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Roxane Hudon, Author at Air Canada Vacations

12 Oct

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Things To Do In Kauai

October 12, 2018 | By |

Film fans might instantly recognize the awe-inducing landscapes of the so-called “Garden Island.” Kauai’s emerald-hued mountains and verdant valleys have played co-starring roles in many big-budget flicks, from Jurassic Park and Avatar to Godzilla and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But don’t be intimated by the island’s Hollywood good looks—it offers tons to do for every type of traveller.

For the nature lover

Outdoor explorers, buckle up. Kauai’s nickname is somewhat misleading, unless your garden also includes a rugged coastline of sea cliffs, or a canyon carved out of lava rock. The Napali Coast Wilderness State Park invites you to admire its most beautiful sights. Trek its winding trail, cruise by in a kayak, or see it all from above in a helicopter. Next, meet Kauai’s version of the Grand Canyon, the spectacular Waimea Canyon with its rocky terrain tinged in shades of red, orange and green. Hike to the park’s lookouts to take in its gorgeous gorges and dense forests.

For the foodie

Of course, gardens also provide produce, and Kauai uses its resources in a wealth of ways, from healthy vegan meals to deep-fried delights.  With Hawaii’s multicultural heritage, the island’s food is globally inspired—its dishes borrow from Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Filipino cuisine. For fresh ingredients, stop at Kauai’s Sunshine Markets (farmer’s markets) in towns like Lihue, or Hanalei. Try originals like spam musubi, a sushi snack found in most grocery stores, or Koloa’s Puka dog, a hot dog in Hawaiian sweet bread, topped with a spicy sauce and tropical fruit relish. No visit would be complete without enjoying the country’s colourful dessert: cold and delicious shave ice, served up perfectly at Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa.

For the aquaphile

Kauai is not all insurmountable peaks and intimidating vistas. It’s also secluded stretches of white sand and jungle-bound beaches perfect for rest and relaxation. Opt for the golden shores of Kauai’s East Side, nicknamed the Coconut Coast. Near the navigable Wailua River and its famous waterfalls, swim, snorkel and spot all types of underwater dwellers off Lydgate Beach, with its two rock-enclosed lagoons. Crescent-shaped Poipu Beach, on the island’s southern coast, is a popular pick for families and those looking for all types of nautical activities. Forest-rimmed and idyllic, Kauai’s beaches are your window to the Pacific’s crystal-clear waters.

What’s next

Answer the call of Kauai! We make it easy for you to discover Hawaii’s greenest island with packages and flights from Canadian cities, including our new, direct flights from Vancouver. Hot travel tip: Book by November 4 to enjoy Flight & Hotel packages to Hawaii for under $999.

14 Sep

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The Best Time to Visit Portugal

September 14, 2018 | By |

It’s impossible to resist the many charms of Spain’s friendly coastal neighbour. Perpetually sunny, rich in culture and history and naturally breathtaking, Portugal paints a pretty picture year-round. Check out our breakdown of the best times to go to Portugal.

Spring & Summer

It’s no secret that hotter days and warmer waters bring in bigger crowds. That being said, the numerous outdoor festivals and balmy beach weather welcoming you between May and July deter shrugging off a spring or summer Portugal vacation.

Festival Frenzy

Portuguese people honour their saints in very interesting ways. Case in point: the Festa de Santo Antonio in Lisbon. It pays homage to Lisbon’s patron saint with feasts of grilled fish, street parties to rhythmic fado music and…free weddings! Meanwhile, you might want a hard hat for Porto’s Festa de São João, an eccentric tribute to Saint John the Baptist. Festivities include the odd tradition of banging revellers on the head with colourful plastic mallets, as well as more typical goings-on like fireworks and dancing.

If you worship a more modern set of idols, Portugal attracts some of the best musicians and bands in the world with top-notch summer music festivals cropping up near its main cities, from the indie sounds of NOS Primavera Sound to the rockin’ rythms of Super Bock Super Rock and the eclectic star-fueled lineup of NOS Alive.

The Portugal’s Delightful Duo rail tour brings you to Lisbon and Porto during any of these events!

