Category The Caribbean

TripAdvisor: 5 Caribbean Destinations You Never Think Of

TripAdvisor created this upbeat video featuring scenery and attractions from five Caribbean Destinations You Never Think Of. Spoiler alert: They are Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago, Panama and Belize. Enjoy!

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10 Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA | U.S. News Travel

IMG_0884Taking the family to the beach can create lifelong memories, as long as every member of the family is satisfied. To help you choose your next family beach vacation, U.S. News considered factors like safe waters, kid-friendly attractions, dining options, spacious accommodations, multi-generational appeal and overall accessibility. The list below features destinations across the country that are most ideal for family getaways, according to travel experts and our readers. Weigh in by voting below, then use this list to plan your upcoming travels.

Source: 10 Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA | U.S. News Travel

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Visiting Stingray City Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – a Review

On our first full day to the Cayman Islands, we headed out on a boat trip to Stingray City Grand Cayman, a sandbar that attracts stingrays into its waist-high waters.  Visitors arrive from a variety of different ways – tour boats, private boats, and jet skis, but we took a tour boat from Captain Melvin’s, which is located right across the street from the Westin (where we stayed).

Source: Visiting Stingray City Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – a Review

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Beach of the Week: Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas

Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas. Photo by Mike's Birds via Flickr

Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas. Photo by Mike’s Birds via Flickr

BeachManiacBlogWithText3_150pxYes, Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas has exactly what its name suggests – beautiful soft sand with a pinkish glimmer – but there are a lot of other reasons as well to love this three-mile stretch of paradise. The clear, gentle turquoise waters are protected from the Atlantic waves by a coral reef, making for great swimming and snorkeling.  The food choices include everything from fine restaurants to more casual bayside cuisine, and the lodging ranges from comfortable and charming to luxurious.

This recent review on TripAdvisor says it all:

“Having seen this on the list of the 10 most outstanding beaches in the world, I had to check it out for myself…..

“It hit all the right spots for a perfect beach for me. Gorgeous pink sand that shimmers in the sunlight and changes hue with the light from the sun or with the water crashing against it. Turquoise clear waters with nary a large wave but smooth as silk sometimes and wonderful to swim, jump and just generally play in. What makes this spot even better is that the beach stretches for more than 2 miles I think with very little to distract from the wonder of the beach itself, there is never a large crowd making noise or causing a ruckus and one can feel completely at peace and isolated from all that could be wrong in the world.”

Find out more about Pink Sands Beach and explore lodging options.

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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: Eagle Beach, Aruba

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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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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 i...

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Turks & Caicos: Great Resorts

Beaches Resort, Turks & Caicos. Beach Maniac photo.

Beaches Resort, Turks & Caicos. Beach Maniac photo.

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxProvidenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands just may be the best place for Americans to go for their beach vacation. This is the second in a series of posts as to why I think it is.

Reason Number Two: Great Resorts

When we visited Providenciales recently, Diane and I stayed at the Beaches Resort on  Grace Bay, and we loved it. You can read more about it in the blog I posted shortly after we returned. Beaches is great if you are looking for the advantages of an all-inclusive resort and, of course, if you have children you really want to spoil. With its great pools and restaurants and beautiful grounds on a prime beach location, you just can’t go wrong. If you don’t have kids – or at least aren’t bringing them along – and are looking for a more relaxing experience, be sure to visit during a period when most kids are in school. We went in late April-early May, and the resort was relatively quiet. But Beaches is not for everyone, and Providenciales has several other great options. Here are the top-rated Grace Bay resorts on TripAdvisor:

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Turks & Caicos: Clear Water

BeachManiacBlogWithText_150pxProvidenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands just may be the best place for Americans to go for their beach vacation. This is the first in a series of posts as to why I think it is.

Reason Number One: Clear water

Yes, there is clear water elsewhere in the Caribbean, but can it possibly be as clear as in Providenciales, the vacation center of the Turks & Caicos islands? I don’t think so. The white sand bottom and the calm, turquoise waters make the the Turks & Caicos islands among the best in the world for finding a beach to take a refreshing swim, snorkel, or participate in virtually any water activity.

Paddleboard1_300pxThe picture above was taken just offshore at Bight Reef on Grace Bay. Bight Reef offers extraordinary snorkeling from shore. Or you can just walk a little to the right or left for rock-free, crystal clear waters and soft sand. Stand in four feet of water and look down for a clear view of your feet caressing the sand.

The picture to the left shows Diane stand-up paddleboarding in about 10 feet of water. Note the clear view of the paddleboard’s shadow on the ocean floor. Amazing!

Read more about our recent visit to Beaches Resort in the Turks & Caicos.

Where is Providenciales?

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Beaches Resort + Grace Bay = Heaven on Earth

Stand-up paddling across the turquoise waters of Grace Bay.  Beach Maniac photo.

Stand-up paddling across the turquoise waters of Grace Bay. Beach Maniac photo.

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If you create the checklist of the perfect beach vacation, Beaches Resort at Grace Bay on the Turks and Caicos Islands just might have it all:

  • Crystal clear, calm, refreshing turquoise waters: Check
  • Water free of common ocean “ick factors” such as algae or jellyfish: Check
  • Expansive beach with soft but firm sand free of stones and debris: Check
  • Great snorkeling, even from shore: Check (Diving too if you are a diver)
  • An all-inclusive resort with multiple outstanding pools and restaurants, quality food, beautifully landscaped grounds, comfortable and clean rooms and friendly staff: Check

Simply put, Beaches at Turks & Caicos is all-around amazing! The beach is amazing! The water is amazing! The pools (and there are a lot of them) are amazing! The landscaping is amazing!

My wife Diane and I have been to several all-inclusive resorts and have liked them all, but Beaches takes it all up a notch. Now, we are not typical Beaches visitors. Our children are grown and we came to celebrate my wife’s 60th birthday and originally were looking at Sandals resort, but we really wanted to visit Turks and Caicos (recently named best island in the world!) so we figured we could make the family oriented (kids oriented) resort work for us as a couple.

We were right.

The resort has so much space and so many pools and restaurants and the beach is so expansive that we were able to enjoy the resort as a couple...

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