Category Archives: Caribbean

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?

Did you set your clock on Sunday…for Taste of St. Croix?

Yes, you need to set your clock.  In just 5 days, tickets go on sale for the Taste of St. Croix, the annual food extravaganza that draws about 1500 people to the beachfront of the Divi Carina Bay Resort for a night of sampling, sipping and music.  The event is always a sell-out, so if there’s any hope of snaring a ticket, you will have to set your clock.  On March 23 at 3:00pm is when Taste of St. Croix tickets go on sale online at http://www.stxfoodandwine.com/buy-tickets/.

This year’s Taste of St. Croix is Thursday, April 19th.  About sixty of the island’s best chefs, bakers, chocolatiers and caterers leave their kitchens and set up stands on the Divi Carina Bay’s beachfront, offering samplings of their specialties under the stars. While guests sample and sip – wineries, breweries and rum distilleries also participate – a panel of renowned celebrity chefs from the States are hard at work determining prize-winning entries.

The Taste of St. Croix is the centerpiece to the six-day St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, which includes other food oriented activities such as Cuisine on the Green, a tasty golf outing, a tasting “crawl” through historic Christiansted, and a sunset jazz BBQ on the pier in Fredriksted.  It’s a great way to experience the local food scene and the island’s scenery itself.  For the full schedule of events, visit http://www.stcroixfoodandwine.com/.

Set your calendar and your clock.  April in St. Croix is sunny and warm.  It’s also delicious and philanthropic.  Tickets benefit the St. Croix Foundation.

Did He Pop the Question?

According to the latest edition of Advertising Age, six million people were expecting to make or receive a marriage proposal this past Valentine’s Day. That’s two million more than last year. Were you among them?

Ah, love is in the air. Soon, we will hear, “…in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.”

Are those the vows or was someone referring to the wedding planning when they penned those words? Nothing says stress like the phrase, “planning a wedding.” Experts say satisfying everyone’s expectations — the bride’s, groom’s, their parents’ and guests’ – leads to significant stress, to say nothing of sorting through myriad details and countless decisions.

And, then there is the overall quest for the perfect wedding – with something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. That is actually a good description of a destination wedding in the Caribbean. A couple can have the old with the new, the tradition but with a twist – like a barefoot walk down an aisle in the sugary sand of a beautiful beach. You can borrow a local custom or too, like tossing a shell into the gorgeous blue Caribbean Sea.

A Caribbean destination wedding has perks for everyone: wedding and honeymoon for the happy couple, beach vacation for the happy guests.

Aruba is among the Top Ten places for a destination wedding for American couples. Warm but always kissed by a breeze, it beckons lovers all year round. And, doesn’t an on-site wedding planner sound really appealing, too? Leave the stress up north. Divi makes it really easy. Aruba Weddings For You is located on the premises of the Divi Tamarijn and produces weddings of every scope, size and style on the grounds of all five of the Divi resorts in Aruba. Want to get married on the 7th hole of the Links at Divi? Under a fresh floral canopy on Eagle Beach? Or maybe at the new Pure Ocean restaurant at Divi Aruba Phoenix on Palm Beach?

Here is a proposal: A wedding planner will make the planning go happily ever after. Do you want to contact the wedding planner now? I do.

St. Maarten’s New Top Dining Spot

St. Maarten, regarded as the dining capital of the Caribbean, just got a new “top” dining destination:  historic Fort Amsterdam.  The promontory, on the grounds of Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, is now the backdrop for a special dining experience under the stars, hosted by a pirate costumed waiter, serving up history and memorable cuisine at one of the Caribbean’s most enchanting and exclusive settings.

By day, a hike to the summit of Fort Amsterdam, which dates to the 1600s, provides a stunning vista across the Caribbean, all the way to St. Bart’s and Saba.  No wonder the peninsula served as the island’s lookout, protecting valuable salt ponds from advancing navies and marauders.  Now, by night, the fort at Divi Little Bay Resort hosts Dinner Atop the Fort, an epicurean event that combines history, pirate’s tales and Dutch cuisine amid the native flora and stone ruins of the fort.

A waiter, dressed in pirate garb and well-versed in local facts and yore, welcomes just a few couples nightly.   Diners are driven to the top of the fort by golf cart, tiki torches illuminating the ascent. The specially conceived menu takes inspiration from long ago and includes Dutch stew with beer and vegetables, a true Dutch apple pie and an old-fashioned Dutch dessert called Dutch poffertjes.   Diners will also be enthralled with the twinkle of lights in the capital city of Philipsburg far below and ships sailing in and out of Great Bay Harbor.

The cost of the dinner is $350 per couple, $185 per person; wine is included.   Reservations are required due to limited seating. To ensure availability during your stay at Divi Little Bay, reservations are suggested at the time of booking by calling Divi Resorts at 800.367.3484 or 919.419.3484.

Yum…Who’s In The Mood For Food?

The St. Croix Food & Wine Experience isn’t until April, but we just can’t wait to talk about food until then.  We found Tanisha Bailey-Roka, an attorney by day and a “countess” by night.  She’s the Crucian Contessa, a name given to her by her friends and homage to Tanisha’s favorite celebrity chef:  Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  (Who sadly is not one of the celebrity chefs judging this year’s Taste of St. Croix at Divi Carina Bay, April 18th.)  Tanisha likes to cook food and, even better, she loves to share it.  So last year, she started The Crucian Contessa blog, full of recipes she cooks up for friends.

Well, count yourself among them.  Let’s try her Passion Fruit Mimosa.  Yum!  Easy, delicious, colorful — it’s a taste of the islands in a glass.  (I’m sure there are some vitamins in there, too.)

Tanisha says that St. Croix definitely influences what she creates, but she has such a curiosity about food that she doesn’t limit her culinary explorations to the island.  “Food is fascinating, whether it originates around the corner or around the world,” she says.

More recipes to come.  Soon Tanisha will share with us what she will be instructing budding chefs during the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience children’s cooking classes.

For a complete schedule of the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience and to purchase tickets for any of the events, including the Taste of St. Croix, held on the beachfront of the Divi Carina Bay Resort, go to http://www.stcroixfoodandwine.com/events

And, for another treat:  Divi has One Sweet Deal (a free night with a five night stay, plus Cruzan Rum Sampler & coupon book — all valued at $1000.)