The Easiest Places on Earth to Learn How to Surf

So you want to learn how to surf? Let us be the first to tell you that it probably isn’t going to be easy, especially if you make the rookie mistake of heading to some famous beach known for its huge swells. But learning this incredible sport doesn’t have to be that hard, as long as you know where to go. In this increasingly busy world, surfing is providing people with the chance to get back to nature, challenge themselves against the ocean and have a lot of fun. Heading to one of these 12 places will ensure that you are setting yourself up for success as they are among the easiest places on earth to learn how to surf.

12. Frank Island, Tofino, British Columbia

Tofino and beginners don’t often go hand in hand, especially in the winter season when the storms send huge waves crashing in, but head to Frank Island and you will understand why it’s the perfect place to learn. Frank Island is situated on the south end of Chesterman Beach and manages to knock down any powerful breaks and creates little baby waves perfect for learning. The water is cold, year round, after all this is Canada, so expect to wear a wetsuit here no matter what season you are surfing in. It is easy to find board rentals along with lessons in the town of Tofino as it is known as being the surfing capital of Canada. Snow covered glaciers, thousand year old trees, wandering black bears and bald eagles overhead complete this stellar location.

Surfing Tofino

11. Lagos, Portugal

You may not find any waves in the actual town of Lagos itself but a slew of opportunities await beginners with a 30 minute drive. This Algarve town is the base for many surf schools and it has long been know that surfing in Portugal is something to check off your bucket list. Surf Experience is the longest running surf school in the area, operating since 1992 and offers superior instruction and amazing accommodations. Beginner surfers often head to the protected break at Arrifana, a favorite for learning at low tide. In the downtime make sure to explore the town’s delicious eats, cheap cocktails and electric clubs that come alive after 10pm. Avoid traveling here during summertime when it is often crowded and prices are significantly higher.

Arrifana Portugal surfing

10. Taghazoute, Morocco

Since the 1970’s Europeans have been flocking to this destination in the wintertime to get their surfing in. VW campervans used to be parked beside the breaks as hardcore surfers took to the waters. Nowadays though, anyone can learn how to surf here, thanks to the abundance of surf schools that have popped up. Beginners should actually head here in early autumn as the weather is warmed and the swells are smaller. Head to the south where the surf camps almost outnumber the surf breaks for a variety of different options and budgets. Hash Point and the beaches around Agadir put up a good gentle learner wave and offer incredible surf camps. To the most out of your experience here we recommend joining a surf camp for at least 3 days and discovering the multitude of sandy beaches all within a 15 minutes drive.

Taghazoute, Morocco surfing

9. Bundoran, Ireland

Bundoran is known as the surf capital of Ireland and boasts some of the best surf schools in the entire country, making this destination an easy choice for learning how to surf. These waters aren’t for surfers who are looking to get a tan though and hailstorms are known to pummel riders out in the waves. There are a number of beach breaks that are perfect for beginners and hooking up with a local surf camp is the best to discover all of them. Visit here from September to November when the tourists have gone home and the water is warm(ish). Make sure to head to The Bridge Bar, situated overlooking the Peak—Ireland’s most famous reef break. This local hangout is a mix of old-school Ireland and surf culture, making it warm, friendly and a great place to meet locals and surfers.

Bundoran, Ireland surfing

8. Waikiki, Hawaii

It wouldn’t be a list of learning surfing spots without including the home of surfing itself. The ancient kings of Hawaii rode these waves themselves, on crude wooden boards, back before the 19th century missionaries frowned upon the sport. What you will find in Waikiki are gentle rolling waves littered with other beginner riders. For the most part these waves offer long rides and the atmosphere here is easy going and relaxed; something that can’t be said for all of the waters in this state. Canoes, an easy right break near the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is the most popular beginner spot and can become quite crowded, although you are amongst beginners so catching a wave is quite easy. Warm sunny weather, warm water temperature and an “aloha” lifestyle makes this an excellent place to learn.

Waikiki, Hawaii

7. Byron Bay, Australia

It is easily one of the most iconic places to surf in the world, and one of the best places to learn. This sleepy dairy town was turned into a classic surf town in the 1960’s and surfers from all over the world travel here to surf in the legendary waters. The best time to visit is from March to May as the weather is warm and the swell is consistent. Beginners will likely want to head to Watego beach where because of its north facing direction; it’s completely protected from the big south swells and almost always has gently breaking waves. Make sure to check out Byron Bay Surf School for all your lessons and rental needs. They are one of the few companies licensed to teach on all the beaches in the area and will get you up and riding waves in no time.

Byron Bay, Australia

6. Nosara, Costa Rica

The town of Nosara is a little more protected than other popular surf spots in Costa Rica and beginners will find the laid back local vibe welcoming and accommodating. There are a number of accessible beach breaks just a short walk from town which are perfect for beginners. Add in year round warm waters, beautiful weather and incredible scenery and you will wonder why you are the only one on the beach. Finding someone to teach you how to surf is easy around here as there are many excellent surf schools and instructors lining the town. On down days make sure to check out the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, which is famous for its olive ridley and leatherback sea turtle populations.

Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

5. The Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area, Otter Rock, Oregon

Although you will have to squeeze your way into a wetsuit and booties, this sandy beach is the perfect location to learn to surf, especially if you are looking to stay in North America. Unlike the rest of the coast which is full of jagged rocks and high winds; this beach is protected by a huge headland. Known as the “Waikiki of Oregon”, everyone from this state who surfs has probably learned here and the locals are well used to beginners in their waters. The vibe is a mix of tourists, families, body boarders and beginners with no bad vibes to be seen. There are a number of surf shops in the area to rent a board or pick up a few lessons. Just make sure you are ready for the water temperature as it ranges between 48 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year.

