Port O'Call, Hilton Head

Port O'Call, Hilton Head - Early risers on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island will get a treat watching the sunrise over the ocean. We always go out in the early morning just to catch a breathtaking view. The resort is absolutely awesome!

Early risers on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island will get a treat watching the sunrise over the ocean. We always go out in the early morning just to catch a breathtaking view. The resort is absolutely awesome!

- Debra W. from Farmville, VA
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Dominican Republic Trip 2009

We went to Club Melia at Paradisus Punta Cana in April this year and had a blast...The ocean was beautiful. The resort staff was great. They treated us like we were VIP. It seemed they did extra to make sure we were happy. We also did not have to wait in lines to book dinner reservations. They had nice accommodations - the rooms were the biggest we have stayed in. It was a great trip!

- Courtney P. from Montgomery, AL
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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
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Puerto Peñasco…one of Mexico’s Oldest Tourist Destinations!

Roberto L. - Latin America Vacation StoriesHome to the largest sand dunes in the western hemisphere and once a host for NASA lunar excursion trainings, the Piñacate Peaks have welcomed travelers to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora for the past 90 years, making this world class tourist destination one of Mexico’s oldest. Just a 4 hour drive south from Phoenix Arizona, Puerto Peñasco has something to offer for just about every traveler.

Since the 1920s, North Americans have been vacationing here and since then many have made it their home. Today, Sandy Beach boasts of modern vacation condominiums, luxurious resorts, and championship golf.  I have been traveling here frequently since 2006, and being the small community it is, have found it easy to call this my second home, of which I will share with you travelers a quick tour of the “house”:

“The Kitchen” – Whether its pizza at Capone’s, breakfast at the legendary Coffee’s Haus or fine international dinning at the 4 diamond awarded La Maria Bistro at Las Palomas resort, you are guaranteed authentic atmospheres, Mexican hospitality and happy taste buds.

“The Living Room” – Take a load off and relax on a 40 ft. fishing boat while cruising off the archipelago of San Jorge Island (Bird Island) and wait for the sawfish, grouper and horse mackerel to bite. Or, live the experience at Mayan Palace’s Peninsula de Cortez Golf Club, home to the Uniting Nations Cup and its nine ocean front holes that are up to par with its northern counterpart, Pebble Beach.

“The Back Yard” – A day trip to the Piñacate volcanic crater will provide incredible images for your photo album, as will the vast desert that surrounds with its 553 species of plants, 237 species of birds (the red-tailed falcon being my favorite to spot!). This nationally protected biosphere is a must for all travelers. ATV rides along miles of sand dunes are also highly recommended, and with a coastline of over 100 kilometers, long walks along the Sea of Cortez are very enjoyable.

Whether you enjoyed a delicious meal, took a relaxing boat ride or collected sea shells on the beaches of El Mirador, La Cholla or Las Conchas, you will have many memories to share with family and friends. But one will stand out…and that is the plan to return and continue living the experience.

Mi casa es tu casa.

This week on the RCI Blog, we will show you stories and photos from other RCI subscribing members who have visited Puerto Peñasco. Be sure to check back!

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Playa del Carmen 2009

This was our first trip to the Cancun area and our 2nd experience with an all-inclusive resort (Grand Velas-we are owners). We took this side trip knowing we just wanted to relax. The customer service was phenomenal and the grounds were spectacular. The ocean pools were awesome. Every staff member, and I mean EVERY staff member, stopped what they were doing and greeted you with a smile and "hello" as you approached them. Doors were opened, prompt service was provided and the restaurants (which of course were included) were out of this world. Since I don't own a laptop computer and there were roaming phone charges to the U.S., the free access to the business center to communicate with my family was very important to me. If you are looking for top notch service and pampering...this is the place to go! Grand Velas also has a Puerto Vallarta resort which we've stayed at the year before...same top quality service!

- Margo D. from Midlothian, VA
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Family Friendly Holidays in Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya

Jorge H. - Latin America Travel TipsLast week on the RCI Blog, we talked about Ixtapa and Nuevo Vallarta – two of the places that were included on TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice 2011 list for the Top 10 Family Vacations in the Caribbean and Mexico. This week, I’ll be telling you about Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya…two more destinations that are fantastic for family traveling.

