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Living in Luxury at the Sandpearl Resort

Looking for the perfect place to head south as the weather gets cold and be immersed in absolute luxury? Look no further than the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Rated a AAA Four-Diamond Four Star hotel, the Sandpearl Resort will not disappoint.  The pampering begins when you pull into the driveway of the hotel and are greeted by the wonderful valet team, who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help you with your bags.

At check-in every guest receives a glass of bubbly – champagne or mimosas for adults and sparkling apple juice for children.  Small touches like this exemplify the Sandpearl’s status as a high-end resort and gives you a glimpse into the ideal vacation that awaits you.

—The Rooms —

The Sandpearl is home to a variety of rooms: from Standard King or two Queen rooms, to large two bedroom suites.  I had the opportunity to stay in a Gulf Front Junior Suite room.

The Gulf Front Junior Suite is a 500-square-foot room that features a private balcony which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.

A large sitting area features a queen-size sleeper sofa and work area with a desk.

One of my favourite features of the Gulf Front Junior Suite is the luxurious bathroom which boasts both a walk-in shower and a separate Roman style tub that offers a view of the Gulf once you open the plantation style shutters.

With 253 guest rooms in the resort there is a wide variety of rooms to offer something for everyone’s needs.    All the rooms in the resort come with bar-sized refrigerators, coffee makers (stocked with premium coffee and tea), wireless internet, daily newspapers, in-room safes, and twice daily housekeeping.  In addition to these standard services, the resort fee of $25/day provides you with two bottles of water a day in your room, beach towels, and complimentary chairs on the beach.

—The Food —

Sandpearl Resort has three on-site dining options to choose from, ranging from fine dining to the marketplace.  Caretta on the Gulf is the only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in Clearwater Beach and offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico from both inside and on the patio. Serving food from breakfast until after dinner, Caretta’s has an extensive menu and is one of the area’s most popular destinations for group celebrations, romantic dinners, or just a good night out.  Caretta’s is my favourite place to go for a late night appetizer and drink while sitting on the patio, enjoying the fires burning and listening to the waves crash into the beach.  This incredible atmosphere can’t help but remind you that you are on vacation.

Tate Island Grill is a popular location to go for a quick bite to eat, delicious salads, sandwiches, and seafood on a beachfront deck.  Tate’s provides a relaxed and casual dining experience where you can watch live sport events or simply watch the sun set beyond the horizon.  For an even more relaxing experience, Tate’s service extends onto the pool deck as well the beach.

The Marketplace is a convenient one-stop shop for everything from grab-and-go snacks and entrées, to replace forgotten travel items or choose a gift for that special someone.  Here you can find fresh pastries made daily, Starbucks coffee and tea, salads, wraps, fruit and yogurts, and a light selection of grocery items for picnics off-site or in a condo suite.

—What To Do At The Resort —

There is lots to do at the Sandpearl Resort. Sitting on 700 feet of Clearwater’s pristine beachfront, you can splash and play in the waves all day long or lounge on the complimentary beach chairs and soak in the sun.

If the sand and beach is not for you, the lagoon-style pool might tempt you with their many chairs upon which you can relax in the sun between dips in the pool or hot tub throughout the day.

If you are looking for something a bit more private, pool-side private cabanas are available that have fans, couches, tables, chairs, a fridge, safes, a flat screen TV, and decks with chairs for sunning.

There are beach volleyball nets set up in the sand and balls to borrow at the beach activities desk, along with beach toys for kids and towels.  You can also find the game of cornhole to play on the artificial lawns just to the right of the pool deck.

Make sure to check out the beautiful decorations perfectly placed throughout the hotel.  Sandpearl has an exclusive, luxurious, yet laid back feel which will put you right at home while on your beach vacation.

There is lots to do without going off the resort, and it worth it to take advantage of everything the Sandpearl has to offer.  The Sandpearl Resort offers far better amenities than any of its competitors on Clearwater Beach, and is well worth the trip to check it out.

The Ultimate Guide to Clearwater Beach in a Weekend

A weekend in Clearwater Beach is dangerous, because you will not want to leave after experiencing the beautiful coastline, the stunning natural beauty of the area, and the endless choice of entertainment and outdoor activities on both land and water.

Clearwater Beach is truly a year-round destination with warm temperatures in the off-season and hot weather in the summer.  Ranked among the most beautiful places to visit in the United States, Clearwater Beach offers miles of sugar-white sand, crystal clear waters, and warm gulf breezes.

When at Clearwater Beach, there is a perfect mix of play and relaxation – whether splashing or playing in the rolling waves on the beach, or lying on the warm sand all day, Jet Skiing, paddle boarding or boating, you can find plenty of activities to suit your ideal beach getaway.  With flight times range from 3-6 hours from across Canada and the United States, it is a relatively quick flight to paradise, and could be a perfect long weekend destination.

