You've finally got the time to take that Caribbean Vacation that you've always dreamed of. You're thinking tropical breezes, turquoise waters, white sand beaches, pina coladas...Seems like all you'll need is a bathing suit and sunscreen right? Well...there are a few other things. Take Occidental Vacation Club's advice. With resort locations throughout the Caribbean, we've had lots of experience. Here are our suggestions:
A good quality swimsuit is a must, as you may be spending most of your day in it. Bring at least two. For women, a bikini or two piece suit are good for sunbathing, but a one-piece suit is especially practical, especially if you are going to be participating in the many water sports offered in the Caribbean. Sports like snorkeling, diving, surfing and kayaking require a lot of physical activity, and you don't want to have to worry about a part of your suit getting washed away in the waves.
Men should be sure to bring a couple of swimsuits too. Make sure they are sturdy and fit snuggly. Rough waves can cause embarrassing situations.
Along with sunscreen, you are going to want adequate sun protection from your clothing. Hats are a must to block the sun's intense heat and glare. If you can find a hat that provide UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). Look for hats that pack easily so you don't have to worry about squishing it in your suitcase.
You've got to take care of those eyes! Long-term sun exposure can cause many vision problems later in life. Make sure your pair has the American Optometric Association's seal of approval. That means your glasses block both UVA and UVB rays. And you don't have to sacrifice fashion...all high quality sunglasses provide this protection while looking good too! Don't forget a case to protect your investment.
We know you think that all you'll need is a pair of flip-flops or just your bare feet might do, but think about all the activities and variety of terrain the Caribbean has to offer. It's not just water sports you need to think about. There are many wonderful hiking and walking trails. Bring a pair of waterproof hiking boots, or even hiking sandals. If you are not used to running barefoot on the beach (It's not for everyone!) bring your athletic shoes. They'll also come in handy when you visit the exercise room at your resort's fabulous spa.
The Caribbean is a pretty casual place, so as far as the rest of your wardrobe, think shorts and tops made of cotton or other natural materials. (Some clothes also feature fabrics made with UVA/UVB protection.) For women, a colorful skirt, sarong, or simple sundress can do double duty as a beach cover-up or to wear to dinner. June-November is the rainy season, so consider bringing a light rain coat or poncho.
More important than the clothing you wear is the sunscreen you wear. At the very minimum it should have an SPF of 30. Make sure it is waterproof and apply it often, especially after being in the water. A bad sunburn can be quite debilitating, and you don't want to miss a day of your perfect Caribbean vacation!
Everyday is a Fiesta in Puerto Vallarta...well, almost! You can now experience this Mexican custom of bringing people together in celebration on alternate Wednesdays.
"Fiesta Mexicanas" take place at the picturesque Lazaro Cardenas Plaza in Colonial Emiliano Zapata. The fiestas feature delectable, affordable food and beverages from many local restaurants. The River Cafe, Cafe Des Artistes, Le Kliff, Daiquiri Dick's and Coco's Kitchen are just a few of the restaurants providing a variety of specialty foods celebrating the Mexican cuisine. Free dance and music performances by local entertainers and traditional Mexican carnival games make the fiestas great fun for all ages!
The Vallarta Centro A.C. Association is working with Jalisco's Tourism Secretary, Puerto Vallarta's Tourism Bureau, and the municipality's Tourism and Culture Departments to put on these fiestas for tourists and locals. Admission to the Fiestas is free, with food and beverages for a moderate cost. The time is 7-11 p.m. for all these Upcoming Fiesta dates:
February 13 and 27
March 13 and 27
April 10 and 24
The next time you are staying at the Occidental Vacation Club's Grand NuevoVallarta be sure to make time for Mexico's popular tradition of Fiesta
The very word "Carnival" evokes a feeling of celebration and images of merry making. The two carnival cities we immediately think of are New Orleans and Rio, but there are many other cities that have carnival too. Cities in the Mexican Riviera, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have their own versions of carnival that have been known to rival those better known cities! Here are a few for you to try:
Aruba – January 4 - February 16
When talking about carnivals, Aruba must be on top of the list. The biggest party of the “happy islands” features street parties and spectacular parades. Aruba’s carnivals are remembered for the lively music, the colorful customs and the impressive floats.
The largest carnival parade is the Grand Parade through Oranjestad. filled with music and luxurious floats and costumes in various designs and decorated with a wide variety of colorful stones and feathers, creating a unique display.
Don’t miss the Grand Pared on February 10th… party starts at noon!
Cozumel, Mexico- Feb 6-13
The Cozumel Carnival always takes place before the Christian Lent. The word Carnival actually means "farewell to meat." Historical records indicate that long ago Christians, having no refrigeration, had to eat all the meat and other perishable foods before the Lenten fast. On the Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, they would hold "festivals" to consume all the food. Thus, the "Carnival" began.
You can eat all you want during the Cozumel Carnival too, and eat very well with the vast selection of regional treats. There's also music, dancing, elaborate costumed entertainers, whimsical floats, and the traditional coronation of the carnival king and queen.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - March 9
Punta Cana's Carnival action starts with a lively parade showcasing the folklore and cultural traditions of the many diverse regions of the Dominican Republic.
