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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.

Unique Sands of the Caribbean

We all have bucket lists of things we want to do and places we’re dying to visit, right? For us, it may come as no surprise that the great beaches of the Caribbean & Mexico are sure to fill up our list. And while you’d probably anticipate the picturesque setting of crystal blue waters and soft, white sands, we’re always up for seeing beaches that are known to be a little bit more unique. So this week, we’re suggesting you add these Caribbean beaches with unique sands to your list.

Pink Sands of Bermuda

Bermuda. It’s one of the Caribbean’s most easy going islands; full of high-end resorts, picture perfect golf courses, vibrant culture and, our favorite – beautiful beaches. In addition to the near-perfect turquoise waters, the sands of the Bermuda beach are unlike anywhere else. Formed from the remains of ancient shells and corals, Bermuda is known for it’s lightly rose, pinky-colored sands, making it number one on our list of must-see sands in the Caribbean.

In Bermuda, the contrast of the crystal clear waters and pink-hued sands are the perfect setting for a vacation that’s unlike any other. One of our favorite resorts to experience these iconic beaches is Fairmont Southampton. Here, you’ll find five-star luxury that offers great diving, award-winning golf and nine unforgettable restaurants, among many other things.

Bermuda - Pink Sand Beach - CheapCaribbean.com

Start your day with a trip to Willow Stream Spa for The Rose Renewal treatment, a gentle exfoliation followed by a bath infused with chamomile and rose petals. Then, chose between teeing up at one of Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play Golf,” or a dive trip planned at the Fairmont Southampton’s PADI-certified dive shop. And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a Dark and Stormy from beach-side Cabana Bar & Grill and a sunset unlike any other, while rubbing your toes in the sugary pink sands home to the beach at the Fairmont Southampton. As night falls, chose from fresh seafood at the Ocean Club or a personalized Bermuda Moon Dance, where a dedicated butler will serve you an intimate five-course meal, including champagne, all on the beach.

There’s no denying that not only will you love the pink sand beaches of Bermuda, but your stay at Fairmont Southampton is sure not to disappoint.

Black Sands of St. Lucia

St. Lucia is an island in the Caribbean that’s often times associated with tropical luxury. A perfect setting for a romantic getaway or someone looking for some ultimate R&R, St. Lucia is home to soft sands, warm and inviting waters and a long list of resorts ready to cater to your every need.

To experience the dark, black sands that can be found in St. Lucia, you’ll want to visit the west coast of the island, particularly the South West region called Anse Chastanet. This area features large, lush palm trees, deep blue waters and rich dark gray/black volcanic sand. We recommend staying right smack dap on this beach at the resort, Anse Chastanet.

St. Lucia - Black Sand Beach - CheapCaribbean.com

This resort sits amongst 600 tropical acres and the Bay of Chastanet, which lies at the end of a rugged, 2-mile forest road, giving you the feeling you’re nearly a world away from home. After exploring the reefs and dive sites among the bay, you can hop on the resort-provided water-taxi service to experience the picturesque town of Soufriere, 2 miles south. If you make the trip here, you’ll want to see St. Lucia’s signature twin mountains, the Pitons. When dinner time approaches, try one of the three restaurants that uses herbs & produce grown in the resort’s own gardens on the former sugar and cocoa plantation of Anse Marmin, which remains on property.

As you can probably guess, the unique black sands of this region of St. Lucia aren’t the only reason why this is one of our must-visit tropical escapes.

White Sands of the Bahamas

And our list of most unique sands in the Caribbean wouldn’t be complete without our vote for the whitest beach around. Not only is the Bahamas home to some of the clearest waters around (you can see as deep as 200 feet in some places), the sands of the island of Exuma are so white it’s hard to imagine a place like this really exists. This stretch of islands boasts 365 islands and cays, all virtually untouched by man. Perhaps that’s just one of the reasons this is said to be a favorite amongst Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Rightfully so, we think this place is the perfect spot for a couples getaway. Whether a honeymoon or anniversary celebration, or simply a romantic getaway, let us suggest Sandals Emerald Bay as your resort of choice. This couples-only haven sits on a one-mile stretch of the whitest sand and clearest blue waters, making it an iconic setting to fall in love with each other all over again.

