I just got back from an amazing trip to the island of Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean! This island is a gorgeous destination for those looking for adventure and is a hot spot for romance travel. In this blog, I will share with you all that I learned about this unique destination as well as tips and tricks for your next getaway.
St. Lucia, a member of the Commonwealth, is a very lush and tropical volcanic island spanning approximately 27 miles long by 14 miles wide. The population of St. Lucia is just under 200,000 and the official language of the island is English (note: locals speak Saint Lucian Creole French). The island encompasses tropical rainforests, high peaks and mountains, sugar sand and black sand beaches, and of course the famous Pitons, twin mountainous volcanic peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton. The Pitons are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and iconic symbol of St. Lucia. Tourism is vital to the island’s economy with bananas being their main export. This island is a popular destination for cruises as well as land vacations. Read on for details on how to get to St. Lucia.
The main cruise ship dock in Castries, the capital, is located on the northwest coast of the island. If you fly into the island, the main airport is called Hewanorra International Airport and is in the southern part of the island. You will find most all-inclusive resorts in the northern part of the island near Gros Islet or on the western side in Soufriere. With all of that said, it’s important to know that no matter whether you fly in or cruise to St. Lucia, getting around takes time as most roads are winding and only two lanes. Also, the main attractions can be quite far to travel unless you are staying in Soufriere. Here are some photos from the plane when we were flying into the island. You can see the Pitons! Tip: Air conditioning is a luxury on the island and not all hotels and resorts have it.
Where To Stay
During our visit, we stayed at Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort & Spa in Pigeon Island Gros Islet, a luxury, adult only, all-inclusive resort. This beachfront property encompasses 311 rooms and offers exquisite Over-the-Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows! When staying at this property, you can take advantage of the ‘Stay at one, play at three’, exchange privileges with Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa and Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort. With this feature, guests enjoy access to even more luxurious amenities and a total of 27 Five Star Global Gourmet options to choose from. To view photos from my visit to these three properties, click on the resort names above.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort & Spa is located on the northern part of the island and is approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, via ground transfer, from Hewanorra International Airport. For those that get car sick, it’s important to note that the trip from the airport entails lots of winding roads. However, the island is beautiful, and you will have plenty of great scenery along the way to take your mind off of the roller coaster ride. An alternative to using ground transportation is to take a helicopter transfer from Hewanorra International Airport to George F.L. Charles Airport in Castries. This option is quite pricey but offers a more unique introduction to the island with beautiful views along the 10-minute journey. After arriving George F.L. Charles Airport, the ground transfer time to Sandals Grande is about 20 minutes through town. Below are photos from our helicopter ride.
Things To Do
While in St Lucia, we toured most of the western part of the island from Gros Islet to Soufriere. On our tour, we visited Rabot Estate and Hotel Chocolat where we learned all about growing cacao beans, got the chance to graph a cacao tree and made a bar of dark chocolate from scratch using cacao nibs, cacao butter and sugar. YUMMY!!!!
On our 1.5-hour journey, we made a lot of stops along the way. Below is a list of some of them along with photos. Note: to see popular sites, you can take a tour by car or boat. Keep in mind that the roads are extremely winding, but you get to see more of the local life than you would from a boat trip.
Also, during our visit, I had time to do a few scuba dives and highly recommend scuba diving in St. Lucia. We dove at Bird Rock and saw at least 30+ stingrays, 5 spotted eagle rays, 3 eels, 2 lobsters, several sea cucumbers, a few barracudas, a flounder and an octopus…AMAZING! Did you know that scuba diving is included at Sandals resorts? If you are not certified, no problem, as they offer dive courses for a fee as well.
I hope this destination spotlight of St. Lucia has inspired you to want to explore this stunning destination. Stay tuned for more travel tips and tricks with Explore Travel Planners!
Explore Travel Planners just got back from Costa Rica! We had an amazing adventure and I am excited to share our experiences with you. In this blog, I will share details and photos from our trip as well as tricks and tips for your next getaway!
