• Top 5 Caribbean Spas as Recommended by La Jolla Mom!

    Top 5 Caribbean Spas as Recommended by La Jolla Mom!

  • Must-do adventure vacations for the thrill-seekers in us all!

    Must-do adventure vacations for the thrill-seekers in us all!

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It’s Not Too Late. Make Summer Vacays a Thing

Well…it’s here. Today marks the first day of August and the beginning of the end (of summer that is). There’s only a few solid weeks of summer left before the kiddos head back to school, the nights get longer and a natural chill starts to creep into the air. And you’re probably questioning if it’s too late to catch one last vacation, right? Well the good news is the answer is – no! With these last minute getaways, vacation might just be your best summer idea yet.

Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay, 3 nights starting at $489

Last Minute Summer Vacation - Holiday Inn Sunspree Jamaica - CheapCaribbean.com

If grabbing the kids and going sounds like an ideal last minute getaway, then Jamaica is calling. Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay is a top-rated family resort and makes our list of plenty of reasons. On top of kids staying and eating for free (yes, you heard that right), there’s plenty to do from parasailing to nighttime entertainment. With five restaurants, a teen club and Kidspree Vacation Club, every member of your family will be able to successfully soak up the last days of summer.

Oh, and 3 nights start at just $489. Does it get any better than that?

“Seas The Deal” Punta Cana, 4 nights starting at $699

Last Minute Vacation - Punta Cana Beach Vacation - CheapCaribbean.com

This one goes out to all the spontaneous folks out there. The summer in Punta Cana is so unforgettable (and popular), we’re jumping on the hot 2014 travel trend and keeping the resort a mystery until just a few days before the actual vacation. But don’t fret, you’re guaranteed a high-end resort like Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach or Breathless Punta Cana. And if the odds are that we’ll end up at any of these three fabulous resorts, you can pretty much count us in.

The fact that this “Seas The Deal” offer is starting at 4 nights for $699 and boasts an adult-only, all-inclusive paradise; it’s almost a no-brainer. Soak up that last of that summer sun, y’all.

Barcelo Maya Colonial and Tropical Beach, 4 nights starting at $599

Last Minute Vacations - Riviera Maya - CheapCaribbean.com

Okay. How does being surrounded by a tropical rainforest and more than 1.12 miles of private white sand sound? Like perfection, right? Well that’s what you’ll find at the all-inclusive Barcelo Maya Colonial and Tropical Beach. On top of the kush surroundings, you’ll enjoy two free-form pools, sun-decks, lounge chairs, hammocks and even a pool bar. And when the sun sets in paradise, find yourself at one of eight restaurants with dancing at the resort’s disco to follow. Don’t worry, kids can hang at the Kid’s Club (fully equipped with a water park and scheduled activities) when mom and dad want to have a summer’s night out.

This whole shebang must be outrageously priced, right? Nope. Try 4 nights, all-inclusive starting at $599. Easy going and easy on the budget – you’re welcome.

Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, 3 nights starting at $949

Last Minute Vacations - Los Cabos - CheapCaribbean.com

Living the life of luxury is probably one of our favorite things about vacation. That’s why Secrets Marquis Los Cabos is on the list of last minute summer getaways. It pretty much reeks of oh, la, luxe and we think you’ll definitely want to be a part of it all. Imagine yourself enjoying a gentle breeze coming off of the Sea of Cortes as a cabana server brings you all the delicious (and free) food and beverages your heart can desire. Tucked in between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Look to San Jose del Cabo for the peace and serenity, and out-of-this-world nightlife in Cabo San Lucas.

This high-end luxury option doesn’t boast a killer price tag either. 3 nights start at just $949 and basically includes everything you could ever dream about (especially for a last minute vacay).

See! A last minute vacation doesn’t have to skimp on amenities and promise high price tags. There are plenty of vacation options right at your finger tips and we suggest you click away to find your ultimate paradise. Tell us the rest of your summer vacation plans in the comments below!

Brittany Innes is a travel junkie with a passion for food, trying new things and being spontaneous.

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com & On Air with Ryan Seacrest

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com

Great news. We want to send you to the beach. For free. Nope, we’re not kidding. We’re partnering with On Air with Ryan Seacrest to host the Beach Getaway Giveaway! So mark your calendars for July 28th through August 1st and prepare yourself for tons of opportunities to win one of five all-inclusive beach vacations.

