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Air Canada Vacations - Page 27 of 34 - Travel Blog

28 Mar

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What to do in Barbados

March 28, 2014 | By |

Events not to miss

Top Gear Festival Barbados

May 17-18

Celebrity hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May bring an awe-inspiring line up of cars and driving talent to Barbados for the shows Caribbean debut. Join The Stig, the Top Gear Stunt Team and international guest drivers for this action-packed weekend. topgearfestivalbarbados.com

Food & Wine and Rum Festival

November

Welcome to the epicurean capital of the Caribbean and a vibrant international festival of the very best of local and world cuisines, wines and Bajan rum.

Crop Over Festival

July 4 to August 4

The Caribbean’s longest carnival, Crop Over is an iconic celebration of music, parades and costumes.

28 Mar

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Quick travel facts about Barbados

March 28, 2014 | By |

Fun facts

  • Mount Gay Rum, the oldest rum in the world, has been made since 1703. The Mount Gay visitors centre offers sampling of this delicious rum
  • The beaches of Cattlewash, in Saint Andrew, were once known for their healing qualities, drawing people from all over the world
  • The Lord Nelson Statue in Bridgetown was erected in 1813, 30 years before the famous statue in London's Trafalgar Square

Need to know

  • Language: English is the official language. A Bajan dialect of English is spoken
  • Electricity: 110-120 Volts (same as Canada)
  • Currency: Barbadian dollar (BBD). The US dollar is also generally accepted. Many popular Canadian banks are available.
  • Famous landmark: St. Nicholas Abbey, a plantation house in Saint-Peter, is one of only three Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere.
  • Flights: Non-stop flights from Toronto year-round and from Montreal between December and April. Connect to your nearest international airport from 66 cities across Canada.

28 Mar

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Brighter Barbados – 65 years of dream vacations

March 28, 2014 | By |

For 65 years Air Canada has proudly flown Canadians just like you to the beauty, culture and charm of Barbados. Air Canada Vacations has a complete collection of hotels, all-inclusive resorts, villas, B&B's, activities and more so you can create the vacation you've always dreamed of; whether that's surfing in Bathsheba, spending a day at Crane Beach, participating in an exciting festival like Crop Over, or enjoying mouthwatering cuisine or an elegant afternoon tea.

 

Don't forget to sample some local rum. Barbados, known as “the birthplace of rum,” has some of the best in the world. No trip here is complete without a little taste of Mount Gay or Malibu special blends. A friendly local will be happy to point you in the direction of their favourite haunt; or you can tour the distilleries and the island, just ask your Air Canada Vacations destination representative.

That's Air Canada Vacations. That's your brighter Barbados.

28 Mar

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Kim’s Barbados – a true Bajan experience

March 28, 2014 | By |

Kim Odle, mother and native to the island, shares her unique perspective of Barbados and gives you the inside scoop as only a true Bajan can.

Favourite place for a day at the beach?

So many beautiful beaches! Browns and Paynes Bay are great for a picnic with family and friends.

Where can I get the best rum punch?

Mojo’s makes amazing cocktails and the vibe is nice, great hang out spot. Word of advice, rum punch is sweet with a kick, so be careful.

One place from your childhood everyone should visit?

Harrison’s Cave. You go underground on a tour of the cave. Flowing streams, deep pools, towering columns of limestone. It’s really beautiful and unique to the island.

What would surprise most Canadians about your island?

We invented rum. Mount Gay Rum is the oldest rum in the world.

When you’re feeling quiet, you go…?

To Bathsheba. It’s one of the most relaxing places on the island. Amazing views and landscapes, right by the ocean.

For a night on the town, you go…?

To St. Lawrence Gap, lots of clubs and restaurants. 2nd Street is on the West Coast and it has a mix of bars and restaurants. Oistins is in the South, and has the famous Fish Fry on Fridays.

The best place to go with kids?

Farley Hill is a park in the north of the island, amazing views and a play area for the kids.

A Bajan food we have to try?

So many choices: flying fish, fish cakes, pudding and souse, fried pork, macaroni pie. All very different and all local. Just try them all.

