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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.

Five Fab Caribbean Beaches To Plant Your Bum by JetSetSarah

JetSetSarah blogs for CheapCaribbean.com

By: JetSetSarah

Get washed up on one of these beaches and cross your fingers that that no one comes to rescue you.

1. Bambarra Beach, Middle Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands­

Over on Provo, Grace Bay gets all the love. But one of my favorite strands is just a 30-minute ferry and less than 35 miles away from the Turks and Caicos Island tourist hub, secreted on sleepy Middle Caicos (pop. 300). You can’t help but be captivated by the beach at Bambarra, where, for about a quarter-mile, sun-warmed ankle-deep, crystal-clear water skims a rippled carpet of ivory sand. The tiny islet of Pelican Cay beckons you from the horizon, and in no time flat you’ll be answering its call, splashing your way towards it verdant landscape. While it might take you a minute to find this gem (there’s only a half-obscured hand-painted sign to direct you off the main road and down a gravel path to this casuarina tree-fringed beauty), Bambarra is totally worth the effort.

Turks & Caicos Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

2. Frenchman’s Cove, Port Antonio, Jamaica

My favorite Jamaican beach is one of the island’s most picturesque, with a wide white-sand strand whose placid waters wash up against a sheltered cove. A small river flows through the 48-acre property, meeting the warm sea at the beach’s western end, where children fling themselves off a rope swing into refreshing waters. Cinematically beautiful (the movie Cocktail was shot here), blissfully quiet on a weekday, and located in what I think is Jamaica’s most idyllic quarter, Frenchman’s is a beach lover’s dream come true.

3. Seven-Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Cayman Islands Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Somehow the Caribbean sun seems to shine its brightest on Grand Cayman’s marquee strand, possibly the hottest beach I’ve ever had the pleasure to bask on. I love nothing better than to chillax on a chaise and watch the parade of people go by: oiled-up European tourists in big chains and tiny bikinis; conventioneers freshly escaped from the frigidly air-conditioned confines of their hotel conference rooms; cruise ship day-trippers making a bee-line for a bucket of beer at Calico Jack’s. It might be a bit of a cliché, but Seven-Mile Beach is a classic Caribbean choice  – and a great one.

4. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

What’s not to love about this 12-mile long sweep of sand bordered by warm, clear turquoise water? When I first visited Grace Bay in Provo more back in the 90s, you could step out onto the shore, look up and down, and not see a single soul. Now, of course, the scene is completely different, with swanky mid-rise hotels and restaurants bordering the shore. But the beach bum-basics are still there: sand as fine as confectioner’s sugar, gin-clear sea, and a laidback vibe that encourages you to slow down, pop open a frosty Turks Head, and take it all in.

5. Maundays Bay, Anguilla

Like all of Anguilla’s 33 beaches, Maundays Bay is public, so you don’t have to be a guest of plush Cap Juluca (the resort which has pride of place on its sands), to enjoy it. If you are, however, more’s the better. Hotel guests enjoy the services of beach butlers, who, as soon as they see you coming, will open a beach umbrella, dress your chaise with a towel and pillow, and set down a cooler of drinks for your seaside refreshment. But whether you’re staying at Cap J or not, this spectacular combo of mesmerizingly blue water and bone-white sands is yours to enjoy, whether for a few days or for just one blissful hour.

Anguilla Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Photo Credit by Tiare Scott

Jet Set Sarah, Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, is a Caribbean travel expert, award-winning travel journalist, and TV personality. Former executive editor of Caribbean Travel +Life magazine, she ventures to the beach and beyond, sharing the diverse culture, relaxed lifestyle and colorful people of the world’s favorite warm-weather destination. She is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com, where travel and shopping meet.

Spark the Flame: Getaways to Rekindle the Romance

We’re all about love. In fact, it’s safe to say we’re in love with love. And when you throw in a picture-perfect backdrop to match, it makes love that much sweeter, doesn’t it? So this week, we’re celebrating the love birds out there with our top picks for romantic getaways.

Whether you’re a honeymooner, celebrating an anniversary or just two people who want to escape for a little romance, the Caribbean & Mexico make for perfect places to do just that. Our first fave sits on the iconic Seven Mile Beach and has 4.5 stars of incredible luxury.

Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is a five-story and 273 guestroom resort that recently underwent a $15-million renovation, making it an updated and perfect place to spend your vacation time. Grab a mai tai at the poolside Sol Bar with your sweetie or take a dip in the 85-foot beachfront pool that calls this resort home. Couples also love the hot tub or a romantic stroll in the lagoon-style courtyard fully equipped with lush greenery.