Exuma, Bahamas - White Sand Beach - CheapCaribbean.com

Spend your day bouncing between the resort’s half-acre, zero-entry pool with a fire pit in the middle, for example, and the complimentary loungers strung along the stretch of ivory, white sand. You can also set sail to explore the 365 islands and cays at the Emerald Bay Marina by Sandals. And when it’s time to eat, chose from one of seven dining options, such as conch salads and seafood fritters at Barefoot by the Sea or impeccable French cuisine at La Parisienne. Your nightcap will complete with live music or a themed party that Sandals is made famous for.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time you experienced something different and bucket-list worthy? Grab your pen and start marking things off your list with a trip to one of these unique sanded beaches of the Caribbean. The beach is calling…

Celebrate a Caribbean Holiday

As the holidays are fast approaching, everyone is sure to be buying last minute gifts and getting them under the tree. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but perhaps the best part of the holidays is the traditions we all share with our families. The Caribbean and Mexico are no different. Here are a few island traditions you might want to incorporate to your celebrations this year.

The Tropical Celebration of Christmas

The Bahamas is home to a holiday Junkanoo celebration that takes place the day after Christmas on December 26th. In the dark hours of the morning, everyone gathers to dance through Bay Street, Nassau’s town center. During the Junkanoo festival you can expect to see infamous dance troupes, musicians, drums, cowbells, whistles, horns and brightly colored, imaginative costumes. The festival usually occurs between the hours of 2am to 10am. At the end of the famous Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes for best music, best costume and best overall group presentation.

Bahama Junkanoo Festival Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

A traditional Junkanoo costume pictured below. Photo credit by Elizabeth A. Gay.

While there are many different accounts on how the Junkanoo festival gained its popularity throughout the years, it’s believed to be developed in the days of slavery. In the late 18th century, Loyalists brought over enslaved people who were given three days off at Christmas. They celebrated their days off by singing and dancing in colorful masks, often on stilts. Once slavery was abolished, this Bahamian holiday tradition seemed to live on.

Nine Nights of Christmas

Mexico is home to “Las Posadas,” a massive celebration and build up to Christmas Eve, the biggest holiday of the year here. Beginning December 16th, each night after dark, a candlelit procession begins where individuals play the parts of Mary and Joseph or their pictures are carried. Each night the procession makes it way to a particular home, where a special song is sung and the travelers ask if there is any room for the members of the procession. For nine nights the procession continues until Christmas Eve, when finally they are granted access.

Mexico Vacations for Los Posadas from Cheapcaribbean.com

Children dress up as they participate in Las Posadas. Photo Credit: David Young-Wolff/ALAMY

Once everyone gets inside the house, a celebration occurs where traditional Mexican dishes, like tamales and ponche or atole (traditional hot drinks) are served. Children break piñatas and receive candy in celebration. The nine nights of las posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine-day journey to Bethlehem or the nine months Mary carried her child. This celebration is one of the better-known holidays throughout Mexico and holds significant meaning to everyone who participates.

Caribbean Christmas Food

There are many different types of celebrations and traditions throughout all of the Caribbean and Mexico. And with all these different celebrations come delicious, traditional holiday dishes and recipes. In Barbados, you’d find jug-jug, an island favorite made from ham, guinea corn flour and peas and is accompanied by traditional Christmas fixings. If you’re in Costa Rica for the holidays, you can expect chicken and pork tamales that are cooked in plantain leaves, accompanied by eggnog and rum punch.

Costa Rica Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Pork and chicken tamales are traditional holiday food in Costa Rica.

Jamaicans prepare Christmas dinner with a tropical twist, including rice and gungo peas, chicken, oxtail and curried goat. You’ll also want to try the festive Christmas drink, Sorrel. It’s made from dried sorrel sepals, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, orange peel and rum and is served over ice.

While everyone’s holiday traditions and plans always differ, it’s never a bad idea to incorporate something tropical into your season this year. We’d love to hear some of your holiday traditions. Share yours with us here!

Fun for the Whole Family!

There are many types of vacations people can take. Some prefer adventure; some prefer ultimate romance, while others want to make a vacation a family event. The Caribbean and Mexico are perfect places to plan a fun-filled family vacation. If you're looking to bring the whole crew, check out some of these family friendly suggestions.

