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Best Holiday & New Years Eve Beach Celebrations

There’s no denying that the last few days of 2013 are going to be full of parties, celebrations & quality time with the people you love. If you’re one of the lucky ones who are getting to celebrate your favorite holiday at the beach, you’ll need to know what fun parties & celebrations are happening and how to participate. Here’s what’s happening for the holidays in the Caribbean & Mexico. 

Party Bahamian Style at Junkanoo

For those of you planning to live the island life in the Bahamas this season, you’re in luck. The Bahamas celebrate Junkanoo on December 26th and it’s one of the biggest cultural celebrations these islands see all year long. It just wouldn’t be Christmas at the beach without an iconic Junkanoo celebration.

Junkanoo Holiday Celebration - Bahamas - CheapCaribbean.com

Photo credit: Cathy K.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you’ll want to venture to Bay Street in Nassau during the early morning hours of the day after Christmas (which is known as Boxing Day in the U.S.) and prepare yourself for an experience you’ll never forget. All night long there’s a Junkanoo parade that moves through the streets of downtown Nassau and features traditional Junkanoo dance troupes with bright, colorful costumes, music, crowds and plenty of celebratory fun. After you’ve danced with your fellow Bahamians all night long, there’s a Junkanoo procession where judges award cash prizes for the best music, best costume and best overall group presentation. As you can see, this is one event you want to make sure you don’t miss out on.

New Years Celebrations at the Beach

The Caribbean & Mexico is known for plenty of sizzling nightlife. And this doesn’t exclude New Years Eve. You can guarantee that hot spots like Punta Cana & San Juan will be crawling with exclusive New Years Eve parties that everyone will be dying to get into. Here are a few of our favorite parties you might want to take advantage of:

  • Illusions, New Years Eve Celebration: Perhaps one of the most anticipated NYE events in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino hosts a New Years celebration called “Illusions,” and it’s sure to promise a good time. The event features all-inclusive bars with premium spirits, 4 main areas with different ambiances and the best line up on entertainment. This year there’s a long list of world-renowned DJs, including DJ Garcia, DVJ King Arthur and DJ Roger M. Get your tickets here.

Puerto Rico New Years Party - Sheraton Puerto Rico - CheapCaribbean.com

  • Bubbles NYE 2014, Club Brava: Located inside El San Juan Resort & Casino, this hot spot is known for throwing some of the most iconic parties. And with an occasion like NYE, nothing will be spared. Enjoy a chic atmosphere with a guest DJ spinning jams with the party lasting well into the 1st day of 2014. Get tickets & information here.
  • La Concha, A Renaissance Resort: This NYE event is perfect for the group that’s looking to kick back and relax as they take in the last few hours of 2013. You can expect hopping music, a fun light show fully equipped with fireworks and a group of your fellow hotel patrons looking to cheers to an exciting year ahead. And while the tunes may be playing into the wee hours of the morning, you can expect that when you wake up on January 1st the hotel will be put back together and ready for you to take on another day in paradise.

  • David Guetta and Calvin Harris Concert: If you’re spending any of the holidays in Punta Cana, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the concert of a lifetime on your calendar. DJs David Guetta and Calvin Harris will take the stage and perform beachside at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana on December 30.
  • Steve Aoki, featured at The City, Cancun: It’s no surprise Cancun is known to have some of the hottest nightclubs in Mexico and come New Years Eve the parties just won’t stop. Hot spot, The City in Cancun’s downtown area will feature world-renowned DJ/Producer, Steve Aoki on December 31st. He’s known to throw some amazing parties with plenty of champagne and tons of cake. You’ll definitely want to attend.

So as you can see the Caribbean & Mexico are going to be lively over the next few weeks. For those of you that are booked and ready to go, share where you’ll be staying in the comments below. And for those that are dying to be beachside at one of these events, make sure to shop our last minute deals. Happy Holidays! 

 

How to Have a Destination Celebration

Silky sands, turquoise waters, frozen concoctions, delicious local bites, warm breezes and some good old fashion relaxation – sounds like the perfect way to take it all in and celebrate the beach. So where should you go if you’re looking to experience all of this for yourself? Here are a few destinations that are perfect for this kind of celebration.

Bávaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic, Bávaro Beach is located in the heart of Punta Cana. It’s home to all the things you need to get your destination celebration on. The first necessity is a top-notch resort that’s got a great location and ton of perks to help you celebrate.

Best Party Beach - Iberostar Bavaro - CheapCaribbean.com

Iberostar Bávaro is 4 stars of all-inclusive luxury and located right on the coveted Bavaro Beach. Your stay here could consist of swimming in the large freeform pool, playing in the onsite water park or taking an afternoon nap on the beautiful beach. And when you get hungry, stop into one of 10 restaurants or grab a drink at one of the 10 bars. You can also go for a round of golf at the Iberostar Bávaro Golf Club onsite. And as nighttime falls, enjoy DC-6, a disco styled after an airplane where the DJ spins international hits in a cockpit. Did we mention you’ve got access to 24-hour all-inclusive here?

While you shouldn’t need to leave your resort for hardly any reason, if you’re looking to get out and explore some of the beach – we recommend having lunch at Jellyfish Restaurant. Their world-class menu of fresh seafood and beachfront views makes it an experience you don’t want to miss out on.

And for the thrill seeker in us all, perhaps you should rent an ATV and explore the lush, natural terrain that calls the Dominican Republic home. While you’re off exploring the lands of the DR, you can also venture to one of the many coffee and cocao plantations and learn how the beans turn into the deliciousness that is our beloved coffee. And of course, you can grab a few organic samples to bring home with you.

Bahia de Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico 

The beaches in Cancun are known to be pretty, clean and in a near perfect location to many of the resorts here. Known as the hotel zone, the hot beaches of Cancun are home to over 80 all-inclusive resorts. If this doesn’t sound like you’ve got options, we’re not sure what does. One of our choice resorts for celebration central is Hard Rock Hotel Cancun.

Best Party Resort - Hard Rock Hotel Cancun - Cheap Caribbean

What’s more fitting than a resort that’s built around throwing one heck of a party? The ultra-modern interior speaks to its party vibe, as well as its fun nightlife and kid-friendly perks. Grab a seat at the Beach Bar and order a signature cocktail before heading off to the freeform infinity pool for a dip. The kiddos can enjoy the waterslides in the kids’ pool while you oversee it all from one of two swim up bars. And enjoy the teppanayaki show at dinner or the samplings at any of the other four restaurants. Kids can hang at the supervised kids club while you catch a show at the amphitheater, all before calling it a night in your rock’n’roll suite.

And since Cancun is known as a beach hotspot, you’ll want to see what all the buzz is about. Be sure to check out Señor Frogs or Carlos’n Charlie’s. Either of these fabulous spots will give you a dining experience unlike any other. Don’t be surprised if the staff asks you stand on your chair and do a crazy dance, or better yet, jump on stage and participate in a fun contest. These are just two of the many places in Cancun’s downtown area that are action packed and full of fun.

Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Taking on the island of Jamaica is sure to promise memorable experiences full of vibrant culture, beautiful beaches and high-end luxury. That’s exactly what you’ll find on Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica. This is one of the Jamaican beaches that attract visitors looking for a quiet retreat. You’re also in a perfect location to experience all of Jamaica, if you’re feeling adventurous.

Best Party Beach - Sandals Negril - Cheap Caribbean

Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect place to call home while experiencing the 1,700 feet of Seven Mile Beach located on resort property. With ample amounts of pool or beachside loungers and palapas, we encourage you to sit back and enjoy the surf, while munching on jerk chicken quesadillas from Café Sandals. And cool down in the pool with a Coco Loco from the swim-up bar at one of the four pools before dinner. With seven restaurants, nightly entertainment and out-of-this-world service, it’s no surprise that this resort has won the coveted Five Star Diamond Award.

But if experiencing off-the-beaten-path adventure is more your way of celebrating Jamaica, make sure to go for a dip in the Blue Hole. Located 40 minutes from Negril, this mineral spring swimming pool is a hidden oasis. If you’re feeling braver than ever, jump 22 feet into this natural spring pool. Then enjoy some local food and a good cocktail as a reward for unleashing your inner daredevil. You might also consider stopping by the open air Craft Market on your way home for some authentic souvenirs.

