Thursday, April 28, 2011

RESORT REVIEW (Guest Blogger): Beaches Turks & Caicos

**Beach Junkies Note:  Our friend Kat was so thrilled with her stay in Turks &Caicos so I asked her to write up a review for us (seeing that us Beach Junkies have not been to this island). All photos used in this post belong to Kat**

Trip Date: April 9-16, 2011
Location: Turks & Caicos

Kat's Rating: (based on 5 stars)
Beach: 5 / Food: 5 / Rooms: 3.5 / Pools: 5 / Snorkeling: N/A

The Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos caters to kids and adults. It's a beautiful resort with 3 large "villages" - Italian (newest), French and Caribbean; all within walking distance of each other. There are 16 restaurants and dozens of pools with a large water park for adults and kids. 

Beaches is the only resort that provides complementary shuttle service to/from the airport and they're very efficient; I was expecting to wait around for at least 30mins while they got themselves organized but the minute we were outside with our luggage, we were whisked away into the first shuttle and taken to our room. Beaches is a cashless resort so everything that's outside of the all-inclusive plan gets charged to your room. They don't accept tips either (?!) so the cash we had remained in the room safe for the entire trip. 

Because this resort is kid-friendly, they have tons of kids activities; some which requires an additional fee to be paid. The character breakfast (you dine with Elmo and friends - totally worth it) or the sesame street cruise are extra but activities like baking cookies with Cookie Monster (Wednesdays at 3pm), Elmo's birthday party (once a week) and the Sesame Street camp (open daily - daycare for kids and they get to frolick around with the characters) are all free.

Check in
I think check-in is 3pm but we arrived late and our room was already ready.  I'm not sure why but we had private concierge service so they brought our luggage to our room

We stayed in the Caribbean village in a 1bdrm suite. It was a decent room but I expected more since I paid through the teeth for this trip. However, it was clean, the staff was excellent and we had a great terrace that stretched from the sliding door in the bedroom to the main area. The Caribbean Village is the older of the 3 villages and the most quiet and we booked this area for that very reason since our daughter goes to bed around 8pm. 

The food was awesome. There were 16 restaurants scattered around the resort and you could walk into every one. Some were adults-only but most of them were kid-friendly. They had different 'theme' nights; my favorite was Mario's restaurant - it was huge and the food was really good.

They were pretty good.  The drinks were good and the service was quick.

Fantastic; by far, the most beautiful beach aside from the beaches of anguilla. The water was crystalline blue so those pictures you see on the internet of the turks beaches/ocean are that gorgeous.  I LOVED the beach - it had fine, white, powder sand and the water was so refreshing. 

Beaches resort had tons of pools; they even had a water park with slides and everything. The French village had a children's water park/splash pad that our daughter loved with a lazy river and giant slides for adults. Lots of swim-up bars, great (fake) caves for the kids to play in.

Awesome entertainment for kids.  Every evening, they held a Sesame Street show (free!) or some kid of talent show/dance off, a Sesame Street parade through the entire resort and at the end of the week, they held a beach party complete with a show, amazing local food, lighting, the whole works. It was awesome.

For the most part, the staff was so incredibly nice. The ladies at the bar near our pool were sort of crusty but all the other staff were so nice and friendly.

Check out
Checkout wasn't bad. Because we had private concierge service, we didn't have to wait in line. They have an 11am checkout but our flight wasn't until 715pm!  Luckily, we reserved on of the private cabanas so we chilled out by the pool until we had to leave. They provide a departure lounge where you can shower/get ready for your flight and they also serve refreshments/snacks while you wait for your (complimentary) shuttle to the airport.

Definitely a 10.  We loved it so much, we're planning on going back there next year!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Top 5 Things to Do in St. Lucia

Blogger's note: We are thrilled to announce our first guest blogger - Katie. She may be writing some articles for Beach Junkies from time to time.