The Devil's Punchbowl Oregon

4. Inch Marlow, Barbados

If you have never thought of Barbados as a surf destination, you would be highly misinformed as the protected southern side of the island offers incredible year round waves, and some of them just happen to be perfect for beginners. What makes this location so special is the consistent trade wind which makes for long clean waves, perfect for beginners. Zed’s Surfing Adventures is where most people head to learn as it is run by former competitive surfer Zed Layson and offers both private and group lessons, designed to get you up and riding waves in no time. Along with excellent instructors there is a photographer on hand that will capture all you special moments. Rates are cheaper in the summer, alas it is the rainy season but if you don’t mind not getting a tan, there are great deals to be found.

Barbados beach

3. Playa El Sunzal, El Salvador

There is a lot of resistance in visiting El Salvador as it isn’t known to be the safest country in the world, but if you can get past the dangerous and violent crimes that often happen here, it’s an awesome place to learn how to surf. There are 300 days of surfable waves here, water temperature that stays in the 80’s and waves that roll on for hundreds of feet. It is the perfect place to learn with a longboard and learning, eating, drinking and lodging are incredibly cheap. You will have to be careful here of the rock bottom and paddling out can be long in the rainy season as currents pick up. Playa San Diego is another beach to hit for some beginner waves and features a huge sandy beach and very few people. Choice of accommodation is limited here but if you can rent a board and find room at the one hostel, you will find peace in the desertedness of this beach.

Playa El Sunzal, El Salvador

2. Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

The awesome weather, the warm water temperature and the lagoon-like setup makes this an awesome spot to learn how to surf. The scenery isn’t too bad either with stunning black sand beaches. What makes this location so unique is the lagoon-like setup inside the beach’s outer sandbank. It allows beginners to stand in chest-deep water and catch “reform” waves—whitewash surf that has reformed into a second, mellower wave. It is entirely normal for complete beginners to catch 70- to 80-meter rides from the get-go, something entirely unheard of anywhere else. There are a number of surf schools around to get you up and on your way, or join a surf tour. If you want to avoid wearing a wetsuit make sure you visit between December and April. The best part about this beach, there are never any crowds to contend with, making your learning experience that much better.

Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

1. Bali, Indonesia

From March to July, Bali is the number one best spot to learn the sport of surfing. The combination of warm weather, warm water and consistent waves makes this the ultimate spot for beginners. If you are learning you will want to head to Kuta Beach where there is a soft sandy bottom and small waves ranging from two to six feet. Although it can be a bit crowded at times, it is easy to hire a private instructor or join a surf school, for half of what it costs at home. If you want to stay away from Kuta Beach make sure to head over to Nusa Dua, which features a protective reef and good beginner waves. Seminyak is another good option if you are learning and offers many options for schools.

Bali, Indonesia beach

Island Hopping in the Caribbean: 10 Pristine Getaways

For the ultimate paradise experience, head to theses 10 pristine getaways filled with tropical wonders. In a world of underwater coral gardens teeming with marine wildlife and lush tropical rainforests, the islands of the Caribbean are some of the most cherished natural wonders in the world. In fact, vacationers travel from all corners to witness the clear, turquoise waters and scuba dive in the rare marine sanctuaries.

10. Guadaloupe

Set sail for a magical adventure in the tropics of Guadaloupe, a natural paradise filled with unforgettable activities like snorkeling the reefs, swimming with dolphins, and relaxing on white sandy beaches with a bright colored cocktail. With a minimum of tourism infrastructure, the large island is ideal for exploring pristine waterfalls and rivers in Basse-Terre, the mountainous western half and the smaller islands that float nearby in a stunning turquoise hued-sea. Other highlights can be found on the north coast at the Port D’Enfer and Pointe de la Grande Vigie with dramatic cliffs scattered across the dazzling aqua waters. Nature lovers can go on mountain treks through tropical jungles in Basse-Terre on a trail leading to the magnificent Cascade aux Ecrevisses on Route de la Traversee. And for an unforgettable scuba diving excursion, grab your gear and head to the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve, a protected underwater oasis.

Pointe de la Grande Vigie

9. Cuba

With Cuba’s vibrant cultural and history starting with the Spanish influence, get ready to enter a world of café con leches, vintage 1950s cars, and the cherished Buena Vista Social Club. Part of the Greater Antilles, Cuba is a perfect getaway spot for experiencing their distinctive cultural mecca of Havana and discovering some of the most untouched marine ecosystems in the world. For a scuba diving adventure of a lifetime, head to La Costa de las Piratas, an underwater sanctuary of 56 reef sites teeming with marine wildlife. Along the way, make a stop at the beachside town of Varadero to sample some Cuban cigars and drink rum with the sociable locals. All-inclusive hotels line the island’s most popular beach and could be a useful home base for afternoon water excursions.

cuba varadero

8. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

What sets St. Vincent and the Grenadines apart is its dramatic natural beauty and like many islands in the Caribbean, a great way to see the sights is by sailboat. You might recognize the white sandy beaches, waterfalls, and lush rainforests in scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean, which was filmed here. It also is home to Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s private islands outside of St. Vincent. With its jagged mountain terrain and La Soufriere volcano in the north, it’s a haven for eco-tours and nature trekkers. The hike up the 4,000-ft volcano is about a four-hour climb and along the way, you’ll pass through a series of diverse vegetation like tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, and a cloud forest with stunted growth.

Grenadines

7. Martinique

With its tropical flowers covering the countryside and lush mountain rainforests in the background, Martinique is a beautiful getaway that inspired the famous landscapes by French artist Paul Gaugin. To see the vibrant natural wonders up close, head to the Carbet Mountains on a scenic drive through the interior rainforest. The drive starts at Route de la Trace that follows an old path laid by the Jesuit priests in the 1700s. Scuba diving excursions are also popular, especially the graveyard of sunken ships off Saint-Pierre and the caves and tunnels off Rocher du Diamant. For the novice diver, a good place to get your fins wet are in the shallow coral gardens near Cap Enrage, a underwater habitat filled with tropical fish and sea turtles. The Main Hull, a sunken Canadian barge, is also an ideal spot for the beginner wreck diver.