Here’s how it works:

  • First things first, log on to On Air with Ryan Seacrest and find out when the radio show is on in your area.
  • If you can’t find a local radio station broadcasting the show, you can listen live on iHeartRadio.com (there’s even an app that’s pretty useful).
  • Listen throughout the show for the gang from On Air with Ryan Seacrest to give you the heads up to enter to win. Or simply log on to cheapcaribbean.com/giveaway to enter!
  • We’re giving away a different trip every day, so be sure to tune in each day for the signal to enter.

It’s that simple--listen, enter, and win! Keep in mind: you can enter once a day, every day; so the odds just might be in your favor.

And now for where we’ll be sending our lucky winners:

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com & On Air with Ryan Seacrest

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa: We’re sending a lucky family of 4 to this beachfront oasis located 30 minutes outside of Cancun. This 4.5-sun rated resort offers Unlimited-Fun® and a long list of amenities that’s sure to please every member of your family.

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com & On Air with Ryan Seacrest

Sunscape Sabor Cozumel: Besides the fact that Cozumel is a beach paradise, Sunscape Sabor Cozumel is located right on the second largest barrier reef in the world. That means great snorkeling & diving, as well as a family-centric experience that won’t disappoint.

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com & On Air with Seacrest

Breathless Punta Cana: Whether it’s a group getaway for a special occasion, or you’re just looking to escape with your better half,  adults-only Breathless Punta Cana is the perfect place. Oh and don’t forget about the Unlimited-Luxury® you’ll have access to.

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com & Ryan Seacrest

Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun: You’ll want to grab the whole gang and make time for some fun in the sun at another Unlimited-Luxury® property. With 5,000 feet of white sand and blue Caribbean waters, as well as plenty of activities and dining options to keep everyone happy, this trip for 4 will be one you’ll never forget.

Win a Free Beach Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com and On Air with Ryan Seacrest

Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort: Located right in front of the Sea of Cortez, the final getaway features white sand, beautiful views, gourmet restaurants and all the pampering you could dream of. There’s also an award-winning golf course on site. Sounds like the perfect romantic getaway to us.

And there you have it. Five trips, five days, five lucky winners. It doesn’t get any easier. So make sure to save the date, folks. We’re just a few days away from the Beach Getaway Giveaway! Good luck!

Brittany Innes is a travel junkie with a passion for food, trying new things and being spontaneous.

Must-Have Foods of The Caribbean & Mexico

Food. By definition, it’s nourishment that our bodies need in order to live and grow. But we all know, good food is (usually) SO much more than that. And especially when you’re headed on vacation, fabulous food can be the perfect indulgence that can really take your time off to the next level. So grab a pencil and paper (or just bookmark this article) and take notes. From island signatures that are pretty much a requirement to resort restaurant recommendations, we’ve got the low-down on all the must-try foods in the Caribbean & Mexico.

First, a few island flavors if you see on a menu (anywhere while on vacation), you should try: 

Mofongo in Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rico is known for it’s spicy culture and cool vibes. And fitting right in with its distinguished reputation is a signature dish of Puerto Rico--mofongo. This plantain-based dish is relatively simple and easy to make, but a visit to Puerto Rico just wouldn’t be complete without giving it a try.

If you’re feeling ambitious and want try to sample the dish before your vacation, this how-to instructional video will give you step-by-step instructions on how to properly make Puerto Rican mofongo (hint: it’s really easy to make).

Conch Fritters in the Bahamas: 

You probably won’t be surprised when you see a ton of fresh seafood on the menu while on your beach vacation. Naturally you’re near the ocean, so you have access to the colorful, vibrant flavors that can only be found in the sea (for the record, we highly recommend ordering these options, when you have the chance). So when we recommend trying conch when in the Bahamas, that may not be news to you.

Photo credit: istolethetv, flickr

But the staple way to eat this delicious dish is in the form of a fritter (yum!), although you can eat the conch in many different types of ways (salads, ceviches, chowders, etc). If you want to get a true local flavor of this Bahamian food, consider venturing off of your resort to a local hideaway (we like Goldie’s Conch House in Nassau). You’ll have your choice of conch served many ways, but the tried and true way is an order of conch fritters, served with hot sauce and made with finely minced sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.

