9 Ways to Explore Aruba

While Bluegreen Resorts offers spectacular vacation experiences throughout the United States and Caribbean, its resort in Oranjestad, Aruba, gives you access to the perfect combination of white sand beaches, desert landscapes, an exciting nightlife, and sparkling ocean waters. From Bluegreen’s La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, you can easily access all the island has to offer.

It’s possible to explore Aruba’s natural wonders and attractions by participating in the many tours and outdoor activities available in the area. Here are some of the ways to discover Aruba from every angle:

Paddle Board Tours

By joining a paddle board tour, you can explore various locations on Aruba while gliding over pristine waters on a stand up paddle board. There are numerous groups on the island that offer paddle board tours that help visitors discover lesser-known and more secluded parts of Aruba.

sunset on paddleboardFor example, one company leads a popular mangrove/eco tour in a quiet canal on the island’s south side. Paddle boarders can enjoy a relaxing paddle board experience as they catch glimpses of local fish, birds, and other wildlife. Along with the eco paddle board tour, you can give stand up paddle board yoga a try, or book a sunset tour to enjoy Aruba’s stunning sunsets from the northwest corner of the island.

Although there are many paddle board tour groups on Aruba, some of the most well known are Stand Up Paddle Aruba and Aruba Surf and Paddle School.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling tours are the best way to quickly immerse yourself in Aruba’s diverse marine life, which thrives in tranquil, turquoise waters. With a snorkeling tour led by a local tour company, such as Aruba Bob Snorkeling or Jolly Pirates Aruba, you can discover some of the best snorkeling sites on the island.

Novice snorkelers can explore Malmok Beach and the Boca Catalina Reefs, which feature calm and shallow waters that are home to triggerfish, colorful damselfish, starfish, sea urchins, and angelfish. For more experienced snorkelers, there are tours that explore Aruba’s most famous snorkeling and diving site, German Shipwreck Antilla. Snorkelers can get up close to the 400-foot WWII German freighter that rests 60 feet below the surface with part of its hull and masts jutting out of the water.

Submarine Tours

If you prefer exploring ocean waters without getting wet, Atlantis Submarines Aruba offers submarine expedition tours that dive up to 130 feet while bringing you alongside memorable marine life and two shipwrecks.

The tour lasts almost two hours in a submarine approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. During the tour, licensed and experienced crewmembers provide an entertaining and educational narration. The combination of amazing scenery and education make for one of the most unique tours available on the island.

 SEABOB Tours

For the underwater enthusiast who also enjoys speed, SEABOB tours are the ideal way to discover Aruba’s coral reefs, shipwrecks, and marine life. SEABOBs are eco-friendly vehicles that allow you to dive more than 130 feet and move through the water at almost 14 miles per hour.

On SEABOB tours, you can visit Aruba’s best sites for underwater exploration, including Malmok Beach, Boca Catalina, and Arashi Beach. SEABOBs are known for being safe and easy to use for people above the age of 12.

Sailing

sailing tourTo enjoy Aruba’s waters from the surface, you can book a trip aboard one of the many vessels in the area for a sailing adventure. A number of the sailing tours in Aruba allow you to dine and drink as you coast over smooth waters with views of white beaches. Some sailing tours also include time for snorkeling, fishing, and sunset views.

Bike Tours

Back on land, bike tours are one of the best ways to explore Aruba’s desert landscapes and rocky countryside. Tour groups, including Tromp Tours Aruba and Rancho Notorious Aruba, offer trips for riders of all skill levels, allowing you to get exercise and experience a wide range of beautiful scenery.

With Rancho Notorious Aruba, riders use ‘TREK’ aluminum mountain bikes to explore at least 11 miles of the island, passing numerous landmarks along the way. Rancho Notorious mountain bike trips travel through the Aruban Cunucu (countryside), past Alto Vista Chapel, and along the Northeast coast. During the tour, riders also pass the Tierra Del Sol Golf Course, the Coral Plateau with the California Lighthouse, and many of the island’s most famous beaches.

ATV Tours

On an ATV tour around Aruba, you can take in the sights while powering your own off-road vehicle through rugged terrain. Tours are led by experienced guides who will help you discover some of the island’s most unique locations, such as the Wariruri Dunes, The Natural Pool, Hudishibana Lighthouse, and Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. With most tour groups, ATV trips last at least three hours and include water breaks.

