The 8 Best Off the Beaten Path Honeymoon Destinations

Throw everything you ever thought about honeymoons out the window. Forget the typical all-inclusive resorts, cruises or cottage getaways. Instead, let us introduce you to the best off the beaten path honeymoon destinations you’ll ever find. From sleeping in a glass igloo with the Northern Lights overhead to wandering through waterfalls and jungle, to a National Park that offers both beach and safari; it is a wonder why people still insist on taking traditional honeymoons. These eight incredible destinations will transform your thoughts on where you might want your honeymoon to be.

8. Saadani National Park, Tanzania, Africa

If you are looking to combine beach and adventure, there is no better place to do so than Saadani National Park in Tanzania. Here honeymooners can have both an epic safari and a great beach vacation. Stay at Saadani Safari Lodge where you will spend the morning bathing in the Indian Ocean before jumping into a 4X4 jeep to explore wildlife such as lions and hippos. The 15 tented cottages are hidden amongst palm trees on a tranquil beach and provide the utmost privacy. Enjoy two decked pools, a hidden treehouse overlooking a waterhole that is home to baboons, giraffes, lions and buffalo, a boat bar and restaurant on stilts overlooking the water. Honeymooners should stay in the Siri Suite, a suite situated on top of a sand dune, away from the others complete with its own plunge pool, outdoor kitchen area with personal chef, a bar and a personal butler. Enjoy your own private beach, private safaris and personalized experience. You can truly have it all here.

Photo by: Scott Dunn
Photo by: Scott Dunn

7. Pucon, Chile

This Chilean city offers adventurous honeymooners the ultimate experience when it comes to climbing, hiking and diving. Stay at Hotel Antumalal, which offers an incredible forest chalet, surrounded by woods and with views of the beautiful Villarrica Lake from your private terrace. Spend the days climbing Villarrica, an active volcano or soothing your muscles in the hot springs. Tours depart right from the front door of this hotel and can include walking tours of the many surrounding waterfalls, kayaking, horseback riding, rafting and more. Head back to the hotel at the end of the day to enjoy the beautiful spa which features a heated indoor/outdoor pool, sauna with views over the lake, hydro massage pool and an abundance of massage and therapies available. The open air restaurant with its fresh seasonal ingredients and exceptional wine menu are sure to delight all honeymooners.

Photo by: Hotel Antumalal Pucon Chile
Photo by: Hotel Antumalal Pucon Chile

6. Durness, North Scotland

If your idea of a honeymoon is escaping reality and having incredible views of water, mountain and sky, and you don’t mind a self-catering option, Croft 103 is for you. It is here where you will find two incredibly cool boltholes with walls of glass looking out onto some of the most beautiful views on the planet. These cottages are completely private and set apart, featuring stone bathrooms, magnificent kitchens and huge terraces. Think leather sofas in front of a fireplace, an outdoor claw foot bathtub and views that go on forever. Honeymooners will spend their days exploring deserted beaches and hiking empty mountains, taking in storms from the huge terrace and gazing at stars by candlelight. It is self-catering at these cottages, which means you will need to bring your own groceries, or arrange to have homemade meals awaiting there on your arrival.

Photo by: Croft 103 / John Paul Photography
Photo by: Croft 103 / John Paul Photography

5. Sanya, Hainan Island, Southeast China

It was once deemed as China’s “gate of hell”, but Hainan Island is now full of breathtaking white sand beaches, thick rainforests, highland mountains, traditional Chinese villages and a slew of luxury hideaways. Honeymooners can spend their days volunteering with sea turtles, visiting ancient temples, snorkeling in the clear waters and hiking in the rainforest. Stay at the awesome beachfront resort on Haitang Bay, The Royal Begonia, which is set against pristine sands and azure waters. Honeymooners should book one of the private villas, which feature a private butler, marble bathrooms, private pools and glittery chandeliers. Enjoy exotic cocktails and local cuisine at the indoor/outdoor restaurant on-site. A state of the art fitness center, spa and accommodations combined with an incredible island full of activities to explore make this the perfect honeymoon destination.

Photo by: Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts
Photo by: Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts

4. Port Antonio, Jamaica

It is easy to choose the Caribbean as your destination honeymoon but if you are looking for something a little more private and off the beaten path, Port Antonio is the perfect choice. This quiet and beautiful haven is known for its incredible white sand beaches, beautiful waterfalls, clear water perfect for diving and snorkeling, nearby rafting and epic sunsets. Honeymooners will spend days tasting freshly caught seafood, relaxing in the sun and walking through the towns and markets. Stay at Geejam Hotel, a beautiful private hotel made up of only seven double rooms. Rooms range from cabins with an outdoor jacuzzi and lush rain forest settings to a villa complete with private pool and personal chef. Make sure to eat your meals at the exquisite Bushbar, the restaurant that features a forest-to-ocean view, outdoor pool table and savory Jamaican and Asian-influenced dishes.

Port Antonio Jamaica

3. Hvar, Croatia

Although this town certainly attracts its share of party-goers, it is actually the perfect destination for honeymooners as well. Think endless lavender fields to wander through, gourmet seafood dinners straight from the sea, relaxing days on the beaches of the Adriatic Sea, day trips to the Paklinski Islands and more. Stay at Hvar’s spa boutique hotel, Adriana, where you can indulge in cocktails on the rooftop bar that offers a wrap-around view of the ancient city, yacht harbor, bay and Paklinski Islands. Book one of the romance packages where you will be treated to in-room love themed daily breakfast, outdoor candle lit massage for two, romantic dinners and more. Splurge on the spa suite, which features extra luxurious furnishings and even more spa access. And hey, if you want to go out and party with the locals and other tourists, there is no shortage of that in this city.

Photo by: Adriana Spa Hotel
Photo by: Adriana Spa Hotel

2. Costa de Prata, Portugal

Northern Portugal may not come up on the list of top ten places you want to have your honeymoon, but after reading this, you may just change your mind. It is here where you will walk on the beach, swim in the sea, walk through the walled medieval city of Obidos, play a round of golf or take part in an eco-adventure. Honeymooners should consider staying at Aerias do Seixo as this stunning hotel is located just 35 minutes from the city of Lisbon and features just 14 romantic rooms. Think driftwood beds, pod-like wood stoves suspended from the ceilings and warm colors throughout. Nature pervades everything here, from the impressive environmental credentials to the home-grown organic produce served in the restaurant. Relax in the spa pool, sauna or Turkish bath, book one of the hotel experiences such as a fishing/mussel harvesting morning or take one of the hotel bicycles and explore the surrounding area.

Photo by: Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences
Photo by: Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences

1. Lapland, Finland

Forget about soaking up the sun for your honeymoon and instead embrace the winter by heading to the city of Lapland in Finland. Honeymooners will experience husky dog safaris, northern lights tours, snowmobile excursions, ice-fishing and more. Perhaps the best part about a winter wonderland honeymoon is cuddling up inside at the end of the day. One of the most unique accommodations in Lapland is Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, which offers several different types of rooms including glass igloos built right into the ground, which happens to offer stunning views of the Northern Lights. For those less adventurous couples, stay in one of the log cabins or wood-lined earth lodges that were created specifically with couples in mind, complete with an en-suite sauna. On-site dining at two exceptional restaurants, including one awesome ice bar, a wealth of activities at your fingertips and a city that comes alive in the winter time makes this one of the best off the beaten path honeymoon destinations in the world.

