Family-Friendly Tarragona


Theme parks, Roman remains and tranquil beaches make the Costa Daurada one of Spain's most appealing getaways.

When you’re perched at the top of Europe’s tallest roller coaster, with the Roman city of Tarragona, the Catalonian coastline and the blue Mediterranean spread out below, you may wonder how the kids talked you into this one. Then gravity and adrenaline take over and you realize that you (and your kids) are having the time of your life.

Founded in the 3rd century B.C., Tarraco became an important Roman city. Today its World Heritage remains lie under modern Tarragona’s center. Kids will thrill to stories of the Roman circus, whose chariot races drew 30,000 spectators, and the seaside amphitheater where gladiators fought. Roman walls and a section of aqueduct just outside town are still visible. In May, the Tarraco Viva festival celebrates the town’s Roman heritage with recreated battles, Roman taverns and more.

Spain’s star theme park, PortAventura, lies just southwest of Tarragona in the resort town of Salou. The park recently added a gigantic Himalayan-themed roller coaster that includes a breathtaking 256-foot plunge. The park is divided into zones—the Mediterranean, Polynesia, China, Mexico, the Far West and Sesame Street—and appeals to all ages. Rides are gentle in SésamoAventura; the Chinese and Mexican villages have shriek-inducing roller coasters and the Hurakan Condor free fall. Thrill seekers head for the Furius Baco ride near the main entrance: It accelerates from zero to a terrifying 84 miles per hour in just three seconds. There’s also a water park, golf courses and a beach club.

Also near Tarragona is Aquópolis, a no-holds-barred water park with some steep slides, mega-splashes, softer thrills for younger kids and dolphin shows. AquaLeón, 10 miles inland, combines a water park with a safari zoo.

The biggest water feature around here is the Mediterranean itself. The Costa Daurada (also called the Costa Dorada, or golden coast; Daurada is the Catalan spelling) is a family-friendly coastline with small sheltered calas (coves) separating wide, long stretches of sand. You’ll find your own favorite, but some nearby ones to try are La Pineda, a mile and a half of clean sand with a “subaquatic park” for divers and snorkelers, and La Móra, a short strand with gentle water. The next beach along, Tamarit, is equally tranquil and overlooked by the spectacular 11th-century castle of the same name. Most beaches have kiosks offering shade, seafood and pedalo and kayak rentals.

Tarragona Blau runs jaunts around the harbor and along the coast from June to September, and child-focused fishing trips in April and May. The cheerfully painted tall ship Cyrano runs scheduled excursions and charters from Tarragona’s harbor. Leaving from nearby Salou and Cambrils, Creuers Costa Daurada offers short and daylong catamaran cruises with time for lunch and swims. One boat has a glass hull for exploring the submarine world.

One of the most seductive cities on the Mediterranean is only an hour from Tarragona. Gaudí’s Sagrada Família basilica has a magic that kids will appreciate. The rambling Parc Güell invites exploration, as does one of Europe’s largest aquariums. Fútbol lovers should visit FC Barcelona’s stadium. The entrance fee includes an interactive soccer museum and the chance to walk out of the tunnel onto the field, just like the pros do before a game.

This theme park offers special packages, such as a money-saving 2-day pass. There are more live shows on weekends, but lines can be long; you’ll pack more in on weekdays. Express passes give easy access to only the most popular rides, and only once each per day. Bring snacks and water to beat the park’s high prices.

Comments (0) »

Acapulco's Second Act

Mexico's original beach town has reclaimed its old-school allure.

Long before Cancún or Los Cabos or the Riviera Maya were even specks on the tourist map, Acapulco reigned as Mexico’s coastal queen. Acapulqueños have recently worked hard to restore Old Acapulco and the Costera, and posh resorts and malls have risen in the newest neighborhood, Acapulco Diamante. The result is a thoroughly modern vacation destination rich in culture and history. Now is the time to visit—or revisit—the place where Mexico’s tourism fame was born.


