Hierve el Agua: Petrified Waterfalls

Sometimes nature will play tricks on your eyes. You think you see something from far away, but then you get up close and see that it is something else entirely. In the case of Hierve el Agua, when you first see it from a distance, it looks like huge, beautiful waterfalls. Then, you get closer and discover that it is actually not water at all, but calcified rock formations, and still beautiful to behold.

“When you arrive at Hierve el Agua you’ll see what appear to be a massive waterfalls frozen to the side of the mountain. These are actually natural mineral formations that have built up over thousands of years as a result of the mineral-laden water spilling over the edge of the cliff and trickling down the rocky mountain side.”

The Mexican state of Oaxaca is the home of the famous petrified waterfalls. From Oaxaca de Juárez (Oaxaca City) it is about a 1 hour 40 minute drive to Hierve el Agua. Adventure travelers who have been there before advise using shared taxis or taking advantage of tour companies. If you drive your own car, it is possible you’ll run into hazards that might add some frustration and wasted time to your trip.

Waterfalls Made of Rock

When you get there, you’ll find a natural wonder that doesn’t appear just anywhere. The more common form of these rock formations is what happens inside a limestone cave. Stalactites form underground as water seeps through the rock and drips, leaving a calcium carbonate deposit.

The petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua formed as water exited the cliff and deposited calcium carbonate on the side of the mountain. Over thousands of years the “waterfalls” grew in length and breadth, leaving an incredible sight to see for locals and travelers alike.

Hierve el Agua is Spanish for “the water boils.” This is misleading because there is no hot water boiling involved in the making of these “waterfalls.”

“Presently there are two falls to visit, a larger (called cascada grande) and a small one (called, you know it, cascada chica).”

Just above the two waterfalls are two mineral pools, a popular swimming hole for hot visitors. One travel blogger recommended arriving early because it is so popular and there are more crowds in the afternoon. Arriving early also might lead to a sighting of “the mighty Zopilotes, a Mexican condor-like creature.”

“Sometimes nature creates counterfeits: a fish that looks like a plant, a fruit that looks like a vegetable, or in the case of Mexico’s Hierve El Agua, a rock formation that looks like a waterfall.”

Come see one of nature’s illusions in Mesoamerica. Put this amazing destination on the list as a Must Do when you’re in Oaxaca.

Where to Stay

Casa Divina Oaxaca is a charming and intimate resort located four blocks from the many fascinating historic sites and wonderful restaurants of downtown Oaxaca. The resort, located within a lovingly restored 19th-century Oaxacan home, reflects the culture of this fascinating city. Authentic Oaxacan art hangs from sun-dried clay walls, making Casa Divina Oaxaca truly feel like a home away from home. Oaxaca is a historic and cultural marvel famous for its spectacular architecture and delicious food. Immerse yourself in this magical place at Casa Divina Oaxaca.

Kona for the Daring

Kona, Hawaii, is already known for its beaches and sunsets. The Big Island is also famous for its coffee. But not everyone knows that this is also a nature lover’s paradise. If you have an affinity for animals and love opportunities to interact with them, you can take advantage of two unique farms in Kona.

Seahorses, Octopuses and Manta Rays Up Close

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is a 29-minute drive north of Kona Reef Resort, and a visit is so worth it! Featuring 15 species of seahorses, this farm is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Visitors can actually touch seahorses, allowing them to wrap their powerful tails around friendly fingers. The farm also sells seahorses and educates potential owners on how best to care for these delicate creatures.

Just down the road from the seahorse farm is Kanaloa Octopus Farm. The marine biologists here have created a safe environment where man and octopus can coexist. Here visitors can marvel at the personality, camouflage, and quirkiness of various species of octopus.

“Overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution – all equally responsible for the tragic decline in octopus populations all over the world. At Kanaloa Octopus Farm, we strive to provide a sustainable source of live cephalopods.”

Manta rays at first glance might seem a bit large and scary, but watching them glide through the water puts your mind at ease as they feed on plankton (not human divers thankfully!). Big Island Divers have several charters for viewing manta rays. Their charters are for snorkelers or certified scuba divers. Either way, divers will get a nighttime show of fish and manta rays in their natural environment.

Be in awe of the majestic manta ray in this video shot in Kona in 2015.