Beach Time

Praia de Rocha

A spring or summer trip to Portugal calls for soaking up the sun along the country’s dreamy coastline. A prime place to do so is the sunny southern region of The Algarve where spectacular rocky cliffs surround golden beaches varying in size and popularity:

  • Praia de Rocha buzzes with high-rise beach resorts and lively bars and restaurants to entertain the hotels’ inhabitants.
  • The smaller, secluded Praia do Camilo serves up a postcard-perfect setting with the gorgeous Ponte da Piedade also just a short walk away.
  • Don’t skip out on iconic Praia da Marinha, aptly named one of the best beaches in Europe and located down a dramatic cliff side.

We could keep listing our favourites, but taking a tour of the Algarve, like our Portugal City & Coast rail tour, will let you discover yours, from the surfing paradise Praia do Amado to the adventurous Praia de Benagil and its sea cave.

Fall

We love fall travel to Portugal: cooler climate, quieter cities and…wine harvest season! Sure, the Atlantic isn’t as sizzling, but it’s often still warm enough for a dip, plus all popular sights have cleared of their summertime crowds.

Take a Hike

Sintra

A drop in temperature makes this season perfect for hiking Portugal’s many trails without breaking a sweat.

Near Lisbon, the fairy tale-like, UNESCO-listed village of Sintra sits a day-trip away. Wander up romantic forest paths leading from the town’s Moorish Castle to the colourful, Disney-like Pena Palace, surrounded by gardens and the rugged landscape of the Serra Mountains. Take on the coastal trails of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, home to continental Europe’s most westernly point, Cabo da Roca, and mystical monuments like the Convent of Capuchos or the Hermitage of Peninha.

Turn your trek into a pilgrimage by climbing up all 686 steps leading to the Nossa Senhora dos Remedios sanctuary in Lamego. Shrouded by dense woodland, it offers quite the view of the town and surrounding hills once you’ve made it to the top. Elevate the experience by timing your visit with the Festival of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, the annual pilgrimage to the sanctuary’s shrine. Join thousands of religious devotees in pious processions, including one that carries the statue of Our Lady of the Remedies on an oxen-lead cart.

Wine & Dine

Douro River

We kept the best for last: food and wine!

The scenic and charming Douro Valley lures you in with its rolling green hills and aromatic vineyards, including those specializing in the region’s famous Port wine. Douro’s a breathtaking sight any time of the year, but wine harvest season really steals the show with its landscape coloured in autumnal shades. Many of the area’s wineries will invite you to participate in the harvest, from grape picking to stomping and the inevitable taste testing. That glass of vinho tastes even better once you’ve worked for it.

Fall’s cooler nights prompt heading indoors and trying all of the country’s culinary delights. Savour everything from traditional bacalhau to pork-based dishes, spicy piri-piri chicken and creamy Serra da Estrela cheese. Of course, complete any meal with one of their famous (and delicious!) custard tarts, pastéis de nata. For a seasonal treat, hunt for sweet Portuguese Rocha pears, freshly picked from the Oeste region.

For a fall trip, Lisbon Your Way or Porto Your Way tours lead you to the best of both cities and their surrounding regions, including the Douro Valley and Sintra.

What’s Next

Keep an eye out for all our tours to Portugal! They run from spring to fall and are the best way to take in all the sights or experiences mentioned. Hot travel tip: while some of our tours, like the Fly & Rail tour Sunny Portugal or our Fly & Drive tour Highlights of Portugal, operate as early as April or May, others like Portugal North to South only take off in June. This might influence when and how you decide to travel to Portugal! You can always opt for our year-round option, the Lisbon Your Way Urban Getaway.

07 Sep

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Sea Italy: Italian-Style Cruising

September 7, 2018 | By |

The best view of Italy? Standing starboard, floating on the Mediterranean! Costa Cruises carries you to top spots on the incredible Italian coast with a departure from France and stops in Spain. All aboard!