The Bahamas: Paradise for Everyone

The islands that make up the Bahamas each have their own unique flavor but still all offer a sense of Caribbean life and culture - a great combo when bringing everyone along. Specifically, Paradise Island has all the amenities a family would want or need. A great budget-friendly option for accommodations on Paradise Island is Comfort Suits Paradise Island.

Paradise Island Bahamas Family Fun Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

Comfort Suites Paradise Island doesn't sacrifice amenities but still is easy on the pocketbook.

Not only will you find a pool lagoon tucked in the tropical paradise that is Paradise Island, a swim up bar to satisfy the adults thirst, dining options and free breakfast buffet, but children 12 and under stay free. Yep, you read that correctly. If your family has kiddos under the age of 12, they can stay here at no charge. Another great feature to this resort is its easy access to Atlantis, the mega resort on this island. At Comfort Suites Paradise Island, you get free access to the lagoons, lazy-river, pools, casino, waterslides and beach of Atlantis. And don't forget Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park with a kids' water-play fort. This Bahamian dream brings all the adventure your family is looking for but keeps your wallet under wraps - sounds like a perfect family vacation to us!

Cancun's Classic Family Getaway

Cancun is known for its crystal clear beaches and fun atmosphere. This destination became one of the first Mexican tourist locales years ago, meaning Cancun has what it takes to build the perfect family friendly getaway. With a long list of excursions and tons of resorts plucked onto the coast, Cancun is sure not to disappoint. A great family inspired resort here is the Oasis Cancun.

Oasis Cancun Family Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Hang with the kiddos at the free-form resort pool. Be sure to swim over to the waterfalls and have a ball.

Oasis Cancun is one of Cancun's first all-inclusive resorts and offers 959 air-conditioned guestrooms in different buildings shaped like Mayan pyramids. This grand resort has something for everyone. With a resort style pool, three swim up bars and a resort marina equipped with paddleboats and kayaks, your days here will be filled with fun in the sun. In the evening, check out one of the live shows or venture to the Up and Down Disco. There's even a nine-hole, par-3 golf course if you're up for a friendly game of golf. There's also easy access to some of Cancun's most splendid excursions, like the Mayan pyramids at Chicen Itza or take a fun zip lining tour. Bottom line is the Oasis Cancun is a Cancun classic well equipped to offer your entire family a vacation they'll never forget.

Dominican Republic: A Fresh Take on Family Fun

The Dominican Republic has always been a beautiful Caribbean destination, but in recent years has gained more popularity as a tourist destination. The main parts of this destination have silky sandy beaches and great all-inclusive resorts, making it a great choice when planning the next family vacation. One of our family vacay picks for the Dominican Republic is Riu Palace Punta Cana.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic Family Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

Let the kids hang out in the pool while you swim up to the bar for a quick cocktail.

Located on Arena Gorda beach, Riu Palace Punta Cana has a whole lot of resort to offer. You'll be 150 ft. from the beach with full all-inclusive access to some of the other Riu resorts in this complex, which packs multiple vacations in one. Lounge in a beach recliner while the kids play in the children's pool and poolside drink service accommodates your every need. If you're in the hunt for a little alone time for you and your significant other, let the kiddos hang out at Riu Palace Punta Cana's supervised kid's club, while you take advantage relaxing spa. Don't worry, there's a playground, tennis court and complimentary scuba lesson to satisfy all your vacation urges. And remember...with access to other Riu resorts in the complex you take advantage of their bars and late night hangouts if you're out on a date night.

Gone are the days of having to stress about what will everyone do on the next vacation. No need to question if there will be something that everyone will enjoy. By picking one of these family friendly resorts, you can truly unwind and let everyone have a little bit of fun. After all, family vacations can account for some of the best memories. Start planning yours now!

Ride These Top Rated Surfing Spots

Does the thought of catching a monster wave on a Caribbean beach sound like a dream? There’s no doubt that the Caribbean & Mexico are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but there’s even a few that are home to waves perfect for any surfing enthusiast.  Whether you’re an avid surfer or simply contemplating a few waves on your next beach vacation, here are a few recommendations of top-notch surf spots.

Start Your Surf Adventure Off Right

Barbados is one the Caribbean’s most ideal places to go on a surfing adventure for lots of reasons. First, it’s known for its consistent climate and weather, making any time of year an optimal time to visit. Because of the ideal weather, it leaves surfing conditions consistent year-round. The waves on the southern coast range from about two to six feet high – perfect for the beginning surfer.