In the early Hollywood days, Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla, on the western shores of Acapulco Bay, saw the most action. Today, the ’50s have returned with the restoration of the beachfront Hotel Boca Chica. The designers faithfully retained the mid-century architecture and the tiny Coco Wash disco, which has become the hippest hangout in town. Chef Keisuke Harada creates platters of sushi and Kobe burgers for happy hordes at the hotel’s restaurants; on weekends, locals pull their yachts up to the dock and linger for hours over mescal martinis.

With Boca Chica grabbing attention, travelers are also being lured to the palapa-shaded fish shacks on Playa Caletilla. Here families gather beneath blue umbrellas, and water taxis take swimmers to the clear waters off Isla Roqueta, just 10 minutes away. At the nearby Plaza Alvarez (also called the zócalo), elderly gents study their newspapers at sidewalk cafés as kids scamper around the filigreed bandstand. Across the street, fishermen lay out their nets beside docks where party boats collect passengers for sunset sailings.

In the winding streets high above Old Acapulco, sightseers gather at La Quebrada to witness the famed clavadistas, or cliff divers. During the show, a lone diver poses atop a jagged, precipitous cliff. Below, waves crash against rocks before settling into a small swirling pool. In the blink of an eye, the diver swoops toward the sea. Onlookers applaud as he emerges from the water, and another duplicates his feat.


Most visitors to the Costera devote the sunlight hours to lounging poolside, browsing in arcades and malls and playing in the bay. Pint-sized fun-seekers enjoy the rides at Papagayo Park and the waterslides at CICI waterpark.

As evening sets in, families head to the Hard Rock Cafe for burgers and ribs. Partygoers seek out tables at Paradise or Beto’s, among the best of the clubs on the sand, or retire to high-end restaurants and discos in the hills. Horse-drawn calesas (carriages) clomp along the Costera, delivering dancers to Baby ’O, one of the best-known discos. And fireworks and laser beams shoot over the bay from the hilltop clubs until dawn.


Perhaps the best evidence of Acapulco’s resurgence lies in the burgeoning Diamante neighborhood. Stretching from the Costera up the steep, winding Scenic Highway, Diamante has legendary discos, championship golf courses, lavish resorts, a concert hall and a shiny new mall.

Several large timeshare resorts are also found on the beaches of Acapulco Diamante, close to attractions like the La Isla shopping center at Punta Diamante, which has lured some of the Costera’s well-known establishments (including the family-friendly yet rowdy Carlos’n Charlie’s). Kids can head to the mall’s Aqua Planet, with bumper boats and mini-golf, as well as displays that teach about water conservation. And at Mundo Imperial, an enormous development with a convention center and hotel, the stars of today appear at the Forum, a state-of-the-art concert hall. With the three sides of Acapulco all in a state of transformation, Mexico’s coastal queen is once again the biggest star on the map.


Comments (0) »

Cozumel – Island of Swallows

Josef W.Walking down the stone streets of Playa del Carmen, past the numerous vendors and quaint shops, the ferry to Cozumel slowly comes into view. It looks sleek, fast and modern sitting atop the crystal clear blue water of the ocean. As we wait in line with mild trepidation to board, we watch the families play along the pristine white sand beach, bathed in the warm sunlight. Boarding the ship is quite a breeze once the gate opens and we are soon under way heading to Cozumel. As Cozumel slowly comes into focus, small droplets of ocean water cool us off during our complimentary sun tan on the 30 minute ferry ride. Arriving in Cozumel proves to be as easy as boarding was and we are soon on our way to the resort.

One of the first things that we noticed about Cozumel was that it feels like mainland Mexico, yet feels very different as well. There were numerous places to rent scooters on the side of the road, offering adventurous travelers the opportunity to explore the island on their own. They seem to be quite the popular mode of transportation to get around for the tourists and locals alike. We quickly leave the town limits of San Miguel de Cozumel, the capital, and drive along the highway towards our vacation destination. The resort staff is quickly at our service with towels and fresh drinks upon our arrival. We are quickly checked in and on our way to explore the resort. Having the ocean right outside our door along with a convenient ocean-side bar made this stay quite the treat.

The island seems to move at a slower pace than the mainland which makes everything more relaxing. We managed to spend some time exploring the local shops and dining at a quaint restaurant in the heart of San Miguel. The locals are eager to show you their items for sale and are quite friendly.  The food was amazing in both taste and presentation. We truly enjoyed spending a nice evening exploring this charming city. Don’t forget to also spend some time snorkeling at the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere, located off the coast of Cozumel. Make Cozumel your next vacation destination and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Mexico!

