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10 Excursions We’d Do All At Once, If We Could

We keep saying this, but…vacations are the best. Seriously, though. Yes, we’re fully aware that this isn’t the first time we’ve proclaimed how amazingly amazing it is to jet off to a nice, quiet beach somewhere and get away. So let’s imagine that this vacation we always speak of is booked and you’re ready to go (hopefully this is a reality and not a dream), and talk about some of our favorite excursions to do when exploring a beach destination, shall we?

Note: If we had superhuman powers and could do all of these 10 excursions on vacation, we would. But we want to give you options, so here are a few of our favorite excursions for some of our most popular destinations.

Punta Cana Excursions

Best Punta Cana Excursions - Reef Explorer - CheapCaribbean.comThis half-day excursion allows you to do just what the name says – explore. The Reef Explorer trip includes a stingray encounter (so close you can give these friendly creatures a hug), a swim session with nurse sharks, and a snorkel adventure around the reef. Drinks and snacks are provided, as well as a morning or afternoon of sea adventures.

Best Punta Cana Excursions - Speed Boat Tour - CheapCaribbean.com

Experience the life that James Bond lives on a daily basis with this speedboat adventure. You’ll hop on a speedboat and power through the Bavaro’s coastline and finish out the afternoon with a snorkel break to see what the action’s like below the surface.

Cancun Excursions

Best Cancun Excursions - Jungle Maya Tour - CheapCaribbean.com

Cancun & Riviera Maya are surrounded by tons of lush jungle and mystical water systems, which is why this Jungle Maya excursion is a crowd-favorite. Explore the longest underground river in the world before rappelling into a cenote (also known as an natural swimming hole formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock), and even finish you day off with a zip line through the Mayan jungle.

Best Cancun Excursions - Ferrari 360 Track Excursion - CheapCaribbean.com

Okay, speed demons and luxury car lovers—how does spending the day behind the wheel of a Ferrari 360 sound? Head to the track and wait for your instructor to give you the green light, and then put the pedal to the metal. You’ll get 5 laps on the 1.6 miles of track to experience the finesse and strength of this world-class vehicle. Oh, and some serious bragging rights when you get home.

Best Cancun Excursions - Swim With Whale Sharks - CheapCaribbean.com

The Whale Shark excursion is perfect for the self-proclaimed ocean explorer. If you’re dying to experience, firsthand, what it’s like to swim amongst some of the ocean’s most incredible creatures, a swim with whale sharks is a must. A marine biologist will take you out in small groups and allow you to swim alongside these incredible animals, with plenty of barrier reef snorkeling/diving to end the day.

Costa Rica Excursions

Best Costa Rica Excursions - Arenal Volcano - Cheap Caribbean

This makes the list because it simply sounds like a dream. Anyone who’s been to Costa Rica will tell you to plan a trip to the Arenal Volcano to experience the presence of an active volcano. With this excursion, you’ll get to do just that. But better yet—wrap up the day with a soak in the therapeutic waters of the hot springs, after a delicious meal, of course.

Best Costa Rica Excursion - Canopy Tour - CheapCaribbean.com

Costa Rica really does have it all—beaches, volcanoes, jungles, etc. So you should definitely make plans to see them all, and the Canopy Tour excursion allows you to do that. You’ll start off at the treetops of the Arenal Volcano, where you’ll zip line through 12 different platforms of the lush rain forest. Boasting powerful views and a fun time, consider this a Costa Rican must.

Jamaica Excursions

Best Jamaica Excursions - Black River Safari - CheapCaribbean.com

We’re proclaiming the Black River Safari, Appleton Rum Estate & Y.S. Falls excursion a triple threat. You’ll begin with a road trip through the fishing villages and small towns of Jamaica as you explore Jamaica’s longest river. And then continue on to Y.S. Falls where you can swim in the cool waters. Finish the day with a visit to Appleton Estate Rum Factory where you’ll tour the distillery and taste some authentic Jamaica rum. Say hello to your day of vacation perfection.

Dunn's River Falls - Best Jamaica Excursion - CheapCaribbean.com

Perhaps one of Jamaica’s most well-known tourist attractions is Dunn’s River Falls. There’s plenty to explore here with rock formations, fresh water streams, and a surplus of waterfalls. This excursion promises you a guide that can explain it all to you and lead you to the ultimate experience.

Best Jamaica Excursion - Negril Sunset Tour - CheapCaribbean.com

Closing out our top 10-excursion list, the Negril Beach and Sunset Tour is a great way to really get on island time and experience it all like a true Jamaican. Negril is known for having some of the most stunning sunsets, and after lounging on the beach during the day and grabbing drinks at Margaritaville, you’ll get to experience one for yourself. Close the day at Rick’s Café with a view of this iconic sunset (so beautiful you might just have trouble putting it into words). Recommendation: take lots of photos or else no one will believe the beauty you experienced.

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

Dare to Dream and You Could Win a Free Beach Vacation

Cancun Beach Vacation - Dreams Sands Cancun - CheapCaribbean.com

Picture this. You’re lying on a silk-sanded beach. It’s a perfect 80 degrees and the sun is beating down on your sun-kissed body, as the calming sounds of icy-blue waves crashing on the shore soothe you into a state of utter relaxation. The only distraction you encounter is the cabana staff asking you if you’d care for another cocktail. It almost sounds like a fictional place right? False.

We’re simply describing the BRAND NEW Unlimited-Luxury® Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa. With the grand opening happening this weekend, we can only imagine that the next few months are going to big, bright beautiful ones for this 5-sun rated resort in Cancun. And the great news is that we want to send three lucky winners to experience it all firsthand in our Dare to Dream sweepstakes. But more on that in a minute

Cancun Beach Vacation - Dreams Sands Cancun Resort - CheapCaribbean.com

We want to tell more about what awaits for you at Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa. Located right on the coast in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, you’ll be right by all of the action. Downtown hot spots are just 15 minutes away, the convention center is near by, and shopping malls and restaurants are all within walking distance. But with all the hotel’s amenities, you may not even need to leave the resort.

There’s 650 ft. of beach called Playa Viva, which comes fully equipped with chaise loungers and palapas all across the sand. Two beachfront pools are perfect for bouncing between salt & fresh water. And Barracuda Bar is strategically located between the two so your palette always stays crisp and refreshed. Spend the days in the sun, but as soon as dusk hits – towel off and getting dolled up for a night packed full of fun.

New Cancun Cheap Beach Vacation - Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa - Cheap Caribbean

With eight on-site restaurants at your beck and call, meal choices will be unique and different for nearly every meal. Word on the street is the French cuisine at Bordeaux or Pan-Asian experience at Hitmitsu is pretty out-of-this-world. And there are even nighttime movies on the beach and entertaining shows. Oh and don’t forget to hit up Dreams Spa by Pevonia for a custom hydrotherapy spa treatment. Seriously, we couldn’t dream this vacation up any more perfectly.

So now, how to get your hands on one of three 4-night trips for two, including round-trip airfare to Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico:

  1. Visit the Dare to Dream Sweepstakes entry page between now and September 7th, 2014.
  2. Fill out the appropriate information including a valid email address. And be sure to mark your calendars to return to this page every 24 hours. You can enter to win once per day.
  3. Share the news with your friends and family! The more people that enter, the better your odds are for winning.
  4. Tell us what you #DareToDream about by tweeting or posting on our Facebook page.
  5. Stand by! Winners will be notified on or after September 7th, 2014. Good luck!

Now tell us, what do you #DareToDream about? 

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.

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.