Photo by: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Photo by: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

 

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

10 Secret Caribbean Hotels

There are hundreds of thousands hotels and resorts across the Caribbean and many of us have a picture in our minds that they all tend to be mega-resorts; but assuming this would be wrong. Besides the sprawling resorts that are littered with hundreds of rooms, pools and families; there happens to be more than a handful of incredible hotels that remain a secret. Some have been around since the 1960’s, others are new, but all of them offer superior landscapes, service and dining. From Jamaica to Antigua; these 10 secret Caribbean hotels are well worth a visit.

10. Turquoise Cay -Great Exuma, Bahamas

It used to be a former fishing lodge but just recently this lodge underwent extensive renovations and opened as a hotel. There are only a total of eight, simple yet elegant rooms each named after the different shade of blue painted on the walls. Furnishings here include round tables with wicker furniture and lobster print cushions, lamp bases filled with sand and daybeds suspended over the beach. Guests should plan on relaxing in the infinity pool that cascades into the bay or getting active with the kayaks and paddleboards available to rent. The Peruvian-Asian restaurant serves up amazing sushi and fresh seafood while music plays lightly on the outdoor deck under the twinkling stars. Guests shouldn’t miss out on visiting Little Exuma, the smaller island of the pair and home to Santana’s Grill Pit; a favorite spot that Johnny Depp often heads to.

Photo by: Turquoise Cay
Photo by: Turquoise Cay

9. The Caves, Jamaica

This all-inclusive, child-free resort offers visitors an incredible experience as soon as they walk through the door. The focus here is the ocean and all 12 wooden thatch cottages are located on the cliff top overlooking the sea. Each cottage is painted its own color and has its own private sundeck completed with hammocks. Leaping into the water from the 20-meter cliff is one of the most popular ways to cool down here, and for those who aren’t daring enough, you can find your peace lounging by the pool. As for the dining, guests here are encouraged to order breakfast whenever they want and the choices are endless, as goes the same for lunch and dinner. The candlelit bar built out of rocks creates the perfect after dinner setting and with a maximum of 36 guests at one time; you won’t have any trouble relaxing here.

8. Secret Bay Resort -Portsmouth, Dominica

This award-winning small hotel is immersed deep in nature on the unspoiled island of Dominica. Made up of just six sustainable luxury villas and bungalows, visitors here can be sure to have the utmost of privacy. Secret Bay is unique in many ways, including its cliff top location that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. This hotel also features two beaches, the magical Cario River, a spectacular sea cave and exquisite dining. Don’t worry about using the full kitchen that is located in your villa as the superior cooking service that is offered will come to you, and use only the best local and organic ingredients. Along with terrific views, gourmet meals, and above average service; guests are treated to such activities as kayaking, snorkeling, cooking classes, yoga and massages. With guests having to be over the age of 12, there is no need to worry about screaming and splashing children running about the tranquil resort.

Photo by: Secret Bay
Photo by: Secret Bay

7. Sugar Reef -Bequia, St Vincent & the Grenadines

65 tropical acres, eight beautiful rooms and one extraordinary private beach awaits visitors at Sugar Reef. Situated on a 65-acre coconut plantation straddling a breathtaking bay with quarter-mile-long beach views, Sugar Reef has managed to create the uniquely Caribbean tradition of living in luxury that is open to views and breezes, along with the occasional lizard and bat. The main dining room boasts enormous driftwood chandeliers where the best lobster roti on the island is served. The eight bedrooms are split between the Beach House and the French House, each featuring high quality linens, driftwood mirrors, four poster beds and French doors. Popular activities here include cycling through the estate, kayaking, snorkeling and gathering around the huge tables at night to play board games. Lush green mountains, sparkling blue ocean and the white sand beach is enough to make anyone want to stay at Sugar Reef forever.

Photo by: Sugar Reef
Photo by: Sugar Reef

6. CasaSandra -Holbox, Mexico

On the tiny island of Holbox, just north of Cancun sits a paradise inside a paradise. CasaSandra is the islands chicest hotel and the owner, a full-time artist has created a natural masterpiece. The hotel was designed with love, conceived with art, music and coziness in mind. With 18 rooms plus 1 luxury villa, personalized service and the absence of TV’s, telephones and radios; this resort is truly for those looking to bring tranquility into their lives. Known as having one of the best places to eat on the island, guests certainly won’t go hungry when they are staying here. Breakfast is served in the open air seating while dinner is taken in the elegant dining room complete with beautiful music and art. The islands’ claim to fame is the sheer number of whale sharks that congregate here from June to September and guests of the hotel should be sure to take some time out to swim with these majestic creatures.

Photo by: CasaSandra
Photo by: CasaSandra

5. The Dunmore -Harbour Island, Bahamas

The most famous beach on Harbour Island is three miles long, one mile wide and in certain lights the grains beneath your feet glow a soft pink color; hence the name Pink Beach. The Dunmore happens to be located smack dab in the middle of the beach and has been around since the 1960’s. In recent years the hotel was taken over for two former guests and has since gone under renovations, making this hotel even better than it was before. The 14 beachfront and garden cottages are decked out in teak furniture, graphic patterned cushions and rattan blinds. Guests can often been seen lounging by the pool or beneath turquoise umbrellas on the palm-fringed beach. The restaurant at the Dunmore produces some of the best food on the island, including snapper sandwiches, fish tacos and fresh lobster.

Photo by: The Dunmore
Photo by: The Dunmore

4. Hotel Deep Blue -Providencia, Colombia

Located on the beautiful Colombian island of Providencia lies a luxurious 12-room resort that is well worth the effort to get there.  The rooms are elegantly furnished with king size beds, private balconies and beautiful furnishings; all with an amazing view out to the sea. The restaurant is one of the most stunning features of this property as it is built right over the water and diners will enjoy the sounds of the waves lapping against the deck and indulging in mouth watering international cuisine. Hotel Deep Blue is part of a biosphere reserve giving way to a variety of animals, near-deserted beaches and a traditional Creole culture. Enjoy the private boat, snorkeling in the clear waters or trekking through the verdant jungle at this amazing hidden gem in the Caribbean.

Photo by: Hotel Deep Blue
Photo by: Hotel Deep Blue

3. Inn at English Harbour, Antigua

It may have opened in the 1960’s but this hotel has managed to stay under the radar, blanketed by thick palm forests complete with its own crescent of sand. Expect to see bright red flowers, colorful birds and painted clapboard buildings among the property. Currently there are 28 rooms which include beautiful four-poster beds, mahogany washstands and breathtaking water views. There are two restaurants on –site, one located down at the beach and another atop a hill. Expect a mix of dining options and be sure to try the lamb and mint sauce that is a favorite of guests. A small spa, sparkling pool, boutique full of gorgeous handmade dresses and tennis courts rounds out this intimate property.