ABOUT COSTA RICA:
Costa Rica, located in Central America, is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This Spanish speaking country is mountainous and rugged with tons to offer the outdoors-adventure traveler. Spread out all over this vast country are volcanoes, waterfalls, rain forest and wildlife. Since it’s impossible to tour the whole country in one trip, we focused on the Guanacaste region, which is where you will find most all-inclusive and luxury resorts. Of course, if you are looking for a more rugged experience, there are plenty of hotels available for that kind of experience as well. In addition, there are some great backpack tour options available that will allow you to see more of the country in a short amount of time. Contact me at email@example.com for more information.
Costa Rica is a tropical destination, known for its lush forests and vegetation. The Guanacaste region specifically is known for its beaches (all beaches in Costa Rica are public, even the beach area in front of a resort property), surfing, sports fishing and beautiful plains that mirror savannas in Africa. This region truly has something for everyone.
Costa Rica is accessible by two main airports, Liberia (Daniel Oduber, LIR) and San José (Juan Santamaría, SJO). During our visit, we spent our time in Guanacaste, which is located on the Pacific Ocean in the northwestern part of the country. Therefore, we flew into Libera and rented a car. Due to the topography of this region, renting a car is a great way to get around, especially if you prefer not traveling with large tour groups.
TIP: Before renting a car in a foreign country, contact your car insurance carrier to see if you have coverage in your destination. If you have coverage, you will need to provide the proper documentation at pick-up, or you will be required to purchase insurance through the car rental company. If you do not have coverage, be prepared for a hefty bill. Our initial rental was $125 for 8 days but since we aren’t covered in Costa Rica the car rental with insurance cost a whopping $880 for 8 days!!!
WHERE TO STAY:
As previously mentioned, there are various options for lodging. If you are looking for a rugged, adventurous experience, there are lots of places located close to the volcanoes. If you are looking for a luxury, all-inclusive resort, you will find them dotted along the western coast of the country. For the first week, we stayed at Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica, a family friendly, all-inclusive resort located in the Guanacaste region on the northwestern coast of Costa Rica; approximately 1.5 hours from Liberia international Airport. This resort is beautiful! It’s a tropical oasis with pools that seem to never end and a sunset most people only dream about seeing. The feel of this resort is secluded and remote in relation to the volcanoes and the outdoor adventure most seek when traveling to this destination. Click here to see photos from our stay at Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica.
TIP: In my opinion, Preferred Club level rooms are the way to go at this property. They offer upgraded amenities in the room as well as on the balcony/patio. Standard rooms offer garden tubs on the balcony with 2 chairs and a table, while club rooms offer a jetted tub and a cushion sectional couch with a coffee table. Club level rooms give you access to the Preferred Club lounge, a separate area on the beach with its own bar and suites located in preferred locations, just to name a few.
After our stay at Dreams, we stayed a few nights at Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica. This adult only, all-inclusive resort is tucked away in the mountains of the Papagayo Peninsula, approximately 20 minutes from Liberia Airport. Here you will find a peaceful village made-up of mostly bungalows dotted throughout the property. Secrets Papagayo is very spread-out and therefore they offer 24-hour transportation to help you navigate the property. Once again, Preferred Club rooms are a must at this property. In addition to upgraded room amenities like a Nespresso machine versus a standard coffee maker, you have exclusive dining access for breakfast and lunch at Aqua Seaside Grill, a Preferred Club lounge and suites are in premium locations. Click here to view photos from our stay.
Also while in Costa Rica, we visited three additional resorts: The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal, Planet Hollywood Costa Rica & Riu Palace Costa Rica. Click on the hotel names for more information on these properties and to view photos from our site inspections.
TIP: Take a flashlight so you can spot the nighttime wildlife around your resort. You will most likely see coatis, raccoons, and skunks, to name a few. Note, we saw monkeys, coatis and iguanas during the day as well.
THINGS TO DO:
Below are a few notables I want to share with you for your next trip outside of the country:
As you can see, Costa Rica is an extremely diverse and adventurous destination with a variety of activities for the whole family. I hope this destination spotlight of Costa Rica has inspired you to want to explore this amazing country.
For more information, contact Angie Hinds with Explore Travel Planners at (864) 688-9886. Stay tuned for more travel tips and tricks with Explore Travel Planners!
Las Vegas, the city of lights and entertainment, is a very diverse destination. Not only are there tons of things to do in Las Vegas, but there are also many great day and over-night trips outside of the city. The purpose of this blog is to share family-friendly activities that can be found in and around Las Vegas.