When I visited Playa del Carmen, I stayed at BlueBay Grand Esmeralda, an all inclusive resort with excellent food, drinks and service. Besides the great resort in Playa del Carmen, one of the most amazing things about this place is the Mayan civilization. Chichen Itza – a large archaeological site – is a pyramid shaped structure that was constructed over 1000 years ago. To be honest, I couldn’t even begin to explain how the Mayan civilization built it! Another can’t-miss place for Mayan ruins is Tulum, where ancient ruins are right on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. It is gorgeous and you can even get some of the best views of the turquoise blue waters there.

Riviera Maya is another attraction-packed destination in Mexico. One of my favorite things to see is Cenotes, an underground river system that the Maya thought to be sacred. If you and the family are looking for something to do other than visit ancient ruins, head over to La Quinta Avenida, which is the main street that runs parallel to the ocean and provides 2 miles of shopping and restaurants.

Whether your family and you are looking for a vacation filled with tourist attractions, relaxation or shopping and dining (or all!), these destinations are the places to go! This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have taken trips to Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya. And if you missed last week’s blog on Ixtapa and Nuevo Vallarta, you can check it out here.

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Nuevo Vallarta Trip

This vacation was amazing...and the Grand Mayan Resort in Nuevo Vallarta had great views of the ocean and the pools. The resort had the largest pools we had ever seen. There were daily activities, pool games, water aerobics, and slides with a "surf like" experience. We were so busy with the daily activities! Our grown-up children had a great time and made so many friends from around the world. We had requested a 2 bedroom suite that was very spacious with views from all the rooms including the family room. We will recommend this place to anyone who wants to have fun in Mexico. Great job RCI!

- Narinder M. from Yorba Linda, CA
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South Africa 2003

This was our first real trip using our timeshare. We were told by everyone that you have to trade Gold for Gold, Silver for Silver, and so on, that is so not true. With RCI on your side the world is open...We traded for Cabana Beach just outside of Durban, South Africa, the top RCI affiliated resort in the country. WE GOT IT! What an adventure we had. The resort was wonderful, right on the water with spectacular sunrises over the Indian Ocean. Cabana was home base to a week of once-in-a-lifetime day trips. We went diving with sharks, saw a recreated Zulu Village in the day of King Shaka and went on a game drive. Sharks withstanding the game drive ended up giving us the biggest threat of all. Halfway up the mountain we were met head on by a young bull elephant. Nowhere to turn around and he started walking right towards us! We had to back up down the road all the way, with the elephant flapping his ears and swinging his trunk. We later learned from the rangers that there was a new born calf and he was being big brother. Loved it!

- Richard S. from Houston, TX
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Ocean Reef Yacht Club

During our stay in the Bahamas (Ocean Reef Yacht Club and Resort) we learned how to Scuba dive. One of the dives was to Shark Reef City, absolutely amazing.

During our stay in the Bahamas (Ocean Reef Yacht Club and Resort) we learned how to Scuba dive. One of the dives was to Shark Reef City, absolutely amazing.

- Terence O. from Crawley, UK
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Mazatlán – A great place during the day or night!

Angelica H. - Vacation Stories from Latin AmericaBeautiful sandy beaches, warm ocean waves, incredible recreational activities, fresh seafood, great nightlife…Mazatlán has it all. And not only is it one of the least expensive destinations in México, but it has a long list of top rated resorts. Add to that great service and the warm hospitality of the locals, and you’ve got a vacation you'll never forget. Lucky for you, I’ve visited Mazatlán several times before so I have some great tips on what to do and where to eat (and what to order)!

Mazatlán's Malecón is considered one of the longest in the world (a “malecón” is a stone-built embankment). Stretching about 21 km (13 miles), here’s where you can find everything from cliffs, monuments and gazebos to old buildings, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

For daytime fun, Mazatlán has plenty of beach areas: Zona Dorada in The Hotel Zone, Olas Altas, Sábalos, North Beach, Isla de la Piedra, Isla de los Pájaros, Cerritos and Nuevo Mazatlán. You can also visit the lighthouse (El Faro). And while you’re there, famous "divers" perform daring jumps off high rocks into the Pacific Ocean for tips from on-looking tourists.

For lunch or dinner, you can head over to Los Arcos, a restaurant with a wide seafood menu and affordable prices. Ask for the “Governor taco” & shrimp “agua chile”. Also, try The Panama, a cafeteria with excellent pastries and a huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s always crowded by locals so it has a great atmosphere.

If you are a night owl, head north along the Golden Zone (a section at the far north end of Mazatlán) and you'll find Señor Frog's between The Inn at Mazatlán and El Cid Moro Beach. There, you can enjoy a variety of cocktails served in yard long cups…personally I’d recommend the "Banana Mama".

