Where to Donate (Hurricane Irma)


Here are links to organizations we have heard of that are providing support in the way of humanitarian assistance to those in need on the islands so drastically affected by Hurricane Irma. Please do a little research and make sure you feel comfortable – wherever you donate. You want your donation money to get to the people who REALLY need it! We are not including “Go Fund Me” accounts at this time as we have no way of checking their validity, although I’m sure there are some that are very honorable.

Apparently what is needed right now are the basics, food, clothing, personal hygiene items, generators, communication systems, housing, transportation, medical, etc. Please contact us to let us know of other reputable organizations that we should add to the list.

As time goes on, we’ll add links to any organizations that might assist in rebuilding. Right now it’s essential to help with what they need to get through the next few weeks and months. Thank you!

British Virgin Islands:
Richard Branson Hurricane Fund no fees, all monies go to helping those in the BVI
BVI Recovery Fund British Virgin Islands Government
VISAR Organized by Tania Paine
Convoy of Hope (Irma BVI) Recommended by Nancy Richardson, Tortola

Virgin Gorda:
Virgin Gorda Relief Supply Fund Organizer: Casey McNutt

St. John, USVI:
The St. John Foundation Recommended by Russ Ballou
Love for Love City Kenny Chesney

St. Thomas, USVI:
US Virgin Island Relief Fund organized by Tim Duncan who grew up on St. Thomas (he is matching funds up to 1,000,000)
Adopt a Family, USVI send a care package to hurricane victims

Anguilla:
Help Anguilla  Recommended by Nori Evoy, Anguilla Beaches

Barbuda:
The Coco Point Fund; Barbuda’s Recovery from Irma  Recommended by Barbudaful

 

All Islands Affected:
Global Giving

Red Cross
The Salvation Army

10 Ultra-Luxurious Caribbean Resorts

Talk about palm tree paradise… The following is a list of 10 Ultra-Luxurious Caribbean Resorts that will pamper you in luxury, offer world class amenities, stunning beaches and over-the-top service. Sound great? All are on our list of places we’d love to experience, but we may have to save up for…um, a little while. Click on the name of the resort to see photos and find out more about these incredible resorts.

Turks and Caicos

COMO Parrot Cay
Parrot Cay is an award-winning Turks and Caicos luxury resort set on its own private, beautiful island. Popular with celebrities, this toes-in-the-sand ultra-luxurious resort sits on 1,000 acres with a mile-long white sand beach. All rooms, suites and beach villas have soothing interiors along with COMO’s outstanding service, holistic therapies, yoga, diving and world-class cuisine.

Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort, Antigua
Set in one of the most beautiful, undisturbed places in the world, Jumby Bay, this Rosewood Resort is an island of simple pleasures. A couple of miles off of Antigua and reachable only by boat, this island paradise has no cars in sight, white-powdered beaches and winding bicycle paths and is a one-of-a-kind hideaway known, quite simply, as one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean.

Antigua

Amanyara, Turks and Caicos
Amanyara is a secluded sanctuary that embraces the best of the Caribbean. Managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, this super luxurious resort on the island of Providenciales in Turks & Caicos offers 40 timber-shingled guest pavilions and is blessed with a stunning sugar-white beach.  Enjoy some of the world’s best wall and reef diving in the crystal clear water. The resort enjoys a contemporary layout and design and is open to the sights and sounds of the crystal clear turquoise sea.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
A 74 acre private island north of Virgin Gorda owned by Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Records. Did you know you could stay here? On selected weeks of the year, you can book an individual room – or you can rent the entire island paradise for 33 of your closest family and friends! Necker Island is unquestionably one of the most idyllic places in the Caribbean.