Martinique

6. St. Lucia

When it comes to tropical island getaways, you can expect all the standards of paradise in St. Lucia, a small island in the Windwards and neighboring Martinique and St. Vincent. Get swept away in a natural wonderland filled with turquoise waters teeming with fish and corals, tropical rainforests, and unspoiled, white sand beaches. A good place to get into the island spirit is at Discovery, a high-end resort in the popular Marigot Bay. Flanked by lush, green hills, the bay is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean and has been the setting of several films, including Firepower (1979) and Dr. Dolittle (1967). For stunning bay views and lounging poolside with cocktails, Discovery suites are nestled high in the hills overlooking the bustling marina. From here, you can take excursions to nearby coral sites for an afternoon of snorkeling.

St. Lucia

5. Barbados

With its beautiful beaches, clear turquoise waters and natural wonders abounding, the tiny island of Barbados encourages exploration, particularly along the coastline of Bathsheba, which is known for its massive rock formations and boulders scattered along the shore. Another popular eco-destination is Harrison’s Cave near St. Thomas, a spectacular labyrinth of hidden waterfalls and underground rivers. On the west coast, you’ll find pristine sandy beaches that are ideal for sunbathing under coconut and palm trees swaying in the breeze and with a coast lined with luxury resort hotels in the distance. The island is also full of colonial relics like St. Nicholas Abbey, a grand stone mansion built on a sugar plantation in the mid-17th century.

Harrison’s Cave

4. Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire

Just outside the Atlantic hurricane belt are the Dutch isles of Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, which are protected from storms by their strategic southern Caribbean location. In Aruba, you’ll find a mix of lively street scenes at the action-packed casinos and resorts lining the coast. Close by is the Arikok National Park, a change of pace with its natural tranquility and thriving wildlife. Meanwhile, over in Bonaire, the flamingo colony in southern Pekelmeer enjoys protected seclusion in between trips from Venezuela for nesting obligations. The isle also has several protected marine sanctuaries, making it one of the top scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean.

Bonaire, flamingo

3. Anguilla

Standing out among the beautiful islands of the French Antilles is Anquilla, a modern resort island that is cherished by vacationers for its bright turquoise waters that glow from the surrounding ancient coral base. All around the island you’ll find cays and coral reef sites for unforgettable scuba diving and snorkeling excursions. Back on the mainland are some of the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts like the swanky Carimar Beach Club on Meads Bay Beach or Cap Jula lining the west end of the coastline. The flatlands of the interior are also ideal for a horseback ride through the tropics and the horse handlers at Seaside Stables are always ready to help you saddle up for a romantic sunset trail ride in paradise.

Anguilla

2. Virgin Islands

The jewel of the Virgin Islands is St. John and the Virgin Islands National Park is the major highlight, a tropical Eden filled with pristine natural beaches, verdant hillsides, and reef patches in Caneel Bay. The great thing about tiny islands is that you’re never far from a strip of coastline that invites afternoons of swimming and snorkeling year round. Day sailing is also a favorite activity and a great way to explore the waters and inlets surrounding the islands. Boats leave daily from Cruz Bay and venture out to offshore cays and snorkeling meccas. Back on the mainland are excellent wooded hiking trails like Reef Bay Trail and Lind Point Trail, which have impressive views of Cruz Bay.

Virgin Islands

1. Trinidad and Tobago

Situated in the southernmost part of the Caribbean chain, the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a fascinating getaway with its diverse natural habitats and thriving tourism infrastructure. The shorelines range from wild, hilly terrain carpeted with verdant foliage to calm, sandy beaches that encourage blissful seaside afternoons and tranquil sunset strolls. Tobago’s central forest preserve is also full of wildlife and exotic plants in the oldest protect rainforest in the Western Hemisphere. More lush rainforests dominate the northern landscape of Trinidad next door while peaceful waters lap onto the serene shorelines on the east coast.

Tobago

10 Caribbean Foods You Need To Try

Caribbean cuisine has plenty of influences to thank for their amazing culinary creations, including cuisines such as African, East Indian and European. In spite of all these influences though the Caribbean has brought its own gastronomy to the table and produces dishes that are both simple and satisfying. They cook with the seasons and with the freshest of ingredients, delighting visitors from all over the world. There are hundreds of dishes to try when visiting the Caribbean but here are 10 of our favorite foods from this part of the world.

10. Conch Fritters

Considered a delicacy around the world, there is no better place to try Conch Fritters than the Caribbean, especially in the Bahamas. These fritters are small ball so conch snail meat that have been friend in batter with a number of seasonings. Conch is readily available in the Caribbean which makes this the freshest place to taste this delicious local treat. Many chefs put their own spin on this dish and often use ingredients such as onion, peppers and celery along with a variety of spices. Make sure to try this dish at numerous restaurants including the Poop Deck in Easy Bay, Nassau and Head Over to Conch Fritters.

conch fritters

9. Jerk Chicken

It one of the spiciest and well-known and well-loved dishes that originates from Jamaica. The jerk part of the dish is actually a special mixture of spices and can include soy sauce, brown sugar, whole cloves, bonnet peppers, jalapenos and more. The jerk is laced onto the chicken which is than grilled. The grilling process is of most importance when it comes to perfecting this dish and true jerk chicken is actually cooked over coals as well as fresh green wood, most traditionally the wood from the pimento tree. This tree also happens to produce allspice berries which is another component of the jerk marinade. Other meat can also be cooked in the same process and the jerk spice will work its magic by soaking the meat in its flavours.

jerk chicken

8. Aloo Pie

You will find this variant of the samosa on the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. This soft friend pastry is made from flour and water and filled with boiled and spiced mashed potatoes. Other vegetables inside accompany the potatoes such as green peas or split chickpeas without their seedcoat. A little larger than a typical samosa it looks more like a calzone and is ordered with a sweet and sour type dipping sauce known as imli ki chutney.