And now for a few resort recommendations: 

Secrets The Vine in Cancun, Mexico:

The first on this list comes to us from the hotel zone of Cancun, Mexico. And while, that may not be your initial thought on where to go to eat delicious food in Mexico, we’re prepared to back up our claim. Secrets The Vine, most specifically, makes the top of food favorite list because of all the choices you have here. This 5-star, Unlimited-Luxury® resort is home to eight different restaurants with each exploring a different (and delicious) dining experience. You have everything from poolside grub inspired by Mediterranean flavors at Olio to a whirlwind fine dining experience at Bluewater Grill.

Best Food in Cancun - Secrets The Vine - CheapCaribbean.com

Not to mention, you’re welcome to take advantage of the Sip, Savor & See program, which allows you to dine at all of the sister properties, for a grand total of 25 different dining options.

Seven Stars Resort in Turks & Caicos:

If the ultimate luxury experience is a requirement for your ideal vacation, then Seven Stars Turks & Caicos is THE place for you. A long list of accolades that includes Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List, Trip Advisor’s Top 10 Resorts in the Caribbean and Trip Advisor’s Travel Choice Award means the food experience at this boutique 5-star resort is unforgettable.

Best Food in Turks & Caicos - Seven Stars Resort - CheapCaribbean.com

Picture this: You start your day with a mojito from Sand Dollar, the poolside bar. You then take a tip in the heated saltwater pool and catch some sun in a Caribbean lounger. Perhaps you stop off for a round of golf at the nearby Provo Golf & Country Club or hit the waves in a Hobie cat. You then begin your evening with tapas at the open-air bar and follow it up with a thick cut steak or fresh seafood dish from resort restaurant, Seven.

Breathless Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic: 

The final recommendation on our list is not only heavy on the dining options, but it’s packed full of things to do. Think of Breathless Punta Cana as the ultimate Vegas-style resort set right in the beautiful Dominican Republic. The chic, modern experience is perfect for your large group looking to party, but also accommodating to the couple looking for a romantic getaway. Either way, with the Unlimited Luxury® experience, you’ll have everything you need to live it up in the Caribbean.

Best Food in the Dominican Republic - Breathless Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

But we’re talking about food this week, so shouldn’t we get right down to it? Simply put, you’ll never go hungry. There’s 12 restaurants onsite, all with unique dining experiences. Enjoy a vibrant breakfast buffet with made to order omelets, eggs, pancakes, etc. Have lunch at one of the beachfront grills with anything from burgers to Mediterranean-inspired dishes. And dinner is even better. Start the evening with tapas by the pool and then choose from Silk City, Pan-Asian experience or Kibbeh, the Lebanese cuisine specialty. Oh, and an absolute MUST is dinner at Sofrito, the Latin Criollo experience. It’s a culturally authentic restaurant that will give you a good taste of something new and local to the DR.

While these aren't the ONLY food recommendations you'll want to know for your next Caribbean or Mexico vacation, they are definitely some beneficial ones. But we want to hear from you--tell us your foodie favorites in the comments below!

Brittany Innes is a travel junkie with a passion for food, trying new things and being spontaneous.


Stop Being Bored: 5 Picks for the Ultimate Family Vacay

Ah, summer. Who doesn’t idealize those three months as a kid when school is out, you have no responsibilities and you can just run free? I can safely say as school nears its release every year, I’m always just teeny bit jealous of the next few months of nothing that ensues for all the school-aged children. And while us “grown-ups” fondly reminisce of those days, the kids will most likely tell parents they’re battling boredom, and it’s a serious problem. So that’s why a family vacation just might be your saving grace this summer. Here are a few of our top picks for the best ultimate family vacations (complete with hotel recommendations).

Paradise Island, Bahamas

This is first on the list because it’s simply a no-brainer. Paradise Island is home to the mega-resort, Atlantis and is pretty much any child’s dream. From the 141-acre water park called Aquaventure (fully equipped with a 14-acre dolphin wonderland) to the 11 gigantic pools, the water activities here are endless. There are over 20 restaurant options to chose from and a long list of scheduled events for people of all ages. So whether you’re traveling with lots of little ones, a few kiddos of all ages or even traveling as a couple, the experience you’ll have on Paradise Island is unlike anything else.