British Virgin Islands

Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
Built in harmony with Caribbean nature by owner and architect Nick Troubetzkoy, the bold architectural design – individual bridges leading to exceptional infinity pool sanctuaries and rugged stoned-faced columns reaching towards the sky – makes Jade Mountain St. Lucia one of the Caribbean’s most mesmerizing resort experiences. With the fourth wall entirely absent, Jade Mountain’s rooms are stage-like settings from which to embrace the full glory of St. Lucia’s Pitons and the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

Eden Rock Resort & Spa, St. Barthelemy
With its breathtaking setting, the iconic Eden Rock exudes elegance in the heart of the Caribbean. This luxurious retreat built on a rocky promontory is surrounded by white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and a lovely coral reef full of wild sea life. The hotel offers 34 highly individual accommodations and world class dining at ‘The Sand Bar’ and ‘On the Rocks’ restaurants, both masterminded by the world famous Master Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.Rosewood Mayakoba, Quintana Roo, Mexico
A serene oasis surrounded by emerald jungle and pristine white beaches, Rosewood Mayakoba is a Riviera Maya resort that defines a private world of rare luxury and refined beauty. Enjoy a place where there is never any rush to get anywhere and upon entering the property, guests instantly enter relaxation mode. Ahhh…
 
Paradise Island, Bahamas
 
One & Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island
Located on a beautiful beach on Paradise Island, Bahamas, the One & Only Ocean Club received a multi-million dollar reno which updated one wing and added a new 125 ft infinity edge pool on the stunning beach. Love to golf? No problem. Tee it up on the resorts 18 hole, par 72 golf course with gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean.
 
Bellmond Cap Juluca
Belmond Cap Juluca, is an idyllic luxury beachfront retreat on the exquisite island of Anguilla. Set on Maundays Bay, a mile-long white-sand beach and lapped by crystal clear waters, Belmond Cap Juluca is an island escape brimming with Caribbean magic.
 
Bellmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla

Pink Sands Club Canouan
The Pink Sands Club Canouan is an exclusive island retreat on the island of Canouan in the Grenadines, with luxurious suites and villas offering high-end dining, non-motorized water sports, infinity pool with a 3-tier tanning deck, Jim Fazio-designed golf course, tennis center, and spa with overwater glass-bottomed treatment palapas. An exquisite and ultra-luxurious island escape.
 
Have you vacationed at any of these luxurious Caribbean resorts or have them on your “list” of places to visit? Tell us about it!
 
Copyright©Rum Therapy 
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

4 Reasons to Travel to the Caribbean During the Summer

Summer vacation in the Caribbean? Once the weather gets warm in our neck of the woods, our thoughts don’t drift quite as much to the Caribbean – but should they? Summertime can be a terrific time to take a break in the Caribbean and here are 4 reasons why!

  1. Less crowded – high season in the Caribbean is generally mid December to mid April. By traveling to the Caribbean during off season, you are far more likely to enjoy quieter beaches, restaurants and resorts. Enjoy your piña colada in peace!
  2. Clearer, warmer water – during the summer months, there is a slight chance you can encounter a tropical storm or hurricane (see Should You Travel to the Caribbean During Hurricane Season), but most people experience warm, calm weather, which translates into warm, calm and clear water – perfect for snorkeling and diving!
  3. Temps may actually be cooler than some places back home – yes, the tropics can be warm during summer (especially inland), but the temps may actually be cooler than some of the southern states during the summer! And if you get really hot, just jump back into the ocean!
  4. DEALS! – many hotels, condos and resorts slash their prices 20-50% in the summer over their high season rates. Have you been longing to stay at a beautiful resort but find the price too costly during the winter? Check out the prices during the summer months!

Are you ready to head to the islands? Do you like to vacation in the Caribbean during the summer? Tell us about it!

Find more Tropical Tips at our Tropical Tips & More directory

To see more island posts, check out our Island Blog Directory

Copyright©Rum Therapy 
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

Caravelle Hotel & Casino – Comfort and Convenience in the Heart of Christiansted


During our recent VI adventure, we were given the opportunity to visit Caravelle Hotel & Casino, a newly refurbished waterfront boutique hotel in the heart of Christiansted, St. Croix, and we jumped at the chance.
In previous visits we found ourselves wishing for more time to explore this pretty, historic town on the north side of St. Croix and we were excited to have the chance to do so.

