Featured Destination – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Sitting on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is a sun-soaked coastal town consisting almost solely of beaches, resorts and tourist amenities.  The ultimate beach getaway, Punta Cana was made for vacationers seeking rest and relaxation with a beautiful Caribbean atmosphere and a laid-back attitude.  A trip to these silky-white beaches practically comes with a no-rain guarantee, as it’s a sun-worshipers tropical heaven.

If basking in the warm glow of the sun with a frozen drink in hand all day is not your thing, don’t worry — Punta Cana has a variety of other activities and state-of-the-art attractions for everyone.  Here, impressive golf courses are almost as well known as the beaches.  The Bavaro and La Cana Golf Courses are two of the best in the Caribbean.  Along with snorkeling and other water sports, guests can ride horses down the beach at sunset, or test their luck at the Punta Cana Casino.  If adventure is more appealing, 4x4s are available to rent and trek through the hidden caves, mangroves and private beaches that are scattered throughout the area.

The flavors of the Caribbean can be found infused throughout the cuisine of the Dominican Republic. Though there are several stand-alone restaurants in Punta Cana (try Captain Cook for the best lobster in town), the majority are attached to hotels and resorts. Most resorts are all-inclusive, which means that not only are meals included in the price, but each place is likely to have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Find restaurants offering up everything from island-inspired dishes and five-star steakhouses, to fresh seafood and international cuisine.

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is the major airport of the region, and a hub for American Airlines, as well as servicing other major carriers like Delta, US Airways, and Continental. If staying at a resort, transportation from the airport will be provided. Most visitors will have prearranged tour operators, which will provide transportation and local guides throughout the area. There are also options for taxis, local buses and rental cars, though most tourists do not venture far away from their resort or hotel.

The reason most vacation in Punta Cana is because of its beautiful tropical climate. The weather is almost always consistent, with an average annual temperature of 86° F (30° C) and constant sunshine. The humid season lasts from May to October, with temperatures capable of spiking to around 95° F (35° C). The late autumn and winter months (November to March) can have evening temperatures dip down to a mild 68° F (20° C). With little rainfall and perfect beach weather year-round, the perfect time to take a Punta Cana vacation is right now

originally published on vctravelgroup.agentstudio.com

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Featured Destination – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Monetgo Bay, Jamaica

With lulling turquoise waves lapping powdery white beaches, some of the Caribbean’s finest duty-free shopping and a raucous “Hip Strip,” Montego Bay, Jamaica, leaves little to be desired from this island paradise city. MoBay, as the locals call it, hosts Jamaica’s largest airport and cruise port, which allows for a constant influx of leisure visitors and business travelers. As the tourism capital of Jamaica, this city is a pleasant balance of laid-back and breezy island atmosphere and a pumped-up nightlife and reggae music scene.

Running parallel to the beach and the driving force behind Montego Bay’s popularity is Gloucester Avenue – the “Hip Strip.” The strip is home to some of the best waterfront dining spots in Jamaica, serving Caribbean and international cuisine and boasting dazzling views of the bay. The bay not only provides for pristine beaches, but miles of coral reef and a vast marine park that can be explored and admired while snorkeling or partaking in the many available water sports. In addition to checking out the natural beauty of this port city, Montego Bay offers a plethora of attractions and entertainment options from reggae clubs and Rastafarian art galleries, to gaming lounges and endless tax-free shopping.

Beyond Gloucester Avenue is the downtown section of Montego Bay. Though most tourists don’t bother to venture beyond the strip, this is where the genuine essence of the city courses through the streets. The maze of pot-holed streets and avenues are littered with eager pushcart peddlers and competing storefronts that fuel the everyday Jamaica not found in the colorful resort brochures. Downtown attractions include Sam Sharpe Square, which is riddled with pedestrians, brightly painted old Gregorian buildings and the Museum of St. James, which bears witness to the tragic slave history of the city.

