holiday

Arrgh! Grab Your Mateys and Let Pirate Week Begin

Listen up, scallywags! It’s that time of year again - it’s Pirate Week in the Cayman Islands. If you’re considered one of the lucky ones to be in the Cayman Islands for this national festival, your days will be filled with music, street dances, competitions, games, local food & drink, and of course plenty of pirate’s booty. And since we all can’t be there to experience the party for ourselves, here’s a few ways you can bring the pirate’s booty to you. So grab your mateys and let’s party!

In the Cayman Islands, the Pirate Week festival begins on November 7th and continues through November 17th. And every day there’s a long list of themed parties, happy hours, parades, races and even a few battles. While we don’t encourage you to battle your fellow crewmembers, we do recommend conjuring up some authentic pirate themed cocktails to really get the party started.

Drink Like the Pirates Drink

Since it may come as no surprise that one of most beloved spirits of pirates was rum – light rum, dark rum, gold rum; doesn’t matter as long as it’s poured up! So drink like the pirates do with this delicious recipe for a Goombay Smash:

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • Ice cubes
  • 6 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup Malibu rum or other coconut-flavored rum
  • 2 tablespoons light rum
  • 2 tablespoons gold rum
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 pineapple wedges
  • 2 orange slices

How to make:

Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add pineapple juice, orange juice and all the rum. Cover and shake until very cold. Fill 2 short glasses with ice. Strain cocktail mixture over ice, dividing equally. Garnish with pineapple wedges and orange slices. 

Goombay Smash, Pirate Themed Drink - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: www.bonappetit.com

If you need a recipe that will accommodate all of your mates, try this Spiced Rum Recipe No. 5

Ingredients: Makes 3 ½ Cups

  • 1 bottle (750ml) medium-bodied aged rum, such as El Dorado 5 Year, Mount Gay Eclipse Black or Appleton Estate V/X
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 segment of star anise pod
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 4x1-inch strip of orange peel
  • ½ vanilla bean

How to make:

Combine rum, allspice, cloves, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg in a lidded 1-qt. jar. Twist orange peel just above the mixture to release some of its oils; add peel to jar. Split vanilla bean length-wise; scrape seeds into jar and add bean. Cover jar tightly; shake to combine. Let set in a dark place for 2 days, shaking once after the first day. Strain mixture through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve into a clean bottle; discard spices. Serve however you’d prefer – over ice, straight up, etc. 

Spiced Rum - Pirate Drink Recipe, CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: www.bonappetit.com

See the Pirates Take on the Seas

If you’re in the Cayman Islands for this unprecedented occasion, you might even be lucky enough to witness a “pirate invasion.” On the first Saturday of the festival, a battle royal between two enemy pirate vessels takes place at George Town harbor. It’s also rumored that the opposing pirates take the Governor hostage until a victor is named and the battle is over.

Pirate Week, Cayman Islands - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: www.piratesweekfestival.com

Eat Like the Pirates Do

Next, we suggest that there are plenty of pirate-inspired snacks to feed your fellow mates. Of course, it’s a definitely plus when these tasty treats can double as protection, should an enemy ship come to invade.

Pirate Themed Recipes from Betty Crocker - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: www.bettycrocker.com

Perhaps our favorite idea for a pirate themed party comes from Betty Crocker®. Treasure map pizza, a watermelon pirate ship and plenty of snacks that can be used in battle can’t help but sound like the perfect menu to us.

For your treasure map pizza, grab your preference in pizza dough and use all your favorite pizza toppings to make the treasure map that will lead your guests straight to the booty (and a full stomach, of course). Hint: you can use red pepper slices (or any sliced vegetable) to make the “x” on your treasure map.

You’ll definitely want some make shift cannon balls at your pirate themed festivities. We recommend anything round and delicious – cheese balls, grapes, whoppers, etc. Not only are these great for sharing, but also they could be very protecting should you need them. Your snack assortment could also include peg legs (pretzel sticks), mermaid bait (gushers) and fresh caught fish (cheddar fish crackers).