Segway Tours

Segway tours are a relaxing and family-friendly way to travel around Aruba and experience the full coastline. With many stops for photo opportunities, you can capture the island’s panoramic views and landmarks as you glide along beach-roads. Segway tours travel along Arashi Beach, MooMba Beach, Palm Beach, and Eagle Beach.

Horseback Riding Tours

Horseback riding tours are one of the most peaceful ways to discover Aruba, allowing you to ride along beaches and trek quietly through the countryside. Some of the most popular tour groups, Rancho Notorious and The Gold Mine Ranch, provide horses and routes for riders of all skill levels. Depending on the tour, riders can gallop across dunes, see parakeets in the hidden lagoon, and walk their horses through water.

Top 7 Activities in Aspen

At The Innsbruck Aspen, Bluegreen Resorts’ cozy and elegant vacation destination in Aspen, Colorado, guests are within walking distance of world-class mountain slopes and the town’s renowned cultural activities. The authentic mountain town has become famous for its large events, the surrounding natural wonders, and a wide range of outdoor activities.

While the diverse mountain terrain is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders, anyone can enjoy Aspen’s beautiful scenery and diverse attractions. Here are some of the best activities off the slopes to consider when staying at The Innsbruck Aspen, just one of Bluegreen Resorts’ many destinations surrounded by nature:

1.Grottos Trail

aspen mountain mistOn Independence Pass, located just outside of Aspen, the famous Grottos Trail leads to a series of cascades and caves created by the Roaring Fork River. With some climbing skills, you can explore the grottos’ various inlets, guided by rays of sunlight that filter down into the caves. The caves are usually wet and muddy, which can impact the ease of exploring and exiting the grottos.

Past the grottos, locally known as the Ice Caves, are thundering waterfalls and pools of icy mountain water surrounded by water-carved rock formations. The trail to the grottos and cascades is less than a mile long, with minimal elevation gain, so the sites are easily accessible for most people.

2.Aspen Recreation Center

For travelers who are looking to escape less-than-ideal weather conditions or to entertain their family for hours, the Aspen Recreation Center offers a host of activities for people of all ages. A day pass to the recreation center allows you to experience indoor rock climbing, guitar classes, hockey games, youth art classes, and karate classes.

At the recreation center’s expansive indoor pool, guests can swim laps or relax while floating on the lazy river. The fully equipped fitness center and weight room are complemented by a number of athletic courts, where teams and individuals can gather to play tennis and pickleball. Perfect for every season, the Aspen Recreation Center is open year-round, every day of the week.

3.Maroon Lake and Crater Lake

maroon bells coloradoIn the summer and fall, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in Aspen can experience breathtaking mountain views and serene landscapes by visiting Maroon Lake and hiking to Crater Lake. The parking lot at Maroon Bells Scenic Area is just a few steps from the shore of Maroon Lake, with the iconic Maroon Bells looming just beyond and creating a reflection on the lake’s smooth surface.

Alongside the picture-perfect Maroon Lake is a path for the 2-mile hike to Crater Lake. At the far end of Maroon Lake, the path splits and hikers stay on the trail marked West Maroon Trail/Crater Lake. Hikers complete 600 feet of elevation gain before reaching Crater Lake, a shallow body of clear mountain water surrounded by forest, peaks, and wildlife.

4.Aspen Paragliding

While Aspen sits at almost 8,000 feet above sea level, more adventurous travelers can go even higher and experience an adrenaline rush by paragliding off the slopes. With flights available year round, Aspen Paragliding allows you to soar over snow-covered mountains, lush fields, or colorful aspens as the tandem pilots handle the equipment.

The paragliding organization does not require people to have previous paragliding experience for tandem flights with pilots who are certified by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

5.Wheeler Opera House

In a town known for its cultural offerings, the Wheeler Opera House has long been Aspen’s most prominent performance venue, hosting concerts, lectures, opera, festivals, and other community events. The venue, which has been operating since 1889, maintains much of its historic charm, with plush red fabrics and wooden balustrades.

Over the years, the Wheeler Opera House has presented locally developed performances and famous entertainers, including Sheryl Crow, The Eagles, and Oprah Winfrey.

6.Cycling Owl Creek Trail

Both casual and serious cyclists can enjoy a ride on Owl Creek Trail, which runs between Aspen and the nearby Snowmass Village. Starting at the Buttermilk Ski Area, the trail runs into Aspen, where riders can take Cemetery Lane to the Rio Grande Trail.

The 4.4-mile trail passes through open meadows and aspen groves as riders climb Owl Creek-Bush Creek pass. While it is unpaved, the scenic trail is smooth and riders can enjoy a mostly downhill trip from Snowmass to Aspen.