Grand Cayman Islands Romantic Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

The location of the hotel on Seven Mile Beach makes it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, with warm water and a reef perfect for snorkeling just a couple feet of shore. There are also endless amounts of activities with scuba diving, windsurfing and sailing easily accessible to all couples.  Of course a romantic getaway wouldn’t be complete without a customized couples treatment at La Mer Spa. The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is the perfect mix of adventure and romance, all set on one of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean.

Now, how about a resort that truly celebrates couples? Couples Sans Souci is 35 beachfront acres of Jamaican cliffside dedicated to nothing but couples. It has also recently been voted the number one spa hotel in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure, making it a romantic oasis that's perfect for celebrating love, no matter the occasion.

Jamaica Romantic Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Here at Couples Sans Souci, your days can be spent in the private coves and curative mineral pool with hidden mineral grottos. Stop by the swim-up bar for an island cocktail or eat at one of five restaurants serving everything from authentic jerk chicken to stuffed shrimps at Casanova. With all the superb all-inclusive options at this resort, you’ll never go hungry or thirsty. Don’t forget to plan a trip with your honey and visit Dunn’s River Falls and then finish up the day with a peppermint-sea-twist body treatment, the perfect end to an adventurous day with the love of your life.

Grab your guy or gal and head to Punta Cana for a little DR romance. At Excellence Punta Cana, you can enjoy some adult-only paradise. Venture down to the Dominican Republic beach and grab a daybed where you and your honey can truly unwind in the Caribbean sun. The pool is home to submerged lounge chairs and a swim up bar, so you’ll never have to leave that water.

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Excellence Punta Cana is also home to a 1991.47 ft. jogging track, a full schedule of activities like yoga and the full-service Mille Spa. Arrive early for your appointment at Mille Spa and relax in the Swedish saunas, steam rooms and refreshing cold-plunge pools, and then be transported to a state of utter relaxation with a couples massage.

Dinner plans consist of a torch-lit dinner for two on the beach. As the night comes to an end, retire to your colonial-style suite, fully equipped with an in-room Jacuzzi. And by upgrading to the Excellence Club, you can enjoy Bulgari toiletries and a maxed-out mini bar and room service menu. This adult-only resort will help you and your partner come home feeling refreshed, clear-headed and stronger than ever.

So as you can probably agree, celebrating your love on a quiet beach may be just what you and yours truly need. Whether you’re a newlywed just beginning your journey or looking to commiserate the many wonderful years you’ve shared with your significant other, we strongly suggest a trip to paradise to celebrate it all. Who doesn’t love love right?

Perfect Your Swing: The Best Caribbean & Mexico Golf Resorts

Do you live for putting greens and perfecting your golf swing? Are you busy trying for your next ace? Whether you’re a self-proclaimed or nationally acclaimed golf pro, what’s better than top-notch golf courses and even better rated beaches, all in one. In honor of Golfer’s Day on April 10th, here are a few of our top picks for Caribbean & Mexico golf courses.

Puerto Rico is known for more than just its stunning beach views and Latin vibe. Golf courses in Puerto Rico come highly recommended and that couldn’t be truer for Trump International Golf Club at Gran Melia Golf Resort.

Guests at Gran Melia Golf Resort can tee off at one of two 18-hole championship courses, designed by PGA winner Tom Kite. With putting greens to the left and iconic views of the Atlantic Ocean and El Yunque to the right, this course and resort is an avid golfer’s dream.

Gran Melia Golf Resort in Puerto Rico by CheapCaribbean.com

With views so beautiful on this course, it'll be hard to focus on your golf game.

After a long day on the course, go for a dip in the 335-ft, oceanfront, lagoon-style pool, fully equipped with a swim up bar serving ice cold cocktails to help you celebrate your below par game. When it’s time to eat, choose from Italian, sushi or Puerto Rican fare at any of the five restaurants on-site. Mentally prepare yourself for next day’s golf game with a nightcap at The Avenue Bar, one of the many happening nighttime spots at Gran Melia Golf Resort.

The next of our favorite golf resorts comes from La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Caribbean Travel + Life has named the three Pete-Dye-designed golf courses here, “Top Caribbean Golf Courses”. In addition, Casa de Campo La Romana is a 7000-acre resort located on a quarter-mile of beach dotted with lush greens and palm trees.

Casa de Campo Golf Resort in the Dominican Republic from CheapCaribbean.com

The three golf courses found at Casa de Campo are just as beautiful as they are well-known for the course themselves.

Often called a “mini-country” unto itself, Caso de Campo La Romana includes one of Latin America’s only principal polo complexes, three golf courses, a shooting club, an equestrian center, a marina village and a replication of a 16-century Italian village above a river gorge. Schedule a round of golf at Dye Fore, Teeth of the Dog or Links – the three legendary courses here, designed by Pete Dye himself.