And it wouldn’t be the perfect pirate party set up without your gang’s pirate ship right? Using a watermelon and some DIY paper pirate sails, your watermelon pirate ship should come right together. Simply carve your watermelon into a ship-like shape and add balls of honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe and blackberries. Don’t forget to add your signature paper sails so everyone knows your ship stands tall.

Arrrgh mateys, there you have it. Now that you've got all you need to celebrate Pirate Week in style, your captain wants to know how yer plan to be celebratin'. Share yer favorite party tips in our comments below and watch out...you never know when a pirate invasion could be underway!

How to Celebrate Halloween at the Beach

With Halloween only a few days away, we hope you’re not waiting until the last minute to get your costume together – you’ve got some candy to stock up on, right? And while Halloween here in the U.S. is that one day of the year it’s acceptable to go door-to-door to asking for lots of sweet treats, we thought it might be best to celebrate Halloween like our lovely friends in the Caribbean & Mexico. While Halloween isn’t wildly celebrated throughout the Caribbean & Mexico like you’d probably imagine, it is home to some spooky places and a celebration or two. Let’s explore Halloween at the beach.

Shipwrecks: Explore the Watery Graves

Our first site to see can be found in the deep, dark waters of the Atlantic. You’ll want to put on your dive equipment to truly explore these parts. The Caribbean Sea is littered with 400 years of shipwrecks, ranging from Spanish ships that sunk in hurricanes to old war boats from World War II. For instance, just off the coast of Barbados in 2006, a yacht was found with the petrified bodies of 11 immigrants bound for the Canary Islands.

Barbados Shipwreck - NOAA - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: NOAA's National Ocean Service

With an area of ocean so heavily populated with sunken ships along with the stories & secrets of their crew, these watery graveyards are sure to give you an icy chill as you submerge yourself among the tragedies.

Blackbeard: Dead or Alive?

It’s not news that Jamaica & the Bahamas are just a few of the places that were home to some of the most infamous pirate gangs years ago. This Caribbean region is filled with tales of bloody pirate attacks, buried treasure and vivid stories of piracy on the high seas.

Perhaps the most infamous pirate of them all, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach was active in the Caribbean from 1716-1718 and known to wreck havoc to anyone he came into contact with. Not only was he known for his “demonic-like” appearance, but he also spent most of his reign in the Caribbean terrorizing the islands and other pirates.

Haunted Caribbean Hotel - British Colonial Hilton - Cheap Caribbean

Not only does the legend of a monstrous & powerful pirate live on to this day, it’s rumored that Captain Blackbeard’s ghost still haunts Old Fort Nassau, located at the British Colonial Hilton. So if an evening spent on the hunt for one of the Caribbean’s most notorious legends and enjoying 4.5 stars of amazing luxury is your idea of the perfect getaway, then an investigative stay at British Colonial Hilton is an absolute must.

In fact…it’s safe to say we’ve assigned you a mission. Let Operation: Blackbeard commence. We expect a full report upon arriving home.

Day of the Dead: Mexico’s True Celebration

So as we’re busy getting dressed up in our most creative Halloween costumes, there’s a celebration that takes place in Mexico that’s known to be one of the largest celebrations in the country and in the world. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration is a 3-day festival that honors the friends & family members who’ve passed in previous years.

Although the name insinuates that people are celebrating the ghouls & haunts that are known to come out in the U.S. Halloween holiday, this festival is meant to be a way to pray for & remember those who’ve passed away. It starts on October 31st with All Hallows’ Eve, continues with All Saints’ Day on November 1st & All Souls’ Day on November 3rd.

Photo credit: Paul Asman & Jill Lenoable

With tracings back as far as 3000 years ago, the festival is often celebrated with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos, the bread of the dead; sugar skulls & cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruits, nuts, incense; and other traditional foods & decorations. Often times, families will make plans to shower the graves of their loved ones with “ofrendas” or gifts so that the souls will hear their prayers. The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico often taken on a humorous tone as people remember funny events and positive traits of the departed.