But, if you want to take it easy, I absolutely recommend Old Mazatlán downtown area! It has been rediscovered and restored by newcomers and locals alike and is not far away from the Hotel Zone. Try Pedro & Lola restaurant and have a nice dinner while you listen to a jazz band or a guitar solo.

Mazatlan really does have it all. If you’ve been there and have more tips for other RCI subscribing members, please comment below. And if you haven’t been there, visit the RCI blog again this week when we share stories and photos from other members about their trips to this amazing destination.

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Mexico Trip 2007

My trip to Los Cabos during the 4th of July week of 2007 was great. We stayed at the Pueblo Bonito Resort at Sunset Beach right on the Pacific Ocean. The resort was built into the side of a mountain with breathtaking views of the ocean with its gigantic waves crashing on the beach. The resort had many infinity pools and beautiful walking pathways. The resort even had a dinner party around the pool to celebrate the 4th of July, then had a bonfire on the beach for toasting marshmallows followed by games and ending the evening with fireworks.

- Cherie M. from Monroe Township, NJ
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My trip to California

My husband and I were excited to plan our exchange trip to Capistrano California. We exchanged our Cape Cod timeshare for a beautiful two bedroom, two bath timeshare in the Capistrano Surfside Inn. The timeshare was huge and immaculate and the ocean was just across the street. Also within walking distance was Dante Point which not only had an active harbor and walking areas with fantastic restaurants, shops but bike paths as well for those who wanted to bike around the area. We visited the mission at Capistrano and walk the small streets with many unique shops. We chose this place to have a restful holiday and it was, yet there was plenty to do if we chose to do so. I would highly recommend this paradise area to anyone who wants to vacation in California. We would definitely visit again, but there are so many beautiful affiliated resorts in RCI, we want to try them all. We love RCI and the wonderful opportunities it offers us in trying new places and seeking new adventures.

- Joyce C. from Salem, NH
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Carlsbad, California 2008

Having a child graduate from college is one of life's best blessings! And to be able to make an exchange for a top-notch RCI affiliated resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and make a vacation out of it, was like the icing on the cake! We were fortunate to be able to make an exchange for an excellent property above the Carlsbad Flower Fields, across from Lego Land, and just half a mile from the Gemological Institute of America, our daughter's alma mater. Our RCI Vacation Guides took extra time to get us into this resort. We were able to be there for her graduation, meet her friends, and help move her back to Idaho. Our thanks goes out to the helpful RCI employees who did, indeed, provided us with a vacation to remember.

- Barbara N. from Hailey, ID
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Oregon Trip

A few years back we were fortunate to get a summertime exchange to Otter Rock Timeshares near Newport, OR. The Oregon Coast was spectacular, and the arrangement of the resort on a high ocean cliff was beautiful. We absorbed coastal scenery, visited the Marine Center in Newport and had a great time.

- Claude R. B. from Paducah, KY
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Club Velas Vallarta

My husband and I went to this all-inclusive resort in Mexico and absolutely fell in love with Puerto Vallarta. Right on the Pacific Ocean, it is breathtakingly lovely, had fabulous tours, excellent cuisine, amazing rooms & service, and was just one of the best vacations we've taking with RCI. We'd love to go back!

My husband and I went to this all-inclusive resort in Mexico and absolutely fell in love with Puerto Vallarta. Right on the Pacific Ocean, it is breathtakingly lovely, had fabulous tours, excellent cuisine, amazing rooms & service, and was just one of the best vacations we've taking with RCI. We'd love to go back!

- Melanie K. from Buda, TX
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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This was a charming typical Mexican resort with a lot of character of old Mexico combined with modern day conveniences. The apt. was quite large with 2 BRS and 3 full size bathrooms plus a full size living room and kitchen. The view was just breathtaking of the Pacific ocean and the mountains going to the shoreline.

This was a charming typical Mexican resort with a lot of character of old Mexico combined with modern day conveniences. The apt. was quite large with 2 BRS and 3 full size bathrooms plus a full size living room and kitchen. The view was just breathtaking of the Pacific ocean and the mountains going to the shoreline.

- Margaret M. from Port St Lucie, FL
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A Vacation Guide from RCI Mexico shares his Vallarta story!

