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Top 5 Archives - Air Canada Vacations

12 Jun

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Where to Have the Best Cocktails in Cuba This Summer

June 12, 2015 | By |

Cuba is largely known for its beautiful beaches, culture, history, cigars and Che Guevara, but also – for its cocktails! Cuban cocktails often bring to mind thoughts of vacation, the beach and fun in the sun. And we’ll let you in on a little secret: the best Cuban cocktails can be found in none other than… Cuba. Let’s take a look at where to have the best cocktails in Cuba this summer:

1) A mojito at Valentin Perla Blanca – Cayo Santa Maria

What sounds better than sipping the most famous Cuban cocktail on a beach in Cayo Santa Maria (near Santa Clara)? If interested, we recommend stopping by Valentin Perla Blanca, a chic, adults-only hotel that has no less than 10 bars, one of which is a mojito bar. This refreshing cocktail made of rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint goes down smoothly and comes in different variations for different tastes. This is definitely the place to savour the perfect mojito against a tropical backdrop.

2) A Presidente at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul – Varadero

The Presidente gained its popularity during the Prohibition of the United States of the 1920s, and was named in honour of the Cuban president of the time. The drink may vary from bar to bar, but the main ingredients remain the same: dark rum, curaçao, white vermouth and a dash of grenadine. In Varadero, and specifically at the IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, the Presidente is delightful – a must while watching the hotel’s evening entertainment. The hotel also features a cigar bar. A Presidente and cigars  now that’s Cuba.

3) A daiquiri at Melia Las Dunas – Santa Clara

Ernest Hemingway’s favourite cocktail knows many variations, but the original (made of rum, maraschino liqueur, cane sugar, lime juice and crushed ice) can be sampled at Melia Las Dunas, preferably while you dip your feet in the pool to cool off from the hot Santa Clara sun. To make the most of your stay, try simmering down with one of these cocktails after a tai chi class by the pool. If you’re not into tai chi, you can opt for snorkelling, windsurfing or kayaking. Relaxation and fun guaranteed!

4) A Ron Collins at TRYP Cayo Coco – Cayo Coco

If you want to taste a really good Ron Collins, the Cuban version of the American Tom Collins, head to TRYP Cayo Coco. This cocktail, made of rum, sugar, lime-flavoured soda water and ice, pairs perfectly with lobster and shrimp at the hotel’s seafood restaurant. One of the many advantages of this hotel is that it allows you access to its sister hotels in Cayo Coco: the Sol Cayo Coco and the Sol Cayo Guillermo. You stay at 1, but play at 3! That gives you three times the opportunity to try a Ron Collins.

5) A Cuba Libre at Blau Costa Verde – Holguin

When you think about Holguin, you probably think about its white sand beaches. But Holguin is also a warm city where you can enjoy Cuban music, food and the overall lifestyle. If you’re staying at Blau Costa Verde, you’ll have access to their nightclub, which offers unlimited drinks until 2:00 a.m. It’s your chance to sample a delicious Cuba Libre (rum and cola, garnished with a lemon wedge) the drink got its name in 1902 when the country was freed from its Spanish colonial rule.

 

Ready to tantalize your taste buds with these Cuban cocktails? Don’t put off your Cuba vacation any longer – start planning today! And if you’re really in a hurry to sit back on a lounge chair on the beach, cocktail in hand, take a look at our last-minute deals for some awesome prices.

 

05 Jun

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5 Must-Have Family Adventures in the Caribbean

June 5, 2015 | By |

Looking for your next family adventure? The Caribbean is more than just pretty beaches – it is full of stunning natural surroundings that set the stage for exhilarating adventures. From bobsledding to swimming with dolphins, here are 5 family adventures you must have in the Caribbean.

1) Paradise Island – Nassau, Bahamas

Swimming with dolphins

Paradise Island, located just off Nassau, is an adventure in itself. At Dolphin Cay, enjoy an entire day of play. Begin with a 30-minute in-water interaction session or a deep water swim that will immerse you in the underwater world of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Once you become more acquainted with their environment, sign up for the “Trainer for a Day” program, which gives you a glimpse into the exciting lives of dolphin and sea lion trainers. Other family-friendly activities in Paradise Island include the Pirates of Nassau interactive museum, Aquaventure (141 acres of water slides) and Lego Fantasy Camp.