Christiansted, St. Croix - copyright Rum Therapy
Our trip to St Croix from St Thomas was via a Seaborne Airlines sea plane. The short and convenient flight left from Charlotte Amalie and landed in Christiansted Harbor within walking distance of Caravelle Hotel, just down the scenic boardwalk. You can read more about the sea plane flight here.

Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum Therapy
Caravelle Hotel recently underwent extensive remodeling, re-opening in 2016 and now has a breezy, modern tropical feel on the inside, while the exterior vibrantly retains the Danish architectural charm found in much of Christiansted.

Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum Therapy Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum TherapyLobby
In addition to the new décor in all 42 rooms and the lobby, Hotel Caravelle now incudes a new on-site casino with 76 slot machines.

Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum Therapy
What we loved the most about our stay at Caravelle Hotel & Casino was its close proximity to the many fine amenities found in Christiansted. All within walking distance, (or request a ride on one of their golf carts), you will find fine dining options such as balter, St. Croix, Zion Modern Kitchen and 40 Strand Eatery. BES Craft Cocktail Lounge is just a few blocks from Caravelle Hotel and is an excellent place to relax and enjoy craft cocktails masterfully created by award winning mixologist Frank Robinson. In addition to the many dining and drinking options, we enjoyed shopping at the nearby jewelry stores which offer beautifully handcrafted and original pieces, boutique clothing shops – and exploring the rich history of Christiansted at Fort Christianvaern .  We also enjoyed learning about (and tasting!) some of the authentic flavors of St. Croix on the Virgin Islands Food Tour – an excellent guided food tasting and cultural walking tour in Christiansted. Or, if you don’t want to leave the comfort of Caravelle Hotel, you can dine and/or enjoy a cocktail at Rum Runners (downstairs and on the water), or stop in Big Beards Adventure Tours (attached to Caravelle) to set up an excursion to beautiful Buck Island.

In addition to all the wonderful things to explore in Christiansted, we took the two St. Croix rum distillery tours: Captain Morgan and Cruzan Rum.  We easily toured both in one afternoon via a taxi so that we could enjoy the rum drinks offered at the end of each distillery tour.

After all of the exploring, we had a hard decision to make; pull up a lounge chair at the pool overlooking Christiansted Harbor, or take a short water taxi from the boardwalk to the pretty beach on Protestant Cay. We ended up doing (and enjoying) both!

Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum Therapy
Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum Therapy
And – at the end of each day, this was a really great place to land…

Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum Therapy
Caravelle Hotel & Casino - copyright Rum TherapyView of Christiansted Harbor from our room

Caravelle Hotel & Casino – comfort and convenience in the heart of Christiansted.

Are you ready to enjoy some time exploring Christiansted, St. Croix? Get more information on Caravelle Hotel & Casino on their website and follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

A special thank you to Caravelle Hotel & Casino for arranging our wonderful stay.  Stay tuned in the next couple of days as we post more about some of the fun things we experienced in Christiansted!

Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

10 Most Visited Rum Therapy Island Blog Posts of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, we looked back to see which of our island posts were visited the most during the year. Although some we expected, some surprised us, such as our #3! In case you missed any of them, here’s the countdown.

From #10 to #1, the 10 Most Visited Rum Therapy Island Posts of 2016 are:

#10
Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar - copyright Rum Therapy
Located on Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos, Miss Emily is purported to be the originator of the delicious rum concoction, the Goombay Smash. Read about our visit to this interesting little bar here:

Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, Home of the Goombay Smash

#9 
Willie T - copyright Rum Therapy
Depending on the time and day you motor or dinghy up to this iconic floating bar located at The Bight on Norman  Island in the BVI, you could encounter anything from a quiet lunch crowd to an all out party! Read more about it here:
Have You Taken the Plunge at the Willy T?