Photo by: The Inn at English Harbour
Photo by: The Inn at English Harbour

2. Kamalame Cay, Bahamas

It is only a 15 minute plane ride from the glitz and crowds of Nassau but visitors will feel a world away when they get to this secluded island with its white sands and turquoise waters. Here is where Kamalame Cay lives; a collection of houses sprinkled along the shores among the thousands of coconut palms. This resort features such awesome amenities as tennis courts, a spa pavilion over the water, beachfront Tiki bar and the Great House dining room. Visitors are treated to luxury linens, nightly bonfires, incredible antique furnishings and some seriously good food. Plan on dining on fresh crab dim sum, fresh caprese salads and fresh bread baked from the on-site bakery. Plenty of celebrities grace the likes of this hotel around the holidays and we wish you the best of luck trying to get a reservation here.

Photo by: Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
Photo by: Kamalame Cay, Bahamas

1. Golden Rock Inn, Nevis

What was once a 19th century sugar estate, complete with an array of stone buildings and rampant forest is now a breathtaking property that features incredible flora and fauna, along with eleven cottages. The old counting house was restored and transformed into the foliage-framed reception and the dining areas and outdoor terraces look onto serene reflection pools. Bamboo trees, palms and orchids are home to colorful hummingbirds and dragonflies throughout the property. Each cottage is designed to be different, each featuring unique amenities and the utmost privacy. Lively Caribbean cuisine is served using the freshest of ingredients and patrons can choose to sit on one of the decks overlooking the sea or within the intimate garden settings. Visitors here won’t find fully-stocked minibars or TV’s in their cottages; instead they will find beautiful surroundings that evoke the feelings of tranquility and peace.

Photo by: Raymond Jungles
Photo by: Raymond Jungles

The 8 Cheapest Winter Vacations for 2020

While some of us are still hanging on to our pumpkin spice lattes and savoring the last days of fall, others are already daydreaming about how they’re going to escape the snow. Although lots of vacations are expensive and costs can be prohibitive for some, these 8 locations will help you travel on a budget this winter.

8. Cuba

Cuba has long been a fairly inexpensive vacation spot for Canadians and Americans willing to risk not being able to get back into their country. Although U.S. relations with Cuba have been improving, travel restrictions for tourism are still in place. For Canadians and others, Cuba remains an inexpensive Caribbean option. Havana is the place to go for the most culture, although other popular spots include Manzanillo de Cuba and Varadero. Round-trip flights can be as low as $300 USD, and hotels start at $50 USD per night. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive option, things get even more affordable: a 7-night package deal, including all taxes and fees, starts around $380 USD for 2 people.

Cuba Beach

7. Panama

Here’s a destination not many people would consider when they think about flying south for the winter: Panama. This Central American country doesn’t get a lot of love from sun-seekers. Nonetheless, Panama City is a prime destination. The flight will set you back around $550 USD to the lesser demand and more infrequent flights, but accommodations will run you around $40 USD a night for a 3-star hotel. Package deals are also available, usually running around the $1,000 USD  mark—a little higher than some would like to pay, but worth it to get to a destination that’s off the beaten path for most snowbirds. Unlike high-traffic destinations like Punta Cana and Cancun, Panama City is still economical and less likely to be overrun with spring-breakers, making for a relaxing vacation whether you go all-inclusive or not.

Panama

6. Florida

Your Florida vacation can either be really expensive or really cheap. While people flock to Orlando and Miami, there are plenty of places that offer all the sun and sand with a lower price tag. You can fly to Tampa for the same price as Miami, but you can pick up 3-star accommodations for $65 USD per night in Tampa (compare Miami at $90 USD per night). If you insist on Miami or Orlando, a flight will set you back around $200 USD, and a hotel in Orlando can cost as little as $49 USD per night. If you’re visiting either of these popular locations, definitely check into package deal options offered by travel agencies and vacation companies to see if you can get even better pricing. Other options for those looking to get off the beaten path could include West Palm Beach and Daytona Beach.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

5. Bahamas

At first glance, the Bahamas might seem overpriced to a lot of North Americans. First, they’re relatively close to Florida, but flight prices seem to jump, and hotels start around $75 USD. Package deals, in theory, should make a trip to the Bahamas a little more affordable, but the truth is that you’re better to book the Bahamas yourself. Flights can be as little $380 USD and even with the cost of accommodations for 7 days, that’s still cheaper than some of the packages out there. Selecting your own destination in the Bahamas also allows you to best pick the venues suited to your itinerary. While Freeport is an option, it is more expensive than the bigger port of Nassau. This is one destination where looking for last-minute deals and seat sales will save you more cash.

Nassau, Bahamas

4. Jamaica

How much you pay to escape to Jamaica really depends on where and how you go. For some destinations, package deals are your best bet; all-inclusive vacations for Ochos Rios start around $680 USD with all the taxes and fees in. Montego Bay, on the other hand, is better for travelers looking to build their own itineraries: a flight will set you back around $500, but accommodations can be as low as $30 or $40 USD a night. Runaway Bay is another do-it-yourself option; you’ll still need to fly into Montego Bay and accommodations are better booked on your own—a package deal in this area will actually cost you more. Kingston, the country’s capital, is more expensive to fly in to, as its airport is smaller than the one at Montego Bay.

Jamaica

3. Arizona

If you’re looking to escape the cold, why not consider Arizona? Located in the middle of a desert, Arizona is actually more pleasant during the winter months and you can score a roundtrip flight to Phoenix for about $300 USD. At the lower end of things, accommodation hovers around the $40 USD per night mark. While not exactly a high profile destination, Arizona has been gaining popularity with the snowbird crowd who are looking for alternatives to Florida, at a lower price-point than California. Phoenix, in particular, has a lot of attractions—including a number of golf courses. If you want to hit the greens, definitely consider Arizona as your winter escape. While you may not be able to pick up package deals for Arizona like you can for some sun destinations, definitely keep your eyes peeled for deals—seat sales can save you a pretty penny on airfare.

pool arizona

2. Mexico

Mexico has long been known as a haven for snowbirds looking to escape the chill of winter without feeling the pinch of their pocketbooks. While destinations like Acapulco and Cancun are on the lists of every spring-breaker, try nabbing up a cheap destination vacation to one of Mexico’s many other charming areas, like Puerto Vallarta, where a flight will cost you about $380 USD but a hotel will set you back just $35 USD a night, or you can package it up for about $600 USD. Ixtapa and Manzanillo are popular destinations as well, and both come with a similar price tag. Other, less-frequented Mexican destinations can cost a bit more since there’s less demand for flights, but hotel prices remain low throughout the country. Last-minute deals and seat-sales can be your best friends to get to these less-frequented locales.