11 Mar

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Our top diving picks in the Caribbean

March 11, 2014 | By |

by Michael DeFreitas

Amazing, fantastic, spectacular – Caribbean diving

Twenty metres above us, the sunlight danced on the surface like a giant disco ball. Streams of sunbeams pierced the pristine blue water, spotlighting the shallow West Caicos reef. I was trying to photograph a pesky, three-centimetre, spotted cleaning shrimp, wedged amid the tangle of stinging tentacles of a giant Caribbean anemone. Every time I had the frisky critter in my sights it would dart back among the tentacles before I could snap the shot.

I finally managed to get off a few shots when my dive buddy tugged my arm. Turning his way, I found him frantically gesturing and pointing upwards to a creature every diver dreams of but few ever experience. Floating less than five metres above us was a giant manta ray performing an underwater ballet of loops and rolls. Its enormous wings propelling it effortlessly through the water, while its cavernous mouth gathered in a feast of plankton and thimble jellies.

I raised my camera, my heart pounding. Then it hit me my first manta sighting and my camera rig was setup for macro instead of wide-angle photography. All I could do was admire the magnificent creature until it disappeared into the blue abyss.

Encounters like this are one of the main reasons scuba diving is becoming one of the fastest growing adventure sports in the world. And when it comes to exciting underwater experiences, few destinations can match the Caribbean. With easy access from Canadian gateways, 25˚ to 30˚C waters, 30-metre visibility and a variety of dive sites, it's no surprise that many Caribbean islands consistently rank in the top ten best destinations in the world.

Cozumel's strong ocean currents create some of the world's best drift diving. Divers pushed along by these fast currents literally ‘fly' over the reef. Zipping through the underwater caverns at Devils Throat is one of the Caribbean's most exciting drift dives.

Aruba's shallow water dive sites team with tropical fish and are ideal for divers of all skill levels. The island's premier dive site is the 135-metre Antilla shipwreck lying in 20 metres of water.

Grand Cayman offers the unique experience of interacting with playful southern stingrays and nurse sharks at their Stingray City dive site. Saint Lucia's incredible Coral Gardens offer a kaleidoscope of colourful sponges, corals and thick clouds of tropical fish.

I have been diving the Caribbean for almost 15 years and still have a few more destinations to cross off my diving list. Later this year, I'll check off a few more entries when I dive into the crystal clear waters of Curaçao.

Over the last 25 years, award-winning freelance writer and photographer Michael DeFreitas has authored and illustrated more than 150 stories and three guidebooks on the Caribbean.

No excuses… It's time to get certified

It's never been easier to get certified. PADI's referral program allows you to start your open-water certification program at a Canadian dive centre and complete the course at an affiliated PADI resort in the Caribbean. This program eliminates the need to make your compulsory open-water dives in cold water. Simply attend the classroom and pool sessions in Canada, then complete your certification dives on your next Caribbean vacation.

Many Caribbean resorts offer scuba-diving introductory courses and tours for certified packages. Check out our full-list of diver-friendly caribbean resorts.

03 Mar

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Weekend Beach Bliss

March 3, 2014 | By |

by Fina Scroppo

Make a great escape with three or four days of sun, sand and sumptuous pleasures

Like most people, between work and family, it feels like I'm on the go 24 hours a day. Though I'd long been dreaming of silvery beaches and sultry breezes, the thought of taking the time off work and the hassle of coordinating babysitting was overwhelming enough to keep me firmly chained to my desk. But the clouds parted when I discovered weekend beach getaway packages, and I turned my fantasies of exotic escapes into a sun-drenched reality.

Getting away for three or four nights was a snap with daily departures to a wide selection of tropical locales. Over the last few months, I've popped into paradise, for several days at a time, in some of the most stunning spots under the sun.

 LeblancIn Cancun, I indulged my senses with a luxe spa experience at the LeBlanc Resort, including a massage in one of the hotel's serene suites overlooking the lush tropical gardens. In this sanctuary of quiet beauty, I was pampered by the beach concierge, a true master of tantalizing tropical cocktails, and spent hours lounging at a tranquil infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea. A world away from email, cell phones and household chores, I savoured the abundance of fresh local fruit and basked in the rejuvenating warmth of the sun. I'll always remember the feeling of the powdery sand between my bare toes.

sandalsbahamianA few months later, my husband and I were fortunate enough to take a long weekend getaway to the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. A clever mélange of old-world charm and modern amenities, it was the ideal place for a romantic reconnection. We had lazy breakfasts of fresh fruit and pastries on the beach, took stand-up paddleboard lessons together in the afternoons and enjoyed decadent meals at the resort's many restaurants. The impeccable white-gloved service and sumptuous meal we enjoyed in the Crystal Room was a feast for the palate and for the senses. A jewel nestled in the turquoise waters, the resort's private island was the perfect place to spend our last day. We lounged on a secluded beach and soaked up the extraordinary natural beauty of the Bahamas. It was the perfect way to recharge our batteries before heading home.