We hope you enjoyed all of the great photos shared by RCI subscribing members. Be sure to check back with us next week!

Comments (0) »

Family Holiday Fun in Mazatlan

What better way to connect with family than to spend a week together in Mazatlan, on Mexico's west coast, and with the Christmas holiday as an added attraction. With El Cid El Moro Beach Resort as our base, three generations enjoyed an all-inclusive vacation, which made sure our grandsons never went hungry! The beach itself provided sunny days of swimming, ping-pong, water sports, and parasailing for a perfect view of the city, the coast line and the nearby islands. Shops and restaurants, within easy walking distance, made life easy for the older generation. One day we all boarded a catamaran and sailed to Deer Island, passing sea lions that lazed on the rocks, oblivious to our squeals of delight. We swam, snorkeled, rode the giant banana, kayaked, and picnicked on the beach until the magnificent sunset told us it was time to return to reality.

Christmas Eve is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. We traveled by local bus to Juarez Street in the heart of the city. Over 100 stalls at the outdoor market provided souvenirs, tee shirts, leather goods, pottery, and every food imaginable from goat to chicken feet (not legs)! The Mexicans shop there every day, but for us it was an unusual treat. Nearby the cathedral shone with its majestic spirals and stained glass windows. Christmas carols pealed from outdoor speakers and decorated Christmas trees reminded us of the holiday. A cantina lodged in the park somehow seemed out of place until we remembered where we were!

We slept with our balcony door open to hear the breaking waves and see the gorgeous sunrises. We were up at dawn every day, as we did not want to miss a thing: kids, parents, and grandparents alike.

-Karen I. from Greenwood, SC

Comments (0) »

Paradise in Mazatlan

This resort was romantic and beautiful. We stayed at the Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay. We have stayed and visited every city either by plane or cruise ship in Mexico and none compare to our 10 day stay at Emerald Bay. It was low season and everything was not crowded. We loved the lightning and thunderstorms, enjoyed walking the grounds in the rain, and had the best steak and shrimp we've ever tasted. We enjoyed the shuttle into town to visit the sister hotel. We would highly recommend the Emerald Bay to celebrate any special occasion. This was our 24th wedding anniversary and we plan to celebrate again at Emerald Bay.

-Isaiah W. from Los Angeles, CA

Comments (0) »

Glorious Sunset in Mazatlan

Glorious Sunset in Mazatlan

View of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from our room at Pueblo Bonito Resort in Mazatlan, Mexico.

-David S. from Valley Center, CA

Comments (0) »

Puerto Vallarta – The Convergence of Contrast

Jozef WPuerto Vallarta, a city rich in culture and excitement, is a wonderful location to relax while still offering the opportunity to experience adventure. What strikes me each time I visit Puerto Vallarta is the meeting of opposites.

It has always fascinated me that a location so well known for Mexican culture can also feel so American. Puerto Vallarta is one of the top spots abroad, where some Americans choose to settle down after retirement. This speaks to the fact that many of the people in Puerto Vallarta speak English, as well as, Spanish. There are also many American-style stores and restaurants to enjoy.

However, if you are looking to experience traditional Mexico, head into town. There you will find Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, which was constructed in the 19th century. Near this church you will find an open air market to shop for local crafts. Don’t forget to head a bit southwest of the church to find the newly remodeled Malecon, a boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta. The Malecon is teeming with life, from shops to live statues to impromptu fire shows… the Malecon offers it all!

Puerto Vallarta is located on Banderas Bay, the third largest bay in Mexico. You can swim in the warm ocean water, as most of the resorts are located on or near the beach. You will also see cruise ships docking into the ports, which can make for a nice evening activity, watching as the sun sets on the horizon.

Another benefit of Puerto Vallarta is the easy access to the ocean while still maintaining the enjoyment of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The Sierra Madre Mountains are within easy access if you’d like to add some adventure to your trip. There are opportunities to partake in adventurous activities such as ATV riding and hiking. Spend the day in the lush mountain jungles as you explore the rivers and trails that Puerto Vallarta has to offer.

