A Cadushy Cocktail

by Divi Diva on July 2, 2014

On Bonaire, you can really get in the spirit of the island by enjoying a Cadushy Cocktail. Bartenders at the Chibi Chibi Restaurant at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort, take special pride in serving this ‘only in Bonaire’ concoction – a potent mix of rums (yes, plural), curaçao, pineapple juice and Cadushy of Bonaire Liqueur.

Cadushy Cocktail

Get in the spirit of the island by enjoying a Cadushy Cocktail!

Cadushy is the world’s only liqueur made from cactus. Never heard of it? The locals hadn’t either until just five years ago. That’s when an enterprising couple from The Netherlands moved to Bonaire and soon tasted sopi di kadushi (cadushy soup), made from the kadushi cactus. The experience got them thinking, why couldn’t cadushy be a liqueur.

Which is very logical thinking, history shows. It’s how the world ended up with gin from juniper berries, tequila from agave nectar, whiskey from barley and rum from molasses. Someone somewhere is probably trying to turn something into liquor right now.

That tall, thorny cactus growing around Bonaire is now used to make a tasty, pretty-in-the-glass pale green liqueur, composed of the peel of the cactus, a very special lime indigenous to Bonaire and some secret ingredients. Nowadays, Bonairean bartenders find a way to include it in many drinks, from margaritas to Cadushy libres. It can even be sipped cold.

Don’t ask me how you peel a cactus, other than very carefully. But you can head over to the Cadushy distillery, which has become a must-see on the island. Located in Rincon, on the opposite side of Bonaire, we’ve heard it’s a totally pleasing little jaunt to head over there for a little tasting after an afternoon dive.

If you can’t bring yourself to leave the Divi Flamingo Resort (we wouldn’t blame you there), settle into a seat on the open-air deck at Chibi Chibi Restaurant. It’s a tranquil setting at the water’s edge, where the only activity in the late afternoon is the fish gliding through the water below and the setting sun spreading its golden glow across the Caribbean Sea. That’s a perfect time and place for a Cadushy Cocktail.

A Summer Cocktail

by Divi Diva on July 1, 2014

It’s the motto of travelers ‘round the world:  When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, in St. Maarten, enjoy a Guavaberry Fizz. Chances are you won’t taste guavaberry liqueur anywhere else in the world. These little wild berries  - no relation at all to guava – grow high upon the hills in the center of the island and elsewhere across the Caribbean. At the Seabreeze Restaurant at the Divi Little Bay Resort, the bartenders love making Guavaberry Fizzes.

The cocktail couldn’t be simpler to make: put a good po

Guavaberry Fizz

Guavaberry, unique to St. Maarten!

ur of guavaberry liqueur in the bottom of a tall glass, fill with any sort of fizzy water – sparkling water, club soda, seltzer, then garnish with the tropical fruit of your choice. A sliver of pineapple adds tropical flair and flavor; slices of orange or lime (or both) work too. It’s the pause that really refreshes on a very sunny St. Maarten day.

Not far from the Divi Little Bay Resort you will find the Sint Maarten Guavaberry Company on Front Street in Phillipsburg. Here you can learn everything you’d ever want to know about guavaberry but didn’t know to ask. Guavaberries are rare, have decades of history and are a rather unique species in the plant kingdom. The juice of these precious berries are mixed with rum and sugar and then aged to create the liqueur. In addition to information, there is also a shop, so you buy a bottle of the liqueur, which means…. that when you arrive home you can still do as the Sint Maarteners do.

And, when home is Divi Little Bay for a week or two, the on-site grocery is well stocked with the fizzy and the fruit. You can even order supplies ahead and the Seagull Delivery Service will have them in your room awaiting your arrival – a very nice welcome indeed.

Employee in the Spotlight: Jeanette Winklaar

by Divi Diva on May 29, 2014

If you love to start your day with a good breakfast you are in luck at Calabas restaurant, located at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort on Bonaire. Though cooks rarely leave the kitchen and become known to diners, it’s high time we introduced you to Jeanette Winklaar. She’s been in the Divi kitchen there for a very long time. Jeanette can tell you the very day she started cooking for guests at Divi Flamingo: April 29, 1994. That’s 20 years, now going on 21.

Jeanette - Flamingo

Jeanette at work in the kitchen!

It’s always beneficial to have a happy cook, especially at breakfast. Some say it’s the most important meal of the day. And, what a way to start the day at Divi Flamingo – a traditional feast of hearty fare with a bounty fresh tropical delights served in the open air with a view of the glistening Caribbean. Every day she’s in the kitchen there, Jeanette is a happy cook.