#8Map of Marigot - Rum Therapy
Are you heading to the French side of St Martin in 2017? If so, you should check out this post on things to see and do in the town of  Marigot! Shopping, great food and historical sites are just a few of the things you could encounter. Our personal favorite? A visit (or two) to Sarafina’s French Bakery. Ooh la la..
What to See and Do in Marigot, St. Martin

#7north-beach-600-0
The health benefits of walking on the beach. Can we get a prescription for that? Find out what they are here:
Health Benefits of Walking on the Beach

#6Happy National Rum Day - copyright Rum Therapy
A just for fun post we did on National Rum Day this year that includes a short quiz about rum.
Happy National Rum Day! What’s Your Rum IQ?

#5
One Love Bar & Grill - copyright Rum Therapy
One small, beautiful island – SO many great beach bars! Jost Van Dyke in the BVI is home to some of the best beach bars in the Caribbean! Let’s go bar-hopping!
Bar Hopping on Jost Van Dyke

#4Nurse Shark on Compass Cay - copyright Rum Therapy
I’ve never been a big fan of sharks – it’s just those teeth! But, swimming with the nurse sharks in Exuma was…cool. I’d even do it again! Read about the experience here:
Swimming with Sharks on Compass Cay

#3
Callwood Distillery - copyright Rum Therapy
A visit to the Callwood Rum Distillery on Tortola is like taking a walk back in time. If your a rum aficionado, this is a tour you’ll probably enjoy. Find out more here:
Callwood Rum Distillery, Tortola

#2
No surprise here – this list, compiled by suggestions from you, has been visited thousands of times since we published it! Looking for songs to put on your beach playlist? You’ll find a wide variety of songs here!
The Ultimate Rum Therapy Playlist

#1
Crescent Beach, Compass Cay - copyroght Rum TherapyAnd our most visited blog post of the year?
Health Benefits of Spending Time In or Near the Ocean!

Here’s to spending more time in or near the ocean in 2017! Cheers!

Find more Tropical Tips here:
Tropical Tips & More

To see more island posts, check out our Island Blog Directory

 Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

Should You Travel to the Caribbean During Hurricane Season?

We’ve all seen them. Photos of the storms and destruction caused by hurricanes. It’s almost enough to keep us from traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season. Almost.

Hurricane Season - copyright Rum Therapy
We used to completely avoid traveling to the Caribbean and Bahamas during the months of June – November (official hurricane season), but after looking at statistics, we have occasionally chosen to take advantage of the lower rates and quieter season with a few precautions and strategies in mind. After all, statistically, you are more likely to be involved in a serious hurricane event in parts of the US mainland than much of the Caribbean. Of course there’s always a risk, but all we can do is try to reason with the hurricane season…

A few things to keep in mind when considering island travel during the summer and fall:

1. The peak months for hurricane storms are August, September and October.
2. The Bahamas, Bermuda, Turks & Caicos and the Eastern Caribbean islands historically tend to be affected by more storm weather during hurricane season than islands farther south.
3. The islands least likely to be affected by hurricanes are the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), followed by Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Grenada.
4. Even in the islands most affected by storms, the likelihood of encountering a serious one during the time you are there is slim.
5. Because more people avoid the Caribbean (and Bahamas) during hurricane season, you may be able to find some terrific low season rates.

Additional things to consider:
Some establishments (bars & restaurants) close for a month or two during hurricane season (usually in the August – October time frame), so if there’s a place you’d really like to experience, be sure to check and see if they will be open during your visit.

Travel insurance can help cover you in the event your vacation is cancelled or postponed by weather. Be sure to check with a reputable travel insurance company and make sure they specifically offer trip-cancellation insurance, which ensures that travelers who have purchased airline, cruise tickets and hotel stays will be fully compensated if a storm prevents them from traveling.

Some resorts offer a hurricane guarantee, but be sure to carefully read it and understand it before booking. It may be full or part coverage or a voucher for future travel.

Consider downloading the free Red Cross Hurricane app to keep you up to date on hurricane info wherever you are vacationing.

Armed with facts and good information to help you make the best choices of dates and areas, you might just become a fan of the lighter crowds, cheaper accommodations and beautiful weather of the summer and fall in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico - copyright Rum Theapy
Do you travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season? Tell us about it!

