Things to do

4 Things to Do this Summer in the Caribbean & Mexico

Where to go? What to do? These are all natural questions to ask when you’re busy planning your vacation itinerary. The good news is summertime in the Caribbean & Mexico is packed full of festivals, celebrations and plenty of fun things to do. If you’re heading to the beach this summer, be sure to pencil in some of these must-dos.

St. John’s Carnival Festival 2013: June 1st – July 4th

If you’re heading to any of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the next few weeks, St. John, more specifically, you’ll be there for the island’s largest celebration. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Come and Explore the Cultural Scene for Festival 2013,” which means you can expect lots of events centered around St. John’s culture and history.

The whole calendar includes activities featuring traditional food and music, among other things. Also, there’s a legend of West African inspired mocko jumbies, which were shape-changing ghost-like figures that traditionally appeared at night and scared those who were out late and being mischievous. People dressed up as mocko jumbies parade around the events on stilts and elaborate costumes, and are a signature of St. John’s festival. All of this is cumulated at the conclusion of the festival on July 4th with one final parade and, of course, a massive firework show.

Things to do in St. John from CheapCaribbean.com

See the beautiful costumes, taste the delicious food and experience the spirit that encompasses St. John with a schedule of events here.

Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival: August 1st – August 5th 

Jamaica is known for many things, reggae music being one of them. Upon its origination in the 1960s in Jamaica, reggae is a music style with influences of traditional African, ska and Rastafari.  And the first week of August in Ocho Rios is a festival to celebrate this true Jamaican style and most specifically this year “Woman in Film.”

Originating in 2008, the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival is an opportunity to come together and celebrate the reggae style that is home to Jamaica. In the past, several of the films shown at the festival have received awards and honors from film festivals all over the world. And this year the Festival will include a larger emphasis on reggae music with a plethora of live performances and the addition of new Music Video Awards. The event will take place at Island Village in Ocho Rios, which is also home to great shopping and entertainment. It sounds like this week in Jamaica, among others, is one you won’t want to miss.

La Fiesta de Playa, Cancun: August 11th – August 13th 

If you’re look to party on the beach like the name of the festival means, it looks like Cancun is the place for you during this week in August. This celebration takes place in the middle of Cancun’s hotel zone and offers plenty of ways to let loose, such as parties, DJs, fashion shows, concerts, competitions, traditional Mexico food and plenty of other cultural events. This party has been rumored to be so legendary, it’s often called “The Biggest Beach Party in the World.”

Cancun Hotel Zone Beach Party from CheapCaribbean.com

And after three days of beach parties you can only dream about, you can hop over to Isla Mujeres on August 17th to take part in their Founding Day festivities. This day marks the day in 1854 when the first settlement was founded on the island and is often times celebrated with a mass dive off the coast of the island, as well as parades, a pageant, live music and dancing. Spending this week in August in Mexico will give you an accurate representation of how these people party and possibly inspire you to bring some of the fun home with you.

Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival – August 30th – August 31st

And if a-list celebrity, star-studded events are more of your thing, we suggest the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival, a two day festival that takes place at the end of August. Just recently announced, Usher and Marc Anthony will be headlining this event celebrating jazz music.

Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival from CheapCaribbean.com

There’s a full roster of iconic music acts including The Roots, Diana Ross, Luis Miguel, Toto, Erykah Badu and Sonny Rollings, just to name a few. There’s no denying that this event sounds like one of the best beach music festivals all summer long. With picturesque beaches and even better tunes, we almost consider this event the perfect way to wrap up your summer travels.

If you’d like to WIN your way to Curacao for this festival, don’t forget to enter our Tweet to Win promotion running through June 25th. Make sure you’re following us on Twitter to get all the info.

Excursions & Tours to Make the Most of Your Vacay

National Tourism Week is May 4th through the 12th. That means it’s time to pull out your camera, slap on a fanny pack and start exploring all the great tourism spots in the Caribbean & Mexico (okay, maybe without the fanny pack). Check out some of the excursions & tours we’d consider a must when on your next beach vacation.

Go Down Below: Cancun's Underwater Museum

If you travel to the Caribbean & Mexico looking for the best diving and snorkeling spots, this excursion was made for you. Located in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, the Cancun Underwater Museum is a diver’s absolute must.

Cancun Underwater Museum Excursion from CheapCaribbean.com

Photo Credit: Coventur DMC

The project was founded by Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Diaz of The Cancun Nautical Association and English artist, Jason deCaries Taylor in 2009. It’s currently home to more than 400 permanent sculptures in depths ranging from 9 to 20 feet. Called “The Silent Evolution,” artist Taylor aimed to offer a cultural view of how the Mayan people evolved throughout the years. These sculptures were also designed in efforts to become artificial reefs. They are all made to boost the local ecosystem, provide shelter to the marine creatures and create areas for corals to flourish.

So while staying at one of the many fabulous all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, be sure to make the trip below and see this ocean wonder.

Go Kukoo in Aruba: Kukoo Kunkuk Pub Krawl

You’ll find another one of our favorite tours in Aruba. Kukoo Kunkuk tours are perfect for the partier in us all. After a day spent lounging at one of the many luxury Aruba resorts, the Kukoo Kunuku bus will pick you up for an evening of unforgettable memories.

Kukoo Kunkuk tours in Aruba from CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: http://www.kukookunuku.com

Chose from a signature Aruban dinner at a local residence and bar tour to follow on the Kukoo Kunuku Dinner & Barhopping tour or go straight for the bars on the Kukoo Kunuku Pub Krawl. Both tours offer free drinks or drink specials at a series of three or four bars. So whether you’re celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or bachelor party, or just want to go out on the town, a night out with Kukoo Kunuku will be one for the record books.

Mingle with the Stingrays: Stringray City, Grand Cayman

The next activity we’d recommend can be found in Grand Cayman. Not only are the Cayman Islands known for their white sandy beaches and top-rated resorts, but you also have the opportunity to swim amongst string rays at Stingray City. Stingray City is in the shallow waters of Grand Cayman’s North Sound and is surrounded by a barrier reef, perfect for snorkeling.

The Stingray City sandbar is home to dozens of tame southern stingrays. The stingrays began gathering near the Grand Cayman shore in the late 80s, as fishermen used to clean their fish on the shallow sand bars. The stingrays would approach these shallow waters to eat the leftover fish and sooner than later, stingrays began to associate the sound of the fishermen’s boat motor with food.

Stringray City in Grand Cayman from CheapCaribbean.com

As you wade in the 3-ft-deep Caribbean ocean, enjoy feeding and petting these stunning animals as they swim amongst their natural habitat. Depending on the type of excursion you’re looking to do, you can also venture out to the barrier reef for some eventful snorkeling or diving.

While we won’t argue that there’s not much better than lounging on a white sandy beach with a beautiful view, we also suggest getting out an exploring the fascinating areas that make up the Caribbean & Mexico. No matter where you’re headed on vacation, there’s always a long list of things to do and places to see. So it’s official…you have our permission to unleash your inner tourist and start exploring.

Share your favorite things to do and places to see while on vacation in the comments below.