Site Search

Friday, January 9, 2009

Beaches of the Dominican Republic

No way would we have thought of quick divorce and Dominican Republic synonymous. If there were one place in the Caribbean we could point you to for inexpensive resorts and sugar-white beaches, the Dominican Republic would be our destination of choice. It's romantic! And, it's the fastest-growing destination in the Caribbean because of the low prices and beautiful terrain. Especially, the Punta Cana area - what a boom!

Columbus found the Dominican Republic on his very first voyage to the New World. He said it was, "the most beautiful island in the world". A settlement was founded in 1493 and ruins still remain near Montecristi.

The Dominican Republic is located amongst the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. It is on the isle of Hispaniola (meaning Little Spain), and is divided between Haiti on the west and Dominican Republic on the east - about the size of the state of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Most of the island interior is sugar cane plantations.

The cool thing is that much of what Columbus saw still remains - a natural, virgin landscape - still unspoiled. And, one-third of the island's coastline is the awesome beaches, which we'll review next!

Dominican Republic - BEACH INDEX:

  • Sand - Most beaches are brilliant white, due to the high content of coral/shell.
  • Facilities - DR beaches have full facilities near the tourist centers.
  • Shade - Expect tall coconut palms. Tourist beaches offer umbrellas/shades.
  • Sports - Full service at tourist centers. Sports fishing great in most areas.
  • Notes - best time to visit - late November to April, as humidity is lower, temperature cooler. However, resorts are reporting high volume throughout the year due to the great bargains currently found.

The beaches in the Dominican Republic are unspoiled Caribbean jewels that sparkle in the island sun. The country boasts almost 800 miles of coastline, featuring some of the most stunning sands in the Caribbean. With so many beaches on one island, vacationers will never have to search for great surf and sand.

Sugary white sands and crystalline blue waters are just a few reasons to visit any of the Dominican Republic's pristine beaches. In addition to the ample sunshine and powdery sands, an assortment of watersports are available at many of the island's beaches. Also, because the Caribbean's tourism industry is mainly focused on other islands in the region, vacationers won't have to deal with heavy crowds, which gives beachgoers a truly relaxing time on the island's seashores.

The beaches of the Dominican Republic vary greatly in their individual characteristics and overall appeal. You can find beaches all along the island, but here are some of the more popular areas:

The small colonial town of Puerto Plata is one of the island's top beach destinations. Visitors come to this area mainly for the brilliant beaches, which consist of soft white sands and aquamarine waters. These clear blue waters are home to an offshore coral reef formation that is an excellent place for snorkeling. The coastal area in Puerto Plata also has a good selection of beachfront accommodations. If you want to visit more secluded sands in this area, head over to Guarapito, which provides a wonderfully relaxing beach experience, complete with sunshine, peace, and quiet.

Heading east from Puerto Plata, you'll find Sosúa, one of the island's small fishing villages. Though the town doesn't have a lot to offer, the beaches here are truly amazing. The locals say that the beaches at Sosúa are some of the most beautiful in the Dominican Republic.

The northern shores of the Dominican Republic are famous for windsurfing, especially in Cabarete. These northern beaches feature steady winds, making them ideal for this sport. Located about 25 minutes from Puerto Plata, Cabarete is easy to reach, so vacationers should have no problems getting to these shores. An annual windsurfing competition is held in Cabarete every June, so you can enjoy a little competition while catching some amazing winds and waves.

Samaná is another popular beach area on the island. Located on the Samaná Peninsula, the weather here is exceptionally good, the sands are snowy white, and the waters are crystal clear. A few small villages are situated along these shores, and this area only about an hour from Puerto Plata. From December to March, boats will take vacationers on whale watching excursions, where whales can be spotted mating and calving. Yachts from all over the world visit this harbor during the winter months, creating a colorful display against the blue Caribbean waters. While visiting the beaches at Samaná, keep in mind that there may not be a life guard on duty and the undertows here can be extremely dangerous.

Probably the most popular beach destinations for tourists is Punta Cana, where many of the island's top beachfront resorts are located. Along with amazing oceanfront scenery, there are plenty of places for entertainment and activities along these beaches. Numerous bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and shops edge the sands here, so you can find plenty to do after spending the afternoon on the gorgeous beaches.

The undeveloped region of Barahona, also known as the"Pearl of the South," is unique. Unlike much of the island's other coastal property, the development of beach resorts has not spoiled its beautiful beaches. In Barahona, the beaches are amazing and the waters are superb, creating the perfect beach experience without the hustle and bustle of more crowded shores.

Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic's capital city, is also home to several popular beaches. A few of Santo Domingo's beaches feature perfectly calm shallow waters, such as at Boca Chilca, and are very popular with families. Other beaches are frequented by vacationers who enjoy bathing in the sultry island sun. Still others boast plenty of activities such as sailing, diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, and much more.

Other lovely beaches are located throughout the Dominican Republic in places such as Azua, Baní, La Altagracia, Miches, Montecrist, Pedernales, Río San Juan, San Cristóbal, and San Pedro de Macorís. All of these areas have different styles of beaches, but all have one thing in common: their breathtaking natural beauty has remained relatively unspoiled.

Whether you're looking to stay near a beach, or looking to find a beach near where you're staying, you'll have plenty of options in the Dominican Republic. To learn more about individual beaches, click on the links below.

Beaches of Panama

Panama Beaches

The favorite pastime of Panamanians and visitors is enjoying the Caribbean and Pacific Beaches. Both coasts have beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, white sand, coral reefs and coconut palm trees. These qualities make places such as Bocas del Toro, Portobelo and the San Blas islands in the Caribbean ideal vacation spots for sun-seekers and scuba divers.

On the other side and only few minutes drive from Panama City, you can find 80 kilometers (50 mi) of Pacific Beaches stretching from Punta Chame to Farallon offering resort hotels, sport facilities, and restaurants for your enjoyment. Sailing enthusiasts can have their fun too in these quiet waters and visit the flower-island of Taboga or the enchanting Pearl Archipelago.
Caribbean Beaches

Pacific Coast Beaches Near Panama City

It is hard to think of any metropolitan city anywhere with so many fine beaches nearby. Along the Pacific Coast just outside Panama City, begin a string of pretty beaches of white sand and sapphire blue waters. This lovely coastal area of Panama is home to two full service resorts, Central America's only beach front golf course, as well as simple beach front cabins, villas and an RV park. Gorgeous million dollar homes dot the coastline- this is preferred location for the vacation homes of Panama's wealthiest families. Getting there is easy- just an hour from Panama City on a modern four lane highway.

The names of the more well known beaches and beach communities are Punta Chame, Gorgona, Coronado, Rio Mar, Santa Clara and Playa Blanca.

The two resorts are the Royal Decameron at Playa Blanca, beautiful all-inclusive resort with 600 rooms, six restaurants and a full gamut of activities and facilities. The Coronado Hotel and Resort is another beautiful five star hotel with an 18 hole seaside golf course designed by Tom Fazio, the only one of its kind in Central America.

Rio Mar is a popular surfing beach year-round. Punta Chame is great for windsurfing certain months of the year.

Miles of lovely, uncrowded beaches, major beach resorts, retirement and vacation communities, golfing, surfing and wind surfing, ocean and river kayaking, RV park, jet skis, and side trips to the ancient volcano crater town El Valle de Anton.

Punta Chames-Farallon

Where is Punta Chame - Farallon Located?
The 80 kilometers. of coast on the Pacific that goes from Punta Chame to Farallon is located between Km 78 and 120 (milestones 48 and 75) on the Pan-American Highway from Panama City.

How to get there
The access to any point on the coast is by road. After about 45 minutes from Panama City, you can start to enjoy of the fresh coastal air of this area.

From first Class Hotels with swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, spa, casinos, to beach cottages, restaurants, recreation centers and handicraft shops.

What to do and where to go
You can find a variety of beaches within easy access from the Pan-American Highway, where you can sail, surf or simply swim. The Beaches of Gorgona, Coronado, San Carlos, El Palmar, Rio Mar, Corona, Sea Cliff, Santa Clara, Playa Blanca, Farallon and Juan Hombron are all very popular year round.

Beaches of Costa Rica

When someone says, "Costa Rica," you probably think, "fantastic beaches!"

Warm waters year-round, an unparalleled tourism infrastructure, and limitless attractions spanning two coasts are the reasons Costa Rica's beaches rank among the best in the world. And since nearly two thirds of Costa Rica's borders are coastline, there are a whole lot of beaches to explore. Let's get started!

Nicoya Peninsula
Okay, obviously the Nicoya Peninsula isn't a single beach. But Costa Rica's largest peninsula is ringed by so many blissful strips of sand, it deserves a top ten list of its own. Besides livelier beach cities like Montezuma, Tamarindo, and Mal Pais, Nicoya boasts many Pacific beaches that are far more remote and relaxing: Playas Hermosa, Samara, Flamingo, Conchal (pictured at right), and Playa Grande.

Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio is not only one of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches, but one of the most beautiful in the entire world. Imagine: perfect horseshoe bays bordered by soft white sands, dazzling blue-green waters, and hilltops piled with jungle and streaming waterfalls. Dive, snorkel, surf, kayak, hike, or zipline -- but don't forget to relax and enjoy the unforgettable views.

Manuel Antonio National Park
Playa Dominical, about 30 miles south of Manuel Antonio National Park, is widely recognized as one of the best Costa Rica surfing beaches. A number of surf camps and surf shops have sprung up to take advantage of the lively lefts and rights. But even if you don't surf, you'll adore Playa Dominical's lush green landscape, nightlife and relatively uncrowded sands.

Located on the inner base of the Nicoya peninsula, Montezuma is a gathering place for Costa Rica's most idiosyncratic locals and travelers. Dreadlocked Rastafarians, tattooed bohemians, sun-kissed surfers, and other examples of exceptional beauty are the norm at this picturesque little beach, which also boasts tide pools, forested waterfalls, and wildlife (Capuchin monkeys! Crocodiles!) viewing.

At the helm of Costa Rica's Caribbean side, Tortuguero is a eco-tourist's fantasy. Travelers can experience any number of exotic attractions: tours down jungle canals in dugout canoes, scenic hiking trails, guided safaris. Sixteen of Costa Rica's endangered animal species live in the Tortuguero National Park, like tapirs, ocelots, manatees, and green sea turtles, after which the region is named. To top it all off, Tortugero's beaches are perfect for sunbathing.

Playa Tamarindo
While Playa Tamarindo offers world-class shopping, dining, and coastal amusements, budget travelers might find themselves priced out (when I traveled there in college, I grocery shopped and cooked in a communal kitchen). But Tamarindo's natural perks make the splurge worth it -- on the beautiful beaches adjacent to Tamarindo, giant leatherback turtles (and other types) annually clamber ashore to lay their eggs.

Corcovado is the jewel of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Its beaches are windswept beauties, with dark sands shaded by towering palms, while the mountainous inland jungles of Corcovado National Park are home to some of the country's most distinctive wildlife. No trip to Corcovado is complete without a boat excursion to the nearby Isla del Caño, which offers fantastic diving as well as the opportunity to examine the island's ancient stone spheres -- spooky!

Mal Pais
Surf culture is the principle philosophy in Mal Pais and its coastal neighbor, Santa Teresa. If you're not a wave-worshiper, book a boat tour and watch dolphins, manta rays, and other creatures thriving in the area's protected waters. Travelers can also hike to the Montezuma waterfalls and take a flying leap, or conquer the 4-hour trek through the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve to its pristine, white sand beach. However, Mal Pais's own beaches are even better for stringing up a hammock and swaying in the sun.

South of Limon
South of the port city of Limon (towards the Panama border), a number of stunning beaches are the personification of the low-key Caribbean lifestyle. The Cahuita National Park is an excellent place to camp -- if you don't mind waking to the sound of monkey chatter! Travel farther down the coast and enjoy dramatic sunrises at Puerto Viejo. Or head straight to Manzanillo, a protected area with tropical rainforest, palm swamps, coral reefs, and of course, idyllic Caribbean beaches.

Jaco Beach
Right in the center of Costa Rica's Pacific coasts lies Jaco Beach, a surfer's mecca with no shortage of attractions for travelers. Jaco is in such close proximity to San Jose (2 hours by car), it flourishes with nightlife, international dining options, and even casinos. But because of the budget surf crowd, accommodations and amenities span the entire price spectrum -- at Jaco, no one is left out.

Northeast of Montezuma, Tambor's crescent-shaped bay (called Bahia Ballena) was once frequented by whales. Now, it's frequented by travelers -- enough to keep the gentle giants out at sea, but not enough to drive them away completely. The bay's mild waters make it one of Costa Rica's best beaches for swimming and snorkeling. Tambor's inland areas are fun to explore on horseback, while its pinkish-gray beaches are perfect for a barefoot stroll. Boats also launch from Tambor to the Tortuga Island, home to immaculate beaches and unparalleled Scuba diving.

Beaches of Mexico

The best months to go to Mexico beaches are November - May.

July-August, Christmas, and Easter attract huge numbers of holidaymakers from both inside and outside the country, especially at beach resorts. The worst are the hottest and most humid months, June - September, with an insect problem too.
Aug-Nov has the possibility of rough seas on the Pacific coast due to storms.
For diving off Baja California August - November is best, with warm, clear water.

Plus: great varied food and drink are generally available, lively evenings with music and dance are common, coral is superb in some places, some nearby ancient sites are AMAZING [Chichen Itza, Tulum], Spanish is an easy language.
Minus: it's very package touristy in many places, souvenirs are poor, petty theft happens.