Photo by: Calypsos Spice
Photo by: Calypsos Spice

7. Callaloo

This Caribbean dish actually originated in West Africa and was brought to the Caribbean by slaves. This green soup is typically made with amaranth leaves; taro leaves or water spinach. In the Caribbean this dish is often served as a side dish and calls for such ingredients as coconut milk and okra. Callaloo tends to be different from island to island, for example in Jamaica they only use the callaloo leaf, salt, onions and scallions simply steaming the vegetables while in Trinidad they use the okra and coconut milk. Wherever you decide to try it, it is definitely a must and although the dark green soup may not look appetizing at first, it is absolutely delicious.

Callaloo

6. Coconut Shrimp

This easy to make and even easier to eat dish tastes that much better in the Caribbean due to the freshness of the ingredients. Soft shrimp is dipped in eggs and coated with shredded coconut, making the sweetness of the shrimp and the crispiness of the coconut come together in one delectable treat. If you are a health conscious individual, you can opt to have this delicious snack baked instead of fried. Try these shrimps out in multiples islands, each offering its own unique twist of spices and coatings.

coconut shrimp

5. Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee happens to be the national fruit of Jamaica and thus its fitting that Ackee and Saltfish is the national dish. Parts of the Ackee fruit are actually toxic and therefore much caution must be had when preparing this dish. Salt cod is soaked overnight before sautéing it with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet peppers, tomatoes and spices. It is often garnished with bacon and tomatoes and can be served as breakfast or dinner. It can be served alongside breadfruit, dumplings, fried plantain or eaten with rice and peas.

Ackee and Saltfish

4. Keshi Yena

Laying at the extreme south of the Caribbean is the island of Curacao and it happens to offer one heck of a local main course dish. Keshi Yena is essentially one giant stuffed cheese ball and although it is prepared differently all over the island, the end result is the same, absolute deliciousness. Essentially a round bowl is lined with Gouda or Edam cheese slices, topped with meaty filling (mostly chicken) and than covered with more slices of cheese. Sometimes the cheese ball is smothered in a Creole sauce with plenty of tomatoes and peppers. Other ingredients are olives, prunes or raisons.

Photo by: The Traveling Table
Photo by: The Traveling Table

3. Jamaican Patty

Although it is most notably found in Jamaica, the Jamaican patty is also commonly found in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This pastry is stuffed full of various fillings and spices, baked inside its flaky shell that is often tinted yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. The filling is typically seasoned ground beef but sometimes can be chicken, pork or lamb. In Jamaica the patty is often eaten as a full meal when accompanied by coco bread. This beef patty came to be shortly after the Cornish pastry was introduced in the Caribbean and using the cumin and curry spices along with the Scotch Bonnet, a hot pepper indigenous to Jamaica allowed them to make it their own.

Jamacian Patty

2. Flying Fish

One of the most popular foods in Barbados is flying fish and one can expect to have one land on their plate at some point on this island, which is a good thing considering how delicious they are. Flying fish and cou-cou is actually the islands national dish, featuring the fish steamed and served with cornmeal cooked with okra and water. Many visitors choose to have fish cutters, battered, crispy and fried flying fish that is served on salt bread, normally accompanied by lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. However, which way you choose to eat this meal, you certainly won’t regret it.

flying fish

1. Boca Chica Style Fried Fish

The Dominican Republic boasts plenty of colorful and lively dishes but the most loved may just be Boca Chica Fried Fish. One of the most flavorful dishes in the Dominican, this fried fish- normally red snapper- is marinated in a mix of garlic, onions, bell peppers and paprika. Coated with flour and fried twice, the fish vendors in this part of the Island tell visitors it’s the love that goes into the recipe that makes it so good. Often served alongside a heap of friend green plantains, this dish is big on flavor.

Photo by: Arturo Feliz-Camilo via Dominican Heat
Photo by: Arturo Feliz-Camilo via Dominican Heat

The Best Places to Travel in January

It’s January. The holiday season has passed. The snow is piling ever higher and a wicked wind blows out of the north, bringing with it polar vortexes and wind chill factors enough to freeze your face in a matter of minutes. The nights are long and the days are frigid, even if they are sunny. You need to escape…but where? Try one of these 8 locations on for size, traveler, and get your bags packed for some nicer weather.

8. Belize

Mexico is the giant of Central American tourism, offering both cheap resort tourism for snowbirds and spring breakers, offering up opportunities to explore jungles, ancient Aztec ruins and contemporary Mayan culture, but Belize has many of the same qualities, but with fewer tourists. Lying along the Caribbean Sea, Belize is quite a bit smaller than the neighboring countries of Mexico and Guatemala, both in terms of area and population. In recent years, Belize has become a popular alternative for those looking to escape the droves of tourists in Mexico. Although Belize can cost a little more, it offers opportunities for travelers to explore extensive coral reefs, jungle and wildlife reserves and Mayan ruins. Belize is home to the largest cave system in Central America, if you’re up for some subterranean adventure. January averages temperatures of 24°C (75°F) and is part of the dry season, meaning you can expect sunshine.