Explore on Foot or on Horseback

Whether you take a guided tour of a volcano or just explore the island on your own, hiking is the best way to visit places few tourists will ever see. The Big Island has eight out of the 13 worldwide defined climate zones. This makes the Big Island diverse – you’ll find something different on every hike. If you prefer the expertise of local guides, you can sign up for hikes that take you into Volcano National Park in search of molten lava. Don’t worry – it’s probably safer than it looks in the movies.

There are also several tour companies that offer horseback riding tours. Paniolo Adventures and Na’alapa Stables are just two examples that give daily excursions for all ages.

“The scenic open landscapes here are great for horse-powered adventures, and did you know that the island of Hawaii has a rich equestrian history including Hawaiian Cowboys?”

The Big Island of Hawaii was made for adventure travel. You can swim, snorkel, dive, hike, ride horses, ride in helicopters, and just about anything else you can think of. The unique animal farms and lava tours are not easily found in other places. So when you’re in Kona, consider going beyond the normal tourist activities.  Be daring!

Where to Stay

Kona Reef is a comfortable four-story resort located on the lush western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The resort features a swimming pool, hot tub, and barbecue grills, and each unit has either a patio or balcony where from most you can enjoy views of a verdant garden or the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Kona Reef is just a 10 minute walk from the historic fishing village of Kailua Kona, a quaint town home to many wonderful restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.

 

An American Gem: Joshua Tree National Park

The U.S. National Park Service has done a great service to mankind and planet Earth in their efforts to preserve and protect our treasured landscapes and wildlife, and educate others in the process. When you visit a national park, you are immediately impressed by the natural beauty and commitment to Leave No Trace principles the park rangers instill in all their guests.

YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS VIDEO:

Joshua Tree National Park is one such place where man, wildlife, and God’s green earth come together for a common purpose. Located in Palm Springs, California, the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center is only a 49-minute drive from Cimarron Golf Resort. Joshua Tree is the 15th largest national park with 790,635 acres. In 2016, it was the 11th most visited national park with 2,505,286 visitors.

What makes Joshua Tree such a great place to visit?
The main attraction: wilderness.

“Joshua Tree provides habitat for 813 higher plant species, 40 reptile species, 41 mammal species, and 240 bird species.”

In addition to the wilderness of this desert destination, the park “protects over 700 archeological sites, 88 historic structures, 19 cultural landscapes, and houses 230,300 items in its museum collection.” Joshua Tree park officials work hard to preserve both natural history and human history and culture of the thousands of people who have lived here in the last 5,000 years.

With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that visitors have flocked to Joshua Tree in recent years. In fact, the past two years have seen an increase of 60% more visitors, a trend that has the attention of park officials. More visitors means more staff, more crowds in the gift store, and more parking needed.

Leave No Trace

These kinds of crowds make the Leave No Trace principles all the more important. Outdoor ethics is something for every visitor to the natural habitat of plants and animals, whether in a national park or not. Conservation is not just for wildlife experts. The National Park Service recommends we follow these guidelines to enjoy the outdoors responsibly:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

More on LEAVE NO TRACE

For more information, watch this video (9:42 in length).

Joshua Tree National Park has so much to offer: hiking, beautiful American deserts, rare animal and plant species, American Indian history, and views every outdoorsman can appreciate. Adventure travelers should make Joshua Tree a high priority on their list of sites to visit. It’s the American West in a more primal state.

Where to Stay

Gorgeous mountain views and nearly year-round sunny weather make Palm Springs, California, a veritable golfing paradise. Stay at Cimarron Golf Resort and you’ll be just steps away from two of the best courses in Palm Springs. Spend a few hours on the golf course and return to the resort, where you can relax in the on-site swimming pool and hot tub or unwind in your comfortable home away from home.

Independence Day Celebrations

Where will you be on the 4th of July this year? Do your plans include mouth-watering barbeque, rugby games, beer gardens, and a rodeo? If not, you may want to consider spending United States Independence Day 2017 at some of your favorite Travel Raintree destinations.

Telluride: Small town America

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than in small town USA? If you’re in Telluride for the holiday, plan to spend the day downtown to catch all the action. Telluride Foundation’s Rundola starts the day with an uphill foot race that parallels the gondola route. The big parade is at 11:00 a.m., which includes “homemade floats, music, and an airplane fly-over provided by volunteers from the Colorado National Guard.” The Firemen’s BBQ and family games in the park will fill your afternoon, and the fireworks show caps off the day with an explosion of color over the night sky of the San Juan Mountains.

