Top Ten Barbados (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Barbados)

Top ten things to do and see in Barbados

Barbados is home to beautiful beaches and friendly people.  Here’s our top ten Barbados.

1. Lounge on Crane Beach.  Every beach in Barbados is deemed public property, even resort beaches.  So feel free to lounge on the beach of another hotel if you bring your own chairs and towels.  The Crane beach is protected by a reef offshore, which allows for better swimming than other East coast beaches on the island. The beach also has a big cliff and rocks on either side, making it feel more protected and secluded.

2. Sip on Rum Punch.  One sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak.  Or so the saying goes for the recipe of the signature drink of Barbados.  However, it seems every place you go likes to put their own spin on the classic so be sure to try rum punch from a variety of places to pick your favorite.

3. Tour Harrison’s Cave.  Families will find a trip to Harrison’s Cave popular with their younger members who enjoy the awe of the caves along with the tram ride to tour it.  

4. Dine on a Flying Fish Cutter with Macaroni Pie. Debatably the most popular dishes in Barbados, it is not difficult to find a flying fish cutter (known as a sandwich stateside) and macaroni pie at nearly every restaurant on the island.  It’s a quick, easy, and affordable meal that any traveler can enjoy.

5. Visit Hunte’s Gardens.  Anthony Hunte built an outstanding collection of plant species in the Bajan rainforest.  With music drifting through the air and greenery surrounding you, you will never guess you are in Barbados.

6. Bask in the Sun at Bottom Bay or Foul Bay.  Bottom Bay and Foul Bay are both secluded beaches on the East coast of Barbados.  Typically uncrowded and calm, the bays offer a perfect spot for picnics, relaxation, and plenty of trees for a reprieve from the sun.  Many locals maintain that Bottom Bay is the best beach in Barbados, but be cautious of currents and strong waves if you want to take a swim at either.

7. Lunch at Sandy Lane. The scenic resort where Tiger Woods married Elin is difficult to get a room at (and will cost you a pretty penny if you can).  However, the hotel has a restaurant overlooking its bright beach where any peon can dine with reservations. Sit back, relax and experience life as the other half lives.

8.  Sail on Cool Runnings. Swim with the sea turtles and snorkel over a shipwreck on a catamaran adventure.  The cruise has two snorkeling stops and serves drinks and lunch or dinner depending on your cruise time.  Alternatively, if you like to party, you make want to opt for the pirate ship excursion (which makes the same stops) instead.

9. Oistin’s Market.  Popular with locals and tourists alike, Oisten’s Fish Market offers lots of vendors who will cook your selection of fish right in front of you.  The Fish Fry is a particularly popular thing to do on Friday nights, with live music and tables set up to watch the sunset.

10. Visit the Bathsheba Coast.  The northeast section of the coast of Barbados offers dramatic scenery with large boulders in the ocean and striking views from cliffs.  The so called Soup Bowl is a popular spot for professional surfers, who are likely the only people prepared to withstand the rough waves famous in the area.

 

9 Things To Do in the Dominican Republic That You Can’t Miss

Dominican Top 9

With its lively culture, crystal-clear waters and immensely popular resorts the Dominican Republic has been a choice tourist destination for decades.  Whether you decide to spend your time in the historic capital of Santo Domingo or on the sandy beaches of Punta Cana, the Dominican has options for everyone.  Here are our top 9 things to do in the Dominican Republic, the second-largest Caribbean nation.

  1. 27 Charcos (27 Waterfalls)

The 27 waterfalls in Puerto Plata is a perfect activity for thrill-seekers and outdoors enthusiasts alike.  Spend the day trekking through the rainforest and sliding down the Dominican’s 27 natural waterslides (yes, giant rock formations that double as slides!)   The farther up you go, the bigger they get.  If you want to do all 27 waterfalls make sure you get there early in the day and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes you don’t mind swimming in.

  1. Boat excursion from La Romana to Isle Saona – open bar

What beats sun tanning on a beautiful catamaran with an open bar?  You can book all kinds of tours under $100 that leave from the super-trendy city of La Romana.   After that, you’ll arrive on a secluded island with a buffet, volleyball, tubing, and other fun beach activities.  Finally, the boat takes you out to a part of the ocean littered with live star fish that you get to hold and touch.

  1. Take a stroll on Bavaro Beach

With so many beaches in the northeastern part of the island, it’s hard to find time to visit all of them.  One we definitely recommend spending some time on is Bavaro Beach in Punta Canata.  We clear blue waters and moderate current, this beach is a perfect candidate for snorkeling.