Best Family Vacation - Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas - CheapCaribbean.com

Resort Pick: There are quite a few different towers that belong to the resort and you can’t go wrong with any of them, honestly. Choose from the Royal, Coral or Beach Towers depending on availability and price.

Budget Friendly Tip: Because Atlantis Paradise Island has SO much to offer its guests; price can fluctuate depending on seasonality. If you’re looking for an option that’s a bit more budget-friendly, but still has some of the amenities, you might consider Comfort Suites Paradise Island. It includes free breakfast and offers free use of all the Atlantis Resort facilities.

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

The family that adventures together has the best time together, right? Okay, that may not be exactly how the saying goes, but there’s definitely some truth to the statement. Regardless, Costa Rica is the perfect vacation spot for a family that wants to see and try new things. You’ll find a mix of monkeys and white sandy beaches at the Manuel Antonio National Park, or you can do an evening at the Arenal Observatory Lodge where you and the kids can catch the nightly show of lava running down from the crater. And of course, the Guanacaste region is infamous its beaches. You’ll be able to spend some quality time with the family lounging in the Costa Rican sun.

Best Family Vacation Destination - Riu Costa Rica - CheapCaribbean.com

Resort Pick: Riu Guanacaste - Although you’ll be busy exploring all of Costa Rica, this resort offers nightly entertainment, kids club options and 24-hour all-inclusive options to keep everyone happy.

Cancun, Mexico

Being that Cancun is one of the original beach vacation destinations, it’s perfect for families. There’s a long list of attractions that tourists any age will love. Although Cancun is a popular tourist destination, the beaches that call this coast home are some of the best. A simple afternoon spent posted up with buckets and shovels building a sandcastle (with cabana service catering to your every need) can be some of the best. But there are also natural adventure parks like Xel Ha or Xcaret; or the Cancun Interactive Aquarium is a big hit. Also, you might consider a day trip to Isla Mujeres for shopping or Cozumel for a different beach. Whatever you decide, Cancun won’t let you down.

Best Family Vacation Hotel - Dreams Sands Cancun - CheapCaribbean.com

Resort Pick: Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa – Perhaps you’ll want to mark this down for your fall break vacation, because this BRAND-NEW resort is slated to open on September 1st. If the fact that this state-of-the-art resort is brand new and will be home to a long list of amenities doesn’t sell you, there’s a 650-foot stretch of pristine white beach on one side and the Nichupte Lagoon across the street with lots of fun water activities to enjoy.

Oranjested, Aruba

Aruba is what we’d like to call a cultural trip around the globe. Home to 80 different nationalities and a Euro-Caribbean influence that’s unlike anywhere else, Aruba is a great way to experience it all. The fam can enjoy white sand beaches, mountainous peaks and a dessert-like interior. Oh, and have no fear if you accidently get a little too much sun. Aruba is home to the Aruba Aloe Store. Founded in 1890, the Aruba Aloe Balm NV is a landmark spot where you can purchase an island specialty.

Best Family Vacation Destination - Aruba - CheapCaribbean.com

Resort Pick: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino – This AAA Four Diamond award-winning resort has a little something for everyone. Kids can hang at the children’s pool, as well as the Kids Club. Mom and dad can take advantage of the Tierra Del Sol Golf & Country Club or have a night out at the Stellaris Casino.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If there’s one thing you can expect from your family vacation in Punta Cana, it’s family friendly conveniences. That means pretty much every inch of your trip will be accommodating and memorable for your entire group. Some of our favorite things to do in Punta Cana include a beginner surf class at Macao Surf Camp (yes, there are kid-friendly classes), a zip line adventure on the Bavaro Runners tour and, of course, a day trip to Dolphin Island (because who doesn’t love a swim with a friendly dolphin). But don’t worry; when you’re not busy venturing out, Punta Cana is also home to white sand beaches and crystal clear waters so the beach bums of the family will surely enjoy.

Best Family Vacation - Now Larimar Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

Resort PickNow Larimar Punta Cana – 700 yards of pristine beach isn’t the only perk to this Unlimited Luxury® resort. Kids enjoy children’s pools and a ocean trampoline, while parents can take advantage of the spa. Then the whole gang can come together for dinner and some nightly entertainment.