So it’s fairly obvious that no matter where you chose to go in the Caribbean or Mexico, it’s all about destination celebrations. There are always plenty of things you’ll experience that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. It’s just another reason we love celebrating it all at the beach. Where would you go for the perfect destination celebration? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

 

How to Live the Good Life at the Beach

Jimmy Buffett isn’t just known for singing a song or two about living life on the beach. He doesn’t just sing about “wastin’ away again in Margaritaville,” he genuinely lives the island life. That’s why, here at CheapCaribbean.com, we’re self-proclaimed “parrot heads” and talking you through ways you can live the good life on the beach this week.

Best beaches to relax on - CheapCaribbean.com

1. Pack the Perfect Bag.

First things first, to take on the beach the right way you’ve got to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Packing the best beach bag is an absolute must and something you might want to take on before you hit the beach.

Start by asking around for the best beach reads and make sure to stock your iPod with tons of beach appropriate tunes. Some of our favorite beach songs include “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett (obviously), “Some Beach” by Blake Shelton and “One Love” by Bob Marley, for example. Our entire list of perfect beach songs can be found on our Beach Tunes playlist.

You’ll also want to make sure to include a solid sunscreen, a great pair of shades and flip flops, just to name a few things. A towel is important too, but if you’re staying at a fabulous all-inclusive resort as we suggest you do, these will usually be provided for you. You’ll just want to get with the front desk or concierge to confirm where beach towels can be located. An ice-cold beverage and great beach snacks are also important, but we’ll get to that later.

2. Find the Best Spot.

Now that you’ve got a bag full of all the essentials, the next step is to venture out to your destination’s beach and see what it’s made of! Don’t worry about bringing your own lounger, if you do the beach the right way, then a perfectly placed palapa or chair awaits with your name on it.

But you’ve got to decide what’s most important to you. Do you prefer to be closer to your resort so you can pop between the ocean and the pool? Do you need to be close to the water activities coordinator so you can plan what water sport you’re going to try next? Or are you simply looking for some good old-fashioned R&R and just need a great view and beach bar nearby? As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into the location of where you spend your day at the beach. The good news is – at the right beach, all of these options are available and ready.

3. Sample Some Beach Fare.

And of course, what could be more important than making sure you’ve got easy access to delicious grub and thirst-quenching sips? No matter how you plan on spending your days on the beach, you’ve got to stay hydrated and don’t want to go hungry.

We suggest trying something that’s local to the beach you’re at - mofongo in Puerto Rico or jerk chicken in Jamaica, for example. And when it comes to drinking, we’re big fans of a refreshing Mount Gay Rum mojito or Havana Lights Cocktail, made special at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. Sometimes the best experiences come from asking the locals or your resort staff for their favorites and trying their suggestions.

4. Find the Right Beach.

Perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle is finding the ideal beach to live the good life on. This is where the resort and all its amenities come into play. Here’s a few resorts that are home to some of the best beaches and make living the good life almost a given.

Live Aqua Cancun: Located right on the Cancun beach, this 5-star luxury all-inclusive is the perfect place to live the good life. There are eight infinity pools with beachfront views, plenty of beach loungers and even cabana beds that come with daily foot massages. And don't worry, there’s a full staff of cabana waiters bringing you your choice of food and beverage all day long.

Best Beach Resort - Live Aqua - Cheap Caribbean

Barcelo Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic: This adults-only luxury fortress is located right on Bavaro Beach, one of the Dominican Republic's best beaches. Barcelo Bavaro Beach is the perfect beach if you're looking to indulge and get in some quality rest & relaxation. You can also hang out at the Bahio pool after the beach and when nighttime falls, test out your dancing skills at Disco Bavaro.

Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic - Barcelo Resort - CheapCaribbean.com

Seven Stars Resort, Turks & Caicos: A stay at this resort and an afternoon on Grace Bay Beach is the epitome of living the good life at the beach. This resort rests upon TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice Award for the top rated beach and promises nothing but luxe. We suggest grabbing a mojito from Sand Dollar bar, taking a dip in the heated saltwater pool and then head to claim your spot on the satin-like sands of Grace Bay Beach.

