Five Fiesta Vacations You Won’t Want to Miss

Would it surprise you to know that the U.S. celebrates Cinco de Mayo more so than Mexico? Unless you call Puebla (the city where the Mexican army defeated the French on the fifth of May) home, the likelihood that you’ll find a slew of designated Cinco de Mayo festivities in Mexico isn’t high. But that’s okay; we’ll argue you don’t need an excuse to party in paradise. And what’s better than an ice-cold cerveza, some clear blue waters and some serious rest & relaxation to ring in this holiday?

Let’s start the party in Playa del Carmen. This Mexican hot spot is known for its stellar beaches and even spicier nightlife. Our pick here is 5-star THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen. Not only will you be submersed in luxury during your stay here, but you’re also mere steps from Playa del Carmen’s famed Fifth Avenue. This area of Playa del Carmen is home to plenty of hip nightspots and trendy cafes, making it the ideal area to put on your dancing shoes and party all night long.

Playa del Carmen Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Don’t worry; your days spent at THE ROYAL will be full of numerous all-inclusive dining options, sunbathing at both of the enormous freshwater swimming pools with built-in Jacuzzis, hanging out at the in-pool lounges and lively swim-up bar, and maybe even a tennis match on the rooftop tennis court.

Puerto Rico is the next party spot we’d recommend. With plenty of options for nightlife and even more things to do and places to see during the day, El San Juan Resort & Casino is an ideal home-away-from-home. Located in the city’s fashionable Isla Verde district, stop in at the resorts’ Club BRAVA nightclub or if you’re feeling like rattling Lucky Lady, hit the slots at the 13,000-sq-ft El San Juan Casino.

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When you’re not busy perusing around the 15 acres of hotel grounds, including pools and beach, plan a day trip to Casa Bacardi, the famous rum factory in Old San Juan. You’ll learn all about the history of sugar cane in the Caribbean, as well as the origins of rum making. And, of course, there are plenty of free samples to go around.

Ready to rock? We are too. That’s why your next vacation party spot should be hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. This Dominican Republic hot spot was recently named a 2013 AAA Four Diamond hotel and is the first all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel in the world. This resort does everything big, offering 13 restaurants, seven bars and 15 pools. As the sun goes down, stop into the 45,000-sq-ft, Vegas-style casino or grab bottle service at Oro Nightclub, open daily from 11pm – 3am.

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And if you’re all about thinking ahead, make plans to attend the Enrique Iglesias Concert on July 23. Tickets can be purchased at the hotel. Your party options are endless here and with a hotel that embraces a rock ’n’ roll attitude, we can’t think of a better place to party hardy.

Another destination known for it’s great nightlife and “party in paradise” attitude is Los Cabos. And why not live it up in Cabo at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, All Suites Resort & Spa. This resort has five free-form swimming pools, five Jacuzzis, endless amounts of shady loungers and six swim-up bars, making your days spent poolside unforgettable. And when you’re looking for a beach that’s straight out of a magazine, catch the complimentary shuttle that takes you to Pueblo Bonito’s sister resort on Medano Beach, the perfect setting for continuing the party vibe. When night falls, dress up for one of the resorts’ themed dinners and have a nightcap at the ocean-view terrace of The Lobby Bar.

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And since you’ll be busy partying the day away, reward yourself at the Spa at Sunset Beach. This resort spa was named the “#1 Top Hotel Spa in Mexico” and among the “Top 10 Hotel Spas in Mexico, Central and South America” by Travel + Leisure. We recommend the Honey Sugar Glow, where an exclusive formula of crystallized honey hydrates, exfoliates and soothes the skin.

Our fifth and final recommendation for a good, quality place to party is on an island that’s name says it all. Riu Palace Paradise Island is the Bahamas resort that rests on three miles of satiny sand and crystal clear waters making it a true island of paradise.  If you love feeling like a VIP, plan your next trip to this 24-hour all-inclusive spot equipped with a long list of some of our favorite amenities.

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Hang by the Romanesque pool and Jacuzzi or grab a bite at one of the five delicious dining options. And as nighttime approaches, head next door to the Atlantis Casino and end the night groovin’ at one of four bars, including the Sports Bar open 24 hours a day. Live like the Bahamians do at this Paradise Island must-stay.

