Tag Archives: Eat And Drink

Zemi Beach Anguilla

The Caribbean’s Best Rum Bars

 

Move over fruity rum drinks. The Caribbean’s favorite spirit has caught the attention of connoisseurs. These enlightened imbibers shun blenders and fruit garnishes in favor of snifters, and sample small-batch rums and artisanal blends that need no enhancements beyond a comfortable atmosphere. Hoteliers have taken note, and a new breed of rum bars is cropping up across the Caribbean. Here are five of the best places to savor the spirits with island style.

The Cane Bar at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

Much more than a beach bar, The Cane Bar offers a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere where there are no distractions to take away from the pleasures of sampling premium rums. Located inside the resort’s Great House, the room features a subdued white and pale charcoal design palette. Oversized chairs sit around tables and living room style arrangements provide group settings and the sleek white bar offers alternative seating. Prized artworks hangs on the walls, and the shelves behind the bar are lined with an extensive selection of expertly chosen local and international rums. With many choices on hand there is a professional rummelier to help with your selection. When hunger strikes, a Japanese-inspired menu includes a selection of fresh- catch sashimi and a variety of rolls. Signature dishes include the Caribe Roll, which is wrapped in mango, and the Cane Bar Roll with spicy stone crab and avocado. The bar is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and you’ll want to leave your beach togs back in the room and dress “smart casual” for the evening.

St Lucia Rum Bar

Subdued colors lend a sophisticated ambiance to The Cane Bar at St. Lucia’s Sugar Beach resort, where vintage and small-batch rums are featured. Photo: Sugar Beach

Rhum Room at Zemi Beach House, Anguilla

One of the newest and now most popular boutique resorts in the Caribbean boasts Anguilla’s first rum bar. The design of the Rhum Room at Zemi blends modern accents with classic Caribbean architectural details to create a sophisticated yet beach-ready vibe. This setting is enhanced by the natural backdrop of Shoal Bay East, which has been called one of the world’s best beaches. The bar features over 100 small-batch, single-estate rums selected to showcase the breadth and diversity of the Caribbean’s distilling traditions. Guests can delve into the world of rum by sampling the curated Rhum Flight, which includes a selection of rums assembled by the house rummelier. The inventory includes bottles of Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, of which only 800 bottles are available to the public worldwide. Also in the collection is Clément Cuvée Homère, the highest rated vintage rum in the past 15 years, and the recently released premium Brugal Papá Andrés, which is a handcrafted blend created by master blender Maestros Roneros.

Anguilla Rum

The Rhum Room at Anguilla’s Zemi Beach House puts a sophisticated spin on the classic Caribbean club motif. The bar is stocked with a collection of super-premium rums. Photo: Dylan Cross/Zemi Beach

Rum Bar at Cooper Island Beach Club, BVI

You wouldn’t expect to find a well stocked rum bar to be on a tiny island in the British Virgin Islands. With just nine rooms set around a remote bay, the Cooper Island Beach Club caters to those wanting to get away from it all. Day sailors will sometimes stop in for lunch or dinner at the club’s restaurant as part of an island- hopping itinerary. In 2015, mariners found another reason to stop when Cooper Island added the Rum Bar and then a microbrewery. Patrons can sit beachside on wooden benches made from recycled teak and the reclaimed wood of boats, or hang at the bar for some serious tastings. The bar boasts the largest collection of rums in the Virgin Islands, with more than 150 labels from distilleries around the world. A sampler board introduces patrons to the world of premium rums, and the bar staff is on hand to offer suggestions and share tidbits on the origins and history of the labels, and on the general craft of rum making. Signature rum cocktails are accented with fruits and herbs grown at the onsite organic garden, and the bar creates proprietary rum infusions with flavors such as such as honey and lemon, hazelnut praline and jalapeño.

