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Puerto Rico, Island of Enchantment

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 | BLOG, Caribbean | No Comments

Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment

No Passport Required!

Want to take a trip to the Caribbean but don’t have a passport? Well take off to Puerto Rico. This beautiful green island is a commonwealth of the United States so no passport is required. With its Spanish heritage, this island has more to offer than one can see in just one vacation, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve seen this varied country until you have seen it from east, west, north and south. With both Spanish and English being primary languages, you will have no problem getting around. It’s easy to drive here if you are the adventurous type and want to get out and explore on your own. If you prefer guided tours, there are plenty of those available too.

First you will want to see Old San Juan and El Moro fort. This area is also chocked full of handsome old colonial buildings, some painted in bright Caribbean colors. There is an endless array of shops and fabulous restaurants. Stop by one of the shops that make and sell local Cuban-type cigars. Even if you don’t smoke them, it is really interesting to learn the history and see how meticulously they are hand rolled. You may want to ship some home to your favorite cigar aficionado. While in this area you can also take a ferry across the bay to visit the Bacardi rum factory. Following the guided tour and learning how this delectable drink is distilled, enjoy complimentary Bacardi drinks before hopping the ferry back to Old San Juan. If you arrive in San Juan via cruise-liner, this is the area where the docks are located so be sure to leave enough time before or after your cruise to enjoy San Juan. You may even want to take a tour via Segway. You will find a tourist information center just outside the dock area.

If you want to stay in this area, there are several hotels located right in the old town. Your next option would be to stay in the Condado area. Here you will be within walking distance of the old historic center but you can stay right on the beautiful tropical beach located in this area. Another option is the area of Isla Verde and Carolinas Beach. About 10 minutes via taxi from the docks and old city and 5 minutes to the airport, this is the beach that made San Juan famous as a beach destination in the 1950’s. You will find older remodeled hotels reminiscent of the old Miami hotels, as well as new hotels. There are both chain hotels and smaller boutique style hotels both right on the beach and a couple of blocks off the beach. The main street, Isla Verde, is a great place to stroll and enjoy many restaurants and local shops. You can even get a bicycle taxi to transport you to the beach if you prefer not to walk.This area makes a great pre or post cruise stop too.

There is so much more to see outside the city, but too much to include here, so stay tuned to my follow up blog about the fabulous tropical paradise of Puerto Rico.

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Sandals Whitehouse

Sunday, August 29th, 2010 | BLOG, Caribbean, Sandals | No Comments

 I have recently returned form a wonderful trip to Sandals Whitehouse on the southern coast of Jamaica. What a fabulous resort!


One of my very best friends and I needed some “girl” time since we hadn’t seen each other in about 1 1/2 years, so we decided that a tropical beach vacation at an all-inclusive resort was just what was in order. I needed to get back down to Jamaica and check out the renovations at Sandals Whitehouse made last winter, so we decided that, even though this is a couples resort, we would go down anyway. We really wanted an adults only resort, but like most adults only, it is usually couples. We decided we are a couple, even if we are just female friends, so off we went.We arrived around 9PM for a ride not unlike Mr. Toad’s wild ride across the mountains from Montego Bay to Whitehouse. Arriving at the resort around 11 PM we were greeted with refreshing cold towels and champagne. We were promply checked in while seated on a plush sofa in the newly remodeled lobby and then shown to our beachfront suite. Of course every room is beachfront at Sandals Whitehouse, so this was not unexpected. The huge room with a split bath was wonderful, especially for 2 women and all our “stuff” . We had premium brand liquors, red wine, white wine, sparkling wine and a fully stocked mini-fridge as well as a coffee maker with wonderful Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee to make fresh every morning and enjoy on our oversized balcony overlooking a turquoise blue bay and white sand beach. There was no need to make coffe because there was plenty at the delicious breakfast buffet or the sit down ala carte restaurant, but it was nice to wake up slowly before heading out for breakfast and then hanging at the pool until the afternoon showers came along around 3:00. Sometimes we didn’t even go in for lunch, just got something at the pool. They have alot of activities and games around the three pools at different times during the day. I actually won a print by a German artist playing bingo and the next day I won another print and a very pretty jade necklace by being the first to answer the winning question. We did go snorkeling one morning , this wa included in the luxry included amentities as all water sports are. We had a spa service one afternoon at the wonderful Red Lane Spa, but otherwise we just relaxed and caught up on everything and laughed a lot. The most difficult thing we did was decide where to have dinner and which wine to drink! One night they had a great buffet on the beach with typical Jamaican foods. I couldn’t get enough shrimp. This is one of the things I like best at Sandals, there is never a fee for seafood, steaks or any of the more upscale restaurants or fancy drinks in coconuts. After the dinner, they had entertainment by some Jamaican musicians and a fire dancer and then some hilarious fun games with guest participation. Since the majority of the guests were honeymooners or couples there to celebrate an aniversary or birthday, you can imagine the merriment. Another night they had music and and then a chocalate and wine party on the Piazza. Now that was really good! We had every intention of taking some tours, but there was so much going on at Sandals, we never left the property. I think if time permitted, we could have stayed at least another week, however, after watching all the romantic honeymooners, I was more than ready to get home to see my honey. Being with your best friend while being pampered at a luxury included resort is wonderful and I would highly recommend this for every woman. If you don’t like to share a King size bed, as all the beds are at all Sandals Resorts, or can’t handle having people looking at you questioningly as if guessing your sexal preference, then you might want to consider Beaches, which offers rooms with different bedding arrangements and is also great if you have a group that want a special getaway.

