Barbados

Vacations So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades

If you’re on vacation, no one has to convince you to enjoy yourself. And if that vacation finds you lounging by a Caribbean or Mexico beach, we’d all agree that you’ve probably hit the jackpot. This week throw on your favorite shades and start packing your bags, as we outline a few places that we consider “vacation gold.”

The DR’s vacation hot spot: Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus

La Romana in the Dominican Republic is home to white, powdery sands, turquoise waters and sky high palm trees, making it the perfect setting for the vacation of a lifetime. And why not stay at the #1 rated resort in the Bayahibe area? That’s why we’d suggest Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus for your well-deserved getaway.

A winner of TripAdvisor’s 2011 Traveler’s Choice Award, Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus has something to offer everyone. For the water enthusiast, the onsite Dressel Divers International Diving Center has several excursions a day, seven days a week, to multiple diving locations. For guests looking to spend more time on shore, you can opt to divide your time between the shady, thatched huts on the shore or one of the three resort pools, including a 20-person, cool-water spa.

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And when you’re looking for nourishment, stop by the El Faro Beach Bar or main pool’s swim-up bar. There are a total of seven restaurants and two bars, all featured on the all-inclusive option here.

Live Like the Rich & Famous: Crane Resort and Residences

Crane Beach is known for its powdery pink sands and sparkling waters, making it a true must-visit beach. Crane Beach was named “One of the 10 Best Beaches in the World,” by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, in addition to “Top 50 Places to Go Before You Die,” by BBC’s Holiday Programme. So when we say this a must-visit beach, we really mean it.

The Crane Resort and Residences is the place to stay when you’re looking to take it all in on this iconic beach. From the moment you arrive, the resort’s management and staff will go above and beyond to make sure your vacation is everything you’ve hoped for - just one of the many reasons this resort’s staff has been given the AAA designation.

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When you’re not busy perusing the pink, sparkly sands of this beach, hang out at any of the infinity edge private pools or the individual plunge pools that are unique to all two-bedroom residences on the upper floors of the resort. When it’s time to eat, take advantage of the kitchen or kitchenette that comes standard in all 146 suites or venture to try one of the five restaurants, which have been twice nominated by Zagat as best food in Barbados. There’s no denying that your trip to Crane Beach in Barbados will give you that flashy taste of lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Cancun’s Trendiest Beach Buzz 

Our next favorite for the ultimate beach getaway comes to us from the hotel zone in Cancun. Secrets the Vine is the newest hotspot in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area and sure isn’t lacking on the beach luxury.

This adult-only hot spot comes fully equipped with Ultimate Luxury® amenities, including premium drinks, food and even the Secrets Spa by Pevonia. This 12,580 sq. ft. spa offers a huge range of massages and beauty treatments, plus 12 indoor massage spa suites and two couples’ suites.

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Spend your days on a cozy sun lounger under shady umbrellas or lounge by one of the three infinity pools, which include tanning decks and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Don’t worry; full-service pool staff is on call to make sure your glass never goes empty. As nighttime falls, explore one of the seven on-site restaurants, including Mediterranean and Latin cuisines. And after dinner, venture to the open-air theater, or take in some live music provided every night of the week. It’s no surprise this exclusive Cancun hotspot is an absolute must when planning your rockin’ beach vacation.

So as you can see the recipe for the ultimate beach vacation requires just a few things – the beach, some fun in the sun, and of course – you. So grab your favorite pair of shades and prepare for the vacation of a lifetime at any of these fine beach destinations, or share your favorites with us below. Party on!

Ride These Top Rated Surfing Spots

Does the thought of catching a monster wave on a Caribbean beach sound like a dream? There’s no doubt that the Caribbean & Mexico are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but there’s even a few that are home to waves perfect for any surfing enthusiast.  Whether you’re an avid surfer or simply contemplating a few waves on your next beach vacation, here are a few recommendations of top-notch surf spots.

Start Your Surf Adventure Off Right

Barbados is one the Caribbean’s most ideal places to go on a surfing adventure for lots of reasons. First, it’s known for its consistent climate and weather, making any time of year an optimal time to visit. Because of the ideal weather, it leaves surfing conditions consistent year-round. The waves on the southern coast range from about two to six feet high – perfect for the beginning surfer.

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Stop by Zed's Surf School for a quick lesson before you hit these beautiful waves.

For those of you looking to take some lessons or learn the basics, word on the street is Zed’s Surfing Adventure is the place to go. They offer group and private lessons and provide board rentals as well. This past weekend the Barbados Independence Pro took place and brought some fierce surfing competitors who went head-to-head for the title. Congratulations to Cody Thompson on winning the 2012 Men’s Hyundai Independence Pro Challenge.

Copyright Mark Harris

Congratulations to Cody Thompson, winner of the 2012 Barbados Independence Pro.

