Top up your tan on the white sand beaches of Playa del Carmen
On a Caribbean trip every day is a beach day. Mexico’s answer? Playa del Carmen, in Cancun. Perfect a golden tan and dip your toes in the warm Caribbean seas at this coastal resort town that offers dreamy reefs, diving and snorkeling opportunities. Watersports and beach clubs will keep you busy if lying horizontally isn't your thing, or why not have some downtime and find shade in the many restaurants and bars that Playa del Carmen has on offer. When the sun goes down, hit up the destinations renowned nightlife. Coco Bongo Playa del Carmen, L'Ambassade and Mandala are all party favourites with the crowds.
Sample fresh seafood and Reggae rhythms in Caye Caulker
This small Caribbean island off the coast of Belize is a place where life centres around one motto, ‘go slow’. Here, the reggae rhythms are what Caye Caulker is all about. Relax on the beach front and enjoy some local fresh seafood as you take in the views of this no hassle, care free, dreamy destination. If lobster, shrimp, crab and a never ending array of fresh fish take your fancy, head on over to Dee N' D's, Little Kitchen or Maggie’s Sunset Kitchen - just a few of the Caye Caulker restaurants which have our seal of approval. Sunsets, good food and great vibes - that’s what trips to the Caribbean are all about.
Kayak the crystalline Caribbean waters at Caye Caulker
If you’re all maxed out on chill time and fancy getting your adventure on, grab a kayak and head out to sea. The waters surrounding Caye Caulker are teeming with marine life, and you’ll be in with a chance of spotting everything from sharks, to tortoises, to sting rays, not to mention all manner of fish and coral species. The northern end of Caye Caulker is dense in mangrove swamps, making it a great place for bird watching and peaceful surroundings to unwind in. Once you’re all kayaked out, head back to the shore for a well deserved ice cold beer or two.
Snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef, Caye Caulker
If you’re after a more up close and personal experience with the sealife, why not grab your snorkel and really get to grips with the Belize Barrier Reef. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, including 500 types of fish, sharks, stingrays and 106 coral species, not to mention a whole array of plants and animals. But no need to feel overwhelmed, the onhand guides will give you the lowdown on all you need to know when it comes to these tropical waters. And the best bit? The seas are seriously clear, so expect crystal clear waters unlike anything you’ve probably ever seen before.
Catch an adrenaline rush as you zipline through the jungle, Tikal
In the midst of the Guatemalan jungle you’ll find the crumbling fortress of Tikal, the remains of the ancient Mayan civilization. The 44m high temples may sit within dense canopies of the Guatemalan rainforest, but these buildings can’t be missed. Inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D., Tikal is one of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Maya civilization and stands as a pretty awesome piece of historical architecture. There are a whole heap of trips you can go on to go back into Mayan times, or you could opt to unleash your inner Tarzan on a zipline through the jungle. Feel your pulse raise as you soar above the treetops and see the Mayan world from up above.
Explore ancient Mayan ruins with a guided tour of Tikal National Park
If it’s an adventure you’re after, we’ve got you covered. 575 square kilometers of jungle and thousands of ruins lie in Tikal National Park, and the best way to see them is accompanied by an English speaking Local Guide who is literally a wealth of knowledge. Get your walking shoes at the ready as this is a huge space which covers 16 square kilometers and contains 3,000 buildings, and that's just in the central part of the ancient city. Dating back to around 1st century A.D, your guide will give you all the information you need to truly comprehend this magnificent slice of history.
Experience Antigua like a local with a guided sightseeing tour of the colonial buildings
Nothing represents Antigua’s history quite like its buildings. The bright and coloured baroque architecture which lines the cobbled streets is a vivid reminder of the Spanish empire which once ruled this island. Today, the buildings offer prime insta opportunities and bring this island to life with elaborate designs and bold colours. The Spanish arches, architecture and vibrant colours are most evidently noticed in buildings such as The Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua Cathedral and La Merced Church. The striking architecture is for sure one of the best ways to get a feel for the island’s roots and the history it’s built upon.
Make your own chocolates with locally sourced cacao at the Native Chocolate Museum, Antigua
Often known as “the birthplace of chocolate”, Guatemala has been the home of chocolate for centuries. The ancient Mayans once considered cocoa (which comes from plants and beans) to be the gift of the gods, and they weren't halfwrong! Today, Guatemala is still known for its vast production of chocolate treats and The Native Chocolate Museum in Antigua is an ideal place to be educated and informed about this legacy, with interactive workshops, exhibits and entertaining tours. You can be sure to find a tasty insight into the world of chocolate when you visit (and sample) the delights on this museum.
Enjoy an adventurous hike up the Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala
Who said Antigua was all beach side chills and relaxing? Pacaya volcano has an elevation of 2,552 metres and is one hell of an adventure if you fancy your chances. Grab your walking boots and cameras, you’ll be treated to some unreal views as you make your way up to the heights of Guatemala. Currently one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, Pacaya first erupted over 23,000 years ago and has erupted at least 23 times since the Spanish conquest. Expect to find an eerie landscape with loose volcanic rocks as you make your way across unstable grounds.
Bike ride to a coffee plantation, Antigua
If you want to live like a local for a day, why not grab a bike and ride on down to one of the local coffee plantations? The nutrient rich soils make Antigua one of the key places for making coffee, with huge brands like Starbucks importing their coffee from the farms of Antigua. Today, coffee is one of Antigua’s largest trades and you won't be disappointed by these next level hot beverages. You’ll be sure to be pumping after a rich, strong coffee fix, full of caffeine and ready for the rest of your biking adventures.