Mexico 2

1. Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has earned a reputation among snowbirds and travelers as a relatively cheap destination to soak up some sun. Popular with spring-breakers, the Dominican Republic has a few popular destinations like Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Flights will run you around $500 USD to either destination, but 3-star hotels are available for about $60 USD a night. Like other destination vacations in the Caribbean, you can look for a package deal to maximize your savings; roll your flight and hotel together into a 7-night all-inclusive excursion for about $900 USD. Other popular destinations on the island include Santo Domingo, which is a better book-it-yourself option; the flight is slightly more expensive than other areas on the island, but accommodations will set you back just $35 USD a night.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic

10 Destination Races Worth the Trip

Any runner will tell you that there are few greater moments than when you cross that finish line during a race. It’s not just about having completed the race, but marks the achievement of all of the training that you’ve done to get there. If you feel like you may have plateaued a little in your training, or want some extra incentive, here are a few destination races that will make you want to get those feet moving.

10. Big Sur International Marathon -Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This April race has the tagline of “running on the ragged edge of the western world”, which is a pretty apt description of the vistas that runners will take in during their race. Runners understand uniquely the effort/reward relationship in training, and they’ll take full advantage of some spectacular ocean views after tackling the challenging hill that spans almost two miles about a third into the race up to Hurricane Point. This race winds its way along the Pacific Highway, and is closed for the most part to vehicular traffic, providing for a serene, scenic run experience.

Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon
Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon

9. Not Since Moses -Five Island, Nova Scotia

Wanting to change your run routine up a bit? How about going for a run on the ocean floor? That’s exactly the terrain that runners get to cover in this August race at Sand Point, Five Island, Nova Scotia. Runners can choose between 5km and 10km distances, and will get to run across the Bay of Fundy at low tide. While the tide is out, runners run alongside scenic, ragged cliffs.

Photo by: Runner's World
Photo by: Runner’s World

8. Swiss Alpine Marathon -Chur, Switzerland

This 30-year old race began as “a race for the insane”, most likely named so for the number of height inclines and uphill portions in the races, as well as the extra challenges that are present when running at higher altitudes. It has evolved over the years to appeal to a wide variety of runners abilities and also promotes itself as a family friendly event by offering several different distances from a grueling 78km ultra marathon to a 500m kids fun run. It takes place in and around Davos in the Swiss Alps in July.

Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon
Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon

7. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend -Orlando, Florida

Who couldn’t use a little magic to carry them through the tough times in their next big race? How about magic from the Magic Kingdom and surrounding parks? The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend offers several different distances over a single weekend, including a full marathon that winds its way through four of the Disney parks, and the Goofy Challenge (which is truly goofy) that involves running a half marathon on the Saturday, followed by the full marathon the following morning. This race weekend occurs in January every year.

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

6. National Capital Marathon Race Weekend -Ottawa, Ontario

The Ottawa Race weekend is Canada’s largest race weekend and several of the races consistently sell out every year. This particular race weekend usually takes place during the second last weekend in May before the summer heat really sets in. Distances include the full marathon, half marathon, 5km and 10km as well as a Kids Marathon. Runners are treated to some great views along the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill and other famous landmarks as they wind their way through downtown Ottawa and over the bridges to Gatineau, QC. Almost the whole route is accessible for spectators, so runners can expect lots of fan enthusiasm, beginning to end.

Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr
Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr

5. Reggae Marathon -Negril, Jamaica

Sun, surf, Reggae music and cold beer when you’re done running? Sounds like a runner’s delight (although the beer may not usually be part of post-run recovery, but when in Rome…). Set for the first weekend in December every year, the Reggae Marathon goes in Negril with a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distances. This event is promoted as having “good vibes and irie spirit”. Once you’re done, there is a party on the beach with Red Stripe Beer and lots of live music.

Photo by: Jamaica Experience
Photo by: Jamaica Experience

4. Great Wall Marathon -Tianjin, China

The Great Wall of China may already be on your bucket list, but what about combining that visit with a once-in-a-lifetime run at the same time. Promoted as “5,164 steps into history”, this race offers full and half marathons, as well as an 8.5 km race. This course is challenging, with lots of steps and inclines, but the views are reportedly worth the work. Runners will wind their way through towns and villages as well. This race takes place on the third Saturday in May every year.

Photo by: Great Wall Marathon
Photo by: Great Wall Marathon

3. The Polar Circle Marathon and Half Marathon -Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

If running in one of the most remote, yet scenic spots on the planet appeals to you, then this is your race. Otherwise known as “the coolest marathon on earth” (for obvious reasons) these races take place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in October. Runners will run through glaciers tongues, along ice caps and along some more forgiving gravel-based terrain. This route takes them just north of the Polar Circle.

Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon
Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon

2. Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon -Kauai, Hawaii

After running through the Polar Circle, runners may want a more temperate climate, namely the islands of Hawaii. Held annually in September, these races let runners wind their way through tropical rain forests and stunning views atop oceanside cliffs, the kind that lessen the burn in your thighs as you climb those hills.

Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon
Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

1. Bay Shore Marathon -Traverse City, Michigan

This May race offers a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distance run. As far as scenery goes, this run is tops. Runners will be treated to lovely views of Lake Michigan on one side and Traverse City’s orchards and cherry trees on the other. This course is known for being fast and flat which is popular for runners seeking those elusive personal bests.

Photo by: Bayshore Marathon
Photo by: Bayshore Marathon

7 Vacations that will Appeal to Teens

Traveling with children presents challenges, no matter what stage of the game you’re at. Traveling with little ones means preparing for anything by packing nearly everything you own; traveling with teens means trying to find cool experiences and activities that will give them the right balance of independence and convince them to put their phones down. Oh, yeah and that aren’t totally lame.

7. Hotel Del Coronado- San Diego, California

This beachfront resort near San Diego has something for everyone in your family, including your teen. Teens can take advantage of surfing and paddleboard lessons, or rent a bike and explore the area. Every weekend in the summer, there is a teen pool party at one of the pools, open to teens 13 to 17 years old (sorry, no parents allowed!), complete with games, a DJ and snacks. There are also teen Dive-in movies, so they can watch some of their PG-13 faves under the stars or while floating on a pool noodle.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

6. Lapa Rios Eco Lodge- Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

If your teen loves to give Mother Earth a hug, taking a vacation at an eco-lodge surrounded by flora, fauna and lots of wildlife may be just the ticket. Lapa Rios is located right in the midst of the rainforest on their 930 acre reserve. Daily activities include guided nature hikes, and ecological educational experiences. Nearby, visitors can arrange for boat tours in the mangroves, dolphin and whale watching, surfing or kayaking.

Photo by: Lapa Rios
Photo by: Lapa Rios

5. Lake George- Glens Falls, New York

Does your teen prefer shopping, the beach or screaming on a roller coaster? Why not do all three? Scenic Lake George, located in the Adirondacks, is jam-packed with action and activity. It’s the kind of town where a stroll down main street means running into something else to do. There are loads of cool restaurants, mini-golf, haunted house attractions and much more. Hit the Six Flags Amusement Park for the day- and don’t forget your bathing suit for the waterpark. Unwind for the day on Lake George’s Million Dollar Public Beach, which provides some million dollar views of the surrounding mountains. There is also great shopping in Lake George for your teen who covets name brands, with an extensive network of outlets.

