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We know great beaches!

Find beachin' great tips and insider info!

#CheapCaribbean Presents: Staying Fit While at the Beach

Your workout regimen shouldn’t have to suffer just because you booked a week of luxury and relaxation at the beach. We’re dedicating an hour just to chat about fun and effective ways to stay fit and motivated, and have fun while doing it! We’re bringing in fitness enthusiasts Jennifer Cohen, @TheRealJenCohen, and Sarah Dussault, @SarahDussault, to share their health tips and answer your questions. So come prepared because this party is bound to get a little heated!

Health Tips For Vacation - CheapCaribbean.com Twitter Party - CheapCaribbean.com

Here’s how to join the party:

1. On Tuesday, January 28th from 1pm-2pm CST, log onto Twitter and make sure you’re following us @CheapCaribbean.com.
2. Using the hashtag #CheapCaribbean, join the conversation by answering our questions or asking your own.
3. Six lucky followers will win a travel fitness pack with a Fitbit & fitness book from our fitness expert Sarah Dussault.
4. Be sure to follow our guest bloggers for great fitness and health tips: @TheRealJenCohen & @SarahDussault.

We can’t wait to chat with everyone so please come prepared with questions and ready to share your own experiences on staying fit while on vacation. Let's party! 

2014′s Best Beaches on a Budget

After the holiday season has died down, you may find yourself in need of a sunny beach to cure those winter-time blues. While this may sound like a dream come true, if you’re anything like me, the aftermath of Christmas may have left your wallet a little on the light side. So what do you do? Well, with this list of best value beaches, you can truly have the beach and the Caribbean or Mexico for around $600! Don’t believe me? Then read on…

If you’re looking to get away without being too far from home, Cancun is a great place to thaw out without roasting your bank account. Although it’s traditionally known as a haven for spring breakers and party goers, Cancun is the perfect place to soak up some sun, sand and beautiful scenery while staying within your budget. With prices starting at $619, you can enjoy 5 days and 4 nights of Cancun’s finest beaches, clubs and adult-only fun at Barcelo Tucancun Beach Resort. With a convenient location and more than 650 ft. of white-sand beach, you’ll have plenty of space to decompress from the stress of the holidays. For a real treat, I recommend waking up early and enjoying breakfast on the beach. Not only will you have your spot saved for the day, but there is nothing better than sipping coffee to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.

Best Value Beaches - Barcelo Tucancun Beach Resort - CheapCaribbean.com

If you want to go a little further south to soak up the cool vibes of Jamaica, I recommend heading over to Montego Bay, where you’ll find crystal-clear water, smiling faces and of course, the “spirit of Jamaica”—reggae! Although some of you may not consider yourselves “music lovers,” I know of a great deal in Montego Bay that will have you jammin’ in no time! Holiday Inn Sunspree is a great resort for budget-minded travelers in search of all-inclusive Caribbean fun. This beautiful, family-operated resort offers an exceptional level of service and amenities that will leave you and your wallet happy as prices start at $649 for 6 days and 5 nights. With clear water and its own little private island, Holiday Inn Sunspree is a wonderful value for the money.

Best Budget Resort in Jamaica - Holiday Inn Sunspree - CheapCaribbean.com

However, if you don’t have a passport, the thought of traveling to the beach may seem as distant as traveling to the moon. Well lucky for you, beach bums can travel anytime to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands without a passport.

For the golf lovers, I recommend checking out Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. This beautiful, 4-Sun resort is located between El Yunque Rainforest and Fajardo’s bioluminescent bay and features two 18-hole, championship golf courses that will have you smiling all the way to the fairway. For as low as $579, you can enjoy this golfer’s paradise for 5 days and 4 nights—so this is definitely a deal you’ll want to swing at!

Puerto Rico Budget Friendly Resorts - Wyndham Grand Rio Mar - CheapCaribbean.com

If you want to see what USVI has to offer, check out Marriott Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort, where you can take advantage of a half-mile stretch of beach, 4 pools and a modern spa for as low as $569! Although the cheaper packages aren’t all-inclusive, it’s still a great way to get the most miles for your buck!

USVI Budget Friendly Beach Resorts - Marriott Frenchman Resort - Cheap Caribbean

No matter where you’ll find your best value beach, be sure to book early as prices and packages change on a regular basis. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and treat yourself—an affordable Caribbean or Mexico vacation is a great way to start the New Year off right!

Beach Bum 101: How to Ace Your Beach Vacation

So you want to be a beach bum. You want to laze the day away on a comfy lounger, letting your feet graze the soothing sand below while the sun warms your increasingly-more-golden skin. Sure, there are basic things we all know about going to the beach, like packing swimwear and inevitably getting sand everywhere (and we mean everywhere.) But, there are tips and tricks that separate the newb from the pro. It takes a few trips out onto the shore to get the experience and knowledge one needs to refer to him/herself as a beach bum.