So if you’re looking to celebrate Halloween a little bit more unconventionally this year, you’ve got a few ideas on how Halloween could potentially be celebrated in the Caribbean & Mexico.

And with that, it only leaves one question…how are you celebrating Halloween this year? Share your plans and ideas in the comment section below. Happy Halloween! 

A Letter to Your Boss on Why You Need a Vacay

Wednesday, October 16th is National Boss’s Day. It’s that special day of the year where we show appreciation to the people who we’ve learned from and those that lead us on to bigger and better things. Here at CheapCaribbean.com, after we’ve shown our appreciation for those above us, we can’t help but think that a great way to truly celebrate is to take a vacation. And in honor of it being National Boss’s Day, why not be prepared when you’re asking for the time off? Here’s a bulletproof “Letter to the Boss” on why you need & deserve a vacation.

Cheap Mexico Vacations - Boss's Day - CheapCaribbean.com

Dear Boss,

With plenty of work to do and everyone’s fully loaded plates, there’s no arguing that things can get a bit hectic around here. And while we all tend to go at about 110mph nearly all the time, it’s no surprise that a little rest & relaxation can do us all some good. That’s why I’m requesting a few days away from the office to spend some good, old-fashioned quality time with the beach. Not only can I promise that the time off will bring me back to the office feeling energized and ready to work harder than ever, but a beach vacation could potentially benefit us all.

Here’s why:

  • A beach vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico is the ONLY way to assure that I’m producing the best work possible. By unplugging from the day-to-day of our business objectives, I’ll be able to see things from a different perspective. There’s no arguing that working in the same environment time and time again can encourage redundancy and potentially put a cap on the unique contributions of all our team members. But spending a few days with a complete change of scenery will ignite a new fire, one that allows me come back feeling refreshed and ready to soar to new heights.
  • A vacation to a Caribbean or Mexico beach isn’t going to leave me feeling strapped for cash. So there will be no need to ask for more money, in addition to the time off. And that’s all because of the amazing deals I found at CheapCaribbean.com (shameless plug, I know). One of my favorite packages is Dreams Tulum. It’s right on the beach in Riviera Maya and features Unlimited Luxury®, which means it includes all sorts of delicious food and signature drinks. It’s also right by the historic Tulum site, which was voted #18 as the Best Destination in the Caribbean & Mexico by Trip Advisor. Beach on a budget? Sign me up!
  • And finally, a trip to the beach wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate souvenir to bring back all the great memories, right? A handmade picture frame or ceramic coffee cup is the perfect reminder of the time spent away and the positive energy felt while out of office. The great thing about the Caribbean & Mexico is that there are tons of local markets that offer unique souvenirs, perfect for the ultimate tribute to a picturesque vacation. But don’t worry; I have no intention of leaving anyone out. If you allow me the time off, I’ll be sure to bring back something fun and different for everyone in our office, in efforts to give everyone a constant reminder of how important it is to relax and stay current.

So as you can see a few days off the clock is just what I need to stay fresh. With sweet souvenirs for the whole office in hand, I’ll be back first thing with a rejuvenated spirit, crisp perspective and ready to work. And with such a fabulous deal from CheapCaribbean.com, how could you say no? Better yet – you could even book your own getaway. The choice is clear – beach vacations for everyone!

Please say yes!

Sincerely, 

Your dedicated employee

Now that you’ve got just what you need to get the time off work you’ve always said you can’t get, you’ve got no excuses. A beach vacation is just what you need and just what you deserve. Happy Boss’s Day…feel free to celebrate accordingly.

So Long Summer, Hello Beach: CheapCaribbean.com’s Winter Travel List

As Labor Day comes and goes in the next few days, we’re not only celebrating the hard working folks of our nation, but it also signifies the end of summer and beginning of the fall and winter months. The kiddos are back in school, the leaves begin to change and the temperature begins to fall - this means it’s time to start thinking about where you'll be headed when looking to trade in the cold for warm beaches and fun in the sun. The best winter travel deals await you at CheapCaribbean.com.