Belize 2

7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been something of an anomaly in Central America; it has been democratically stable whereas other countries have faced upheaval and dictatorships, and Costa Rica has been pushing a green agenda to take care of its natural resources. The country aims to become carbon-neutral by 2021 and has even been named the greenest country in the world. For that reason, Costa Rica has become Latin America’s go-to for ecotourism, with a special focus on green tourism. Costa Rica’s most famous natural landscape is the cloud forests, tropical rainforests formed in the heights of the Cordillera mountains that traverse the country, and it’s marine ecosystems as the country is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The country comprises less than 1% of the world’s landmass, but contains 5% of its biodiversity. January is dry season and average temperatures are about 27°C.

Costa Rica

6. Aruba

Just 29 kilometers north of the coast of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea, lies the island-nation of Aruba. Aruba is an interesting island: it forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its citizens are Dutch. Aruba’s climate has helped its tourism industry as the island lies outside Hurricane Alley and experiences a dry climate, producing reliably warm, sunny weather year-round. The interior of the island features hilly terrain and desert-like scrublands dotted with cacti, while the south and western shores have white, sandy beaches that are relatively sheltered from the ocean. Although Aruba doesn’t celebrate its National Day until March, January 25 is the celebration of the birthday of Betico Croes, a proponent of Aruban independence and considered by some to be the “father” of Aruba as an independent state.

Aruba

5. Cyprus

Want to get further afield and go trans-Atlantic for January? Check out Cyprus. Located south of Turkey, Cyprus has the warmest winters—and indeed, the warmest climate—in the Mediterranean European Union. Snow is only possible in the Troodos mountains, while most coastal locations experience pleasant 16–17°C weather throughout January. It may not be beach weather, exactly, but it is certainly warmer than some climates—and with almost 200 sunshine hours for the month on average, Cyprus can be a reprieve from the long, dark nights of more northern locations. Cyprus has a rich history, stretching from Greek to Byzantine to Ottoman empires, and many traditions to explore. Music, art and cuisine are all integral experiences for visitors. Not looking to escape winter? The Troodos mountains provide a great skiing experience, an excellent alternative to the busy Alps of western Europe.

Cyprus

4. Grenada

The island of Grenada and six smaller islands, located at the southern end of the chain known as the Grenadines, form the country of Grenada. Another southern Caribbean destination, Grenada is known as the “Island of Spice,” because it is one of the world’s largest exporters of nutmeg and mace. The island is cooled by the trade winds during the dry season. Beach tourism is centered on the capital of St. George in the southwest, while Saint David and Saint John parishes have witnessed the growth of eco-conscious tourism in recent years. Grenada has many idyllic beaches along its coasts, the Grand Anse Beach in St. George, a 3-kilometer long strip of white, sandy beach, is considered one of the finest in the world. Another major natural attraction is the island’s abundance of waterfalls, including the Annandale Falls, Mt. Carmel and Seven Sisters.
Grand Anse Beach

3. Canary Islands

Although part of Spain, the Canary Islands have a much different climate than most of the country. Temperatures average about 20°C on most of the islands in the chain, and January generally sees relatively little precipitation. Santa Cruz is the wettest island at this time of year, receiving, on average, about 1.25 inches of rainfall. The Canary Islands have plenty to recommend them aside from sunshine and warm temperatures. La Palma is home to cloud forests, similar to the forests of Costa Rica. Most of the islands, including Tenerife and Gran Canaria, feature black sand beaches. Tenerife’s nightlife at Playa de las Americas is legendary. Tourism is a well-developed industry and the island’s function almost like a Caribbean getaway for most of Europe. Perhaps the best part is that getting here won’t cost much more than flying to some Caribbean destinations.

Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock.com
Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock.com

2. Barbados

This island in the Lesser Antilles has earned itself a reputation as a more exclusive and chi-chi getaway in the southern Caribbean. This is somewhat true: trips to Barbados are usually more pricey compared to places like Mexico and Dominican Republic. The dry season runs from December to May, and gentle breezes keep the island’s temperatures more moderate than some of its neighbors. The western and south shores are popular for beach tourism, while surfers would do well to visit the Atlantic coast, where tumbling waves make for ideal surfing conditions. The country’s coral reefs provide ample opportunity for diving and snorkeling. Another popular activity is shopping, as there are several shopping districts in the south of the island, many of them offering duty-free shopping. Golf and helicopter rides are also popular tourist activities.

Bridgetown Barbados

1. Curacao

About 65 kilometers north of the Venezuelan coast, you’ll find the island of Curacao. Along with Saint Maarten and Aruba, the island is part of the Dutch Caribbean and forms a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until 2010, it was known as the “island territory of Curacao,” one of five such territories in the former Netherlands Antilles. The island has a tropical Savannah climate and January marks the start of the dry season. The temperature hovers around 25°C and less than two inches of rain falls during the month. Curacao has been less reliant on tourism than other Caribbean islands, although it is popular with divers and snorkelers. Many coral reefs can be reached without a boat and the island’s southern coast features calm waters and numerous small beaches. If you’re looking for a less-frequented getaway, skip Aruba and spring for Curacao.

Curacao

 

10 Things to See and Do in Barbados

Barbados truly has it all; beautiful beach resorts, wild surf, lush green landscapes, crashing waves against dramatic cliffs, an abundance of marine life and a mix of old and new. The locals welcome tourists with open arms, frying up fish for them at the local fish fry, teaching them to surf and welcoming them to their plantations for rum tasting. Whether you are going to Barbados to explore the beauty of the wilderness, eat like a local, spend time with family or swim in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean; here are 10 things you should not miss out on.