Rum Bar BVI

Cooper Island Beach Club is a family-run boutique resort that features the Rum Bar offering over 100 different rums from all around the Caribbean. Photo: Cooper Island Beach Club

101 Rums Bar, Four Seasons Nevis

Take a seat at the pastel painted bar, where large open windows frame views of the colorful fishing boats lined up on Pinney’s Beach, with the green slopes of St. Kitts as the backdrop. The 101 Rums Bar is housed inside Mango, the Four Seasons open-air beach restaurant. Set on water’s edge, the restaurant and bar offer the best sunsets on the island. Guests can sample signature cocktails like Nevisian Spirit or the 100 Mile Cocktail, which is made exclusively from ingredients harvested within 100 miles of the resort. Serious rum drinkers can bypass the mixed fare and focus on tastings and sippings of some of the world’s premier rums such as Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, El Dorado 25 Year Old and Pyrat Cask. With over 101 aged rums and a selection of artisanal rhum agricoles to choose from, there’s a flavor to please every palate. Weekly rum tastings are on the itinerary, and guests should plan on arriving for sunset, as the bar is open only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Four Seasons Nevis

Sand and sea breezes set the scene at the 101 Rums Bar. The bar is located on Pinney’s Beach at the Four Seasons Nevis resort. Photo: Four Seasons Nevis

The Reef’s Rum Bar at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas

One of the first rum bars to grace the Caribbean combined premium labels with a memorable setting. Located just off the main lobby, the Reef’s Rum Bar offers a sophisticated indoor seating area that opens to an expansive outdoor terrace that delivers harbor views and a panoramic sweep of the mountains of St. Thomas. The indoor bar features small, intimate tables that become gathering points for smaller groups, as well as high-tops and flat screen TVs where guests can mingle and catch their favorite sports game as they sip and relax. There are a number of premium rums available for tasting, as well as a creative roster of handcrafted cocktails. Many of the drinks are made with Cruzan rum, locally distilled and bottled on sister island St. Croix. Try the signature cocktails like the Reef Rum Punch or Mango Tango.

St Thomas Frenchmans Reef

One of the Caribbean’s first rum bars opened at the Frenchman’s Reef resort in St. Thomas. The Reef’s Rum Bar provides an informal setting to enjoy premium spirits. Photo: Frenchman’s Reef

St Kitts Kitchen

The Caribbean’s Best Lunch Spots

 

There’s nothing like lingering over lunch when on vacation, letting the food come out slowly while the corks keep popping. And these relaxed meals are even better when enjoyed in a unique and memorable setting. We know of several such places in the Caribbean, and here are three of our favorites.

On the Beach

On the island of Antigua the place for beachfront dining is Catherine’s Café Plage, French Restaurant & Beach Bar. On Sunday’s you’ll be keeping company with members of the British expat community, who come for brunch and fill tables inside, out on the deck and onto the sand. After a nosh, many patrons linger and move to chaise lounges or spread a beach towel under the grape trees to make a day of it.

Antigua Catherines Cafe

Catherine’s Café Plage puts a Caribbean spin on the traditional Salad Nicoise. The menu at this favorite beachfront dining spot includes a number of innovative takes on French favorites. Photo: Debbie Snow

Located on Pigeon Beach, Catherine’s is an easy jaunt from Falmouth Harbour by land or sea. The husband and wife team of Claudine and Guillaume add a personal touch greet arriving guests. Their passion for good food shines as they read off the day’s menu from a movable blackboard. While some items are menu standards, there are constant changes that include fresh catches and new renditions of French cuisine. There’s typically a hot or cold soup to start, lobster or gazpacho. Salads are meals in themselves and while the menu changes you’ll always find a fish ceviche, and the lobster risotto and fish en papillote are always hot items. The café offers a lineup of fine wines, and are famous for sumptuous deserts. Catherine’s is open for lunch Wednesday through Monday, along with jazz on Wednesday nights, and special gourmet dinners each Friday.

On a Farm

With a farm right outside your door, you’ll expect to find plenty fresh produce on your plate. And that is just what you’ll find at The Kitchen, set inside the Great House overlooking the Belle Mont Farm resort at Kittitian Hill. Ask for a table by the glass doors and you’ll have an expansive view of the hillside down to the sea. If you are lucky enough to be staying here, then lunch is just a stroll from your villa. But most happen upon Kittitian Hill by recommendation, and it’s become the go-to lunch stop on an island tour.

