beaches

Unique Sands of the Caribbean

We all have bucket lists of things we want to do and places we’re dying to visit, right? For us, it may come as no surprise that the great beaches of the Caribbean & Mexico are sure to fill up our list. And while you’d probably anticipate the picturesque setting of crystal blue waters and soft, white sands, we’re always up for seeing beaches that are known to be a little bit more unique. So this week, we’re suggesting you add these Caribbean beaches with unique sands to your list.

Pink Sands of Bermuda

Bermuda. It’s one of the Caribbean’s most easy going islands; full of high-end resorts, picture perfect golf courses, vibrant culture and, our favorite – beautiful beaches. In addition to the near-perfect turquoise waters, the sands of the Bermuda beach are unlike anywhere else. Formed from the remains of ancient shells and corals, Bermuda is known for it’s lightly rose, pinky-colored sands, making it number one on our list of must-see sands in the Caribbean.

In Bermuda, the contrast of the crystal clear waters and pink-hued sands are the perfect setting for a vacation that’s unlike any other. One of our favorite resorts to experience these iconic beaches is Fairmont Southampton. Here, you’ll find five-star luxury that offers great diving, award-winning golf and nine unforgettable restaurants, among many other things.

Bermuda - Pink Sand Beach - CheapCaribbean.com

Start your day with a trip to Willow Stream Spa for The Rose Renewal treatment, a gentle exfoliation followed by a bath infused with chamomile and rose petals. Then, chose between teeing up at one of Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play Golf,” or a dive trip planned at the Fairmont Southampton’s PADI-certified dive shop. And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a Dark and Stormy from beach-side Cabana Bar & Grill and a sunset unlike any other, while rubbing your toes in the sugary pink sands home to the beach at the Fairmont Southampton. As night falls, chose from fresh seafood at the Ocean Club or a personalized Bermuda Moon Dance, where a dedicated butler will serve you an intimate five-course meal, including champagne, all on the beach.

There’s no denying that not only will you love the pink sand beaches of Bermuda, but your stay at Fairmont Southampton is sure not to disappoint.

Black Sands of St. Lucia

St. Lucia is an island in the Caribbean that’s often times associated with tropical luxury. A perfect setting for a romantic getaway or someone looking for some ultimate R&R, St. Lucia is home to soft sands, warm and inviting waters and a long list of resorts ready to cater to your every need.

To experience the dark, black sands that can be found in St. Lucia, you’ll want to visit the west coast of the island, particularly the South West region called Anse Chastanet. This area features large, lush palm trees, deep blue waters and rich dark gray/black volcanic sand. We recommend staying right smack dap on this beach at the resort, Anse Chastanet.

St. Lucia - Black Sand Beach - CheapCaribbean.com

This resort sits amongst 600 tropical acres and the Bay of Chastanet, which lies at the end of a rugged, 2-mile forest road, giving you the feeling you’re nearly a world away from home. After exploring the reefs and dive sites among the bay, you can hop on the resort-provided water-taxi service to experience the picturesque town of Soufriere, 2 miles south. If you make the trip here, you’ll want to see St. Lucia’s signature twin mountains, the Pitons. When dinner time approaches, try one of the three restaurants that uses herbs & produce grown in the resort’s own gardens on the former sugar and cocoa plantation of Anse Marmin, which remains on property.

As you can probably guess, the unique black sands of this region of St. Lucia aren’t the only reason why this is one of our must-visit tropical escapes.

White Sands of the Bahamas

And our list of most unique sands in the Caribbean wouldn’t be complete without our vote for the whitest beach around. Not only is the Bahamas home to some of the clearest waters around (you can see as deep as 200 feet in some places), the sands of the island of Exuma are so white it’s hard to imagine a place like this really exists. This stretch of islands boasts 365 islands and cays, all virtually untouched by man. Perhaps that’s just one of the reasons this is said to be a favorite amongst Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Rightfully so, we think this place is the perfect spot for a couples getaway. Whether a honeymoon or anniversary celebration, or simply a romantic getaway, let us suggest Sandals Emerald Bay as your resort of choice. This couples-only haven sits on a one-mile stretch of the whitest sand and clearest blue waters, making it an iconic setting to fall in love with each other all over again.