Want to hear more? Come back to the RCI Blog this week, where we will be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Puerto Vallarta as well.

Comments (0) »

Once In A Lifetime

My boyfriend of three years and I decided to take a spontaneous vacation in July. We were in our early 20's and living together for a little less than a year. We found a fantastic deal and booked a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Our excitement was palpable.

As a young couple in love, off we went to Cancun International Airport on our first trip to Mexico, to an all-inclusive resort and to a beach not on the US eastern coast. We were thrilled to just be away together in such a lovely place.

After settling into a room, squeezing in a little pool time, and enjoying a delicious dinner at the buffet, we decided to take a walk on the beach. Hand-in-hand we went as we took a seat on two loungers under a tiki hut. The stars twinkled above us on this dark night, the ocean lapped the sand, and we enjoyed the silence that surrounded us in this peaceful moment.

I said to my boyfriend, "What a perfect place, what a perfect dinner, what a perfect night." At that moment he replied "It's the perfect time for me to ask you to marry me." I stared in awe as he got down on one knee and opened up a box showing my sparkling engagement ring. I smiled and cried tears of joy as I replied "Yes!” We shared an emotional and happy moment under the romantic sky.

As it turns out, he had done an impressive job asking my parents for their permission, receiving the delivery of the ring, and getting through the airports' security and customs departments. I was excited, beaming, and still in shock when we went to the lobby. We celebrated with champagne as we watched the live Mexican band play along with couples and children dancing about...

We immediately got moved to an oceanfront room and spent the rest of our vacation in bliss as we relaxed, got massaged, sunbathed, dined, drank, danced, and laughed together. During our remaining days, we frequently visited Jack and José who shared in our happiness as a newly engaged couple and new timeshare owners. This was a very special vacation for us and I will never forget the once in a lifetime memories that were created at Ocean Maya Royale.

-Erin D. from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

Comments (0) »

It'll never top Mexico

Our first RCI vacation took us to Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. We were excited to be able to exchange our timeshare in the Berkshires for a vacation outside of the US in order to give our two young boys some exposure to other cultures. We rented a car so that we could explore the surrounding countryside and possibly see some of the Mayan ruins while in Mexico. The resort was nice enough and offered a number of activities... The food was great; we tried a number of different options and the kids even tried some new things (a small miracle). The resort’s many pools provided some variety as we spent a chunk of time swimming and joining in on some resort-sponsored pool football...

-William H. from Coventry, Connecticut

Comments (0) »

Wonderful Mazatlan

I am a retired family practice physician who first visited Mazatlan in 1967. We flew our plane from Albuquerque, NM and had a BALL. Mazatlan was much smaller then and the airport was just north of the downtown area. Since that time, my family (now minus the kids) has gone every year since 1980...and can't hardly wait till the next year to come for a re-visit to Mazatlan. The people are most friendly, the seafood is excellent, and  there is now a abundance of very good restaurants. Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay has unbelievable food and rooms, and a friendly and attentive staff. We highly recommend Mazatlan for your next Mexico visit.

- Charles & Donna P. from Bonita, CA

Comments (0) »

Los Cabos – No Bad Days

Jozef W. - North America Travel StoriesHave you been enjoying these fantastic photos so far?

What is there to say about Los Cabos that hasn’t been said?  Maybe not much, but I will attempt to provide some insight into one of the most popular Mexico vacation destinations.

Los Cabos is made up of three main areas for tourism and averages only 6 days of rain per year.  Let’s start at the Eastern side of the Baja Peninsula and take the coastal highway heading west.

Starting in San Jose del Cabo provides us a glimpse of traditional Mexico.  The vibe from the people is very laid back with a charming small town feel.  There are many options to enjoy, such as the local taco stand or a stroll on the pristine beach.  San Jose del Cabo offers the opportunity to have an exciting vacation with the luxury of staying in the quieter area of Los Cabos.

Driving west on the coastal highway, we begin to enter the Corridor.  This area contains some of the larger and newer resorts in Los Cabos.  It also has become a popular surfing area if you are looking to catch some waves.  This puts you closer to the action yet still distant enough to get away from it all.

