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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Apple Vacations “People to People” Trip in Cuba!

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I recently had the opportunity to travel to Cuba on a “People to People” trip.

With the recent relaxation of regulations to obtain required licenses for travel to Cuba, the island nation has become more available to eager travelers from the United States. On our trip, we visited several different regions of the country, starting in Trinidad, then on to Cienfuegos (both in central Cuba). We also visited Havana and Old Havana (both in western Cuba).

It was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to share my blogs with you, including travel tips and highlights of each region.

First off, my overall impressions and favorite experiences in Cuba.

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Puerto Vallarta – Enhance the Experience

Puerto Vallarta has become a hugely popular international vacation destination.  Somehow, it magically combines all that is wonderful about Mexico; its people, its diverse cultures and architecture, its sheer beauty and its food and drink! From the bustling old village to the plush resorts of Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta has so much to offer. So when I visited last September, I knew I was going to have a lot of “MUST- DO” activities.  Without question I knew I was going to the Malecon. I wanted to take a walk on the cobblestone streets and visit the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is on nearly every post card from Puerto Vallarta.  I made a promise to myself that I would really embrace this destination and get out of the resort. I usually opt for the infinity pool or nice spot on the beach under a palapa. Not this time – I booked 3 excursions during my 4 day trip. (Plus a spa treatment at Pevonia while I was at Secrets Vallarta Bay).

Small Fishing town

Sayulita – Small Fishing & Surf town

My first excursion was to a fishing town on the coast of Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit/Nuevo Vallarta. We drove alongside the Banderas Bay, the Sierra Madre Mountains and arrived in Sayulita. It’s a laidback seaside surfer town. While walking around I saw tortillas being made from scratch for fresh fish tacos, visited a shop with some majorly cool Day of the Dead gear and had a piña colada on the beach while I watched blue-green waves crash in front of me.  Excursion #1, success!

 

Turtle Release

Turtle Release in Puerto Vallarta

It’s not just tourists that like the beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Sea turtles love them, too. I couldn’t wait to check out the Turtle Release at Dreams Villamagna Resort & Spa – Here’s how it worked…. A staff member explained how to handle the turtles with care. Everyone lined up parallel to the ocean and was instructed to walk 3 feet toward the water. Everyone was to release their turtle and step back to watch. It was hard not to smile as everyone observed these tiny turtles make their landmark journey to the sea. Excursion #2, success!

 

For my last excursion, I really got out of my comfort zone! I swallowed my fears and tried to brace myself for what I just agreed to with the Canopy Tour – Ziplining!  I could handle riding a mule back up the hill, it was getting down the hill on a metal wire that was freaking me out! O.M.G. I was so nervous, excited and filled with adrenaline at the same time.

Puerto Vallarta Ziplining

Puerto Vallarta Ziplining

“fly through a thrilling series of zip-lines, rappel down waterfalls, traverse jungle bridges and finally splash through streams and natural river pools. With some of Mexico’s highest and longest zip-lines, at almost 1,000 ft long and 250 ft high, it’s no wonder we call it one the greatest adventures on earth.” -Amstardmc.com

I still can’t believe I actually went through with it! But I have proof. Excursion #3, success!

Needless to say – I LOVE PUERTO VALLARTA. I highly recommend going and I can’t wait to go back. But please take my advice; get out of the resort and experience all of what this destination has to offer!