Lucky for you, you’ve got a beach lover to show you the ropes. I started out young, a little 8-month-old thing eating sand with a side of juice off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. A dozen or so trips to the Riviera Maya later, throw in some trips to Florida and California and a couple more to Punta Cana, and I’m not eating sand anymore (on purpose) but I do have some beach tips to share.

Tips for Beach Vacations - CheapCaribbean.com

For your own sake and mine, I’m skipping the obvious points today and digging in deeper:

Lesson 1: Pack like a pro

  • Don’t under any circumstances forget sunblock and insect repellant. Your resort’s shop will likely sell them to you but you won’t be happy about the price.
  • Sometimes resorts will serve your drinks in small plastic cups. And if you’re someone who needs quick refills, you may be better off taking your own insulated thermos for the beach staff to serve you in.
  • Low-key entertainment to heighten your beach lounging experience. Take a book, a crossword puzzle, your favorite jams, whatever’s enjoyable to you.
  • Pack some empty plastic bags in your suitcase. You can put your swimwear in them if they’re still damp when you check out.

Lesson 2: Prepare for tropical weather

  • On the day that you travel, dress in layers that you can take off as you deplane so you don’t sweat through too much clothing at customs.
  • A lightweight scarf triples as a way to keep you warm in transit, a blanket if you’re cold on the plane, and a cover-up on the beach or by the pool.
  • Keep your sunglasses in your carry-on so you can slide them on as soon as the sun greets your skin at the airport.

Lesson 3: Protect your bronzed bod

  • Recoat your sunblock every few hours, instead of just once in the morning. You’ll still get tan and you’ll protect your skin from burning.
  • Take aloe vera or a cooling lotion to soothe your skin at the end of the day. Just trust me.
  • While we all love to drink cocktails in the Caribbean, make sure to drink just as much water while you’re lounging. It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re out in the sun all day and that’s the last thing you want on vacation.

There you have it! Your 10 tips from a seasoned beach goer should make you the Mary Poppins of beach bummin’ on your next trip to the Caribbean. So go show off your skills! And if you have any tips you'd add to this list, be sure to leave them in the comments below. Class is dismissed.

By Cristy Angulo

Party South of the Border: Viva la Spring Break

Cancun Spring Break Vacations - CheapCaribbean.com

If the frigid temps of winter are getting you down, just remember that warmer temperatures are around the corner – or just a short flight away! It’s never too early to start thinking about your 2014 Spring Break vacation. There are plenty of choices when choosing a destination for your spring getaway, and Mexico offers several of the most popular spring break locations.

If you’re a college student wanting the traditional beach and pool parties, you can’t go wrong with Cancun. It’s hands down the most popular student destination because it offers everything from affordable beachfront hotels to lively nightclubs where the parties last well into the night. If you want even more action, most resorts host beach contests and games, too. You can try your luck in a bikini contest, compete in a dance-off or join in on a game of beach football.

Not too far from Cancun is the sunny island of Cozumel, which offers lots of outdoor adventures like diving and snorkeling, along with a great nightlife and party scene. The very popular Secrets Aura Cozumel will put you in the perfect state of mind for a spring break vacation. Party into the night at the resort’s multiple bars, or lounge around at one of the many spacious pools. You can also take advantage of the resort’s pristine beachfront location and just soak up the sun. Elegant and comfortable rooms have all the modern amenities you’re used to all while being able to relax to the sounds of the ocean waves directly outside your balcony door.   This resort features multiple beachside and water activities to keep you busy all day. Sunscape Sabor features the only scuba training pool in Cozumel.

Cancun Spring Break Vacations by CheapCaribbean.com

Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Western coast is the second most popular spring break spot. From great drinks, to lively parties, to luxurious rooms overlooking the Bahia de Banderas and beach, Puerto Vallarta offers plenty of options for every taste.

For a fun and unique atmosphere, check-out Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta. You’ll fall in love with the all the activities this resort offers such as fine gourmet dining and a full service spa for you to indulge in during your stay. Rest assured that during your visit you will be pampered with the top-notch exemplary service that Secrets Resorts are known for. Have no fear about ever running out of things to do here!

Just steps outside the resort enjoy the classic and traditional cultural atmosphere of the charming and historic Puerto Vallarta. Located just a half block off the main north and south roadway along the beach and less than a 10 minute drive from Old Town Puerto Vallarta, the location truly can’t be beat.  Old Town Puerto Vallarta combines a luxury experience with a prime beachfront location. For breathtaking views of the Bay and Sierra Madre Mountain range, try the all-inclusive Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta Resort.

No matter which location or resort you choose for your spring break getaway, you’re bound to find plenty of fun in the sun on either side of Mexico. What’s not to like about white sand beaches, some of the best nightclubs in the world and watersports in warm tropical waters? See you there!

What’s Trending on the Beach in 2014?

