Category Archives: Activities

Chowder Down

Chowder isn’t just for New England.  And, it isn’t just for winter.   Wherever there is a sea, there’s chowder in some form or another. Whether on the coast of the Atlantic, Pacific or the Caribbean Sea, chowder chefs blend the flavors and bounty of both land and sea.   Chowder, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  Well, that’s going to be a challenge, as there are endless variations on the chowder theme, enough to have a competition.

This past year’s Taste of St. Croix featured impressive and, I might add, the always delicious, kitchen concoctions from over 50 restaurateurs, caterers and professional chefs.  Among the categories of the culinary competition was “soup/stew,” which always draws a number of creative interpretations of chowder.  Last year’s prizewinners had hinted at the possibilities of the palate-pleasing nature of chowder with pumpkin seafood and Crucian conch versions.

Chowder has always been a part of the weekly Seafood Fest at Divi Carina Bay for good reason: It’s a crowd pleaser all year long.   You never know until the first taste whether it’s wahoo, mahi or snapper that went from the boat into the pot that day. Carina Bay’s Executive Chef Thomas is determined to win the soup/stew category of the 2013 Taste of St. Croix with the Divi Signature Seafood Chowder.  If he wins, he won’t have to go far – the Taste is staged right outside his kitchen on the Divi beachfront.  As always, the competition is keen.  All the soups are tasty.  Who wants the recipe?

There were six other “best” categories in the Taste of St. Croix: appetizer, entrée, dessert, beverage, local fare, presentation and vegetarian.  And while judges were behind closed doors sampling, assessing and ranking entries, 1500 guests outside on the Divi beachfront were sampling the same.  No worries, there are always plenty to go around.  And, by the way, last year the St. Croix Central High School afterschool cooking class won best vegetarian dish.  That certainly bodes well for St. Croix’s culinary future.

In addition to Thomas and his staff, 40 other Divi Carina Bay personnel were hard at work with 114 volunteers to help make the Taste a sensational event this past year.  It’s a very big party and one you shouldn’t miss next year.  Same time. Same place. It’s a great night to chow-der down.

A Caribbean vacation in summer? Yes, let’s go!

Did you know there are over 7000 individual islands in the Caribbean?  Who’s ready to spend a few days on one this summer? The Caribbean in summer?  Yes!  It’s when the best deals are.  Especially after April 1, when kids eat and stay free at Divi Resorts.  June is when most Divi Resorts offer the lowest rates, but there are deals all summer long.  Vacation dollars go further, spacious suites are available and there are plenty of palapas for a quiet snooze on the beach.  There are also as many activities in summer as in season.  This is sounding like a vacation made in heaven.  But, it’s the Caribbean.

So, just where should you go for a Caribbean beach vacation?  I’m giving an “A” to Aruba.   First of all, there are few worries about hurricanes.  Aruba is technically out of the hurricane zone.  The temperature is only slighted elevated in the summer months due to the ever-present trade winds.

Aruba has too many temptations to list.  But, just consider these:

Divi Village, Divi Aruba Phoenix and Divi Dutch Village offer all-suite accommodations, an ideal set-up for families.   Not only are the suites spacious with modern amenities, but also they feature fully equipped kitchens. That’s handy for keeping kids satisfied with a little snacking and refreshment throughout the day, and an excellent way to stretch the family’s vacation dollars.   ‘Because you will want to do this vacation again next year.

If the brood is just too tired to go out at night, it couldn’t be easier to settle in for a night at home.  Slide open the balcony doors, plop onto a comfy couch and hit the remote for the flat-screen TV.  You can also gather ‘round the dining room table for board games.

Staying in won’t feel like a letdown after all there is to do during the day.  If you opt for the Druif Beach area, you’ll have your pick of multiple pools (enough to choose a different one just about every day), lighted tennis courts (weekly tennis clinics, too), poolside games and beach walks every afternoon, a water sports center with enough free activities to keep families entertained no matter how long the stay.   Aruba’s only 30-foot rock climbing wall is located on the Divi beach.

There are more than a dozen restaurant choices for the entire family when you do feel like dining out together.   (Remember:  kids eat free April 1 through December 21st.) Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort also has a nine-hole golf course and pro shop.  Parents might also like an evening at the Alhambra casino, which can be reached by a free shuttle bus from the resort.

Over at Phoenix Beach, the curvaceous pools are a big hit with families, as is the cool and comfy Pure Beach restaurant.  For a convenient diversion, go across the street and roam the Butterfly Farm.  Buy one ticket and go multiple times.

It’s just a shame you have to go home at some point.  I guess that’s why it’s called a “vacation.” Be sure to check out Divi’s discounted Summer rates!

All Dressed Up and Someplace to Go – It’s Carnival Time!

Oh, how they love a good party in St. Maarten.  Carnival, the annual festival that has more music, rhinestones and feathers than a Grammy Awards show, is now going on in St. Maarten.  And, it’s going on and on and on.  The island has been partying for two weeks already, and they are not done yet.  But, almost.   The festivities end today.

According to Carnival connoisseurs, St. Maarten has one of the best celebrations in the northeastern Caribbean. There are events day and night.  A festival village is the hub, but parades fan out through the downtown of Phillipsburg.  There are also beauty pageants, numerous heart-pumping concerts, lots of food and costume competitions.  The latter is serious business.