When she’s not at the resort, you can find her enjoying happy hour, mostly for the chatting with friends. Karel’s is one of her favorite places for these get-togethers.   On the flip side – for serenity, she’ll head to Te Amo Beach. For romance, she goes camping on Klein Bonaire.

This native Bonairean is proud of her home and heritage. She invites visitors to get to know her homeland by visiting Washington Slagbaai National Park tour and doing the shore drive around the island. If you are lucky to spend a Sunday in Bonaire, Lac Bay is a wonderful slice of life on the island. Locals gather there for the beauty and the great mariachi band that comes to add a festive soundtrack to the scene.

Food is just one way Jeanette loves helping people. She’s all about friendship, family and chatting.  One thing that would make her even happier is an expansion of Calabas restaurant. More guests, more meals, more cooking – that’s what Jeanette loves to do.

A poquito coquito, anyone?

by Divi Diva on April 11, 2014

Word is that that Vice President Joe Biden and his wife were spied on St. Croix a few weeks ago.  That marks their second visit in four months. Were they just doing what many of us were wishing for:  a quick escape from the endless winter?  And, are they just being patriotic going to America’s Caribbean island?  No. We know they are big fans of St. Croix.  The couple has spent every New Year’s holiday in the USVI since Biden was elected vice president in 2008.

Martha Stewart

File Photo: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

He wasn’t the only VIP who decamped to St. Croix for the holidays.  While little is known of the Bidens’ activities while there, Martha Stewart, on the other hand, told all on her blog about her family’s visit.  “I spent this Christmas on the beautiful island of St. Croix in the Caribbean.  Took lots of pics to share w/u on my blog,” began the first of many posts on The Martha Blog.

We hope that one day we report that the Bidens  – and maybe Martha, too – enjoyed themselves at the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, that annual week-long celebration of Cruzan food and drink.  I hereby suggest that Martha be a judge for the event’s restaurant competition, the Taste of St. Croix, which takes place every year at Divi Carina Bay Resort.  She certainly has the right qualifications.

Coquito

A coquito, a tropical twist on eggnog! File Photo: María del Mar Sacasa

It’s no surprise that while exploring St. Croix, Stewart found the local’s favorite lunch spot: The Chicken Shack.  On Centerline Road, near the midpoint of the island, it’s a mecca for spit-roasted chicken, ribs and pork.  It’s the place to enjoy a coquito, too, a tropical twist on eggnog.  The Chicken Shack is only open for lunch (10:30 – 5).  Now that Stewart has introduced you to coquito, continue on to the Cruzan Rum Distillery to stock up on Cruzan Rum.  (Tours: 9-4, M-F)  In the factory store, they’ll box a six-pack of rums for shipping as baggage.  No worries about an extra baggage fee – It won’t get charged.

If you’d like to try a coquito at home, here’s a recipe.

Bonaire National Marine Park

by Divi Diva on April 2, 2014

Say happy birthday to the Bonaire National Marine Park.  This year marks 35 years of action to protect the 24-mile long island.  The goal has long been to ensure the aquatic environment remains just as it was in 1971.  As a result of its admirable foresight, Bonaire is hailed the world over as a diver’s paradise.

But, Bonaire isn’t just about water. And no longer is a vacation there just about diving.  Today, the Bonaire National Marine Park’s conservation efforts extend to protecting Washington-Slagbaai National Park as well as the Barcadera cave system.

Did you know you could go spelunking in Bonaire?  Put down your fins and check out the stalactites in the caves not far from Kralendijk.  If sporting fins while on Bonaire just seems more natural, there are guided snorkel tours through parts of the cave.

You also can get up close to nature by kayaking the island’s mangroves, another well-preserved area.  What exactly is a mangrove?  It is a tropical species of tree that performs a very important function in protecting the coastline. Data shows that where mangrove forests have been destroyed, tsunami damage has been more extensive.

Ready for another adventure on Bonaire?  Take a bike ride through Washington-Slagbaai National Park.  This vast area, nearly one-fifth of the island, is another valuable part of the local ecosystem.  Many bike rental companies conduct tours through the Kunuku (outback), following hundreds of miles of paths as well as along the coastline.  As you huff and puff you way up and down the terrain of the park, wild goats and donkeys will be leisurely grazing nearby.  Those gorgeous long-legged Bonaire beauties, pink flamingos – will be there as well.

Yes, Bonaire is gaining a new reputation as a well-rounded destination with a host of diversions for anyone who is up to it.  Undoubtedly, it is for the sporting type.

