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.

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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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Make Family Travel Fun this Year

What beach should you take the family to this year? Where should you stay? What fun things should you make sure to see? These are all natural questions you ask yourself when planning for your family vacation. This year take the whole gang somewhere that has something for everyone - adults can relax, children can play and everyone will come home feeling happy and connected.

The Caribbean and Mexico tend to be great places for families and here's a few destinations you'll want to check out as you're making that dream a reality this year.

Jamaica - Fun for the Whole Family

What could scream family fun more than pearly white-sanded beaches, crystal clear waters and an island spirit that you'll never want to leave? Jamaica is the perfect destination for the whole family. A stay at a resort like Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay is the best compliment to a vacation packed with memories you'll never forget.

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Grab a drink by the pool while the kids play at the Kidspree Vacation Club!

This beachfront property comes complete with a half-mile, sugar-sand beach perfect for soaking up the rays. It features great activities for kids of all ages too. Mom and dad can appreciate that one of the two pools, with a swim-up bar, is for adults only, while the kids are rockin' it up in the Kidspree Vacation Club. We also suggest that parents try out the honey-ginger body scrub at Sol Mer Spa and Salon.

Never go hungry with six different restaurants that offer everything from Italian to the traditional Caribbean island fare at Sea Breeze. Once you've appealed to your appetite, it's time to make plans for the trip. A stop at Dunn's River Falls is an absolute must. Dunn's River Falls is known worldwide as one of Jamaica's natural treasures and features thundering falls, hiking tours and scenic views - perfect for plenty of great family photo ops.

Aruba - the Most Unique Family Vacay Yet

If you're looking for a family trip that might be a first for everyone on the trip or want a spot that's not the standard family destination, Aruba is a great option. Home to plenty of great all-inclusive vacations, Aruba has it all for one low price. One of our favorites when booking accommodations here is Divi Aruba All Inclusive.

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After checking out the Divi Winds Sports Center or taking a Zumba class with the family, stop by the main pool for some relaxation.

This resort has a little something for everyone. Be sure to check out the Divi Wind Sports Center, an oceanfront fitness center with a 30-foot rock-climbing wall on the beach. You can also spend your days windsurfing, kayaking or snorkeling. Don't worry, there are bikes in all sizes, tennis courts, beach Olympics and amazing brick-oven pizzas at Pizza per Tutti. There's even a disco for kids and a casino for adults. Or if you want to kick back with a frosty Aruba ariba rum punch and lounge by one of the three freshwater pools, that's okay too. We won't tell. We promise.

Dominican Republic - the Place No One Will Want to Leave

Even though Christopher Columbus was the first to visit the Dominican Republic ages ago, the DR is a spot that's gained some serious popularity in the past few years. It's typically fairly easy to get to and offers miles of golden sands and bold, blue waters at nearly the perfect temperature. One of our favorites places to stay while visiting Puerto Plata, an especially family friendly part of the Dominican, is Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa.

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Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort will make the family vacation one no one will forget.

One of the best all-inclusive family resorts around, it offers 1.5 miles of golden sands on the Amber Coast that sets the stage for complimentary access to snorkeling, boogie boarding, kayaking and the perfect tan. There are dance lessons, tennis, volleyball and a cool Kid's Club. The resort's pools offer a designated quiet pool or a main pool with a cool volleyball net and waterfalls, so every member of the family can take a dive. With all you'll save thanks to 24-hour food and beverage service, why not pop for a day at the spa or a round of golf the nearby courses?

While planning your family getaway to the DR, be sure to make time for a trip to 27 Charcos. Located on the Northern Corridor mountain range, Mother Nature has crafted 27 stunning pools etched out of limestone. Experience these impressive waterfalls and pools with the entire family, making for a perfect day spent in the Dominican Republic.

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One of the many stunning waterfalls you'll find at 27 Charcos.

There's no denying that you want your family vacation to be one full of memories and great quality time that everyone will enjoy. This year you don't have to chose one feature or destination over the other. With our top family vacation picks, every member of your family will have some fun, so much so, you might never want to leave!

Happy Election Day! Celebrate with a Presidential Vacay!

It’s that time again. And it happens every four years. You’ve probably prepared for it, spent countless hours doing your research and finally figuring out what’s important to you. It’s Election Day. Today, you’ll have the opportunity to exercise your democratic right to vote. And because you’ve been working so hard to decide whom you’ll chose to lead our great nation, we think you should reward yourself…with a Caribbean vacation.

