If you are searching for a romantic Caribbean vacation, you are likely to come across Sandals all-inclusive resorts. What are Sandals Resorts? We are so glad you asked! Sandals is a group of all-inclusive luxury resorts designed only for couples — no singles and no kids allowed. My husband, Leap, and I went to a Sandals in Jamaica for our Honeymoon oh-so-many moons ago and got swept away by how romantic it was. We marveled over how everything was included, which made for a stress-free vacation. After paying for a wedding (and making so many decisions), it was so nice to put our money away to just relax and enjoy our time together. We did it all at the resort and also did a lot of nothing, too, while snuggled in a hammock with our fruity drinks. It was heaven!
If you are familiar with cruises, where all of your meals and most on-ship activities are included in the initial price tag, you can expect something similar from Sandals — except you get to stay in a tropical beach hotel rather than on a ship, and it is all adults. We love our tadpoles and family vacations. But sometimes it's blissful to have some quiet time to focus on ourselves as a couple and play the way we want to play without all of the distractions of our kids — or the noise of other people's kids! Plus all of your food, alcoholic drinks, activities and even airport transfers are all included. Hop along as we tell you all about Sandals Resorts (and stay tuned, because we'll be offering some hoppin' deals on Sandals vacations!).
What Are Sandals Resorts?
Don't confuse Sandals resorts with the warm-weather footwear, although you are certainly welcome to wear sandals most of your trip. Sandals is a group of hotels in the Caribbean that caters to adult couples. Sandals’ motto is “Love is all you need.” It is the ultimate romantic all-inclusive. Everything is included. It doesn’t matter if you book the honeymoon suite or the most budget-friendly room — all of your meals, drinks, airport transfers, Wi-Fi, water sports, land sports and more are included. Also, there is no tipping allowed at Sandals, and this really excites Leap (turn off that mental calculator!). You can leave your wallet in the safe because you cannot tip the employees for their excellent service. (There is an exception for tipping your butler if you have butler service.) The only time we pulled out money during our visit was to buy some souvenirs. Oh, and if you are looking to get married, you get a free wedding with stays three nights or longer!
Where Are Sandals Resorts Located?
There is a growing list of Sandals Resorts around the Caribbean. Sandals has several locations (with more in the works), all on stunning white-sand beaches with turquoise warm water. Sandals resorts can be found on the following islands.
Jamaica (booking for seven Sandals Resorts with more properties on the way)
- Montego Bay: Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean
- Negril: Sandals Negril
- Ocho Rios: Sandals Ochi and Sandals Royal Plantation
- Whitehouse: Sandals South Coast
- Dunn's River: Sandals Dunn's River (for arrivals May 24, 2023) and Royal Dunn's River is coming soon!
Curaçao (the newest destination)
- Willemstad: Sandals Royal Curaçao
Saint Lucia (three Sandals Resorts)
- Gros-Islet: Sandals Grande St. Lucian
- Castries: Sandals Halcyon Beach and Sandals Regency La Toc
Antigua (one Sandals Resort)
- St. John’s: Sandals Grande Antigua
Bahamas (two Sandals Resorts)
- Great Exuma: Sandals Emerald Bay
- Nassau: Sandals Royal Bahamian
Grenada (one Sandals Resort)
- St. George’s: Sandals Granada
Barbados (two Sandals Resorts)
- St. Lawrence Gap: Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados
Curaçao (one Sandals Resort coming soon)
- Santa Barbara: Sandals Royal Curaçao opens April 14, 2022
The accommodations and activities may vary per resort. Entertainment and recreation available outside the resort can vary based on your destination. Some have casinos nearby, others have waterfalls. Some offer a more intimate quiet retreat, while others have active nightlife nearby. Golfers might be drawn to one resort and scuba divers another.
What Activities Are Available at Sandals Resorts?
You can do everything or nothing at Sandals. The available activities vary per resort, but generally, you will find water sports, land sports and entertainment included with your getaway. Whether you are a laid-back, sophisticated, active or social couple, you can find a perfect resort to suit your mood.
If you love water sports, you have so many fun choices at Sandals, although some resorts are better for more adventurous couples, and other resorts are better for those who prefer to just relax by the water. Water sports may include scuba (for PADI-certified divers), snorkeling, kayaks, aqua trikes, windsurfing, Hobie Cats and paddleboards. Leap and his big flippers loved waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing every day in Negril. If you visit Barbados, you can go bodyboarding.
Some resorts offer glass-bottom boats so you can see the coral reefs and tropical fish without even getting wet! But the Caribbean water is so beautiful and warm, we hope you’ll take a dip! And if you want to take snorkeling to the next level, but scuba sounds like too much, snuba is available at some resorts for an additional fee. Even beginners can learn to scuba dive at Sandals (lessons are an additional fee), but certified divers should definitely bring their dive cards. Each resort has pools (and some even have swim-up bars — no need to dry off to enjoy a refreshing drink).
In terms of land sports, you can hop in a game of beach volleyball, shoot some hoops, play tennis or throw darts. Play land chess, shuffleboard, table tennis, croquet, pool or bocce ball. You may even be able to climb a rock wall! The land sports vary per resort. For more relaxing fun, check out some board games. Get ready to tee off at one of six Sandals resorts if you love golf.