7.River Rafting

Around Aspen, there are a number of rivers where visitors can experience the rush of river rafting. The Roaring Fork River, Colorado River, and Arkansas River offer varying levels of difficulty so that people of all ages and levels of experience can enjoy a river adventure.

On “easy” rafting trips, the whole family can experience minor rapids and take in the scenery while floating on large sections of open river. Moderate-level rafting trips are often longer and take place on more powerful sections of the river, such as Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River and Upper Roaring Fork on the Roaring Fork River. In these sections, paddlers have to navigate irregular currents, holes, and rocks. During intermediate-level trips, paddlers travel over extensive rapids, as they maneuver around rocks and powerful currents.

Several tour groups in the Aspen area offer river rafting trips, including Elk Mountain Expeditions and Blazing Adventures.

5 Things to Enjoy at a Hawaiian Luau

Enjoy the vacation paradise of Hawaii at Bluegreen Resorts’ Pono Kai Resort, nestled against 13 acres of ocean-facing property on the “Garden Island” of Kauai. Here, you can experience some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, including a tropical rainforest, rugged cliffs, and spectacular underwater worlds. Bluegreen members can also explore the island’s Waimea Canyon, whose spectacular beauty rivals that of the Grand Canyon.

While in Hawaii, be sure to attend a traditional luau, the islands’ famed communal feast. A luau is the perfect place to experience Polynesian culture, because no such gathering would be complete without the islands’ music, dancing, food, and drink.

Polynesians have raised celebratory feasting to a high art. Before Captain Cook reached the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaiians had enjoyed feasts they called aha’aina, or “gathering for a meal.” These events marked important community milestones, such as a military victory, the construction of a new canoe, or a major event in the life of a prominent individual. The foods served at these feasts had symbolic meanings, and certain dishes were forbidden for commoners and women to eat, for ritual reasons.

In 1819, King Kamehameha II changed all this, when he ended feast-time segregation of the genders and sat down himself among women to partake of a festive meal. The new tradition the king created is the feast we know today as the luau. “Luau” in Hawaiian refers to the dish of taro leaves with coconut milk and chicken, which was widely consumed at these events.

Here are a few highlights of any Hawaiian luau: 

  1. Kalua Pig

A traditional luau starts with cooking the kalua pig. First, the cooks dig a large hole in the ground and line it with banana or ti leaves to provide insulation and to add flavor. Next, the cooks fill the pit with very hot lava rocks, which will do the actual cooking. The cooks then season the pig with sea salt and cover the entire pit with dirt and more layers of insulation. After cooking for a large portion of the day, the pig transforms into a tender, juicy treat with a rich hint of smokiness and salt.

  1. Poi

The cooked root of taro plant, poi is a luau staple. Hawaiian cooks make poi by mashing the root until it becomes a smooth, pasty substance. They then thin it with water and let it ferment into a pudding-like dish. Because its taste is so mild, Hawaiians use poi as a palate cleanser in-between luau courses. Hawaiians may describe the dish as “one-finger,” “two-finger,” or “three-finger” poi, referring to its density and thus the number of digits required to handle it. Local historians describe poi as imparting a quality of sacredness to the meal, and say that when it is on the table, there is a prohibition against anger and divisiveness.

  1. Lau Lau

The term “lau lau” traditionally describes a meat dish, usually made with pork shoulder, chicken, or vegetables, and cooked in a below-ground oven. Some cooks add some butterfish to give the food a saltier taste. Cooks then wrap many layers of taro leaves around this hearty filling, ending with two ti leaves, to lock in all the flavors. When guests cut open the leaf wrapping, they can enjoy the rich tastes of the lau lau inside.

  1. Dancing the Hula

The hula is much more than a lively dance; its movements recount the epic histories, mythological stories, and wisdom teachings of the Polynesian people. Dancers undergo a rigorous program of instruction before they are considered competent to render these stories in movement. In fact, in ancient times dancers consecrated their lives to Laka, goddess of the hula, and took part in religiously oriented training. One tale describing the origin of the hula says that the goddess Pele requested her sisters to dance for her. Her sister Hi’laka performed, and later became one of the guiding spirits of the dance.

  1. Fire-Knife Dancing

A fire-knife dance typically involves performers, set against the darkness of the night sky, creating dramatic swirling patterns with burning brands and weapons, which they throw, catch, and spin in a dizzying array of patterns. More than just luau entertainers, fire-knife dancers perform in troupes at events all over the world.