Cruisin’ with Costa

What’s better than sailing to Italy? Sailing to Italy on an Italian-helmed ship! The Italian cruise line offers a unique nautical experience in an authentic setting inspired by its cultural heritage. Think festive ambiance, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and elegant decor inspired by Italy’s most awe-inspiring Renaissance masterpieces. Hop aboard their Costa Diadema ship, nicknamed the Queen of the Mediterranean and named after the Italian word for “tiara.” With a reputation like that, expect royal treatment for the whole family. We’re talking fine dining, a bar-lined terrace, luxurious spa and every form of sea-bound entertainment you could possibly want. Plus, enjoy Italian-style extras like lessons in Venetian mask-making, indulging in a Roman steam bath or sipping excellent espresso in the ship’s lounge.

Set Your Course

Costa Cruises goes overboard with their 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise. Departing from the buzzing French port city of Marseille, it sets sail to beautiful Barcelona for a taste of tapas and a gander at Gaudi’s architecture. Next day, anchors aweigh as you make your way to Palma de Mallorca, a sunny city set on a Spanish island and your last stop before being Italy-bound. Then, you’ll answer the call of Cagliari, on the southern coast of sublime Sardinia. Think glorious beach dips and walks around historic landmarks. Day six is all about Rome—its romance, its ruins, its architecture…its pizza. Before setting back to Marseille, soak in Savona, a gorgeous seaside city on the Italian Riviera.

What’s Next

Interested? Who wouldn’t be! Get your sea legs ready for this maritime journey across the Mediterranean. Plus, when you cruise with us, expect nothing but smooth sailing with our Cruise Promise. Hot travel tip: The travel dates for Costa Cruises’ new itinerary departing from Marseille are from September 2 to 23, 2018 or from May 12 to September 29, 2019. Plan accordingly!

 

02 Aug

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Best Reason to Visit Jamaica: Jamaican Food!

August 2, 2018 | By |

Vacations often leave you looking slimmer, from all that on-the-go action and exploration. A trip to Jamaica might not be so kind to your waistline, considering the country serves up some of the best dishes in the Caribbean. Here are our picks of the Jamaican cuisine you need to try!

Jerk around

Jamaican allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg–these are just a few of the ingredients found in the jerk seasoning that defines one of Jamaica’s most iconic dishes: jerk chicken. Sweet and spicy, perfectly grilled, the flavourful meat is traditionally served with rice and beans or bammies, a tasty fried flat bread of sorts. Of course, you can also get jerk pork, jerk fish, jerk…lobster (!). Find jerk dishes anywhere, from street vendors to your resort’s restaurant.

Patty cake, patty cake

What’s not to love about the Jamaican patty? It’s perfectly golden, flaky and filled with delicious, seasoned meat (or vegetables). This sublime snack is actually a product of colonialism: a derivative of the Cornish pasty brought over by the Brits, spiced by Indians with cumin and curry and kicked up by Africans with cayenne pepper. While awesome on its own, you can try it like a local and stuff a patty in some sweet coco bread for a unique Jamaican sandwich.

Feeling fruity

It’s not all starch and meats. Being a tropical island, Jamaica is ripe with exotic fruits you might have never heard of. Most often eaten with saltfish, ackee is the island’s national fruit, an alien-like cluster of black seeds and spongy yellow flesh. Kind of like a tropical potato, breadfruit can be roasted, steamed, mashed or fried and makes for a superb side-dish. There are countless others that sound as colourful as they look: the grape-like, gelatinous guinep, the juicy June plum, heart-shaped sweetsop, spiky soursop, and something called the Stinking Toe. Okay, we haven’t tried that last one, but you can do the honours!

Liquid lunch

You’ll need something refreshing to wash all that down. Try sorrel, a red drink brewed from hibiscus blossoms, often spiced with cinnamon and ginger, or punched up with some of that famous Jamaican rum, if you fancy an extra kick. Savour the soda suited for the sun: Ting, offering just the right amount of grapefruit-flavoured fizz to cool you down. Finally, you really can’t leave Jamaica without trying a hot cup of Blue Mountain coffee, one of the world’s best brews from Jamaica’s highest mountain.

What’s next

Yum, all this is Jamaican me hungry! Any of these dishes can be tasted in the Jamaican destination of your choice. Montego Bay, or “MoBay,” is a hip city and a popular spot for dreamy, waterfront hotels. It’s a great base to explore the spectacular shores and paradisiacal settings of the idyllic resort town of Negril or former fishing village of Ochos Rios. Meanwhile, Kingston is the cultural heartbeat of Jamaica, sitting at the foot of the dramatic Blue Mountains. Hot travel tip: Book your winter vacation to Jamaica with us by September 9 to get $600 off per family and 8 days of free airport parking!