2) Bávaro Adventure Park – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Ziplining

With its white-sand beaches, multitude of all-inclusive resorts and accessibility to activities like snorkelling and sailing, Punta Cana is quickly becoming the Caribbean destination for families. However, there is even more adventure awaiting you outside the resort area. Bávaro Adventure Park is the ultimate playground. Like heights? Embark on a zip line adventure (complete with 2 hanging bridges, 7 cable lines and a total of 8 different challenges), or the flight simulator (fly to a height of 20 metres above ground while admiring a 360-degree view of Bávaro). Additional park activities include Segway tours, a trampoline, mountain biking and climbing opportunities aboard a Caribbean pirate ship.

3) Eco-adventure parks – Riviera Maya, Mexico

Snorkelling

What better way to experience Riviera Maya’s ecological surroundings than to explore one of its elaborate eco-adventure parks? Xcaret offers a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities: flamingos, jaguars, turtles, butterflies, you name it. You can also swim with dolphins, explore underground rivers and watch Mexican folkloric shows. At Xel-ha, you can snorkel in a natural cove that is home to hundreds of tropical fish, hike the various jungle trails and later relax in the designated hammock area. Xplor, one of the newest eco-parks in Riviera Maya, features 3 km of zip lines, underground rivers and the opportunity to drive through tunnels and caverns aboard an amphibious vehicle.

4) Mystic Mountain – Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios definitely delivers on magical experiences. To begin your adventure, you must access the mountain via chair lift, from which you can take in breathtaking views of Ocho Rios. Once at the mountain, choose from a variety of activities. Bobsledding, inspired by the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, is probably the most popular activity: once strapped into the sled, you’ll slide down the mountain on a 1000-metre-long track! Additional attractions at Mystic Mountain include the Mystic waterslide and infinity edge pool, zip lining, a butterfly garden and a hummingbird garden.

5) Wildlife and marine life exploration – Barbados

Marine life

If you have children too young for scuba diving or snorkelling, an excellent alternative is the Atlantis Submarine Adventures in Barbados. Once underwater, you can spot an array of marine life, which may include sharks, stingrays and sea turtles. Want to observe wildlife above ground instead? Take a day trip to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, where you can stroll freely on the grounds while observing wildlife such as the Barbados Green Monkeys, an array of colourful birds such as flamingos and peacocks, and a variety of reptiles including iguanas, turtles and snakes.

 

Want to start planning your family adventure today? Check out our list of family-friendly resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean to begin planning your stay. (Tip: Choose from one of the many resorts where kids stay and eat free!)

 

30 Mar

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5 Must-See Havana Hot Spots

March 30, 2015 | By |

In the 50s, the Spanish colonial charm of Havana was a magnet for celebrities and industrialists. These days, the Cuban capital caters to all sorts of travellers. Which Havana hot spots are drawing in the crowds? Here’s a look at our top 5.

1. Tropicana

Tropicana Havana

Watch pure magic unfold at Havana’s Tropicana. A hot bed for nightclub glitz and glamour, this legendary landmark punctuates rhythm with plenty of soul as a live orchestra accompanies dazzling dancers who sway from the palm trees. Nightly shows are year-round except Christmas Eve. Reservations are recommended.

2. Coppelia

Coppelia Havana

Ice cream is a must when you’re under the Cuban sun. Our recommendation? Coppelia. Though the Jetsons-like, flying saucer-shaped building may seem like it’s from the future, it is a fantastic place to enjoy the present moment. Make sure to ask for the flavour of the day, or for the “ensalada,” a mix of 4 scoops of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce. Yes, the line-up may be long, but it is worth the wait.

3. El Floridita

El Floridita Havana

Quench your thirst at El Floridita, known as one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite hangouts. Pony up to the bar (preferably near the bronze statue of the iconic writer), order their famous daiquiri and watch how bartenders continue to recreate the beloved rum cocktail first invented here.

4. Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Overlooking the Malecon, which is a chunk of oceanfront real estate frequented by canoodling couples and locals alike, this Spanish Colonial structure radiates old charm and has many star-studded tales to tell. The mojito, Cuba’s other famous drink, is a popular choice at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba and can be enjoyed by the bar or al fresco on the terrace.

5. Old Havana/La Habana Vieja

We cannot forget the pearl of Cuba: Old Havana (La Habana Vieja). This corner of the capital has survived years of neglect and is now slowly being restored to its former beauty. You can spend hours exploring cobblestone streets and local markets around the pedestrian-only Calle Obispo. The Cathedral de San Cristobal, The Plaza Vieja, and the Plaza de San Francisco are also classic Old Havana landmarks.

Interested in visiting the Cuban capital? See what else Havana has to offer here.

 

03 Feb

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Top 5 Family-Friendly Hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean

February 3, 2015 | By |

It’s not always easy to plan a family vacation – you have to consider everyone’s individual wish list and try to stay within budget. Turns out we’ve found the secret to successful family vacation planning: choosing the right hotel! Here are our top 5 hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean that will make your family vacation in the sun an absolutely memorable one.

1) Melia Nassau Beach Resort – Nassau, Bahamas

Melia Nassau Beach Resort

This hotel has all the right ingredients for a successful family vacation. Considering its proximity to the airport, you’ll be able to dodge the age-old ‘Are we there yet?’ question from your kids. Once at the resort, they will likely not be disappointed, and neither will you. At Melia Nassau Beach Resort, everything is in order so that your kids can have fun while you relax in the sun. The on-site kid’s club is typically open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and offers activities that vary daily. From games and sports to arts and crafts, there’s something for everyone.

2) Now Jade Riviera Cancun – Cancun, Mexico

Now Jade Riviera Cancun

This resort is a paradise for kids. And parents too. At Now Jade Riviera Cancun, kids stay free. That’s right, free. Between August and December 2015, kids under 12 years old stay and eat free. Plus, your little ones can keep busy at the Explorer Club, which offers activities like sandcastle-making contests and an ocean trampoline. And they will be in good hands with the club’s animators, who have first aid training and are Red Cross certified. The club is open until 10:00 p.m., which gives Mom and Dad an opportunity for a romantic dinner for 2, if they so desire.

3) Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa

The family suites at Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa are perfect for a family vacation. Upon your arrival in this spacious suite, you will receive a welcome basket of candy. Everything here is designed for your wellbeing: bathrobes and slippers for the grown-ups and little ones, kid-friendly bath products and a minibar that is stocked daily with drinks for the whole family. Prices for kids are attractive and the hotel is home to the ever-entertaining Bahia Scout Club House. The icing on the cake? The hotel has its own kid-friendly water park too!

4) Sol Rio de Luna y Mares – Holguin, Cuba

Sol Rio de Lunas y Mares

This hotel is a family-friendly gem in Cuba. The beach is breathtakingly beautiful, the food is exquisite, kids stay and eat free between April and December 2015, and the staff aims to make your stay memorable. The resort makes you feel at home, while offering an element of fun, relaxation and sun. Your kids can take part in Spanish classes, dance lessons and eco-adventures. In the evening, the hotel’s shows appeal to young and old. Thanks to a professional team that caters to the needs of your entire family, vacationing is pretty sweet at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares.

5) Punta Leona Hotel & Club – San José, Costa Rica

Punta Leona Hotel & Club

The Punta Leona Hotel & Club is ideal for adventurous families who love nature and new experiences. Children under 5 years old stay free at this property. The hotel is located in a 740-acre forest reserve, which is an excellent area to observe numerous bird species such as the scarlet macaw and the spotted sandpiper. You may also encounter white-faced monkeys, spider monkeys and sloths. Hiking trails of various difficulty levels are also available and can be chosen depending on the age of your children. This hotel in the heart of nature will astound both young and old.