Tulum, on the Caribbean coast [picture top left; stormy season just finished so seaweed around!]
One of the prettiest beaches in the world, with picturesque Mayan ruins overlooking the beach.
130 km south of a massive resort of Cancún, it is a tiny but perfectly-formed white sandy cove, with a few palm shade and the azure Caribbean sea to swim in.
The entrance to Tulum is totally touristy, with a huge car park, souvenir shops, café and restaurants. There is no place to stay on the spot, but there are a few hotels and restaurants in Tulum village and also [far better option] plenty of resort type places, cabañas [beach huts] and campsites along the coast road south to Punta Allen.

Playa del Carmen, on the Caribbean coast [not too far from Cancún] [picture top right]
A cool, casual beach scene with plenty of accommodation [though an imbalance towards monster hotels these days], excellent bars, restaurants and shops. Although it is very popular and attracts crowds from all over the world, the place is reasonably low-key, friendly and relaxing.
It is the best place in Mexico to buy high quality crafts, especially jewellery.
It has also boats to Cozumel - for world class diving and a park for swimming with dolphins [at considerable expense!].

Puerto Escondido, on the Pacific coast
Puerto Escondido
has several stretches of magnificent sandy beach, with a laid-back ambience and plenty of inexpensive accommodation. Beaches are varied from a 2 km long Zicatela, the surfing mecca [nicknamed the Mexican Pipeline] to the east of the town, to the calmer three coves including Playa Puerto Angelito on the west.
August - November surf reaches 7-8 metre due to south Pacific storms.

Puerto Angel, on the Pacific coast
For even more tranquility go to the Puerto Angel area, including the backpacker's favourite, Zipolite Beach. About 60 km east of Puerto Escondido, there you can find the most simplicity and relaxation [except for the overdeveloped west end] in Mexico.
Recently there has been an increasing security problem. Beware of high surf [particularly August -November] and strong currents in deep water.

Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, Baja California [peninsula]
Offering miles of marvellous beaches this is a major American tourist destinations for fishing, golfing or young party animals.
Best beaches are:

Playa Cemeterio 4 km east, Playa Santa Maria 12 km from Cabo San Lucas for swimming, with easy access.

Playa Costa Azul, Playa Canta Mar are ideal for surfing.
Playa Solmar, 1 km west of Cabo San Lucas, is for whale- watching January - April.
Scuba diving and snorkelling are OK, but the the best sites are offshore, reachable only by boat.
Infamous time-share salesmen can be annoying. Beware strong rip tides at some of the beaches.

Bahía Concepción, Baja California
The shore of Bahia Concepcion [Conception Bay], between 10 and 50 km south of Mulegé, has several scenic beaches including Playa Requesón, Playa Buenaventura, and Playa Coyote. The bay is on the coast of Sea of Cortez, which is a protected marine sanctuary. The facilities are fairly basic [some places have no fresh water], but there is wildness, natural beauty, and tranquility. Excellent for watersports and great for seafood, especialy clams. Playa Santispac has the best campsite, with a fine resaurant. If you are up to kayaking, try Playa Buenaventura.

Bahia de Matanchen, San Blas, on the Pacific coast
This small and very Mexican fishing village of San Blas has an excellent town beach, but the best in the area is just 4 km away - Bahia de Matanchen, a broad crescent bay with splendid beaches of prime soft sand and a relaxing atmosphere.
The only drawback is summertime mosquito and sandfly problems.

Between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco on the Pacific coast
The central Pacific Coast has several hundred miles of coastline with fine sandy beaches and excellent facilities. The choices are enormous from international resorts like Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco for monster all-inclusive resorts packed densely, to smaller resorts with local colour such as: Chamela [the prettiest, 165 km south of Puerto Vallarta], Barra de Navidad and Zihuatanejo. Great activities, fantastic seafood, and lively night life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Gold Coast, Australia

The Gold Coast is a city and local government area in the southeast corner of Queensland, Australia. It is the second most populous city in the state and the sixth most populous city in the country. It is also the most populous non-capital city in the country. Gold Coast City is renowned for its sunny subtropical climate, popular surfing beaches, expansive waterway and canal systems, a skyline dominated by high-rise apartment buildings, a peaceful rainforest hinterland in the west of the city, active nightlife and its wide variety oftourist attractions.



The city consists of 57 kilometres of coastline with some of the most popular surf breaks in Australia including,South Stradbroke Island, The Spit, Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach, Nobby Beach, Miami, Burleigh Beach, Burleigh Heads, Tallebudgera Beach, Palm Beach, Currumbin Beach, Tugun, Bilinga, Kirra,Coolangatta, Greenmount, Rainbow Bay, Snapper Rocks and Froggies Beach. Duranbah beach is one of the world's best known surfing beaches and is often thought of as being part of Gold Coast City, but is actually just across theNew South Wales state border in Tweed Shire.