Savour the flavours of Jamaica! 

05 Jul

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What to do in Costa Rica

July 5, 2018 | By |

Answer the call of Pura Vida! Inciting a simple way of life, Costa Rica is a hot-spot for adventure and activities. Get inspired for your next getaway with our picks of the best things to do in Costa Rica.

Get Adventurous

Take your trip to new heights by conquering simmering peaks or zipping through treetops. Epic hikes await around the country’s most active volcano, the Arenal Volcano. Walk through former lava fields before unwinding in the national park’s natural hot springs. Take your feet off the ground at the Monteverde Cloud Forest where zip-lining adventures send you flying over the tropical woodland.

Go Wild

Add a couple critters to your clique! Known for its biodiversity, Costa Rica teems with colourful wildlife. Witness the incredible nesting or hatching of sea turtles at Tortuguero National Park, a turtle haven. Keep your eyes peeled up-top at the Manuel Antonio National Park, where capuchin monkeys swing around and three-toed sloths hang loose. Meanwhile, Marino Ballena National Park beckons you to go big or go home with humpback whales and dolphins swimming by its shores.

Catch a Wave

Surf’s up! Set yourself up for a bit of splashing around at one of the country’s best beaches. Bustling Tamarindo Beach calls for surfing and swimming all day and great dining and dancing all night. Explore the nearby, quieter palm tree-lined shores of Carillo Beach where rest and relaxation reign. For a more adventurous swim, you can hike to the Celeste River and its impressive waterfall tinted turquoise thanks to volcanic minerals.

What’s Next

Now that your Costa Rica activities are checked off, you need a hotel or resort to rest in. Try the Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica! Its world-class spa, luxurious rooms and dining options will help you refuel after a jam-packed day. Alternately, you also can’t go wrong with The Westin Golf Resort & Spa or Hotel Villas Playa Samara.

01 Jun

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6 Florida Destinations for Family Vacations

June 1, 2018 | By |

It’s no secret that Canadians love a vacation to Florida. Many of us share fond memories of growing up and escaping our harsh winters in the Sunshine State. Where else can you find all-day sunny weather, gorgeous scenery and adventure at every corner?

Discover our picks of the best vacation spots in Florida for a family getaway!

Fort Lauderdale 

Fort Lauderdale

First stop: Fort Lauderdale! Think activity-filled beach days with the kids or a shopping spree on Las Olas Boulevard. Take your family from the streets to the city’s canals with a fun amphibious tour or travel even further…all the way back to prehistoric Florida at the Museum of Discovery and Science. Seeking something completely unforgettable? Opt for a day-trip to the Everglades! Spot gators, turtles, and fish on an airboat tour that zips through Florida’s famous wetlands.

Miami 

ME-1489_Florida Blog Post_896x531_Miami

Family time might not immediately come to mind when Miami is mentioned. Nightlife and glamour, maybe, but family? Let Miami surprise you! Tropical temperatures and laidback vibes make it an ideal destination for everyone. Let your kids go wild at Zoo Miami, home to the planet’s most impressive animals, including elephants, lions and gorillas. For up-close encounters with Miami’s mammals, let your little ones swim with dolphins at the city’s Seaquarium!

Cocoa Beach

ME-1489_Florida Blog Post_896x531_Cocoa Beach

Dreamt of being an astronaut when you grew up? Who didn’t! Big and small head to Cocoa Beach to visit the nearby NASA Kennedy Space Center and learn all about the past and present of space exploration. Who knows, maybe your kids will even be the next ones to journey to Mars! From space to sea, make your way to the Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop. Once you’ve stocked up on gear, enjoy the calm, consistent waves of the city’s beach, ideal for learning how to surf.

St. Pete/Clearwater

Clearwater Beach

Sandy shores and sparkling waters; sometimes, that’s all we need! Opt for very best around St. Pete Beach or Clearwater Beach, voted respectively seventh and first among Trip Advisor’s best beaches in the United States. At the southern tip of the area, the Fort De Soto Park welcomes families with sheltered picnic spots, playgrounds, nature trails and a historic fort. Save your sunsets for Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach where painters, magicians and street performers keep your kids entertained, while you settle in for glorious views.