  1. Get a street coconut in Santo Domingo

In the capital you’ll find throngs of street vendors selling everything from sunglasses to candy to live animals, but your best bet is to find some coconuts.  This won’t be hard – they’re virtually everywhere.  Watch them artfully slice open the fruit with a machete and enjoy some refreshing coconut water street side.

  1.   Tour Los Tres Ojos Caverns

Los Trest Ojos (The Three Eyes) is home to series of 3 lakes that are directly connected to a 50-yard limestone cave with some of the clearest waters in the world.  Many decades ago the park was open to public for swimming.  Now it’s become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.  If it looks familiar, it might because they filmed parks of Jurassic Park here.

  1.    Catedral Primada de America (America’s first cathedral)

Europe undisputedly takes the cake on historic cathedrals, but North America also has a lot to offer, including North America’s very first cathedral.  Located in the heart of the Zona Colonial, this gothic cathedral dates back to 1535.  An added plus: entrance is free to the public and includes a self-guided audio tour.

  1.   Explore Ciudad Colonial (Zona Colonial)

With a distinct European feel, this area of Santo Domingo is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike.   Zona Colonial is the oldest European settlement in North America and boasts some of the best hotels and restaurants in the city.  Be careful though: many cruise lines dock nearby and passengers flood the streets, so try not to come in the very middle of the day.

  1. Get some food at El Mason de la Cava

How many times have you eaten delectable Caribbean cuisine inside a cave?  With a unique ambiance and wide array of delicatessens, this restaurant offers up something out of the ordinary.  A perfect place for a romantic dinner, this gem has live music most nights.

  1. Drink a pina colada on the water

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.  Grab a drink and enjoy your trip in the Dominican!

6 Reasons You Should Visit Vieques on Your Puerto Rico Trip

Vieques Top Ten

If you’re looking for relaxation and seclusion, then Vieques could be the perfect place for you.  An island off the East coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques can be accessed via plane or ferry from mainland Puerto Rico.  The island is quieter and less touristy than San Juan, but still has plenty to see and do.  Here are 6 reasons you should visit Vieques on your Puerto Rico trip:

1. Playa Esperanza – Offers some of the best snorkeling on the island with direct access from the beach – no tour or boat required.

2. The Malecon in Esperanza – Esperanza is the main city most tourists stay in on Vieques. The boardwalk along the beach has restaurants and shops along it.

3. Secluded beaches – Vieques offers a number of beaches along the coastline that are seldom frequented by others.  If you want to find your own beach to spend the day, you can certainly do so in Vieques.

4. Mosquito Bay – Arguably the best place to see the Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico, Mosquito Bay offers visitors to chance to see the supernatural phenomenon for themselves.  Check out our guide to Puerto Rico’s Bio Bays here.

5. Playa Negra – a natural black sand beach created from volcanic activity on the island.

6. Boat tours – get out and see the island from the water and enjoy the bright blue ocean.  There are many boat tours to choose from or you can rent your own catamaran for a reasonable price and take it sailing yourself.

 

 

 

Top Ten Havana, Cuba (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Havana, Cuba)

Top Ten Havana, Cuba

Photo Credit: Cuban.Habana.Malecon. Antonio Milena for Agencia Brasil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cuba.Habana.Malecon.01.jpg

Top Ten Havana, Cuba:

1. Take a Ride in a Classic Car. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the level of trade in Cuba has greatly diminished.  As a result of very few new imports, there are tons of classic build American cars still in use today and a ride in one is a must.  You can pick up a car on the street, just like a standard taxi for a fun experience.

2. Have a daiquiri at the Floridita. Famous for being a  favorite hang out spot for Ernest Hemingway, the restaurant and bar is well known for its daiquiris.

3. Hang out at the Malecon Sea Wall. When in Cuba, do as the Cubans do.  In the evenings, you can find tons of locals hanging out on the sea wall.  Grab a bottle of rum and head down to relax and people watch at the Malecon.

4. Experience Cuban Cigars.  Cuba is world famous for its cigars. Whether you want to smoke one yourself or watch them being hand rolled, cigars are a huge part of Cuban culture and something worth experiencing.

5. Go to the Cannon Firing Ceremony. Every evening at 9 P.M. there is an elaborate ceremony at La Cabana to reenact firing a cannon over the harbor.  The ceremony is quite touristy, but its a free way to pass some time and the fort offers some pretty night views of the city.

6. Drink an authentic Mojito.  Havana is the birthplace of the Mojito and you can find one just about anywhere you turn in the city.