St Kitts Kittian Hill

On the Island of St. Kitts, the culinary team at The Kitchen on Belle Mont Farm makes exclusive use of local ingredients, much of which is grown on the property’s organic farm. Photo: Debbie Snow

The Kitchen sources local ingredients from Belle Mont Farm to create a clean, authentic cuisine. This farm-to-table philosophy taps into the riches of the adjacent 400-acre organic farm, giving Executive Chef Christophe Letard and his team plenty of offerings to choose from when crafting the ever-changing menu. Meals can start with a cocktail made with fresh passion fruit juice, an arugula salad topped with a just-laid poached egg and sorrel salad dressing, then continue with freshly-caught snapper surrounded by savory organic vegetables. The view is majestic and the service is warm and friendly, so plan on a staying for desert of a freshly backed fruit tart.

On the Strand

Puerto Rico is a hotbed for culinary talent, and the city of San Juan is the arena that showcases their skills. Cocina Abierta is tucked off the main drag of Ashford Avenue in the trendy Condado disrict. Here, Chef Martín Louzao displays his creative genius in variations of contemporary cuisine with a touch of the Old World. His background and extensive travels have inspired unique variations and combinations of ingredients and seasonings that result in distinctive flavors and textures. Louzao is frequently visited by food lovers and chefs from other parts of the world. Hailing from Argentina, he spent time working with Albert Adrià and Argentinian Chef Gato Dumas, both innovators and pioneers of contemporary and modern cuisines. Louzao also worked with Spain’s Koldo Royo, who held a Michelin star rating from 1989 to 2007.

Puerto Rico Condado

At San Juan’s Cocina Abierta, Chef Martín Louzao creates offerings designed to please both the eye and the palate. He has been named as one of America’s best chefs. Photo: Debbie Snow

Today Louzao displays his talents at his three outlets in San Juan, Cocina Abierta, Nonna and Touro. For a long lunch, Cocina Abierta is the spot. Here the menu is set up like a play, in acts, and while you might want the entire performance at once, it’s more enjoyable to order acts One through Five at a more leisurely pace. Begin with one of the handmade cocktails; the signature list includes the Orange Blossom Ten, which is light and refreshing with orange blossom water, mandarin tonic and Tanqueray. Others include homemade reductions and fruit infused soda. You might start the First Act with a cold almond soup or the Purple Potato & Octopus Peruvian Causa, which features layers of potatoes and octopus, accented with black olive sauce and creamy garlic. The Second Act always includes seafood such as a Caribbean bouillabaisse or a squid ink pasta layered in prawns, with notes of Sambuca and cilantro. The Third and Fourth Acts include poultry and beef and there’s even a full act for the vegetarian. Plates come out looking like works of modern art, suitable for framing. But your taste buds will win out.

Juvia Miami

Miami’s Best Rooftop Bars

 

The streets of Miami’s South Beach district pulsate with chic sidewalk cafes and clubs, and downtown’s Brickell district is also trending. But there’s another side to the scene that is best enjoyed from above. A select number of rooftop bars add sweeping views of city and ocean to the menu. Here are three local favorites.

1 Hotel South Beach

This is our top choice for a cool, relaxed vibe. The 1 Hotel offers big views of Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from a rooftop bar some 170 feet above the sand. This elevated space includes an adults-only pool, a lounge/cabana and the Watr At the 1, which serves up tempting Polynesian/Asian fusion tastes. The setting draws a chic crowd, and DJs keep the grove going. If you are not a guest at the hotel, you can still visit; enjoy cocktails and a nosh while soaking in the views anytime after 5 p.m. during the week, and all day on the weekends. www.1hotels.com/south- beach

1 Hotel South Beach

On the rooftop deck of 1 Hotel South Beach, a collection of comfortable couches and conversation pits create a relaxed setting for intimate al fresco gatherings with ocean views. Photo: 1 Hotel