Things to do in the Caribbean
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
Playa del Carmen
If the epic beach-side venue won’t entice you, the music sure will. Set in the Mexican party capital of Playa Del Carmen, this annual jazz festival has been going strong since 2003. The three day event that occurs in November has played host to a number of jazz legends over the years, and the best part? It’s completely free.
We all know Cancun is THE place to go for Spring Break and Inception Festival is the biggest Spring Break party of them all. Nightclub headliners and beachside day parties make up this festival which occurs every March. If you’re after a party, and we mean a party, Inception Festival is your answer.
Think circus & masquerade parties, Hip Hop and R&B music, Reggae/Soca themed events and non-stop partying, and you’ve got Cancun Jumpoff. 3 and 4 day packages give you entry into this uniquely urban fiesta, which is perfectly complemented by Cancun’s sandy beaches and blue seas.
Semana Santa Easter Festival
Antigua in Guatemala, is home to the largest Easter celebration in the world in which the Passion, the Crucifix and the Resurrection of Jesus are all commemorated. Held over Easter weekend, the streets come alive in a sea of purple robes, incense and flower petals. Caribbean travel with a twist.
San Santiago Festival
Did you know La Antigua Guatemala, literally meaning “Ancient Guatemala”, is not the city’s original name? Antigua’s full name is (and get ready because it’s a mouthful) La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, or “The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala”. Why is little tidbit important? Because it’s how we get to the root of all the crazy activity going on in Antigua during the month of July.
Top 5 Festivals in the Caribbean
The music, the colours, the costumes, the energy, the dancing, the food, the singing and the ambiance - no one does a festival like the Caribbean. Feel-good vibes, sunshine beats and the full flavour of Caribbean cuisine are just a taste of what you can expect from festivals in this happy go lucky region.
Maya Cancun Museum
Located in the heart of Cancun, this museum takes you on a journey through the culture of Cancun’s founding people. Covering all aspects of Mayan history, the exhibition holds 350 Mayan artifacts and is a must if you’re looking to learn about the true history behind this tropical wonderland.
3D Museum of Wonders
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Yes, there really is a 3D museum in Playa del Carmen. Step into over 60 unique artworks created by a visionary American artist and get interactive with this array of wonders. Feeling peckish after your immersive experience? Head to the Frida Kahlo restaurant where you can sample Mexican drinks whilst enjoying the artist’s iconic work.
Museums don’t get much better than this. ChocoMuseo is an artisanal chocolate factory making the good stuff from organic Guatemalan cacao beans. This may sound pretty incredible, but it gets better - ChocoMuseo also offers chocolate workshops to learn how to make your own chocolate. Now that's our kind of museum!
Sylvannus G. Morley Museum
Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Located in Tikal National Park, this is a museum which exhibits a load of objects and artefacts from the temples excavations. Ceramic pieces, vases and even the tomb of King Moon Double Comb, are all preserved within the museum. Learn about precious items unearthed and their uses and significance.
Monasterio de Santo Domingo
This ruined monastery in Antigua, Guatemala, takes you back in history to 1538 when the Dominicans arrived in Guatemala. The biggest and richest monastery in Antigua was acquired as a private residence in 1970 by a North American archaeologist, but in 1773 the monastery was destroyed in an earthquake. But don't fear, the ruins remain to be explored.
Top 5 Museums in the Caribbean
Sure, Caribbean tours may be known for their tropical palm trees, shimmering seas and outdoor island living, but there's equally no shortage of culture and history to help you delve even deeper into this idyllic region. If you need a break from the beach or are looking for something to do on a rainy day, these museums are the best of what the Caribbean has to offer...
Tacos el pastor
This delicious dish is the real-deal when it comes to all things tacos. These soft, warm corn tortillas are filled with the yumminess of slow-cooked pork shoulder and marinated in a whole heap of Mexican flavours. El Fogon restaurant in Playa del Carmen won’t disappoint when it comes to all things tacos.
Best eaten at El Fogon, 6th street and 30th Ave, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
This Caribbean classic may be simple but boy does it taste good! Expect to find this cooking on the BBQ at Dee N’ D’s restaurant in Caye Caulker, or along the Caribbean streets and beach fronts. The dish is usually served spicy and accompanied with rice and peas.
Best eaten at Dee N’ D’s, On the Beach by the Split, Caye Caulker, Belize
One of the oldest dishes in Guatemalan food heritage, Pepian is a traditional meaty stew with spicy meats, enhanced by roasting each ingredient to bring out the fullest of flavours. This fusion of Mayana and Spanish cuisines is thick, rich and bold with flavours, spices, seeds and vegetables, and La Canche restaurant has got the dish down to a T.
Best eaten at La Canche, Avenida Norte 6a, Antigua 03001, Guatemala
Grilled pork is essentially pork...grilled. The meat is served widely around Guatemala but for the best grilled pork based dish, head to Rincón Típico, a trendy, colourful and chilled quintessentially Guatemalan restaurant which will have you enjoying an array of grilled pork delicacies.
Best eaten at Rincón Típico, NO.3, 3a Avenida Sur, Antigua, Guatemala
Another pork based treat, Mexican tamales are pork loins shredded and wrapped in corn with dough and chilli sauce, then steamed. Eaten as breakfast, snacks or comfort food, if you fancy this as a main meal it’s usually served with refried beans and salad. Head to San Antonio Bakery to pick one up whilst exploring the streets of Antigua.
Best eaten at San Antonio Bakery, 4ta Calle Oriente, Antigua, Guatemala
Food in the Caribbean
Caribbean food is something else, with influences from just about everywhere. Expect to find hints of African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European (Portuguese, British, Irish, Spanish/Latin American), East Indian/South Asian, Persian, Arab, Chinese AND Javanese/Indonesian in this yummy array of foods, not to mention a few Mexican musts, of course.