Which doesn’t mean that a Mango Colada or a Divi Funky Monkey isn’t always waiting for you at the Chibi Chibi.  Or there isn’t always a place on the Divi Flamingo dock to lay back and soak up a gentle breeze.  Ah, the Caribbean Ocean’s rhythmic sways below. While snoozing, letting the mind wander or, if need be, massaging sore muscles at The Touch Spa (which, by the way, is just across from the Chibi Chibi. How thoughtful is that?), proud Bonaireans are hard at work preserving the environment.  Thank goodness.  That is why you came, after all.

Ironmaning in St. Croix

by Divi Diva on April 1, 2014

Was a marathon on your list of goals for 2014?  Running 26 miles would top any New Year’s resolution to “get fit.”  Health experts say the key thing is to simply do 30 minutes of exercise several times each week.  So, as Nike says, “Just Do It.”  If you were in St. Croix in January, you saw the Nikes fly during the St. Croix Scenic 50. The 50 stands for 50 miles. Now that is truly going the distance.

St. Croix Ironman

Test out your Ironman Resolve in St. Croix!

What better way to see St. Croix than running over its rugged mountains and along its beautiful shoreline? Or so say the race promoters.

St Croix is about 84 square miles, which makes it the largest of all the US Virgin Islands. (It is nearly two and half times bigger than St. Thomas.) Its terrain is varied:  hills, rain forest and flatlands – probably one reason why the St. Croix Ironman is a key event in the Ironman series. Thirty finishers this year will go to the big kahuna:  the World Championship in Hawaii.

This year, the St. Croix Ironman competition is May 4. It has long been known as a battle between the racer and the course.  A 1.24-mile swim in Christiansted harbor starts the endurance test, followed by the 56-mile bike portion and concludes with a 13.1 mile run ending downtown. The exact course varies from year to year, but it often goes past Divi Carina Bay Resort, offering participants a beautiful vista from the high points on the road leading to the resort and providing Divi guests a chance to encourage the racers.

If you’re wearing that new Fitbit you got for Christmas, wave your arms a lot as the participants hustle by.  The device tracks arm movement, so you’ll be upping your daily activity count and calories burned, which will get you just a wee bit closer to your own fitness goal.

If inspiration struck as you were watching, head back to Divi Carina Bay for some paddle boarding in the bay.  Or, you can just relax.  The hotel has an Ironman Special (No fitness test required.) for participants, spectators or those simply in need of a dose of Caribbean sunshine in May.

Take note:  this package goes the distance.  Book five nights and stay two more nights – for free.

Time to Save Money On Travel

by Divi Diva on March 28, 2014

Did you resolve to save more money this year?  US News says more people are making financial resolutions than a few years ago.  But vowing to be mindful of expenditures doesn’t mean one can’t resolve to have more fun and travel more – both good goals.  There is a way to be wealthier and happier as well as healthier in 2014.  (Remember:  Vacations are recommended for good health.) 

Divi Divi Tree Aruba

File Photo: Courtesy of Joel Collins.

Here are a six ways to save money on travel in 2014:

  1. Go against the flow – The great rush to the Caribbean is in winter, but the hot deals are in the off-season. You’ll escape the crowds, temperatures are only slightly elevated during summer and chances are there are big discounts on airfare, too. Make it a family vacation because kids stay and eat free at Divi Resorts from April through mid-December.
  2. Best things come in twos – Booking a packaged vacation not only streamlines the reservation process but results in maximum savings. Divi’s new booking platform, Divi Vacations, provides the lowest price on rooms at the resorts, even exceeding published best available rates when booked separately, and assures best pricing on airfare from major airlines.  Depending on the season, customers will save from $150 to $345 per trip.
  3. Let’s be friends – Divi Facebook page includes occasional contests (Wow! Winning would really mean a savings!), and news about special offers, such as diving deals at Divi Flamingo Beach in Bonaire. Followers also receive announcements for limited time airfare discounts to the islands from major hubs.
  4. Suite deal – For family travel, nothing beats a suite. A one-bedroom with a pullout couch easily accommodates a family of four. (See savings tip #1.)  Even better, a family can take meals and snack time in their own kitchen. In St. Maarten at the Divi Little Bay Resort, the on-site grocery will stock the refrigerator and pantry in advance of arrival.
  5. Kid’s play – Look for resorts providing free kids or family activity programs. The new Divi’s Treasures of the Caribbean program at all Divi Resorts engages the entire family in treasure hunts, sandcastle building, movie night, souvenirs, T-shirts and more.
  6. Pack light – Avoid the extra baggage fees.  After all, most time spent on a Caribbean vacation is in a swimsuit.

Got any money-saving travel tips you want to share?  Post your own ideas for travel tips at the Divi Resorts Facebook page.  (Remember Tip #3 — Deals are waiting there.)

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