Exuma, Bahamas - White Sand Beach - CheapCaribbean.com

Spend your day bouncing between the resort’s half-acre, zero-entry pool with a fire pit in the middle, for example, and the complimentary loungers strung along the stretch of ivory, white sand. You can also set sail to explore the 365 islands and cays at the Emerald Bay Marina by Sandals. And when it’s time to eat, chose from one of seven dining options, such as conch salads and seafood fritters at Barefoot by the Sea or impeccable French cuisine at La Parisienne. Your nightcap will complete with live music or a themed party that Sandals is made famous for.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time you experienced something different and bucket-list worthy? Grab your pen and start marking things off your list with a trip to one of these unique sanded beaches of the Caribbean. The beach is calling…

See What Life has to Offer Underneath the Water

A lot of times when we imagine jetting away to a Caribbean island, we think of beautiful beach views, ice-cold beverages and lots of R&R. And while this all sounds like a perfect way to spend your time off, there’s plenty of other activities to explore, including some under the water. The Caribbean and Mexico are home to some of the most beautiful beaches and some even more stunning sea life. Here are a few of the best Caribbean & Mexico snorkeling resorts, where you can discover the wonders of the sea with your very own eyes.

Snorkeling's Best Kept Secret: Riviera Maya

The first ‘Snorkeler's Paradise’ we’d recommend is in Riviera Maya. Located just outside of Cancun, Riviera Maya is an ideal Mexican destination to embark on an underwater adventure but also still enjoy everything an all-inclusive resort has to offer. One of our favorites here is 5-star, all-inclusive Valentin Imperial Maya. This large resort is located on Playa del Secreto, or “The Secret Beach,” making it a perfect hiding place to catch some beautiful snorkeling views as well.

Best Snorkeling Beaches in Mexico & Caribbean from Cheapcaribbean.com

It’s been rumored that there is a very active sea turtle life here. In fact, there’s a good chance you can catch a mother turtle harvesting her eggs somewhere along the half-mile stretch of stunning beach.

The great thing about the location of this resort is it makes for quick, easy access to Cozumel, which also boosts some unforgettable snorkeling and adventure. When you aren’t busy wearing out your goggles and mask, be sure to take advantage of all the amenities this resort offers. There are eight full restaurants, all sampling different cuisines from all over the world and nine bars with all types of concoctions and beverages that will leave you thirsty for more.  And during the day, bounce between the three different pools, Jacuzzi and even get a round of sand volleyball going. This secluded resort is the perfect place to lay your head after a long day of thrill seeking mixed with a little relaxation.

Luxury and Snorkeling Combined: Grand Cayman Island

If you’re interested in understated luxury paired with the best Caribbean snorkeling, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is an absolute must.  Grand Cayman Island sits on Seven Mile Beach, which is infamous for its breathtaking scenery, as well as underwater views. Reefs like Cemetery Reef surround this island, where schools of Sergeant Majors surround the swimmers or Cheeseburger Reef, where 10 feet of water is home to plenty of friendly fish and iconic coral. And don’t underestimate the beaches on the Marriott shore…these current-free waters are home to parrotfish, yellowtail damsels and other colorful species just waiting to show off for snorkelers.

Best Snorkeling Beaches in Caribbean & Mexico, Grand Cayman Island from Cheapcaribbean.com

The crystal clear waters of Seven Mile Beach will practically be summoning you into diving underwater and seeing what colorful sea life accompanies these beaches.

Not only will you find colorful coral and playful sea creatures, this resort is home to 303 guests rooms and 4 deluxe suites that are the most spacious on the island. A recent renovation now allows for guests to take advantage of an all-inclusive option, fully equipped with four different restaurants and unlimited cocktails. When you’re not busy taking in the views on the iconic Seven Mile Beach, take a dip in the free form pool and hot tub that stretches 85 feet along the beach. With a resort that’s focused on luxury AND located on some of the best snorkeling waters in the world, your vacation and underwater adventure is calling…and we suggest picking up that call.

One Stop Shop for Snorkeling and Fun: Cancun 

For those of you that have been to Cancun, you know that this destination is never lacking in its imperial beaches, saucy nightlife and a wide selection of resorts that are sure not to disappoint. Named one of the “Top 20 Resorts in Mexico,” by Travel +Leisure, Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa is one of our favorites if you’re looking for quality time with some of earth’s friendliest creatures.