There are also beaches along many of the Gold Coast's 860km of navigable tidal waterways. Popular inland beaches include Southport, Budds Beach, Marine Stadium, Currumbin Alley, Tallebudgera Estuary, Jacobs Well, Jabiru Island, Paradise Point, Harley Park Labrador, Santa Barbara, Boykambil and Evandale Lake.

While the beaches are beautiful and enticing, there are also inherent dangers, and the Gold Coast has Australia’s largest professional surf life saving service to protect people on the beaches and to promote surf safety throughout the community.


The Queensland Department of Primary Industries carries out the Queensland Shark Control Program (SCP) to protect swimmers from sharks. No fatal shark attacks have occurred on protected ocean beaches, tidal waterways or canals on the Gold Coast since 1958 (however two fatal attacks have been recorded in inland lake areas that are separate from the tidal waterways network since 2000). Sharks are caught by using nets and baited drumlines off the major swimming beaches. Even with the SCP, sharks do range within sight of the patrolled beaches, lifeguards will clear swimmers from the water if it is considered that there is a safety risk.



Around 10 million tourists visit the Gold Coast every year; comprising of 849,114 international visitors, 3,468,000 domestic overnight visitors and 5,366,000 daytrip visitors.

Tourism is the region’s biggest industry, directly contributing more than $4.4 billion into the city economy every year and directly accounting for one in four jobs in the city.

There are approximately 65,000 bed spaces, 60 kilometres of beach, 600 kilometres of canal, 100,000 hectares of nature reserve, 500 restaurants, 40 golf courses and 6 major theme parks in the city.

Gold Coast Airport provides connection across Australia with airlines including Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Tiger Airways. International services from Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia and Fiji also land at Gold Coast Airport with airlines including Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue, Airasia X and Air Pacific.

Less than one hour from the centre of the Gold Coast is Brisbane Airport which provides wider domestic and international access to the Gold Coast.



The Gold Coast Indy 300 (formerly known as Lexmark Indy 300) is a car racing event held annually, usually in October. The course ventures through the streets of Surfers Paradise and Main Beach. The Indy 300 comprises many other events such as the Indy Undie Ball and the Miss Indy Competition. The V8 Supercars event also coincides with the Indy 300, using the same track route.

The Magic Millions carnival is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Gerry Harvey (of Harvey Normans) and John Singleton. There are plans to relocate and build a state of the art new racetrack at Palm Meadows which will incoporate the Magic Million sale with facilities for up to 4000 horses.

Each June, Coolangatta hosts the Wintersun Festival, a two-week 1950s and 1960s nostalgia festival with free entertainment and attractions, includinghot rods, restored cars and revival bands playing music of the era.

Each July, more than 16,000 congregate on the Gold Coast from around the world to participate in the Gold Coast Marathon. It is also the largest annual community sporting event held on the Gold Coast.

Late November to early December sees thousands of school leavers across the country descend on the Gold Coast for Schoolies, a two week period of celebration and parties throughout Sufers Paradise, hosted by the Gold Coast City Council . The event is often criticised nationally and locally for its portrayal of drinking and acts of violence, however every effort by the Queensland Police and State Government to ensure all school leavers have a good time are put into place, including locals volunteering by walking the streets and keeping an eye out for those in need of assistance on where to go, what to do and how to have a good time.

Early each year the Gold Coast hosts one leg of the ASP World Tour of surfing, where some of the worlds best surfers compete in the Quiksilver Pro at Coolangatta.

The Gold Coast Arts Centre located in Evandale, features a fine art gallery featuring local and international works from painting to sculpture and new media. In addition, there is a theatre for live productions including musicals as well 2 arts cinemas showing foreign and independent films from Australia and abroad.


Tourism and landmarks

Tourism is Gold Coast City's main industry, generating total revenue of $2.5 billion per annum  Gold Coast is the most popular Queensland tourism location with over 13,000 available guest rooms contributing over $335 million to the local economy each year. Accommodation options available range from backpacker hostels to five star resorts and hotels. The most common style of accommodation is three and four star self-contained apartments.

Major tourist attractions include internationally renowned surf beaches, and theme parks including, Dreamworld, Sea World, Wet'n'Wild Water World,Warner Bros. Movie World, WhiteWater World, Currumbin Sanctuary, Fleays Wildlife Park, Australian Outback Spectacular and Paradise Country.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...