Juvia

Juvia rises above the bustle of Lincoln Road to deliver all-around views of Miami Beach and the city. If you want be part of the see- and-be-seen crowd, this is the spot to go. Just be sure to ditch your cheesy souvenir Sobe t-shirts and come dressed to impress. It’s more of a nightspot, versus daytime hangout for the trendy. Come for cocktails only, or splurge on dinner from the exhibition kitchen, which serves up an eclectic mix of French, Japanese and Peruvian dishes. www.juviamiami.com

Juvia Miami Beach

The dining area at Juvia is flanked by a unique vertical garden created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, who drew design inspirations from the natural order of tropical rainforest canopies. Photo: Juvia

Sugar

Sugar at East Hotel is a rooftop oasis in the hip downtown Brickell district. Set high on the 40th floor, with lush plants and trees that create a unique Asian jungle vibe, it’s a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown Miami’s financial district below. Go for happy hour and enjoy stunning views of the bay all the way to the ocean. Go at night, and take in the bright city lights of Miami’s mini “New York.” If you do opt for going after 10 p.m., be prepared to wait in line and make sure you are dressed appropriately! http://www.sugar-miami.com/

Sugar East Hotel

The rooftop gardens at Miami’s East Hotel creates a unique setting for Sugar, where patrons gather at an intricately carved bar to enjoy signature cocktails and Asian tapas. Photo: Sugar

Mango St. Lucia

Mango Festivals in the Caribbean

 

The mango is one of the world’s most popular fruits, and more than 100 varieties grow in the Caribbean. Each island lays claim to producing the juiciest and most flavorful fruits. But some take it beyond bragging rights by staging festivals and parties dedicated to all things mango. Here are the best places to celebrate the summer harvest and take in all the rich flavors of this king of fruits.

Mango Madness, St. Lucia June to July 2, 2017

June is known as “Month of the Mango” on St. Lucia, and the resorts of Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet go all out to honor the fruit. Throughout the month, resort guests can enjoy a variety of fruit-focused events. There are cooking demonstrations and chutney making classes, special five-course mango-themed dinners and plenty of mango-based treatments at Jade Mountain’s Kai en Ciel spa and Anse Chastenet’s Kai Belte spa. Guests can even learn how to craft mango cocktails and visit the organic farm where much of the produce used in the resorts is grown. The month ends with a six-day Mango Madness Festival that runs from June 27 to July 2 and includes numerous culinary events. http://www.jademountain.com/cuisine/culinary_events.html

Mango Madness Chef Allen Susser

Mango Madness at St. Lucia’s Anse Chastanet resort will be hosted by chef Allen Susser, who is the author of The Great Mango Book, an authoritative mango cookbook. Photo: Bernd Rac/Jade Mountain

Mango Melee, St. Croix July 9, 2017

At the peak of mango season, the George Village Botanical Gardens stages a day of educational workshops, children’s activities and a food competition. Known as “Mango Dis, Mango Dat,” this fruit-themed cook-off brings in chefs from around the Virgin Islands to showcase their inventive talents. There are four categories in which mangoes are used: Sips, Sweets, Salsas and Stuff. The day’s demonstrations and tastings include a tropical fruit identifying seminar and mango eating contests. Local food and drink vendors will be on site with an array of mango products for sale. This year’s 21st Annual Mango Melee and Tropical Fruit Festival takes place on Sunday July 9, 2017. www.sgvbg.org

Ripe Mango

Mangos have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, and were first brought from the Far East to the Caribbean by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Photo: Flickr

Nevis Mango & Food Festival:  July 6 to 9, 2017

The small island of Nevis goes all out for a four-day celebration of the mango that includes dining experiences, cooking demonstrations and cook-along classes. Celebrity chefs come to the island for demonstrations, and to prepare some of the culinary dinners. This year’s event welcomes Iron Chef Judy Joo and Celebrity Chef Seamus Mullen. Local chefs from the island’s top restaurants and hotels are also invited to showcase their creative culinary skills by incorporating mangos in recipes presented at the festival finale: the Nevisian Chefs Mango Feast. Attendees will gather to celebrate on Oualie Beach with mango tastings, sample dishes and rum tastings. A highlight of the weekend is the Friday night Mango Beach Lime Festival Party, staged at the various beach bars lining Pinney’s Beach. The festival runs Thursday through Sunday, July 6-9, 2017. www.nevisisland.com/nevismangofest

Nevis Mango Festival

A highlight of the 2017 Nevis Mango & Food Festival will be a special dinner staged at the Four Seasons Mango restaurant with Judy Joo of Iron Chef fame.

Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival : July 30-31, 2017

This event engages both guests and professional chefs in a range of special activities and workshops. The festival takes place at the Christian Valley Agricultural Station, where some 25 elite mango varieties are grown. These include Trinidad’s “Julie”, Haiti’s “Madame Francisque”, Cuba’s “Piniero”, Asian “Num Mai Doc” and a number of varieties from Florida. During the two-day event, participants can learn budding and grafting techniques, tour groves, visit food booths and enjoy live entertainment. There will be plenty of mango products to taste and buy, a story telling session, and a screening of the film “Sweetest Mango.” The main event is the Magic Mango Menu Culinary competition for profession hotel chefs and bartenders. The festival takes place July 30 and 31, 2017. www.antiguanice.com

Mango On Tree

Color is not always a good indicator of a ripe mango. As they reach peak ripeness, mangos become slightly soft to the touch, and will give off a fruity aroma at their stem ends. Photo: Ard Hesselink/Flickr

 

Antigua Carnival

The Best Caribbean Summer Parties

 

Summer is a great time to be in the Caribbean. The winter season crowds are long gone, and the locals come out to play. Parties and festivals pop up on islands across the region, offering everything from intriguing cultural experiences to unabashed beach parties. Here are a dozen must-do island parties for the summer.

Riviera Maya Film Festival

In the first week of June, the international film community converges on the beach town of Playa del Carmen. Now in its seventh year, the Riviera Maya Film Festival has garnered the attention of film buffs, who come together for showings of award-winning Mexican and international films. The 2017 festival is expected to draw more than 80,000 spectators for both indoor and outdoor free showings, which take place in restored historic cinemas, and in open-air beachfront settings.

Riviera Maya Film Festival

In addition to showcasing new releases, the Riviera Maya Film Festival supports RivieraLAB, which nurtures projects by Mexican filmmakers in the development stage. Photo: Jerry Aguirre/RMFF

St. Kitts Music Fest

This small island is home to one of the Caribbean’s biggest musical happenings. Now in its 21st year, the three-day event draws some of the biggest names in soca, jazz, R&B, gospel and reggae. Performances are in the evening, but many festival goers gather at Warner Park Stadium early to spread a blanket on the lawn and make a picnic from the offerings of the numerous local food vendors. This year’s festival runs from June 26 to 28.

St Kitts Music Fest

Reggae artist Zemenfest Kidus performs for a home-town crowd at St. Kitts Music Fest. He returned to the island following a successful recording career in Jamaica. Photo: Modern Elegance/ St. Kitts Tourism Authority

Fiesta de Santiago Apostol, Puerto Rico

Each year, Puerto Rico celebrates its Spanish heritage in the town of Loiza, with a two-day festival that is equal parts religious observance and street party. Processions honoring St. James bring thousands into the streets to follow large, colorful statues carried on the shoulders of costumed and masked marchers. These observances are followed up with dance shows, music and gatherings of street vendors offering crafts and traditional food. Processions take place on July 22 and 23.

Puerto Rico Loiza Mask

Puerto Rico’s Fiesta de Santiago Apostol has its roots in Spanish traditions dating back 400 years. This annual procession through the streets features masked knights and demons. Photo: Carlos A. Aviles/Flickr

LIV Bermuda

On the first weekend in July, islanders and overseas guests from around the world come together for Bermuda’s most anticipated party. Billed as a chance to “experience Bermuda like a local,” the gatherings include beach parties, boat cruises and floating “raft ups.” Staged as a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters Bermuda, admission to these parties provides an all- inclusive experience with dancing, libations and live music.