For a resort that compliments your surfing adventure, we’d suggest Almond Casuarina All Inclusive Beach Resort. This resort does a great job of blending elegance with the relaxation and casual element most people seek on vacation. There are 289 newly refurbished, apartment style rooms, four different restaurants and two bars to satisfy the foodie in you. It’s also located right on Dover beach, where you’ll find beautiful views and possible a wave or two you can test out the water with. The Almond Casuarina Beach Resort is almost a no-brainer for all the want-to-be surfers out there.

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Enjoy some downtown at this beautiful Barbados resort in the heart of the surfing region.

Consider Yourself a Surfista? Get Here Now.

Naming Puerto Rico as one of our top surfing destinations might surprise you, but Puerto Rico is home to an area called Rincón. This spot is known for its minimum 10-foot waves and huge breaks making it a surfing dream. Rincón is the Caribbean’s answer to other surf destinations outside of the Caribbean.

But the good news is Puerto Rico isn’t just built only for experts, there’s places along the Rincón coast that offer clean, small waves which are good for any level. If you’re looking for a solid place to take a lesson, check out Rincón’s Surf School, where there are lessons for all levels and time frames.

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Rincon Beach Resort is a perfect place to spend your off time when you're not busy killing the monster waves here.

When choosing where you’ll spend the time you’re not out on the waves, we’d suggest Rincón Beach Resort. This boutique hotel is tucked outside of San Juan and home to a sandy beachfront that compliments those looking to catch some R&R. Spend some time in the infinity pool with a swim up bar that can mix up a refreshing cocktail or two to reward yourself after a day on the waves. The stretch of beach that calls this resort home is calm and perfect for a paddleboat or just an afternoon spent lounging. With dining and drink options that are fit for a king, this resort is the only option for some secluded downtime after the waves.

Calling All Expert Surfers

The Bahamas are often timed named for their stunning beaches and blue waters. History also lends itself to the inhabitants being primarily pirates hundreds of years ago. But did you know that the Bahamas can also be named for the multiple beaches that are great for surfing. One of our favorites is the small area of Abaco in the Bahamas. The Abaco Islands are a set of small islands that is home to one of the best cays for surfing, called Elbow Cay.

Elbow Cay offers the best waves during the months of September and March. There are a total of four different areas in Elbow Cay that are good surf spots. These areas are also known to be fairly advanced and are often packed with lots of locals, as well as tourists. You won’t find a ton of surf lessons or schools in these parts, but if you’re looking to surf some gnarly waves and consider yourself an advanced skill set, a trip here might be a requirement.

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This hidden treasure of a resort is perfectly located to some great surfing spots, and equipped with plenty of amenities that make your trip unforgettable.

In terms of where you should stay, we’d suggest living a local and giving Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina a try. This resort is part of a quaint Bahamian Village known as Treasure Cay. It’s a low key and tranquil spot that attracts travelers looking to relax on their downtime from exploring these waters. Possibly one of the best features is the fine dining options that overlooks the marina or Coco Beach Bar, located directly on the white sands for a beach bite during the day. You’ll have the luxury of living a Bahamian life while you’re there…an option that sounds like a true surfer’s paradise.

No matter which category you fall into, there’s not denying that the time spent on a surfboard, just you and wave can be some of the most exhilarating, therapeutic time. That’s why we suggest giving a surf trip or lesson a shot. With some of these great surfing destinations and recommendations, the last piece of advice we’ll offer you is…surf’s up!

 

Now Serving: Spooktacular Caribbean Vacations this Halloween

Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Dia De Los Muertos, All Saint’s Day…a few of the many names for October 31st. This time of year means you’re probably busy deciding what costume you’ll wear or hoping to receive plenty of your favorite bite size candy this year. As the many names for this holiday illustrates, Halloween brings about lots of history and culture, especially in the Caribbean and Mexico. Here are a few spooky legends you might want to investigate the next time you’re visiting.

Atlantis: Lost or Found?

The Atlantis Paradise Island Royal Tower Hotel is a 4-star resort packed full of amenities, a Dolphin Cay, 141-acre water park, 11 gigantic pools and endless amounts of food and beverage options. But it’s been built and modeled after the supposed lost civilization of Atlantis.

As Plato, the great Greek philosopher, describes the legend, Atlantis was a beautiful continent-sized island that existed somewhere east of the Pyrenees and Morocco and as far west as the Yucatan. The actual location of this forgotten city has been controversial for years, with accounts saying it existed as far as Antarctica. And while there’s been so much mystery around the existence of this mysterious island, divers have discovered remnants of what could be considered Atlantis.

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Exploring the new Atlantis is a great tribute to the forgotten city.

The mystery of this advanced civilization has never been solved but a trip of tribute to The Atlantis Paradise Island Royal Tower Hotel might be the perfect way to resurrect the legend of Atlantis and prove to be the ultimate family vacation.