Best Snorkeling Beaches in Caribbean & Mexico, Cancun from Cheapcaribbean.com

The onsite lagoon makes it easier than ever to spend some quality time with Mother Nature's creatures of the sea.

Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa is the only area resort offering beaches on three sides and a chance to swim with dolphins right on the hotel grounds. You can even book a room with a view of the dolphin pool. The private saltwater lagoon, unique to Dreams Cancun, is filled with sea turtles and tropical fish. There are also dolphins at Delphinus Dreams Cancun complex, making it easy to take a dip with these fun, friendly creatures. This Dreams resort is the ultimate family vacation with an Explorer’s Club for the kids, private beach, freshwater pool and a ton of all-inclusive dining and drinking options. Look no further if your idea of the ultimate family vacation has everything you need all in one place.

No matter if you spend so much time in the water you almost consider yourself an honorary member of the sea, or just like to spend a little bit of time seeing what's beneath the surface, these destination hot spots and resorts are the ideal way to see it all. If you're dying for more recommendations on snorkeling spots or looking for more insights as your gearing up for your next vacation, check out all of our vacation articles here.

New Year, New Travel: Your 2013 Travel Radar

It’s time to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to a brand new, fresh year. You’ve probably got big plans for the New Year. We do. 2013 will be packed full of new beaches and better deals. Here’s a sneak peek at a few places you’ll want to keep your eye on in 2013.

Los Cabos: The Ultimate West Coast Getaway

Sitting at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos is located where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. While Los Cabos has been a stable in tourism as early as the 1940s, this area is expected to be the ultimate West Coast getaway this year. This is a beach aficionado’s dream vacation with World Class fishing, diving and award-winning golf courses and spas all located here.

Cabo Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Known as “the Corridor,” this well paved, four-lane stretch offers cliff-top views, which are especially outstanding in January and February, when gray whales often spout close to shore.

A Los Cabos resort you’ll want to put on your radar this year is Dreams Los Cabos Golf Resort & Spa. This Unlimited-Luxury ® hotel is located in the midst of “the Corridor” which lends its beautiful panoramic views of Baja, Mexico. With plenty for the whole family, parents receive a refreshing drink and kids get milk and cookies upon arrival, for example.

Cabo Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

The whole family can relax and let loose at the adults-only or kids pool options.

The resort boasts an infinity pool, which appears to blend into the sea, as well as a tranquility pool for adults only and a kid’s pool. Fully equipped with two swim up bars, your glass will never go empty. If you’re feeling adventurous give the Euro-bungee a shot, or take advantage of a cooking class or cocktail-mixing lesson. There’s six different restaurants and five bars, offering a wide variety of food and drinks…something that will satisfy every palette. Don't forget to schedule a round at one of the eight world-class courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, II and Jack Nicklaus, among others. If you’re looking for a serene, luxurious stay that’s perfect for the whole family, this Dreams resort is the only choice for your 2013 vacation.

Puerto Vallarta: The Friendliest Caribbean Vacation Spot

Once a tiny fishing village, Puerto Vallarta is now a world-class resort area that has retained all the quaint charms of its original village, as well as offers the top-of-the-line vacation we all dream for. It’s also been named one of the friendliest and cleanest beach destinations in the world. Puerto Vallarta has something special for everyone, regardless of your personal preferences. If you’re looking for cultural events, romance, epic nightlife, just to name a few, Puerto Vallarta is the beach destination for you. There’s definitely something special here for everyone, making Puerto Vallarta one of our destinations to keep your eye on this year.

Puerto Vallarta Caribbean Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Spend some time at the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort and see why this destination wins the award for "friendliest beach."

Our recommendation for a resort in Puerto Vallarta is Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. The Hilton Puerto Vallarta boasts 259 rooms and suites, each featuring the luxurious Hilton Serenity Bed and Bath Collection™. Its majestic views of Banderas Bay will make all your worries disappear. The Hilton Puerto Vallarta offers 2 pools, including an infinity view with a great view of the bay and mountains. With a Beach Bar that vows to always keep your drink full, you’ll never have to go without here. As you get hungry choose from one of five delectable on-site restaurants, each offering a different type of cuisine and menu. The Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort is the perfect match when making plans for your vacation this year.

