Monday, February 11, 2013

Cruising To Eastern Caribbean Beaches

There are always lots of activities for cruisers to pick from when their ship docks at a Caribbean island, yet heading to the beach is probably the most popular choice.  Below are some of the prettiest beaches of the Eastern Caribbean, all perfect for your day in port. Cabs are readily available when you step off the ship, as well as lined up at the beach for the ride back.

St. Thomas, USVI:

Magens Bay is St. Thomas' most popular beach. The beautiful one-mile stretch of powdery white sand has a modest entry fee; funds are used to maintain the facilities and the beach. The water is usually very calm with no waves or current, great for floating along and for swimming. Magens Bay is not known for good snorkeling. A water sports booth rents paddleboats, kayaks and sunfish. Beach chairs, floats and snorkel sets are available at the concession. Also at the concession is a bar and restaurant that serves burgers, pizzas and other snacks, a gift shop and a hair braiding stand. Lifeguards are on duty everyday.

Coki Beach is a small, pretty beach located on Coki Point. The crystal clear water is usually very calm and deepens gradually. A rocky, reef area offers great snorkeling. Beachside eateries serve picnic table fare including burgers, sandwiches and some local dishes. There are hair braiders, chair rentals and a dive shop on site. A jet ski rental booth is located just across the road, opposite the beach and a few vendors rent snorkel gear, floats and noodles. Coki Beach is located right next to Coral World Marine Park.  Visiting both places makes for a fun-filled day in port.

St. Maarten / St. Martin:

 Dawn Beach is located on the Dutch side of the island and has become quite popular in the recent years.  It has pristine white sand, great rental facilities for beach chairs, umbrellas, and snorkeling gear, as well as bar and restaurant services. Snorkeling is absolutely incredible. The coral reef is a bit off the shore, so you'll have to first swim out a bit to get to the best snorkeling spots. The surf can sometimes be a little challenging, so keep a careful watch on young children.

Orient Beach, on the French side, is the most developed, popular and busiest beach on the island; probably the most famous beach in the entire Caribbean. The beach is reputed as much for its natural beauty as it is for being the island’s foremost swimsuit optional beach! This beach resembles the French Riviera with its many restaurants and bars all on the beach, showcasing fine French cuisine, grill styled food to local cuisine Water sport facilities are available, such as jet skis, sailing boats, and paragliding.

Maho Beach is also worth mentioning, as it’s definitely the island's most dramatic swimming spot. Swimmers splashing in the water can experience the unusual thrill of airplanes passing right over their heads as they head for the nearby runway!  Flights usually land in the afternoon, so if you don’t want to spend the day, at least ask your cab driver to stop by on the way back to the ship.

 San Juan, Puerto Rico:

 Condado Beach is a small, public beach at the western end of the Condado area, just east of the bridge on Ashford Avenue. It is protected from most of the strong winds by the hotels (though there is still a nice breeze to help keep you cool). The water is usually calm because there is a coral rock formation to break the waves. The shallow water is warm and clear. The beach is fine, golden sand. There are trees lining the back of the beach, providing lots of shady spots in the morning and early afternoon. There are lifeguards on duty during the day, outdoor showers for rinsing off, and there are usually vendors selling food and drinks.

Luquillo Beach is a bit further from where the ship docks, situated 30 miles east of San Juan, but well worth the trip.  It’s beautiful! It has a coral reef perfectly located that limits the rough oceans that are evident at some other beaches. As a result, the waters are usually calmer, clearer and better suited for small children. Picnic areas, which include changing rooms and showers, are easily located making Luquillo Beach family friendly. Its beauty is one reason why it is one of the most photographed beaches in Puerto Rico, as well as the entire Caribbean!

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