So as you might agree, partying can mean a little something different to everyone. Whether you’re looking for iconic nightlife or simply want to waste the day away with a cold one in your hand, celebrate Cinco de Mayo the right way this year – in the Caribbean or Mexico!

Beach Vacations Made Famous by Songs

What’s better than rocking out to your favorite song? Not much. How about hearing your favorite song while you’re lounging beachside? Here at CheapCaribbean.com, we’re big fans of letting the music do the talking. So this week we’re all about beach vacations based on our favorite jams.

“Wastin’ Away in Margaritaville” – Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet

The ultimate beach bum, Jimmy Buffet sings about some of our ideal settings on vacation. Who wouldn’t want to nibble on sponge cake, watch the sun bake while strummin’ on a six-string, all while working towards “wastin’ away again in Margaritaville?”

The good news is vacation, if it’s done right, can easily consist of all of the above. But if you’re looking for a sure thing, start making plans to visit one of two Mexico destinations that pay tribute to this iconic beach tune, with their very own Margaritaville bar. Cancun and Cozumel both have their own bar & grill, honoring this song and ultimately, this life style.

So our pick for the perfect place to sip on ice-cold margaritas and bake in the sun is Cozumel Palace. It’s a 4-star, all-inclusive haven that’s the perfect companion to your parrot head vacay. Cozumel Palace is also only about a half of a mile from Jimmy Buffet’s bar & grill, so you can stop in for a cheeseburger in paradise while on your way to the resort for some quality R&R time.

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Hop between pool and beach at the stunning Cozumel Palace.

“On an Island in the Sun, We’ll be Playing and Having Fun” –Island in the Sun, Weezer

Now if this doesn’t sound like a dream, we’re not sure what does. We’d all love to run away together, spend some time forever and never feel bad anymore, wouldn’t we? Well in the words of Weezer, that’s exactly what we’ll do on the island they sing about.

And our pick for the best island to have some fun in the sun is Jamaica. The third largest Caribbean island, its traditions of Reggae, culture and attractions make Jamaica the perfect spot to play and have some fun. And when you’re looking for a resort that offers the fun that Weezer sings about, look to Riu Ocho Rios.

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You can't beat the action here at Riu Ocho Rios...you'll never want to leave!

This all-inclusive resort is the perfect vacation spot for the family vacation of a lifetime. Hang out in the pool at one of two swim-up bars or participate in the resort contests and activities that help to amp up your time on this Caribbean Island. There’s even nightly entertainment, fully equipped with steel drums and chill beats.

“Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna Take Ya, Bermuda, Bahama Come on Pretty Mama” – Kokomo, The Beach Boys 

No need to argue that any of these spots aren’t a vacationer’s dream. With some of the bluest waters and clearest sands, any of these spots would make for the vacation of the century. So grab a tropical drink and your pretty mama (or significant other) and head out to Aruba, for example.

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Occidental Grand Aruba is the lover's getaway that's got it all.

Give Occidental Grand Aruba a shot if you’re looking for a spot just like The Beach Boys sing about. This all-inclusive resort has a beautiful backdrop where there’s no denying that you and sweetheart will be in complete bliss.

Stop by Splash Bar for a couple of cocktails, take in sounds of the surf under a beach palapa while sipping a daiquiri from the Bikini Beach Bar and when you get hungry grab a bit from one of the six restaurants here. Occidental Grand Aruba is the perfect place to have your bodies in the sand with a tropical drink melting in your hand, just as The Beach Boys urge you to do.

So live like the songs say – grab your special someone and get on the island time!

5 Caribbean Spas to Add to Your Bucket List by La Jolla Mom

la jolla-mom

By: Katie Dillion, La Jolla Mom

Relaxation:  It’s why millions of people flock to the Caribbean each year. White sand beaches and gorgeous water mixed with sunshine and umbrella drinks equal the ultimate vacation in the minds of many.  On top of this, a number of resorts offer incredible spa experiences sure to send any guest into a pampered state of tropical bliss. We’ve identified five resort spas that are so world-class, you may just want to plan your next Caribbean getaway around them.

Couples Sans Souci, Jamaica

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Imagine the sounds of ocean breezes during an outdoor massage in a cabana on a cliff overlooking a sea of turquoise water. The impressive natural ambiance and diverse spa menu is why Couples Sans Souci was named one of the World’s Best Spas by Travel and Leisure. Indulge in signature spa treatments or salon services such as pedicures, hair conditioning or hot shaves for men. The resort itself is all-inclusive and couples-only, as the name implies.