Barbados Surf Spots and Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Stop by Zed's Surf School for a quick lesson before you hit these beautiful waves.

For those of you looking to take some lessons or learn the basics, word on the street is Zed’s Surfing Adventure is the place to go. They offer group and private lessons and provide board rentals as well. This past weekend the Barbados Independence Pro took place and brought some fierce surfing competitors who went head-to-head for the title. Congratulations to Cody Thompson on winning the 2012 Men’s Hyundai Independence Pro Challenge.

Copyright Mark Harris

Congratulations to Cody Thompson, winner of the 2012 Barbados Independence Pro.

For a resort that compliments your surfing adventure, we’d suggest Almond Casuarina All Inclusive Beach Resort. This resort does a great job of blending elegance with the relaxation and casual element most people seek on vacation. There are 289 newly refurbished, apartment style rooms, four different restaurants and two bars to satisfy the foodie in you. It’s also located right on Dover beach, where you’ll find beautiful views and possible a wave or two you can test out the water with. The Almond Casuarina Beach Resort is almost a no-brainer for all the want-to-be surfers out there.

Barbados Vacations with Cheapcaribbean.com

Enjoy some downtown at this beautiful Barbados resort in the heart of the surfing region.

Consider Yourself a Surfista? Get Here Now.

Naming Puerto Rico as one of our top surfing destinations might surprise you, but Puerto Rico is home to an area called Rincón. This spot is known for its minimum 10-foot waves and huge breaks making it a surfing dream. Rincón is the Caribbean’s answer to other surf destinations outside of the Caribbean.

But the good news is Puerto Rico isn’t just built only for experts, there’s places along the Rincón coast that offer clean, small waves which are good for any level. If you’re looking for a solid place to take a lesson, check out Rincón’s Surf School, where there are lessons for all levels and time frames.

Puerto Rico Rincon Resort from Cheapcaribbean.com

Rincon Beach Resort is a perfect place to spend your off time when you're not busy killing the monster waves here.

When choosing where you’ll spend the time you’re not out on the waves, we’d suggest Rincón Beach Resort. This boutique hotel is tucked outside of San Juan and home to a sandy beachfront that compliments those looking to catch some R&R. Spend some time in the infinity pool with a swim up bar that can mix up a refreshing cocktail or two to reward yourself after a day on the waves. The stretch of beach that calls this resort home is calm and perfect for a paddleboat or just an afternoon spent lounging. With dining and drink options that are fit for a king, this resort is the only option for some secluded downtime after the waves.

Calling All Expert Surfers

The Bahamas are often timed named for their stunning beaches and blue waters. History also lends itself to the inhabitants being primarily pirates hundreds of years ago. But did you know that the Bahamas can also be named for the multiple beaches that are great for surfing. One of our favorites is the small area of Abaco in the Bahamas. The Abaco Islands are a set of small islands that is home to one of the best cays for surfing, called Elbow Cay.

Elbow Cay offers the best waves during the months of September and March. There are a total of four different areas in Elbow Cay that are good surf spots. These areas are also known to be fairly advanced and are often packed with lots of locals, as well as tourists. You won’t find a ton of surf lessons or schools in these parts, but if you’re looking to surf some gnarly waves and consider yourself an advanced skill set, a trip here might be a requirement.

Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina in the Bahamas from Cheapcaribbean.com

This hidden treasure of a resort is perfectly located to some great surfing spots, and equipped with plenty of amenities that make your trip unforgettable.

In terms of where you should stay, we’d suggest living a local and giving Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina a try. This resort is part of a quaint Bahamian Village known as Treasure Cay. It’s a low key and tranquil spot that attracts travelers looking to relax on their downtime from exploring these waters. Possibly one of the best features is the fine dining options that overlooks the marina or Coco Beach Bar, located directly on the white sands for a beach bite during the day. You’ll have the luxury of living a Bahamian life while you’re there…an option that sounds like a true surfer’s paradise.

No matter which category you fall into, there’s not denying that the time spent on a surfboard, just you and wave can be some of the most exhilarating, therapeutic time. That’s why we suggest giving a surf trip or lesson a shot. With some of these great surfing destinations and recommendations, the last piece of advice we’ll offer you is…surf’s up!