Jamaican cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, British and Afro-centric influences. The most popular style of cooking native to the country is called jerk—a spicy and smoky seasoning on barbequed meats such as chicken, pork and beef. Some of the best jerk dishes can be found at places like the Pork Pit overlooking the waterfront, and Belfield 1974 at the Barnett Estate downtown. For a fine dining experience offering a romantic atmosphere and Caribbean cuisine, check out the Sugar Mill Restaurant. Dine by candlelight or on the terrace and enjoy classic dishes such as pumpkin soup, smoked marlin and curry chicken. For a panoramic view of the bay and some of the freshest seafood in town, try the open-air restaurant Pier One Seafood on Howard Cooke Boulevard.

One of the largest airports in the Caribbean, Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport (MBJ), serves many major airline carries and handles 9 million passengers yearly. This airport is used as the Caribbean hub for many airlines and has three terminals with accessibility to ground transportation. While in Montego Bay, it’s best to walk along Gloucester Avenue, which is lined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars and shops. This area is always packed with tourists, and is considerably safe. When venturing further into town, it’s best to take a taxi or local bus. Be sure to ask the concierge in your hotel or resort to assist you in arranging the safest and most efficient mode of transportation.

Montego Bay’s tropical climate is most appealing during the dry season from mid-December to mid-April. This is considered the best time to go, as it avoids the intensely humid summer months and the rainy autumn season when hurricanes are known to blast through. The peak season of winter to early spring brings in the highest volume of tourists, and in turn can raise prices on accommodations and attractions. That said, there isn’t a truly bad time to visit this island city, as the beautiful beaches and friendly, easygoing attitudes of the locals are present year-round.

originally published on vctravelgroup.agentstudio.com

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Featured Destination – Maui

Where the turquoise sea meets miles of beautiful landscape, Maui, Hawaii is a picture perfect paradise.  The island’s unparalleled beauty can be seen throughout the pristine beaches, stunning attractions, and picturesque communities.  So, exquisite is its landscapes, Maui has been featured in Conde Nast Traveler many times as the Best Island.  The Haleakala National Park preserves Maui’s natural habitats such as waterfalls, rivers, and wildlife.  Standing over 10,000 feet, the park’s glorious hills provide magnificent backdrops of sunsets and acres of pastoral and tropical sceneries.  Whether you chose to horseback ride, hike, or drive up the massive slopes, you will truly be amazed by the wonderful sights waiting at the top of the mountainsides.   This is one of the reasons why Maui entices many visitors to its magical ambiance and stunning features.  It is a destination where time seems to stand still and a place where you can truly enjoy the luxuries of life.

Known as the “Magic Isle”, Maui is the second largest island of Hawaii.  It is a cultural island that is filled with adventures and striking sites.  The ocean is a gateway to an underworld of fun.  You can experience a real-life 3D viewing of the many species of tropical marine animals that decorate the sea by snorkeling or swimming with turtles.  Maui’s waters also offer thrilling oceanic views of observing the way humpback whales behave in their natural habitats. For cultural experiences, there are numerous attractions the manifest the island’s heritage. The town of Lahaina is a journey into Maui’s past with preservations of important collections such as the Wo Hing Temple and Hale Paahao.  Kula is the idealistic location to see how Maui produces its famous onions and to smell the sweet aromas coming from the exotic flowers of the botanical gardens. Kula is also home to the lavender farm, coffee and protea farm, and the Holy Ghost Church, which was a reward from Portugal’s royal family to the plantation workers in the late 1800s.

Along the tropical landscapes are trendy shops and boutiques overflowing with Hawaiian souvenirs.   Shop-a-holics will have the time of their lives shopping for genuine “made in Hawaii” merchandise with panoramic views of the majestic backgrounds.  Maui Crafts Guild offers a plethora of handicrafts such as jewelry, woven baskets, and ceramics.  The Whalers Village attracts many visitors with its provisions of trendy shops and restaurants.  The ABC stores also give tourists the opportunity to nourish their journey with authentic products specifically sold in Hawaii.  By night, local bars and restaurants transform into a vibrant social scene.  At the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel tourists are introduced to Hula shows while the pulsating beats of music fill the air.  In addition, local bars provide panoramic views, great music, and Maui’s trademark cocktail and treats.

The culinary feasts of Maui are phenomenal.  Feast your senses on luxurious cuisines made from the island’s ingredients and spices.  Maui’s makes great use of the products that are freshly picked out of the island’s farms, gardens, and waters.  Fish, meats, vegetables, and fruits provide profound aromas and delicacies that will definitely make your mouth water.  Chefs are also masters at preparing international foods influenced by their multicultural visitors.  No matter what you are craving, the dining experience of Maui will please any food connoisseur.

