What’s your ultimate tropical vacation experience? It might be a dream wedding, an anniversary or other milestone celebration; or it might just be a get-off-the-grid getaway or a thirst for a unique and special adventure that you’ll want to relive again and again. When it comes to travel, everyone dreams a little differently. We could go on and on about dream destinations, and our wish list of ultimate experiences. Most people would agree that a tropical holiday experience is “top of the list”, and there are an infinite number of ways to explore and enjoy the Caribbean region. And of course, each one of those ways is on somebody’s wish list. Here are a few of our favourites from the Caribbean and Costa Rica.
Carnival, Caribbean style
Maybe it’s the ultimate party you’re looking for? One word can conjure up images of celebration that encompass all the senses: Carnival. In the Caribbean, Carnival is a time to rejoice: life is good, so let’s show just exactly how good it can get. Two perennial favourites of ours are Antigua’s Carnival, hailed the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival, and Crop Over in Barbados.
Antigua and Barbuda
Life in Antigua tends to move at its own laidback speed, but when it comes time to party, they pull out all the stops at Carnival. Antigua’s Carnival is a ten-day affair, running from late July until the first Tuesday of August. The celebration takes place on the streets of St. John’s, with parades, music, festivals and traditional costumes. The constant irresistible sounds of soca, calypso and benna music turn every step you take into dancing – Carnival is historically a time to celebrate freedom, and in Antigua they freely express their belief that life is a good and joyous thing. Antigua’s Carnival shifts into high gear on J’Ouvert morning, also known as “The Opening”. Revelers hit the streets of St. John’s from the wee hours of the first Monday of August for this energetic festival which intensifies throughout the day with lively music, jam bands and costumed parades that flow into Tuesday, and culminate with a Last Lap late into the night. Sister Island Barbuda hosts Caribana in May, so if the ultimate Caribbean party summer is on your wish list, you could start in Barbuda, take a breather and then wind it up with Carnival in Antigua.
Crop Over, Barbados
In Barbados, the traditional end of sugar season is celebrated in the summer Crop Over Festival. The party has taken on a life of its own, and is now one of the biggest carnivals in the Caribbean. With events spanning almost the entire summer, this is a carnival you can take your time getting to know. The mix of traditional Caribbean themes and modern elements, combined with rich respect for Barbadian history and culture make Crop Over a unique, distinctive and constantly evolving Carnival experience. And of course, the sounds of calypso and soca, the elegant and fantastic costumes and the amazing food and drink make this yet another reason to plan a Barbados vacation.
The name Atlantis has long had a legendary cachet. At Atlantis Paradise Island, the stuff of legend has become reality. Just as Costa Rica is a natural expression of paradise, Atlantis takes paradise to a new strata of luxury. Here you can indulge yourself in every way: from exquisite meals, to incredible beaches and attractions, to world class recreation and entertainment. Five amazing hotels welcome guests with their own unique visions of luxury hospitality. Waterpark attractions including Aquaventure and the Mayan Temple Slides provide fun for the whole family, while at Dolphin Cay you can enjoy an unforgettable swim with friendly dolphins. Relax. Laugh. Enjoy. At Atlantis Paradise Island, you’ll find there are many ways to live the ultimate vacation experience.
Picture yourself gliding on a zip line through Costa Rican jungle; or taking a slower view of the rainforest on a sightseeing tour, accompanied by the chatter of capuchin monkeys and the squawks of scarlet macaws; or simply relaxing on the beach after a refreshing swim – in Costa Rica you can do that all on the same day. As the acknowledged home of eco-tourism, there’s a lot to experience here. Head to the water, and you’ll find incomparable sport fishing, scuba diving and surfing. Costa Rican hospitality offers a laid-back and warm welcome that dovetails nicely with the lush tropical surroundings. You’ll find the resorts, restaurants and clubs here make it easy to imagine staying longer, or just staying. Relax and get away from it all without a care in the world. Paradise is the natural order of things in Costa Rica. Explore the jungle from the canopy to the forest floor, and embrace “Pura Vida” –the Costa Rican expression for living the good life.
Ever come face to face with a sting ray? You can when you visit Grand Cayman. Sting Ray City, a series of shallow sandbars on the North sound of the island, is aptly named. The rays here are huge, plentiful and surprisingly approachable. Load up your Instagram with shots of yourself and some sting rays, and you’re bound to get lots of likes. For a bit more excitement, venture into deeper waters and you may get a glimpse of the occasional hammerhead shark – they’re not quite as approachable. Divers come from all over the world to explore off the shores of Grand Cayman. Famous for warm, crystal clear waters, an amazing variety of sea life and many dive sites around the island – with evocative names like Babylon, Devil’s Grotto and of course Sting Ray City – there’s plenty here to reward expert divers, adventure seekers and to welcome novices who are just getting their feet wet. If you don’t want to get your feet wet there is just as much to explore on land as under the water on this amazing Caribbean island.