Luis R. - Vacation Stories and Travel NewsWhen I landed in Vallarta, I walked down the plane’s stairs and was hit by a blow of humid wind. I took a deep breath and got the taste of salt and the smell of coconut and the beach. I can tell I am now on vacation.

My cab driver didn’t lose his smile from the time I got into his taxi at the airport all the way to my destination: The Grand Velas Vallarta…an amazing resort. It is all-inclusive and not only is the food great, but the service is also.

Vallarta is, I believe, the most Mexican-style beach. It’s on the Pacific Ocean where indigo meets the golden sand hit by the white foam of the waves. Sayulita and Punta Mita are great areas to go surfing. I didn’t have a chance to stand on a board, but I may come back another time to do just that.

During the day, you can snorkel, go diving or maybe even swim with the dolphins - these amazing mammals have a very special personality! You can also go horseback riding across the jungle, following a refreshing noise that gets louder and louder until you see a wide column of water turned into a waterfall.  Or, you can jump into a boat to see one of the largest mammals on our planet in Banderas Bay – the hunchback whale! If you are lucky, you’ll see them jump and do acrobatics.

Heading downtown at night, I was able to enjoy a taste of local folklore: white houses with red tiles piled up between the hills, the Guadalupe church hidden behind little souvenirs stores (you can see the bricks and crown on top of the main tower peaking through) and the soft amber light of the “farolito” lightening up the main square at night full of locals, tourists, and regional music.

Vallarta is too big for a weekend or even a full week and I am sure I will have to come back to the Malecon to have an ice-cream while sitting on a bench watching people walk by or see shoppers bargain with the nice locals. I love Vallarta and the stories that become memories that make me want to come back. That is how I remember Vallarta, that’s my story. We’ve heard a lot of stories and seen a lot of pictures from RCI subscribing members about Vallarta that we will share with you this week. What’s your story? Share it here.

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Cancun Trip 2006

My daughter was graduating from high school and we knew it was going to be probably the last trip we make together as a family. We stayed at the Riviera Maya Resort and were treated like royalty. We created a great family memory that will be with us the rest of our lives. We plan on going again - although not all of us will be able to make it. We often sit back and talk about the fun time we had and all of the different things we did. We swam with dolphins, we took speed boats out among the mango forest, we scuba dived and snorkeled, and we enjoyed some great Mexican food. My husband liked sitting on the beach under the umbrella relaxing with his "drink of the day". The people that worked there were so very helpful and informative. There was even a little grocery store right at the resort so we would eat breakfast inside. My youngest enjoyed swimming up to the pool bar and getting a fruity drink made out of a pineapple. They carved it for him as he watched a face appear on the pineapple. My daughter and I enjoyed a massage on our balcony that was over the ocean as the boys went deep sea fishing. They caught some cool looking fish. My son, Brad, told his dad he thought he had the flu, but it was a little sea sickness. He had never had that before. So now we joke about the fishing trip where he "caught" the flu. We are looking forward to our next trip and creating some more great family memories!

- Diana S. from Alto, MI
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Honeymoon in Cancun 2009

In March of 2009, my husband and I took our perfect honeymoon vacation at the Sun Palace Resort in Cancun. The things we loved most were the romantic candlelight honeymoon dinner, the beautiful beach with wait staff who tended to us whenever we needed anything, our gorgeous room with unbelievable ocean view and Jacuzzi, drinks on the beach, great food, and no hassles. Our stay at the Palace Resort included the Palace Passport, which meant that we could take free excursions from our resort. We visited historic Tulum and took the Paradise snorkeling trip. We loved that we could go to other Palace resorts and use their facilities and eat & drink in their restaurants without having to pay a thing. On this trip we enjoyed the Beach Palace, Cancun Palace and Xpu Ha Palace resorts. From excellent food and drinks to making new friends and enjoying our special honeymoon time together, this was the perfect trip!

- Debbie S. from Sobieski, WI
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Cape Cod Falmouth

We vacationed this summer in Falmouth on Cape Cod. Four generations of our family made the trip this year. What an experience. The great grandchildren loved the ocean. We spent a lot of time at Woodneck Beach. We were surprised to see starfish on the beach the first time in our many years on the Cape. The men in our family including our 5 year old great grandson went deep-sea fishing. What a great time they had. The best part was they caught fish that we enjoyed for dinner and packaged some for future dinners. Our stay at Briarwood Resort was enjoyable. Our 18 mo. grandson loved the pool activities. We will remember this family trip with joy.

- John B. from Cortland, NY
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