Grace Bay Beach, Turks & Caicos - Seven Sands Resort - CheapCaribbean.com

So there you have it, folks. As you can see adopting a lifestyle of a permanent beach bum or "parrot head" couldn't be easier. Just a few simple steps and you're on your way to being a beach expert. What do you think? Did we leave anything out? Let us know how you'd live the good life at the beach in the comments below.

4 Things to Do this Summer in the Caribbean & Mexico

Where to go? What to do? These are all natural questions to ask when you’re busy planning your vacation itinerary. The good news is summertime in the Caribbean & Mexico is packed full of festivals, celebrations and plenty of fun things to do. If you’re heading to the beach this summer, be sure to pencil in some of these must-dos.

St. John’s Carnival Festival 2013: June 1st – July 4th

If you’re heading to any of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the next few weeks, St. John, more specifically, you’ll be there for the island’s largest celebration. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Come and Explore the Cultural Scene for Festival 2013,” which means you can expect lots of events centered around St. John’s culture and history.

The whole calendar includes activities featuring traditional food and music, among other things. Also, there’s a legend of West African inspired mocko jumbies, which were shape-changing ghost-like figures that traditionally appeared at night and scared those who were out late and being mischievous. People dressed up as mocko jumbies parade around the events on stilts and elaborate costumes, and are a signature of St. John’s festival. All of this is cumulated at the conclusion of the festival on July 4th with one final parade and, of course, a massive firework show.

Things to do in St. John from CheapCaribbean.com

See the beautiful costumes, taste the delicious food and experience the spirit that encompasses St. John with a schedule of events here.

Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival: August 1st – August 5th 

Jamaica is known for many things, reggae music being one of them. Upon its origination in the 1960s in Jamaica, reggae is a music style with influences of traditional African, ska and Rastafari.  And the first week of August in Ocho Rios is a festival to celebrate this true Jamaican style and most specifically this year “Woman in Film.”

Originating in 2008, the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival is an opportunity to come together and celebrate the reggae style that is home to Jamaica. In the past, several of the films shown at the festival have received awards and honors from film festivals all over the world. And this year the Festival will include a larger emphasis on reggae music with a plethora of live performances and the addition of new Music Video Awards. The event will take place at Island Village in Ocho Rios, which is also home to great shopping and entertainment. It sounds like this week in Jamaica, among others, is one you won’t want to miss.

La Fiesta de Playa, Cancun: August 11th – August 13th 

If you’re look to party on the beach like the name of the festival means, it looks like Cancun is the place for you during this week in August. This celebration takes place in the middle of Cancun’s hotel zone and offers plenty of ways to let loose, such as parties, DJs, fashion shows, concerts, competitions, traditional Mexico food and plenty of other cultural events. This party has been rumored to be so legendary, it’s often called “The Biggest Beach Party in the World.”

Cancun Hotel Zone Beach Party from CheapCaribbean.com

And after three days of beach parties you can only dream about, you can hop over to Isla Mujeres on August 17th to take part in their Founding Day festivities. This day marks the day in 1854 when the first settlement was founded on the island and is often times celebrated with a mass dive off the coast of the island, as well as parades, a pageant, live music and dancing. Spending this week in August in Mexico will give you an accurate representation of how these people party and possibly inspire you to bring some of the fun home with you.

Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival – August 30th – August 31st

And if a-list celebrity, star-studded events are more of your thing, we suggest the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival, a two day festival that takes place at the end of August. Just recently announced, Usher and Marc Anthony will be headlining this event celebrating jazz music.

Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival from CheapCaribbean.com

There’s a full roster of iconic music acts including The Roots, Diana Ross, Luis Miguel, Toto, Erykah Badu and Sonny Rollings, just to name a few. There’s no denying that this event sounds like one of the best beach music festivals all summer long. With picturesque beaches and even better tunes, we almost consider this event the perfect way to wrap up your summer travels.

If you’d like to WIN your way to Curacao for this festival, don’t forget to enter our Tweet to Win promotion running through June 25th. Make sure you’re following us on Twitter to get all the info.

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.