Honeymooning at Sandals Emerald Bay, The Bahamas | UK WEDDING BLOG

facebook-profile-picture By Rebecca

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Oh, Sandals Emerald Bay. Where do I even begin?? Last week was such a dream.  If you’re after honeymoon inspiration, look no further. I make no apologies over the amount of photos and how long this post has got, it’s impossible not to tell you all about it. I want you to know everything, deciding on your honeymoon and all things wedding are some of your biggest decisions with a lot at stake emotionally as well as financially. We’ve also created our first ever travel vlog at the end of the post.

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The excitement began weeks before I even started to pack. I’d always heard how incredible the Bahamas are but until discovering Sandals Emerald Bay I didn’t actually know much about them. They’re made up of a long chain of islands at the top of the Caribbean, just off the coast of Miami. We flew from Heathrow with BA to Nassau {but you could also connect through Miami} and then took a quick 40min flight to Georgetown Exuma with Bahamas Air. Coming into land was when we started to realise just how special this place was about to become to us, just look at the colour of the water! We’d only ever seen something similar in The Maldives.

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Landing in Exuma we instantly relaxed. Just stepping off the plane we were just a couple of feet away from the sand and there’s no waiting at a luggage carousel or having to show your passport. You just grab your bags from a trailer and walk out to the sandy road ready to get chauffeured to the resort ten minutes down the road. This to us began the Emerald Bay magic, completely stress free and such a charming little island. There are only a handful of small hotels plus Sandals on the island. It was dark and fairly late when we arrived so we had a quick dinner after checking in and went straight to bed ready to explore in the morning.

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And what a first morning it was. As we woke up and opened the shutters the sky was a vivid orange and pink and we discovered the beach and rolling waves right outside our room.

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Once the sun had come up {and oh my gosh that feeling of the warmth of the sun on your skin after weeks of Winter *heavenn*}, we quickly discovered why this resort is named Emerald Bay. The colour of the sea was the best we’ve ever seen. I don’t even think you can call it blue, all of these photos are unedited so you can see just how turquoise it is as the sun hits the water.

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I must have taken a thousand photos of this boardwalk all week, I mean who wouldn’t? The sun bleached wood, the palm trees, mini sand dunes and seagrass leading onto the softest sand and then that sparkling emerald ocean. Definitely my version of paradise.

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The beach was a mile long and pristine! It’s set in 500 tropical acres of resort {and spa/golf club} with sun beds, umbrellas and cabanas dotted along the sand and water sports like kayaks and hobie cats all included. We shamefully were too lazy and enjoyed just laying by the pool or beach everyday to try any but the sailing boats looked fun. Scuba diving and snorkelling were also available everyday {again all included and complimentary}.

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We were lucky to have a Butler serviced room, something that I can’t recommend enough. I know it sounds a bit poncy and something you may not want to be bothered with but they’re not imposing in the slightest and feel like they’re your friends by the end of the week. Ask for Yuri, Greg and Anastasia {you have 3 as they rotate their shifts throughout your stay} and every morning will set you up by the beach or the pool, in a cabana if you wish, with towels and a cooler full of drinks. People use their butlers for different things, personally I would never ask them to unpack for me but they are more than happy to. Ours were very useful in reserving us a cabana by the pool each morning, bringing us lunch by the pool everyday and . Wherever you are in the resort and whatever you need or want, if you’ve forgotten a book from your room or want some drinks bringing to you then you can just call them on the cellphone they leave for you.

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They also cycle around on their bikes all day long which I loved and we were impressed by the drinks and food they could carry in one hand whilst cycling with the other!

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The butlers delivered us fresh coconuts everyday, we didn’t even have to ask after the first couple of days! They literally pre-empt everything you want before you know it.

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Our room was a beachfront walkout suite {we had room 9306} which looked directly out over the sunrise and we thought was probably one of the best spots, not too near to the main pool and restaurants but not too far away either. But there are so many different room, villa and suites to choose from {see here}. The beachfront rooms are great and ours on the ground floor had it’s own hammock outside too which I loved. All the buildings are in a Bahamian plantation style with shutters and the like that fit in so well with the beach and palm tree surrounds. In addition to the beachfront rooms, shown below on the sand, there are beach houses which are set further back and tend to be in blocks but most still have ocean views. You can see a resort map here if you want to see the whole plan.