Be the First: Breathless Punta Cana, Opening November 15th 2013. 

How does it sound to be one of the first to stay at this brand new all-inclusive, adults-only resort? Scheduled to open on November 15th 2013, Breathless Punta Cana is the perfect place to spend some quality time with the sun and sand. This 4.5-star resort features Unlimited Luxury®, meaning you can expect unlimited top-shelf brand beverages and spirits, 24-hour room service and numerous daily activities, among other things.

2013 Winter Travel - Breathless Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

Spend your days bouncing back and forth between the 700 yards of picturesque Punta Cana beach and the five swimming pools, including an expansive infinity main pool, two quiet pools and two xhale club pools. You can also schedule a customized spa service at the Breathless world-class spa. And when it’s time for dinner, may we suggest one of 12 restaurants, such as Lebanese cuisine at Kibbeh or Sofrito for Latin Criollo cuisine. It’ll really heat up after dinner where you can enjoy one of the eight bars and clubs at the resort, including MartinOX, a cigar club and oxygen club or After Dark, the theater bar that opens up after dinner. So mark your calendars and start counting down the days to the Grand Opening celebration of Breathless Punta Cana.

Have it All: Iberostar Paraiso Lindo Resort, Rivera Maya

As the season begins to change and you’re slowly starting to layer an extra sweater or jacket on your outfit, there’s no denying that the cold is on its way. And while we may all welcome it with open arms after the heat of the summer, it won’t take long to realize we belong on a beach. So when it’s time to grab the whole family or a big group and jet away, look to Iberostar Paraiso Lindo Resort.

2013 Winter Travel Deal - Iberostar Pariso Lindo - Cheap Caribbean

Resting perfectly on a mile-long strip of beach in beautiful Riviera Maya, this all-inclusive, 4.5-star haven has something to offer for every member of your group. Use the currents of the Lazy River to take you around to all of the resort’s five sparkling pools. After you’ve floated in an inner tube down the Lazy River, test your agility in Riviera Maya’s only wave pool. Don’t forget you’ve got the Playa Paraiso Beach calling your name too. For the golfers in the group, schedule a round at the Playa Paraiso Golf Course followed up by a relaxing massage or spa treatment at Iberostar Lindo’s 32,000-sq-ft spa.

As hunger approaches, try some Cajun flare at Jambalaya’s or Italian bites at La Laguna. With up to 23 different dining options, it’s safe to say that your time spent at Iberostar Paraiso Lindo will never be boring. And when you’re looking for some nightlife, have an after dinner drink at the Lobby Bar before heading off to the theatre which offers live, nightly shows and entertainment that’s appropriate for the whole family.

Do it Right: InterContinental San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of our next favorites for holiday travel calls the island of Puerto Rico home. The InterContinental San Juan is the perfect vacay if you’re looking for something luxurious, adventurous and most of all – budget friendly.

In addition to being a great winter travel deal, this resort is an AAA Four-Diamond resort, meaning you can expect the highest level of service and even finer accommodations. Located only five minutes from the airport and on Isla Verde Beach, InterContinental San Juan is pretty much calling your name. Jump in the large, lagoon-style pool to cool off and order a refreshing signature cocktail from the swim-up bar.

intercontiental-san-juan.jpg

After a delectable dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House or any of the other four restaurants, you’ve got to get out and experience the city that is San Juan. Get warmed up with a quick hand of blackjack at the resort casino and then take to the sizzling San Juan club and bar scene, all within walking distance from your hotel. Oh and don’t forget Puerto Rico doesn’t require a passport for U.S. travelers, making it that much easier to get to during this winter travel season.

So don’t stress as the cool wind of fall and winter approach. We’ve got you covered with some of the best places to escape to when you’re looking for the sun. Find a full list of the best 2013 winter travel deals at CheapCaribbean.com. And be sure to tell us where you’re headed this season in the comments below. Happy End of Summer!