 

So where will your next family vacation be? A little easier to choose now, hopefully? To book, or to browse more of these types of hotels, check out our Family vacation page.

 

27 Jan

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Top 5 All-Inclusive Luxury Resorts in Dominican Republic

January 27, 2015 | By |

Looking to lounge in the laps of luxury in Dominican Republic? As if the perks of all-inclusive resorts weren’t sweet enough, these resorts have stepped it up a notch with added bonuses like secluded locations and butler service. If indulgence and opulence are at the top of your Dominican Republic vacation wish list, you’ll definitely want to take a look at these top 5 all-inclusive luxury resorts.

1) Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Don Pablo Collection (Samana)

Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado Don Pablo Collection Samana

Ever dreamt of escaping to your own private island? Well, a vacation to the Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Don Pablo Collection comes very close to that dream. As the only hotel located on Samana’s remote island of Cayo Levantado, this adults-only, all-inclusive resort offers all the privacy and tranquility you need. Here, absolutely nothing can get between you and the beach, which by the way, features hammocks, “Bali beds” and a massage gazebo. Plus, the resort is part of the Don Pablo collection, Bahia Principe’s luxury guarantee.

2) Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa (La Romana)

Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa La Romana

When staying at a resort chain that boasts “Unlimited-Luxury®” as its motto, you know you’re in good hands. At Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, you can indulge in a body treatment at its 21,000-square foot spa, enjoy name-brand liquor at all on-site bars and savour gourmet cuisine at 11 different restaurants (where reservations are never required!) If you’re feeling particularly parched, hungry and/or lazy, take advantage of a pool and beach waiter service or 24-hour room service.

3) IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Bavaro (Punta Cana)

Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro Punta Cana

From its majestic Greco-Roman architecture to its personalized “Grand Experience” service, the adults-only IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Bavaro rolls out the red carpet. Stroll throughout the grounds and you’ll notice landscaped gardens, lakes and flamingoes. If you’re in need of some rejuvenation, spend an afternoon in the 2-floor spa or in the fitness centre (with views!) In the evening, cool down with a drink and some entertainment in the hotel’s on-site ship (that’s right, a ship). If that’s not enough, you are also entitled to a free butler service throughout your stay. Talk about red carpet treatment!

4) Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana (Punta Cana)

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

Zoëtry resorts focus on the “Art of Life®.” At the Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana, that means wellness features such as a spa, 24-hour fitness centre, yoga and stretch classes. For the foodies, that’s wine tastings, culinary classes and unlimited top-shelf spirits. A free 20-minute massage and 45-minute horseback riding lesson are also included with your stay, as part of the Endless Privileges® program. Rooms are no exception to the resort’s lavishness either: all suites feature a balcony or terrace with beach or garden view, as well as hardwood floors and natural stone accents. Plus, the resort’s remote location means access to a much less crowded beach (a somewhat rare find in Punta Cana).

5) Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection (La Romana)

Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection La Romana

Boasting colonial-style architecture and a peaceful setting, the adults-only Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville, Don Pablo Collection in La Romana has plenty of charm. Couples may particularly appreciate its romantic allure: Private dinners on the dock, long walks on a long stretch of beach and gazing at sunset views over the bay are all very love bird-friendly activities. Rooms may also spark a little romance – each suite has a jetted tub for two, a separate shower with rain showerhead and 24-hour room service. A day at the spa can also up the ante.

 

Ready to get a taste of lavish vacationing in the Dominican Republic? Browse for more resorts on our Dominican Republic travel page.

27 Nov

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5 Diving Spots to Explore in Curaçao

November 27, 2014 | By |

Curaçao’s beautiful beaches are for more than just lounging around: they offer tons of amazing diving opportunities. In light of its world-renowned marine life, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 diving and snorkelling spots in Curaçao. Here they are!

1) Superior Producer

In 1977, the Superior Producer set sail for South America, making a stop in Curaçao along the way to refuel. Unfortunately, the ship never made it to its final destination. Today, this shipwreck lies at the bottom of the ocean and makes for a fascinating diving experience. It is covered in various species of corals, including the orange tube coral. When the polyps extend to catch food in the night, the wreck turns orange. Different areas of the wreckage are suitable for different diving experience levels: the open wreck is ideal for beginners, while advanced divers can explore the engine room and crew cabins.

