An adventure like no other, vacationing in the summer means underwater discoveries, street dancing, zip-lining and more in between. Cruise to Destinations like Bermuda, the Bahamas and Mexico have it all and then some. And if that wasn't enough, there's also more fun available at Perfect Day at CocoCay, a pristine vacation universe created just for you with plenty of sun, sand and sea, plus some thrills for good measure.
This quiet Mexican destination is blessed with a Caribbean touch evident in its colorful and tropical coast. Think fishing towns like Mahahual, colorful lagoons like Laguna Bacalar and mystical ruins like Kohunlich. Costa Maya, or the Southern Caribbean Coast, is teeming with summer vacation experiences for couples and families alike.
Costa Maya is particularly famous for its traditional Mexican fare. People travel from around the world for a taste of their famous mole, enchiladas and guacamole. But beyond the global favorites, you can find new flavors that are still traditional in the area — and for that, many visit Callejon del Sapo to sample dishes at different restaurants like Flavors of Mexico. Try lobster pescadillas, made with corn tortillas filled with fresh lobster meat caught that same day. Or savor cecina de yecapixtla, juicy tenderloin strips cooked to perfection and served with a side of nopales.
Learn about ancient Mexican history and how it still shapes life in Costa Maya today. Start with the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, inhabited by a Mayan civilization great at engineering structures by the water. You can climb and explore pyramids that were built thousands of years ago through one of the many tours available. You will learn about the history, construction and culture of the area.
Another way to immerse in the local culture is by visiting the Spanish fortress known as Bacalar, a beautiful site once used to protect Spaniards against pirates. There is also a museum and panoramic views to complete your visit.
Costa Maya is known for its many shades of blue and green waters, and also for being home to an underwater magical world known as Banco Chinchorro. This coral atoll, the largest in the northern hemisphere, is filled with shipwrecks, canyons and coral rings. Recently named a biosphere reserve, the area can only be visited through companies like Amigos del Mar, an authorized dive shop.
Head to Laguna Bacalar for more water adventures, this time by taking in the translucent blue and green lagoons that are calm and easy to kayak. For fishing or bird-watching visit Mahahual, where you can also relax in the sand with a cocktail in hand.
If you like having a beach to yourself and exploring quaint little villages, then Cozumel is your place. While a summer vacation here is sure to feed those looking for tourist-friendly experiences, those who want to indulge in the serenity and authentic experiences will find a calming respite.
Many of the main dishes in Cozumel are also Mexican staples found around the country, but on this pristine island, locals blend other influences in their food, like Spanish, French and Mayan — but most of all Caribbean. Cozumel is closer to Cuba than Mexico City, which makes their tropical inclinations very understandable.
Start with freshly caught fish in a red sauce, served inside a banana leaf with lime. Snapper and grouper are the most popular. Ask for pescado tikin-xic, a whole fish covered with achiote paste and baked. Fish is also served with mojo de ajo, a typical Caribbean sauce, making a tasty dish accompanied by tortillas.
Many call Cozumel a natural treasure and for good reason. You don't need to dive very deep to find wondrous marine life. One of the best spots to get a glimpse of the ocean life is at Cielo Reef, where you can spot different kinds of brightly colored fish. Another great stop is the Chankanaab natural park, home of a turquoise lagoon, botanical garden and colorful wildlife.
Can you imagine taking a cave diving tour? In Cozumel, you can. There are lagoons alongside Mayan ruins that you can explore to see lionfish, a fish you can later eat at a nearby restaurant when locals turn it into garlicky ceviche.
Learn something new and delve deep into Cozumel culture. Classes are taught regularly in areas like chocolate making and alebrijes (carved wooden figures), two of the most popular artisanal crafts in Cozumel. The classes are held at the Discover Mexico Park, where visitors can connect with the history and heritage of Mexico through art, food, music and architecture.
Another great way of learning about Cozumel culture is by taking a tequila tour. Casa Mission, a top tequila maker, shows visitors how tequila is made with a seminar, tasting and lunch prepared with local ingredients. At the end of the tour, you can pick up a tequila bottle or two at their souvenir shop.
Bermuda is home to two main towns, Hamilton (the capital) and the island of St. George. Both exude the same charming island appeal, but each in their own way.
Hamilton's food is known for its succulent flavors and tropical panache. Try the popular pawpaw casserole, a dish made of papayas cooked in a savory blend of onions, carrots, herbs and cheese with a touch of spice. Or taste the always delicious Bermuda fish chowder. And finish it off with a mouthwatering slice of black rum cake. For these delicacies, head to Art Mel's Spicy Dicy, Hog Penny or Devil's Isle in Hamilton.