Celebrate Carnival Caribbean Style

It’s time to celebrate! Carnival is in its prime peak in the Caribbean. This means you’ll find lots of parties, parades and celebrations honoring the time leading up to Lent, a holiday that many islands participate in. For all the party animals out there, here’s a few celebrations happening amongst the Caribbean this Carnival season.

Aruba Does Carnival Right

Aruba is one of the choice Caribbean islands that celebrates Carnival all throughout January and the beginning of February. The entire schedule of events includes exciting parades, jump-ups, beautiful costumes and a truly vibrant atmosphere that you can only imagine by experiencing it.

There have been four major eras of Carnival in Aruba, with the first starting in 1921. This era was marked by debutante balls and costumed parties that took place at specific social clubs. The second era lasted 11 years through 1954 and was marked by the Lago Oil refinery success. This time period saw the introduction of carnival queen elections and the first parades were hold by Aruba’s oldest social club, the Tivoli social club. During the third era through 1965 is where the first island-wide public carnival took place. This also signifies the introduction of the island’s two grand parades seen each year. The fourth and current era has established a large majority of the tradition you’ll see at Carnival in Aruba. In 1966, when the era began, The Stichting Arubaanse Carnaval committee was founded at exactly 11:11 a.m. of the 11th day of the 11th month. This day has been named Fools Day.

Carnival Celebrations in Aruba from Cheapcaribbean.com

The Grand Parade in San Nicolas showcases the Carnival Queen, as well as the colorful, traditional parade floats. Photo credit from VisitAruba.com

With a colorful January full of parties, costumes and celebrations Aruba’s Carnival begins to unwind during February. The final Carnival parade takes place on Sunday, February 10th. This year marks the 59th Grand Parade and will include traditional, extravagant costumes and floats celebrating a successful Carnival season. There will also be an appearance by the elected Carnival Queen. And what’s the best way to reward the island’s successful Carnival season and allow people to prepare for Lent that starts on Ash Wednesday? Carnival Monday, also known as Burnout Monday, is a national holiday recognizing a national day of rest.

Cozumel is one of Mexico’s biggest Carnival celebrations. The week leading up to Fat Tuesday is full of parties, celebrations and a series of parades with a Final Grand Carnival Parade down the Seafront Downtown. On Wednesday, February 6th the Grand Opening and Coronation of Carnival King and Queen will take place. This weekend will bring costume and dance competitions, as well as a Second Grand Carnival Parade. There’s even a costume contest for children and pets!

Cozumel Carnival Celebrations 2013 from Cheapcaribbean.com

Children, parents and even the pets get all dressed up in the festive Carnival attire. A friendly competition has emerged awarding the best costumes awards! Photo credit: CARNAVAL COZUMEL

If you ever want to plan a trip to experience all the rich culture and festivities of Carnival in Cozumel, you’ll want to make sure to attend one of the three Carnival Balls. Each ball is on a different night and features a concert or costume competition, with the final ball occurring on the evening of Fat Tuesday. Mexico’s version of Mardi Gras happens on the Cozumel seafront, offering iconic beach views the whole time. The Wednesday after Fat Tuesday there’s an award ceremony to acknowledge outstanding carnival participants. And after the final award is given marks the monumental burning of Juan Carnaval. Fires are started to burn the revelry associated with Carnival and begin the preparation for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Let’s Party All Year Long

Carnival is celebrated at all different times throughout the year. And don’t worry, if you weren’t able to catch one of these festivities, there are plenty of other opportunities to celebrate. Jamaica has just begun their 25th annual Bacchanal Festival, which lasts all the way through April. With a Le Masqurade theme, there’s a series of parties all throughout February, March and April you won't want to miss.

St. Thomas’ Carnival attraction takes place throughout the month of April as well. It's a month long of dazzling pageants and talent shows that take place to name royalty over the festival. You can expect traditional music, food and a rich representation of this island’s vibrant culture.

Each parade has performers that perform different routines in traditional, vibrant costumes. Photo Credit by Virgin Islands Carnival

These are just a few of the celebrations that are to come this year. No matter when you’re looking to party, there’s a Caribbean or Mexico destination with a celebration with your name on it.