If you can't decide between two resorts, stay at one and play at a nearby resort. The resorts offer free transfers to nearby Sandals resorts. That way, if you want to stay at one resort but enjoy activities at another, you have options! See, you can have it all!
As mentioned, some Sandals resorts are more lively than others when it comes to nightlife. December through April tend to be the months where the resorts are in party mode. Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Ochi, Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Sandals Regency La Toc, Sandals Grande Antigua and Sandals Royal Bahamian have a more vibrant atmosphere than the other resorts. If you want a quieter and more restful resort, visit Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Royal Caribbean, Sandals Royal Plantation Sandals Negril, Sandals Grenada, Sandals Royal Bahamian or the Sandals resorts in Barbados.
Your resort may have themed nights, so you’ll want to plan your outfit and dress to impress. Pack a white outfit for chocolate night.
Rooms at Sandals Resorts
There’s a room for every budget, and they all come with all the included food, drink and activities the resort has to offer. A few resorts even offer some over-the-water villas (book early), private pools and tranquility tubs. All rooms come with stocked minibars.
Want to feel like a VIP? For the ultimate in pampering and special treatment, get a Love Nest Suite with Butler Service. Club Sandals rooms come with access to the Club Sandals amenities, concierge service and weekly activities.
You’ll have to compare resorts to find your perfect accommodations, but a few locations offer all beachfront rooms or all suites.
Dining at Sandals Resorts
Islands usually have expensive food, but that's none of your concern on a Sandals vacation because it's all included. You do not have to choose between restaurants due to cost. You'll find a variety of cuisines and meal choices. Most resorts offer between six and 16 restaurants. Larger resorts will have a lot more choices than smaller resorts. Sandals Curaçao is home to the first food trucks.
Generally, the restaurants serve 5-star gourmet dining at restaurants that may serve traditional Caribbean fare (jerk chicken, anyone?), Italian food, French food, sushi, teppan table, seafood, beachside dining, American favorites and more. Some are more casual and others fine dining establishments. There's something for whatever suits your mood! The fun part is that you can have all you want. Let’s say you like the appetizers at one restaurant, entrees at another and dessert at a third. You can graze your way around the resort to get a taste of it all. Want seconds of a favorite dish? As they say in Jamaica, no problem. Just ask!
A few fine-dining restaurants may have resort elegance evening dress codes so bring some dresses for the ladies and full-length slacks and dress shirts for the men. Flip flops won't cut it so be sure to bring some sandals or nicer shoes. You can look up the dress code for each restaurant in advance so you know what to bring. Contact the resort at least a month in advance for special dietary restrictions or allergies.
Raise a glass to those unlimited beverages — but remember that the drinks aren't going anywhere! You can enjoy 5-star premium liquors, Appleton Estate Rum and Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks wines that are exclusively for Sandals resorts. There's nothing like a tropical drink to put you on island time. For that cup of morning Joe, enjoy Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.
How Much Does a Sandals Vacation Cost?
Sandals has a cost per person, per night. A lot can affect your cost, such as the season you visit, the room type and the resort you choose. Ribbiting news! Your favorite Caribbean amphibians (that's us frogs!) are hopping into booking Sandals vacations so we can save you a lot of money on your trip — stay tuned! Ribbit!
What Is Not Included at Sandals Resorts?
I know we said everything's included, but there are a few optional add-ons if you want to make the ultimate grand romantic gesture or get some extra pampering at the spa. The only things that are optional and have an additional charge at Sandals are excursions or spa treatments. Golf can add some minor fees, but sometimes staying six nights or longer can waive them at certain resorts. Your vacation includes all of your normal dining, but if you want to create a private dinner for two on your suite’s terrace or under the stars in a romantic setting, you can pay extra for that special experience. But trust me when I say you can have a wonderful vacation without ever leaving the resort or adding any extras on to your Sandals vacation.
Even though Sandals has a strict no tipping rule, there are a few exceptions. If you have butler service with your room, you may tip butlers at your discretion. They will appreciate it, but it’s not required. You may also tip spa therapists. But that’s it. Other employees may not accept gratuities.
Scuba is an additional fee. If you are not a certified diver, but want to learn to scuba dive, you can take a three-hour resort course (for a $100 fee) to access scuba diving. You can sign up for courses before your trip. You can also get scuba certified on your trip for a fee.
What If We Want to Bring Kids or Others?
If you fall in love with Sandals but graduate to a larger family or circle of friends you want to bring with you, Sandals has a family-friendly alternative called Beaches. You get all the all-inclusive benefit with a whole lot of extras such as Kids Camps, water parks and different entertainment at Beaches. Having been to both Sandals and Beaches, I can say that you cannot go wrong with these quality all-inclusive resorts. They just make your vacation so simple by arranging all airport transfers and taking care of everything for you. But if you have no kids or want an adult-only vacation, then Sandals is the right choice.
You can also plan a romantic trip to a Beaches resort instead of Sandals if you want the larger resort, or your romantic ideal is sliding down waterslides and floating in a lazy river. Leap and I love to play too! But a Sandals resort definitely makes for a quieter and more romantic getaway focused on you as a couple.
Hopfully, we've answered any general questions related to Sandals. If you have any others, please feel free to ask in the comments below.
Related: What Are Beaches Family Resorts?