As we reach our final destination, the Arch comes into view.  The Arch is a magnificent natural rock formation that provides ample photo opportunities for everyone.  It is especially mesmerizing when you take a catamaran to ride out closer to the Arch as you may even catch a glimpse of a sea lion!

The final stop on our journey is Cabo San Lucas.  This town is the heart of the Los Cabos Area as it is where all the action begins.  You have a large amount of shopping to choose from, ranging from flea markets to full size malls.  The nightlife here is fantastic as well with many restaurants and bars to choose from for a wonderful evening.  The beach, shopping and bars all within a 5 minute walk….what’s not to like?

Los Cabos is a wonderful place to visit, discover, and explore.  “Leave it all behind” and go to the place with “No Bad Days”!

Keep coming back to the RCI blog this week to see more photos about this amazing destination!

Comments (0) »

The Beach in Cabo

Loved the resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Spent some time in San Jose del Cabo walking the beach.


Loved the resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Spent some time in San Jose del Cabo walking the beach.

- Diane N. from Ontario, Canada

Comments (0) »

Great RCI Trip to Mexico

In May 2012 we did an RCI exchange in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We stayed at a beautiful resort with great facilities. Everyone at the resort was very friendly and helpful. The facility was wonderful and extremely well maintained. They had great restaurants, pools, and other facilities. We were just outside of Cabo San Lucas, and the resort had hourly shuttles into the city. We went into Cabo several times and participated in events at two sister resorts - great events. Everybody in Cabo was friendly and helpful. We had a great trip, and we recommend an RCI exchange to Mexico.


- Robert & Mary T. from St. James, MO

Comments (0) »

RCI® subscribing membership benefits that you might not know about

Catherine S. - Cruise Stories and RCI NewsWe love helping to send you, our RCI subscribing members, on vacation!  In order to provide you with even better vacation options and enhancements to your overall membership, we have an established alliance with International Cruise and Excursions (ICE) – which is sometimes referred to as Our Vacation Center.


Through this alliance, we’re able to provide you with many benefits that you may already be familiar with:


  • The RCI Cruise program gives you the option to purchase a cruise at a reduced price with exchange, or purchase a cruise without exchange (sometimes referred to as “Cruise Extra VacationsSM getaways”) both with the Best Rate Guarantee.


  • RCI Cruise & Resort Vacations* offers you the opportunity to receive up to two weeks of vacations in one convenient and flexible package.  You can spend one week cruising to great destinations like Mexico, Alaska or Hawaii, and the second week in an awesome resort destination like Las Vegas or Florida.


  • With RCI Vacations*, you can save up to 70% off at select preferred hotels in popular destinations worldwide. Our members can purchase up to five hotel savings certificates which can be used to book hotels and save hundreds of dollars on each stay compared to popular online travel sites.  In addition to the hotel savings certificates, every RCI Vacations package includes a choice of a prepaid cruise, resort or hotel vacation. 


  • RCI Platinum® Lifestyle Benefits, including golf discounts, spa getaways and gift certificates, ski packages, an online wine store, tickets to movies, concerts and sporting events, and online shopping. 


  • RCI Travel, which allows you to get the best pricing on air, rental car, and hotels, making your vacation planning more convenient!


Our alliance with ICE helps us provide you with even greater enhancements to your RCI membership.


Have you taken advantage of any of these benefits yet? Let us know what you think by commenting below!



*Not available to all members

Comments (0) »


Several years ago, my husband I took a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico - my first trip south of the boarder! We stayed at the Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay, which is one of THE nicest resorts we've ever stayed. A lot of times you go on vacation and you need another vacation when you get home to recover from all the activities you did, right? Well, not this one. We excelled at relaxing on this vacation, which is super easy to do when there's a beach chair, sun, awesome pool, and Victor - the poolside drink waiter. Ahhhh. If ever I need to calm down and think of a happy place I picture myself in our room there, laying on that comfy bed, listening to the ocean waves, with the breeze gently flapping the sliding glass door curtains, staring at the ceiling fan going round and round and I have no place to be.... ahhhhhh.


