Beach of the Week: Cozumel, Mexico

Snorkeling at Chankanaab National Park. Photo Credit: Dtraveller via Flickr.

Snorkeling at Chankanaab National Park. Photo Credit: Dtraveller via Flickr.

BeachManiacBlogWithText3_150pxWithout a doubt, Cozumel has some of the most beautiful, clear waters in the world. The white-sand sea floor brings out turquoise shades from afar, and the clear waters provide glimmering up-close views of underwater sea life. With more than 30 dive locations and barrier reefs to explore, scuba diving and snorkeling are as popular in Cozumel waters as they are anywhere in the world.

Cozumel has a variety of beach features. On northern and southern ends of the developed west (leeward) side of the island, you will find white-sand beaches, perfect for relaxing, sunning and just digging your feet in.

The west side of the island features calmer waters than the east side, and a lot more resorts, restaurants and beach clubs. Some beaches are more rocky and less conducive to just walking right into the water. However, these are the beaches that will likely produce much better snorkeling.

In some locations you will find a hybrid of these two types of beaches as developers brought in sand to cover up the rough limestone edges. You’ll find these hybrid beaches at many of the resorts, hotels and condos so that visitors can have both a comfortable spot to sunbathe and swim while also experiencing great snorkeling right from shore. The east side of the island is rockier, with stronger waves and most beaches there are not recommended for swimming.

Read more about Cozumel.

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Beach of the Week: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sand spit off Cabo San Lucas. Photo Credit: CCCPxokkeu via Flickr.

Sand spit off Cabo San Lucas. Photo Credit: CCCPxokkeu via Flickr.

BeachManiacBlogWithText3_150pxCabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, has become Mexico’s elite tourist destination – largely a playground for U.S. vacationers. With sandy beaches, luxury hotels, world-class scuba diving locations and golf courses, Cabo is a perfect weekend or weeks-long getaway. Tourists come to Cabo for swimming, sightseeing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, fishing (it is home to the largest marlin tournament in the world), and the sizzling nightlife. The Los Cabos Corridor – from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo – is tourist central, with resorts, timeshares, restaurants and more.

The bay of Cabo San Lucas – now filled with luxury yachts – has a rich, rowdy history as a spot where pirates seized Spanish treasure ships. Although it was a quiet fishing village a little as 20 years ago, the bay is now lined with multi-million dolar homes, palm trees and exclusive golf courses.

The most popular beach in Cabo San Lucas is Playa El Medano (the Dune Beach), which fronts the main hotel zone and is packed with activity. This is the area to rent waver runners, kayaks and diving equipment.

If you’re looking for something quieter and on the romantic side, rent a kayak and paddle over to Playa del Amor (Love Beach), or hire a water taxi. Here you will see the scenic El Arco, the Arch Rock, and enjoy a dramatic view of the Sea of Cortez as it meets the Pacific Ocean...

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Beach of the Week: Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City Beach

The good people of Panama City Beach, Florida, like to say they have the most beautiful beaches in the world. And while that may be a bit of an exaggeration, they have a good point that the wide expanses of soft white sand stretching 27 miles along the Gulf Coast are a beach lover’s dream. Do you like beaches with lots of resorts, bars, restaurants, shops and sports activities? This is the place for you. Do you like more quiet stretches where you can relax and get away from it all? Well, yes, PCB offers lots of that as well. What it all has in common in the sand. The beautiful, seemingly endless sand that reflects the sun, brightens your spirits and provides nature’s soothing foot massage.

If you’re a college student, of course, there is no better place to spend spring break. If you’re a young family or an older couple, you will probably want to stay far, far away in the spring. But any other time of year, PCB is the place to be.

My wife, Diane, and I just got back from a few days in Panama City Beach – our “Fall Break” – where we enjoyed walks along the beach, beautiful views from our balcony at the Holiday Inn Resort and an evening of entertainment at the Chasin’ the Sun Musical Festival at Aaron Bessant Park. Chasing’ the Sun was just one of many outdoor concerts throughout the year at the park, which features perhaps the best outdoor sound system I have ever experienced. And the huge Pier Park next door offers a great place to shop – and some great ice cream – just acr...

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Beach of the Week: Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

Stingray City, Cayman Islands. Photo Credit: Don McDougall, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Stingray City, Cayman Islands. Photo Credit: Don McDougall, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

BeachManiacBlogWithText3_150pxThe most famous beach in the Cayman Islands is Seven Mile Beach, a beach that repeatedly makes lists of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Seven Mile Beach is home to many luxury resorts and condominiums, restaurants and beach activities, including wonderful snorkeling. Despite its name, the beach is actually only 5.5 miles long but there is plenty of space for walking and people-watching, along with a wealth of water activities. Seven Mile Beach is near the capital of George Town.

One of the unique attractions in the Cayman Islands is Stingray City, where visitors can wade through the shallow waters and pet the stingrays. The stingrays began gathering in the area decades ago when fisherman used to clean fish on the shallow sand bars. The stingrays would forget their normally shy dispositions and feast on the guts of the cleaned fish. Soon the stingrays began to associate the sound of a boat motor with food. In the late 1980s, divers started feeding squid to the stingrays, which is one of their favorite dishes. Today, the stingrays casually swim with people in the shallow waters of Grand Cayman. As visitors enter the crystal clear turquoise waters and the graceful southern stingrays glide tranquilly past in their natural habitat as people touch and feed them. It’s also a great spot for snorkeling among magnificent coral reefs and colorful tropical fish...