Lake George, NY

4. Hawks Cay Resort- Duck Key, Florida

Located in Duck Key, about mid-way down the Florida Keys, Hawks Cay is a sprawling resort on a key unto itself, with plenty to keep your teen entertained. At the center of the resort is a man-made lagoon, with plenty of water activities like snorkeling, paddle boarding, windsurfing and kayaking. A highlight for sporty teens is the Indies club that has basketball courts, putting greens, volleyball court and a full-size soccer and football field. There is a “Teens Night Out.” from 9 pm to 11 pm nightly, where teens can hang out and play in the games room.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

3. Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas- Bahamas Islands, Caribbean

Cruises are a good choice for teens because of the wide variety of activities that are going on at any given moment. And if choice of activity is key to a teen’s enjoyment of their vacation, than Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas fleet is “the” spot. There is a skating rink, zip lining, rock climbing, surf simulator, arcade, mini golf, 3D movie lounge, teen lounge and disco. And that’s not including all the things they can do once in port! Try cruising more low key, but still vibrant excursions like the Bahamas. This way the trip doesn’t require as much planning as further international expeditions, but still involves some great cultural indulgences and adventurous ports for the kids and adults to explore.

Ozphotoguy / Shutterstock.com
Ozphotoguy / Shutterstock.com

2. Jay Peak- Jay, Vermont

Jay Peak’s village at the base of their mountain is an excellent spot for teens. The village is fairly self-contained. Being able to have this kind of pedestrian atmosphere is great for parents (they can know where their kids are) and teens can enjoy some of that independence that they crave while in a controlled environment. In the winter, there is skiing, obviously, along with a host of other winter outdoor activities. Available year-round is the indoor waterpark, the Pump House, which offers a number of different raft water slides, a surfing simulator, and a slide with a huge vertical drop. There is nothing lazy about their lazy river. Attached to the waterpark is an arcade. Onsite in the village is the Ice Haus, where there is skating available year-round, complete with skate rentals, if you forgot yours at home.

Photo by: Hanumanix via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Hanumanix via Wikimedia Commons

1. Beaches Resorts- Providenciales, Turks and Caicos & Negril and Ocho Rios, Jamaica

All-inclusive resorts are often a good choice of teens, and the Beaches family of resorts are particularly good. They have games rooms with a good selection of games and organized activities. There are arcades, music and a great tagline: “Teens do whatever they want; your parents paid the bill, so from here on out, everything’s included”.

Photo by: Britt Reints via Flickr
Photo by: Britt Reints via Flickr

The 24 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey and the Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica are just two of the 24 newly inscribed World Heritage sites approved by the 39th UNESCO committee in Bonn, Germany recently.  From ancient, archaeological sites to complex industrial systems and cultural landscapes, the 2015 list provides no shortage of exciting and intriguing travel ideas for the year, sure to peak even the most veteran travelers’ interests.

1. Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System – Mexico

Constructed in the 16th century and located on the Central Mexican Plateau, this aqueduct was built with support from local indigenous communities.  Along with tanks, bridges and a water catchment area, this heritage canal system has the “highest single-level arcade ever built in an aqueduct”.

Photo by: UNESCO/Espacio de la Imagen/Edgar Valtiago
Photo by: UNESCO/Espacio de la Imagen/Edgar Valtiago

2. Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale – Italy

The nine structures included in this Arab-Norman Palermo are comprised of two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge, the Cefalù cathedral and the Monreale cathedral.  Located on the northern coast of Sicily, this heritage site, dating from the 12th century, depicts the relationships between the Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures that eventually led to new spatial, structural and decorative concepts.

Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale

3. Baekje Historic Areas – Republic of Korea

The Busosanseong Fortress and the royal palace at Wanggung-ri are among the eight archaeological sites that make up the Baekje Historic Areas.  Found in the mid-west region of the Republic of Korea, these sites, dating from 475 to 660 CE, are an accurate representation of the Baekje Kingdom, a time when the ancient kingdoms in Korea, China and Japan were sharing and exchanging thoughts and ideas on contemporary issues such as artistry, religion and technology.

Gongsanseong fortress Korea

4. Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas) – Jordan

This heritage site, located on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, is believed to be the spot where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist.  With multiple church and monastery remains, this archaeological site is a place of Christian pilgrimage and a testament to the Roman and Byzantine religious influence in the area.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

5. Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars – France

Already one of the most popular wine regions in the world, the Champagne Hillsides were given World Heritage designation due to its historical importance in the production of sparkling wines.  Since the early 17th century, these historic vineyards have understood the value of illustrating the process of champagne production and have become a household name in the wine and tourism industry.

Champagne hillsides france

6. Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement – Denmark

This town, a planned settlement of the Moravian Church, was intended to represent the Protestant urban ideal and so was constructed in its entirety around a central Church square.  Founded in 1773 and still used today by a community of the Moravian Church, this town is complete with simple and homogenous architecture, such as its yellow brick buildings with red tile roofs.

Christiansfeld denmark

7. Climats, terroirs of Burgundy – France

These delimited vineyard parcels, found south of Dijon, are an excellent representation of the ancient cultivation and production methods in place since the High Middle Ages.  Due to human cultivation and natural conditions, these parcels, located on the slopes of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, are now identified by the wine they produced.

Château du Clos de Vougeot Burgundy France

8. Cultural Landscape of Maymand – Iran (Islamic Republic of)

This heritage site of Maymand is a self-contained area located in the southern part of Iran’s central mountains.  UNESCO designated this area a heritage site because of the semi-nomadic pastoralists who live with their animals on mountain pastures, and relocate depending on the seasons.  The nomads live low in the valley during the winter months in unique cave dwellings, and live in temporary settlements higher up on the mountain during the spring and autumn months.

Photo by: Ngjyra
Photo by: Ngjyra

9. Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape – Turkey

Situated in the aptly-named Fertile Crescent, this city and its surrounding landscape has been given an World Heritage designation due to it being an important center throughout different time periods, from the Hellenistic period, to the Ottoman times and into the present.  The fortified city of Diyarbakir, along with the Hevsel Gardens, is comprised of an inner castle,  a 5.8 kilometer long wall, towers, gates, 63 inscriptions all from different periods and is located on the Upper Tigres River Basin.

Diyarbakir Fortress Turkey

10. Ephesus – Turkey

This World Heritage Site has long since drawn Pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean.  The ancient city of Ephesus, featuring successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements, is comprised of many excavated monuments and historical sites, and is a great example of a Roman port city.

Ephesus Turkey

11. Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape – Uruguay

West of the town of Fray Bentos and situated on the Uruguay River, this site was built in order to process the meat that was produced on the nearby prairies.  This was given World Heritage status due to its excellent illustration on the process of meat production; its crucial location, industrial and residential buildings and social institutions ensure that this site of meat production was known on a global scale.

Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com
Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com

12. Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape – Mongolia

Having long been a site of ancient shamanic and Buddhist practices, the Burkhan Khaldun, situated in the central part of the Khentii mountain chain in the north-east part of the country, has been a place of worship of the sacred mountains, rivers and ovoo-s (shamanic rock cairns) that make up the landscape.  Believed to be the place of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial, this site is crucial to the unification of the Mongol people and to the mountain worship prevalent in their culture.

mountain mongolia

13. Necropolis of Beth She’arim: A Landmark of Jewish Renewal – Israel

The series of catacombs that make up this heritage site are an important collection of Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew artworks and inscriptions.  Southeast of the city of Haifa, Beth She’arim was the primary Jewish burial place outside of Jerusalem and is an important testimony to ancient Judaism and to the Jewish renewal after 135 CE.

Beth She’arim Israel

14. Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site – Norway

Using the natural mountainous landscape to its advantage, the Norsk-Hydro Company manufactured artificial fertilizer from nitrogen in the air and became an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century. The hydroelectric power plants and transport systems and towns included at the Rjukan-Notodden site show how this company used its industry, in combination with nature, to meet the Western world’s increasing demand for agricultural production.

Rjukan-Notodden Norway

15. Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia

Petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock face of this heritage site offer a glimpse into the passages of the ancient Arab populations across the Great Narfoud Desert.  These preserved depictions of human and animal figures show 10,000 years of history found in this great desert landscape in Saudi Arabia.

Photo by: saudi-archaeology
Photo by: saudi-archaeology

16. San Antonio Missions – United States of America

A great source of pride for Texans now and past are the five frontier mission complexes that make up this newly designated World Heritage site located in southern Texas.  Built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century, the San Antonio Missions are symbols of Spain’s colonization of the region and are the site of the historic 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

San Antonio Missions Conception

17. Singapore Botanical Gardens – Singapore

Used for both conservation and education, the Singapore Botanical Gardens, built in 1859, include many historical features that illustrate the development of the garden and its importance as a site for science and research.

Singapore Botanical Gardens

18. Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining – Japan

Eleven properties make up this heritage site, situated in the southwest of Japan.  This site depicts the time in Japanese history when the country actively sought technology from both Europe and America and is considered the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.

Nirayama Reverbatory Furnaces Japan

19. Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus – Germany

Built on a narrow island in the Elbe River from 1885 to 1927 and partially rebuilt from 1949 to 1967, these two urban areas, centrally located in the port city of Hamburg, are examples of the effects of rapid international trade in the 19th and 20th centuries.  These two areas together are one of the largest historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world.

Speicherstadt Germany

20. Susa – Iran (Islamic Republic of)

These architectural monuments, depicting the nearly extinct Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultural traditions, are comprised of administrative, residential and palatial structures excavated in the south-west of Iran.  These archaeological sites illustrate settlements found in the area from the late 5th millennium BCE to the 13th century CE, successively.

Susa Iran

21. The Forth Bridge – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The largest multi-span cantilever bridge, located across the estuary of the Forth River in Scotland, has earned World Heritage designation from UNESCO due to its innovative use of bridge design and construction.

The Forth Bridge UK

22. The Par Force Hunting Landscape in North Zealand – Denmark

The two hunting forests of Store Dyrehave and Gribskov, along with the hunting park of Jaegersborg Hegn/Jaegersborg Dyrehave, where Danish kings hunted with hounds until the end of the 16th century, have reached World Heritage status due to its demonstration of Baroque landscaping principles.

Photo by: .bastian (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: .bastian (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

23. Tusi Sites- China

From the Yuan and Ming periods of Chinese civilization, the Tusi Sites depict the tribal domains whose chiefs were elected based on the Tusi system.  This system, in place from the 13th to the 20th century, rose in prominence due to its unification of national administration and its allowance of customs and culture from ethnic minorities.

Photo by: photo.navi
Photo by: photo.navi

24. Blue and John Crow Mountains – Jamaica

Jamaica’s first World Heritage designation is the unique and historically important mountainous region situated in the south-east of Jamaica.  Not only does this site contain many of the endemic plant species present in the Caribbean Islands, but it also provided refuge for both the indigenous Tainos and escaped African slaves known as Maroons.  Due to the isolated nature of these mountains, the refugees managed to resist the European colonial system, and in doing so, developed spiritual connections with the mountains that are still felt today.

Blue Mountains Jamaica

The Best All-inclusive Caribbean Resorts for Kids

Planning a vacation to the Caribbean with the kids is always an adventure. With so many resorts out there promising the “perfect family getaway” it is often hard to sort out what is most important when looking at the vacations. Our choices below stand out in many factors including fabulous kid’s clubs, great beaches, accommodating rooms and suites, water parks and family concierge services. Although not all of the following choices have every single thing on our list; they all excel in brilliance when it comes to the kids enjoying the vacation just as much as you; the parents. Don’t worry we didn’t forget about you; with fabulous spas, trustworthy nannies and cell phones to keep in touch we have taken the worry away. Read on to discover our top choices for the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean for kids.

12. Franklyn D. Resort & Spa, Runaway Bay Jamaica

You won’t find luxurious suites, fine dining or an insanely large property to explore here; instead you will find a home away from home complete with a personal nanny for your entire stay. Welcome to the Franklyn D. Resort & Spa where the friendly atmosphere and staff are enough to make you want to come back. Along with the incredible nanny service that provides each family with a personal nanny or two which is included in your room price, this resort offers a great kids club, plenty of dining options and shallow water beaches for the whole family to enjoy.

Numerous water sports, bicycle rentals, shopping tours, glass bottom boat tours, snorkelling and much more is all included at this resort. Entertainment at night is always family friendly and you can count on the staff remembering your name all week long. Rooms include separate living quarters and kitchenettes that are stocked with crackers, cheese, sodas, juice and fruit that are replenished at no extra price. Discover why this resort is often ranked number one with families.

Photo by: Franklyn D. Resort
Photo by: Franklyn D. Resort

11. Azul Beach Hotel, Mexico

Our next kid-friendly all inclusive resort happens to be in Mexico’s mega resort district of Cancun but has more of a boutique hotel feel to it. The Azul Beach Hotel only has 148 rooms and manages to offer a wide variety of choice for families. From a traditional swim up room to a family suite with a separate bedroom to a fisher price theme room which includes toys and special invitations to activities; this resort can please anyone.

If you happen to forget a piece of baby equipment; have no fear as this resort has anything to loan you that you might need. Looking for amazing restaurants that are kid friendly? Look no further than the all-lobster menu for parents and the enticing kids menu to go with it. With plenty of choices you will never hear the little ones complain. With a separate kids club and teen area you can relax and know they are having fun. A breathtaking beach, a safe and clean environment and a quiet and relaxing resort is the perfect spot to spend your all inclusive vacation; perfect for both the kids and parents.

