Take me back to a tropical paradise beach vacation | Memories of sun & sand | Powell’s Travels

by W. Andrew Powell
Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos

What’s on your post-pandemic bucket list? After months of lockdowns and closures, travel and vacationing are at the top of my list, and right after I get back out in Ontario, I’m really looking forward to a beach vacation somewhere warm and sunny.

Beach resorts are so refreshing. There’s nothing like sitting down at a tropical beach to recharge my batteries, and right now I definitely feel run down. I like all kinds of travel, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve been on a beach with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other, so that’s exactly what’s on my mind as pandemic restrictions start to lift.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but my first plan is to get out in Canada as much as possible. It’s been a very difficult year for Canadian tourism, and to help support the industry, I’ve already made plans for October, and I can’t wait to start going on day trips around my province again.

Right after that, my next destination is going to be some place warm and sunny for at least a few days. That’s going to be a big deal after the last several months of staying at home, and I really can’t wait to get out near the ocean, preferably with a great restaurant and bar close by.

What I love about beach resorts is that they usually have a little bit of everything to do. If you just want to nap under a beach umbrella, you’re all set, but there are usually a lot of activities at beach hotels.

There are pools to swim in, some have kid-centric activities like water slides and activity groups, or the adults can go parasailing, ride horses on the beach, or go fishing.

In Mexico’s Riviera Maya, I went to a jazz festival at night, and then in the afternoon we went exploring inside a huge cenote and cave system.

Sun and sand destinations also let you pick how private you want to be. If you’ve been missing hanging out with people, the right beach resort can help you meet new friends, or you can look for a more private hotel and relax with your partner. And some destinations give you a little bit of both, just when you need it.

Over the years that I’ve been travelling, I’ve dipped my toes among some incredible waters, so I couldn’t resist suggesting a few of my favourite places for when you need your next sunny getaway.

The perfect beach vacation at Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos is such a gem, and it’s a beautiful country to explore. There’s a distinct island vibe across the country, and it’s upbeat, friendly, and so relaxing with beautiful beaches everywhere. There are also a lot of places to stay across the islands, from the heart of the country, in Providenciales, to Grand Turk, and the Caicos islands.

When the time is right, there are a lot of beautiful resorts you can pick from, for the perfect beach vacation, including Club Med, Beaches, the Grace Bay Club, The Palms, and one of my favourite places, Parrot Cay.

A few years back I visited the Palms, and it was like walking into your dream resort. The hotel is stunning with first class suites, ranging from one to three bedrooms, as well as penthouse suites that look out over the ocean. The food was amazing, and they have a fantastic infinity pool, not to mention lots of beach-side activities, like snorkelling.

Not far away, Grace Bay Club is another gem on the island, with everything from suites, and villas, to estates, and the property is gorgeous, from the pools, to the restaurant, and of course, the beach. I had one of the best meals of my life there, served in a penthouse suite by their head chef, and then one of their spa staff gave me a foot massage on the balcony while I listened to the waves. It’s a night I’ll never forget, and the staff went out of their way to make it an exceptional experience.

Finally, Parrot Cay is the ultimate in luxury resorts. The private island is a little bit of heaven, and it’s truly away from it all. The resort is spacious, quiet, relaxing, with impeccable service and staff. The garden view and ocean view rooms, with their huge verandas, are exquisite, and there are also beach houses and villas, depending on how much space you need.

From the food, the spaces, and the modern beach house vibes, Parrot Cay is the perfect place to recharge.

Another island gem is Aruba. this little island has everything for the perfect beach getaway, and it’s totally charming. With numerous all-inclusive resorts, a striking park (Arikok National Park), and lots to do, there’s enough to explore for a week, or more if the island vibe takes you.

Officially called “70 square miles of paradise,” Aruba’s cozy capital city of Oranjestad has a lot of personality, with all the main resorts and hotels just a few kilometres away.

Once upon a time I stayed at the Holiday Inn Aruba Beach Resort with my wife, and it was a fun, affordable, all-inclusive resort. From there, we explored the dessert, natural rock bridges, Lourdes Grotto, local art and art galleries, not to mention Baby Beach, where you can go snorkelling to see hundreds of tropical fish and sea life.

There are about a dozen great hotels and resorts around the north-west coast of Aruba, including The Ritz-Carlton, Playa Linda Beach Resort, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino, or the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino.

South Beach, Miami
South Beach, Miami

Closer to home, Florida is dotted with beaches around the coasts, but highlights include Cocoa Beach near Orlando, South Beach in Miami, the beaches around Key West, and of course Clearwater Beach, and Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Located within a few minutes of major cities, Florida’s beaches are easy to explore as part of a larger trip to enjoy the state’s sunny hospitality, or as part of a trip to Walt Disney World, Cape Canaveral, or for unique natural escapes like Everglades National Park, and the Florida Keys.

The Riviera Maya combines some of my favourite things, all in one destination. The Mexican vacation destination is known for all-inclusive beach resorts, great bars and perfect temperatures almost all year round. There are also beach and water activities up and down the coasts, iconic ruins to explore, like Tulum, and upscale or affordable resorts, depending on what you want to explore.

Wherever you choose to stay, just make sure to book a tour of a nearby cenote, enjoy a Mezcal tasting, and try beach-side horseback riding or head out for jet-skiing.

Where else should you explore? There are really too many destinations to name in one story, but Barbados comes highly recommended. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Costa Rica, Belize, and of course, Hawaii.

Hawaii is on my family’s dream vacation list, and when we do end up going, I’ll definitely have lots to share.

Until then, good luck planning your dream beach vacation. Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter, where you’re headed on vacation.

Photos from Riviera Maya, Mexico

Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos

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