suite Resort

Complemented by natural surroundings of fascinating beauty, this impressive resort is located along a pristine white sand beach in Playa del Carmen and offers an unforgettable 24-hour all-inclusive vacation experience. The resort offers 7 a la carte restaurants including Mexican, Italian, Asian, and seafood. There are 12 pools including eight main pools and four kids’ pools. Kids also have their very own mini-club, and the teen club provides fun from 4pm until 11pm.

What To Do


Xcaret Park is an expansive eco-complex situated just off the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. Swim in underground rivers, snorkel in protected inlets, observe exotic animals in natural habitats and visit a cool coral reef aquarium in this fabulous park!


Runaway Bay, Jamaica

Boats in Jamaica

Nothing is a problem on this island paradise, where the sounds of soft reggae harmonize with the lapping waves on soft shores. The theme of every vacation, regardless of which corner of the island, is relaxation to the max.

Where To Stay

Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica

Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica

bahia logo

This spectacular Victorian-style resort is located on the beachfront in Runaway Bay. Both adults and children alike will enjoy the three interconnecting lake-style pools that surround the main building that includes two children’s sections and three Jacuzzis. Also included are free non-motorized watersports and a Mini-Club for kids 4-12.

What To Do

Dunn’s River Falls

The setting is truly breathtaking, and the incredible cascading falls challenge, refresh and delight visitors of all ages. Enjoy everyone’s favorite activity, which is climbing up the falls. This is relatively easy. But if you prefer, you can take a swim or walk alongside the river all the way to the top and appreciate the beauty of the tropical vegetation.


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana

Known best for its endless stretches of white sand beaches, Punta Cana is often referred to as the Coconut Coast. No resort in Punta Cana is higher than the highest palm tree, and there is no shortage of palms on the 40 miles of white sand beaches.

Where To Stay

Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe

Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe

At Barceló Bavaro Palace Deluxe, family is always first, with a full day’s activities awaiting your crew. Take the kids to the Barcy’s Kids’ Club where they will take part in games, movies, arts and crafts, and more. Come and practice your swing on the 18-hole miniature golf course, enjoy 4 swimming pools for all types of entertainment, and watch your children play on castles, water slides, and waterfalls at Barcy Water Park!

What To Do

Marinarium Tour

Set off in a glass bottom boat to the Marinarium Marine Park for a Punta Cana snorkeling adventure. After some time exploring the reef and underwater marine life of the Caribbean Sea, you’ll be given the opportunity to swim with nurse sharks and stingrays. But don’t worry! This shark and stingray excursion is completely safe!


Paradise Island, Bahamas


By far, sparkling turquoise waters and white sandy beaches stretching for miles have always been one of the most alluring features of The Bahamas. The ocean ranges from absolutely clear and colorless turquoise to all imaginable shades of blues.

Where To Stay


The Atlantis

Unleash a world of magic and wonder as you discover Atlantis, Paradise Island. World-class restaurants, luxury shopping, the Caribbean’s largest casino, fantastic water sports, thrilling slides and rides, Dolphin Cay, hundreds of species of sea animals at the Marine Habitat, and so much more, all ready to discover, right at your fingertips.

What To Do

Aquaventure at Atlantis

Atlantis Paradise Island’s water park is a one-of-a-kind 141-acre waterscape. This non-stop aquatic thrill ride features over twenty million gallons of water, incredible Atlantean-themed towers, thrilling high-speed water slides, a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas, a spectacular kids water-play fort and 11 unique and refreshing swimming pools.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).



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!



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.








Greetings from Sunny Puerto Vallarta!

Puerto Vallarta is a popular Apple Vacations destination.  It is about to become increasingly more popular with Apple Vacationers, as this winter we’ll  make it easier to get there from many popular U.S. gateways! Apple Vacations will offer NEW service from New York’s JFK and Philadelphia in addition to  flights from Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, together they provide an exotic backdrop and unique blend of culture, old world charm and nature at its finest.   It is a stunning destination.  Puerto Vallarta’s sunny weather is ideal for vacation planning with average temperatures in the mid-eighties year–round.

In addition to beautiful hotels, colonial architecture, and, of course, nice beaches, Puerto Vallarta has many unique features which keep visitors returning year after year.  A seasonal immensely popular favorite in Puerto Vallarta is Whale Watching.  Vacationers can watch whales up close in Banderas Bay from December through April.  It is a thrilling excursion which many destinations simply can’t offer, and many people schedule their Puerto Vallarta vacation during this time frame to ensure they can experience this marvel.   A year–round favorite in Puerto Vallarta is strolling The Malecon. The Malecon is where you can find open air cafés, boutiques, art galleries, local entertainment, dining and unique gifts.   When the sun goes down the nightclubs open and The Malecon is a fun evening attraction as well.

Puerto Vallarta is comprised of two major resort areas – Puerto Vallarta to the south and Riviera Nayarit to the north. Within each, you’ll find a unique destination with its very own personality and charm.  Stay tuned to this blog over the next few weeks as we point out some of the highlights of this enchanted destination from hotel reviews, to excursions to shopping tips. Apple Vacations Sales team just got back and gave me great information to tell you about!