After all, Carnival is THE biggest event of the year on St. Maarten, so it is no surprise that the fashions come out for the occasion.  Front Street, the parade route, turns into a red carpet of sorts with revelers strutting the stuff of the Caribbean’s finest Carnival designers.  There’s every color of the rainbow and then some, plenty of feathers, rhinestones, fringe, beads, netting and towering headdresses three feet high and three feet wide.

Planning what to wear next year begins nearly the day after Carnival ends this year.  Creative minds get sketching, colors envisioned, fabrics ordered, and soon nimble fingers are sewing, beading and spangling for months.

And, that’s not all.   There has to be make-up to go with the outfit.  Revlon commissioned Sandra Hordatt, a top Carnival costume designed based in Trinidad, but who works throughout the Caribbean, to develop some Carnival make-up looks last year. Stunning, we think you’ll agree, but judge for yourself with these make-up pictures.

And, here’s something else we’ve learned.  On Carnival Info, a website which tells you everything you didn’t even know you didn’t know about carnivals around the world, you can order a costume custom made for you.

And, now that you know the dress code, mark your calendar for April 2014.  There’s a party going on.

Since Carnival comes at a very popular time of year for vacations, book a stay at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort well in advance.  It’s never too soon to plan accommodations or party attire!

All That Jazz

Want to be part of a global happening?  Next Tuesday, April 30 is International Jazz Day. More than 300 concerts will be taking place around the world to celebrate the musical art form.  From Australia to Zambia, Barbados to Uruguay, there will be live jazz music that you can log in to listen to!

You’ll be treated to today’s International jazz greats (Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Milton Nascimento, Hugh Masekela, to name just a few), up and comers from jazz bastions like the US, Brazil and France, and enthusiasts in Croatia, Kenya and Nepal where they are just getting a taste for jazz. Such far-flung locales promise plenty of regional riffs on the jazz theme, along with the standards.

In Barbados, that means a mix of piano and steel pan.  In a concert at Divi Southwinds, Ebe GIlkes, an iconic figure of jazz on the island, will lead his trio, along with Andre Ford, a steel pan artist, in classics as well as Caribbean jazz. Listen in at http://caribbeanwebcast.com/barbadosjazz/ at 7pm.

When you log on, you’ll be sharing the moment with people across the globe.  In Bhutan, for example, citizens have been invited to assemble near the palace to listen to the streamed concerts.  The concert at Divi Southwinds is just one of the many that will be streamed, meaning you can fill your entire day with live jazz from every time zone in the world on Tuesday, April 30.  More than 70 countries have planned events.  The concert schedule is available at http://jazzday.com/events/.  Also, more information is available at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/intljazzday.

Started last year by Herbie Hancock, famed American jazz musician, to highlight jazz as a form of communication that transcends differences, International Jazz Day is part of the official calendar of both UNESCO and the United Nations. It’s a momentous day when music and the Internet connect us to our universal delight.

What should you pack for a vacation in Bonaire?

Swimsuit.  Yes.  Driver’s License.  Yes.  Watch.  No.

Going on vacation is a time for turning off the clock for some people. No need to be anyplace at any particular time. Let the boats and buses leave when they must.  Banish the smartphones and watches.  Ahhhh.  This is the definition of vacation.  Let’s go shore diving when and where we want – and for as long as we want.  No wonder Bonaire is paradise for divers who want to be “off the clock.”

Bonaire is the world capital of shore diving.  All a diver needs is a full tank and wheels to get where they want to go underwater exploring.  There are more than 80 marked shore dive sites along the coastline of this little island, 50 miles north of Venezuela.   Selecting the day’s destination just might be the hardest thing a dive vacationer has to do all week.

The shoreline and coastal waters of Bonaire are designated as the Bonaire National Marine Park and this protection has helped make the island one of the world’s top dive destinations.   A coral reef, encircling the entire island, supports an array of fish, considered by some scientists as the most diverse fish population in the Caribbean and among the best in the world.  Prepare to be amazed.

It’s easy to enjoy all the riches and relaxation that Bonaire has to offer.  Divi Flamingo Beach Resort has a new special called the Shore & Explore that is a deal on accommodations and wheels for a seven-night stay.  A pick-up will be waiting for you at the airport.  You will soon hold the keys to a very relaxing vacation. Go to the website for more details.  Ahhhh.  Can you feel your blood pressure going down already?

Eat. Play. Love.

The Taste of St. Croix, set for April 18th, turns thirteen this year!  What began as a modest one-night celebration of local restaurants now has grown into a week-long food festival, called the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience.  It is now the largest culinary event in the Caribbean.

And, that’s a fact that makes Katherine Pugliese mighty proud.  Pugliese, proprietor of eat@canebay restaurant, together with Kelly Odum staged the first Taste of St. Croix in 2001, at Divi Carina Bay Resort.  Now, the Thursday evening event – the highlight of the Food & Wine Experience and the social event of the island’s social calendar – draws over 1500 people and stretches nearly the length of the Divi beachfront.  Speaking about last year’s event, Pugliese said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen St. Croix look so beautiful and so happy…”

Eat.  Play.  Beach.  Music.  A little wine.  A little rum. What’s not to love?