Find more Tropical Tips at our Tropical Tips & More directory

To see more island posts, check out our Island Blog Directory

Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

Best Beach Bar Signs & Décor

Beach bar signs & décor – sometimes tacky, sometimes chic, but usually we love it all. Here’s just a sample of some of the most entertaining beach bar signage that we’ve enjoyed during our visits so far…

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Beach Bar at St. James’s Club, Antigua

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A sign – and a clock found at Staniel Cay Yacht Club, Exuma Cays, Bahamas

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Just one of the many entertaining signs found at Jimmy’s Dive Bar, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

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We stop at 3 Painkillers for obvious reasons…Soggy Dollar Bay, Jost Van Dyke

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Two signs found at Cow Wreck Beach  Bar, Anegada – one in the parking lot and one in the bar!

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Guess we’ll have to ask Alex about this one…

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Ivan’s Stress Free Bar and it’s cool shell art

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Great concept for shopping women and their men at Rum Island Pub in Charlotte Amalie, St.Thomas

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Fitting for the infamous Willy T in the Bight at Norman Island, BVI

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One of many fun signs at Al’s Mar Azul in Vieques

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Um…wet? Floyd’s Pelican Bar, Jamaica

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And last, but certainly not least, a sign at Snappas Grill & Chill, Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

Know of other fun beach bar signs? Tell us about them!

To see more posts island posts, check out our Island Blog Directory

 Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

10 Beach Bars with a Unique Caribbean Style

 Beach bars. Love ’em. Love the fancy ones, love the new ones, love the old ones, but the ones we love the most are the ones that are built with a unique Caribbean style.

The following are bars we’ve had the pleasure of spending time at, of wandering through while sipping a rum drink and marveling at the structure and “decorations”. Many have been built by the loving hands of their owners with the help of their friends and family. Some look like they would blow down in a stiff wind and at least one was and was erected again. But all have that laid back, relaxed, Caribbean character. Have you visited any of these unique bars?

Bomba Shack - copyright Rum Therapy
As unique as the man who owns it, the Bomba Shack on the West end of Tortola is an eclectic mixture of materials donated by friends and found by Bomba himself. If you stop by during the day, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Capoon Bay and Jost Van Dyke. If you’re looking for a party, be sure to stop by and sample one of the legendary full moon parties!
See more photos of the Bomba Shack here

OJ's Beach Bar & Restaurant - copyright Rum Therapy
We stumbled across this one while exploring the beaches on the West side of Antigua. OJ’s Beach Bar & Restaurant is located on a beautiful beach in Crabb Hill and is a virtual explosion of shells, netting and other sea adornments. We didn’t have the chance to sample a beverage here that day, but can imagine we would have enjoyed sipping rum while taking in the décor! We’ll be posting more photos of this one soon.

Foxy's-2-(600)-O
It’s hard to know what to look at first when you walk into Foxy’s, located in Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke. This very popular bar is decked out with flags, shirts, stickers and a host of other memorabilia left by those lucky enough to have enjoyed time here. Live music, drinks made with Foxy’s Firewater Rum and the ultimate entertainer himself, Foxy Callwood, make this bar a must experience.
Read more about Foxy’s here

 Karacter, St. Maarten - copyright Rum Therapy
Buy an old bus, stick it on a beautiful beach and turn it into a bar? What a great idea! That’s exactly what the owners of Karacter Beach Bar on Simpson Bay in St. Maarten did. What a great place to hang out too! Karacter has picnic tables, beach chairs and umbrellas, delicious drinks (the Ti Punch and Rum Punch are tasty) and a prime spot on the beach. Great place to hang out for a sunny afternoon.
Check out our post on Karacter here

Happy-Island - copyright Rum Therapy
Simply fascinating. Jante Ramage, the owner and creator of Happy Island created,  over a period of years, his own island out of conch shells in a shallow bay just off of Union Island. Accessible by small boat, you can visit Happy Island and enjoy a Rum Punch while gazing off into the clear blue water. Janti was more than happy to give us a tour of his entire compound which includes living quarters, kitchen and bathroom in addition to tables and chairs on the deck for his customers. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch an exciting kite surfer zooming right over your head!
Read more about Happy Island here