After spending the day in a golfer’s paradise, make sure to take advantage of another feature here – upper and lower deck pools with swim up bars, as well as fourteen other pools scattered around the resort. End your day with an authentic meal prepared with local ingredients from one of several resort restaurants. Your Dominican Republic vacation can’t be beat with a stay at Casa de Campo La Romana.

If you’re looking for a resort that not only offers superb golf courses, but also promises a vacation the whole family will enjoy look no further than Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa. The Cinnamon Hill Golf Course that’s home to this resort has been listed as a top course in Jamaica by Golf Digest. 

Hilton Rose Hall Golf Resort in Jamaica by CheapCaribbean.com

Please the entire family with this Jamaican resort with something for everyone.

Not only will the adults enjoy a round at Cinnamon Hill, the kids will get a kick out of the new Sugar Mills Water Park, or Kidz Club and Teen Zone if the parents need a few hours on their own. There’s even an all-inclusive package that includes snorkeling, kayaking, windsailing and 1,000 feet of beach, perfect for all members of the family. As mealtime approaches, chose from one of four resort restaurants with menu items sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. There’s no denying that your next family vacay would be a win for everyone if spent at Hilton’s Rose Hall Resort & Spa.

So now that you’re in the know on where to go for the best golf vacations in the Caribbean & Mexico, it may not be a bad idea to perfect your back swing before you jet away. If you’ve got a favorite golf resort of your own, be sure to comment and let us know!

 

Bottoms Up! Signature Vacation Drinks You Have to Try

Sun, sand and a cold drink in your hand – three necessities while on your beach getaway. Here at CheapCaribbean.com, we do our best to provide the sun and sand, all with great deals…but the drink, that’s up to you. Have no fear…we’re here with a few of our island favorites to try on your next vacation.

If the Mexico beaches are where you plan on spending your vacation, we suggest you sip fresh made sangria or better yet, ask your resort bartender what’s his or her favorite. On our most recent trip to Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, we asked for a specialty and our bartender suggested their famous Havana Lights Cocktail. They even shared the recipe with us, incase you want to give this drink a try at home before you go.

  • Three-fourths oz. light rum
  • Three-fourths oz. coconut rum
  • Three-fourths cup pineapple juice
  • Half oz. melon liquor
  • A few drops of grenadine syrup

Mix and shake the first three ingredients, then pour into a cocktail glass. Add a few drops of grenadine and then finish the drink off with a splash of melon liquor. Garnish with your favorite fruit and enjoy!

Resort Drink Recipes at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun from CheapCaribbean.com

Grab a happy hour snack and drink at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun's beachside cafe.

If you’d rather leave it up to the professionals, make plans to stay at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. You can also enjoy Unlimited-Luxury® which comes standard at this adults-only resort and promises kayaking, cooking demos, tequila tastings, floor concierges and Vegas-style shows. If this doesn’t sound like a beach bum’s dream, we’re not sure what does.

In Jamaica, you’ll find lots of drinks featuring rum, as it’s one of the island’s favorites. And while there’s lots of drink options on your Jamaican vacation, we asked our devote beach goers what was their favorite and the results are in. It was a tie between a Dirty Banana and Rum Punch – both island signatures.

Resort Drinks from Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa from CheapCaribbean.com

You don't even have to leave the ocean to get a refill at Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa.

Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa is a couple’s retreat, perfect for giving both of these favorites a try. This all-inclusive resort is fully equipped with top-quality liquor and five bars, including a swim up bar, making it virtually impossible not to ask a bartender for one of these sip-savoring signatures. Parked right on Seven Mile Beach, this Sandals resort earned a coveted Five Star Diamond Award for their top-notch service. And don’t worry, there’s seven restaurants, nightly entertainment and even a Piano Bar to make your Jamaican vacation one you’ll never forget.

Dreaming of the powdery white sands and crystal clear waters in Aruba? We are too. That’s why we recommend a luxury Aruba getaway to Occidental Grand Aruba, fully equipped with high-end all-inclusive, upgrade options, and of course, ice cold signature cocktails.

Aruba Drinks at Occidental Grand from CheapCaribbean.com

Dive up to one of the swim up bars and ask for your favorite drink at Occidental Grand Aruba.

Picture yourself sprawled out on a beach lounger while one of Occidental’s staff brings you a mouth-watering, hard-to-resist concoction. Our suggestion on what you should order? An Aruba Chi Chi. This drink is sweet and refreshing as it lends itself in similarity to a pina colada. Made with vodka, coconut, pineapple and ice, an Aruba Chi Chi is the perfect companion to a day spent on the beach.

So now that you have some of our favorites, tell us yours. Also, if you're looking for more drink recommendations, be sure to check out our website with even more options. Cheers, beach goers!