Somehow, amidst the chaos of our busy family and work schedules, we managed to squeeze in another extended weekend trip, this time to pristine Punta Cana. We devoted the entire trip to one theme—relaxation. I tucked two good books into a bag, loaded my iPod with some great tunes, and I checked into a hammock on the beach for two days straight. It was sheer, unadulterated bliss. At some point, I abandoned the iPod and just rocked in the hammock, listening to the sound of the waves kissing the sand and the wind in the palms.

A week away can be tough to organize, but three or four days? It's the perfect amount of time for a quick trip to paradise.

Fina Scroppo is a freelance writer and editor in Vaughan, Ontario. When she's not escaping to the beach, she enjoys a refreshing mojito in her garden.

28 Feb

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The best of Bahamas

February 28, 2014 | By |

Brighter Bahamas

Head for a short or long stay to the over 700 islands in the Bahamas, an idyllic oasis just three hours from Toronto. Walk the perimeter of the capital, indulge in surf and sand, or snorkel the distinct green-blue waters of the Exumas, exploring hidden grottos and Blue Hole diving universes. Discover the local specialty, conch salad, accessorize with a Panama hat from Nassau’s straw market or catch up on local pirate history.

For over 30 years, Sandals Resorts and Air Canada Vacations have partnered to provide excellence and luxury to Canadians. Let Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay escort you to a personal paradise in this unbelievable aquatic nation.

28 Feb

By

Things to know about Bahamas

February 28, 2014 | By |

Brighter GETAWAYS Bahamas

Fun facts and popular activities for you to think about while you're planning your trip to the Bahamas.

What to experience at Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Discovery Dining

Savour impressive and diverse cuisine with 18 unique culinary concepts brought to life at up to 10 restaurants per resort – all unlimited and all included.

Red Lane® Spa

Enjoy a seaside massage on Sandals Royal Bahamian's offshore island or a couple's treatment at Sandals Emerald Bay's award-winning spa. Indulge with unique body wraps, exquisite facials and more. (spa services are additional)

Butler service included in top-tier suites

Let personalized butler service cater to your needs. Enjoy Rolls-Royce airport transfers at Sandals Royal Bahamian and order breakfast on your private terrace or specialty drinks poolside, butler style.

Unlimited water sports

Top-of-the-line equipment and expert instructors are available at no extra cost. Try out windsurfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and plenty more.

Experience your Luxury Included® Vacation at 15 Sandals Resorts in the most beautiful destinations across the Caribbean.

Where to stay

Sandals Royal Bahamian

Windsor Honeymoon Hideaway Swim-up Crystal Lagoon Zen Butler Suite

At the Bahamas' most elegant resort, your spacious suite opens to a coral stone patio, just steps from the Crystal Lagoon pool.

Sandals Emerald Bay

Royal Estate Beachfront Two-storey One-bedroom Butler Villa Suite with Pool

Reminiscent of a true Bahamian manor, this villa is a luxurious, sprawling beachfront retreat with a private pool, beach access, and butler service.

What not to miss

Sandals Royal Bahamian

Offshore Island

Escape to Sandals Royal Bahamian's offshore island, an isolated, lavish retreat with a seafood restaurant and beach perfect for lounging, only minutes from the main resort by ferry.