In St. George, go for the light and crispy jumbo fish sandwiches, made with homemade shredded fish. And if you're looking for some fine dining, go with Tempest Bistro, considered by many as the best restaurant in St. George's. Their grilled shrimp and scallops in white wine are very popular, as are their savory puff pastries or their duck prosciutto.
After sauntering the cobblestone streets, museums and restaurants, go for the other side of Bermuda: a beach paradise. Visit the shoreline and soak in the fun in the sun. Tobacco Bay is perfect for a tranquil time with its calm waters and white sand, or head to St. Catherine's beach for blue ocean colors and views of beautiful Fort St. Catherine. A mandatory stop is the Bermuda Aquarium in Hamilton, housing the distinct ecology of the famous Bermuda reef and the species that inhabit those waters. Then visit the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute for interactive exhibits showing shipwrecks and the Bermuda triangle.
Try skipping town and exploring more of the coast. Check out Ferry Point Park, or drive to the ruins of Martello tower in the south for walking trails in the forest that lead to a calming lake. St. George's is where you'll find beautiful colonial architecture with stories to tell. Visit Bridge House Gallery and learn about the lives of Bermuda's 19th-century governors. Stop by the State House, built in 1620, and don't miss King's Square, where the Town Hall and Butterfield Bank are located, and which were built in 1776 during the American Revolution.
Also try other historical sites in Bermuda's capital, Hamilton, starting with the Bermuda Historical Society Museum, where you can learn about Bermuda's first currency, the Hogge money. Also learn about 19th-century cedar furniture and paintings of famous Bermudians, like settler George Somers. Visit the neo-gothic Holy Trinity Cathedral, and enjoy its English architecture enveloped by tropical nature.
When you think of a tropical paradise, images of the Bahamas come rushing in. The home of shallow blue beaches, caves, atolls, and marine life is also famous for a deep royal heritage.
Warm waters abound and are ready for you to discover them, either through diving, snorkeling or swimming. Explore stunning coral walls in Bimini, like the Rainbow Reef, or see ancient shipwrecks like Theo's Wreck and Sea Star Wreck. And try some exciting wall diving to discover the deep reef edges of the ocean and the marine animals that call it home. Pay a visit to the more rugged side of the Bahamas and take a nature walk or a Jeep adventure through pine forests. You can also stop by the Rand Nature Center, consisting of 100 acres of natural beauty and filled with pine barrens, native birds and ponds.
Nassau is perhaps the most quintessential Bahamian town, encapsulating the country's heritage. Its many historical landmarks make it a must-stop during your summer vacation. Visit the Queen's Staircase, Fort Charlotte or the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas to find glimpses of the past. For some culture shopping, with ocean winds brushing your hair, you must pay a visit to the crafts center in Bimini, the straw market in Grand Bahama or the exclusive hub that is Crystal Court in Atlantis resort. All of these locations will enchant you with a multitude of local souvenirs in the form of straw hats, painted shells and local stones turned jewelry.
Conch, which is not as well-known in the U.S., is a popular delicacy in the Bahamas and something you try during your summer vacation. This culinary ingredient, basically a large mollusk (similar to clams), has a meaty texture ideal for soups, appetizers and even sandwiches. But locals also prepare fritters, salads, chowders and many other iterations. Pigeon peas are also a must-try. Locals mix them with garlic, spices, onions and yellow rice. Ask for peas and rice when eating out and be ready to savor something uniquely Bahamian. Another great dish is switcha, a refreshing drink consisting of coconut, lemons and lime, usually served for dessert.
Perfect Day at CocoCay is vacation dreams come true for both kids and adults alike, a place where magic happens and bragging rights are collected. Perfect Day at CocoCay has the tallest waterslide in North America and a 450-foot-high helium balloon. There are swim-up bars, a freshwater pool and floating cabanas.
One of the perks of visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay is that you get to assemble your adventure, your way. One-size-fits-all does not exist here. Find a place to chill by the water, head to unbelievable water thrills or swim with a drink in hand — you are the master of your summer vacation. You can start by visiting the beach club, a place to unwind and refresh, where you can lay back in floating cabanas, sample upscale dishes and drift either poolside or seaside.
Then, visit the water park, but don't think this is an ordinary park. This destination is a water thrill filled with shriek-inducing attractions like sky-high slides and wave pools (the biggest in the Caribbean). And if then you wish to swim lazily, head to Oasis lagoon, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. Here you can take sips of Coco Loco, swim up to different islands and find yourself in the middle of a kid's splashing party.
And if you want to take the fun to new heights, then jump aboard a helium balloon and soar 450 feet above land for views of crystal clear waters, a bright sky and the colors of the balloon reflecting all around you. This is a bucket-list item for many and you get to write that off when you visit Perfect Day at CocoCay. The panoramic views will help you find new spots to visit, such as Chill Island, where you can snorkel the day away in shallow waters.