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panama Archives - Air Canada Vacations

22 Jun

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Posh in Panama

June 22, 2017 | By |

Panama’s sun-kissed beaches, diverse ecosystem and famous Canal offer the ideal blend of fun and discovery at the crossroads of North and South America. Alternate between days at the beach, close encounters with nature in tropical jungles and a visit to the futuristic capital, Panama City, whose towering high-rises dominate the impressive skyline.

Our pick:
Dreams Delight Playa Bonita Panama
Set on Playa Bonita, this resort offers ocean-view accommodations, a fine wine cellar, access to a stunning golf course at Tucán Country Club and a complimentary shuttle to the historic district of Panama City, in addition to the vacation essentials included in the Defined Delights™ program, like free WiFi, unlimited gourmet dining and exciting entertainment.

20 Jan

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6 Caribbean Carnivals to Kick Off 2015

January 20, 2015 | By |

How do you transform a cold bleak winter into a bustling landscape of tropical delight? We recommend sashaying towards the pulsing Calypso beats and flamboyant dancers that await in these 6 Caribbean destinations. Primed for their best ever Carnival seasons, prepare to be rejuvenated by the grand street parties and passions of the everyday people. But hurry – the celebrations are heating up, so start practicing those savvy dance moves and check out these 6 Caribbean Carnivals before it’s too late.

Curaçao

Boasting one of the longest carnival seasons in the Caribbean, Curaçao knows how to keep the party going. The Dutch island officially jumpstarted its celebrations at the beginning of January and the good times will continue in the coming weeks. First up, local artists will compete during the five-day Tumba Festival (Jan. 26-30), an epic music battle where the winning Tumba (song) is crowned the 2015 Carnival anthem. February ushers in more fun and talent with a jam-packed parade schedule featuring extravagant costumes inspired by folklore, impressive floats and even specially trained horses. Be sure to catch the main daytime parade, “Gran Marcha,” on Feb. 15, and the night-time finale, “Marcha di Despedida,” on Feb. 17, the day before Lent. Locals ceremoniously mark the farewell by setting fire to a straw-filled King Momo, a traditional evil symbol that needs to be cleansed before the fasting period begins. Coupled with fireworks, this is one feast for the eyes that is not to be missed.

Dominican Republic

If you want the ultimate Carnival experience in the Dominican Republic, simply head to La Vega any Sunday this February. Centrally located between Puerto Plata in the north and Santo Domingo in the south, La Vega is a two-hour drive from either coast and home to the country’s most popular Carnival. See if you can spot the city’s famous characters, the “Diablos Cojuelos,” who flood the streets in bright costumes and elaborate devil masks. They may just catch you off guard with a playful whip of their "vejiga" (looks like a balloon) as you nibble on a frío frío (a snow cone).

Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe’s Carnival season started two weeks ago, but it’s full steam ahead until the last street party runs dry on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18). While festivities can be found in every town, make your way to Pointe-à-Pitre and Basse-Terre for the biggest parades and celebrations. On the last day, expect the streets to be filled with black and white Carnival devils and be prepared for the crowd’s cries when King Carnival “Vaval” is cremated at night. Once he is laid to rest, let the late night dining and dancing begin!

Martinique

Up for a challenge? Test your endurance in Martinique this February when revelry takes over Fort de France. The island’s Carnival is five intense days (Feb. 14-18) of lively street parades, zouk music and indulging joviality. From cross-dressing brides to elected Carnival Queens, there is something new to discover every day.

Panama City

Photo by mashmuzik via Instagram

Photo by mashmuzik via Instagram

If you’re looking for a party that rivals the likes of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, then look no further than Panama City. Taking place from Feb. 14 and culminating in an extraordinary parade on Feb.17, Panama City’s Carnival celebration is one of the largest in the world. Catch all the action at the “Cinta Costera,” the waterfront boulevard next to the city’s busy Avenida Balboa, and you won’t miss a beat…or stay dry for very long. Sure, in true Latin American style, there are live salsa and reggae bands, but there is also at least one tradition unique to this Carnival: the “mojaderas.” By bucket, water balloon or fire hose, be prepared to get soaked in a Caribbean dance party.

St. Martin/St Maarten

One island, two different Carnival affairs. The northern French part, St. Martin, is the first to host the festivities (Jan. 30-Feb. 18) and you can count on glittery costumes, loud drums and dancing processions to take over the streets in Marigot. Sint Maarten, the Dutch southern side, then welcomes partygoers mid-April (April 16-May 4) for its own brand of merrymaking, complete with international concerts and a Carnival Village that offers a wide selection of tasty local treats (Johnny cakes, anyone?). Don’t miss the Grand Carnival Parade on April 30, also known as King’s Day in the Netherlands.

 

Ready to sway your hips and move your feet? Don’t miss a beat! Learn more about these Caribbean destinations now.

 

22 Dec

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Top 15 Destinations to Visit in 2015

December 22, 2014 | By |

Wondering what the world has in store for you in 2015? With a new year, comes new resolutions. And with new resolutions, comes the need for new experiences. This upcoming year, make your new experiences about seeing new places, eating new food, meeting new people. Not sure where to start? From luxury destinations to foodie favourites, these top 15 destinations should give you a very good glimpse at what 2015 holds for you.

1) Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas

The hustle and bustle of Nassau never gets old. As both a popular cruise ship port and the commercial hub of the Bahamas, this city has an undeniable pulse. Bay Street is particularly bustling, with its myriad duty-free shops, restaurants and the famous Nassau Straw Market. In 2015, the buzz will be around the opening of Baha Mar, the biggest project to be undertaken in the Bahamas since Atlantis. In addition to 2,200 luxury rooms, this new mega resort will house a Vegas-style casino and approximately 40 restaurants.