Though the fire-knife dance isn’t very old, and doesn’t even originate in Hawaii, it has become popular at luaus over the last few generations. It derives from the traditional Samoan fire-knife dance, which only dates back to the 1940s.

9 Tips to Make a Road Trip with Children More Enjoyable

Whether you’re planning a road trip to a Bluegreen Resorts destination near Orlando, New York City, or Peoria, Arizona, you’ll be focused on making it the best and most enjoyable experience for your entire family. No matter how sophisticated or well-traveled your children are, here are a few hints that might help to minimize the friction and maximize the fun in your car:

  1. Plan ahead: Knowing how long it will likely take to reach your destination; the routes you will need to follow; and where you can stop for refueling, bathroom breaks, and snacks will go a long way toward keeping everyone less anxious during the trip. Your kids can help you to plot your itinerary on a map, which will also reinforce their geography skills. Let them help you select particular scenic or historic restaurants and places of interest to stop and take a break.

 9 Tips to Make a Road Trip with Children More Enjoyable

  1. Pack drinks and car-friendly snacks: A big thermos, or individually-packaged water or juice bottles, will help keep your kids hydrated in a healthy way. Experienced parents also recommend nutritious, protein-rich snacks such as granola or oatmeal bars, yogurt in premeasured cups, and string cheese. Fresh fruit like grapes and sliced carrots are unlikely to create a mess. You can also prepare sandwiches with ingredients such as honey, peanut or almond butter, and bananas or other fruit. You can even make your own trail mix by combining items such as raisins, granola, nuts, and pretzels. Make sure your kids are able to reach and set up the snacks on their own, so that you can keep your attention on the road.
  1. Provide interesting rewards: Tired of coping with “Are we there yet?” jitters along the way? Try giving your kids a bag of colorful tickets or tokens, and ask them to give you one for every 50 miles you travel. They can see their progress toward their vacation as the number in the bag dwindles. You can also offer them prizes, such as candies or small toys, for every mileage milestone you achieve. Travel coupons are also a great option. Your kids can redeem them for the right to choose a story, lunch spot, or a song on the radio.
  1. Take a journey into learning: There’s no reason not to put an educational component into your trip in order to keep everyone interested and engaged. National Geographic, for example, publishes a long list of illustration-packed, trivia-loaded children’s books on every aspect of North American and world geography. Any of these would make a great vacation gift, and your kids can read fun facts aloud to you on the way.
  1. Play games: There are plenty of games on the market that lend themselves to entertaining kids on road trips. Rush Hour, published by ThinkFun, offers several levels of play, depending on the age of the participants. Players try to break the gridlock among a group of colorful plastic vehicles on a game board using logic and creative problem-solving.
9 Tips to Make a Road Trip with Children More Enjoyable

Source: Marilyn M / License

However, there are many other games that don’t cost a cent. Try the classic “I Spy” as you take turns guessing what each player “spies” along your route. “Taboo” is another fun game that tests verbal dexterity. Players agree to make one common word – such as “the”, “and”, or “not” – “taboo.” Take turns asking questions of one another. If a player uses that word in an answer, he or she is “out.” The last person “out” is the winner.

  1. Create collections: Decide as a family whether you’d like to collect postcards, travel brochures, or a certain kind of souvenir from the stops you make along the way. Or you may want to just record the state license plates you see on the road. You can provide your children with a map of the United States and ask them to color in a state whenever they spot its license plate.
  1. Plug in: A judicious amount of screen time can help fight boredom. Your kids can bring their electronic devices and download travel-related apps, e-books, and games. And don’t forget that your public library is a great source of DVDs and books on CD that you can borrow for the trip. Make sure you bring the right car chargers for all your devices, too, so you don’t power down in the middle of the most exciting part.
  1. Get crafty: Klutz is among a number of publishers that offer activity books and craft kits, many of which are suitable for a road trip. Several are specifically focused on the needs and interests of school-age children on the go. And many publishers offer coloring books, sticker books, and more. Dover Publications, in particular, makes an entire series of Little Activity Books with themes that include the beach, airports, and animals.
  1. Save something for the trip back!: Some savvy parents make sure to pack a second bag with different toys, books, snacks, and surprises for the return journey. Giving kids new things to hold their interest can ensure a more enjoyable – and peaceful – time on the way home.

