Top 10 Reasons You Should Plan a Winter Vacation Now

Fall is here. Pumpkin-flavored food and drink abounds. Soon the snow will start to fall (if you’re in the northern half of the country, at least). If, like us, you still have dark memories of last winter imprinted in your mind, then you may be considering a tropical vacation during this year’s chilly season. Here are our top 10 reasons why you should do just that – and why planning it now is the best idea you’ll have all day winter:

1. You can start looking forward to this.

2. Plenty of time to start exercising your bragging rights.

3. You can start shopping for bathing suits and flip flops instead of winter coats and snow boots.

4. You can reserve your spot on the beach…and your room at the hotel you want before it’s sold out. 

5. Forecasters are already calling for a second round of the “polar vortex” this winter.

6. Early booking bonus deals + best price guarantee = sweet deals.

7. This.

8. And these.

9. Better flight times and more seat selections available so you don’t have to deal with this:

10. And instead, you can just kick back and enjoy this:

Convinced? Cool. Check out Funjet’s Early Booking Bonus Sale, going on now for some pretty sweet deals and a Best Price Guarantee.

A Long-But-Not-Exhaustive List of Events for Your Next Vacation

Planning your vacation months in advance is an awesome idea. But what happens if you arrive in your destination only to find that the International Clown Convention is in town? (Yes, it’s a thing. It was in Mexico City recently.) Maybe that event is right up your alley – or maybe you were expecting a nice quiet getaway to relax and unwind.

Never fear, guys. The Funjet Insider has you covered so that the vacation you’ve dreamed about matches the reality when you touch down. One of our top tips for planning a vacation well in advance is to do a bit of research on what events might be in town during your getaway. In fact, you may find that there are some cool activities that you want to check out! But if researching in advance feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you out. We’ve compiled a list of upcoming events in some of our favorite vacation destinations – and because we’re dialed into all the details, we even included some for those of you planning holiday-season getaways. You’re welcome.

Know when you’re traveling or where you want to go? Jump to:

2014 - If you’re planning a last-minute vacation this fall or thinking about where to spend the holiday season, these are the events you should keep in mind:

Now-March 2015: Mahi Mahi are hot in Vallarta-Nayarit so get out your rod and reel and charter yourself a boat
September 25-30: Hang with Lady Antebellum and Scotty McCreery at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana for concerts, poolside parties and more all week long
September-November 2014: Sailfish are biting like crazy in Los Cabos, but only for a couple of months, so get on it!
September 2014-January 2015: Yellowfin Tuna season is in full swing in Los Cabos
September 2014-May 2015: Grouper fishing season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, so get your group together and throw in a line

October 2014-April 2015: Whale migration season in Los Cabos means you can spot humpback, blue, grey and sperm whales as they cruise past the bay

November 1: Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico with traditional skull candies and decorations
November 8-16: Jamaica Restaurant Week features tempting discounts at top restaurants in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios
November 12-15: The 59th International Marlin & Sailfish Fishing Tournament takes place in the waters off Vallarta-Nayarit
November 20: The Taste of Playa event is held along 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen and showcases the creativity of chefs throughout the Riviera Maya
November 24-26: The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival at Mamitas Beach is a fun, free event
November 30: Ironman Cozumel takes competitors through the protected waters of the Reefs of Cozumel National Park and offers 40 qualifying spots for the 2015 championships in Hawaii
November 30-December 6: The annual Sabor a Cabo culinary festival returns for its 9th year in Los Cabos with events like Beer Fest, Wine & Art Walk, Celebrity Chef Dine Around and more
November 2014-May 2015: Striped Marlin season is red-hot in Los Cabos, so you can catch the big one during your holiday or spring break vacation

December 6: International Reggae Marathon / Half Marathon / 10K Run in Negril, Jamaica, where competitors “come for the run, stay for the fun”
December 22, 2014-January 4, 2015: Guests at Palace Resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya can enjoy Broadway on Ice featuring Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano

2015: If you’re more of a long-term planner looking ahead six months or even a year – well, kudos to you, planning wizard! These events can help you plan an even more amazing getaway:

January 9-18: Playa del Carmen, Mexico lights up with The BPM Festival, featuring 250 dance music artists (please note that you may be able to hear the festival while on the beach surrounding Playa del Carmen during this time even if you aren’t attending the festival)
January 15-March 15: Dominican Republic whale-watching season in Samaná Bay, where thousands of humpback whales calve and breed
Late-January: Annual Headline Barracuda Tournament in Cancun is a renowned fishing event that raises money for local charities
Last weekend in January: Ala Wai Challenge in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a fun event featuring traditional Hawaiian games like spear throwing and an outrigger canoe race
January-February: Whale-watching season in Vallarta-Nayarit is in full swing in Banderas Bay – book your excursion through Funjet and Vallarta Adventures, the only company with a spotter plane to scout sightings
January-August: Sailfish season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Image courtesy of Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

