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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.

Must-Do Adventure Vacations for the Thrill-Seeker in Us All

No matter if you're a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie or just a tourist who likes to experience it all while on vacation, there are plenty of action-packed adventures that can take place in the Caribbean & Mexico. Here are a few of our favorite vacations to try if you're on the hunt for a thrill:

Jamaica is known for it's rich culture, beautiful beaches and plenty of one-of-a-kind excursions you can't find on any other Caribbean island. Pick a top-of-the-line resort and you can spend your days exploring this invigorating island and your nights with five-star service, food and fun. We recommend Grand Bahia Principe for the best of both worlds.

Jamaica Adventure Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Bounce between beachfront relaxation and running off to your next island exclusive excursion at Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica

You can leave your worries behind and step onto the beautiful shores of Runaway Bay, where the all-suite Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica offers all-inclusive access to a lake-style, beachfront pool with 2 swim-up bars for their popular dirty banana cocktails. The kids can hang at Principito for face painting and video games while you take advantage of the many onsite adventures, like kayaking, windsurfing or a ride on the catamaran.

If you're looking for an adventure that's fame-worthy, make sure to plan your trip to Port Antonio to explore The Blue Lagoon (yes, like the movie). While we can't guarantee you'll meet Brooke Shields, who made this location famous in the film, we can offer an enchanting, natural swimming hole with deep blue water, mixed with a fresh water spring, unlike any other swimming hole in the Caribbean. And don't forget that the legend tells the lagoon as bottomless with a resident dragon who lurks in these waters.

Another adrenaline junkie's vacation dream is Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the epitome of adventure and exploration. Toggling between iconic beach views and an Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica should be on every adventurer's bucket list. We've gone as far to plan out this Costa Rican adventure for you with our Liberia Guanacaste Costa Rica Adventure. This tour is a preplanned resort package that takes you through the city of Liberia, the Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Tamarindo Beach.

Costa Rica Adventure Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

See all the natural wonders of Costa Rica is seven short days - an adventurer's dream!

Each day on this adventure you'll experience something different including a city tour of Liberia, Arenal Volcano exploration, a trip to Cano Negro Wildfire Refuge, time to wander the Monteverde Cloud Forest and sun bathing on the beach in Guanacaste. Don't worry, top notch accommodations are provided the entire time so you'll be able to unwind after your days spent exploring this miraculous destination.

If you're looking for adventure in Mexico, we'd suggest Riviera Maya. Known for its stunning beaches and private seclusion in the lush greens of the region, Riviera Maya is a vacation spot with a little bit of everything to offer. Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa is a top pick of ours when planning your Riviera Maya exploration.

Adventure Vacations in Riviera Maya from Cheapcaribbean.com

Enjoy the hotel's seclusion as you plan your next Mexican excursion at Dreams Tulum Resort

We're big fans of Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa because you're minutes from the Mayan ruins and sites of Tulum, while still experiencing Unlimited-Luxury® that comes standard at this hotel. When you're not busy exploring the ancient, stone temples and pyramids of this historic Mexican city, you can enjoy this family-friendly resort set on two miles of white beach lined with palms and mangrove trees. There's also a great Explorer's Club, perfect for kids ages 3-12, which will let Mom and Dad sneak off to the pool fully equipped with swim and walk-up bars. You'll want to plan a stay here to see why this historic city in Mexico was voted #18 as the "Best Destination in the Caribbean and Mexico for TripAdvisor's "Traveler's Choice Awards."

The Caribbean & Mexico are home to some of the most astounding wonders of the world. For more recommendations on thrill-seeking vacations, check out some more of our favs here. Be sure to share your favorite adventures with us too! Happy exploring!

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!