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Boarding Pass: Islands of the Caribbean

May 03, 2016 01:41PM ● By Dia
The world has given you 35 reasons to plan a vacation in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean. Each island has its own personality, and although you can swim, dine and sleep on any of them, your experience will be unique wherever you choose to sink your toes in the sand. 

The Bahamas: Paradise Island

This is a chance for your family to get lost in paradise. Conveniently located above the water (unlike the myth) the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas is a place for the whole family to experience the epitome of fun in the Caribbean sun. A city of sorts by the sea, the resort boasts a waterpark, more than 20 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges, a casino, spa, golf course and plenty of shopping.

The six towers at the Atlantis Resort vary in price point, allowing you to book an affordable getaway or a luxury vacation. The Royal Towers, which match most closely the architecture of the iconic city, are middle of the road when it comes to pricing, but you really won’t be making any sacrifices— you’ll still have six suite styles to choose from. A big bonus to staying in the Royal Towers is you’ll be in close proximity to the Aquaventure water park.

With 141 acres of waterscape, the park features more than 20 million gallons of water, Atlantean-themed towers, high-speed water slides, a mile- long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas and a kids water-play fort. Oh, and there are 11 unique swimming pools if you want to leave the adventure-ing to the kids and spend your time in a private poolside cabana. 

Grand Cayman

A visit to the famous Seven Mile Beach on the west side of Grand Cayman will put you in the right place (one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches) at the right time (even at peak tourism times, this almost endless stretch of sand tends to be the least populated of the region’s beaches).

The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is located on the seven-mile stretch and “captures the relaxing and casual seaside ambience of island living.” The resort offers 273 luxury guest rooms and 22 suites. Hungry? A full American-style breakfast is served each morning, or you can choose to dine at one of the restaurants onsite. The resort also features a spa and fitness center, and a beachside pool. However, a stay at this resort encourages more time exploring the island, rather than just sitting in your poolside cabana.

Located not too far north from the Marriott resort, the Cayman Turtle Farm is a one-of-a-kind, 23-acre adventure marine park that celebrates Caymanians’ relationship with nature through tactile and educational experiences. Park visitors can swim and snorkel with fish and other marine life in the facility’s 1.3 million-gallon saltwater lagoon. Cayman Turtle Farm is home to more than 11,000 green sea turtles, ranging in size from six ounces to 600 pounds each. In addition to the fun it provides guests, the park also houses a world-class research and educational facility that focuses on the conservation of sea turtles.

U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas

Although it is described as the most cosmopolitan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas still boasts that laid-back Caribbean culture that allows visitors to set their own pace for this island vacation. Home to the famous Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the island has a variety of hotels and resorts. However, because of its central location to many of the activities on the island, The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort by Marriott is a great place to set up home base. With harbor, garden and island views, accommodations are only steps away from the beach.

Dining options at the resort include a number of topnotch choices that cover all the bases. The Havana Blue at Morning Star Beach Club has been ranked in the top five of many travel and food publications. The restaurant serves Latin America- meets-Pacific-Rim fare, and is an upscale, no-bathing-suit-attire establishment. In other words, you must make reservations, and a visit probably makes for a great date night sans kids. However, there are a number of casual grilles for grabbing a quick bite for breakfast or lunch.,

Guests at the Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort by Marriott will find their stay on the south side of the island puts them at arm’s reach of many activities St. Thomas is famous for, such as St. Thomas Adventure Tours. A locally owned and familyoperated business, the facility specializes in guided excursions of protected bays, coral reefs and beaches. You can swim with sea turtles, snorkel over a live coral reef, or kayak along the coast to experience the beach views from a whole new perspective. Even if you have no prior experience, the guides are always in and on the water to assist guests during the tours. In addition, all tours and excursions can be customized according to preference and abilities. Transportation is provided and photos are included with every tour.

And there is something to be said for exclusivity. According to Michelle Felder of St. Thomas Adventure Tours, “Our guests see more than they would on most other tours as we have one guide per six guests, and we are the only operator at all-snorkel location, so they are never crowded.”