Nine Facts About the Grand Canyon

grand-canyon-828762_1920

Vacation with Bluegreen Resorts in Peoria, Arizona just outside of Phoenix and only a few hours’ drive from the spectacular geological wgrandonderland of the Grand Canyon. The accommodations at Bluegreen’s Cibola Vista Resort and Spa will provide you with plenty of luxury and relaxation. Then you’re on your way to experience all the splendor of the canyon. Grand Canyon National Park attracts millions of visitors every year who are drawn to the stunning displays of color and light that cascade across its rock faces, as well as to the mule train rides, camping trips, river rafting tours, and more. Grand Canyon National Park is one of seven national parks located close to Bluegreen destinations.

Do you know everything that the Grand Canyon has in store for you and your family? Here are nine fascinating facts about the Grand Canyon that will make your trip more enjoyable:

  1. The Grand Canyon is beyond enormous. At its widest point, it spans some 18 miles from one side to the other, stretches 277 miles long, and possesses an average depth of approximately 1 mile. Erosion from the Colorado River continues to change its dimensions over time. The Colorado River itself is about 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep, and it flows at a clip of about 4 miles an hour.

  1. Admission to the Grand Canyon is affordable. The National Park Service announced in 2015 that the fee for a permit for a single, non-commercial vehicle and everyone traveling in it is just $30 for one week. The price includes both the North and South Rims. If you walk, bike, or take the shuttle bus to the park, admission is $15 per person. Anyone 15 and under can enter the park free of charge, and there are also several “free days” for everyone over the course of the year, including selected federal holidays.

  1. There’s an app for it–the Grand Canyon, that is. In 2015, JustAhead.com debuted its mobile app and audio tour guide for the Grand Canyon. Using GPS technology, the app finds your location and offers a richly-narrated tour via your smartphone of the canyon’s history, geology, and must-see stops along the way. Moreover, TUA Outdoors, LLC, offers an informational app specifically for hiking the canyon that is downloadable from your iTunes account. And don’t miss out on the National Parks by National Geographic app that covers the Grand Canyon and the nation’s other wilderness heritage areas. Let National Geographic help you create a personalized list of things to see, obtain photography instruction from an expert, and pick up useful hints about exploring the canyon.

  1. Grand Canyon tours abound. If you’ve always dreamed of having a bird’s-eye view of the canyon, there are many tours available. Numerous commercial websites offer a wide range of packages at various price points, including romantic sunset helicopter and railroad trips, wildlife tours, multi-day and multi-venue excursions, and more. The National Park Service hosts many others that are comparatively inexpensive and sometimes even free. Just keep in mind that the most popular excursions, such as the mule train along the South Rim, sometimes fill up a year or more in advance.
  1. The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s seven natural wonders. It joins other grand-scale, breathtakingly beautiful places that include Mount Everest; the Great Barrier Reef off Australia; Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia; Mexico’s Parícutin volcano; the harbor of Rio de Janeiro; and the earth’s Northern and Southern Lights, found at extremely high and low latitudes. The Grand Canyon is also a designated World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  1. The Grand Canyon has enjoyed a long history of protection from the U.S. government as a place for all citizens to enjoy. Toward the end of the 19th century, what is now the Grand Canyon National Park achieved the status of forest reserve. It was declared a national monument in 1908, and Congressional action formally created the national park in 1919, only seven years after Arizona became a state.

  1. The Grand Canyon continues to have a strong Native American presence. Historically, the region has been home to the Navajo people, who maintain their heritage at towns and sites near the canyon, often with exquisite silver, jewelry, and other items for sale. The Tusayan Ruins and Museum near the edge of the park honor the history of the ancient Pueblo people who lived in the area.

  1. The canyon is home to an enormous variety of wildlife. Pay a visit to the South Rim, and you just might encounter elk or mule deer, or see a majestic California condor cruising overhead. Rock squirrels, reptiles, and birds also make their home along the rim. The park is also home to coyotes, mountain lions and other big cats, rattlesnakes, and more. Remember that federal law prohibits trapping and hunting on national park lands, as well as touching and feeding the animals. This is for your protection and for theirs, so enjoy the wildlife from a safe distance. The National Park Service recommends keeping at least 100 feet between yourself and the local elk and deer.

  1. There are plenty of child-friendly activities at the Grand Canyon. For instance, you can stop in at the Visitor Center and see the IMAX film titled Grand Canyon – The Hidden Secrets, which is practically a tour in itself. Take a two- or four-hour train ride along the South Rim, which includes Wild West-themed entertainment and even lunch. Explore Yavapai Point, which is located relatively close to shops, and enjoy a sweeping view of a large part of the canyon.