“4th of July in Telluride is small-town American at its finest. We really do it up here — running races, parade, BBQ, family games in Town Park, airplane flybys, and fireworks.”

Stay: Franz Klammer Lodge

Franz Klammer Lodge is located in the mountains above Telluride, a small but eclectic town that is an ideal year-round destination. Visit the town in the summer and you’ll find world-class mountain biking trails, golf courses, skate parks, and much more.

STAY: The River Club

An elegant western-style aesthetic and plenty of living space make The River Club one of the best places to stay in Telluride, Colorado.

 

Park City: Historic Main Street

Spend the fourth of July in Park City and you’ll be joining the locals in their favorite Independence Day traditions. Get up early and take advantage of the pancake breakfast in City Park at 7:00 a.m. An hour later runners will take their mark for the Cole Sport 5K Mountain Fun Run. Throughout the day you’ll have no trouble finding great food (barbeque), live music, children’s activities and rugby games. The 81st Annual Oakley Rodeo is sure to wow its fans and bring on the laughs as the cowboys and clowns take on the broncos and bulls. In the evening, Park City Mountain Resort hosts a free concert followed by a fireworks show.

“Take in a show, catch the rodeo, or an outdoor concert, enjoy 4th of July Parade on Park City’s Historic Main Street including a 5k run, pancake breakfast, parade, live music, rugby games, and beer gardens.”

Stay: The Miners Club

The Miners Club is a cozy upscale resort perfect for your next vacation in Park City. Simply walk out The Miners Club’s front door and you’ll be just steps away from the Waldorf Gondola, which you can ride to Canyons Resort.

Stay: Park Plaza

Park Plaza is a quiet family friendly resort that combines the very best of urban vacationing while offering easy access to Park City, Utah. Book your next stay at Park Plaza and you’ll be less than two miles from Park City’s Main Street, where you’ll find many of the town’s fantastic restaurants, bars, and shops.

 

Jackson Hole: American West

Has the American West been tamed? Come to Jackson Hole to find out! Their 4th of July celebrations start with a street breakfast off Town Square, followed by the Howdy Pardners Ambassador Club Fourth of July Parade starting on Snow King Avenue. Put on your cowboy hat and fix your spurs for the Town Square Shootout, “a lively reenactment of frontier justice on the Jackson Town Square in what is the longest, continuously running shootout show in the country!” After the shootout, everyone will make their way to the Teton County Fairgrounds to watch the Jackson Hole Rodeo. You can choose between two fireworks shows starting at 10:00 p.m.: Snow King Mountain or Teton Village.

“The 4th of July Rodeo is a fine western tradition and a wonderful way to spend an evening as the sun sets over the Teton Range.”

Stay: Teton Club

Teton Club combines unparalleled luxury with rustic Western aesthetics to create an unforgettable vacation experience. The resort is located in Teton Village in the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, widely considered one of the best skiing destinations in North America.

Must Do’s in Puerto Vallarta

Travelers finding themselves in Puerto Vallarta enjoy the views, beaches, breezes, and friendly atmosphere of this Mexican town. Whether they come for relaxation or for exploration, Puerto Vallarta has so much to offer both the casual stroller and the determined adventurer. Consider these places and activities for your bucket list when you come to this coastal city.

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Formerly ranch property, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens are a spectacle of green beauty with their lush walkways, plethora of orchids, and acres of vegetation and tropical hardwood trees. Featuring tabebuia (“trumpet trees”), Blue Agave plants, a native oak collection, seasonal flowers, and an aquatic plants pond, visitors delight in the care and attention given to the gardens. This is the oasis in a hot land. When you’re in Puerto Vallarta, you must make some time to appreciate the orchids.

“More orchid species are found in Jalisco than in any other Mexican state. A current goal is the creation of the National Collection of Mexican Orchids, the most complete collection of Mexican orchids anywhere in the country.”

Many orchids having magnificent blooms at #vbgardens


El MalEcÓn

It’s not exactly a crime, but if you come to Puerto Vallarta and don’t spend an afternoon strolling on the Malecón, you have practically committed one. What makes this main street so special? Art. Artists. Street performers. Views of the ocean. Shopping. Statues. Outdoor cafes. This is the place to walk – over 80% of it is strictly for pedestrians.

