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10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Facts & Information - CheapCaribbean.com

When we think of the beach, we think of the obvious: sandy shores, crystal clear waters, and an oasis to escape to when the tough needs to get going. And although the above statement couldn’t be truer, there’s a whole lot more to that little Caribbean destination you’re busy making plans to visit. So this week, we’re taking a deep dive to learn more about the history & culture of our favorite islands. Let’s start with the Dominican Republic. Here are 11 things you may not know about the DR:

1. The Dominican Republic takes up 18,705 square miles and also has 30,000 square miles in surrounding islands. It’s home to almost 8.5 million people.

Best Caribbean Destination - Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

2. The Dominican Republic is on the island Hispaniola, which splits the DR & Haiti. Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean, next to Cuba.

3. The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo; and it’s the oldest permanent settlement in the Western hemisphere. Christopher Columbus’s brother, Bartholomew Columbus, settled in the city in 1496. His intention was to use the island as a place to launch attacks on America, and Santo Domingo served as the headquarters for Spanish power in the Western hemisphere.

Catedral de Santa Maria La Menor, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - CheapCaribbean.com

4. The oldest cathedral in the Americas can be found here. Catedral de Santa Maria La Menor was built in 1514 and celebrated it’s 500th anniversary this year.

5. The island is home to a long list of signature dishes. Two of the most popular are La Bandera, which is made with meat, rice, and red beans; and Mangú, which are boiled, green plantains mashed and topped with sautéed red onions.

6. Baseball is the country’s national sport and quite a few famous MLB baseball players come from the Dominican Republic.

7. The official beer of the Dominican Republic is Presidente.

Visit Dominican Republic with Cheapcaribbean.com and try a Presidente

8. One of the most common island spirits is called Mamajuana. It’s a combination of rum, red wine, tree bark, spices and herbs.

9. The Dominican Republic is the only place in the world where you can find the blue, semi-precious stone, larimar. It closely resembles turquoise.

10. Next to the beautiful beaches, lush tropics, and vibrant culture, the Dominican Republic is home to 20+ golf courses that boast beautiful views and great courses. Golfers travel from all over the world to play a round here.

Best Golf Courses in the Caribbean - Dominican Republic - CheapCaribbean.com

And there you have it. As you can see, there's plenty to learn and discover in the Dominican Republic. Oh, and make sure to take advantage of our best Dominican Republic deals here.

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.

Which Luxury Resort in the DR is right for you?

Did you get extra holiday cash to spend this season? Why not treat yourself to a trip loaded with superb service, the Caribbean Sea and lavish parties. You may never be royals, but you can live that fantasy in Punta Cana at two of the most luxurious resorts in the Dominican Republic.

Sister resorts Zoetry Agua Punta Cana and Breathless Punta Cana can both give you the royal treatment with impeccable service. What makes Zoetry and Breathless resorts stand out is that you don’t have to worry about restrictions like towel cards or reservation limitations. Plus, they don’t make you walk around wearing tacky wristbands either. You can just dine or grab a drink wherever you want, whenever you want and enjoy the unlimited pampering everywhere you look.

Dominican Republic Luxury Resorts - Breathless Resorts - CheapCaribbean.com

Take on the hot Dominican Sun at party central Breathless Resort & Spa.

The big decision though, is which resort do you choose? You can party it up at Breathless Punta Cana, where the chic and trendy atmosphere will have you partying poolside during the day and dancing in the open-air nightclub into the wee hours of the night. Or, you can find your inner zen at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, where the peaceful ambiance and attentive service combine to give you an abundant fill of the leisurely good life.

Luxury Resorts in Dominican Republic - Zoetry Aqua Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

Unwind with a little "me" time at Zoetry Aqua Punta Cana.

It’s a new year and the perfect time to plan a trip to the beach. With either pick, you can rest assured knowing your upcoming trip will sweep you away to a sandy paradise.