10. Visit Cove Bay

It isn’t the easiest area to get to in Barbados but this lovely picnic spot where the wave’s pound against the high cliffs is absolutely worth it. Located on the north-east coast, it requires you to drive through fields, often dodging sheep, goats and cows, in order to get here. This area is often deserted, making it an ideal spot to take pictures of the incredible cliffs, turquoise waters of the Atlantic and dramatic rock formations. During high tide the water is quite active so swimming is not recommended. Low tide brings the development of natural pools though and many people choose to swim then. Make sure you pack everything you need as there are no restaurants or amenities on-site. For the best views on the entire island, Cove Bay is where you will want to head.

cove barbados

9. Hike Barbados

There is no better way to explore this island than to join one of the many free guided hikes offered by Hike Barbados. Morning treks start at 6am and will take you through cane fields, tropical forests and coastal communities while afternoon hikes start at 3:30pm and moonlight hikes start at 5:30pm. It is recommended you bring a torch to the moonlight hikes. Hikes are offered at least once a day and a full schedule can be found by looking online. Make sure you wear loose fitting clothing, sunscreen, sturdy shoes and bring lots of water. These hikes offer the perfect opportunity to meet new friends, enjoy healthy exercise and experience the unique heritage and environment of Barbados. Expect to be educated, laugh and immerse yourself into this culture. All hikes are free but they do accept donations.

hiking barbados

8. Eat a True Bajan Meal

One of the things people love most about Barbados is the food. Food and drink here are a combination of past and present recipes that have been creatively manipulated into what is known as Bajan style. With influences from the Brits and Africa, much of the food here focuses on local seafood and vegetables combined with a dash of spices and herbs. The national dish here is Cou Cou and Flying Fish; a combination of okra and cornmeal combined with pepper, salt and Bajan hot sauce with the flying fish that is either steamed or fried. It wouldn’t be a complete trip here unless you indulge in some of the amazing local meals. Head to Fisherman’s Pub in Speightstown or Brown Sugar outside of Bridgetown for some true authentic Bajan meals.

Photo by: Island Soul City Dreams
Photo by: Island Soul City Dreams

7. Go to the Races

Heading to the races is a time honored tradition as the Garrison Savannah Racetrack has been a staple here since the 1840’s. Both locals and visitors come out to the track to watch locally bred horses compete against the best international thoroughbreds. This day out to the races is more than just watching the incredible animals on the track as there is something for the whole family to enjoy. A variety of games and activities, a play park for the kids, street food, vendors and a picnic area provide the perfect backdrop for a great day. The Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup is the most popular race every year and draws both horses and fans from all over the world. Pack a picnic, read up on your betting techniques and head to Garrison Savannah Racetrack, where you can watch these majestic creatures take to the track.

MAT / Shutterstock.com
MAT / Shutterstock.com

6. Visit Animal Flower Cave

The animal flower cave is Barbados lone accessible sea cave, discovered in 1780 by two English explorers. Today it stands six feet above the high water mark although it was formed at sea level and it is one of the neatest natural formations to see in Barbados. To gain access into this sea cave, visitors embark down a coral staircase formed in 1912 through an opening in the roof, which was once the former blowhole. The cave has a coral floor, thought to be about 500,000 years old and visitors can still find some sea anemones inside. Sea anemones also known as animal flowers have tentacles that can sting and paralyze a fish of a much larger variety. The walls of the cave are full on interesting formations that have turned green and brown and resemble shapes such as a lizard and handprints. On calm days visitors can even have a swim in the natural rock pools here.

Animal Flower Cave

5. Swim with Turtles

They are one of nature’s most soulful animals with their prehistoric faces, sociable nature and paddle-like fins. Coming face to face with one of these majestic creatures is truly a magical experience. Visitors who want to swim with the turtles should be sure to book with a reputable company that has a strong focus on eco-tourism; taking care to do everything they can to conserve the sea turtles. Visitors will be outfitted with life preservers and given strict instructions on how to act in the water and with the turtles.  The tour company most recommend is Barbados Blue, run by two marine biologists who combine the trips with evaluation, monitoring and protection of the tropical reef and coastal eco-systems. They will take visitors out to Carlisle Bay Marine Park where an abundance of endangered sea turtles call home. Snorkels, masks and fins are all provided.

sea turtle

4. Attend the Crop Over Festival

Back in the 1600’s those that were working on Barbados’ sugar plantations used to celebrate the end of the harvest with singing and dancing. Today that tradition still continues and has been turned into a two-month long event. This summer event is at the peak of its party in July when island residents and visitors line the Bridgetown streets to Queens Park. All day and all night parties, food fairs, live music and more take place all month long. Calypso competitions are a huge part of this festival and Calypsonians, comedians and local entertainment can be found in a variety of tents scattered all over the island. There is even a Calypso Monarch that gets crowned. The party wraps up with the Grand Kandooment, a street parade that rivals all others and offers lively calypso, colorful and eccentric costumes and spirited dancing.

Caribbean Dancer

3. Explore the Sugar Cane Fields

Sugar has been an ideal crop for Barbados and has often been referred to as “white gold” as it produced great wealth, fame and stature for the island. There are in fact still over 1,500 small farms throughout the island which produce about 60, 000 tons of sugar annually. St. Nicholas Abbey is one of the most popular plantations to visit as it includes a visit to the great house, the breathtaking gardens, the rum distillery and museum. A free guided tour throughout the mansion that was built in 1660 is included and will give visitors access to antiques over 350 years old. The rum and sugar museum features artifacts from the plantations history including slave records and ledgers. Rum and sugar products are also for sale here and make sure you indulge in your free rum drink. Visitors here are encouraged to explore the 360 acres of sugar cane fields, lush tropical gullies, forests and gardens.

Sugar Cane Field Barbados

2. Experience a Fish Fry

To experience a true authentic fish fry, visitors will want to head to Oistins, an active fishing town on the south coast of Barbados. Friday night is the time to go and head over to Oistins Bay Gardens where a variety of fish is served from local vendors. Whether you are looking for mahi-mahi, lobster, tuna, marlin and more; this is where to find it. You can get your fish grilled or fried, depending on which vendor you buy from and they cook it right in front of you on the spot. Seating is plentiful and more often than not you will find old-timers playing dominoes amongst the families and locals that are here. Music, dancing and a lot of laughs are all expected here. Many families bring their children and if you want to catch the sunset make sure to head out to the pier around 5:30. Insider tip: grab the fish scraps from the vendors and feed the turtles.