Image courtesy of Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

February 1-6: Bob Marley Week in Jamaica, celebrating the life and work of legendary reggae singer and activist Bob Marley during the week leading up to his birthday
February 11-17: Cozumel goes crazy for Mardis Gras with a week of music, parades and parties culminating on “Fat Tuesday”
February 15-17: Procigar Festival in La Romana, Dominican Republic, is a unique experience with premium cigars, world-class golf, cigar factory tours and more
February 16: Trinidad & Tobago Carnival kicks off with the pre-dawn celebration known as J’Ouvert
February 22-26: OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya is Mexico’s only PGA Tour event, drawing some of the world’s best golfers
February 23-28: Known as the triathlon of wave riding, the Master of the Ocean event returns to Cabarete, Dominican Republic with top athletes competing in surfing, kitesurfing and stand up paddleboarding
Every Sunday in February and early-March: Dominican Republic Carnival celebrations and parades
Late-February and early-March: Carnival is celebrated on famous 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

March 8-19: Los Cabos celebrates Festival of San Jose del Cabo, honoring their patron saint with a week of festivities
March 20: The spring equinox is a unique day at Chichen Itza in the Riviera Maya, when the angle of the setting sun creates the shadow of a serpent on the Kukulcan pyramid
March 20-22: Fred Duckett Challenge Golf Tournament in Los Cabos is one of the most anticipated golf events of the year on two world-class courses
March 30: The Ironman arrives in Los Cabos with 50 available qualifying spots for the finals in Hawaii
Mid-March: ArtWalk 2015 on the “Hip Strip” in Montego Bay, Jamaica
March-May: Spanish Mackerel and Snapper are in season off the coast of Puerto Vallarta
March-August: Fishing season for Blue Marlin and White Marlin in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

April 3-6: The Montego Bay Yacht Club Easter Regatta in Jamaica features exciting, fun cruises and races
April 5: Easter Sunday is celebrated in many countries, including Mexico, Jamaica and Dominican Republic; be advised that some estab

lishments do not sell alcohol during Easter Week and it’s a good idea to check with your all-inclusive resort before you arrive
April 6: Trelawny Yam Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with a street festival celebrating yummy yam country
April 12-16: Los Cabos hosts the huge Rolex IGFA Offshore World Championship tournament – which set huge world records in 2014 for most billfish releases in three days

May 5: Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over Mexico, usually ending in an awesome fireworks display
Mid-May: Cancun International Gay Festival is celebrated with special events throughout the area
May-October: This is the time to fish for Tuna in Vallarta-Nayarit

Mid-June: Ocho Rios Jazz Festival in Jamaica featuring a week of world-class jazz music
June 20: The King Kamehameha Hula Competition in Hawaii is one of the most famous hula competitions, with dancers coming from all over the world
June 21: The Mayan New Year is celebrated at ancient ruins throughout the Riviera Maya
June-August: Events for the Barbados Crop Over Festival, including calypso music and activities like Cohobblopot and the Grand Kadooment on August 3-4

July-October/November: Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi and Black Marlin are biting in Los Cabos

September: Curacao hosts the Southern Caribbean Gay Pride Week (a.k.a. the biggest pride celebration in the Caribbean!)
September: During sea turtle nesting season, participate in conservation efforts to protect nests, eggs and offspring in Los Cabos – a truly unforgettable family activity
Last weekend in September: Na Wahine O Ke Kai is Hawaii’s annual international outrigger canoe race from the island of Molokai to Waikiki beach

October 10: Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – come to compete or come to watch and sip a piña colada
Early-October (dates TBA): Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament in Jamaica
October-December: The best Red Snapper fishing season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

November 1, 2015: Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico with traditional skull candies and decorations

Know where you want to go, but not when? Here are all the events categorized by destination:

General Events

November 1 every year: Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico with traditional skull candies and decorations
April 5: Easter Sunday is celebrated in many countries, including Mexico, Jamaica and Dominican Republic; be advised that some establishments do not sell alcohol during Easter Week and it’s a good idea to check with your all-inclusive resort before you arrive
May 5: Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over Mexico, usually ending in an awesome fireworks display