Now that the holiday high has worn off and we're all busy working on new resolutions and fresh outlooks for the coming year, it's time to discuss what to see & do on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean & Mexico this year. Here's a few trends you can expect to see on the beach in 2014:

Swimwear for Women

The temperatures outside may be frightful, but in sunny Miami, swimsuit designers turned our eyes to summer sand at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. You’re going to be needing new swimwear thanks to what will definitely be totally successful New Years Resolutions. Or if you’re like us, you’ll want a new suit, even if you don’t drop two dress sizes. So here’s a quick list, compiled from industry watchers, of what’s trending:

  • High-waisted bottoms for a sleek silhouette in the 1940’s vintage style

  • Jungle-inspired and animal prints

  • Long-sleeved tops that cover shoulders and upper arms paired with small bottoms

  • Mixing and matching bright, colorful tops and bottoms

  • Classic nautical looks

2014 Women's Swimwear Trends - High Waisted Bathing Suit - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: Global Grind

Swimwear for Men

Men’s swimwear may generally be a little less articulate than women’s, but the guys need to know that wearing jorts or basketball shorts on the beach just won’t fly. The looks for guys include short swim shorts in all the classic navy blues, reds and whites. For men unafraid of being noticed, trunks with colorful pastels and eye-catching patterns will be the way to go. Of course, if a guy is reticent to move out of his comfort zone, you can always compromise with board shorts in colorful pastels or navy blue shorts that stop just above the knee.

On the other hand, if he’s more the adventurous (or self-promoting) type, briefs-style swim trunks are featuring bold patterns, bolder colors and draw strings for the snuggest fit imaginable.

Authentic Destination Experience

Travellers want to feel the texture of their chosen destination. For some, this will mean plunging into the sharing economy and renting time at a villa or beach house. This option will nestle you and your fellow travelers more organically into the community. Depending on where you want to go (or who you want to go with) in the Caribbean, options in the sharing economy can be limited. Plus, buying food and getting around the island might be difficult if you have kids or a big group with you.

Bio Bay - Puerto Rico - CheapCaribbean.com

Luckily, local vendors both big and small offer tons of trips and excursions to delve into the destination’s culture and landscape. USA Today recently published a list of their 10 favorite water excursions in the Caribbean, which includes kayaking on glowing water in Puerto Rico and walking among the boulders of The Baths, Virgin Gorda. Tour operators will pick you up at your resort and drop you off when the tour is over. That kind of convenience and opportunity is hard to beat. However you get there, make time to go see what makes your chosen destination a brilliant and unique place.

Hot New Properties

There’s nothing quite like the electric thrill of visiting a brand new resort. The adventure of a new beginning invigorates the staff and guests with palpable enthusiasm. The property gleams never brighter than in its youth. Then again, a $30 million renovation might also do the trick. After all, often times a “new” resort is a big time renovation of a recently purchased property. In the end, the result is a fabulous new resort to explore. Luckily for us, 2014 is witness to new resorts all across the Caribbean and Mexico.

  • Sandals Barbados: Sandals resorts are popping up all over the Caribbean, and beautiful Barbados is the newest home for this luxury resort chain.

  • Breathless Punta Cana: This brand new property from AM Resorts opened at the end of 2013 and offers adult fun for singles and couples in an energetic and chic setting.

2014 New Beach Resort - Breathless Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

  • Beaches Ocho Rios: This Jamaican property just underwent a huge renovation to get many much needed updates. The result is a resort of sparkling amenities with the same, attentive Beaches service.

  • The Bahamian Riviera: This sprawling project is actually comprised of four properties on Nassau’s Cable Beach. Huge and teeming with amenities and services, the flagship resort, Baha Mar, boasts Vegas-style luxury and backs it up with a 2,000 sq. ft. casino. Other resorts on Cable Beach, such as Melia Nassau, are a good, easy way to enjoy the glamour and newness of the Riviera if you don’t want to stay with the crowds.

Bestie Desties in 2014

  • The Panama Canal is turning 100. There ain’t no birthday like a centennial, and we can expect Panamanians to celebrate accordingly.

  • Costa Rica took a step on its path to appeal to even wider tourism audiences. The Playas de Nosara in the Gulf of Nicoya received the Blue Flag, an international symbol of the beaches’ top quality and eco-friendliness.

  • Mexico is on the rise. As travelers feel increasingly confident visiting the big cities (Cabo, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta), Mexico is making top lists in 2014, including LonelyPlanet and Frommers.

  • Destination weddings and honeymoons are always big in Mexico and the Caribbean, and this year the beachy locales are as appealing as ever for the about to be and just recently betrothed. Destination Weddings magazine includes several Caribbean and Mexican locations in its list of the top honeymoon destinations for 2014.

So as you can see, 2014 is gearing up to be the best year at the beach yet. With plenty of new trends and the resurrection of some of the past, we can't wait to see what an exciting year 2014 is going to be. To learn more about the beaches to see and be seen on in 2014, visit CheapCaribbean.com.