— Watch the Sunset at Pier 60 —

The iconic Pier 60 is a must-see while at Clearwater Beach.  Pier 60 is a 1,080-foot fishing pier and recreational park that features a bait house, telescopes, and six covered pavilions.  You can often find street vendors along the pier selling hand-made crafts that are perfect souvenirs from your time at Clearwater Beach.  Sitting either on the pier or on the beach to watch the sun slip beyond the horizon makes for a perfect way to end your day and start your night.

Pier 60 is a great destination whatever the time of day.  It is a great place to take in the beauty of Clearwater Beach, watch the fishermen reel in their catch, or just listen to the live music that can often be heard floating down the pier.

— Take a Walk to Caladesi Island State Park —

Caladesi Island State Park is one of the few completely natural islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast.  You can get here by boat or ferry, but if you are up for a hike the south end of the island connects to Clearwater Beach.  If you head north from anywhere on the beach about a 45 minute walk will take you right into the state park.

Your walk down the gulf will take you past the many resorts and beautiful beach homes before you reach the quiet of the sand dunes – not far from the park entrance.  As you enter the park, you will see the beautiful mangrove trees covered in seashells.

The pure white sand beaches earned the park the honour of America’s Best Beach in 2008.  Here you can sunbath, swim, or look for shells.  Additionally, you can look for wildlife while hiking the three mile nature trail through the island’s interior, or explore the coast line and have a picnic at the various picnic tables and sheltered founds throughout the area.  If you are looking to do something on the water, then the 3 mile kayak trail that winds you through the bay and mangroves is for you.

On the island there is also a concession stand and restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat or drink.  Restrooms can also be found on the island.

— Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium —

Located a mile from the beachfront the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must-see for all ages.  At the Aquarium you can see, touch, and experience bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, river otters, sting rays, fish, coral reefs, mangroves, and much more.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Dolphin Tale

If you are familiar with the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale, then you may feel like you’re experiencing deja vu, as parts of the movie were filmed here and the star, Winter the dolphin, lives in the aquarium.  The movie is based on Winter’s  journey from losing her tail at three months old, when she was caught in a crab trap line which cut off circulation to her tail flukes.  Winter and the facility garnered global attention following the amputation of her tail, when she became the first dolphin in the world to have a prosthetic tail.  Her story is a true heart-warming tale of survival.

— Get Wet —

Go out and have some fun enjoying one of the many water sport activities there are to do in Clearwater Beach: from renting a Jet Ski, to deep sea fishing excursions, dolphin watching, boat tours, stand-up paddle boarding, and so much more.  These activities give you the true feel of Florida by exploring the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Gulf Coast.

— Go Shopping —

Clearwater Beach has some great little shops along its main street, which are open all day and late at night, and where you can find some great souvenirs of your trip. If you are looking for something less touristy, then Tampa has some great shopping. Ellenton Premium Outlets is also a quick hour drive away from the beach if you are looking for great deals on some premium brand names.

 

What to do in Labadee, Haiti?

People of all ages will be able to find something to exciting to do at the private beach destination of Labadee, Haiti with their vast selection of excursions and available activities.  Royal Caribbean’s website helps breakdown the various activities by categories including Active Adventure, Culture and Sights and Family.

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Dragon’s Tail Coaster

The Dragons Tail Coaster runs down the side of the mountain and gives you a view of all of Labadee from 680 feet up.  This coaster will travel to 30 miles per hour as you race down the mountain, but you also have the ability to slow your speed down with a manual break.  This is a great feature for those who are not looking to go at the coasters fastest speeds but still want to be able to enjoy the ride.  The Dragon’s Tail Coaster is offered as a single ride ($26.27 CAD) or an all day access pass ($47.55CAD). If you plan on riding the coaster more than once, the all day ride is the perfect option.   Minimum age to ride is 12 years old, but Children ages 5 to 11 can ride in the same cart with their parent/guardian.  The total ride time is about 3-5 minutes depending on how fast you go as you zip, wave and curve around this unique roller coaster.

Arawak Aqua Park

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The aqua park offers a variety of floating toys including giant floating trampolines, water slides, rolling logs and pyramids.  This is a great activity for both adults and kids and is a great way to spend an hour playing in the water.  For one hour in the aqua park the price is is $26.27 CAD per person.  They provide you with a properly fitted life jacket so that you are safe out in the water at all times.  Admission to Arawak is limited by time slots which helps keeping the park from overcrowding.  This is a great spot for kids to burn off extra energy and have a memorable experience in Haiti.

