Beach or Pool: The Best Caribbean Resorts for Your Swimming & Sunbathing Preferences

March 25, 2024

Some vacationers pick their all-inclusive resort based on location, number of dining options, or how much (or how little) of a “party” vibe a property has. But I often begin my resort research for a travel client with a different question:

Are you a “beach” person or a “pool” person?

While many resorts boast fabulous options for both, the truth is that a resort will tend to be stronger in one area or the other. And it just doesn’t make sense to head to a resort renowned for its beach if you’d rather be relaxing in a refreshing pool, or vice versa. So, how to know where to go? Start here. Below you’ll find my top three resort picks for best beaches, and my top three picks for best pools. Let’s “dive” in!

If you’re a “beach” person …

Secrets Akumal, Mexico

Secrets Akumal on the Riviera Maya is a snorkeler’s paradise. After you enjoy some sunbathing on the white sand beach, tip toe into the sea and immerse yourself in a surprising underwater world. Secrets Akumal is located along a protected reef, home to unique marine life—and plenty of green sea turtles. You can see all the reef action thanks to the crystal clear waters. I loved my own visit to Secrets Akumal and just couldn’t get enough of the endless expanse of gorgeous turquoise sea!

Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas

If you’re looking for a Bora Bora beach experience without the 13+-hour flight, head here. Located on its own private beach in Great Exuma, this resort is definitely in the running for the best beach in the Caribbean. You get to enjoy emerald waters and a pristine, mile-long beach—and because it’s private, you won’t get heckled by vendors or crowded out by hordes of other beachgoers. It’s hard to believe this intimate island paradise is just an hour-and-fifteen-minute flight from Florida!

Sandals Grande Antigua

Antigua is home to 365 white sand beaches, and this Sandals resort is situated on the best. You’ll find this resort on Antigua’s renowned Dickenson Bay, arguably the island’s most famous beach, where the powdery sand simply melts into the calm turquoise sea. You could easily spend all day swimming and lounging on the beach and never even make it to the resort pool! If you simply can’t get enough of the beach, be sure to book an oceanfront Rondoval suite; you get stunning views of Dickenson Bay right from your private patio (and you get a private pool to boot).

If you’re a “pool” person …

Sandals South Coast, Jamaica

This stunning adult-only property is home to the longest pool in the entire Western Hemisphere. This epic pool snakes through South Coast’s swim-up Rondoval suites, intimate, thatched-roof accommodations with a unique circular design so you get even more views.

If you want to change up your pool routine at this resort, head to the main pool, which is Jamaica’s largest zero-entry pool. And here’s the best part: Since this is an oceanfront pool, you can perch yourself at the pool’s swim up bar and enjoy gorgeous views out over the sea.

By the way, if you happen to be both a “pool” and “beach” person, Sandals South Coast may be just the ticket. In addition to four fabulous pools, the resort fronts two miles of sugar-white-sand beach!

Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cap Cana, Dominican Republic

This combination property features an adult-only side (Zilara) and a family-friendly side (Ziva), but you get access to both sides when you stay at Zilara. That means way more pool possibilities. There’s a massive beachfront infinity pool with two swim up bars on the Zilara side. You also get access to Canapolis Water Park and the lazy river on the Ziva side.

When I visited Ziva and Zilara myself, I was so impressed with the number, size, and location of the pools, since you get incredible views out over the beach and ocean beyond. And the beach here isn’t too shabby at all either: the resorts are located on a sandy stretch of the DR’s famed Juanillo Beach.

Secrets Moxche, Mexico

This stunner in Playa del Carmen is an ultra-romantic option for an adult-only getaway. The pool situation here is pretty unique: it’s a lagoon-style pool that’s ringed by sand and palm trees with a gently sloped entry designed to mimic a beach. Even the shallow, turquoise waters of this pool seem beach-like!

If you’re after a more traditional pool experience, just head up to the resort’s stunning rooftop. You’ll find a refreshing rooftop pool to dive into, and you’ll get to enjoy endless views out over the Playa del Carmen coastline.

Ready to dive into your own resort paradise? I’m here to help you find your perfect pick. Simply sign up for a complimentary consultation call to start planning together.

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