Cancun and Riviera Maya

September 2014-May 2015: Grouper fishing season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, so get your group together and throw in a line
November 20: The Taste of Playa event is held along 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen and showcases the creativity of chefs throughout the Riviera Maya
November 24-26: The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival at Mamitas Beach is a fun, free event
December 22, 2014-January 4, 2015: Guests at Palace Resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya can enjoy Broadway on Ice featuring Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano

January 9-18: Playa del Carmen, Mexico lights up with The BPM Festival, featuring 250 dance music artists (please note that you may be able to hear the festival while on the beach surrounding Playa del Carmen during this time even if you aren’t attending the festival)
Late-January: Annual Headline Barracuda Tournament in Cancun is a renowned fishing event that raises money for local charities
January-August: Sailfish season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya
February 22-26: OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya is Mexico’s only PGA Tour event, drawing some of the world’s best golfers
Late-February and early-March: Carnival is celebrated on famous 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
March 20: The spring equinox is a unique day at Chichen Itza in the Riviera Maya, when the angle of the setting sun creates the shadow of a serpent on the Kukulcan pyramid
March-August: Fishing season for Blue Marlin and White Marlin in Cancun and the Riviera Maya
Mid-May: Cancun International Gay Festival is celebrated with special events throughout the area
June 21: The Mayan New Year is celebrated at ancient ruins throughout the Riviera Maya
October-December: The best Red Snapper fishing season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Cozumel

November 30: IRONMAN Cozumel takes competitors through the protected waters of the Reefs of Cozumel National Park and offers 40 qualifying spots for the 2015 championships in Hawaii

February 11-17: Cozumel goes crazy for Mardis Gras with a week of music, parades and parties culminating on “Fat Tuesday”

Dominican Republic

September 25-30: Hang with Lady Antebellum and Scotty McCreery at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana for concerts, poolside parties and more all week long

January 15-March 15: Dominican Republic whale-watching season in Samaná Bay, where thousands of humpback whales calve and breed
February 15-17: Procigar Festival in La Romana, Dominican Republic, is a unique experience with premium cigars, world-class golf, cigar factory tours and more
February 23-28: Known as the triathlon of wave riding, the Master of the Ocean event returns to Cabarete, Dominican Republic with top athletes competing in surfing, kitesurfing and stand up paddleboarding
Every Sunday in February and early-March: Dominican Republic Carnival celebrations and parades

Hawai’i

Last weekend in January: Ala Wai Challenge in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a fun event featuring traditional Hawaiian games like spear throwing and an outrigger canoe race
Last weekend in September: Na Wahine O Ke Kai is Hawaii’s annual international outrigger canoe race from the island of Molokai to Waikiki beach
October 10, 2015: Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – come to compete or come to watch and sip a piña colada

Jamaica

November 8-16: Jamaica Restaurant Week features tempting discounts at top restaurants in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios
December 6: International Reggae Marathon / Half Marathon / 10K Run in Negril, Jamaica, where competitors “come for the run, stay for the fun”

February 1-6: Bob Marley Week in Jamaica, celebrating the life and work of legendary reggae singer and activist Bob Marley during the week leading up to his birthday
Mid-March: ArtWalk 2015 on the “Hip Strip” in Montego Bay, Jamaica
April 3-6: The Montego Bay Yacht Club Easter Regatta in Jamaica features exciting, fun cruises and races
April 6: Trelawny Yam Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with a street festival celebrating yummy yam country
Mid-June: Ocho Rios Jazz Festival in Jamaica featuring a week of world-class jazz music
Early-October (dates TBA): Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament in Jamaica

Los Cabos

September-November 2014: Sailfish are biting like crazy in Los Cabos, but only for a couple of months, so get on it!
September 2014-January 2015: Yellowfin Tuna season is in full swing in Los Cabos
October 2014-April 2015: Whale migration season in Los Cabos means you can spot humpback, blue, grey and sperm whales as they cruise past the bay
November 30-December 6: The annual Sabor a Cabo culinary festival returns for its 9th year in Los Cabos with events like Beer Fest, Wine & Art Walk, Celebrity Chef Dine Around and more
November 2014-May 2015: Striped Marlin season is red-hot in Los Cabos, so you can catch the big one during your holiday or spring break vacation

March 8-19: Los Cabos celebrates Festival of San Jose del Cabo, honoring their patron saint with a week of festivities
March 20-22: Fred Duckett Challenge Golf Tournament in Los Cabos is one of the most anticipated golf events of the year on two world-class courses
March 30: The Ironman arrives in Los Cabos with 50 available qualifying spots for the finals in Hawaii
April 12-16: Los Cabos hosts the huge Rolex IGFA Offshore World Championship tournament – which set huge world records in 2014 for most billfish releases in three days
July-October/November: Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi and Black Marlin are biting in Los Cabos
September: During sea turtle nesting season, participate in conservation efforts to protect nests, eggs and offspring in Los Cabos – a truly unforgettable family activity