Maui experiences pleasant temperatures throughout the course of a year but the leeward areas are known to be drier than the windward.  During the summer (May-October), the weather averages around the 80s to low 90s.  In the winter (November-April), the temperatures typically fluctuate between the 70s and 80s.

Getting around Maui is pretty convenient.  Travel Plaza Transportation provides tours around Maui’s fascinating sites. The Lahaina-Lanai Ferry is a deluxe form of transportation between Maui and Lanai. Renting a car is also a convenient way to travel at your own pace.  However, the best way to enjoy Maui’s lavish sceneries and ambiance is by taking leisurely strolls along the narrow trails.
-Trav Alliance Media

Why not consider Maui for your #DestinationWedding or #Honeymoon? Let #VioletCloverTravelGroup help. Call today 216-236-8450 or visit www.violetclovertravelgroup.com

Featured Destination – Riviera Maya, Mexico

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Photo Credit: Agent Studio

A true vacationer’s paradise, Riviera Maya, Mexico, consists of a 75-mile stretch of tropical oasis that runs along the Yucatan Peninsula. Bordered by the powdery beaches and gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea, the region includes the major tourist destination of Cancun, along with Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and the Mayan oceanfront archeological site, Tulum.

Among the many attractions and sights in Riviera Maya, Xcaret and Xel-Ha are ecological parks open to the public featuring restored Mayan archeological sites, wildlife exhibits, grottos, natural aquariums and theme parks. Rio Secreto is an underground labyrinth of passageways formed by ancient geological formations and one of the most-visited natural marvels in the region. There are a wide variety of bars, restaurants and shops along La Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen. Underwater adventures begin with snorkeling and diving around the Great Maya Reef, the largest coral reef in the Northern Hemisphere. For rest and relaxation, Riviera Maya has a plethora of state-of-the-art spas that will help to replenish and rejuvenate the body while on vacation.

From authentic Mexican restaurants to international fusion and fresh seafood spots right on the water, Riviera Maya’s culinary scene combines local flavor with the many luxury resort dining options. Carboncitos is a Mexican joint in Playa del Carmen that may be geared toward tourists, but definitely doesn’t skimp on flavor and authenticity. For fresh and local seafood, Peskayitos in Puerto Morelos is known for its shrimp tacos and ceviche. La Mediterranean serves homemade pastas along with a variety of classic Italian dishes.

Cancun International Airport (CUN) is the region’s largest and most widely used airport for both domestic and international travel. Most major cities, including Cancun and Playa del Carmen, have car rental agencies, as it’s the best way to get around if traveling on your own and you’re not staying at a resort. Taxis are also available, though they should be pre-arranged by the hotel or resort.

With a semi-tropical climate, there is no bad time to visit Riviera Maya. The yearly average temperature is a beautiful 78° F (25.5° C), though it can easily rise to a steamy 98° F (36.6° C) in the summer months. The most abundant rainfall occurs during the months of April and May, as well as September through January, when tropical storms and hurricanes are known to blow through.

CALL 216-236-8450 TO BOOK YOUR TRIP TODAY! Or visit www.violetclovertravelgroup.com

Featured Destination – Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel

Jacques Cousteau is credited with introducing Cozumel to the world as a premier dive site in 1961 when he filmed a documentary on its stupendous coral reefs. Since then, this largest of Mexico’s islands located in the Caribbean, has grown into a leading dive and vacation destination. One hundred dive sites have been identified within three miles of the island and at least a dozen are also shallow enough for snorkeling. Add to these attractions, unspoiled beaches and a host of other water sports, deep sea fishing, kayaking and more.

​Beyond the water are the Chankanaab National Park and the Punta Sur Ecological Reserve. Though not nearly as impressive as the mainland’s pre-Hispanic ruins of Chichen Itza or Tulum, Cozumel has its own ruins with more than 40 sites. San Miguel de Cozumel, the only town, has a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere and one of Mexico’s most important international cruise docks.

To book your Cozumel, Mexico vacation call 216-236-8450 or contact me at Violet Clover Travel Group.