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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.

Postcard worthy beaches perfect for Spring Break

Although Phil, the groundhog, saw his shadow a few weeks ago, signifying there’s six more weeks left of winter, the snow will slowly start to melt and spring will be here before you know it. With all of the sunshine & new growth that come with spring, also comes the time of year perfect for a little getaway. Yes, we’re talking about spring break. It’s the few days of spring that the kids are out of school and you can take off and jet away to somewhere warm and tropical. For this spring break, we recommend picking a destination that’s not only perfect for memory making, but also takes some pretty stellar pictures. See what’s on our list of post-card worthy beaches and start planning the most epic spring break getaway today.

Eagle Beach, Ojahansted, Aruba

Aruba is known for it’s cooling trade winds, friendly people and breathtaking beaches, making it an absolute must for our list of post-card destinations. More specifically, Eagle Beach is known for it’s pristine, white sand & clear turquoise waters. In fact, Trip Advisor recently named Eagle Beach as one of the top ten beaches in the world. Now tell us that isn’t picture perfect?

Eagle Beach, Aruba - Spring Break Vacations - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo by Aruba Tourism Authority

Not only is this beach a sight for sore eyes, but it’s perfect for tennis fans. On the weekends, tennis matches can be found all along the beach. And if you’re in Aruba at the right time of year, you might even be able to witness the hatchings of four species of sea turtle nests that call Eagle Beach home. If you see the beach lined with red and white markers, turtle nests containing as many as 80 eggs are in the process of hatching and making their way to their more permanent home, the ocean. Our pick for the perfect place to rest your head as you venture to Aruba’s iconic beach is Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa. This boutique, all-inclusive experience offers three restaurants, customizable spa treatments at Spa del Sol, among other things, all perfectly placed right on one of the world’s top beaches.

Playa Negra, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

If one of your spring break requirements is “something different”, Puerto Rico might just be the spot for you. The island is home to plenty of vibrant culture, delicious food, stellar nightlife and of course, unique beaches. For the ultimate family vacation spot, we recommend a stay at Gran Melia Golf Resort. Not only are there two 18-hole, championship golf courses for the avid golfers in your family, there’s an oceanfront lagoon-style pool with swim up bar, five onsite restaurants and a long list of extracurricular activities. This 4.5-star beach resort will surely have something to keep every member of your family entertained.

Gran Melia Golf Resort, Puerto Rico - Spring Break Vacations - CheapCaribbean.com

Now, for the reason this destination makes our postcard worth beaches list: Playa Negra. This black sand beach located on Vieques Island will most certainly make for postcard worthy pictures. The beach gets its black sand from past volcanic activity and a shift in tectonic plates. We recommend a day trip to Vieques Islands to explore it’s other iconic light sanded beaches and then venturing off to Playa Negra for an experience that’ll make your entire trip – and make for some good pictures, of course.

Trunk Bay Beach, St. John., U.S. Virgin Islands

For the adventure seekers on spring break vacation, let us suggest Trunk Bay Beach in St. John. Next to it’s stellar views and clean, clear waters, this spot is known to have some of the most beautiful ocean life. There’s a 225-yard-long Underwater Trail of reefs, made perfect for snorkeling & underwater photography. After lounging under an umbrella on the coral sands, you can take advantage of the water-sport rentals or take a swim in the calm waters of the bay.

Photo Credit: Travel Channel

Photo credit by Travel Channel

After a long day of beaching at Trunk Bay, you’ll want to have a place to call home. Our pick is Westin St. John Resort & Villas. This 5-star resort was recently voted as Best Island Paradise and Best Family Experience by Starwood’s loyalty members. The whole fam can take a dip in the quarter-acre freshwater pool or mom and dad can head over to the golf course while the kids hang at the Westin Kids Club. Enjoy plenty of dining options & even indulge in a spa treatment at the Westin St. John spa. It sounds like your trip to St. John will be packed full of fun things to do and see, all while being surrounding by stunning beauty. Don't forget that you're only a hop, skip and a jump away from the rest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

With only a few weeks left until spring break season is officially underway, you'll want to get started planning the trip of a lifetime. What do you think of our list? Do you agree? What else would you add to our postcard beaches list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Brittany Innes is Manager of Social Media at CheapCaribbean.com. She's a travel junkie with a passion for trying new things and being spontaneous. 

Beach Foodie Favorites & Top Resort Chefs

Vacations are meant to be a time where you can indulge and live the good life. This often means hours spent hanging poolside, swimming in the ocean, relaxing at the resort spa and of course, eating. Your dining options often times are a deciding factor when planning your perfect getaway, especially if you’re considering an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or Mexico. So we’ll make it easy for you – here’s a handful of top-of-the-line resorts that are known to have it all, including fabulous, well-known dining options.

Paradisus Playa Del Carmen, La Perla 

Playa del Carmen is known for having some of the clearest waters and softest sands in Mexico. And the 5-star Paradisus Playa del Carmen, La Perla is the perfect accessory to this incredible Mexico destination. Located near Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue, this adults-only resort offers a total of 11 restaurants and nine bars, including the full access you have at its sister resort, Paradisus La Esmeralda - so your options are limitless.

Playa del Carmen Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

In addition to the four swimming pools and beachfront location with a beautiful, swimmable beach, Paradisus La Perla has been made famous by Spanish, 7-Michelin-star winner, Martin Berasategui’s restaurant, Passion. With a touch of retro accompanied by elegant signature cuisine and dramatically decadent desserts, Passion is Berasategui’s interpretation of the perfect romantic evening for you and your special someone.

After a dinner you could only dream of, head over to the chic M Bar, with its stellar wine selection and martini menu. And end the night in your Royal Service Suite with an in-room aromatherapy treatment or a soak in your Jacuzzi. Don’t worry - your personal butler is on hand, should you need anything at all.

Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico, you can expect to find a lot of luxury resorts with an array of dining options and featured chefs. One of our top picks can be found at Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza. This resort straddles the Condado Peninsula giving you a view of both the Atlantic and Condado Lagoon, as well as boasting a saltwater pool, freshwater pool, lap pool and two spa Jacuzzis. You’ll have no problem soaking up the rays at any of these water options or at the swim-up bar.

Conrad San Juan Puerto Rico Vacation from CheapCaribbean.com

And when the sun sinks behind the Puerto Rican horizon, slip into something a little more elegant and prepare yourself for a meal that can be described as “a fusion of exotic ingredients” from Puerto Rico, Africa and East Europe at Pikayo. Owned by true Puerto Rican chef, Wilo Benet this fine dining restaurant has been in business for 22 years and received honors from publications like Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Conde Nast Traveler, Caribbean Travel & Life, Miami Herald, and the New York Times. With a menu that often changes with the tastes of the season, sample things like Alaskan king salmon or truffle-cheese empanadillas. Finish out the night by trying your chance with lucky lady in the 24-hour casino on the premises.

Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Oranjestad

Perfectly placed in the center of downtown Oranjestad, Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is an absolute paradise. A stay here comes equipped with access to Renaissance Island, a 40-acre island boasting two private beaches, Dive Center and Marina offering snorkeling and scuba diving adventures, two casinos, 24-hour entertainment and a long list of activities to keep your itineraries full of fun and excitement.

Renaissance Aruba by CheapCaribbean.com

But now onto why it’s one of our foodie favorites. Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino offers eight restaurants including a signature tapas menu at Blue’s and L.G. Smith’s Steak and Chop House featuring Chef Edward Zievinger. Named after the late L.G. Smith, Vice President of Lago and the man responsible for turning a “useless” island by the Spainards into one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, this steak house offers juicy cuts of aged, USDA Inspected Certified Angus Beef among delectable appetizers and extensive list of signature desserts. Their boundless wine list is also a 2012 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence recipient, so no need to worry about what you’ll drink with dinner. The award-winning staff will be sure to provide you with the dinner of your dreams.

So if you're mouth is watering and begging you for a taste,  it's time to plan that much-needed and well-deserved Caribbean or Mexico escape. With these being just a few of our fabulous foodie favorites, you can check out more of our favorites here. And if you've got a favorite of your own, be sure to share with us below.

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.

Bottoms Up! Signature Vacation Drinks You Have to Try

Sun, sand and a cold drink in your hand – three necessities while on your beach getaway. Here at CheapCaribbean.com, we do our best to provide the sun and sand, all with great deals…but the drink, that’s up to you. Have no fear…we’re here with a few of our island favorites to try on your next vacation.

If the Mexico beaches are where you plan on spending your vacation, we suggest you sip fresh made sangria or better yet, ask your resort bartender what’s his or her favorite. On our most recent trip to Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, we asked for a specialty and our bartender suggested their famous Havana Lights Cocktail. They even shared the recipe with us, incase you want to give this drink a try at home before you go.

  • Three-fourths oz. light rum
  • Three-fourths oz. coconut rum
  • Three-fourths cup pineapple juice
  • Half oz. melon liquor
  • A few drops of grenadine syrup

Mix and shake the first three ingredients, then pour into a cocktail glass. Add a few drops of grenadine and then finish the drink off with a splash of melon liquor. Garnish with your favorite fruit and enjoy!

Resort Drink Recipes at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun from CheapCaribbean.com

Grab a happy hour snack and drink at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun's beachside cafe.

If you’d rather leave it up to the professionals, make plans to stay at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. You can also enjoy Unlimited-Luxury® which comes standard at this adults-only resort and promises kayaking, cooking demos, tequila tastings, floor concierges and Vegas-style shows. If this doesn’t sound like a beach bum’s dream, we’re not sure what does.

In Jamaica, you’ll find lots of drinks featuring rum, as it’s one of the island’s favorites. And while there’s lots of drink options on your Jamaican vacation, we asked our devote beach goers what was their favorite and the results are in. It was a tie between a Dirty Banana and Rum Punch – both island signatures.

Resort Drinks from Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa from CheapCaribbean.com

You don't even have to leave the ocean to get a refill at Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa.

Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa is a couple’s retreat, perfect for giving both of these favorites a try. This all-inclusive resort is fully equipped with top-quality liquor and five bars, including a swim up bar, making it virtually impossible not to ask a bartender for one of these sip-savoring signatures. Parked right on Seven Mile Beach, this Sandals resort earned a coveted Five Star Diamond Award for their top-notch service. And don’t worry, there’s seven restaurants, nightly entertainment and even a Piano Bar to make your Jamaican vacation one you’ll never forget.

Dreaming of the powdery white sands and crystal clear waters in Aruba? We are too. That’s why we recommend a luxury Aruba getaway to Occidental Grand Aruba, fully equipped with high-end all-inclusive, upgrade options, and of course, ice cold signature cocktails.

Aruba Drinks at Occidental Grand from CheapCaribbean.com

Dive up to one of the swim up bars and ask for your favorite drink at Occidental Grand Aruba.

Picture yourself sprawled out on a beach lounger while one of Occidental’s staff brings you a mouth-watering, hard-to-resist concoction. Our suggestion on what you should order? An Aruba Chi Chi. This drink is sweet and refreshing as it lends itself in similarity to a pina colada. Made with vodka, coconut, pineapple and ice, an Aruba Chi Chi is the perfect companion to a day spent on the beach.

So now that you have some of our favorites, tell us yours. Also, if you're looking for more drink recommendations, be sure to check out our website with even more options. Cheers, beach goers!