Sandals Emerald Bay

Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club

This 18-hole course, designed by golf legend Greg Norman, is the Bahamas' leading golf resort and features six signature seaside holes on a breathtaking peninsula. (green fees apply)

FUN facts

  • The Bahamas' name originates from the Spanish word bajamar, meaning “shallow water.”
  • The Bahamas is an ecological oasis composed of 700 islands, with the world's third largest barrier reef.
  • Sandals Royal Bahamian was once a private club for 1940's high society such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Need to know

  • Language: English is the official language.
  • Electricity: 110-120 Volts (same as Canada)
  • Currency: Bahamian dollar (BSD).The US dollar is also readily accepted.
  • Famous landmark: The Cloisters were built in France in the 14th century and eventually moved to Paradise Island.
  • Dish: Bahamian Rock Lobster with a side of pigeon peas, spiced rice, tomatoes and onions

24 Feb

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Welcome to Sandals Discovery Dining

February 24, 2014 | By |

Accomplished Austrian chef Josef Jungwirth began his award-winning career at the age of 15. He now brings inspired culinary cuisine to your table as Sandals Resorts' Corporate Executive Chef.

How did your upbringing influence the food you prepare today?

I had a very humble upbringing on a small farm in Europe where we produced most of our meats, milk, fruits and vegetables. Consequently, today I have a deep respect for the food I prepare.

What takes a meal from good to great?

Meticulous attention and creative meal planning are key factors to creating delicious fare. Meals should include fresh, seasonal and premium quality ingredients. Add to that passion and perfect execution and the result is an unforgettable dish.

What exactly is Discovery Dining?

Discovery Dining is the culinary program offered at all Sandals Resorts, delighting guests with authentic flavours from around the world. Our guests are encouraged to be adventurous and try something new from countries like France, Japan or the Bahamas.

What is your favourite specialty from the Bahamas?

Conch salad, prepared right in front of you – so fresh, light and crisp; there's nothing like it. And it's even better when enjoyed along a pristine beach.

How does La Parisienne, Sandals Emerald Bay's upscale French restaurant, compare to a true Parisian experience?

La Parisienne provides authentic culinary savoir-faire with a modern twist. Its stylish and luxurious French décor are complemented by Sandals' renowned white-glove service, enhancing its romantic appeal. Try the signature Brandy Truffle cocktail – it's spectacular!

What's next?

Sandals LaSource Grenada recently introduced a steakhouse, Butch's Chophouse, and our guests love it. We‘ll be opening an Indian bistro at Sandals Barbados and are also working on a new concept for Beaches Turks & Caicos called Cornbread, which will feature American home-style cuisine.

18 Feb

By

Your trip to Jamaica

February 18, 2014 | By |

Jamaica has something for everyone, be it adventure, action or relaxation. In Negril, be amazed by the beauty of the seven-mile beach. In Ocho Rios, explore the lush tropical rainforest. And in Montego Bay, sample delicious food and drink in the charming town centre.

Fast facts

Language: English is the official language. Jamaican Patois is mainly spoken.

Electricity: 110-120 Volts (same as Canada)

Currency: Jamaican dollar (JMD). The US dollar is also generally accepted.

Famous Landmark: Dunn's River Falls, a beautiful and awe-inspiring waterfall near Ocho Rios.

To do list

Appleton Estate Rum Tour

Negril

Tour the famous Appleton Estate and Rum Factory, in continuous operation since 1749 and still using many of the traditional techniques and processes. Tastings of this out-of-this-world rum are included.

Bob Marley Jeep Safari

Ocho Rios

Enjoy a scenic drive to the quaint village of Nine Mile. Tour Bob Marley's childhood home accompanied by a Rastafarian guide. See the mausoleum where he was laid to rest.

Dunn's River Falls Cruise

Ocho Rios

Experience an unforgettable day of fun and sun aboard Cool Runnings, a 75-foot catamaran. Cruise to a crystal cove for swimming or snorkelling, then dock at the magnificent Dunn's River Falls.

Negril Shopping and Rick's Café

Negril

Visit Time Square in Negril to find unique arts and crafts, duty-free jewellery and much more. Stop at Rick's Café for drinks and snacks, glorious sunsets and spectacular views.

Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour

Ocho Rios

Take a leisurely bike ride through the lush tropical rainforest, home to hundreds of species of birds. See the world-famous Blu Mountain coffee farms and enjoy an exhilarating dip at a waterfall.

Did you know?

  • Ian Fleming, creator of the character James Bond 007, had a home in St. Mary, Jamaica, which he dubbed Goldeneye.
  • Jamaica was the first tropical country to enter the Winter Olympics.
  • Jamaica is home to the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt.
  • Jamaica is the birthplace of Rastafarianism, an Afro-Caribbean religious and political movement, based on the teachings of Marcus Garvey, Jamaica's first national hero.