Article by: Caribbean Jim 

The Best 2014 Travel Deals Around

It may be hard to believe that 2013 is quickly dwindling away. Naturally as the window to travel in 2013 gets shorter, you’ll need to start thinking about the vacations you’ll be taking in 2014. That’s why this week we’re going to discuss what are some of the hottest deals to be on the lookout for the upcoming year. Since the options are near endless for 2014, you’ll want to hold on to your excitement, vacation shopping is about get fun!

Now Jade Riviera Cancun: Your Family’s Paradise

If you’re in charge of planning the family vacation, you probably get plenty of requests from everyone asking for different things – good food, great beach, activities for the young kiddos and cool, hip stuff for the older ones, right? So naturally it’s important that the vacation you plan has something to offer for every single member of your family. That’s why Now Jade Riviera Cancun is a perfect fit.

Best Family Beach Resort - Now Jade Riviera Cancun - CheapCaribbean.com

This 4.5-star all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya is a contemporary interactive hotspot with options for everyone in your group. Now Jade Riviera Cancun sits right on a half-mile of crystal clear beach with three resort pools, including an adults-only pool & swim up bar. There’s also an Explorer’s Club that offers a number of exciting activities for children ages 4-12, such as big screen movies under the stars, treasure hunts & even a ocean trampoline. And with Unlimited Luxury® dining options, you’ll have access to eight restaurants & six bars, as well. After having dinner and hanging out at the themed party on the beach, retire to your modern suite that accommodates the entire family and get ready to do it all over again.

Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort: The Ultimate Couples’ Escape

While family vacations are a blast and definitely something we all look forward to, sometimes you’re looking to celebrate the romance just a bit. That’s why a week away with your significant other can be just what you need to rekindle the romance. Of course, you’ll be spending some quality time with the one who has your heart, but it’s still best practice to make sure that there are things each one of you can fully enjoy.

Best 2014 Couples Resort - Sandals Grande Jamaica - CheapCaribbean.com

When planning your 2014 couples vacation, you should consider Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort in Jamaica. Located perfectly on 100 acres of Ocho Rios’ prime real estate, this resort makes its home on the pure, white sands of the Caribbean Riviera. There are more than 90 private & semi-private pools across the resort grounds, so you can easily find your favorite spot in the rejuvenating Caribbean sun. We also recommend experiencing the onsite golf course located 700 ft. above sea level and one of the courses Golf Digest Magazine has named “Courses to Play While on Vacation.”

And when it’s time to get your grub on choose from one of 11 restaurants with options including Caribbean cuisine at The Reef Terrace, Italian fare at Valentino’s and grill fare at Sandtrap Grille. After dinner, join in on the fun activities and themed nightly parties. You can participate in the couples’ game show, Lovers’ Passion or hang at the Beach Party Barbeque with live entertainment. Whether it’s a honeymoon, anniversary or just a simple getaway, Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort is THE place to visit in the New Year.

Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa: Calling all the Partiers

Now if your vacation is all about catching some serious rays and having the time of your life, then your 2014 vacation spot is Punta Cana – Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa, more specifically. This luxury, adults-only 4.5-star resort caters to the fun, energetic lifestyle of singles, groups and any other occasions in need of a celebration.

Best 2014 Singles Resort - Breathless Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

Come see what this Vegas-style energy center has to offer for yourself. Nestled between the jungle and ocean, this beachfront resort offers five swimming pools, including an expansive infinity main pool, two quiet pools and two xhale club pools. You’ll also want to take advantage of the 24-hour Unlimited Luxury® dining & beverage options with a total of 12 restaurants & eight bars. Among the bars, there’s MartinOX, a cigar club & oxygen bar serving top-shelf spirits and After Dark, a late night sports bar & nightclub. Opening November 2013, there’s no denying that this will be one of the hottest all-inclusive resorts in the upcoming year.

So as daylight gets shorter, the weather gets colder and the holidays quickly approach, it’s time to start looking to the future - your vacation future, that is. There’s no denying that 2014 looks to be a promising year full of family, fun and, of course, great vacations!

Where are you dying to go in 2014? Let us know in the comments below. 

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!