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Mexico: Puerto Vallarta, Family Vacation Ideas - Lions, Whales, Turtles, and Golf – Oh My! The arid western coast of Mexico is dramatically beautiful. The rich assortment of adventures with nature makes Puerto Vallarta a bonus destination for families. The folks at Vallarta Adventure Center offer the easiest way to participate in once-in a lifetime experiences. From whale watching and sunset cruises to turtle quests and dolphin encounters, they offer the good stuff.

Lend a hand, and learn a lot. Every year from July through November, visitors to Puerto Vallarta have the opportunity to see a true wonder of nature – the yearly migration of Olive Ridley turtles to lay their eggs, and the subsequent hatching. The Puerto Vallarta Adventures Turtle Camp offers visitors a chance to learn about some of the most ancient creatures in the world, the majestic sea turtle, as well as participate in the protection and conservation of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle.

Eco-guides lead small groups through the step-by-step sea turtle conservation process – participants will get to see protected nests, patrol the beach looking for female turtles laying eggs, and perhaps even get to see some hatchlings. Each Turtle Camp experience includes roundtrip transportation from established pick-up points to the Vallarta Adventure Center, transportation to the turtle camp, snacks and refreshments. Turtle camp occurs every Monday through Saturday July-November. Need to know: Participants should bring a camera with flash and wear long pants, walking shoes, a light jacket and natural based insect repellent (They provide natural repellent for those who may need it. Children age 5 and older, accompanied by a parent, are welcome.

Make a friend. The Vallarta Adventures’ Dolphin Center offers the chance for both swimmers and non-swimmers to get up-close and personal with Pacific bottlenose dolphins – a truly once in a lifetime experience. The 45-minute Dolphin Kids program is ideal for children ages 4-8, by providing a dolphin interaction in a specially designed education pool, while non-swimmers can examine, stroke and even kiss a dolphin all from a stable and secure submerged platform with the Dolphin Encounter program. For those looking for something beyond the popular Swimming with Dolphins program, the Trainer for a Day program is just the ticket. Participants will spend an entire say working with the center’s dolphin trainers and experience every aspect of a dolphin trainer’s day. Bonus points: For experiences booked online, there is a 10% discount.

Swim with sea lions. Every Monday through Saturday the Vallarta Adventures center offers two interactive sea lion programs, each with a different way of getting to know the playful, mischievous and affectionate sea lions living at the center. The Sea Lion Adventure gives visitors the opportunity to meet the center’s sea lion family in a specially designed waist-deep encounter pool. The Snorkeling with Sea Lions experience, alternatively, offers participants the chance to snorkel with sea lions in beautiful Banderas Bay as part of the Las Caletas Day Tour. Need to know: The minimum age for the sea lion encounters is 6 years, and children ages 6-8 must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Traipse through the tropics. Less than an hour from Puerto Vallarta, in the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains, is Vallarta Adventure’s private eco-reserve – a great way to explore the tropical flora and fauna of the Sierra Madre’s tropical forest. Visitors are invited to experience this unique ecosystem from the treetops with the Canopy Adventure. Participants will explore the reserve from hanging bridges built into the tree tops, and even try out their inner Tarzan on the Gorilla Swing. Zip lines leading from platform to platform, ninety meters above the forest floor, are sure to get anyone’s adrenaline pumping during this four and a half hour jungle exploration. The Canopy Adventure tour includes roundtrip ground transportation from the Vallarta Adventure offices, bottled water, fruit and cookies. Need to know: Participants are under the constant care and supervision of highly qualified personal who have received over 200 hours of formal training in Canopy Tour operations and safety techniques, and use only top-quality equipment that is regularly and rigorously inspected and maintained. Participants are asked to wear shorts or long pants, tennis shoes, and insect repellant.

Vallarta Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta. Phone: +52  (322) 297-1212, toll-free 1-888-303-2653 or www.vallarta-adventures.com
Content researched by Familytravelfiles.com Images provided by Tourism Board of Mexico. Copyright 2010.
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