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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.

5 Events You’ll Want to Attend This Summer at the Beach

Take a look around you. The grass is starting to look alive; the sun is starting to shine a little bit brighter and the summer season is quickly approaching. Doesn’t it feel wonderful? With school wrapping up, it’s time to solidify your plans for the summer. Maybe you’re one of the ones who’s all packed and ready for your summer vacation. Perhaps you’re still doing some shopping and deciding on the perfect beach for you. Regardless, you’ll want to know what’s going down in the Caribbean & Mexico this summer. These five events are sure to make your beach vacay the best yet.

Julio Iglesias Concert, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana: June 7th

Spanish musician and songwriter, Julio Iglesias is taking on the Hard Rock in Punta Cana next week and it’s going to be a blast. Julio Iglesias is one of the best selling Latin music artists with nearly 80 albums and over 300 million records sold worldwide in 14 different languages. He’ll be in Punta Cana at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Fillmore Ballroom and will be serving up some of his classics. Concertgoers will enjoy the iconic performance of Iglesias, as well as be able to take advantage of the casino that calls Hard Rock home, among the long list of other amenities this 4.5-star resort has.

Julio Iglesias Concert - Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

Tickets range in price from $95 USD to $260 USD and can be purchased here.

Crop Over Festival, Barbados: All Summer Long

What could be better than a celebration around sugar? Barbados kicks off the Crop Over Festival in the beginning of June and has parties all summer long to celebrate the end of the sugar cane harvest, one of Barbados most prominent crops. Dating back as far as the 1780’s, the summer months in Barbados are usually ones for the record books. You can find a full calendar of events for June, July and August here. Just a few of the events include Bridgetown Market, a huge carnival-like show called Cohobblopot and Calypso, the festival competition that hands out titles like “Party Monarch” and “Sweet Soca Monarch.” There’s even a ceremony to crown a Queen & King of the Crop, or the most productive cane cutters of the season. Barbados is known to be happenin’ all summer long with lots of parties you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

July 4th Celebration, Breathless Punta Cana: July 4th

If you’re like us, soaking up some serious rays on the beaches of Punta Cana sounds like the perfect way to spend your long weekend on July 4th. But if you worry that a beach vacation might not be the best display of patriotism, don’t worry – Breathless Punta Cana is having a full-on celebration. Being that it’s the first Fourth of July for Breathless you can expect a full day and night of activities.

DJ Rhiannon 4th of July - Breathless Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

The morning starts off with tennis, paddle & beach volleyball tournaments, followed by an afternoon parade and pool party fully equipped with a kick-A DJ. As the sun sets, get ready for the party to get even hotter. Enjoy all sorts of traditional American food (hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeque…you get the picture) and prepare yourself as DJ Rhiannon takes the stage after an epic firework show at 11pm. As you can see, your Independence Day at Breathless Punta Cana will be perhaps your best one yet.

Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica: July 13th – July 19th 

Reggae Sumfest - Jamaica - CheapCaribbean.com

If sweet jams and stunning Jamaica sunsets are your thing, then the Reggae Sumfest is probably a must for you. This is perhaps one of the most well-known music festivals in the Caribbean and occurs mid-summer every year. It’s essentially a week of good music and good vibes. Each year the line-up seems to get bigger and better. This year performers include Future, Tessanne Chin and Sean Paul. The headliners are Jason Derulo and Wiz Khalifa. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to truly experience Jamaica.

Tickets to all of the events of the festival can be purchased here. The official resorts of the event include Secrets Resorts & Iberostar Hotels (both we highly recommend).

La Fiesta de Playa, Cancun: August

La Fiesta de Playa - Cancun - CheapCaribbean.com

Another event you’ll find us at this summer is in Cancun. It’s exactly what the name of the event reads – Beach Party. On the beaches of Cancun every August, there’s basically a big ol’ party. The 12 miles that stretch on the coast of Punta Cancun to Punta Nizuc host a long list of activities that include: fashion shows, volleyball tournaments, beach dance parties, concerts, etc. All the hotels located on this stretch of beach organize themed parties and party well into the night. La Fiesta de Playa is one of our favorite times in Cancun and we hope to see you all there. Get all the information on La Fiesta de Playa here.

So as you can see, the summer is full of fun in the Caribbean and Mexico. It’s almost necessary that you attend one of these phenom events. Which one are you dying to go to? Is there anything we missed? Let us know your thoughts 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. 

Jump on the Travel Trend & Seas the Deal

Ever had the urge to go to the airport, pick a destination and just go? Yeah, us too. Being spontaneous is one of our favorite things about traveling. Taking a trip to a new place and embarking on a new adventure isn’t just fun while you’re doing it, it makes for some great stories & memories to share when you get back home.

That’s why you’ve probably seen the trend of “mystery travel” popping up. The year of 2014 is said to bring about a lot of great travel trends and this will most definitely be one of them. And here at CheapCaribbean.com, we’ve made it easy & a little less risky for you to jump on the bandwagon. Instead of offering a package that’s a complete mystery, we’re encouraging you to “seas” the day and pick a vacation package where your destination is a sure thing, but the resort is revealed a few days before you travel.

Surprise Travel Trend - Seas the Deal - CheapCaribbean.com

Don’t worry, the resort you’ll be staying at is guaranteed to be a 5, 4.5 or 4-star property that’s an all-inclusive paradise. With CheapCaribbean.com’s Seas the Deal offer, we’ll pick one of our best resorts in destinations like Cancun, Punta Cana, Los Cabos, among others and get you all the deets seven days before you depart.

seasbeaches

Read more about what to expect and how to jump in on the hottest travel trend of 2014 here. Get ready for a little spontaneous adventure and book this hot vacation deal quick...it won't last long!

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. 

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!