Every couple in love deserves a romantic getaway in paradise, and in Florida, paradise is not that far away. Sandals Emerald Bay, located on the pristine island of Great Exuma, is a perfect destination for your next retreat with the one you love.

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Great Exuma is the largest cay in the Exumas, a district of over 360 islands in the Bahamas, and from the sky above Exuma International Airport, the islands and surrounding seas paint a Caribbean masterpiece. If you are used to the waters of Florida as I was, the waves of Great Exuma will render you speechless upon arrival with their changing tones of turquoise. The name “Bahamas” means “shallow seas,” and the view from the plane justifies this description, as the seabed can be seen through the water. As you take in the brilliance of the sea, its silver reflection of the sun’s rays will captivate your romantic spirit and inspire you with thoughts of love.

sandals1The resort grounds of Sandals Emerald Bay create a vision of paradise that enhances this romance; the cerulean waters kiss the powder white sand with their gentle tides, and the sky-high palms seem to welcome guests with waves of their fronds. 245 ocean view suites look out toward the mile-long beach that beckons visitors with tranquil cabanas and priceless views of the Caribbean. To make your stay even more relaxing, the resort is all-inclusive, with unlimited water sports and access to three pools, including a quiet pool for those looking for a peaceful swim.

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Sandals Emerald Bay is known widely for its beautiful, Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course, built among the rocky Emerald Bay Beach. The course winds through seaside dunes, palms, and mangroves, and the experience is complete with complimentary golf carts, a full-service golf shop, and PGA lessons for golfers wanting to improve their game.

The romantic setting of Sandals, inspired by the idyllic beaches and crystal waters, serves as the perfect location for dream weddings. Sandals hosts about four weddings a week, and increases during the summer months of June and July. Wedding services are all-inclusive, making the event stress-free and effortlessly luxurious. The Sandals wedding professionals offer complimentary wedding planning, including location arrangements, photography, and wedding design. Couples can choose from six pre-designed wedding themes or create their own custom theme to suit their style.

Sandals Emerald Bay is dedicated to keeping love the focus of your life, and a Sandals Honeymoon allows you to make romantic memories among the picturesque scenery of Great Exuma. At an all-inclusive price, the Honeymoon package features a bubbly welcome of chilled sparkling wine, a decadent breakfast in bed, and endless amenities to make your stay as exciting or relaxing as you desire.

If you’ve already tied the knot, Sandals creates optimum opportunities for Vow Renewals against the beautiful backdrop of the Caribbean. Sandals’ ReTie the Knot package offers a personal planner and resort team who are eager to help make your renewals as special as the vows themselves. The ceremony is complete with music, flower arrangements, and a celebratory reception, as well as a stay in one of Sandals’ lavish honeymoon rooms.

Whether you are in the Bahamas to honor your vows or just wish to relax with the one you love, an afternoon spent at the Red Lane spa will transport your mind, body, and spirit to a state of utopia. Walking into the spa, all worries are left at the door, as its island tranquility surrounds you with calming music and fresh aromatics that capture the warmth of the Exumas. Red Lane specializes in classic European treatments that have been revitalized with a Caribbean touch, including indulgent massages, invigorating facials, and exfoliating body scrubs. The spa even offers oceanfront massages right on the beach for those looking for the ultimate escape. Before each massage service, guests are invited to choose their tropical oils, including Red Lane’s classic Lemongrass Oil and, my personal favorite, the Antioxidant Oil, a rejuvenating concoction of pomegranate and cranberry fragrance oils, blended to detoxify and protect the skin.

The spa’s signature service, the West Indian Massage, allows guests to experience a journey of relaxation while celebrating the Bahamian land and culture. This massage focuses on the use of natural island elements to recreate a day spent in the Exumas with massage techniques. The massage begins with warm stones placed in the palms of the hands, which represent the warmth of the Bahamian people, the warmth that I experienced firsthand each time I interacted with the friendly staff of Sandals. After a combined treatment of muscle stretching, compression, and manipulation techniques, the feet are exfoliated with sand from the Exuma beaches, followed by a light mist, representing the spray of the cool ocean waves. The 80 minutes spent on this massage seem to fade as quickly as the setting island sun, and I walked away as relaxed as the native Bahamians, not even aware of the time that had passed.