Fairmount Southampton, Bermuda

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Named best spa in Bermuda for over a decade, visit Fairmont Southampton’s Willow Spa for the expansive 31,000 square feet of facilities and stunning ocean views from atop Bermuda’s highest point.  Island-inspired treatments are on offer including Vichy showers, custom massages, reflexology and more. Spa guests may use the facility until closing, including amenities such as a heated indoor pool, signature Willow Stream energy bath, sun deck and sauna. The ocean-view fitness center also offers a variety of classes.

Regent Palms, Turks and Caicos

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Visit Regent Palms for a spa treatment you aren’t likely to forget. Infusing aspects of the Far East with local flavor, guests praise the skill of the spa technicians and though the dressing area is on the smaller side, they have all the amenities necessary to send you from spa to dinner. Arrive early to enjoy the Taj Mahal-inspired lounging area complete with reflection pool and ocean breezes. Try the Mother of Pearl treatment which includes a crushed conch polish performed in the Vichy Shower room. The spa is a spacious 25,000 square feet including male and female sauna rooms, outdoor showers, steam room and a healthy lunch menu.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, Bahamas

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The Red Lane Spa at Sandals Royal Bahamian combines European-style treatments with local flair. Spa products are made from soothing natural island botanicals. Try the West Indian massage including muscle stretching, compression and manipulating techniques. Sandals is an all-inclusive, couples-only resort allowing for plenty of spa time.

The Ritz-Carlton San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Located inside one of Puerto Rico’s most opulent beachfront resorts, The Ritz-Carlton San Juan, San Juan Spa provides guests a five-star, full-service experience. Known as one of the best spas on the island, popular treatments include the Rainforest Stone Massage or Pina Colada Body Exfoliation. Arrive early to indulge in the lounge facilities or fitness center. It’s all you’d expect from a Ritz-Carlton property, that also happens to be in a prime location and an easy 5 minutes from the airport.

A treatment or two at a luxury spa while on a Caribbean holiday will ensure that you arrive home rested and relaxed. Ready to book?

Beach on a Budget by Suddenly Frugal’s Leah Ingram

Beach on a Budget

By: Leah Ingram, Suddenly Frugal

You may not think that spending time on the beach in the Caribbean and saving money are two things that you can do at the same time. But there are a few things you can do to keep the beach in your budget. A key component to this can simply be knowing where to look for savings or how to stretch your buck.

 First and foremost, you're more likely to save money by booking a package deal through a service like Cheapcaribbean.com.

Even though an all-inclusive might seem more expensive upfront, in the end I believe they end up being cheaper because you don't have to lay out any cash for your food. I have stayed at all-inclusive resorts on St. Croix, St. Lucia and Jamaica, and I loved the ease of knowing where my next meal was coming from--and that I didn't have to pay extra to get it.

Another great benefit to booking all-inclusive travel is the options you have. Nearly all destinations in the Caribbean & Mexico offer all-inclusive resorts, which means there’s definitely something for everyone. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway you can search for all-inclusive hotels that cater to couples and honeymooners, or if a family vacation is in the works, there’s plenty of resorts that offer full family all-inclusive options. You may even want to check the price for younger children, as some of the resorts charge less or even offer free stays for young children.

When it comes time for souvenirs, I would recommend going off property. While you may save on meals at an all-inclusive, the same is not always true for items in the gift shop. If you are in a location with a chain supermarket or drugstore, stop in to look at your souvenir options. You are likely to see many of the same products from your hotel gift shop, but for a lot less money.

Another affordable souvenir option: local art works. I remember during a trip to Nassau, Bahamas, we visited an artists' collective on Paradise Island. There, painters, sculptors and other visual artists had booths set up as workstations and from which they sold their goods. We ended up purchasing two original watercolors for less than $40. My husband and I also brought artwork home as souvenirs from our trips to St. Lucia and St. Croix.

Years later, many of those prints are still hanging in our home. Every time I see them I remember our amazing trips to the Caribbean. The fact that we didn't spend a ton of cash while there helps to make those memories even better for this frugalista!

Leah Ingram is the founder of the Suddenly Frugal blog at www.suddenlyfrugal.com, and the author of 14 books, including Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less and Tie the Knot on a Shoestring.

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!