“This seaside strollway is a great place to experience what makes PV so Mexican. In the past, the local social life in town centered around the main square, then later in the 1930’s along the malecon . . . ‘Malecón’ is the Spanish name for an ‘esplanade along a waterfront.”

And if you’re into nightlife, the Malecón is the place to be after 10:00 p.m. There are also daily performances of the Voladores de Papantla – a cultural presentation not to be missed.

Los Arcos National Marine Park

Located 39 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta, Los Arcos (the Arches) National Marine Park is a protected marine preserve. This conservation area is the best place for scuba diving and snorkeling because it has such deep tunnels and incredible beauty to enjoy. The park consists of several small islands (granite formations) with arches that kayaks and canoes (or swimmers) can pass through. Tropical fish abound here – perfect for underwater cameras.

Zona Romantica

The Romantic Zone is the old part of Puerto Vallarta. This is Viejo Vallarta (Old Vallarta) where you’ll find cobblestone streets, cute shops that sell just about everything, and plenty of places to eat, drink, and dance. Not only is this one of the best places to get a taco, but at the southern end of Zona Romantica is Playa Los Muertos, or “Dead Man’s Beach.” Here you can parasail, swim, hang out at a beach bar, and build sand sculpture masterpieces. At night the pier lights up, creating a romantic atmosphere of color and sea breezes. Tianguis Cultural is the Old Town Farmers Market, open on Saturdays from November to April.

“Over 100,000 national and international shoppers peruse the over 80 vendor booths of this ‘producer only’ market.”

Where to Stay

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta is located between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay. It is within walking distance of the marina.

Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta is located in Marina Vallarta.  All units in the Mediterranean style resort offer pool views and some offer marina views as well.

Day Trips from Club Regina Resorts

Staying at a Club Regina resort in Mexico packs plenty of opportunity for fun, relaxation, and great food. But during your stay you might also want to get out and explore the surrounding areas, taking day trips to coastal towns nearby, lounging on a hidden beach, or snorkeling among coral reefs.

Whether you’re in Baja California Sur, or Puerto Vallarta, or on the east coast in Cancun, consider these day trips for a travel adventure in Mexico. You can dive deeper into the history and culture of Mexican peoples, or strap on a mask and navigate the waters on the coast. Whatever you choose, your experience will only add to your appreciation and love for Mexico.

Todos Santos

Guests at the Club Regina Los Cabos resort might want to make room in their vacation for a day trip to Todos Santos, a 1 hour 21 minute drive northwest from the resort. Todos Santos is known for its adobe and brick buildings. After Mexican authorities designated the town as one of the country’s Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns), money has been invested to help develop the town and preserve its history. Originally founded as a mission in 1724, Todos Santos has that old world charm you don’t find just anywhere.

“But climb the hill to its old colonial center with its mission church and blocks of restored buildings, and the Todos Santos that is gaining rave reviews in tourism circles is revealed.”

Stay: Club Regina Los Cabos

Club Regina Los Cabos’ is just a short drive from San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos’ two main towns. The resort sits at the intersection of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, a major migratory site for whales and dolphins.

Bucerías

You can get to Bucerías from Club Regina Puerto Vallarta in just 31 minutes. When you get there, you’ll find miles of sandy beaches, old mission-style churches, and an art walk in the evening. Located on Banderas Bay, Bucerías derives its name from the Spanish word for “diving.” Some of the first inhabitants were oyster fisherman, who used simpler methods with handheld instruments.

Travelers who spend some time in Bucerías always note the cobblestone streets and the slower pace of life here. But that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things to do. Whale watching, deep sea fishing, spotting sea turtles, and becoming acquainted with the Blue Footed Booby (bird) are just some of the ways you can connect with nature here. Islas Marietas is a 20 minute boat ride away, an island with “underwater caves, reefs, and neat tunnels.”

“Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets in Bucerías, it’ll be like a stroll back in time, enjoy the colorful houses, where people will greet you while they talk to their neighbors, . . . art galleries, a local market with many Huichol works of art and even small eateries where you’ll be offered fresh oysters off their shell, maybe you’ll feel tempted to stay there more than a day.”