Although relaxation is one of the pleasures of a romantic getaway, you may want to dip your toes into a sea of adventure. The island of Great Exuma is full of exhilarating escapades, and Sandals Emerald Bay offers excursions that will send you and your significant other on journeys that will make sparks of excitement fly. These excursions include transportation from the resort to your destination and last anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending upon your appetite for adventure. One of the most popular excursions, the Ocean Safari, is a four-hour tour of the beautiful Exuma islands that allows guests to discover the wildlife of the Caribbean. On this excursion, as soon as the Ocean Safari powerboat took off from the dock, my trip to the Exumas became a dimensional experience; it was enthralling to watch the colors along the surface change with the angle of the sun as we traveled at high-speed through the shallow waters. The Caribbean Sea is breathtaking from the shore, but when you are pulled full-force on a powerboat into its waters, it literally takes your breath away.

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The first stop on this journey is quite unique, to say the least. Although it is debated as to how they first appeared on the islands, the infamous swimming pigs have become the star of the tour, boldly approaching their visitors with ironic charm. Loveable and enthusiastic, these swimming pigs are a perfect start to your Exuma adventure. The excursion continues with

a trip to an island filled with Bahamian rock iguanas, an endangered species of friendly lizards that roam the island with their majestic spirit. As there are only 300 left in the world, it is a marvel to experience these lizards in their natural splendor. When I visited the Bahamian rock iguanas, I found myself amazed at their strange beauty; their glowing red-rimmed eyes seemed to stare at me with peaceful satisfaction, and they walked the island unafraid of their human guests. The most amazing feature of these lizards is their unexpectedly silky skin. As my hand reached the back of one of the larger iguanas, my preconceptions of its texture were shattered; its smooth skin, composed of mosaic-like squares, rivals the beauty of the Caribbean waters, with colors that range from rosy champagne to smoky charcoal.

The tour is completed with snorkeling over a shallow reef, where you can catch a glimpse of the diverse fish of the Exumas. This was my chance to feel like a real mermaid, swimming among the creatures of the sea in water as clear as the air above. As wonderful as the Bahamas are on land, the islands are nothing compared to the endless life under the sea. During your stay at Sandals, take hold of your true love’s hand and your adventurous spirit and dive into an excursion of a lifetime!

A romantic retreat would not be complete without delicious dining, and Sandals Emerald Bay offers a variety of seven restaurants that specialize in different tastes, from local Caribbean cuisine to fine Italian cooking. La Parisienne, Sandals’ signature French restaurant, serves as a lovely finale to an enchanting day spent at the beach. Paris is perhaps the most romantic city in the world, but Great Exuma challenges that theory by transporting the romantic aura of Paris to the unparalleled paradise of the Caribbean. La Parisienne entices your senses with contemporary sophistication and an innovative menu, and whether you dine inside or on the terrace, the formal white-glove service transforms your dining experience into an evening of elegance.

I found the menu of La Parisienne to be an ideal marriage between the French and Bahamian cultures, as the restaurant specializes in seafood as well as Parisian flavors. One of the delights on the menu is the salmon, served with a lemon-crème sauce, tender root vegetables, and mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette. This colorful plate enhanced my Caribbean evening with the subtlety of French inspiration. The lemon meringue is a refreshing dessert, paired with a petite fruit tart overflowing with ripe mixed berries and a light whipped crème. Any delicious choice at La Parisienne is sure to become a happy ending to your evening of romance.

After experiencing Sandals Emerald Bay, I learned that the best attribute the resort has to offer is its ability to make couples feel as though they are the only two people on the island. There are countless locations to find seclusion from others: poolside cabanas for daydreaming, cozy fire pits that turn moonlit nights into romantic memories, and hammocks held by palms that are large enough for two people to unwind and indulge themselves in the cool island breezes.

Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma is truly a paradise made for two.

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