Before you embark on your next Caribbean vacation, you may want to do some investigation about the activities and attractions located in St. Lucia. The options may seem endless, but compiled below you will find a list of the best things to do during a trip to exquisite St. Lucia. From sunning by the seaside to partying with locals, there are many exciting ways to spend your time visiting this popular Caribbean destination.

Worship the sun at a St. Lucia beach. Many travelers flock to the Caribbean solely take it easy on the soft sand and bask in the warm water that laps smoothly against St. Lucia beaches. Some of the best stretches of coastline in St. Lucia can be found along the areas of Marigot Bay that are solely accessible via water craft. Unlike many Caribbean destinations, a large portion of St. Lucia’s beaches feature black sand created by volcanic sediments. Some beaches, like Anse Couchon, boast sandbanks with naturally intermingling patches of white and black sand. 

Celebrate the Rose Festival in August. A yearly tradition in St. Lucia, the Rose Festival pays homage to the event’s namesake flower with an entire month of music, dancing and street parties. The celebration climaxes on August 30th, when the island hosts the Feast of St. Rose de Lima. Each Saturday leading up to the feast includes all-night dance and musical fundraisers to raise funds for festival costumes. If you’re fortunate enough to be in St. Lucia during the month of August, be sure to partake in some of the rosy rituals.

Try your luck at a St. Lucia casino. Many tourists are enchanted by the bright lights and bustling sounds of casinos during a Caribbean vacation, and St. Lucia has finally opened up their first gambling establishment. The island has historically outlawed all gambling, but the opening of the Treasure Bay Casino has changed everything for this small island. From slot machines and placing bets on sporting events to Caribbean stud poker and everything in between, the newly opened Treasure Bay of St. Lucia offers it all.

Get a taste of local cuisine. While traveling to foreign countries, travelers will inevitably encounter exotic food that may not be like anything you've eaten before. Although many travelers may prefer to order more familiar dishes, people with daring tastes are encouraged to consider testing out fare from authentic, local restaurants. If you want to get a true taste of St. Lucia cuisine, check out pepperpot soup or blood sausage. Additional exceptional treats include local produce like breadfruit, tamarind tree beans and tropical love apples.

Put on your dancing shoes. The nightlife of St. Lucia provides endless outlets for drinking and entertainment. From crowded dance clubs to themed cruises, there is a wide selection of ways to spend your evenings. If you're interested in dancing the night away, you should think about heading to a popular night club in St. Lucia, like Upper Level Night Club in Rodney Bay. For a less crowded experience, travelers may prefer a leisurely bar, such as the themed Xanadu Lounge in Gros Islet. Some other suggestions for alternative nighttime experiences include taking an evening ride of the Marigot Bay Ferry or attending an open-air performance at the Derek Walcott Center Theatre.

When organizing your itinerary for your vacation in St. Lucia, contemplate these five excellent activities. Each offers a unique peek into the culture of St. Lucia, and will provide you with memories to last a lifetime. Whether your lifestyle is better suited for snorkeling through crystal clear waters or shopping for trinkets in a charming market, St. Lucia has plenty of attractions to keep you captivated throughout your travels.

About the Author: Katie Boue is a Cuban-American student who studied at Florida State University’s Creative Writing program before diving into the world of travel. An avid rock climber and photographer, Ms. Boue has a true passion for adventure. She currently writes for a series of Caribbean guide sites, including Feel free to contact Ms. Boue at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Best Beaches of 2011?

Playa Megano - Santa Clara, Cuba
Most recently Tripadvisor released its survey results from the best beaches around the world. I was STUNNED to see that only 1 of Cuba's beaches were on the list. Santa Clara made it to 21.  I realized that a lot of US travelers cannot go visit the country, but let me tell you, Cuba has some of the best beaches in the world. To be fair though, I have never been to 5 out of the top 10 they listed in the Caribbean but it's also fair assessment to say that some beaches in Cuba are far more superior that the 5 I have been to.

Take a look at the list here Do you agree?