To celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided to get away a couple months ahead of the anniversary to enjoy a little vacation. 10 years prior, we went to Sandals Negril Jamaica. It was everything we could have asked for, and we have been looking forward to going back to a Sandals Resort at some point, and our 10th anniversary seemed to be the best time!
Why the Bahamas?
Why didn't we go back to Sandals Negril? Airline points! Due to my wife's business, she had obtained a companion pass from Southwest Airlines, and had a decent amount of points accumulated. Southwest had just so happened to finalize routes from Chicago to the Bahamas shortly before our trip!
We made the couple hour drive to Chicago, hopped onto a plane, and flew straight through to the Bahamas! The Sandals in the Bahamas, the Royal Bahamian and Emerald Bay, both looked amazing. We settled on the Royal Bahamian by feel mostly, but we also knew that the resort was being renovated shortly before our arrival.
The Private Island
One of our first steps was to check out the private island! The trip was an easy one. There is one large pier at Sandals Royal Bahamian, which the ferry boat comes at frequent intervals. The ferry is comfortable and the trip is short. We packed our suits and headed over to the island. Not technically private, there are multiple owners of the island, but they are separated from each other by a few different ways. Sandal's guests are in their own area, and the area is amazing! Beach front, lounge chairs, pools, spa services and a full service restaurant can all be found on the private island. On the backside of the island was my favorite part, a lagoon for snorkeling and swimming!
Our first time at the island it was amazing! The weather was perfect. Hot in the sun, and comfortable out of the sun. After our first couple days there though, the weather changed, and the island actually became a little cool to visit. The wind had picked up and the temperature dropped. But... we still visited a couple times, and was able to explore the lagoon a bit more. More on that later!
The Food and Drinks
This is our second Sandal's resort, and we've had great luck with the food and drink. Royal Bahamian certainly didn't disappoint! We ate at the Italian Restaurant Casanova, which was just okay. I love Italian food, and found it to just meet the standard.
We were able to squeeze in a reservation to Kimono's, the Teppanyaki style restaurant. It was a little strange to have a Bahamian man, dressed in East Asian garb, but he was entertaining and we had a great night!
Schooner's can be found on the private island, and it was really good. Focused more on seafood, and everything was good. The amount of time we spent on the island caused us to go to Schooner's a few times, and we enjoyed it each time.
The Royal Cafe and Grill was good as well. A bunch of different options, including some American food items, this was a nice lunch spot. For a quick lunch or meal, the Royal Cafe is the spot to go!
The last three spots were our favorites! Cricketers Pub is set up like an old English pub, and it's great! Typical bar kind of atmosphere. The drinks were good, with a great selection, along with some great bar food options for those nights when the alcohol is kicking in!
Bella Napoli is a little walk up pizzeria with some amazing pizza options! I'm not typically a ham and pineapple fan, but it hit the spot when in the Bahamas. The Margherita pizza and traditional pepperoni pizza were tasty! This was a great option to grab and go when heading back to the room.
Last, but not least, or favorite restaurant for the food and for the setting! The pier I mentioned before, converts into the restaurant called Gordon's. This was a fantastic setting with some amazing seafood. We ate at Gordon's a couple times, had a couple different meals, and enjoyed everything! The wait staff here was exceptional and the setting was something from magazines!
Check out Sandals Royal Bahamian dining options HERE!
The weather was tough at times. The weather on our first day was perfect! Coming from Indiana where the leaves were starting to turn and drop, the bright sun in the Bahamas was welcoming! The second day though, brought a bit of a rain storm and cold front. Most of the days after that were a little breezy and a little chilly. We certainly didn't have bad weather, but we didn't have steamy beach days either. Our best beach day was our first day we spent on the private island. After that, we had to deal with a bit of wind and wave, but ultimately, it was what the doctor ordered!
As we neared the end of our stay, we noticed that during the day the crews were kicking into overdrive. They started setting up an outdoor theatre of sorts, with a lot of chairs and a movie screen. After asking around, due to the resort reopening, they were throwing a resort wide reopening party, along with some presentations about the Sandals Foundation, which gives back to the communities in which Sandal's resorts are found. There were some big names coming, and politicians from other islands around the Bahamas.
As the sun set, the party really started to crank up. They had set up a stage and live bands were getting the resort guests in the mood to party! My wife and I joined in, along with some more "all inclusive" alcohol and it was an amazing night of dancing, people watching, and flame juggling!
At one point during the party, my wife struck up a conversation with a couple standing next to us. When the woman found out we were from Indiana she said, "Well you must know Shania Twain then right?" I found this hilarious! Just because we were from Indiana, why does that make us country music fans?!?! Anyways, yes, we both knew Shania Twain and had been fans of hers back in the day. The woman went on to say that she heard she was at the party because she lived part time in the Bahamas!
I immediately went on the scan. We looked all over for an hour or so, as we continued to have fun at the party, but no luck. We eventually turned the radar power down to 50% and went back to the party.
Then.... it HAPPENED! We walked right into Shania Twain! We actually were walking through a dessert stand that had been set up, and right across the table, grabbing from the same plate as my wife, was Shania herself! My wife was able to get out, "I'm such a big fan", which was better than me locking up like a statue. And that was that... She walked off to dinner with her husband, who we had Google searched. We saw them walking around a couple more times during the night, then they left... The whole night, my wife could be heard humming, "man, I feel like a woman!"
Let me introduce you to Harmonica Man. Sandal's Royal Bahamian has a great little piano room set adjacent to one of the bars. At certain times at night, a performing and piano player would come in, and the piano bar would turn into a karaoke kind of deal. There was a book full of songs with lyrics, and the who piano bar would be singing along! This was right up my wife's alley, so we went there a few nights during our stay. We were both drawn to the amazing performer that was there a couple nights. Not only was he amazing at the piano, he could sing all of the songs, and was making jokes while singing them! It was great!
Well our first time there, we noticed another guest, who decided to get into the music action. He didn't choose to do this by singing, he decided he was going to whip out his harmonica, that he brought along of course, and play along!
He had a couple favorites and songs he could actually play, so they were requested night after night... I never want to hear Brown Eyed Girl and Sweet Caroline again... The sound of Harmonica Man's harmonica is forever burned into my memory!
Anyways, we ended up running into him the whole trip, either at a restaurant, or at the party, or on a dive trip... In the end, he was one of the more entertaining and fun parts of the trip! Harmonica Man will be a part of our Sandals Royal Bahamian story for years to come!
Snorkeling and Diving
The diving was AMAZING! This was my favorite part, even thought it meant a half day away from my wife. She may not agree that the diving was the best, because of this, but the equipment, experience, and scenery was well worth it. I've already written about the full dive experience here. It really was a special experience. I love that everything is included at Sandals. The dive boat picks you up right at the same dock that the ferry was at. This wasn't the case for me though, because of the weather. The way the wind was blowing, the dock was unsafe to load the dive boat. Sandal's took the group in a tour bus, to the other side of the island so we could load out of the wind. This added a couple hours to the trip total, which was tough for my wife. But, everything was still really easy, which is the best kind of diving!
Jack of All Trades, Master of None