LIV Bermuda

The 2017 edition of LIV Bermuda will take place from July 7 to 10. All- inclusive ticket packages for the four-day event give total access to a range of beach activities, concerts and parties. Photo: LIV Bermuda

Junkanoo Summer Festival

No need to wait for Christmas to experience the sights and sounds of the Bahamian Junkanoo. Each Saturday in the month of July, the waterfront at Nassau’s Arawak Cay comes alive with drumming, dancing and music as costumed troops strut their stuff and compete for top honors. The revelry starts at noon and lasts till midnight, and when it’s time for refreshments or a nosh, onlookers can duck into one of the many pubs or seafood restaurants that line the cay.

Junkanoo Nassau

During Nassau’s colorful mid-summer Junkanoo parades, rival dance and drum troops compete for top honors and prizes. The costumed processions have roots dating to African traditions. Photo: Brian & Leigh/Flickr

Christmas in July

Each summer, flotillas of pleasure boats depart Puerto Rico for the Virgin Islands for a week of gatherings and beach parties that have been given the name “Christmas in July.” But you don’t have to own a boat to enjoy the fun, as beach bars through the U.S. and British Virgins welcome one and all with day-long celebrations that start with volleyball tournaments and barbecues and end with evening fireworks and live bands that keep revelers dancing on the sand till the wee hours.

BVI Jost Van Dyke

Christmas in July is the whimsical name for the mid-summer invasion of the Virgin Islands by fleets of vacationing Puerto Rican boaters. Destinations such as White Sound are favorite stops. Photo: Michael Rubenstein/Flickr

Anguilla Summer Festival

One of the longest-running festivals in the Caribbean takes place on the otherwise quiet island of Anguilla. The 40th anniversary of this island-wide celebration will include beach parties, sailing races, pageants, parades, calypso concerts and more, each staged at different villages and resorts around the island. A highlight of the festival is J’ouvert morning, when a street jam begins at 4:30 a.m. when floats, drummers and festival-goers parade from the island’s capital to the beach at Sandy Ground for a day of music, food and water sports. The festival runs from July 2 to August 10.

Anguilla Summer Fest

Anguilla’s twelve-day-long Summer Festival delivers a non-stop schedule of events ranging from pageants and parades to soca raves, calypso competitions, and a massive all-day beach party. Photo: Anguilla Summer Festival

Reggae Sumfest

Jamaica’s largest music festival is also the island’s biggest party. The weeklong celebration is staged at Montego Bay, and features local reggae and dancehall artists. Before the music starts, the fun kicks off with a beach party, a musical day cruise and the famous “All White Party.” When the concerts get underway, audiences arrive with their own “reggae beds” — flattened cardboard boxes for sitting and chilling between dance sessions. The 2017 Sumfest runs from July 16 to 22.

Jamaica Montego Bay

Crowds gather at the main stage of Reggae Sumfest, which is Jamaica’s largest and most acclaimed music festival, with an international lineup that includes the biggest names in reggae and dancehall music. Photo: Jamaica Tourist Board

Crop Over

On Barbados, one party isn’t enough. The annual Crop Over is a three- month string of celebrations that dates back to the island’s colonial-era agricultural roots, when the end of the harvest season became a time for relaxation and revelry. The tradition continues with a three-month series of festivals, concerts, cultural events, and street parties. A highlight of the season is the “road march”, when troops of costumed revelers take over the streets of Bridgetown on Kadooment Day. This annual parade turned street party takes place on August 7.

Barbados Cropover

The culmination of Bardados‘ three-month Crop Over celebration is the Grand Kadooment, a carnival-like parade that features large bands with members dressed in elaborate costumes. Photo: Barbados Tourism

Antigua Carnival

On the last week in July, the island of Antigua explodes in a riot of feather– clad costumes, bright body paint and floats booming heavy calypso beats. The party kicks off in the capital St. John’s with J’ouvert, where steel drum musicians, calypso and soca singers entertain crowds of revelers. Over the next ten days, towns across the island will stage music competitions, local food fairs, cultural shows and cultural workshops that create chances for visitors to immerse in the local culture and join the fun. Carnival time starts July 26 and runs till August 5.