Photo by: Azul Beach by Karisma
Photo by: Azul Beach by Karisma

10. Dreams Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

A luxury resort where both kids and parents can let go of their worries and indulge in as much relaxation and fun as they crave; sums up our thoughts on Dreams Resort & Spa Punta Cana. Kids ages 3-12 will love the Explorer’s Club with its pirate ship waterslide, indoor game room, movies on the beach, splash fountain and weekly camping adventure. Your teens will enjoy their own space located right in the heart of the sports area of the resort with activities such as bonfires, snack bars, disco nights, batting cages and euro-bungee. Dining options are plentiful with burgers, seafood and pizza being the most popular among families. Or indulge in the 24-hour room service while the kids swim in the pool right outside the room.

Friendly, attentive and amazing are words often used to describe ALL the staff at this resort. From the energetic leaders in the kids clubs to the housekeeping staff that keep the rooms and grounds spotless; don’t be surprised to find yourself engaging in many conversations with them throughout your stay. Dreams Spa & Resort in Punta Cana delivers exceptional service, a beautiful atmosphere and enough activities and fun to keep the kids entertained for weeks.

dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com
dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com

9. Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

Nestled in between the two emerald green volcanic peaks, in the rolling hills of St Lucia sits one of our top all inclusive resorts for kids. Sugar Beach not only boats a beautiful private beach but also a large grotto pool and private plunge pools. The Sugar Club offers younger kids the chance to explore the coves, mini-putt, learn about marine biology and much more with excellent supervision. The teen’s club ensures that the older ones never get bored with zip line excursions, windsurfing, sailing and snorkelling.

With a personalized butler to help you unpack all your bags and be of service throughout your vacation; there is simply nothing to worry about here. Kid’s menus, room service and menus that include pizza and hamburgers assure you won’t hear any complaints from the little ones in your family. Breathtaking spas for mom and dad while the children have the time of their lives in the kids clubs; it’s no wonder so many families choose Sugar Beach as their vacation destination.

Photo by: Sugar Beach by Viceroy
Photo by: Sugar Beach by Viceroy

8. Paradisus Playa Del Carmen La Esmeralda, Mexico

Tucked into a hidden private bay lies an oasis for families. The Paradisus Playa Del Carmen La Esmeralda in Mexico offers a luxury vacation for kids and parents alike. Swim up suites, exclusive family activities such as swimming and classes, camping, and themed night parties are just some of the reasons this resort is considered to be so family-friendly.

Stay in a two bedroom suite for extra privacy or take advantage of the family concierge experience in which luxury is taken to a new level with special treats such as a personal tour of the resort and a private pool. Kids will love the kids club which is open until 10pm and loaded with activities and excursions that are anything but boring offering crafts, treasure hunts, sports and campfires at night. Restaurants that open at 6am, bottled water in excess throughout the resort and superior customer service are small touches that will have you coming back year after year. Come discover this kid-friendly all inclusive paradise in Mexico.

Photo by: Melia Paradisus
Photo by: Melia Paradisus

7. Beaches, Turks and Caicos

If a 45,000 square foot water park coupled with a kids program that takes the tiniest newborns all the way up to teens isn’t enough to convince you that Beaches in Turks and Caicos is one of the best all-inclusive resorts for kids than read on. Watch as your kids slide down the waterslides or enjoy a soda at the swim up soda bar in Pirate Island Water Park. Let your tweens and teens have the independence they crave at the nightclub specifically designed with them in mind, or watch as they have a go at learning how to scratch vinyl records at the DJ academy.

Your younger ones will love the Sesame Street characters that can be found around the resort, as well as the train that runs through the resort. Stay in luxury at your choice of accommodation and dine at one of many restaurants designed with kids in mind. Enjoy the six pools, 2 kiddie pools, unlimited scuba diving and water sports, 2 huge waterslides and the excellent service Beaches is known for.

Photo by: Beaches, Turks and Caicos
Photo by: Beaches, Turks and Caicos

6. Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa, St. Lucia

Divided into two resorts; one for adults-only and one for families this is the perfect all-inclusive vacation. Families will want to book the Splash wing of the resort which offers colourful ocean facing rooms, a large water park, lazy river and paintball facility.  Toddlers will love the mini water park with water cannons, overflowing buckets and fountain sprayers. For the older kids watch and play along as they shoot down the waterslides or drift under waterfalls through the lazy river.

The Kidz Klub at this resort goes above and beyond in terms of fun. Besides a zip line, rock wall and pirate ship; kids are encouraged to take part in the animal rescue program and learn about St. Lucia through a variety of fun and educational activities. Mom and Dad are given complimentary local cell phones to keep in touch during the day. Family suites are available with connecting internal doors so multiple families or families with older kids can stay connected; yet have their own space. With many great restaurants to choose from, kayak and paddleboard lessons on site and beautiful beachfront to explore; it’s no wonder this resort is so popular with families.

Photo by: Coconut Bay Resort
Photo by: Coconut Bay Resort

5. Hard Rock Hotel, Dominican Republic

One of the largest resorts on this list, the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana is also extremely kid-friendly. Family pools rocking age appropriate tunes and kids pools offering some pretty sweet waterslides are just the beginning. Possibly the best resort on the list for toddlers as it is known for its “Little Big Club”. Characters including Barney, Bob the Builder, Angelina the Ballerina and Thomas the Tank Engine are all present and interactive here. Let the kids take part in helping them to prepare for their live shows or schedule to have breakfast with your little one’s favourite character. Play mini-golf with the family, hit the arcade or tackle the 5-meter climbing wall together.

Unwind in your 2 or 3-bedroom family suite where touches such as kid’s bath products, child-sized bathrobes and an Xbox 360 with a variety of games will not go unnoticed.   From exotic restaurants to 24-hour included room service we promise you will not go hungry and the kids will love it as they dash into the restaurants and the service staff know their names. Small extraordinary details and impeccable amenities makes this resort a must visit.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic

4.  Club Med’s Ixtapa resort, Mexico

Club Med is famous for its amazing resorts and it is no surprise to us that Club Med Ixtapa Resort makes this list. Catering to babies as young as 4 months all the way up to teenagers; the four separate programs really stand out as innovative and amazing. A restaurant dedicated to babies and their parents, a children’s only restaurant with activities throughout, a room dedicated to all of your baby’s needs as well as golf, Zumba, tennis, a teen spa, nature program, pajama club and children-only cooking program… Club Med Ixtapa offers all of the above and most of them at no extra charge!

We suggest splurging and booking one of the deluxe family rooms in the Iguana building. The most central location with adjoining comfortable rooms and a balcony overlooking the beautiful scenery sets the stage for a perfect vacation. From flying trapeze and circus school to tennis lessons, kayaking and beach volleyball the activities are endless for both kids and parents. With every restaurant being kid-friendly, high chairs available and exquisite menus; the resort truly has it all. If you are looking for the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and give your kids the vacation of a lifetime; look no further than Club Med Ixtapa.