Nature-Boy Beach Bar - copyright Rum Therapy
Tucked away on the far side of Long Bay Beach in Tortola, there’s a little establishment called Nature Boy Beach Bar. If it weren’t for the signs announcing it’s presence, it might be hard to see as it blends right into the foliage. The hours aren’t exactly set in stone, but it’s a small business and we were thrilled to pass by while Winston, the owner was behind the bar. We ordered two beers, sat in the blue chairs in front of the bar and chatted with Winston a while, while gazing at the beautiful beach Nature Boy Beach Bar sits on.
Read more about our visit to Nature Boy Beach Bar here

Sunshine-Shack,-Antigua2-(600)-O
While strolling down Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla on our way to experience musician Bankie Banx’s bar, Dune Preserve, we spotted a small, extremely colorful shack. Originally we wondered if it were a lemonade or ice cream stand, but upon closer inspection, we learned it was a beach bar called Sunshine Shack. The name fit. Painted in bright Caribbean colors and murals and placed right smack in the middle of one of the prettiest beaches in Anguilla, we felt like we were basking in sunshine. We ordered a tasty Rum Punch and chatted with the very friendly owner, Garvey. Couldn’t stay long during that visit, but we’ll certainly spend  more time at the Sunshine Shack on our next visit!

One Love Bar & Grill - copyright Rum Therapy
Located on the west side of beautiful White Bay, this fun and funky beach bar adorned with a variety of tee-shirts, buoys and other fun junk is a great place to hang out and enjoy a Bushwaker and Lobster Quesadillas. If owner Seddy is in the house – ask to see some of his magic tricks. It’s usually quieter on busy afternoons than bars farther down the beach making it a good place to catch a few moments of beach peace…

Floyd's Pelican Bar - copyright Rum Therapy
And  last, but certainly not least, Floyd’s Pelican Bar in Jamaica. What would a list such as this one be without this ultra-cool bar, located 3/4’s of a  mile out to sea on the SW side of Jamaica. Accessible only by boat (duh!), it is a marvel to behold and leaves one wondering how it stands during a storm. The planks of wood are carved with the names of those fortunate enough to make the trek out to the bar in the sea to enjoy a Red Stripe with a view like non other.
Read about our trip to Floyd’s here

Have you visited any of these beach bars? Tell us about it!

 

To see more island posts, check out our Island Blog Directory

 

Copyright©Rum Therapy 
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever – Explore and Enjoy It!


accessible-tag-(500)-OGuest post by Susan Trantham, Living the Life Travel

The world is more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people need to, want to, and can travel. If you are part of that twenty percent, a world of Special Needs/Accessible Travel awaits you.

Special Needs/Accessible Travel can be defined as the ongoing effort to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. Whether it is a short term or long term disability, you are entitled to enjoy travel together with your family and friends.

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Special needs travel includes:

  1. People With Disabilities
  2. Slow Walkers
  3. Families With Young Children
  4. Returning Veterans
  5. Elderly
  6. Pre- and Post- Surgical Patients
  7. Occasional Mobility Conditions

Travel professionals who are accessible travel advocates certified by the Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.

Whenever possible, do a little prep work ahead of time so when your next travel opportunity arises, you’ll be ready. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.

Outline Your Travel Needs
Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home?

Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides? How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?

Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tours and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.

Plan Ahead
If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms.

Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions. Again, documentation and paperwork are required.

Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip. Confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.

Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.

Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, make sure the company is aware of your special needs.

When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.

Ask the Right Questions
When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.” Find out what “accessible” means to them.

For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room? Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter?

Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars? Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals? Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort? On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters?

Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment!

The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever – Explore and Enjoy It!

A special thanks to Susan Trantham for her expertise on accessible travel! Through her company Living The Life Travel, LLC, Susan is available to help coordinate travel for anyone with or without special needs to make sure they have the vacation of a lifetime. Contact her by phone at (810)513-6759, and check out her website at www.LivingTheLifeTravel.com for more information. 

