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Tropical Tidbits
by Sue C Travel

One strange snorkel tour 

I am a snorkeling fool. I love getting under the waves to find my fishy friends wherever I travel, and though I’ve had some weird snorkel experiences over the years, this one at Chimei Island in Taiwan was one for the books. It’s not that I saw a lot of fish- I didn’t really- though I did see some outstanding neon blue coral, it was more the way in which they do the tour that struck me. Seems that the typical visitors aren’t avid swimmers, and where they take you the current can be strong. So, they insist on leading the group out into the deep by a huge square floating tube. Everyone hanging on for dear life with their faces in the water while the guide throws bits of bread to the fish… it was bizarre. But stranger still, the water was teeming with jellyfish! When I noted this in alarm, the guide just laughed and said they don’t sting. And they didn’t! It was surreal having them glide through my fingers without consequence- very cool. Though as far as fish spotting, there are far better spots around those islands for snorkeling I’m told- it certainly was trippy. And diving in the region is supposed to be awesome, check this website for best options:

The last straw…

Don’t be surprised next time you order a cocktail in a tropical resort if it does not come with a straw. That’s because many major hotel chains are joining the fight to keep single use plastic items out of the seas. And that’s a good thing. For example, Hyatt hotels announced that they will beginning phasing out the single use plastic straws at all of their hotels starting September 2018. AMResorts brands have already stopped automatically serving them- though they will give you one if you insist, and Royal Caribbean intends to discontinue use of plastic straws on all of its cruise ships by the end of 2018 as well. This is a great boon to sea turtles and the sea in general, but much more has to be done to curb the use of plastic that ends up in the ocean. The massive wave of plastic garbage that took over Montesinos Beach in the Dominican Republic last July was a jarring wakeup call to remind us that banning plastic straws is a just a drop in the bucket toward keeping our waters clean for future generations.

And we are delighted to hear that the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica is taking huge steps to combat their plastic problem. They have recently announced their pledge to completely ban all single use plastic and also Styrofoam® cups, food containers, plastic cutlery and more from their lush little natural paradise this year in an effort to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation. Badly hit by a hurricane last year, they are taking the rebuilding effort to new levels now by starting with a fresh eco outlook and a promise to keep their island pristine for generations to come. Bravo!

Aruba has already been big on the plastic ban front – they legally banned plastic bags in 2018, and as of Jan. 1st, 2019, all single-use plastic items like straws, cups, and even Styrofoam® will be officially banned as well. Sunscreen with chemicals harmful to the reefs will also be banned on that island for 2019.

To help, ask for your drinks without straws and visit: www.cleanocean.org

All-inclusives more popular than ever

The industry efforts to accommodate all kinds of different classes in the all-inclusive arena- from economy seeking families to discerning travellers seeking very high-end luxury- has resulted in a slew of new brands and new hotels. For example, Apple Leisure Group has added the new Reflect® brand and partnered with Krystal Grand® to add new all-inclusives to its collection in Mexico- recently opening in Punta Cancun, Los Cabos, and Nuevo Vallarta. Europe is also on the horizon for that company with their Secrets and Dreams brands opening up many new properties in Spain, and a new brand called “Amigo” a three-star all-inclusive catering to families and couples is set to roll out in markets across Europe this year.

This year has also seen the creation of Xcaret- an all-inclusive hotel in Cancun to go with their collection of theme parks- guests have access to all of their parks free of charge as part of their package. Jamaica has added Excellence Oyster Bay- an adult-only luxury all-inclusive and Jewel Grande in Montego Bay, a chic new all-inclusive with all butler-service rooms. And Hard Rock Hotel will be opening a massive new all-inclusive for all ages in Los Cabos this year as well.

Pack your pooch?

You might be surprised that small dogs are now welcome at many all-inclusive resorts like Breathless Los Cabos- and many other hotels throughout the Caribbean and Mexico! For a great resource on where your four-legged best friend will also be welcome on your tropical holiday visit: www.bringfido.com

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