Cancun: The Classic Beach Destination 

Cancun has been a popular destination in Mexico for many years. It’s known for its mega resorts, translucent turquoise waters and powder-white sandy beaches. Cancun has a long list of resorts to choose from, with plenty of options to appease anyone’s tastes. There are plenty of familiar places to shop, great restaurants and even better nightlife – the perfect combination for the beach vacation of your dreams. We anticipate that it’ll remain a hot spot this year with some great deals you won’t want to miss.

Cancun Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Shopping malls like Luxury Avenue and La Isla make shopping in Cancun a unique mix of the familiar and authentic Mexican culture.

One of our Cancun favorites for 2013 is the new Secrets The Vine Cancun. This resort is one of the newest properties in Cancun and offers elegance and luxury, all on a budget. The adult-only resort features a 12,580 sq ft full-service spa, as well as three infinity pools equipped with sun decks and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Spend some time on the white, sandy beach and relax in a lounger while the wait staff keeps your beverage full and cold.

Cancun Vacation Deals from Cheapcaribbean.com

Secrets The Vine Cancun is a modern twist on the classic vacation you'd expect to have in Mexico.

As you start to get hungry, sample one of the seven on-site restaurants that offer cuisine from all over the world. The evenings at Secrets The Vine Cancun include a live show in the resort’s open-air theater or live music spread about the entire resort. Be sure to head to Enoteca for wine pairings and tastings. There’s not enough we could say about this resort – if you’re planning a trip to Cancun, take advantage of this luxurious resort all while sparing your wallet.

Celebrate a Caribbean Holiday

As the holidays are fast approaching, everyone is sure to be buying last minute gifts and getting them under the tree. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but perhaps the best part of the holidays is the traditions we all share with our families. The Caribbean and Mexico are no different. Here are a few island traditions you might want to incorporate to your celebrations this year.

The Tropical Celebration of Christmas

The Bahamas is home to a holiday Junkanoo celebration that takes place the day after Christmas on December 26th. In the dark hours of the morning, everyone gathers to dance through Bay Street, Nassau’s town center. During the Junkanoo festival you can expect to see infamous dance troupes, musicians, drums, cowbells, whistles, horns and brightly colored, imaginative costumes. The festival usually occurs between the hours of 2am to 10am. At the end of the famous Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes for best music, best costume and best overall group presentation.

Bahama Junkanoo Festival Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

A traditional Junkanoo costume pictured below. Photo credit by Elizabeth A. Gay.

While there are many different accounts on how the Junkanoo festival gained its popularity throughout the years, it’s believed to be developed in the days of slavery. In the late 18th century, Loyalists brought over enslaved people who were given three days off at Christmas. They celebrated their days off by singing and dancing in colorful masks, often on stilts. Once slavery was abolished, this Bahamian holiday tradition seemed to live on.

Nine Nights of Christmas

Mexico is home to “Las Posadas,” a massive celebration and build up to Christmas Eve, the biggest holiday of the year here. Beginning December 16th, each night after dark, a candlelit procession begins where individuals play the parts of Mary and Joseph or their pictures are carried. Each night the procession makes it way to a particular home, where a special song is sung and the travelers ask if there is any room for the members of the procession. For nine nights the procession continues until Christmas Eve, when finally they are granted access.

Mexico Vacations for Los Posadas from Cheapcaribbean.com

Children dress up as they participate in Las Posadas. Photo Credit: David Young-Wolff/ALAMY

Once everyone gets inside the house, a celebration occurs where traditional Mexican dishes, like tamales and ponche or atole (traditional hot drinks) are served. Children break piñatas and receive candy in celebration. The nine nights of las posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine-day journey to Bethlehem or the nine months Mary carried her child. This celebration is one of the better-known holidays throughout Mexico and holds significant meaning to everyone who participates.

Caribbean Christmas Food

There are many different types of celebrations and traditions throughout all of the Caribbean and Mexico. And with all these different celebrations come delicious, traditional holiday dishes and recipes. In Barbados, you’d find jug-jug, an island favorite made from ham, guinea corn flour and peas and is accompanied by traditional Christmas fixings. If you’re in Costa Rica for the holidays, you can expect chicken and pork tamales that are cooked in plantain leaves, accompanied by eggnog and rum punch.

Costa Rica Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Pork and chicken tamales are traditional holiday food in Costa Rica.

Jamaicans prepare Christmas dinner with a tropical twist, including rice and gungo peas, chicken, oxtail and curried goat. You’ll also want to try the festive Christmas drink, Sorrel. It’s made from dried sorrel sepals, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, orange peel and rum and is served over ice.

