Caribbean Travel Blog
Go visit and stay in Viejo San Juan (VSJ).
as there are more options of things to do (dine and discover) and you probably won’t miss the Condado beach in all honesty unless you want that.
This mini article is also applicable to you if you are staying longer and want to learn about El Morro and a little about VSJ. If you are arriving Thursday or Friday night then you might prefer to be closer to La Placita [map] or simply take a taxi from Viejo San Juan vsj for 15 dollars.
Consider this a WIP as I add good posts and videos on the subject. This is almost for myself for when I get some time to check up on this subject.
While pretty much everyone will find loads to love about the stunning Riviera Maya in Mexico, there are certain groups who may find that this is their perfect vacation destination. For some of us out there, Riviera Maya is not just a place to holiday but a place to experience a little slice of Paradise, albeit for a short period of time. As your perfect vacation destination, this is a place that will leave you with lasting memories and will leave you feeling as though you have just enjoyed your own little piece of heaven on earth!
So, who is Riviera Maya particularly suited to? Below are just three of the types of people that are certain to love this destination...
The romantics: Riviera Maya is a wonderfully romantic destination and is the perfect place for that special, intimate holiday with someone really special. Whether you are looking to visit to get married or enjoy a honeymoon, or whether you simply want to enjoy a romantic break with your partner, Riviera Maya will not fail to impress, with its stunning scenery, glorious weather, balmy days and tropical nights.
The beach lovers: There are many people who want nothing more than to be able to kick back on a lovely beach with crystal clear waters lapping the shore and sunshine beating down on them. In Riviera Maya, you can have all this and more besides. You will find some pristine sands on which to relax the day away, luscious azure waters that bring that tropical breeze your way, and golden sunshine coupled with gorgeous blue skies that enable you to bask in the sunshine whilst soaking up your idyllic surroundings
The adventurous: Riviera Maya is a wonderful place to visit if you enjoy a taste of adventure, as there is so much to do here. Whether your idea of adventure is exciting outdoor sports and recreation, hiking and climbing, trekking through lush tropical greenery or horseback riding along the coastline, you will never be short of exhilarating activities when you visit this tropical paradise.
Though the island boasts a huge selection of honeymoon hotel and resort options to suit any budget, here we discuss three of the best.
East Winds Inn
Those who seek peace, quiet and space away from the tourist crowd during their honeymoon need look no further than East Winds Inn in Labrelotte Bay. Winner of TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award in the categories of Top Hotels, Best Service and Romance, the team here leave nothing to be desired in their quest to create your perfect honeymoon or romantic getaway.
26 open style cottages are nestled in 12 acres of lush tropical gardens on the gorgeous Caribbean beachfront on the northwest coast of the island, allowing you to open your bedroom doors right into paradise.
Particularly renowned for their outstanding cuisine at the 'Flamboyant' restaurant, including freshly-caught fish and pastries made daily on-site, East Winds Inn is one of the few Caribbean hotels to have their restaurant certified by the prestigious Chaine Des Rotisseurs guild.
East Winds Inn doesn't clutter up its experience with an abundance of watersports and activites, but aims to keep relaxation and quality time as the focus of its appeal. The Bamboo Lounge sets the stage for tranquil evenings with soft jazz, local folk groups and live performances on the Caribbean's first Steinway concert piano, specially shipped in from New York. The East Winds Inn's beach hosts a steel band once a week for a dose of local flavor.
It was not all that long ago that Caribbean holidays were only accessible to the wealthy and required multiple flights and airport transfers. With the international travel market changing so drastically in the last few years, Caribbean breaks have become far more accessible, particularly for families. Prohibitively high flight costs have now dropped dramatically with the rise of budget providers such as Thomas Cook and the emergence of plenty of competition keeping the prices down.
Now that St Lucia has become affordable for those with children, other concerns come to the fore. Well established as a romantic honeymoon destination with three Sandals resorts and plenty of other adults-only hotels, parents may worry if St Lucia offers enough to keep their little ones occupied.
Here we run down 10 activities that families with kids can enjoy whilst soaking in the beauty of this tropical paradise.