Styve Reineck / Shutterstock.com
Styve Reineck / Shutterstock.com

1. Learn how to Surf

Barbados is the perfect place to try your hand at surfing, or gain even more experience with some serious swells. There is no shortage of surf schools offering lessons, rentals and accommodations. The one thing that stands out about learning how to surf here is the quality of instructors and the laid-back atmosphere. The no-pressure approach from the surf schools here makes learning a breeze and many of them offer lessons for the entire family. Many of the surf operators here prefer to take surfers out on trips, creating a mobile learning experience and getting away from the crowds. Barry’s Surf Barbados Surf School is one of the favorites on the island. Whether you have surfed a handful of times and want to get better, or it is your first time on the board, Barbados is the ultimate destination.

Bridgetown Barbados

Top 15 Destination Wedding Spots in the World

Getting married is a very personal commitment that people share with their family and friends. Rather than celebrating with a large number of family members and friends in a local reception hall, many brides and grooms are opting to marry farther away from home. Destination weddings usually involve a smaller group of closest family members and friends and are an enjoyable and intimate experience for all involved. Which can be better for any wedding on a budget as well as lower prices for those destinations outside of the US.

There are many exotic, remote, and breathtaking locales where couples can get hitched. The top 15 destination wedding spots in the world include:

1. Hawaii

There are many destination wedding locations in the Hawaiian Islands. The pristine beaches, exhilarating cliffs, and lush mountains make Hawaii a very popular place for weddings. A fee of $60 and photo IDs are all that are needed in the state.

Hawaii

2. Jamaica

Jamaica provides brides and grooms options of getting married on a white-sand beach or in the mountains. After staying on the island for 24 hours, couples can get married but they have to show their passports, copies of their birth certificates, and $50 for a marriage license.

Jamaican Beach

3. South Africa

Perfect for couples who love outdoor adventures, an increasingly popular destination wedding location is South Africa. There are many beautiful spots to get married, including mountaintops and game reserves.

South African Elephants

4. Costa Rica

Costa Rica provides brides and grooms with many destination wedding settings, including in the rain forest, a volcano or on the beach. Nature lovers and outdoor adventurers can have a wedding of a lifetime in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica

5. Seychelles Islands

The Seychelles Islands are a great place for destination weddings. Large granite boulders can be found on the beaches in the Seychelles, making it unique. Hilltops overlooking ocean coves are options for couples.

Seychelles Islands

6. Bermuda

The pink-sand beaches and clear waters puts Bermuda on this list. The island offers guests English charm. There are many activities for guests to participate in while in attendance.

Bermuda 1

7. Mexico 

The turquoise waters and white-sand beaches draw many couples to Mexico for their destination wedding. Mexico offers couples of all budgets options for their weddings, ranging from the most basic to extreme luxury.

Mexico 1

8. Paris, France

Many consider Paris to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. The “City of Lights” has many landmarks where people like to exchange vows, including the Eiffel Tower, which is especially spectacular at night.

Wedding in Paris in front of Eiffel Tower

9. Barbados

A year-round tropical paradise, couples can get married in temperate weather any time of year in Barbados. This West Indies island boasts beautiful beaches and warm oceans that are second to none. Unlike other caribbean destinations, there is a mild hurricane season in Barbados, making it even more desirable.

Barbados

10. Tuscany, Italy

Riding through the vineyards in Tuscany can provide destination wedding goers with an unforgettable experience. The rolling hills provide for breathtaking scenery, while the rich culture and cuisine make for a satisfying stay in Italy.

Tuscany Italy

11. Ireland

For princesses and their knights in shining armor, Irish castles are perfect sites for their weddings. Castles on cliff-sides are ideal backdrops for a couple exchanging vows.

Ireland

12. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Crystal-clear waters and powder-fine sand are a good combination for a destination wedding in Punta Cana. There are many wedding sites of varying sizes scattered throughout this caribbean paradise.

Punta Cana Beach

13. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam, also known as “the Venice of the North,” is a popular wedding locale for many couples. The meandering waterways, cobblestone streets, and arched bridges make Amsterdam a very romantic location. Getting married above the city’s canals is an option for the couple.

Amsterdam

14. Phuket, Thailand

Many couples choose to get married in Phuket, amidst the majestic rock formations, golden beaches, and emerald coves. The happy couple and their guests can go on an elephant trek as part of their wedding activities.

Phuket Thailand

15. St. George’s Grenada

Getting married on a private beach can be extremely memorable with very close family members and friends. A Spice Island, Grenada has some of the lushest isles in the caribbean.

Grenada

10 Most Luxurious Vacation Caribbean Destinations

The Caribbean has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Each island has its own culture. Some islands are known for their beauty and seclusion, others are known for their nightlife. Here is a list of the 10 most luxurious vacation destinations in the Caribbean.

1. Bermuda

The first thing that comes to mind when Bermuda is mentioned is pink sand. Not only does the island have pink sand, it also has pink architecture. Rental cars are not allowed on the island. Tourists use cabs and buses to get around the island. Cab drivers give guided tours, and bus stop signs are colored pink and blue to help locals and tourists get to their destinations.

Bermuda

2. Turks and Caicos

In the Turks and Caicos you will find nearly deserted beaches, water in different shades of blue and luxury spas. The islands are home to world famous restaurants and hotels. In the Turks and Caicos, you can enjoy snorkeling and other water sports in peaceful serenity.

