This review article began with a simple question: Which is the best Sandals resort in Jamaica?
Sandals, as you may know, is a chain of all-inclusive beach resorts with properties in a handful of Caribbean countries including St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Antigua. The country with more Sandals resorts than any other — there are seven altogether — is Jamaica.
But which of those seven Sandals should I choose for my vacation? you might be asking.
With that specific question in mind — and with a skeptical view of Sandals in general — Spot Cool Stuff took a tour of the all-inclusive resorts on during our last trip to Jamaica. Here’s what we found:
Arranging a trip to the Caribbean online? There are lots of general travel websites—Travelocity, Expedia and Funjet Vacations among them—that cover the Caribbean along with the rest of the planet. But many of the best deals, and much of the most useful planning information, are found on websites that specialize in the Caribbean. Here are our countdown review of the five best:
Somehow, kids make it look easy the first time they hop on a SurfStream simulated wave.
For such a sun-drenched, humidity-soaked, tourist-filled region, the Caribbean has surprisingly few really great water parks. Perhaps the best of them, and certainly the largest, is at the all-inclusive Beaches Resort in the Turks & Caicos. It’s there that Pirates Island beacons the young — and the young at heart.
Want to visit the Caribbean, all expenses paid? Lynx—a brand of men’s grooming products known as Axe outside of Ireland, the UK and Australia—is giving away seven trips to a party on “Chaos Island.”
To win, participants race to solve clues that are part of a sort of online scavenger hunt. Six different races will be unlocked between August 12th and September 1st 2012. The winner of each race gets a free trip for themselves and a friend. The seventh trip goes to a lucky someone who doesn’t win, but successfully completes, at least one of the six races.
The video below sets it all up in dramatic fashion:
Ah, to be on a beach in the Caribbean. The sun. The sand. The clear blue waters. The roar of airplanes. The smell of engine fuel. The danger of jet blasts.
There can be a fine line between a travel experience that’s cool and one that is perilous. At Mahó beach, on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten’s, that line is about 12 meters wide. That’s the distance between the vacationers on the beach and the start of the main runway at Princess Juliana International Airport.
The vast majority of Isla Holbox—an island north of Cancun off of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula—is an untouched nature preserve. Only the eastern most tip of the island is permanently inhabited. That’s where you’ll find the few square blocks of sandy streets that make up Holbox town. Most residents get around by walking barefoot. (The island has no rocks). Those few who drive pilot golf carts, not cars.
Leaving Holbox town you can walk along the beach, past a few tiny shops, fishing boats and a ramshackle beach hut that doubles as a “slow food” restaurant. Eventually you’ll reach the last place on the beach, a cluster of buildings with white stucco walls and thatched roofs. This is where you’ll find the best accommodations on the island: Las Nubes de Holbox Hotel
Most vacationers flying into Cancun International Airport head directly to the glamorous shopping, high-rise beach resorts, bustling nightlife and trafficked-filled streets found in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera. But there’s a nearby destination that include none of that—but so much more.
On Isla Holbox, an island north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the shopping consists of a few shacks peddling jewelry, sandals, beer and the like. The island’s handful of hotels are small and don’t rise much higher than palm trees. The nightlife revolves around quiet beach bars where barefoot patrons are as likely to sit on swings or hammocks as they are on seats. As for the traffic, the island has no cars. However, we’ve been told that on occasion two of the island’s golf cart taxis meet up at an intersection.
Now, now, NOW!
Our captain is yelling while gesturing to us to hurry overboard. Overcome by his sense of urgency, we jump flippers first off our boat into warm Caribbean waters. There’s a second of disorientation. Then the water bubbles created by our fall dissipate and the view out of our snorkel mask clears. And what a view it is: the wide open mouth of the world’s largest fish heading directly towards us.
We are swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox, Mexico. Our trip was all arranged using Pay With Points, available through American Express Travel. Our challenge from American Express: to turn 150,000 Membership Rewards Points into a trip for two with WOW factor.
Being underwater, staring directly into the enormous mouth of a whale shark an arm’s length away—that’s a memory-making travel experience with no shortage of WOW.