While everyone’s holiday traditions and plans always differ, it’s never a bad idea to incorporate something tropical into your season this year. We’d love to hear some of your holiday traditions. Share yours with us here!

Fun for the Whole Family!

There are many types of vacations people can take. Some prefer adventure; some prefer ultimate romance, while others want to make a vacation a family event. The Caribbean and Mexico are perfect places to plan a fun-filled family vacation. If you're looking to bring the whole crew, check out some of these family friendly suggestions.

The Bahamas: Paradise for Everyone

The islands that make up the Bahamas each have their own unique flavor but still all offer a sense of Caribbean life and culture - a great combo when bringing everyone along. Specifically, Paradise Island has all the amenities a family would want or need. A great budget-friendly option for accommodations on Paradise Island is Comfort Suits Paradise Island.

Paradise Island Bahamas Family Fun Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

Comfort Suites Paradise Island doesn't sacrifice amenities but still is easy on the pocketbook.

Not only will you find a pool lagoon tucked in the tropical paradise that is Paradise Island, a swim up bar to satisfy the adults thirst, dining options and free breakfast buffet, but children 12 and under stay free. Yep, you read that correctly. If your family has kiddos under the age of 12, they can stay here at no charge. Another great feature to this resort is its easy access to Atlantis, the mega resort on this island. At Comfort Suites Paradise Island, you get free access to the lagoons, lazy-river, pools, casino, waterslides and beach of Atlantis. And don't forget Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park with a kids' water-play fort. This Bahamian dream brings all the adventure your family is looking for but keeps your wallet under wraps - sounds like a perfect family vacation to us!

Cancun's Classic Family Getaway

Cancun is known for its crystal clear beaches and fun atmosphere. This destination became one of the first Mexican tourist locales years ago, meaning Cancun has what it takes to build the perfect family friendly getaway. With a long list of excursions and tons of resorts plucked onto the coast, Cancun is sure not to disappoint. A great family inspired resort here is the Oasis Cancun.

Oasis Cancun Family Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Hang with the kiddos at the free-form resort pool. Be sure to swim over to the waterfalls and have a ball.

Oasis Cancun is one of Cancun's first all-inclusive resorts and offers 959 air-conditioned guestrooms in different buildings shaped like Mayan pyramids. This grand resort has something for everyone. With a resort style pool, three swim up bars and a resort marina equipped with paddleboats and kayaks, your days here will be filled with fun in the sun. In the evening, check out one of the live shows or venture to the Up and Down Disco. There's even a nine-hole, par-3 golf course if you're up for a friendly game of golf. There's also easy access to some of Cancun's most splendid excursions, like the Mayan pyramids at Chicen Itza or take a fun zip lining tour. Bottom line is the Oasis Cancun is a Cancun classic well equipped to offer your entire family a vacation they'll never forget.

Dominican Republic: A Fresh Take on Family Fun

The Dominican Republic has always been a beautiful Caribbean destination, but in recent years has gained more popularity as a tourist destination. The main parts of this destination have silky sandy beaches and great all-inclusive resorts, making it a great choice when planning the next family vacation. One of our family vacay picks for the Dominican Republic is Riu Palace Punta Cana.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic Family Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

Let the kids hang out in the pool while you swim up to the bar for a quick cocktail.

Located on Arena Gorda beach, Riu Palace Punta Cana has a whole lot of resort to offer. You'll be 150 ft. from the beach with full all-inclusive access to some of the other Riu resorts in this complex, which packs multiple vacations in one. Lounge in a beach recliner while the kids play in the children's pool and poolside drink service accommodates your every need. If you're in the hunt for a little alone time for you and your significant other, let the kiddos hang out at Riu Palace Punta Cana's supervised kid's club, while you take advantage relaxing spa. Don't worry, there's a playground, tennis court and complimentary scuba lesson to satisfy all your vacation urges. And remember...with access to other Riu resorts in the complex you take advantage of their bars and late night hangouts if you're out on a date night.

Gone are the days of having to stress about what will everyone do on the next vacation. No need to question if there will be something that everyone will enjoy. By picking one of these family friendly resorts, you can truly unwind and let everyone have a little bit of fun. After all, family vacations can account for some of the best memories. Start planning yours now!