So as the summer trucks along, it's probably in your best interest to plan a family vacation (and keep everyone sane). Let us know your favorite family vacation spots in the comments below!

Brittany Innes is a travel junkie with a passion for food, trying new things and being spontaneous.

Be American and Take a Vacation

Photo by Anita Ritenour

Fourth of July is one of the first official signs that summer is in full effect. It’s that time of year where kids are out of school, pool parties happen on the regular and everyone’s in good spirits - ready to enjoy the summer.  You’re probably busy making plans to celebrate our great country’s freedom and the last thing on your mind is taking any sort of vacation (that would just be so un-American, right?).

Well, in efforts to keep the patriotism alive after the holiday, we suggest a little R&R time on some of the country’s most stunning beaches. You may be surprised to find out that we’re talking about parts of the Caribbean. Yep, the Caribbean is home to a few U.S. territories that all have beautiful beaches, yet still embrace the essence of the Caribbean. And this Independence Day, we’re all about taking a visit to live out the American dream.

Cheap Vacations - Puerto Rico - CheapCaribbean.com

The first destination on this “Be American and Vacation” list is Puerto Rico. Home to vibrant culture, epic nightlife and stunning beach views; Puerto Rico is a no-brainer for a summer vacation spot. For example, the thrill-seeker can enjoy zip line tours in El Yunque, cave tours at Parque de las Cavernas, or the largest radio telescope in the world at Arecibo Observatory. If beach lounging is more your thing, enjoy beaches like Rincon (great for surfing) or Boquerón Beach, known for it’s incredible scenery & views.

And of course it goes without saying, the nightlife in Puerto Rico is unprecedented. While hot spots are scattered all along the island, the main attractions can be found in San Juan. With plenty of raging bars/clubs that flow into casinos, it’s perfect for the party animal in us all. If you’re still looking to get down, but prefer a little bit of a tamer vibe; be sure to check out Old San Juan. Stop in at Maria’s for her signature cocktail, La Nota or enjoy reggae at La Sombrilla Rosa. No matter what you decide to do, you’ll have a blast in Puerto Rico. Oh – and since you don’t need a passport to get here, it’s the perfect spot for your American vacation adventure.

In terms of where to stay, you can’t go wrong with places like El San Juan Resort & Casino for great nightlife, or Rincon Beach Resort to be within walking distance of killer surf spots.

Cheap Beach Vacations - USVI St. Thomas - CheapCaribbean.com

If the idea of a three vacations in one sounds right up your alley, then the next suggestion on our “Be American and Vacation” list is the United States Virgin Islands. Located not far from the coast of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the USVI is home to St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. You can essentially enjoy three completely different vacation experiences all with short boat rides from island to island.

Each island has something unique to offer. St. John is the greenest island with two-thirds of the island being part of a National Park. It also makes for a great day adventure. St. Thomas is catered more towards the flow of tourists with luxury resorts and plenty of shopping. And then St. Croix is sort of a hidden gem with a mix of everything St. John and St. Thomas have to offer. We recommend a trip to an old sugar plantation while visiting, or an epic scuba diving adventure. Oh and don’t forget to stop in at the Cruzan Rum Distillery for a tour and taste of a signature island spirit.

And of course, this wouldn’t be a beach vacation recommendation without the beaches. The USVI is home to a hefty list of some of the world’s top-rated beaches. Stop in for a dip in Magen’s Bay (St. Thomas) in the Caribbean Sea or see what all the hype is about at Trunk Bay in St. John. Because Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, the preservation has kept this iconic strip home to pearly white sands, crystal clear waters and complete serenity.

When it comes to accommodations, a few of our choices include Sugar Bay Resort & Spa in St. Thomas or Westin St. John Resort & Villas in St. John.

So as you can see, there are plenty of great vacation spots to jet away to while still enjoying the patriotism that comes with being a part of this great nation. So today – have a safe, wonderful Fourth of July and be sure to celebrate what it means to have a nation of freedom for nearly 238 years (Happy Birthday America!). And once you get the itch to find a sunny spot on a beach, be sure to keep in mind these United States vacation destinations.

Are there any other US beach vacation spots in the Caribbean that didn’t make the list? Let us know your recommendations in the comments below!

Brittany Innes is a travel junkie with a passion for food, trying new things and being spontaneous.