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Thursday, August 26th, 2010 | BLOG, Caribbean | 2 Comments

The Caribbean is a region consisting of more than 7000 islands. Obviously I’m not going to talk about all of them just now. This area is probably the most requested destination for weddings and honeymoons as well as nearby exotic beach vacations. Some of the most popular of the islands are Jamaica, St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. Right now I’m going to talk about Jamaica. Yea Mon, it’s Irie!


Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean. The terrain is very mountainous with the highest point being Blue Mountain Peak reaching 7,402 feet above sea level. Over 120 natural rivers and springs flow through Jamaica.  

The major airport is located in Montego Bay, affectionately called MoBay. There are plenty of hotels and resorts located right here within 10 minutes of the airport. If you like to shop, this is the place for you.  

The nearest resort destination is the Rose Hall area with beautiful beaches and plenty of activities to enjoy in this region. If you’re a golfer, you’ll love it here. And don’t forget to visit the Rose Hall Plantation, home of the “White Witch”. 

About an hour and a half to the east of Mo Bay is the Parish of St. Ann , known as the “garden parish” because of it’s great beauty. The resort development of this delightful parish has centered around the town of Ocho Rios, meaning 8 rivers in Spanish. This thriving little town is a very popular destination with plenty of accommodations ranging from small hotels to large all-inclusive resorts. Nearby there are world-class reefs for diving including those at Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios and great stretches of palm-fringed sand at Treasure Beach or Frenchman’s Cove near Port Antonio. One of the most popular activities is to climb Dunn’s River falls. There is also great zip lining in the nearby mountains and horseback riding on the beach here. Just a short drive away are the beautiful lush Blue Mountains where some of the best coffee in the world is grown. You can go on ATV or 4-wheel safari trips here and end up swimming in waterfalls. The north shore is definitely for you if just lying around on the beach is not enough.  

On the western end of the island is the community of Negril. To introduce Negril, we have to quote Richard Hershman, the original owner of Rick’s Cafe: ” Your body has suddenly arrived where your mind has always been”. Nature blessed Negril and ensured her place in the tourist world with two shimmering beaches, stretching seven crystal white sand miles. Paradise comes in another guise as you leave this seven-mile strip. From here the road meanders along to the West End, where hotels and restaurants cling to the cliff’s edge. There is no beach, but the white sand gleams from the seabed. Here there are caves to explore, and rocky bluffs, cliff diving anyone? The first to discover Negril’s charms were the “Hippies and Flower Children” of the early seventies and this laidback atmosphere remains today. If you’re looking for relaxation and romance in paradise, you’ll find it in Negril and you won’t find a better place to watch spectacular sunsets.  

The least visited area is the south side where Sandals Whitehouse is located. There is very little tourism here, but this is the place to go if you want to see the “true” Jamaica. Be sure to visit YS Falls or take a boat ride on the Black River. This is also the area where the Appleton Rum factory is located at an old sugar mill. Bring on the Pina Coladas!   


Jamaica is the home of Sandals resorts, the first among the now famous all-inclusive program. Sandals has graduated to luxury inclusive and they are the leader in this concept today. Couples is just behind them as an adults only all-inclusive resort. You will also find many family friendly resorts and hotels as well as small boutique hotels. And if you need more space. Then rent a villa or an entire island. This beautiful green mountainous island has so much to offer including some of the happiest friendly people you’ll ever meet. No problem!     



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