Vallarta-Nayarit

Now-March 2015: Mahi Mahi are hot in Vallarta-Nayarit so get out your rod and reel and charter yourself a boat
November 12-15: The 59th International Marlin & Sailfish Fishing Tournament takes place in the waters off Vallarta-Nayarit

January-February: Whale-watching season in Vallarta-Nayarit is in full swing in Banderas Bay – book your excursion through Vallarta Adventures, the only company with a spotter plane to scout sightings
March-May: Spanish Mackerel and Snapper are in season off the coast of Puerto Vallarta
May-October: This is the time to fish for Tuna in Puerto Vallarta

Other Caribbean Destinations

February 16: Trinidad & Tobago Carnival kicks off with the pre-dawn celebration known as J’Ouvert
June-August: Events for the Barbados Crop Over Festival, including calypso music and activities like Cohobblopot and the Grand Kadooment on August 3-4
September: Curacao hosts the Southern Caribbean Gay Pride Week (a.k.a. the biggest pride celebration in the Caribbean!)

TL;DR: There’s lots of cool events all year long in Mexico and the Caribbean. Reference the enormous list above when planning your next trip!

*Note: this list is just a sample of all the cool things you could do while on your next vacation in Mexico or the Caribbean. It is by no means exhaustive and if you’re looking for something specific, just let us know!

Tezmazcal Ritual at El Dorado Spa Resorts, by Karisma

Have I mentioned I love my job? It’s so relaxing—literally.

Here at the Funjet Insider, we’re all about unforgettable experiences, and the Temazcal spa ritual at El Dorado Royale, by Karisma definitely qualifies.

In the temazcal—which translates to “steam house” or “sweat lodge”—the elements of water, fire, air, earth “come together to purify body, mind and spirit in one of the oldest rituals in the world.”

If you’re feeling a little less spiritual, there’s the also the spa’s signature tequila treatment, where a combination of tequila and melon extract is massaged into the skin and followed by a white clay detox wrap and massage.

-Funjet Insider Laura

You Deserve This

Imagine waking up in the king-sized bed of penthouse suite and stepping directly out into a private infinity pool overlooking the ocean. The bathroom is imported marble; there’s natural stone flooring throughout the bedroom, full living room and oversized balcony. Everything is infused with sunlight. Are you in a Tuscan villa?

Nope. You’re at Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa, Sandals’ newest Luxury Included® resort, where the Italian Penthouse Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub is literally the most luxurious destination you can imagine.

Butler service is, of course, included.

Sky Pool Suite Balcony

Sky Pool Suite Balcony

Pink Gin Pool and Neptune's

Pink Gin Pool and Neptune’s

Sandals La Source Grenada beach

Sandals La Source Grenada beach

Sky Pool Suite Balcony at twilight

Sky Pool Suite Balcony at twilight

Sandals La Source Grenada South Seas Village

Sandals La Source Grenada South Seas Village

Why El Dorado Maroma is Good Enough for a Rock Star

Can’t decide between the charm of a boutique hotel and the amenities of an all-inclusive? Get the best of both at El Dorado Maroma, by Karisma.

With only 101 suites located on one of the Travel Channel’s top ten beaches in the world, you’ll want for nothing here. Enjoy personalized attention, dine at four different Gourmet Inclusive® restaurants, and relax with a beachfront sky massage. Staying here is an experience you won’t soon forget. I know I won’t.

Have you stayed at El Dorado Maroma? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

-Funjet Insider Laura

Find out more about El Dorado Spa Resorts, by Karisma >>

The Next Big Thing is Here (and it’s in Paradise)

Hyatt Hotels and Resorts may be a newcomer in the all-inclusive vacation category, but they’re jumping in feet-first, acquiring existing resorts and adding their characteristic hospitality and a focus on local culture and unique activities both on- and off-property.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

Hyatt only needed to make a few touch-ups, tweaks and upgrades to the former Barceló Cabo—built in 2009—before reopening it as the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. The property’s all-inclusive plan now includes 8 restaurants (2 buffet, the rest à la carte) entertainment options, daily and nightly activities, a fitness center and kids club. Along with complimentary Wi-Fi, each room also features a giant flat-screen TV with internet accessibility.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hyatt Zilara Cancun

The Hyatt Zilara Cancun, formerly THE ROYAL Cancun, is the flagship property, situated in one of the Hotel Zone’s best locations. This is also a relatively new property, originally opening in February 2007. It’s well-loved by Cancun travelers and the transition to Hyatt has been smooth. Here you’ll find a truly incredible beach, excellent dining and top-notch accommodations.

Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall

Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall (rendering)

In November 2014, the 387-room Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall and 234-room Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall will be opening after an extensive $80 million renovation and expansion of the Ritz-Carlton’s former Jamaican property. These two resorts located on 5,000 picture-perfect acres sound like they won’t be skimping on the luxury, with beach butlers and rum sommeliers on call and the championship White Witch Golf Course nearby.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun

Hyatt Ziva Cancun

And finally, opening in 2015 is the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, taking over the former Dreams Cancun property. Originally designed by renowned Mexican architect Roberto Legoretta, the resort’s pyramid-style construction is an iconic example of the contemporary Mexican architecture that defined Cancun’s development in the 1970s. In addition to restoring this architectural gem, Hyatt will be reconfiguring the resort to create a more village-like atmosphere for easy access to the beach, entertainment, dining and other resort amenities.

We’re looking forward to seeing more from these properties in the near future. Meanwhile, if you’ve stayed at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos or Hyatt Zilara Cancun, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

“Paradise in Paradise” at Catalonia Resorts

Catalonia Royal Bavaro Exclusive Suite Pool | Funjet Vacations

Part of taking a luxury vacation is getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. That’s hard to do at a crowded pool. The adults-only Catalonia Royal Bávaro offers all the luxury amenities you expect from an AAA 4-diamond resort–spacious suites, free golf, pillow menu—but of particular note are its accommodations.

Catalonia Royal Bavaro Exclusive Suite | Funjet Vacations

Located around a large central lake are the Royal Bávaro’s Executive Suites. The suites themselves are amazing, but the real selling point is that each features a private terrace and infinity pool. If that’s not enough, there are the Gran Suite Royal, what Catalonia describes as “a paradise in paradise.” Located right on the beach, it also has a private garden and infinity pool. It’s your own private villa, with over 2,000 square feet of living space, including a fitness room, solarium, full kitchen and dining room, and luxurious marble bathroom.

Find out more about the Catalonia Royal Bávaro and other fabulous Catalonia Resorts >>

Top 5 Things Savvy Travelers are Doing Before Summer Ends

August is here and summer feels like it’s coming to an end. Smart travelers love this time of year, because they are making plans and looking ahead to vacations in the winter. So what are the savviest of travelers doing before Labor Day?

1. Booking their holiday vacations…and spring break, too. Booking well in advance means smart travelers are using deposit policies that allow them to make their vacation plans and pay them off over the next several months.

2. Buying bathing suits and summer clothes. With back-to-school items in stores now, summer style is on the clearance racks. By the time winter rolls around, you’ll be hard pressed to find a new bathing suit, sundress or pair of shorts, so scoop up your warm-weather duds now.

3. Looking for early booking bonus deals. In addition to deposit policies, hotels often offer early booking bonuses – and that doesn’t just mean a great price for booking well in advance. You can get special offers like room upgrades, kids free deals, and other special inclusions that last-minute travelers won’t have access to.

4. Starting a piggy bank. With plenty of time before you fly, slowly saving up money now means you can do something extra-special in-destination. It may be a romantic dinner, an exciting excursion, or even a shopping trip. Plus, keeping a piggy bank specifically for your vacation adds to the anticipation!

5. Checking the school schedule. If you have kids or grandkids in school, now is the time to check their schedules. Plan around school breaks well in advance to make sure you’re not paying top dollar for your family vacation.

What are your top travel planning tips?

Unique Luxury Amenities

All-inclusive resorts are always looking for new ways to enhance you vacation experience. In-room aromatherapy and pillow menus are two luxury amenities that are starting to show up at upscale properties. But it’s the food that often sets a resort apart from the pack. While at El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort, by Karisma, I was able to experience firsthand how the resort builds upon its already fantastic Garment Inclusive® experience with the Jackson Family Wines Culinary Series:

Over the course of the week, El Dorado Royale turns into a wine lover’s paradise, culminating with an exclusive Gala Dinner at El Dorado Royale’s culinary theater. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Tell us about the truly unique amenities you’ve found on your travels in the comments below. 

-Funjet Insider Laura

Fun in the Sun at RIU Resorts

RIU Resorts are full of life, and their staff goes out of their way to include you in the daily activities. While I was at Riu Palace Bávaro, I spoke to RIU’s Armin Kaestner about all the activities available:

If you’re not going on an excursion but don’t feel like just lounging by the pool, wrangle up some friends for a beach volleyball game, or learn to dance the merengue.