2) Porto Mari – The Valley

stingray

In addition to its beach, Porto Mari offers great diving and snorkelling opportunities. Home to a double reef named “the Valley” that is accessible from the shore, this diving spot is ideal for beginners. There is a variety of marine life to observe here, including sting rays, eagle rays and groupers. After your underwater exploration, you can cool down with a drink at Porto Mari’s boat-shaped beach bar.

3) Curaçao Sea Aquarium

The Curaçao Sea Aquarium is not just a place to observe marine life from a distance – here, you can get into snorkelling gear and swim with stingrays, groupers and tropical fish in the aquarium’s natural lagoons. Sharks and sea turtles also reside at this aquarium, though these are creatures you will have to observe from behind a glass partition.

4) Mushroom Forest & The Blue Room (aka “The Cave”)

Blue Room

Mushroom Forest is exactly what its name sounds like – a series of coral formations that look like mushrooms. Right next to Mushroom Forest is the Blue Room, a cave that is accessible via a narrow opening that allows sunlight to pass through, giving it a vivid blue colour that makes it appear as though it is lit up.

5) Playa Kalki (aka “Alice in Wonderland”)

Dubbed “Alice in Wonderland,” Playa Kalki’s reef features an underwater wonderland of colourful fish. Lobsters, eels, dolphins and whale sharks can also be spotted. The beach (Kalki) gets its name from its limestone cliffs, called “Kalki” in Papiamentu (one of Curaçao’s three official languages – Dutch and English are the other two).

Want to explore more than Curaçao’s underwater world? Check out our Curaçao travel section.

 

17 Oct

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Top 5 Things to See in St. Kitts

October 17, 2014 | By |

The West Indian island of St. Kitts may be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in natural beauty and a rich history. Here are the top 5 things to see in St. Kitts:

Frigate Bay Beach

Frigate Bay Beach

If you’re heading to St. Kitts for the beach, then South Frigate Bay should be on your radar. It is probably St. Kitts’ most visited beach, boasting golden sands, warm water and a strip of bars and restaurants that particularly come to life on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. For something more low key (i.e. less touristy), you’ll want to check out North Frigate Bay, though the water there tends to be a little rougher.

Basseterre

St Kitts Circus square

Basseterre, meaning “lowland” in French, was the first French town in the Caribbean and is the capital of St. Kitts. If you’re looking to sightsee here, a good first stop would be the National Museum, housed in the 1894 Treasury Building that was built from hand-cut volcanic limestone. Architecture buffs will likely appreciate St. George’s Anglican Church and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. If you just want to take it easy, then lounge with the locals in Independence Square or by the tall green clock tower in Circus square.

Brimstone Hill Fortress

St Kitts Brimstone Hill Fortress canon

St. Kitts has some pretty outstanding mountain and sea views, and its main military site is no exception: Brimstone Hill Fortress’ location atop a hill provides exceptional sea views. The fortress is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due in large part to its well preserved 17th– and 18th– century military architecture. Known as the “Gibraltar of the West Indies,” it was built by slaves under British rule and served as a major British garrison in battles against the French.

Rainforests

St Kitts Ziplining Rainforest

Approximately one quarter of St. Kitts is covered by rainforests, which boast an array of tropical and medicinal plants, waterfalls, several bird species and the black-faced, grey-haired Vervet monkeys. Hiking, horseback riding and ziplining are the most popular ways to explore the island’s ecosystems.

Coral reef systems

St Kitts Sea Turtle

The beauty of St. Kitts also extends below sea level. If you’re willing to plunge into the underwater world, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with popular diving sites. Among several spots are the Black Coral Reef, which is lined with black coral trees; Sandy Point, a National Marine Park where you can navigate through swim-through canyons; and Turtle Bar, where you can observe, as the reef’s name suggests, sea turtles.

 

Want to see more about St. Kitts? Check out other activities on the island.