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Beach of the Week: Clearwater Beach, Florida

Clearwater Beach, Florida

Clearwater Beach, Florida

BeachManiacBlogWithText3_150pxClearwater Beach, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is one of the Sunshine State’s real gems. With a great location near Tampa and sporting some the widest most beautiful white sand beaches in the continental United States, Clearwater Beach has become an attraction for beach lovers throughout the world. At Clearwater Beach, it’s all about the fine-grained white quartz sand, which provides the perfect backdrop for lounging and sand-castle making. Kids love Clearwater Beach because they can play in the sand before jumping into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Or they can see a dophin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and then join the family for the nightly sunset festival on Pier 60, where the music fills the air and performers keeps smiles on the kids faces. As you cross the bridge into  Clearwater Beach, you can feel yourself entering another realm. Great hotels to choose from, a nice assortment of restaurants and shops, and multiple attractions make this a well-rounded vacation spot. Tampa attractions – Busch Gardens and spring training baseball games among them – are nearby, and Orlando is just about a two-hour drive. Read more about Clearwater and its great resort hotels.

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Beach of the Week: Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Black Rock, Kaanapali Beach, Maui - Photo by Bill Hurley, all rights reserved

Black Rock, Kaanapali Beach, Maui – Photo by Bill Hurley, all rights reserved

BeachManiacBlogWithText3_150pxNothing beats feeling the gentle tropical breeze as you walk along the softly lit Kaanapali Beach walkway past beautifully landscaped hotels, refreshing swimming pools and inviting beachside restaurants and bars. The three-mile white-sand Kaanapali Beach is one of the most popular locations on Maui, with a string of resorts connected by the beachside walkway and featuring Black Rock (photo above), where you can snorkel right from the beach in crystal clear waters and watch local cliff-divers celebrate the sunset nightly. GoHawaii says Kaanapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort and has become a model for resorts around the globe. It features the open air Whalers Village shopping complex, with shops, restaurants, a whaling museum and free Hawaiian entertainment. Kaanapali Beach provides the perfect location for a day at the beach or pool or the backdrop for exploring all of Maui. At the end of the day, return to Kaanapali for a luau, a relaxing stroll or dinner overlooking one of the top-rated beaches in the world. Find out more about the resorts along Kaanapali Beach.

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Beach of the Week: Eagle Beach, Aruba


BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxAruba, covering 70 square miles of land, belongs to the Lesser Antilles and is located in the Southern Caribbean near the coast of Venezula. Considered one of the three ABC islands (together with Bonaire and Curacao), Aruba is 2.5 hours from Miami by air. In addition to have some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – including Eagle Beach pictured here – Aruba benefits from an amazing beach climate, with a year-round average temperature of 82° Fahrenheit and low humidity. In addition, it is south of the hurricane belt. Read more about Aruba’s great beaches and beach resorts.

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Beach of the Week: Cancun, Mexico

Iberostar Cancun - one of my favorites in Cancun. Family all inclusive with a fantastic beach and endless pool area!

Iberostar Cancun – one of my favorites in Cancun. Family all inclusive with a fantastic beach and endless pool area!

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Work done. Picture taken. Time to relax for the evening.

LindaWilkinsonWineDingDownThanks to Linda Wilkinson of Punta Gorda, Florida, for sharing this beautiful picture she took on her deck overlooking the Peace River before relaxing for the evening. Great shot, Linda!

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Turks & Caicos: Closer than you might think

Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. Beach Maniac photo.

Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands just may be the best place for Americans to go for their beach vacation. This is the third in a series of posts as to why I think it is.

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxWhen I tell people I recently visited the Turks & Caicos Islands, they almost universally say, “Hmm. Where is that?” It sounds exotic, and it sounds like it is far, far away. But it is not. The Turks & Caicos Islands are in the eastern Caribbean, just east of Cuba, north of the island that makes up Haiti and the Dominican Republic and southeast of the Bahamas. In fact it is only a one hour-forty minute flight from Miami.

I live in the upper Midwest, and a flight to Providenciales, the main tourist island in the Turks & Caicos, is a one-stop flight, with a changeover in Charlotte on U.S. Airways (American Airlines). The islands are in the eastern time zone, which means just one hour difference from my home in Wisconsin and, of course, none at all for the entire eastern U.S. It took us about six hours to get to Providenciales from Milwaukee. Now compare that to a trip to Hawaii, which can take 12 to 15 hours, depending on your connections, and a five hour difference in time with a big jet lag hangover.

Here is a sample of recent flights from TripAdvisor:

  • From New York, one stop, 6 1/2 hours: $545
  • From Chicago, one stop, 5 1/2 hours, $755
  • From Atlanta, one stop, 5 1/2 hours, $762
  • From Miami, non-stop, 1 hour 43 minutes, $640

Yes, it is a ...

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