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The resort is filled with palm trees. Along with the million photos of the boardwalk, my camera was filled with palms and blue skies too. All the gardens and grounds were beautifully kept with flowers everywhere, and the smell of fresh grass on a sunny day is just the best.

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A real highlight of our week was a trip out to Stocking Island and the Moriah Sea Park with Island Routes. We couldn’t miss seeing more of the Exuma islands whilst we were staying at Emerald Bay and ‘Island Routes’ have a number of tours available. The most popular is the Ocean Safari where you can get in the water with the famous swimming pigs. But we loved the Moriah Sea Park trip {I didn’t want to swim the piggys, I must be the odd one out??}

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Steve was our skipper, a true legend. He’s a sixth generation Bahamian who basically learnt to sail before he could walk! As such, he knows the Exuma Cays like the back of his hand {and has even been Captain for most of the Victoria’s Secret photo shoots, yep hello Miranda Kerr and Gisele as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean filming}.

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The water was so clear and we looked for turtles {and spotted two!}, deep blue holes {some of the deepest underwater caves in the world}, colourful fish, coral and sting rays as we zoomed across the sea park.

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The first stop, which essentially made our jaw’s drop open, was a sand bank set in 50 shades of blue. As we got closer and closer, the water got brighter and brighter. We moored up and spotted a bright orange starfish waiting to greet us as we climbed out and onto the sand. It really was like something out of a magazine or from Pinterest. A travel dream and a must for honeymooners.

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We took a load of photos, including a few with our friendly starfish before putting him back in the water and heading onto the next adventure. We moored up at the beach below, part of Stocking Island and grabbed some snorkel gear to explore the coral below. The reefs in the Bahamas tend to be a lot more compact than others across the globe but most people say for the diversity and health of coral they can be better than Australia’s Barrier Reef.

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The water being so clear meant you could see most of it from the boat but it was definitely worth putting our masks on to see get closer to the coral and fish.

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Stocking Island was such a cool place. It’s home to Chat n’ Chill, ‘where you pay for the chill but the chat is free’, a conch bar run by locals on the most beautiful beach where sting rays come right up to the water’s edge, we could have spent all afternoon here. And of course I LOVED that sign post.

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You won’t get a fresher conch salad than this place. The guys were literally pulling the shells out of the water and preparing it right in front of us.

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Beach wedding anyone?

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We found another little starfish and fell in love with the friendly sting-rays. {I know, who would have thought they are so friendly? Apparently it’s only Australian’s they don’t like according to Steven} but they really won’t hurt you. That black spot in the water below is a sting-ray, the water is so clear you can see them swimming towards the beach.

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Back at the resort, after saying goodbye to our new American friends on the boat with us and Captain Steve, we were ready for lunch. We loved all the food at Sandals and there are so many choices. For lunch, you can choose between pizzas that are made fresh, the Barefoot by the Sea restaurant right on the beach with your feet in the sand {which was our fav for yummy fish tacos and shrimp caesar salads} or Bahama Bay with a different buffet each day along with a hot dog station by the pool. Or, of course, all of the above because at Sandals absolutely everything is included. If you fancy pizza after your lunch then go ahead. If you want to eat your lunch by the pool, no problem. We ate lunch at the restaurant on the first day and then decided that we didn’t want to leave the pool so got our butler to bring our order over to us for the next few days. Seriously, this place is just a dream!

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Cafe de Paris is a must!! and the cakes and cookies were some of the best out of France. The choux buns filled with vanilla cream and topped with white chocolate were our favourites. Along with the chocolate chip cookies and the ice cream. And it’s all unlimited. But don’t worry, Sandals is a fat free zone 😉 I promise! We definitely didn’t stop here twice a day.

