Jamaica Magazine

Exploring the Caribbean by American Retiree in Jamaica

Written by John Casey

Not all of my retirement time is spent in Jamaica. Traveling around the Caribbean does help fortify that I made the correct choice in living in Jamaica as opposed to any of the other islands I have seen. This month I will share these other islands with you.

The love affair with Jamaica started in 1994 when Ann & I were planning our soon to be honeymoon. We went to see Donna Cassie of Cassie’s Travel Service to help plan this memorable event. Neither Ann nor I could agree on a location. I wanted to go to Nashville or Memphis because I loved country music. Ann thought Alaska would be nice, no women displaying their half-naked bodies. Donna, who has since become our good friend, suggested Jamaica and Sandals in particular. The brochure looked inviting, to say the least. To further entice us, Donna gave us a video tape, prepared by Sandals, for us to view at home. We were sold! And that’s how it all began.

We fell in love with Jamaica and Sandals instantly. Over the next few years, we stayed at or visited all of the Sandals/Beaches properties in Jamaica. We were particularly impressed by the friendliness of the staff, the succulent gourmet food, and the spacious well appointed rooms. The pictures in the brochures came to life as we traveled from resort to resort.

Then we said, if Jamaica is this fantastic, imagine what the rest of Sandals around the Caribbean must be like. In the nearly twelve years of being Sandalized, we have been to all the Sandals/Beaches properties at least once, except for the Bahamas which will happen before the year is out, and Cuba.

St. Lucia was the first island we visited. It is one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean, small in size but big on beauty. Majestic mountains, including the Pitons, romantic bays that dot the coastline, and the vast amount of pleasure boats of all types and sizes. The 27 by 14 mile island is home to 160,000 people, a third of which is centered around its capital, Castries, on the northwest side of the island. Venturing out of the resort is something we love to do. Resorts are great for relaxing on the beach, but there is so much more on the outside. St. Lucia has an active drive through volcano and mineral bath, botanical gardens, a rain forest, and
several historic sites.

Our next island was Antigua. It boasts 365 white sand beaches, all of which are public. The only tour we did was a full day tour of the island. The main attraction is Nelson’s Dockyard in a well protected harbor. The first stop is of the magnificent view of the historic harbor from atop Shirley Heights. This is one of the most
picturesque views I have ever seen. Later, we ventured down to explore the historic Nelson’s Dockyard and all the history surrounding it. The other noteworthy stop was at Devil’s Bridge, which is a craggy headland that protrudes into the Atlantic Ocean to protect Jolly Harbor located near the capital, St. John’s. An interesting note
is there aren’t any rivers or bodies of water on the island. All their fresh water is converted from sea water. Stepping onto Sandals Antigua is like stepping into another world. The lush landscaping is totally different from anywhere else on the island.

The third island was Turks & Caicos. The resort here is a Beaches property. The difference between Sandals and Beaches is the former caters to couples, while the latter is family oriented. Caicos is a small island. You can stand on its highest lofty point of 350′ above sea level and see the entire island. The highlight of the one
tour we took was an historic cotton plantation and a conch farm. Oh yes, it also included the picturesque hill overlooking the island. From the resort’s beach, you can walk on one of the largest pristine white sand beaches in the Caribbean. It stretches for twelve miles, so I’m told.

Jamaica is, and always will be, our island of choice. Nothing can compare with the beauty of its mountains and beaches. Jamaicans are the friendliest people in the Caribbean based on first hand knowledge and dozens of other people who have traveled throughout the Caribbean.

Sandals/Beaches is the only name you need to know to enjoy the finest of tropical vacations. In all the years of staying there, the staff has always made us feel at home. One of the benefits of staying at all the different Sandals/Beaches properties is seeing management and staff from other properties as they climb their ladder of success. When we go to a property for the first time, there is sure to be someone there that we have met at another property. That really helps make us feel right at home. Besides the staff, there are many guests that we see that we have known from the other Sandals/Beaches resorts as they travel from property to property. One of the fun things we like to do is return to Sandals for Reunion Week. This special week is filled with surprises and held each year during Easter week. This is the prime time for seeing many of our Sandals friends.

I could go on and on about Sandals/Beaches but unless you experience it for yourself, you will never know what keeps guests coming back year after year for more. During our twelve years of being Sandals/Beaches guests, we have accumulated nearly 300 nights. Perhaps that is why we are affectionately known as “Mr. & Mrs. Sandals.”

About the author

John Casey