Tampa

Tampa

Favour urban exploration over beach vacation? Try Tampa! This major city on the west coast of Florida offers something for all ages and tastes. Stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk, linking countless attractions, from the Florida Aquarium to the best waterfront restaurants. Art lovers will want to pop in to the Tampa Museum of Art and its neighbouring Glazer Children’s Museum. Follow up art with athletics any day of the week, because it’s always game day in Tampa where the MLB, NFL and NHL each have a team.

Orlando

Orlando

We can’t delay the inevitable: addressing the Mickey Mouse-shaped elephant in the room. After all, Orlando is home to the most magical place on Earth, the Walt Disney World Resort, which includes 4 fantastic Disney Theme Parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios where the all new Toy Story Land, opens June 30. Make sure the fun never stops and amp up the thrills at the nearby Universal Orlando Resort. Take a timeout from the theme parks to tee off at one of the city’s golf courses or dine at first-rate restaurants.

What’s next

Re-live your childhood, while making new memories for your kids! Create your dream family trip to Florida with our selection of vacation rentals, hotels and so much more. Hot travel tip: book by July 30 and save the equivalent of the taxes on Florida packages. That’s $300 off per family!

Plan your Florida vacation!

25 Apr

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The Best Greek Islands for Every Type of Traveller

April 25, 2018 | By |

So many islands, so little time!

We found pieces of paradise scattered across the Aegean Sea and we’re here to help you pick the perfect one (or ones! Island hopping, anyone?).  If you’re dreaming of a Greek island vacation, but aren’t sure where to start, keep calm and read on. Here’s our breakdown of our favourite Greek islands for every type of traveller!

Santorini

For Lovers & Sun Seekers: Santorini

If you’re looking up Greek islands, chances are you’ve stumbled on Instagram-worthy images of the island of Santorini, home to one of the most photographed, most spectacular sunsets in the world. If not, picture this: iconic, whitewashed houses overlooking volcanic cliffs, with the sun dipping into the horizon above cerulean waters, painting the sky in sumptuous shades. Shall we go on?

With its sweeping stairways and idyllic hillside villages, there’s no wonder stunning Santorini is a go-to spot for honeymooners and romantic revellers and one of the most popular islands to visit. If you’re not falling in love with the caldera views, then the colourful beaches and historic sites like the Museum of Prehistoric Thera might just seal the deal. Stop in Santorini with this Best of Greece tour!

For Party Animals: Mykonos

ME-470_GreeceImages_March20_Mykonos1_896x531

Oh, mythical Mykonos –the place to party in the Aegean since the 1960s! It’s where your sunset cocktails last till sunrise and stylish hotels spruce up a rugged and rocky landscape. Pose for dramatic pictures next to the island’s traditional windmills in Mykonos Town before jetting off to decadent dance clubs or all-night parties on Paradise Beach.

For less glitz and glam, stroll through Little Venice to take in the charming architecture of buildings built right on the waterfront. Occupying its narrow streets are chic shops where you can stock up on breezy island fashion before your next escapade. Alternately, you can opt to redeem yourself within the bright, white walls of the uniquely shaped Church of Panagia Paraportiani. Hop on the Mykonos and the Aegean tour to move it in Mykonos.

For Peace Pursuers: Patmos

Patmos

Here comes your moment of zen! Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the gorgeous Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, perched atop the island’s central hill, brings a calming spirituality to Patmos, appropriately nicknamed the ‘Holy Island.’ This is where Saint John imagined the end of the world and hey, it might not be the worst spot to find yourself if it does come.

Start at the Cave of the Apocalypse, a strange sacred site hewn into the rock and guarded by a monk to ensure total tranquility. Of course, once you’ve soaked in the spiritual atmosphere, countless beaches welcome you for some much-needed serene swimming. Find peace in Patmos with the Classical Greece & Cruise option.