Jamaica: White Witch of Rose Hall

Quite possibly one of the more recognizable stories of Jamaican spooks is the story of the White Witch of Rose Hall. Rose Hall is a massive Georgian-style mansion that was built in the 1770s, high on the hill overlooking the Caribbean waters. Sugar plantation owner, John Palmer owned the property and lived there with his Haitian wife, Annie.

Annie practiced voodoo and appeared to be a harsh mistress of the mansion and one that all the plantation workers strongly disliked because of her cruel and unusual mentality. In protest, the workers revolted against her and brought her to her fate in the Rose Hall mansion. A ritual was performed to rid the property of her soul but was not completed and is why her ghost is rumored to live on. It’s since been renovated after its demise during the great Jamaica slave revolution in the early 1800s.

Rose Hall Jamaica Vacation at Cheapcaribbean.com

Snoop around this spooky Caribbean house and see what trouble you can find.

Tours of the property are available daily and led by traditional Jamaican tour guides. They’ll take you through the great house, walk you through each bedroom, the myriad of secret passageways throughout the house and the basement – said to be the site of the dungeon she used for punishment. Make sure to stop by the bar serving cold drinks and a place to sit and take in the ambiance. And the tour will wrap up at the grave of Annie Palmer. Visitors of Rose Hall have taken pictures and swear they see images of Annie in their pictures, confirming that her tortured soul lives on.

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Look out at the night horizon while you contemplate the day spent searching for White Witch of Rose Hall

A great place to stay located near this haunted tour is Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa. Don’t worry, you won’t find any lurking haunts here. Hilton Rose Hall Resort is all about luxury and making sure you can truly relax after your spooky day. After a trip to the swim up bar for a drink and a meal at one of the four restaurants, finish up the day with a nap on the sugar-sand beach.  Whether you’re in for exploring the legend that is the White Witch of Rose Hall or just in the mood for a relaxing Jamaican vacation, there’s never been a better time to head out on a jet plane.

Barbados: The Chase Vault, open or closed?

Another Caribbean legend comes from the island of Barbados. In Christ Church Graveyard, a small parish’s cemetery stands The Chase Vault.  This tomb is located at the entrance of the cemetery in Barbados and is built of large cemented blocks of coral. During the early 1800s, the Chase family bought the vault to bury the family in one place.

Over a period of about 15 years, each member was buried in the vault. The first was an infant, Mary Chase who was buried in 1808. In 1812, daughter Dorcas Chase was buried there due to a suicide and then Colonel Chase was placed in the vault the following month. The peculiar part is that upon adding each coffin, the coffins inside the vault were not in their original spot. Eventually six people would be put in the vault and each time it was opened to add a family member, the existing coffins would not be in their original spot.

In July of 1819, the governor of Barbados ordered a professional investigation. When the caskets had been put right and the tomb was resealed, the governor put impressions of his signet ring into the wet cement to ensure nobody could go into the crypt late at night and move things around. Additionally, sand was sprinkled on the floor to capture any evidence of trespassers. In April of 1820, the vault was opened for the last time. As the men tried opening the tomb, they had trouble opening it and had to call more people over to help get the tomb opened. Once the door was finally opened it revealed Colonel Chase’s casket blocking the door and the other coffins scattered around the room. The signet ring in the vault was still clearly showing and the sand showed no signs of trespassers. After this, the governor ordered the caskets be buried separately and the crypt has been empty ever since.

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Enjoy a beautiful, tranquil view at Ocean Two where there's sure to be nothing lurking around.

While the story of the Chase Vault has and will most likely remain a mystery, that doesn’t mean a trip to Barbados to explore the island for yourself is a bad idea. The perfect place to stay amidst your Caribbean expedition is Ocean Two Barbados. This is a 4-star resort that’s tucked in the ancient arms of a secluded bay and surrounded by pearled, white sands. Ocean Two in Barbados is the perfect spot to relax after your days of exploration, whether it’s the hunt to solve the mystery or just to see some of this beautiful Caribbean island. There’s a large sun deck, a convenient swim-up bar and poolside cabanas that are the perfect way to spend your days. There are also great menu options and a roof deck that awaits you. Ocean Two is the compliment to a spooky expedition of this historic island.

Whether spooky Caribbean settings are calling your name or the crystal clear waters of these oceans are more your taste, a beach vacation is the perfect way to celebrate this iconic holiday. All of these Caribbean islands bring rich culture and mysterious history that’s unlike anywhere else, so the next time you’re on vacation be sure to embark on an unforgettable journey.

Doctor’s Orders: Take a Vacation and Relax

You’re busy. And you probably think there’s never a good time to take a vacation. But what if it were good for your health and wellbeing? There’s been recent research that’s discovered taking advantage of your vacation days and getting away from life can lead to good health and happiness.