Beach Bar Bums – A Beach, A Bar and A Dream


About a decade ago, Tom Westerhof was sitting at Buho’s Beach Bar on Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun, when he said to himself, “I could sit here all day and be perfectly content”.

It actually took a second trip back to St. Kitts three years ago for him to finally do something about it. He kept researching destinations and basing his decisions on the number of beach bars and their proximity to the resort. He knew he couldn’t be the only person out there who loved beach bars and that’s when it all began in earnest. In 2012, the company Beach Bar Bums was born.

photoBeach Bar BumsSmokey’s at the Cove, Anguilla
photo: Beach Bar Bums

Do you love beach bars as much as we do? Then you really should be following Tom’s company, Beach Bar Bums. Not only does Tom give us the scoop on beach bars everywhere, he also now also focuses on ancillary businesses that support beach bars and the destinations that call them home. He’s written about resorts, restaurants, spirits (the liquid kind), cocktails, music, events, travel, people involved in the business and so forth. It’s kind of morphed into a travel/lifestyle blog for people who love the beach .. and a rum cocktail or two. Um, no wonder we’re fans!

photo Beach Bar Bums
Tom, his wife and daughter with Bankie Banx at Dune Preserve
photo: Beach Bar Bums


Have you ever thought about owning your own beach bar? Well, Beach Bar Bums is about to launch a new feature on their website called a “listings page” where individuals will be able to list basic info on businesses they have for sale at no cost to them. This is a development that Tom is very excited about. He’s partnering with a company out of Europe and in the role as “finders,” he will be trying to find sellers of beach bars the right buyers and vice versa. A lot of business owners don’t want to advertise that they’re for sale out of fear that it might impact their business – they’d rather put “feelers” out and see if there’s someone out there interested.   That’s where Beach Bar Bums come in – they offer bar owners a chance to “feel out” the market confidentially, only offering as much information as they choose to share. Tom’s already building up a database of potential buyers. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there looking to buy a beach bar!

Another new venture for Beach Bar Bums is a partnership that they recently entered into with Clear Vision Media to offer photography services not just of beach bars but of any travel, tourism and hospitality-related business, with a concentration on beach destinations. They offer the full portfolio of photography and video services including aerial (drone) photography and video along with HDR 360 degree virtual tours. The virtual tour they produced for Caddy’s on the Beach in Treasure Island, Florida is amazing – it’s almost like you’re there! They’re a full service media production company so being able to partner with them was something Tom couldn’t pass up.

We asked Tom if he had a favorite Caribbean beach bar and he replied, “That’s a hard question but I would probably have to say it’s the Sunshine Shack in Anguilla. For me, it’s the quintessential Caribbean beach bar. It’s basically a shack on the beach where the sand is the floor and there are no navigable roads leading to it. Rendezvous Bay, where it’s located, is gorgeous and Garvey, the owner, is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Every visit to the Sunshine Shack will leave you with a smile, either from the rum, hanging out with Garvey or a combination of the two”.

We asked Tom if he had a Bucket List of beach bars and if so, if he would share a few on that list. He told us The Rock Bar at the Ayana Resort in Bali, Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke and pretty much anywhere in Maldives are some of the locations at the top of his list.

photo Beach Bar BumsSunset at the Sunset Bar & Grill, St. Maarten
photo: Beach Bar Bums

Tom’s eventual goal and dream is to someday own his own beach bar. Not a shock. We asked if he had a location in mind and what some of the features of his beach bar would be. He said, “If I had to pick one destination under threat of never being able to drink vodka tonics again, I would have to pick St. Maarten. Some of the cool aspects of our bar would be the drink and food menu. The bar would feature original craft cocktails and tapas style small plates to pair with them, offering customers a unique dining experience in a laid back beach atmosphere. I would want people to feel like they were walking into their neighborhood bar and there would be a free round of shots for everyone with an open tab at sunset. Granted, it might be the cheap stuff but it’ll be free”.

Are you already following Beach Bar Bums? If not, you should! Find them here:

Beach Bar Bums Website

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