7. Explore the Hotel Nacional.  The Hotel Nacional is a luxury hotel that boasts famous guests from Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Backstreet Boys, and all kinds of performers and diplomats in between.  The hotel has a room dedicated to documenting all the celebrities and notable guests that have stayed there.  Castro took over the hotel during the Cuban Revolution and used it as headquarters for the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Now, the hotel is back to its original purpose with the lobby and grounds in all their glory.

8. Dance at the Buena Vista Social Club.  The Buena Vista Social Club was a members club which became a very popular place for musicians to come perform in Havana.  The Club was shut down during the Cuban Revolution and the original has never been reopened.  However, Cafe Tebarna offers a dinner show replicating the Buena Vista Social Club.  The shows involve a dozen or so performers playing instruments and singing,  along with some latin dancers.

9. Dine at Paladar los Mercaderes.  Delicious Cuban cuisine in a great setting.  The owner takes great pride in the restaurant and is focused on service details, like sprinkling rose petals along the stairway to the restaurant each day.

10. Spend the day at the beach. Havana is not your typical Caribbean destination in that there really isn’t beach access within the city.  It is much more like a European city than a Caribbean hot spot.  However, you should still consider setting aside some time to hit a Cuban beach.  The most popular option, Playa de Este, is 20 minutes East of Havana by cab.  You can also arrange day trip excursions to more scenic or secluded spots on the island if you’d prefer to snorkel.

Top Ten: San Juan Puerto Rico (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Puerto Rico)

An island getaway whose old charm has lasted the test of time, Puerto Rico has become a hotbed for tourism.   Much like Cuba, the fourth most populated Caribbean island has been able to keep its idyllic heritage and culture while still catering to its many admirers.  Here are the top ten things to do in Puerto Rico:

Top Ten Puerto Rico

1. Climb to the top of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.  The old fort hosts some awesome views of San Juan. Bring a snack and enjoy the sights.

2. Follow the trails in El Yunque.  The only rain-forest in the U.S. National Park system, El Yunque National Forest is about an hour outside of San Juan.  Many tour companies offer day or half day trips or you can rent a car and drive yourself. El Yunque is on the way to Farjardo where many Bio Bay tours are, so try a tour that offers a combo of both.

3. Check out Pamela’s Caribbean Cuisine.  Pamela’s is literally set up on the beach, so you can dine with sand under your toes and listen to the waves hit the shore with a pretty view of downtown San Juan. Dine at night and enjoy the sunset or during the day and you can get beach chairs and umbrellas to lounge on after your meal.  You must get the coconut creme brulee for dessert.

4.  Eat Monfongo. Ask a local what’s in the monfongo and you’re likely to get a different answer each time.  A signature dish of Puerto Rico, monfongo is based on plaintains and typically includes one type of meat or another.

5. Relax on a beach. You’re in the Caribbean, so this should be an obvious thing to do.  There are many beaches around San Juan, the best beach access is found on the hotel properties where you’ll have access to chairs.  Many hotels have partnerships for beach access in San Juan, so check with your concierge to see where you can stake a spot in the sand if you hotel isn’t on the beach or you want to try out a different spot.

6. Try a Zipline Adventure. There are many places offering zipline tours around San Juan that have day trips from the city.  Check out Toro Verde which has a zipline called The Beast at almost a mile long with a harness where you lay belly down instead of hanging from your waist.

7.  Experience the Bio Bay.  One of the most unique things in Puerto Rico is the Bio Bay, or Bioluminescent Bay.  The water in these bays is home to tiny plankton which illuminate when the water around them moves.  It is like kayaking through stars. The best place to experience this is on Vieques, an island off the coast.  However, the bay in Fajardo is more easily accessible and has a wide variety of tours to choose from.

8. Wander through Old Town San Juan. Spend some time walking around Old Town to see the beautiful buildings and bright colors. Stop and grab a mojito and enjoy the atmosphere and friendly people of San Juan.

9. Take a trip to Vieques or Culebra. While getting there may not be the easiest thing to do, the islands host some of the best beaches in the world. Drive an hour and a half to the coast then jump on an early ferry to Culebra or Vieques for the day. The ferries can get packed, so the earlier the better. Vieques is quickly becoming the ‘it’ place to visitIt is also home to the top Bio Bay in Puerto Rico, which makes staying a few days ideal.

10. Eat Lechon from the “Pig Highway”.  Another specialty of Puerto Rico, roast pig stands.  Along the side of the highway you can find Lechoneras which sell cuts of pork.  One of the more authentic experiences you can have in Puerto Rico.

Check out our other guides to Caribbean locations here.