1. Splash around at Coconut Bay's water park
Frequently thought of as the best hotel in Vieux Fort and just two minutes' drive from the airport, Coconut Bay Resort is great for families with young children. Their water park is particularly spectacular and the only one on the island. Kids (and brave parents!) will love zooming down the great selection of waterslides.
There are also lazy rivers and wading pools for chill-out time, and for the ultimate in relaxation, try the swim-up bar, where children can gulp down mocktails along side their cocktail-sipping parents.
2. Go whale watching
Try Hackshaw's Boat Charters or any other recommended provider for a whale tour. Your experienced tour operators will zip around the sea to track humpback and sperm whales, dolphins and even orcas, all for your viewing pleasure. Of course, there's no guarantee that the majestic creatures will be around when you are, but these experts have an excellent track record and will do everything they can to try and seek them out.
To avoid disappointment, make sure you book before you arrive on the island as these tours are popular and can get booked up very quickly.
Cayos Cochinos also known as the hog islands are little discovered so offer the kind of paradise that is unique and unspoilt. It consists of big cayo and small cayo two islands and about 2km square land in total.
Cayos Cochinos is closer to the mainland Honduras than the other Bay Islands but it is harder to reach. You will need to make arrangements by private boat - contact the resorts will result in the best options.
The reefs surrounding the hog islands are protected by the Marine Biological Reserve.
How to get to Cayos Cochinos ?
You might arrive via an international flight into Roatan or you could arrive in the closest port on the mainland La Ceiba.
Resorts in Cayos Cochinos
Scuba Diving In Utila - Famous for whale sharks to the degree that several centres for study have been set up there. Also famous for being one of the cheapest places to learn to dive with PADI in the world. Potential PADI recruits are even offered free accommodation off the ferry. This is too hot to refuse for many backpackers quite rightly linked with cheap eating and parties the island is a backpacker hotspot and on the central america trail.
Raving at Sun Jam - Once a year a big party happens on a deserted cay requiring a short boat trip and a love of dancing. Go discover Sun Jam
Kite and Wind Surfing - If you know where equipment can be rented let us know.
Open Water Swimming - the waters are kind around the bay islands which means there are no excessive rip or other currents normally. You should take regular precautions against the hazards of currents and boat traffic however. Bee seen and drag a small inflatable behind you like a sausage if you are going out far.
Kayaking - Here is a tour offering kayaking if you don't want to at least get started on your own. http://kayakutila.com/
To continue on your St Lucian immersion journey, you could...
6. Go 'Square'
Assou Square, held on January 1nd and 2nd every year and affectionately called 'Square', is a celebration that all the family can enjoy. Traditionally celebrated in Walcott Square in Castries, it has been tried in different locations in recent years, though it returned to its city-centre home last year and looks like it will stay put for the next few Januaries.
A main stage is set up to host a huge variety of entertainers throughout the two days. Calypso singers, known as Calypsonians, strut their stuff to the frantically-paced beats and chant uplifting lyrics in an explosion of energy. St Lucians try their hand at Country and Western singing and dancing, and the most talented receive prizes and accolades.
Stalls abound with a huge variety of hot food, snacks, soft drinks and chilled alcoholic beverages, including the local 'Piton' beer. There's plenty to do for kids, with games, bouncy castles and face painting to keep them occupied.
'Immersion' is the new buzzword in travel circles. It shuns cookie-cutter beach all-inclusives and characterless package holidays in favor of seeking out experiences that reflect the genuine feel of the country.
Immersion traveling says sun, sea and sand can be found in thousands of places all over the world, but what is it about your destination that makes it different? What makes it unique? It is pretty difficult to capture the real spirit of a place if you're cooped up in a resort.
This is where 'tourist' ends and 'traveler' begins. Perfect for those who crave adventure and culture, approaching holidays from this revolutionary perspective will create unique memories that last a lifetime.
Here we run down 10 immersion experience ideas to get you started:
1. Join in Independence Day Celebrations
Not an exhaustive guide but fast facts that can help you get to grips with this part of the Caribbean.
They form a small island chain and tourism provides the greatest economy.
