Getting “Chili” With It In St. Croix

On August 11, it will be Chili on the Beach in St. Croix.

Many travelers to St. Croix know that Divi Carina Bay Resort plays host every year to the glamorous and delicious Taste of St. Croix, an epicurean evening featuring the island’s best restaurants.  When August comes around, the mood changes a bit, the temperature rises and the Divi beachfront is the place to chow down some chili at the United Way Chili Cookoff.

You might be thinking that the Caribbean is all about conch chowder, pina coladas and rum, but chili is what will pack them onto the beach on Sunday, August 11, from 11am until 9pm. Chili plus live bands, dancing, games for children and adults and a knee-slapping good time. It’s all for a good cause and a chance to decide who is number #1 in chili on the island of St. Croix– be it beef, chicken, turkey, pork or a vegetarian version.

St. Croix’s chili champion goes on to compete in November at the International Chili Championship in Terlingua, Texas–the granddaddy of all chili cookoffs.  The St. Croix winner receives airfare, entrance fee to the chili cook-off and a RV for the four-day celebration of chili.

Last year, the event drew 1300 people to the Divi beachfront. Admission is free. Attendees pay for the chili samples, each sample raising funds for several worthwhile causes.  If you want to be a part of it, the June Summer Deal at Divi Carina Bay includes a free night for either a four-night or five-night stay through August 31st.  Now, that is a great recipe:  chili, charity and a vacation special.

The Aruba Nightlife

No wonder Aruba is such a happy island.  Day or night, there is no shortage of things to do while in Aruba.  So many travelers who return to Aruba again and again have a list of favorite things about Aruba, be it a pool to languish by, a beach for savoring a sunset or a certain shop.  And, yet, it’s always fun to discover something new.  If you haven’t yet had a night out at Fusion, make a note.  Since opening last season, this one-of-a-kind establishment has – in less than a year – become a go-to place for those on their Aruba vacation as well as locals out for a nice evening.

The full name is Fusion Wine & Piano Bar and it is situated in the newly revamped Alhambra Plaza.  And, to borrow from the vernacular of the day, it is what it is:  that is to say, a fusion, in just about every way.  It is restaurant and lounge, dinner and tapas, cocktails and wine, live music and cigar bar.  It’s also a mix of inside and outside, with a bright lights/big city circular bar plus table seating inside and a cozy living room-like arrangement out under the stars where you can sink into comfy couches and let the music gently waft over the summer breeze.

Fusion is a place for doing your own thing.  Got a favorite wine?  The wine selection is the most extensive on the island and continues to expand.  Fusion also has Aruba’s most extensive cigar collection.  Live entertainment is offered six nights a week, and has variety, too, ranging from jazz, pop, soul and a little R&B.  Sunday night, Angelo Koolman (Love the name.) sings and plays guitar, Monday night Angelo Kock tickles the ivories and Tuesday, Mister Martens plays sax.  Fusion Wine & Piano Bar’s Facebook page posts the upcoming schedule: https://www.facebook.com/FusionAruba.

On the Facebook page, you will also find comments and reviews, like this one from Liliana Erasmus, writing for 10Best.com, “It’s here at Fusion, where laidback evenings are filled with the indulgence of the senses and where signature cocktails, a generous selection of global wines and premium cigars are complemented by French Executive chef Gerard Coste’s reinvented menu.

EJ Schanfarber, CEO of Divi Resorts, says that Fusion is a nice place to relax at the end of the day. “It is a new concept for the island, and we’re so pleased that it has struck the right chord with our guests and locals alike.

See you there!

In search of the next Jacques Cousteau

Nearly nonstop from 1966 to 1982, famed French underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau captivated television audiences in America, his cameras revealing life beneath the sea. He inspired many a landlubber to take up diving, pick up a camera and plunge into the big blue sea. There are few places better to do that than Bonaire. Protected waters, pristine reefs and a biggest fish population in the Caribbean, no wonder Bonaire is a top destination for underwater photographers.  This year, Scuba Diving Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards voted Bonaire the number one destination for underwater photography.

Which is one reason the Digital Shootout was headed back to Bonaire to stage its underwater imaging workshop. This year’s event was once again at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort recently during June 22-29, 2013.  We’re happy to say that the event was fully booked this year.  Find out the winners from this year’s event at DigitalShootout.com! And be sure to put this annual event on your bucket list of vacation experiences.  It’s a must! And you won’t have to wait long. It’s been at the Divi Flamingo seven times in the past eleven years.

The Digital Shootout consists of six days of diving and seminars, designed to help novice or intermediate shutterbugs take their underwater picture taking to the next level.  The full schedule includes dives in the morning, classes in the afternoon and then free play and total relaxation at night.  Is it education or vacation?  It’s both.

The Digital Shootout give participants something more to do with their vacation pictures than merely posting them to Facebook.  The Digital Shootout awards $30,000 in prize money to class participants.  It’s worth a shot, right?

You can release your inner Jacques Cousteau with Divi Dive Bonaire at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort any time of year, of course. (There’s always a good vacation package.) The Divi Dive staff knows the best places around the island for underwater picture taking.  Night dives are also available.  And, a few of the staff members are pretty experienced shutterbugs themselves and are happy to offer pointers.