Stay: Club Regina Puerto vallarta

The resort offers comfortable amenities, on-site dining, and easy beach access right in the exclusive Marina Vallarta.

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta

 

villa vera puerto vallarta

The resort is located near the restaurants and bars of the exclusive Marina Vallarta just a few miles from Puerto Vallarta’s beaches and best attractions.

Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta

Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta

Garrafon Natural Reef Park

Isla Mujeres is a long, skinny island just a 25-minute boat ride across the sea from Cancun. When staying at Club Regina Cancun, day-trippers often beckon to the call of the underwater wonders and exotic beaches of Garrafon Natural Reef Park on Isla Mujeres.

Named for the beautiful coral reef, Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers an all-inclusive package for a day trip. Spending a day to escape and take in the natural beauty around you has never been so easy. Visitors pay an entrance fee which gives them access to bungee jumping, ziplining, the “Blue Eye Cave,” snorkeling, the Sculpture Garden, kayaks, hammocks, an infinity pool, and guided tours. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., if you plan it right, you can experience the whole park in a fun-filled day.

Stay: Club Regina Cancún

The resort is located near the gorgeous beaches, high-end shopping malls, and upscale restaurants of Cancun’s famous Hotel Zone, as well as stunning Mayan ruins and traditional Mexican towns. 

Club Regina Cancun

Club Regina Cancun

 

Eco Friendly and Stylish: Summer Must-Haves

It probably doesn’t surprise you, but many of the products we use while traveling can hurt the environment. Thankfully, summer vacation does not have to be synonymous with words like wasteful, harmful to the earth, or filling up landfills. As a consumer, you have the power to make a difference by choosing biodegradable products, using products made from sustainable resources, and following the principle of “Leave No Trace.”

Don’t feel like you need to revolutionize your spending habits. Just tweak them a little. If everyone was a little more thoughtful about Planet Earth this summer, it could make a huge difference. When you’re traveling this summer, or even in the planning stages, consider some of these products to help reduce waste and be a little more eco-friendly.

Sunscreen

When you’re snorkeling among the coral, or just swimming in your favorite bay, you need protection from the sun. But not all sunscreens are equal. Some are known to hurt the coral and other sea life because they are made from oils that don’t break down.

“Sunscreens are one of the biggest causes of bleaching to our reefs, and the death of much of the world’s coral.”

Look for sunscreen products that specify they are safe for the marine ecosystem. Mexitan is a company that offers such products. Their sunscreens and tanning oils are biodegradable, not tested on animals, and are safe for coral and fish.

Mexitan Coral Safe

Watches & Sunglasses

It may not be quite the fashion statement, but Sprout has developed eco-friendly timepieces. They saw the need because when a watch breaks, usually people just throw it away, adding to our landfills. Instead, if you lose or throw away a Sprout watch, it will not harm the environment because it is made with sustainable elements like “corn resin, bamboo, cork, and organic cotton.”

Sprout Watches

Also, think about how many pairs of sunglasses you’ve owned over the years. What happened to them all? It’s likely they broke or were lost. When you think about the impact on nature, you realize that companies like Zeal Optics are seeing the bigger picture. It’s possible to make a great product and protect the environment, too. Check out their sunglasses and goggles, made with plant-based materials.

Zeal Optics

Diapers

When traveling with children this summer, it is inevitable that some families will use a lot of diapers. What if someone made diapers that were environmentally-friendly? Would you consider using them? Well, the first option is cloth diapers of course. But if you’re looking for disposable diapers, consider Bambo Nature Disposable Diapers. They are 100% free of chemicals, allergen-free, additive-free, and friendly to the environment.

“Diapers release volatile organic chemicals. Toxic chemicals such as toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene have been linked to adverse health effects in humans with long-term exposure.”

Bambo Nature

Travel Journal

Jotting down notes “along the way” is both fun and creative. It helps you remember your experiences, capturing those moments in a way that a camera just can’t. Why not choose a journal that is made with sustainable resources? Paperblanks is one possibility. They make journals with Planet Earth in mind, by using “acid-free, sustainable forest paper and 100% recycled binder boards.”

Paperblanks

 

As you’re out and about this summer, think of your vacation as a way to enjoy the earth, while preserving it, too.

Travelers aren’t always known for being kind to the environment. Won’t it feel good to know that you can make a difference for the earth and for the generations to come?