Antigua Carnival

In addition to street parades and open-air concerts, Antigua’s annual Carnival includes a series of island-wide talent shows, singing competitions and stage performances. Photo: Wayne Mariette/ Antigua Carnival Celebration

Tobago Heritage Festival

The sister island of Trinidad may be home to the Caribbean’s best-known carnival, but Tobago also knows how to throw a party, and it spreads the fun out over two weeks from July 17 to August 1. Heritage Festival is an island- wide happening, with each village and community staging events such as concerts, street parades, storytelling sessions, folk dances and African drumming sessions. The island’s heritage is celebrated with unique events such as goat races and historical re-enactments.

Tobago Heritage Festival

Modern dance melds with traditional cultural roots during a live performance staged for Tobago’s annual Heritage Festival. Staged by local communities, the performances are open to all. Photo: Terrell George/Flickr

North Sea Jazz Fest

In keeping with its reputation as a regional center of art, culture and sophistication, the island of Curacao welcomes some of the biggest names in soul, jazz, hip-hop and R&B to its iconic jazz festival. Headliners for 2017 induce Bruno Mars, Chaka Khan, Dianne Reeves, Nile Rodgers and Chic, and Juan Luis Guerra, with performances taking place on three stages. In addition to the all-star acts, the festival is known for it’s lively after parties, which often keep going all night. The two-day happening takes place on August 29 and 30.

Curucao North Sea Jazz

Curacao’s North Sea Jazz Festival is the Caribbean’s version of the original performance event of the same name that is held each summer in the Netherlands. Photo: Wassef Sokkari/ Curacao Tourist Board

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Florida’s Best Memorial Day Parties

 

Memorial Day is certainly a time when we should pause to remember and honor those who gave service to our country. But it’s also a three-day weekend, and the start of the summer season. Cities across the State of Florida will celebrate the holiday with concerts and beach parties. Here are six of the best.

Great American Beach Party, Fort Lauderdale Beach

The Venice of America kicks off the summer season in style with an all-day beach party. Seven bands perform everything from surf rock and oldies to funk and country. There are plenty of vendors, food and drink, and activities that include a sand castle building contest, classic car show, family fun zone and a military tribute to our service men and women. It all starts at 10 a.m., Saturday May 27.

Sunset Music Festival, Tampa

On Saturday, May 27th and Sunday, May 28th, fans will gather to dance the weekend away to the hottest acts in electronic music. More than 50,000 are expected to fill Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium to take in performances by more than 40 artists on three stages. Headliners include Major Lazer, RL Grime, Above & Beyond and Zeds Dead.

Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Jacksonville

Now in its 36th year, this event has grown to become one of the country’s largest jazz festivals. From May 25 to 28, a 15-block area of Jacksonville’s downtown will be transformed into a lively street festival, with local food, art, vendors and live jazz on three stages. The all-star lineup of performers includes jazz icons and Grammy winners such as Chic Corea, the Rippingtons, Commodores and the Pacific Mambo Orchestra.

Taste of Brickell Food & Wine Festival, Miami

Exceptional tastes from more than 40 of Miami’s premier restaurants will be complemented by fine wines and spirits when the 6th annual Taste of Brickell returns to downtown Miami on Saturday, May 27. Festivalgoers will enjoy gourmet samplings, cooking demonstrations, and interactions with featured vendors. The event also includes live concerts throughout the day and evening, an exotic car exhibit, and arts and crafts booths.

Johnny Chisholm’ s Memorial Weekend Party

In a tradition dating back to the 1960s, LGBTQ groups from across America will gather at Pensacola Beach over the Memorial Day weekend. Since 1991, a weekend-long series of celebration has been organized by nightclub owner Johnny Chisholm. Nightly happenings include stage shows, costume contests, dances and concerts. The party runs from Thursday, May 25th through Monday, May 29th.

Bands on the Sand, Treasure Island

This small oceanfront community just west of St. Petersburg will once again host Bands in the Sand. This two-day beach party and music festival kicks off on May 25th with a lineup that includes some of the top names in the Tampa Bay music scene. Now in its ninth year, this family friendly event includes food, art exhibits and crafts tables. The grand finale of the event is a fireworks show over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Nevis Four Seasons Kasawey Beach Bar

Caribbean Beach Bars: Kastawey Beach Bar at Four Seasons Resort Nevis

 

For a small island, Nevis certainly has its share of beach bars. The island’s most popular strand, Pinney’s Beach, offers up four miles of golden sands lined with an eclectic collection of oceanfront watering holes. Some are known for their signature drinks, while others gain notoriety for their rustic lean-to and thatched roofed atmosphere. Recently, the Four Seasons introduced a new twist on these social venues.