For History Buffs: Crete

Crete

Time travel? It exists! Or so it seems when you land on the shores of Crete, the cradle of Minoan civilization about 4,000 years ago.  Admire the remnants of one of the first major European societies at the archeological site of Knossos, the former capital of Minoan Crete. Highlights include the countless courtyards and chambers of the palace and the impressive frescoes colouring the ruins.

If you’re mad for mythology, venture to the alleged birthplace of Zeus, king of all Greek gods. Two caves make that claim, including the mysterious and gorgeous Dikteon Cave near the village of Psyhro and the Ideon Cave, located on Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain on Crete.

We’d be lying if we said Crete is all about the past. Travellers seeking more modern indulgences can always happily convene on sun-soaked sands for happy hour. Our Island Delights tour allows you to take in the best parts, past and present, of Crete, largest of the Greek islands.

For Hikers & Beach Explorers: Naxos

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More beaches, please! With multitudes flocking to famous Santorini or Mykonos, many overlook the smaller, just-as-picturesque, Greek islands, like heavenly Naxos. The island’s mountainous lands and green valleys create all kinds of natural nooks and crannies for you to discover. Various hiking trails take you through this changing scenery, from the village of Filoti to the peak of Mount Zas. Naxos’ agriculture will please the most ardent foodie’s palate with local produce served up every which way in typical tavernas.

What about the beaches, you ask? We’re getting there! The southwest coast of Naxos is basically one long beach leading you to wilder sandy shores that range from secluded havens like Plaka to windy spots ideal for windsurfing like Mikri Vigla. Discover them all during our Cycladic Discovery tour!

What’s next

Map of Greek Islands

Set your watch to island time! Hot travel tip: Air Canada Vacations offers a variety of island hopping tours to take you from Athens to every island we’ve mentioned here and more. These usually last between 10 and 14 days to give you plenty of time to discover Greece’s capital, as well as several of the best Greek islands.  All of these tours stop in the two must-see islands, Mykonos and Santorini, and take place between May and October.

Plan your tour of Greek islands now!

16 Mar

By

Sun, Sand & Solo Travel

March 16, 2018 | By |

It may take two to tango, but solo is the way to go! You might usually picture honeymooning couples and smiling families jetting off on dreamy all-inclusive vacations, but the tides are turning in favour of solo vacationers looking for sunny escapes of their own making. Aside from being the only star in your envy-inducing beach pictures, here’s what we love about going solo in the sun.

Beach? Pool? Wherever!

Forget lengthy arguments about where you should spend the day– you’re the boss of this vacay. Whether you prefer lounging by the pool or catching waves on the beach, your main dilemma will be choosing which book or magazine to bring with you. The best part? No one will be checking their watch and taking you away from your towel to eat or sleep. This trip’s ticking away on your time!

We love the ocean-front option at Dreams Delight Playa Bonita Panama, a great pick for a singles vacation. Surrounded by lush greenery, its idyllic beach even welcomes baby sea turtles from July to December, so you might not always be totally solo! Of course, they also have a gorgeous infinity pool if that’s more your vibe.

Choose your own adventure

Although we’re just fine with lying about in the sun all day, one of the joys of solo travel is being able to get up and go when you choose to. Many all-inclusive resorts offer tons of activities to keep you busy from sun-up to sun-down.

At Secrets Aura Cozumel in Mexico, you can discover the wonders waiting for you under the sea. The resort houses a fully-equipped dive centre where professionals teach you the essentials before you dive off their private pier. With the second largest barrier reef in the world located near Cozumel’s shores, you’re bound to spot colourful coral and unique marine life. If you’re more comfortable on land, the resort can help you plan trips to nearby attractions – from Chichen Itza to Tulum!

Pamper yourself!

Sometimes, a solo trip is the best way to completely unwind. It pulls you away from your day-to-day and lets you focus on you. Why not take this time to really treat yourself?  We’re thinking total spa treatment in a tropical location. Yes, please!

From seaweed wraps to Swedish massages, the Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa in Dominican Republic knows how to pamper you. You can pick from spa packages that include facials, full-body treatments and so much more.  The serene setting and complimentary fresh juices will keep bringing you back until you need to fly home, completely rejuvenated.