Bay Islands Map
It doesn't take a lot of research to realize that St Lucia is a pretty special place. With its unusual mix of French, English, African and Amerindian cultures, beautiful beaches and undulating tropical scenery, it makes for breathtaking exploring. Add to that the excellent range of accommodations, from exclusive, adults-only luxury, to quality family resorts, and there is something to cater for everyone.
The hotels and resorts in the north of the island are spread around Castries, Rodney Bay, Cap Estate and Gros Islet, which are all within close proximity to each other. In the south, the main cluster of hotels is to be found in southwesterly Soufriere, though Vieux Fort at the most southerly tip is home to the popular Coconut Bay. The north and south offer vastly different atmospheres and experiences at their beaches.
For many people, a good quality beach is a holiday staple. Though St Lucia is relatively small at just over 600km², the road between Soufriere and Castries can take up to 80 minutes to travel, so choosing the right location for your stay could save you a lot of time and expense.
For the North
- Reduit Beach
Excellent for swimming and has a huge amount of watersports available at decent prices. Popular with visitors and locals alike, the weekends see it play host to numerous beach parties and picnics, music pumping out of beach bars and food and drink plentiful at Spinnakers.
If you are looking for a luxury break overlooking the Caribbean Sea, look no further than Soufriere, St Lucia. A quiet area on the island's west coast with beautiful beaches and panoramic views, Soufriere is home to more than ten outstanding hotels.
Here we compare three of the finest luxury hotels situated in Soufriere - Jade Mountain, Ladera Resort and Sugar Beach.
Jade Mountain, owned and designed by architect Nick Troubetzkoy, places bold design on the highest hills of Soufriere and is the only resort boasting a view of both the Piton mountains that jut out of the Caribbean Sea. In among Forbes magazine's Top 10 Luxury Boutique Resorts and voted top Caribbean Resort in both Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines, the hotel has worldwide recognition but remains exclusive and private.
Ladera Resort didn't come far behind, voted 6th in Conde Nast and 7th in Travel & Leisure. Situated in the former Rabot Estate, one of Soufriere's oldest cocoa plantations, it offers rainforest and beach surroundings for adults only.
Sugar Beach is much larger and accommodates families as well as couples and individuals. With a huge range of activities on offer, luxury relaxation and recreation is accessible for all the family. One of the best beach settings on the island, it is ideal for those who enjoy watersports.
With the Caribbean Sea on its west side and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, St Lucia is the perfect destination if you enjoy spending time on, and in, the water! Most towns and attractions are located on the sea to take advantage of the beautiful natural beaches and outstanding views. This makes traveling around by boat rather than by road an exciting opportunity which leaves the island's possibilities wide open to you. With vast stretches of idyllic blue waters and a pictureque tropical coastline, St Lucia is ideal for exploring by water.
If the sea is important to you, the Bay Gardens Hotel would be a good choice for accommodation. It is situated at Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay, which is often called the best beach in St Lucia. Check out Saluna by the beachfront, a provider of water sports, activities and equipment. Catering for serious watersports aficianados, unsure beginners and those just looking for a bit of fun, they offer waterskiing, sailing, wake-boarding and jetskiing. You can choose whether to just hire equipment, or pay very reasonable rates for instruction and supervision until you find your feet.
For those who prefer a more relaxing experience, try hiring some snorkeling equipment to explore the tropical sealife and coral. Or if you want to stay above the water, Saluna offer pedaloes, paddle canoes and paddle boards at competitive rates.
When you've had your fill of your resort and the surrounding Rodney Bay area, catch a water taxi to take you to one of St Lucia's many attractions. They can pick you up from the shoreline and whisk you away to Pigeon Island's historical exhibits, the Gros Islet Friday street party or Soufriere's volcanic mud baths, to name just a few. They will wait while you enjoy new experiences, delicious meals or refreshing drinks and take you back when you're ready.
For a truly unforgettable experience, book a bespoke boat tour excursion. For half a day, a full day or to fit your schedule, the Saluna team will take you down the Caribbean Sea coast to destinations of your choice. With a wide range of refreshments and snorkeling equipment included, from just 100 USD it represents very good value for money. A full day on the water with a knowledgeable and friendly team, exploring all that St Lucia's coast has to offer will surely be the highlight of your trip and a memory that will last a lifetime.