The Kastawey Beach Bar delivers a unique look and a vibe that is both inviting and chill. The décor showcases the bright colors of the Caribbean, with a hand crafted and brightly painted Nevisian fishing boat serving as the marquis for passers by. Beachcombers will stumble upon the spot when they walk down the beach from the busy lineup of bars at the other end of the Pinney’s strip.

Kastawey delivers a rustic, relaxed, laid back and welcoming feel, but with the essence of the Four Seasons guest experience sprinkled on top. It’s the perfect spot for a long lunch or a conversation and sundowners. Guests sit at teak tables, some under the shade of umbrellas, with direct views of the waves lapping the shoreline. For an even closer look at the sea, chair hammocks and chaises are right on the sand with just steps to the water.

For an afternoon snack or lunch try the Kastawey Roll—a lobster, fish, mango roll that comes in a bento box. Other choices include burgers, jerk chicken, wraps and salads. The signature drink, the Kastawey Smash is a blend of rums with tamarind and pineapple juices and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Two of them will send you looking for a chaise for an afternoon nap.

Florida Cinco de Mayo

Florida’s Best Cinco de Mayo Parties

 

On May 5th most every bar or restaurant that ever poured a shot of tequila or served a burrito will do something for Cinco de Mayo, even if it’s just a drink special. But a select few take this spring fiesta to the next level, with music, costumes, dancing and plenty of south-of-the-border fun. Here are six of the best.

Cinco De Mayo Brickell

At the Mary Brickell Village, thousands gather at what is billed as the state’s largest Cinco de Mayo block party. The action spills over into the streets of downtown Miami, where two stages will host mariachi bands, DJs and dancers. To get into the spirit, some revelers don false mustaches and sombreros to take a swing at a giant eight-foot piñata. There’s plenty of Mexican-themed food and drink, and the party runs well into the night.

Fiesta on the Wharf

Citizens of the Conch Republic seldom miss a chance to celebrate, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. The taverns along Key West’s Duval street will hang out the red-white-and green flags, but the best place to be is at Schooner Wharf, where things get started a 7 p.m. with life salsa music on the waterfront. It’s a family friendly event, with taco eating competitions a hot pepper eating contest, and prizes for the best Mexican hats.

Cervezas at Sunset

Shove off for an evening of Mexican-themed revelry on the waters of Sarasota Bay with LeBarge. The crew of this double-decker fun boat will be dishing out the guacamole and serving up margaritas and Mexican beers during a special evening cruise on May 5th. Passengers can dance to the live music from the Gumbo Boogie Band, or head to the upper deck for sunset views.

Cinco on the Sand

In the Tampa Bay area, the place to be on May 5th is at the Beach Bar. This waterfront venue sits on a small island on the north of the bay, right off the Courtney Campbell Causeway. The evening features live musical performances from a number of Latin artists, including headliner Frankie Negron. Early arrivals are rewarded with complimentary tequila shooters, and VIP cabanas can be reserved near the stage.

The Big Burrito

Cocoa Beach’s Sandbar Sports Grill is known for throwing epic parties, and their Cinco de Mayo event is one of the best. There are plenty of drink specials to get the crowd ready to compete for cash prizes in the “So You Want to be a Mexican Rock Star” Karaoke Contest. The kitchen will be serving up taco pizzas, and the truly hungry can try sign up for the three- pound burrito-eating contest.

Crawling for Charity

Up in Florida’s panhandle, the Gulf Coast town of Destin will stage their annual Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl. Participants purchase a ten-dollar pass, with proceeds going to charity, and then begin their journey around the harbor’s boardwalk to check in at six of the town’s favorite watering holes. The crawling starts at 6 p.m. and lasts till midnight.