Turks and Caicos

3. St. John

St. John is a small gem among the other U.S Virgin Islands. The natural beauty of the island has been carefully maintained. The island can only be reached by ferry. Tourists interested in snorkeling enjoy the underwater snorkeling excursion known as Trunk Bay. Unlike other popular snorkeling destinations, this underwater snorkeling adventure is lined with signs that provide interesting information on the aquatic life.

St. John Virgin Islands

4. St. Barts

This island is one of a kind. Celebrities have made this island a popular tourist destination. In spite of the island’s small size, tourists can take tours on luxury yachts, shop at designer stores, and watch cactus plants bloom at night. The culture of the island is distinct from other islands in the Caribbean.

St. Barts
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

5. Anguilla

If you decide to vacation in Anguilla, you cannot pass up the chance to visit Shoal Bay. This beach constantly ranks as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. It is one of the few places in the Caribbean where you can take a glass boat tour and end the day by enjoying a tropical drink from one of the beach bars.

Anguilla

6. St. Lucia

This island is popular among honeymooners. The scent of mangoes and black sand beaches make this island a gem in the Caribbean. Tropical flowers and volcanoes provide the perfect scenery for a couple celebrating their new marriage.

St. Lucia

7. Aruba

The weather in Aruba is perfect all year round. If you are vacationing in Aruba, you do not have to plan your trip around the annual hurricane season. The island is located in the southern part of the Caribbean. Hurricanes rarely make landfall in Aruba. The desert climate is a sharp contrast to the islands beautiful beaches. Tourists can participate in hiking, golfing and several other outdoor activities.

Aruba

8. St. Martin

If you want to gamble while on vacation, this is the perfect island for you. When you are ready to leave the casino, you can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports. The French side of the island has an elegant appeal. If you are looking for nightlife, you will find partygoers on the Dutch side of the island.

St. Martin

9. Cayman Islands

Tourists looking for nightlife can find everything they are looking for in the Cayman Islands. The island chain also has several smaller islands that are perfect for nature watching. Visitors to Little Cayman can swim in the Caribbean Sea and watch several rare birds. The population of the island is less than 200 people. It is the perfect place for tourists who want a deserted island vacation experience.

Cayman Islands

10. Barbados

Barbados is only 166 sq. miles. Despite its small size, the island has a population of over a quarter million people. Visitors to the island enjoy water sports and some of the best rum in the world. The island has a vibrant night life and world famous golf courses.

Caribbean Wedding - Barbados

Top 10 Destinations for a Caribbean Wedding

One of the best ways to have a perfect wedding is to make it a destination wedding. This allows the guests to enjoy a beautiful vacation along with the wedding, and it allows the bride and groom to get a head start on their honeymoon. Not to mention all the savings you can get in other countries on your wedding budget and with a smaller and more intimate guest list. There are many wonderful wedding destinations around the world, but there is no region that is more perfect for a wedding than the Caribbean. Here is a look at the top ten destinations to have a Caribbean wedding.

1. Antigua

Antigua is one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. For those looking to have an upper-crust wedding, this is the place to do it. It is home to some of the highest-end resorts in the Caribbean as well as many yacht clubs. There is room here for every price level, though. There are 365 beaches for visitors to choose from on Antigua, so the perfect beach wedding is a possibility for everyone who wants to get married here.

Caribbean Wedding - Antigua

2. Jamaica

Jamaica is set up for tourists, and it, consequently, has a huge range of resorts for beautiful, tropical weddings. The fabulous energy of the island will ensure that the wedding turns into a success.

Jamaica

3. The Bahamas

This is a Caribbean wedding spot that every couple can be happy with. With more than 700 islands for them to choose from, it will be possible for every couple to find the wedding spot of their dreams in the Bahamas.

Caribbean Wedding - The Bahamas

4. Barbados

Visitors will find Barbados to be one of the most welcoming islands in the Caribbean. That makes it the perfect place to host a wedding. There are also lots of wonderful honeymoon resorts located on the island, which means the couple can have their nuptials and get started on the honeymoon without delay.

Caribbean Wedding - Barbados

5. Grenada

The white and black sands of Grenada make the perfect setting for a beach wedding with barefoot guests sporting huge smiles on their faces. Grenada is a paradise full of beautiful beaches, amazing scuba diving locations and a completely unspoiled landscape. The island offers one of the best getaways in the world, and couples will start their marriage off in an amazing way when they are wed in Grenada.

Caribbean Weddings - Grenada

6. Aruba

Aruba has something to offer for every style of wedding. It is home to some of the fanciest resorts in the Caribbean, but they are located in one small area of the island. That means couples looking for a secluded beach wedding will have lots of places to choose from on the island.

Caribbean Weddings - Aruba

7. Puerto Rico

The island has fabulous beaches, great food and lots of resorts to make planning a wedding easy. This convenient location makes it easy for guests to come to this destination as well, which is a definite bonus.

Caribbean Weddings - Puerto Rico

8. Trinidad and Tobago

This is one of the most popular destinations for weddings in the Caribbean. It has quite a wedding industry built up and it is perhaps the easiest place legally to get married in the region. This country offers the best of both worlds. There are fancy resorts and an amazing nightlife, but there are also many secluded natural wonders to enjoy as well.

Caribbean Weddings - Trinidad and Tobago

9. Dominican Republic

Like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic makes for a convenient destination for wedding guests to make the trip. It is also full of lots of great resorts and beautiful beaches to hold a wedding. The island offers many charms for honeymooners as well, including some fantastic beaches, warm people and fabulous parties.

Caribbean Weddings - Dominican Republic

10. St. Lucia

The island of St. Lucia is home to some of the most extravagant resorts in the Caribbean, and they love to cater to weddings. They have everything necessary to create the perfect storybook wedding that both the couple and the guests will remember for the rest of their lives. Just remember that this extravagance does not come cheap.

St. Lucia