Is Tulum the best beach in the Caribbean?

Tulum. Beach Maniac Photo.

Tulum. Beach Maniac Photo.

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxThe editors at Islands Magazine have put together a list of the 5 best beaches in the Caribbean, and Tulum, about two hours south of Cancun, Mexico, tops the list. Tulum, they say, “is where ancient Maya ruins line the coast atop 39-foot cliffs that overlook turquoise water and cotton-soft beaches. The views from the bluff impress, but a look back at the iconic Pyramid El Castillo is worth a swim out to sea.”

I’ll never forget the day I visited Tulum with my wife and sister. It was in late June and perhaps the hottest, most humid day I have ever experienced. We had an excellent tour guide, who was Mayan and very proud of his heritage and filled with valuable and interesting information about the ruins. However, 45 minutes into our tour, we were so hot and the beach was so close that we politely excused ourselves from the tour and climbed down the stairs to the welcoming waters of the Tulum Beach. It was the most refreshing swim I think I have ever had!

I since found out that while you can access that small beach from a wooden stairway from behind the center of the ruins, the better beaches are to the south of the ruins, along the road that goes to Boca Paila. You can access the beaches through the cabana resorts along the road. The sand is powdery with isolated rocks and the water is warm but the waves can be rough at time. Snorkeling is pretty good when the sea is calm.

Is Tulum the best beach in the Caribbean? Well, I don’t know about that, given ...

Read More

Honolulu is top U.S. beach destination


BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxTripAdvisor’s list of top U.S. destinations for 2015 includes some of our favorite beach locations. Mixed in with urban locations such as New York City (#1) and Chicago (#2) are few great beach locations in the areas we tend to favor at, including Florida and Hawaii.

The top beach destination in our top areas on this year’s list are:

Honolulu_250pxHonolulu, Oahu, Hawaii (#13). TripAdvisor says: The mere mention of Hawaii is enough to prompt visions of grass skirts and colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas. While you will find some kitsch in Honolulu, you’ll also find art museums, bike paths, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Popular Waikiki Beach has soft sands and great surf. For majestic Oahu views scramble to the top of Diamond Head – a 350-acre volcanic crater. Historic structures like Iolani Palace and Ali’iolani Hale are worth a visit on a non-beach day.

Miami_Beach_250pxMiami Beach, Florida (#14). TripAdvisor says: At the shore in Miami Beach, visitors can swim, surf and jet ski in the warm and crystal-clear Atlantic waters. You can also nap on the white sands, work on a tan or simply watch the beautiful people, especially at South Beach, a favorite of models and celebrities. We add this: Beach lovers need go no further than the famous South Beach to experience everything from amazing sun-kissed beach bodies to spectacular clubs that host one of the wildest night-life experiences in the country and beyond...

Read More

Best beaches near Orlando

Daytona Beach aerial (2)

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxFor all the great entertainment the Orlando, Florida, area has to offer, its location in the north-central part of the state leaves it somewhat separated from what we here at feel is Florida’s greatest attraction: its beaches. But the good news is that if you are visiting Orlando, and you can tear yourself away from the amusement parks, you are a short drive from some great beach locations. recently pulled together a list of six nearby beaches on the Atlantic Coast, some of them just a one-hour drive from Disney World. We are not only sharing that list – and linking to TripAdvisor reviews of the beaches – but we are adding a few Gulf Coast beaches as well, since you can get to the Gulf Coast from Disney World in roughly an hour and half.

Atlantic Coast beaches near Orlando:

Gulf Coast beaches near Orlando:

Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley

Read More

Top 9 spring break party destinations to enjoy, or avoid

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxNo matter your age, if you are traveling during spring, you definitely want to know where the top spring break party destinations are. Why? Well, either you want to be where the party never stops, or – if you’re over 25 – you may want to stop being where the party is. With that in mind, here are 9 top spring break party destinations to enjoy, or avoid, as ranked by Fox News Travel (we link to TripAdvisor for more information about these beach destinations and so you can compare hotel prices):

  1. Panama City Beach, Florida
  2. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  3. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Miami Beach, Florida
  6. Cancun, Mexico
  7. South Padre Island, Texas
  8. Lake Havasu City, Arizona
  9. New Orleans, Louisiana


Read More

Siesta Beach does it again: Named America’s best beach


TripAdvisor traveler photo

TripAdvisor traveler photo

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxThis kind of attention is nothing new for Siesta Beach, with its pristine, sugary white sand and wide expanse, but this Florida Gulf Coast slice of paradise has been named the best beach in America by the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards.

“I was totally blown away by how fine, soft, clean and uncrowded the beach was. My feet were in heaven,” wrote on recent traveler.

And while the sand is the main attraction at Siesta Beach, the island that serves as its home is also a big draw. The beaches of Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota, are lined with condos and hotels, but the island nonetheless has retained a quiet get-away atmosphere. You won’t find a lot of restaurants and bars on the beaches of Siesta Key, but that keeps it quiet and family-fun oriented.

The other top 10 American beaches in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, in order, are:

The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley

Read More

Restoration project adds gleam to Space Coast beaches

Florida's Space Coast Beach Restoration

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxIt’s easy to walk along Florida’s beaches and just assume Mother Nature did all the work to make them so expansive and beautiful. And while Mother Nature certainly deserves a great deal of credit, these beaches get a lot of help from the communities that line them.