Beach Bungalows / Cabanas

Looking for a little extra privacy while at the beach? Then the beach bungalows or cabanas are exactly what you are looking for. There are three different options that you can choose from:

Beach Cabanas on Nellie’s Beach for $299.25 for the full day (the pricing is per cabana not per person).  This gives you resort-style lounge chairs to lay out in the sun, a ceiling fan that helps provide a breeze, two floating beach mats, beach towels and a cabana attendant. To top it off, it has direct water access.

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Another option is the Beach Bungalows at Columbus Cove which can be rented for $332.50 for the full day.  In my opinion, Columbus Cove is the quietest of the beaches in Labadee as it is a bit of a longer walk from the cruise ship, so not as many people make the trek out this way.  The Columbus Cove cabana area is roped off from the public so that only those with cabanas can get into the area adding an extra level of security if you are worried about leaving your bag in the hut.  These bungalows fit up to eight people in them and have floating beach mats, a stocked water cooler, beach towels, and a cabana attendant to bring you beverages.  What makes this one a little more expensive than the one in Nellie’s Beach? You’ll find that the cabanas are a bit larger and are more private, ensuring a relaxing experience.

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The Beach Cabana Over the Water at Nellie’s Beach is the most luxurious of the three options as it sits over the water and gives you private water access in a more secluded area.  These upscale sea-view cabanas are located on the hillside of Nellie’s beach each with a set of stairs that take you directly down to the water.  The rental includes floating beach mats, towels and a personal cabana attendant.  As I mentioned above Nellie’s Beach is a more popular place to relax and swim than other places such as Columbus Cove, but in these cabanas you can be right in the action while having your own private area.  These water side cabanas rent for $340.15/day.

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Dragon’s Breath Zip Line

The zip line is the original attraction to Haiti and has been providing incredible views and great fun for all those who ride.  The zip line takes you 500 feet above the beach and lets you hit speeds of 40-50 miles an hour as you fly down the 2,600 foot long line.  You start at the top of the mountain and get the ultimate view as you cross over both land and water.  The zip line is advertised as one of the longest in the world, and if you are an adventure seeker this is a must do.

You will spend just over an hour on this event as the staff take you through safety features and a short practice zip line to learn how to stop before taking on the real thing.  The cost of the zip line is $127.35 CAD for both adult and children.

The Beaches

The Beach is the number one way people choose to spend their time in Labadee.  As discussed above, there are a number of beaches available, each offering something different for each person or group who visits. All beach chairs are free – just remember to tip the staff if they happen to bring a chair over for you.

 

After talking with many people on the cruise ship about their previous experiences at Labadee, several recommended going to Columbus Cove for the day as this area is quite often the quietest area.  Not only is Columbus Cove the least busy area on the island, it also provides an incredible view of the ship sitting at the dock.  This area located in a sheltered part of the peninsula which makes for very calm waters to swim in.  It also has its own bars and dining facilities.

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Dragon Tail Beach is the largest stretch of beach on the north side of Labadee and spans the majority of the peninsula.  It is very central to the town square and near the pier which often makes it more crowded.

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Barefoot Beach Club is an exclusive area for those guests on the ship that are in the top suites (Grand Suite, Owner Suite, Royal Family Suite, Presidential Suite, Royal Suite, Royal Loft, Sky Loft, Crown Loft, Aqua Theater Suite) and those guests renting cabanas.  This area offers VIP service and complimentary amenities, including lounge chairs, floating mats, snorkel equipment and an upgraded BBQ lunch.  The cost of the cabanas on this beach range from $250-300 CAD for the day depending on the location.

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Adrenaline Beach is the least visited of the beaches on Labadee as it is the furthest walk from the pier, but it also has the hardest surf as there are no barriers to stop the waves from rolling in. Royal Caribbean lists this beach better for sunbathing than actual swimming.

Artisan Village

In this village you will find the Artisan market where approximately 200 locals are allowed to sell their wares including wood carvings, paintings, t-shirts and more.  This is a great area if you are looking for some local souvenirs, but what out for hagglers as the shop keepers often try to sell you items even if you don’t need them.  You pass through this area as you walk from the Town Square to Columbus Cove. If you wish to bypass this area you can also go to Nellie’s beach and walk along the beach to get to Columbus Cove.

The Port

Don’t forget to explore on foot if you have some time as there are lots of small paved trails that take you to different look outs and all the various beaches listed above.  It does not take very long to get from one side of the port to the other, but if you do not want to walk there is a shuttle that can get you to most of the main spots.  Labadee, Haiti is a great port to spend a full day there is lots available for everyone to do!  We would most definitely return to Labadee and you would find us spending most of our day floating on the beach mats in Columbus Cove.

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