- Kristin F. from Albany, OR

Comments (0) »

Love Mazatlan

We have now been twice to Mazatlan. We like to visit as we have friends who live there in the winter. We have stayed at the Mayan Resort properties and the Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay (our favorite). Both times we have enjoyed our stay. With miles of beautiful sandy beaches, dry and warm weather, it is a great winter vacation spot. Nowhere else in Mexico, after 12 visits to various spots, have we found a city that reflects a less touristy feel and more homey feeling. Also the best bang for your buck, for dining in or out. Many of the local restaurants are owned by people who came to Mazatlan and never left. This year our children used an Extra Vacations getaway to go to Mazatlan and fell in love with it. I have other friends planning to go back for 2 weeks for the 3rd year in a row...


- Leigh F. from Manitoba, Canada

Comments (0) »

Cabo Cabo Cabo!

Three years ago I had booked a resort for my family in Cancun, Mexico. It was the day after Christmas and we were excited about leaving snowy Salt Lake City, Utah. However, when we arrived at the airport, our plane to Cancun was overbooked so we could not all make the flight. Next to the Cancun flight gate, there was a flight leaving to Cabo San Lucas. They had seats for us! I called RCI from the airport and told them the situation. The customer service rep told me that he could switch us to a resort in Cabo without any additional charges. So all 7 of us flew to Cabo. We took a taxi to the Pueblo Bonito Resort at Sunset Beach. The porters at the resort drove us to our unit via golf carts. The resort is built on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We entered our unit and were wowed! It was a 4 bedroom Presidential Suite with the most awesome view of the ocean. On our balcony was our own hot tub. Our family had a tremendous week of fun at this beautiful resort. This resort and its staff were 5 Star. I can only say thank you RCI for helping us to experience family memories together that we will treasure forever!


- Submitted by: alden

Comments (0) »

Vamanos a Mexico!

Velas Vallarta is our home away from home! It doesn't matter how much time passes between visits, as soon as we arrive it feels like we never left. Velas Vallarta has lush gardens, beautiful views, comfortable rooms, daily/nightly activities, and most importantly, friendly, caring, service-oriented staff who feel like family before you leave and every time you return. Oh yeah, once you experience a massage on the beach, you will be ready to book your next trip on the spot! Velas Vallarta is definitely a favorite for us! We have stayed there at least 3 times and look forward to our next visit! We have always felt very safe in Puerto Vallarta and would recommend this resort to couples, families or friends just getting together for some fun in the sun! Velas Vallarta caters to everyone!


Velas Vallarta is our home away from home! It doesn't matter how much time passes between visits, as soon as we arrive it feels like we never left. Velas Vallarta has lush gardens, beautiful views, comfortable rooms, daily/nightly activities, and most importantly, friendly, caring, service-oriented staff who feel like family before you leave and every time you return. Oh yeah, once you experience a massage on the beach, you will be ready to book your next trip on the spot! Velas Vallarta is definitely a favorite for us! We have stayed there at least 3 times and look forward to our next visit! We have always felt very safe in Puerto Vallarta and would recommend this resort to couples, families or friends just getting together for some fun in the sun! Velas Vallarta caters to everyone!


- submitted by "TRAVELBUGZ" from Luling, LA

Comments (1) »

Mexico Puerto Penasco

One fabulous week, definitely too short. I almost want to keep this resort quiet so that it won't be too difficult to find accommodations the next time. The resort was still being developed but even so, it was great. The staff couldn't have been more friendly and helpful, from check-in to check-out. The restaurants, Swedish massage, pool, activities for youngsters as well as adults, everything was really well thought out and most enjoyable. We had the 2 bedroom suite, which was large, light, sufficiently equipped and well maintained. Isabel, our daily maid was super helpful even though my Spanish was worse than her English. The beach I'm leaving for last - Wow - the water was warm and clear and there were hardly any waves. The rocks had been removed for some distance out and all there was, was sand, sand, and more sand. Oh yes and lots and lots of shells. What a great place to vacation. I'm not a golfer, but there's a beautiful golf course right along the ocean. Before leaving, friends had told us that it was too dangerous to go to Mexico - I am so very glad that we didn't listen. I would hate to have missed out on this fabulous treat.


- Susan M. from Encino, CA

Comments (0) »