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The beach was gorgeous, and we enjoyed lots of walks along the sand and a few lazy afternoons reading by the sea. But the majority of our time was spent by the the main pool, Ben would shade bathe in the cabana and I’d be in the sun just outside {there are three pools, this one, the quiet pool and the spa pool}.

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It’s the Caribbean’s largest zero entry pool and a mixture of traditional sun beds, the covered cabanas as well as some sofas and lilos for laying in the pool and a swim up pool bar to swim for a drink. And remember when I talked about being a sunbed snob in this post? Well SEB definitely passes the test with flying colours, wooden with comfy cream cushions!

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Again, all drinks are included and the bar tenders were fab {see the video!}. There are so many to try. As well as the classics like Pina Coladas or Sandals famous Dirty Bananas they’d also bring round a daily special for you to try.

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If you want complete relaxation then visit the quiet pool, which is also heated compared to the refreshingly chilly main pool. It’s so quiet that the bar here doesn’t make frozen drinks as the blenders would be too noisy! {but you could always call your butler to bring one over to you if you desired}.

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And talking about relaxation, one of our best afternoons was spent at the spa. We had a couples massage, which was just pure heaven. The spa itself was also one of the nicest I’ve visited in a long time and felt more like a luxury health club you’d find in America, with steam/sauna rooms inside, comfy relaxation areas as well as outdoor swimming pools to relax before or after your treatment. Guests can use the spa at anytime, so you don’t even have to book a treatment in. The gym was also v well equipped.

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In the evenings after the sunset and the sky turned pink above the palm trees, we’d get ready for dinner and then go and sit by a fire pit before dinner.

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There were seven amazing restaurants to choose from including Bahama Bay for Bahamian food with a European twist and Barefoot by the Sea for seafood with your feet in the sand. I think our favourites were Il Cielo, the Italian and La Parisienne the French restaurant. We had scallops, lobster, rack of lamb, fresh fish and some yummy desserts. It’s also worth booking a candle lit dinner for a special evening.

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I talked a lot about the wedding packages back in this post. This trip was more to experience the honeymoon side of things but there were three weddings whilst I was staying at Emerald Bay {I caught a sneak peek at one just as the Bride was about to walk up the aisle}. I’m still amazed by just how much choice and scope there is for a destination wedding with Sandals {whilst saving yourself a tonne of money compared to getting married in the UK}. You won’t find wedding packages like this on any other tropical island. In addition to the standard Sandals choices for weddings, they’ve now added in a bespoke package where literally anything you wish can be provided {for an extra fee}. So your Pinterest dreams can be a reality whether you want to get married at home or at a Sandals resort.

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Sandals have their own photographers, the fab Snapshots Team on hand to capture your wedding but also your honeymoon or holiday. Normally it’s hard to capture good photos of Ben and I on trips without a tripod or selfie stick that looks a bit silly so we took advantage of the photographers around the resort and their offer of a complimentary photo shoot. They’ll take lots of photos throughout your stay and then you can view them at the end of the week and decide if you like any. I was particularly pleased with these and we ended up buying a set.

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The week flew by and with heavy, heavy hearts it was time to say goodbye and think about heading home.

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It really was the most magical week. And as Sandals always say, it’s not goodbye, it’s ‘until next time’ and ‘soon come back’. They can be sure of that.

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It’s official. Sandals we love you.

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The Lowdown:

  • Best time to visit: Weather wise = December – May are the driest months but are also high season. Remember this post? Also don’t believe the weather forecasts for a tropical island, I checked before we left and it said a lot of cloud with a few days of rain. We had full sunshine the whole time!
  • What to pack: Lots of beachwear with cover ups for the day plus men will need long trousers and shoes for some of the evening restaurants. Take a wrap as some of the air-conditioning can be chilly inside.
  • All Inclusive: Sandals has consistently been voted as having the best all inclusive resorts in the world. There’s also a no tipping policy so you don’t need to worry about money during your stay. The only people to tip though are extras such as your butlers plus spa therapists/tour operators so take some dollars if you intend to use these services.
  • Bugs: Bug spray is provided in rooms, we used it but didn’t have any bites during our stay. No nasties here to worry about though luckily.
  • The resort: I was unsure if I’d find Sandals Resorts too big. However, the resort was almost full to capacity whilst we were there but we’d have never known and it never ever felt busy anywhere. We kept saying ‘Where is everyone if it’s full?!’ And we actually now think it will be hard going back to smaller resorts, it’s so nice having all that space and different areas of the resort to relax/explore as well as a wide range of restaurants etc.
  • The food: Incredible. Go hungry!! And eat some cookies for me.
  • The trips: Book one with Island Routes. You won’t regret it.
  • Wifi factor: Free wifi everywhere! Insta your honeymoon til your heart’s content.
  • Must dos: A trip to the Spa, sitting by a fire pit in the evening and ordering all the cocktails you can think of. Also visit the chocolate buffet and white night every Tuesday.
  • Golf: The course is named as one of the best in the Caribbean, walk the jogging trail around the course even if you don’t play as it’s so beautiful up there.
  • Dislikes: Personally I avoided the Drunken Duck Pub, maybe because we’re English and have enough of them back home? Also we didn’t do anything after dinner for evening entertainment, there was a lot on offer but it’s not our thing. That’s the greatest thing about Sandals though I feel, you can pick or choose as much or as little as you like to make it your own.
  • Two Centre? You could add some time at Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau easily when booking through Sandals or combine it with a trip to East Coast America – NYC maybe?
  • Also check out the Sandals Fans of Emerald Bay Facebook group. Some v good info on there and it’s a lot more real than TripAdvisor.

So last but not least, our first vlog. Be kind to us, I need a lot more practice with a video camera and it was super windy on the day I filmed. But Phoebe has worked her editing magic! I hope you enjoy. R <3 xx

You can find out so much more on the Sandals website here.

Sandals Resorts are currently offering savings of up to 45%. Seven nights staying in a Beach House Luxury Club Level Room at Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis & Spa Resort costs from £2,145 per person, saving £2,318 per couple. Price includes Luxury Included® (all-inclusive) accommodation, return flights with British Airways from London Gatwick, and resort transfers. Price quoted is subject to availability and based on travel departing on 19 September 2016.  To book or for more information call 0800 597 0002 or visit www.sandals.co.uk.

Stocking Island Trips/Moriah Sea Park Escape is available from Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours and costs from $124 per person. To book or for more information visit www.islandroutes.co.uk.

You can find out more about Sandals Weddingmoons here www.sandals.co.uk/weddingmoons but also on this previous blog post from Jamaica.

P.S. If you want a discount code for the gorgeous Hammamas turkish cotton towels then use SYGM20. PPS. Ultrasun suncream review available here and their website here. Our bathroom looked like an Ultrasun shop and I used the pre-tan optimiser for two weeks before our trip which was fab.

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{And lastly, I was a guest of Sandals but as always I would never ever promote anything I didn’t truly love. And I think you can see just how beautiful this place is, press trip or not!}

  • Olivia Slack

    Reading this at my work desk whilst its raining outside was probably a bad idea because now I REALLY want to go! I did consider Sandals for our honeymoon but we had our heart set on The Maldives. Maybe it’ll be booked for our first wedding anniversary, as it coincides with Rob’s 30th, and kind of near Christmas too… 😉 Loved it. Will watch the vlog when I’m home! x

    • Oh great idea, do both!! You’ll love The Maldives too though xxx

  • Sara Rose

    We are planning our honeymoon and this is fantastic!! So helpful and amazing. Just wow. Random sort of question – I’ve been reading tons of reviews about feral and wild cats on the property – did you find that an issue? Are they sad and in bad shape? Thank you!

    • Hi Sara, we saw one cat during our stay and it certainly didn’t seem sad or in a bad shape! It just ran from under the bushes. Did you read that on tripadvisor? I think there are a lot of fake reviews on there at the moment. Go on the facebook page in the link above, I feel it’s much more honest than tripadvisor right now xxx