Personally, I have been to Las Vegas over a dozen times, with and without my kids. Every time I visit, I find new and exciting things to do with the kids in and around Vegas. Here is a list of some of the cool things to do with kids in Vegas along with a compilation of photos. Note, I recommend you check age, height and weight restrictions and limitations as many of these activities will not be an option for all kids.
When we visit the Las Vegas area we always plan a few days to do things in the city, and then we plan a few days outside of the city. My family really enjoys hiking and outdoor activities, and the southwest USA is an outdoor wonderland. Our most recent visit was in December 2018. My family spent 10 days in and around Vegas, including a jaunt to California. Below is a list of places we have visited outside of Vegas, along with photos from our visits and how far you will travel from the Vegas Strip (each way).
Excursions from Las Vegas:
I hope you have enjoyed learning all about my travels out west. If you have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am excited to help you plan your next adventure!
Stay tuned for more travel tips and tricks with Explore Travel Planners.
Explore Travel Planners is always looking for new and exciting destinations to visit so that we can share our knowledge and experiences with our clients. I just recently got back from a trip to Turks and Caicos and stayed at an amazing property called Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages & Spa. In this blog, I will share photos and tricks and tips for your next adventure!
I just got back from another amazing vacation and I am excited to tell you all about my experiences cruising the Western Caribbean on Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess. Continue reading for more about my adventures as well as tips and tricks for your next cruise.
Growing up, my family traveled and explored, a lot! Experiencing so many places at an early age further fueled my passion for traveling. By high school, I knew that I wanted to be an integral part of the travel industry. At 18, I went to travel school and began working at a travel agency. Through the years, I have worked in various aspects of travel, from leisure and corporate travel to planning meetings and conference events for 1,000-person groups. I have worked hard over the past 26 years at building my expertise in the travel industry through training, research, education and personal travel experiences. The purpose of this blog is to share with you why I am an expert in all things travel and why you should trust Explore Travel Planners with your next travel adventure!
I started working in the travel industry in 1993 (yes, I am getting old, but that not’s the point of this blog!). Over the years, I have seen and been a part of the transformation within the travel industry. “Back in the day”, travel planners were a vital asset to the travel industry and bridged the gap between travelers, suppliers and destinations. Well, guess what? …today, this is still true! The purpose of this blog is to explain why you should use a travel planner, what a travel planner can do for you, how to work with a travel planner and how a travel planner can save you valuable time and money.
I just got back from my first trip to Asia! I get a lot of travel requests for Asia and I felt it was important to explore it myself, so I can better guide clients in their travels. Not to mention, I have always dreamed of going to Thailand!
My original plan was to go to only Thailand but since it’s a long trip, I wanted to make the most of it and see more than one country. So, I decided to add Hong Kong to the itinerary because most of the flights connect through either Hong Kong, Singapore or Tokyo. Therefore, it was easy to incorporate it in the itinerary.
Hong Kong, once under British rule, is now part of China. Hong Kong consists of three main territories and 260 territorial islands. Hong Kong International (HKG) is located on Lantau Island but the primary areas with hotels are on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula.
I just got back from a trip to Cancun and had a blast! We stayed in Playa Mujeres at Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort for the first part of the trip and for the second half, we stayed in Riviera Maya at Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya. We also spent the day on the island of Isla Mujeres, went scuba diving in Cancun, had a blast riding ATVs and ziplining in Riviera Maya and got to see a Cirque du Soleil show called Joya! In this blog, I will identify the destinations within this region and uncover a plethora of activities that make Cancun a great vacation spot for singles, couples and families.
I just got back from Jamaica, a few weeks ago, and want to share this gorgeous destination with you in my last destination spotlight of this series.
Jamaica is a very large Island in the Caribbean with rich culture and heritage. From the moment you arrive in Montego Bay, you will begin to experience the friendliness and laid back nature of the locals. You will hear "No problem, mon" and "No worries, mon" throughout your stay and will learn to leave the stress at home and enjoy the moment, as you are in paradise. While in Jamaica, be sure to sample their famous Jamaican Rum, Blue Mountain Coffee and Jerk Chicken. In this blog I will touch on the 3 main tourist areas known as Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril.
Angie Conger Hinds
I have a true passion for travel and I want to share my travel knowledge with you. I hope this blog gives you inspiration to EXPLORE the world!
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