2) Saint Lucia

Who knew there was such a thing as a drive-in volcanic crater? Whether you knew of its existence or not, you should know that Saint Lucia has one. It’s called La Soufrière Volanco (or Sulfur Springs) and you can drive up to its crater to witness it emit steam and sulphur. If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, you can even have a warm sulphuric mud bath (though you should be warned that as much as it softens the skin, its rotten egg smell may not be well received by your nose). If first-time experiences are what you’re after in 2015, then this may be something to add to your wish list.

3) Osaka, Japan

In 2015, you may want to familiarize yourself with the expression kuidore (Japanese for “to eat yourself bankrupt”). Osaka’s food scene is booming and if you have appetite to spare, then you may want to sample Osakan fare. Takoyaki (octopus balls), Kushikatsu (a deep-fried meat or vegetable skewer) and Okonomiyaki (pork- or seafood-filled pancakes) are among street food favourites. And don’t forget to check out the multiple Michelin-star restaurants scattered around the city.

4) Turks & Caicos

Marina at Blue Haven Turks and Caicos

Marina at Blue Haven Turks and Caicos

Turks & Caicos is all about luxury – world-class hotels, spas, golf courses. In the last couple of years, it has undergone even more development in the luxury department. In 2015, make sure to check out some of Providenciales’ newest boutique hotels, including the all-suite Beach House Turks & Caicos and the Blue Haven Turks & Caicos, which has its very own marina!

5) Panama

Panama City Skyline

Panama is a country of stark contrasts: it is highly industrialized on the one hand, yet an eco-friendly haven on the other. If you’re looking for a city pulse similar to Miami, Panama City has got it: its abundant high-rises, dining and nightlife are why it has been dubbed the “Miami of the South.” If nature is more your thing, you can hike through the national parks of Coiba and Darien, awe at the cloud forests of Chiriqui or check out the Panama Canal.

6) Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Pura Vida (literally translated as “Pure Life” in English) is probably the most commonly used expression in Costa Rica. While its uses are varied, the meaning is universal: life is beautiful and you should know it. And if there is any place in the world where you can see Mother Nature’s beauty on full display, it has got to be Costa Rica. This is a country with some of the richest flora and fauna in the world, impeccably fresh produce and amazing vistas. If you have not yet had the chance to visit this mecca of natural beauty, make sure to add it to your 2015 bucket list.

7) Hawaii

Kauai Hawaii

If island hopping is on your travel wish list for the new year, then Hawaii should definitely be on your radar. The Hawaiian Islands have got it all: Visit Kaui for some history, Oahu for action-packed Honolulu, Maui for its culinary delights or the Big Island for its volcanic sights. See more Hawaii Highlights.

8) Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy

Milan is currently in full swing, preparing to host one of the world’s main events of the new year: Expo 2015. The theme of the exposition is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” and will take place from May 1 to October 31, 2015. It will feature more than 60 custom-built pavilions and the city is currently planning special exhibitions and the opening of new museums for the event.

9) Curaçao

Curacao diving

In 2015, Curaçao will celebrate 5 years of its semi-independence as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its Dutch influences are nevertheless visible on the island – in the colonial architecture of Willemstad, the local specialties at MarsheBieuw (also called Old Market) and in the local patois called Papiamento. Besides it cultural diversity, Curaçao has over 40 world-class dive spots – see our top 5 here!

10) Grenada

Spice Mas Festival Grenada

Also known as “Spice Island,” Grenada is one of the world’s largest producers of nutmeg and mace. Spice is not Grenada’s only gem though; this island is abundant in other natural riches like its beaches, the Annandale Falls, the beaches at Morne Rouge Bay and Grand Anse, and the flora and fauna of Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve. In 2015, get a taste of the island by attending the Spice Mas Festival, Grenada’s colourful carnival that features music, parading and masquerading.

11) Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Move over Riviera Maya, it’s time for Riviera Nayarit to shine. This 320-kilometre stretch of Pacific coastline is definitely a quieter alternative to its Caribbean-sided counterpart. You can golf in one of two Jack Nicklaus golf courses in Punta Mita, surf in Sayulita or relax in the peaceful town of San Blas. Riviera Nayarit will be seeing a significant amount of touristic development in the coming years, so go visit before the crowds swarm in!

12) St. Kitts

St Kitts Sea Turtle

St. Kitts may be small, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked when planning your 2015 travels. This little island has plenty of history, which is visible in the capital city of Basseterre. It also has plenty of natural habitat to explore, from its rainforests to its coral reef systems like Sandy Point and Turtle Bar. See our Top 5 Things to See in St. Kitts for more ideas.

13) Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs has had a mini tourism boom in the last few years and its number of lodgings is estimated to be in the triple digits by mid-2015. In addition to its desert scenery, 10,000-foot mountains and evening spas, the city is now also home to the Architecture and Design Center, launched in late 2014 to preserve the city’s desert modernism movement.

14) Barbados

Foodies, there is one thing you should know for 2015: The food scene is absolutely blossoming in Barbados. Having just celebrated its 5th edition this past November, the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival has become a culinary success. In addition to wine and rum tastings, it features cooking demonstrations by international celebrity chefs such as Mark McEwan, Marcus Samuelsson and Anne Burrell. Stay tuned for the 2015 program.

15) Chile

Patagonia, Chile

It’s never too late to visit the end of the earth. After making a stop in the capital city of Santiago (which, by the way, has opened a number of new museums and art galleries in the last few years), most travellers will either head to the Atacama Desert or to trek through the bare, rigged landscapes of Patagonia (a.k.a “the end of the earth”). Another must for a 2015 trip to Chile is its brand new wine and food festival, which will take place in late September.