Photo by: Club Med Ixtapa Pacific
Photo by: Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

3. Beaches Negril Resort and Spa, Jamaica

Located on the famous 7-mile Beach sits an all-inclusive resort that practically screams kid-friendly. The first thing we must mention is the amazing water park that’s built right onto the beach. Pirate Island is loaded with water slides, kid-friendly pools, swim up soda bars, an ice-cream bar, shooting water fountains, a lazy river and so much more. Kid’s camps that operate from 9am-9pm are available for babies all the way to teens. With age appropriate activities including but not limited to treasure hunts, sandcastle building, snorkelling, sailing, swimming, pizza making and glass bottom boat rides; your kids will be begging go back each day. The teen’s program is quite exceptional and offers unique activities such as pizza bars, water sports, soda bars and a teen’s only nightclub.

From beachfront suites to family concierge suites you won’t find your family squished into a typical hotel room at this resort. From eating dinner on the beach to classic barbeque to exotic flavours; the food at Beaches won’t disappoint and certainly offers something for everyone. Discover the silky white sand, the turquoise waters and a resort that caters to families with kids of all ages.

Negril Jamaica

2. The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real Resort, Dominican Republic

A private beach, family concierge services, a pool with slides for the kids, an outstanding kids club and with more than half of the rooms being family suites; this resort is clearly made for families. We highly recommend booking the family concierge experience as it will make your vacation seamless. From the V.I.P check in to the luxurious family suites to the personal concierge who will remain in contact with you during your entire stay; you won’t have a worry in the world.

Your personal attendant will book your dinner reservations, take you to the your private beach area or children’s pool, be available to you 24/7 through the free mobile phones provided and leave special surprises for your kids throughout your stay. Mini bathrobes, slippers and personalized hats and t-shirts are just a bonus for the kids. Let them eat at the kids lounge and buffet, scale the climbing wall at Adventure Park and enjoy the nightly children’s magic shows, discos or movie nights. This large resort is filled with so many activities your kids won’t know what to choose first; but whatever they choose know that this vacation is one they will not forget.

Photo by: The Reserve Melia
Photo by: The Reserve Melia

1. Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

Though not really a true all-inclusive resort we couldn’t leave the famed Atlantis Resort off of this list. With its mythical and enchanting adventures coupled with the exotic experiences you won’t find anywhere else; Atlantis is a dream come true for any kid, or kid at heart. Home to one of the largest water-themed attractions in the world where you can take thrilling rides down water slides, race through the river filled with rapids, swim in one of 11 swimming pools or visit the kids water play fort.

Take the older kids for an adventure and snorkel the coral reef in search of stunning tropical fish, or feed the stingrays in the lagoon or perhaps you are brave enough to come face to face with sharks. Let the younger ones enjoy the action packed adventure camps where theater, outdoor play and marine life interactions are just a handful of the amazing activities to choose from. From affordable hotel rooms to luxurious suites, to elegant restaurants and beachside bars you can customize your vacation to meet any and all of your needs. Check out the dining packages which we suggest adding on as kids under 11 will eat free with you. An incredible experience in an unbelievable paradise; Atlantis is one place you’ll never forget.

Raul Rosa / Shutterstock.com
Raul Rosa / Shutterstock.com

7 Countries Spice Lovers Must Visit

Some people can’t get enough of that lip numbing, sweat breaking heat of eating something really spicy. True spice enthusiasts will admit it’s practically an addiction. There are a few countries out there whose cuisine falls right in line with this need for heat so if you’re a spice junkie, consider traveling to one of these top destinations for spicy cuisine.

1. Jamaica

Now it’s no secret that Jamaicans like things hot, and while it’s usually not too difficult to find a great roti or jerk outside of the Caribbean, nothing beats going to the source. Traditional Jamaican cuisine gets its distinctive heat from the Scotch Bonnet chili pepper which has a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units (the heat rating scale used for chili peppers). In comparison, a jalapeno pepper has a Scoville rating of 2,500-8,000 units…proof this pepper packs a punch. Your likely to find it used as a marinade for meats and in fresh sauces as a condiment.

Jamaica

2. Thailand

Unlike some other countries which make use of many dried spices and chilies, Thai cuisine is all about freshness. It’s vibrant and complex dishes make use of many fresh herbs and chilies to give it that distinct fresh spicy heat you know and love. Probably the most commonly used chili in Thai cuisine is the Bird’s Eye Chili. It’s sliced, diced and chopped and added fresh to many dishes and stir fry’s. Thailand is also well known for fabulous street food so there’s no doubt you’ll find something sizzling and spicy to grab while you explore.

Thailand

3. Mexico

Poblano, pasilla, jalapeno, serrano, piquillo…those are just a few of the many chili peppers used in Mexican cuisine. So if you want to experience the real deal head south of the border and immerse yourself in what’s arguably the most chili driven cuisine in the world. Variety is key with Mexican cuisine as there are so many chilies used so many ways including whole dried, fresh, ground and smoked.  While visiting it’s essential to try an authentic mole, made from smoked and dried chilies or a delicious fresh ceviche, spiced with fresh chilies.

Mexico city

4. Peru

South America as a whole has a passionate love for chilies of all kinds but if it’s heat you’re craving, don’t pass up visiting Peru. Notorious for the use of fresh chilies in many dishes as well as fresh chili sauces as condiments, the most popular peppers to Peruvian cuisine are the Ají Limon and the Ají Amarillo chili. The Amarillo chili has been tingling taste buds for many millennium as its roots date back to ancient Peru. If you want to try something authentic on your travels keep an eye out for a stew called Aji de Gallina which is usually chicken in a spicy creamy sauce made bright yellow from the Amarillo chilies.

Lima Peru

5. Malaysia

Like the country itself, Malaysian cuisine is a melting pot of influences from surrounding areas. Summarized into 3 main types there’s Malay, Chinese and Indian, essentially combining the best of spicy cuisine into one delicious food experience you don’t want to miss. At the center of Malaysian cuisine are chili peppers, used both fresh and dried with the most popular being the bird’s eye chili used commonly in Thailand as well as green chilies. A favorite condiment of the Malay’s is Sambal, which is a pungent sauce made from various chili peppers, vinegar and spices like ginger, garlic and lime.

Malaysia Putrajaya

6. China

One word: Sichuan. The addictive lip numbing, tongue tingling cuisine originating from the Sichuan province of southwest China. This cuisine is infamous for its liberal use of chili oil, dried chilies and of course the signature Sichuan peppercorn, giving the many stir-fry style dishes their kick. Spice addicts will tell you that finding a great authentic Sichuan restaurant isn’t the easiest task but if you get the chance to visit China yourself, head to this southwest province and you’ll have no problems getting your sweat on.

 

Meiqianbao / Shutterstock.com
Meiqianbao / Shutterstock.com

7. India

It’s only fair that the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of chili peppers tops this list. Indian cuisine is very much like the country, bright and full of flavor and their use of complex spice blends along with the heat of chillies is something to experience. India is actually home to what’s widely considered the world’s hottest pepper: the Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper. So whether you like a nice hot vindaloo, curry or samosa you’ll find plenty of options in this country.

India Market

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.

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.

Beach Wedding

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 Africa

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.

Paris
Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

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 Dominican Republic

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