Monday, February 18, 2013

Cruising to Western Caribbean Beaches

A Western Caribbean cruise offer idyllic port days spent on gorgeous beaches, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and strolling the pearly white-sand. Here are a few that we consider the “best of the best”.

Grand Cayman Island:

Seven Mile Beach as the name implies, is one extensive beach nearly seven miles long.   Located on the more tranquil western side of Grand Cayman, the water is generally calm and inviting, making it ideal for families. It is public property, and it is possible to walk the full length past many hotels and villas. There are restaurants open to the public at most of the resorts, and several public beach bars The hotels also have water sports kiosks where you can book parasailing and windsurfing excursions or rent snorkeling equipment. There are many spots to rent chairs and umbrellas.  Cabs are readily available in both directions.

Smith’s Cove is a free public beach, located south of George Town in South Sound.  This is where you want to go if you’re seeking the peace and tranquility absent from Seven Mile Beach.  It offers the convenience of being close to the cruise port (about a mile, and it is walkable if you choose) to allow for more time enjoying the sun, sand and sea. There are restrooms, picnic benches, and showers, but you cannot rent chairs and there are no restaurants or snack bars. However, there is phenomenal snorkeling! The cove, protected by limestone formations and coral reefs, features crystal clear waters and a multitude of parrot fish, sponges, star fish and sea fans.


Nachi-Cocom is actually one of several beach clubs on a three-mile long stretch of San Francisco Beach. The water is crystal clear and the sandy bottom is free of rocky surprises.  The club is fully equipped with a beautiful seaside swimming pool, a large Jacuzzi, swim-up bar, comfortable beach chairs, a huge palapa style restaurant, a water sports kiosk, bathrooms, and a warm friendly staff. The price ($55 adults / children cost less) includes an open bar with unlimited domestic and top international brands including bottled beer, wine, cocktails, sodas, juices and bottled water. A delicious 3-course lunch is served a la carte and includes Mexican specialties as well as international selections. Massages and hair braiding are available on site for an additional charge.

Paradise Beach is aptly named! It is one of the most photographed beaches in the Caribbean  There is no entrance fee but you must purchase a minimum of $10 per person in food or drink.  There is a nominal charge for lounge chairs. Fun-Passes are available for $12 per person which include unlimited use of kayaks, floating mats, trampolines, 14' climbing iceberg, Spacewalker bungee-trampoline ride, climbing coconut trees, 3 water slides, paddle boards, and snorkel gear. Parasailing, banana boat rides and wave runner rentals are also available. Facilities include a restaurant, cocktail bar with free internet, shop, changing rooms, lockers, showers and bathrooms. Paradise Beach is located just five miles from the international cruise ship pier.  All-inclusive packages can usually be purchased through the cruise lines.


Chukka Beach (Falmouth) is only a 5 min ride from the dock. The beach is beautiful with a nice view, very soft sand, and clear water with waves to frolic in. Umbrellas and floats are available, for $5 each. The vendors are numerous, but with a simple no thanks they leave you alone. If you are uncomfortable venturing out on your own, you can book a day here as an excursion through the cruise line.

Sunset Beach Resort (Montego Bay or Ocho Rios) Located just a few miles from the port, this all-inclusive resort offers day passes to cruisers. Enjoy white-sand beaches, beautiful pools, a water park and non-motorized water sports like kayaking, pedal boats, pool games, and sailing The price includes savory lunches, snacks, beverages and tropical drinks. Spending a day at this resorts may be the highlight of your Western Caribbean cruise. You can book this privately or as a shore excursion sponsored by most cruise lines."

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