After your ballot has been turned in and you feel accomplished, it’s time to start thinking about where you’re headed and how you’ll pack. It’s your choice who you’ll vote for and it’s your choice which Caribbean destination you’ll head to after, but here are a few recommendations that could really rock your vote.

Off the Radar: A Private Presidential Vacation

An escape that’s fit for a president and offers a high level of privacy (think Camp David) is the perfect getaway option for someone looking to completely unwind. While there are plenty of small, private resorts to choose from, Sivory Punta Cana is one of our favorites.

Sivory Punta Cana features 5-stars of seclusion and ultimate luxury. It’s an AAA Four Diamond Boutique hotel, equipped with a private beach and 8,000-bottle wine cellar. With 55 luxury suites all with a long list of amenities, Sivory Punta Cana is sure to pamper.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic Vacations with CheapCaribbean.com

Lounge on a chaise recliner on the private beach or take a dip in the infinity-edge pool.

Spend your days bouncing between the strip of private beach or cool, infinity-edge pool. When you need to satisfy a craving, take your pick from one of the three top-notch restaurants, including Gourmond, the only AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurant in the Dominican Republic. After your sophisticated palette has been satiated, finish up the evening with after dinner wine and a stop in the Cigar Lounge or head to Sybbar for some spicy music and signature cocktails.

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Dine at the Dominican Republic's only Four Diamond-Rated Restaurant, Gourmond.

There’s even an option to arrive by helicopter…how Commander-in-Chief of you.

A Romantic Getaway: Reward Hard Work

There’s no denying that after the pressure of the weeks leading up to election season are over, you’ll need a break…as will your running mate. Plan a vacation that celebrates one another, brings you back stronger and ready to embrace the country’s leadership.

Couples Sans Souci is a Jamaican paradise that only accommodates couples, making it one of the best options in romantic getaways. Spread out across 35 beachfront acres of cliff-side, Couples offers lush pathways for romantic strolls, private coves, with one special for au-naturel sunbathers.

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Let the Jamaican beach view transport you to a world of no stress and utter relaxation

Your mornings can be spent in the curative mineral pool or mineral grottos hidden around the resort and the afternoon lends itself to some couple time at the swim up bar or one of the five restaurants for some signature Jamaican cuisine. Known for its jerk chicken, the Beach Grill is a perfect place to stop for an afternoon snack. And as the sun sets and the Jamaican twilight takes over, make sure to attend the Tuesday-night Beach Party or Friday-night Starlight Gala for dinner, dancing and cultural entertainment.

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Catch the Friday-night Starlight Gala for dinner and experience the beautiful Jamaican twilight.

Don’t forget to book an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls, have a drink at Margaritaville or take a glass-bottom boat tour. Finish your day with a signature peppermint-sea-twist body treatment and see why Travel + Leisure has named this resort one of the best spa hotels in the Caribbean. Jamaica’s Couples Sans Souci is built for all couples alike and is sure to embrace the love and passion you’re seeking when on a couple’s getaway.

Win a Few Benjamins: A Gamble of a Holiday

Aruba is a destination where any presidential candidate would want to spend their R&R …especially if they’re really looking to let loose and take a gamble. The Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba is an all-inclusive resort that compliments lady luck and utter relaxation.

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Stop in for a quick bet and some cash at the Westin Resort & Casino in Aruba.








Located on the world-class Palm Beach, the Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba mixes the world of high-end beach vacays with a world-class casino. There are 300 slot machines, a long line of black jack and roulette tables, among other casino favorites that give you the chance to bet big and win – a definite benefit to any vacation.

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Take advantage of the amenities in addition to the one-of-a-kind casino.

When you aren’t spending your time submerged in a deck of cards and deciding what your odds are, there’s a free-form pool and Jacuzzi, ideal for some ultimate sun bathing. There are also five restaurants to choose from, with casual beachfront meal options to steak and seafood specialties, not to mention an extensive wine list and two hotel bars to serve you ice cold beverages.

If you need a break from your high rolling ways, a trip to Tierra del Sol Golf Course is just right down the road. It’s the only championship 18-hold golf course of its kind on the island. So while you’ll make plenty of bets inside this high-end casino, you have the satisfaction of knowing your next vacation to the Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba is a hole-in-one.

As this monumental day comes and goes, we’d like to remind you, of course, to get out there and vote. It’s your voice and you should use it to shout from the rooftops. After you submit your ballot, put the political smack in your back pocket temporarily and ask not what can your country do for you, but what where will you vacay next?

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.

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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.