The parade is popular for featuring the country's top twenty Carnival Troupes. These troupes, adorned in vivid, colored costumes and masks, perform dances and play music representative of their region of the country.
On the night before the carnival begins the "Grand Gala" is held in Punta Canta Village. Wear your costume and get into the action by mingling with the performers who will participate in the parade the following day!
Contact the concierge at Occidental Vacation Club Resorts in these areas for more information on the carnivals!
Puntarenas, Costa Rica - February 10-20
The Puntarenas Carnival is known as the "Queen" of Costa Rican carnivals. This ten-day event is one of the top places to really appreciate the Carnival tradition and experience the local culture at the same time.
What would carnival be without a grand parade or two, and Puntarenas's carnival is no exception to that rule. Many parades liven up the Paseo de Los Turistas in the center of town. Groups of carnival dancers called "comparsas” wildly gyrate to pachanga music played by local bands, as they shimmy their way down the Paseo. Accompanying the camparsas you'll see "mascaradas" (colorful, giant smiling heads), men on stilts, creative floats, and vibrantly costumed performers.
The carnival also features outdoor concerts by the best bands from all over the world. For a change of pace, recreational activities like fishing and volleyball tournaments happen daily. On the last day, the premier event, the crowning of the carnival queen, culminates with an explosion of spectacular fireworks.
If you've been to Grand Xcaret, booked an excursion or made dinner reservations, then there's no way you don't recognize this face! Meet Eva Amaral, Guest Service at Grand Xcaret!
Hello, my name is Eva Amaral and I'm Guest Service for Occidental Grand Xcaret. I've been working at Occidental Vacation Club for two years, and I'm very happy working here; there is a great work environment and a lot of growth opportunities. As Guest Service I get to work directly with our members, giving them the personalized assistance they deserve. I really enjoy the interaction with our members, and learning about different cultures.
I'm from Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, but have been living in Playa del Carmen for almost 6 years. I like dancing salsa, go jogging at the beach and visiting the archeological sites of Tulum and Chichen Itza.
Come and visit us here at Grand Xcaret! I promise you will have and unforgettable vacation experience!
So you think you are good at bartering? Puerto Vallarta is a great place to hone your skills! This popular Mexican destination offers tourists of all ages and interests, a unique shopping experience.
#1 Shopping Experience
Don't miss the Saturday Market Co-op, voted #1 for shopping by readers of Trip Advisor.com. This is the only year round market in the city, and is open every Saturday morning.
You'll feel like a local as you stroll the market and soak up the local flavor. Check out the varied selection of arts and crafts, buy gorgeous, fresh flowers, and savor a variety of culinary delights. Fresh baked bread and pastries, cheeses, authentic Thai and Indian specialties, and world famous chili, are just a few of the treats in store for you. The market is located in the Romantic Zone and usually opens at 9 a.m.
Puerto Vallarta has a reputation as an art center. Art galleries offer works by contemporary painters and sculptors, and internationally known artists. On Calles Libertad, Juarez and Morelos, small shops sell silver jewelry, local pottery, folk art, blown glass objects, clothing, masks, and other artisan products.
If you are looking for souvenirs at bargain prices, head for Cuale Island, in the Municipal Market, and the Pueblo Viejo Artisans' Market. Shop owners here are known to bargain!
About that bartering...it is a common practice in Mexico. Offer to pay about 40% less than the asking price and you'll probably end up paying somewhere in between.
* Most stores open around 10 a.m. and stay open until 8 p.m. Some stores close from 2-4 p.m.
**Puerto Vallarta is a 35 minute drive From Grand Nuevo Vallarta. Guests can check with the First Club, or Grand Level Concierge for special recommendations and transportation arrangements.
Our First Club Lounges are very special for our members. It's a place where they can relax, sip on their favorite beverage, have a snack, listen to soothing music or just chill by the pool. It's also the place where they get to meet "the family".
Our Guest Services representatives are readily available to assist our members with their every need, and make them feel like home. One such individual is Jessica López, a young woman born and raised in Mexico, who recently became part of the Occidental Vacation Club family.
Keep reading to know a bit more about Jessica!
Hello, my name is Jessica López Galera, and I am Guest Services Representative at Allegro Cozumel.
I just graduated from college, receiving a Bachelor in Tourism Degree, and this s my first job! I feel very grateful and privileged that a company such as Occidental Vacation Club has entrusted me as a new professional and given me an opportunity of becoming an integral part of their team. Doing what I love is just awesome!
I’ve been working at OVC for a few months, and I’m very happy with my coworkers. My job has granted me with an opportunity to meet some of our members. I love interacting with our customers; they are all great people!
I love to read and going out with my friends. I also play squash and love everything related to music! I’m single and have been living in Cozumel for the last 5 years. I enjoy visiting my family and spending as much time with them as I can.
I invite you to come and visit us soon at Allegro Cozumel. I promise you will have a great time!