Symptom One: Chronic Stress

We’re not denying that you probably have a lot on your plate. And no matter what your circumstances are, it all adds up to stress. And while it’s probably somewhat unavoidable, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a few days in a calm, relaxing haven to get you back to square one.

The Cure:

Yes, we’re recommending a trip to Secrets The Vine in Cancun. This 5-star ultra luxury resort is brand new to the Cancun coast. Barely open a few months, Secrets the Vine gives Unlimited-Luxury® a whole new meaning. This is a standard of service and amenities you’ll have access to, which include full all-inclusive dining options, 24-hour room and concierge service, endless access to reservation-free restaurants, bars and lounges, as well as elegantly-appointed suites with world-class amenities and the finest décor.

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Now you don't have to chose the pool scape versus the beach view. This infinity pool brings both views together.

Begin your day with a dip in the infinity pool that almost makes you feel as if you’re magically transported into the crystal clear waters of the ocean. Let the pool staff pamper you with an ice-cold signature concoction to keep your palette satisfied. Quite possibly the amenity that takes this resort to the level of ultra luxury is its spa facilities. You’ll want to schedule some time in the 12,580 square feet facility. With a full custom spa menu, including massage, body treatment, hydrotherapy therapy or facials, it’s no wonder that this is the perfect prescription to relieving chronic stress. In fact, researches from the National Institutes of Health have shown, under chronic stress our ability to think through goal-oriented decisions cease. So it’s official – you need a break to clear your mind and preserve your capacity to make good, prosperous decisions. No excuses.

Symptom Two: Exhaustion

As life doesn’t ever seem to slow down or stop, lack of sleep and the feeling of exhaustion have probably become an often occurrence, right? Well, you don’t need a doctor to tell you that that’s not good for you. As creatures of habit, avoiding a quality 7-8 hours of sleep can become the norm. But by shaking up your routine and spending a week getting the proper sleep, our bodies are able to enter a state of complete relaxation versus taking on that struggle at home.

The Cure:

Introducing Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia. This 4-star resort is the only property with the iconic view of both the Piti and Gros Piton Mountains. It sits on 600 lush tropical acres and maintains its privacy with 49 rooms that share a remotely peaceful view of either the mountains, the beach or both. If you’re not able to get your eight hours of sleep here, we’d be shocked.

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Escape into this complete paradise with a view juggling a mountainscape and crystal clear ocean view.

Spend your days exploring the beach that’s merely footsteps away, snorkel and scuba dive, as well as go jungle mountainbiking and hiking. You’ll also want to find your way to forest to hear the nocturnal tree-frog chorus and the opportunity to be one with nature. After, stop for a lounge in a hammock on the 250-yard beach fully equipped with tan/gray volcanic sand resting on stone clear waters. There’s also four restaurants and three bars to pick from where dishes and drinks are prepared with herbs and produce grown in the resort’s own gardens on the former sugar and cocoa plantation of Anse Mamin. Sleep and a complete private state of relaxation are commonalities at this top-of-the-line resort . There’s no denying this is the perfect dose of medication.

Symptom Three: Temporary Insanity

It’s so incredibly easy to get tied up with the every day. Sometimes we all want to just throw in the towel and offer a plea of “insanity” in the game called life. But besides the obvious of taking an actual vacation and escaping reality for a few days, the time leading up to your vacation can prove to be really positive in the grand scheme of things. Having something to look forward to can reduce negativity and, after your return and encourage a continued feeling of positivity.

The Cure:

Make that escape to Barbados. The Tamarind Hotel, to be exact. This 4.5-star resort is the perfect way to cure any temporary stints of insanity. A blend of Mediterranean design with vibrant Caribbean décor defines Tamarind’s style. Pristine pools nestled amid red-tiled roofs are the backdrop of your relaxation. Positioned on 750 feet of premium white sand and stunning blue waters, Tamarind Hotel is the only choice when looking to relieve built up stressors and all the things we call life.

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Dive into this beautiful beach and pool view at Tamarind Hotel in Barbados.

There are three freshwater pools hidden within the hotel’s gardens offering complete tranquility and total relaxation. 104 newly renovated guestrooms offer only the most superb accommodations, as well as a full-service spa with a range of body services inspired by local Bajan sea salt and Barbadian Moscovado brown sugar. Grab a deluxe signature spa treatment before making plans in one of the three restaurants on site or take a short water taxi ride to one of their sister properties to see what else they have to offer. With a setting so ideal for eliminating the worries from home, you’ll never want to leave.

If you’re busy thinking of all the reasons why you can’t make an escape to the beach, stop. Start thinking of all the reasons why you have to. There’s no denying that after a few short days in another reality will bring you back to life feeling less stress, well-rested and prepared to tackle the next obstacle. Your well being is just as important as all the other things going on in your life, so follow the doctor’s orders, take a vacation and relax…