Cancun

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.

Barbados Beach Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

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.

Cancun Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

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!

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.

Ooh La Luxe, Luxury Resort Deals You Can’t Pass Up

When we are shopping for vacations we’re often looking for the package that’s going to give us the most for our money. No surprise there. In fact, all our favorite vacation packages this week highlight luxury but are still slim on your budget. Take a peek and see what you think.

Boutique Luxury on a Budget

Los Cabos is an area that’s packed full of high-end, luxury resorts, including this Condé Nast Traveler pick as one of the “Top Ten Mexico Hotels.” Pueblo Bonito Pacifica is a boutique spa resort that is the perfect spot for the adult only vacation you’re planning. This trendy hotel offers tranquil views and ultimate relaxation. Couples and singles both enjoy the all-inclusive beachfront luxe life here.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Hotel in Los Cabos from Cheapcaribbean.com

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica serves up beautiful Pacific Ocean views as well as pure relaxation and tranquility.

Spend your days lounging on a Bali bed on the beach or making friends with the bartender at the swim up bar at one of the two beachfront pools. You’ll also want to check out the daily scheduled activities, such as wine or tequila tastings, which make for a great way to give some new drinks a try. Don’t forget to schedule a customized spa treatment at Armonia Spa. We recommend the couples spa day with massages in the private couples suite, equipped with champagne and strawberries.

As the evening approaches, you’ll have to decide between one of the four signature restaurants home to this 5-star resort. Fresh local ingredients fill the menu at Siempre where chocolate fettuccine with lobster and salmon ravioli leave guests raving. There are also five bars, all with a different atmosphere, perfect for any mood you’re in. End the night by heading off to your Ocean View Suite, which comes equipped with your own butler and will prepare your room so you’ll have no trouble drifting off after a jam packed day. The best part of this whole vacation is the exclusive rates you’ll find for this winter and spring. With three night deals starting at $769 and even a $50 spa credit, this is an ultimate luxury getaway you won’t want to pass up.

Luxury Comes Alive

Cancun is home to tons of resorts and no matter what your occasion is, you can usually find a top-notch resort perfect for you. The occasion for this vacation is luxury, luxury and more luxury. And that’s just what you’ll find at Live Aqua Cancun. This resort was named “The Best Resort in Mexico” by Caribbean Travel + Life and is a beach enthusiast’s dream. Perfectly placed in Cancun’s hotel zone, all the hotel rooms at this resort have a patio that offers an ocean and pool view. Meaning you’ll wake up to crystal clear waters and beautiful Cancun sun that reminds you paradise really does exist. Not to mention, Live Aqua’s 371 rooms all offer Egyptian-cotton sheets and aromatherapy kits that might even make it hard to open the shades and get out of the beach.

Best Luxury Resort Live Aqua Cancun from Cheapcaribbean.com

Live Aqua Cancun is a luxe paradise that offers endless amenities to leave you feeling spoiled rotten.

Start your day off by reserving a private cabana and ordering a cocktail from the pool concierge and staff. You can bounce between the gorgeous infinity pools or the private swim up bar pool. Also, make sure to take advantage of the full staff and service on the beach. When it comes to dining options, choose from one of the four restaurants including MB, where celebrity chef, Guillermo Gomez prepares Latin-inspired dishes that are sure to leave you satisfied. End your evening with a stop at Ergos Bar where a DJ spins late into the night and cocktails are always flowing. And one final detail we’re sure not to leave out…for a short time only, Live Aqua Cancun four night deals start at just $879.

Jamaican Luxury, Come One, Come All

Jamaica is the epitome of the ideal Caribbean destination. Perfectly placed on a Caribbean shore with warm sun and an even warmer culture, this is a vacation that you can’t turn down. Don’t worry, Jamaica isn’t slacking on high-end, luxury resorts that fulfill your Caribbean vacation dreams either. Jewel Dunn’s River is a great luxury option that will send you home feeling pampered and relaxed, two necessities when returning from vacation.

During the day, spend some quality time on the resort’s private beach on Mammee Bay, fully equipped with lounge chairs and cabanas. Or wander back to the Jewel Dunn’s River Resort to take advantage of the Sunken Treasure swim-up bar and pool concierge service. Yep, that’s right someone will greet you at your poolside lounger to offer fresh fruit, ice-cold face towels or a mist of cool water. If a poolside concierge service doesn’t spell out luxury, then we don’t know what does.

Best Luxury Resorts in Jamaica, Jewel Dunn's River from Cheapcaribbean.com

Jewel Dunn's River is Jamaica's top pick for an adult only vacation that won't sacrifice budget or luxury.

When it comes to food, try one of the six outstanding dining options. We're big fans of the  Mediterranean fare at Moonstone by Dominic or the teppanyaki-style options at Jade Samurai, just to name a few. Jewel Dunn's River also has six different bars to sample all the local Jamaican drinks from. And the actual resort is located right in the heart of adventure with daily tours to Ocho Rios and quick cab rides to Montego Bay for some nightlife options. And of course, the best part of this vacation is three night deals start at $659, all-inclusive. Sounds a steal you can't pass up, right? That's what we thought too.

This year do your vacation right. Since budget won't a problem with these spectacular deals, it's easy to get everything you were hoping for on your getaway. You work hard and you deserve to have it all. But you'll want to grab one of the deals quick...who knows how long they'll stick around. Happy Vacation Planning!

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.

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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!