What’s next

If you’ve set your sights on a solo vacation, make sure to keep an eye out for all-inclusive resorts that don’t charge a single supplement. What’s a single supplement, you ask? It’s a fee charged by many hotels to solo travellers booking a room alone. The resorts mentioned here usually waive this fee for travel between August and December, but make sure to double-check before you book!

Go your own way! 

23 Feb

By

All Antigua, All the Time

February 23, 2018 | By |

365 beaches for 365 days of sun? It sounds like a fairy tale, but feels oh-so-real the second you land on the sunny shores of Antigua. Named by Columbus, colonized by Brits, inhabited by Oprah, this small Caribbean island shines with a rich and complex history that permeates through its colourful villages and harbours. From kicking back on a beach to kicking around with the kids, here are our top picks for when to go, where to stay and what to do in Antigua.

When to go

Antigua Sailing Week

A major maritime hub centuries ago, the Caribbean country harkens back to its nautical roots with the Antigua Sailing Week, its annual yacht regatta. Join the festivities from April 28 to May 4, when sailors from around the world take on the turquoise waters of the Caribbean for five days of yacht racing. Little ones will love seeing the boats zip past, while grown-ups might prefer the infamous after-parties.

Antigua Carnival

Looking to soak in real Caribbean culture? Better pencil in July 27 to August 7, when the Antigua Carnival amplifies the island’s good-time vibes. With a tagline claiming it as “The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival,” expect calypso dance parties, costumed parades and beating steel drums that keep you moving till morning. Designed for all ages, kids even get a parade of their own, the Children’s Carnival, where they strut in vibrant frocks, evoking the cutest, mini versions of Caribbean icons.

Whenever!

We weren’t kidding about everyday sunshine. Antigua’s constantly balmy climate makes it a year-round destination for beach getaways. Whichever week you book, make sure to save your Sunday for the afternoon BBQ at Shirley Heights Lookout, overlooking the English Harbour on the southern tip of the island. An Antiguan institution ideal for friends and family, it’s the place to be to take in the glorious sunset views, while a reggae band provides the soundtrack.

What to do

Dive In

Coral reefs bursting with exotic fish surround Antigua, making it popular for diving and snorkelling. The biggest reef, Cades Reef, off the southwestern coast, hosts an eclectic variety of marine wildlife, from parrotfish to (friendly!) sharks. On the island’s opposite end, wade into Stingray City to swim with the most gentle underwater creatures. If you’re travelling with tots, they’re bound to love these unique close encounters with stingrays! For the more adventurous, the mysterious waters of Deep Bay beckon you to discover the shipwreck of The Andes, a merchant ship lying at the bottom of the bay since 1905.

See the Sights

Once a formidable naval base under the command of the British Admiral Nelson, Nelson’s Dockyard delivers a dose of history in a gorgeous setting surrounded by blooming, green hills and turquoise waves. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the 18th-century marina now houses restaurants and shops for you to indulge in. Experience local island life in the capital city of St. John’s where colonial architecture meets modern buildings coloured in vibrant, tropical shades. Head to the Public Market on Saturdays for the best home-grown produce (tiny pineapples!) and authentic arts and crafts.

Where to stay

For Families

Family fun awaits at the Verandah Resort & Spa, one of our faves from our Play collection. Kids’ pool? Supervised clubs? Tons of activities? You name it, they’ve got it. Whether you’re joining in on playtime or focusing on me-time, you’ll be doing it in an idyllic, waterfront setting. Imagine a sprawling family resort surrounding a private and peaceful blue cove. Your very own paradise oasis? We think so!

Great for Grown-Ups

A quarter-mile of fine, white sand and acres of diverse, lush gardens make the Pineapple Beach Club, part of our Spotlight collection, our ideal tropical hideaway. Pamper yourself at the spa or take on the sea with complimentary kayaking, windsurfing or snorkeling. If romance is in the cards, honeymooners could do worse than this blissful beach backdrop. Oh, and did we mention happy hour? It lasts all day, served up chilled like your cocktail of choice, at one of the beachfront bars.

What’s next

Start planning! Oh, and maybe swimsuit shopping? Hot travel tip: check Air Canada Vacations for the best prices on Antigua vacation packages (trust us!).

Take me to Antigua!