One of the state’s biggest recent beach restoration projects points to the importance of putting a lot of work – and money – into expanding and maintaining these great beaches.

Cocoa Beach recently added 4.7 million cubic yards of beach sand as part of a $39 million beach restoration project. In a ceremony in Washington D.C., this proud seaside community was recognized for being one of only four U.S. beaches named a 2014 “Best Restored Beach” by The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. Once a narrow, sandy strip lined with concrete seawalls, the iconic beach known for surfing and space exploration has expanded its shoreline by an impressive 160 additional feet.

“Get ready to be impressed,” Florida’s Space Coast Executive Director Eric Garvey said in a news release rightfully bragging about the project.  “Our beach improvement program has dramatically enhanced the beach experience here, from surfing to sand-castle building to soaking in the sun.”

Check out these impressive before and after pictures:



See more photos at:

As Visit Space Coast tells us:

Beach restoration on Florida’s Space Coast began as an effort to protect the 72-mile-long coastline from threats p...

Read More

TripAdvisor names Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos the world’s second best beach

Grace Bay. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Grace Bay. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxGrace Bay in the Turks & Caicos is the second best beach in the world, according to the TripAdvisor 2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Only two other beaches in our region made the top 10 – Playa Paraiso Beach, Cayo Largo, Cuba, and Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico. The other Top 10 beaches are in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Seychelles, the Phillipines, Australia and Greece.

That makes Grace Bay perhaps the best overall beach destination for American visitors, when you combine locale, access and quality. The Turks & Caicos, lying just southeast of the Bahamas, are often overlooked in part because they are a higher-end destination and the price of a vacation can dwarf the price of similar vacations in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other popular Caribbean islands.

But Grace Bay is becoming increasingly popular, and lodging options are growing. TripAdvisor lists:

Tourism has been increasing rapidly in recent years, with many upscale resorts lining the shores of Grace Bay. In addition, the islands have built a large new cruise ship port and recreation centre. Turks and Caicos Islands is a premiere diving destination with one of the longest coral reefs in the world.

This is not the first year that TripAdvisor travelers ranked Grace Bay – on the island of Providenciales – at or near the top...

Read More

Beaches Ocho Rios named one of best all-inclusive resorts for families

TripAdvisor Traveler Photo

TripAdvisor Traveler Photo


The Beaches Resort near Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is one of the five best all-inclusive resorts for families in the Caribbean, according to, a family-oriented travel website.

The website was not only won over by the resort’s sandy shores and “super cool waterslides” but the fact that your kids will be greeted by larger-than-life-size versions of Sesame Street characters Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Zoë.

A scan of traveler reviews on TripAdvisor confirms that moms and dads love bringing their little ones to this resort.

“Wow, what a fantastic resort!” writes one travler. “Having spent well over 100 nights at various Sandals and also having stayed at all the other beaches I can honestly state that this was the best ever Beaches / Sandals holiday.” While some note that the beach is not large, there is a waterpark on the property and the staff and food are highly rated.

Read more about Beaches Ocho Rios, and check prices.

Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley

Read More

Pier House, Key West, tops Conde Nast Traveler list of Florida resorts

TripAdvisor traveler photo.

TripAdvisor traveler photo.

beach_maniac_blog_100pxThe Pier House Resort & Spa in Key West is one of the two best resorts in Florida, according to a new ranking by Conde Nast Traveler.

The magazine says the iconic Key West resort is an especially good getaway for “couples who like the seclusion of a private beach but still want to be close to the Duval Street nightlife.” It ranked the Pier House Number One among resorts in a category that covers the Atlantic Coast and the Florida Keys. (The top resort in the Gulf Coast and Central Florida region was the WaterColor Inn & Resort on Santa Rosa Beach.)

The Pier House also gets top ratings from TripAdvisor travelers. “Best Location in town,” writes one visitor. “Duval St. at your feet and historic seaport restaurants and bars steps away. Close to Mallory Square and Sunset Pier for the nightly sunset revelry. Hotel is beautifully landscaped. Pool and private beach are beautiful with a lovely bar and great service. Room was clean and well maintained.”

Key West is one of my favorite places, and, yes, I have stayed at the Pier House and it definitely lives up to its ranking. If you’re looking for a great resort within walking distance of everything Key West has to offer, be sure to check out the Pier House.

Beach Maniac blog by Bill Hurley

Read More

Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas, named one of Caribbean’s best beaches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

USA Today has just named its Top 10 Beaches in the Caribbean, and one of them is one of my favorites: Magen’s Bay on the Island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I recently had the opportunity to visit Magen’s Bay with my wife, Diane, and we loved the soft sand and clear, calm water.

You won’t find hotels and bars on the shores of Magen’s Bay, which is protected much like a national park and is run by the Magen’s Bay Authority.  There is a small ($4 when I was there) entrance fee, and the authority provides a rustic park-like concession stand. It also rents snorkeling equipment, lounge chairs, kayaks, paddle boats and other non-motorized boats.

The bay is surrounded by an arc of mountains and islands, protecting the waters from the rough waters of the Atlantic and creating a calm respite of beauty and relaxation. Many say Magen’s Bay is more like a salt-water lake than an ocean. Walking from one end of the mile-long white sand beach to the other reveals stunning views of cliffside mansions (one, we’re told, owned by Bill and Hillary Clinton and another by Adam Sandler) scattered on the hills, green and blue hued waters, yachts, sailboats, kayaks and swimmers...

Read More