Sandals South Coast January 2018

We hadn't been to this resort in a while (September of 2014). Since it's one of our favorites, we were overdue for a return trip. The resort had changed a bit during our absence, but the changes were good and we had a wonderful time.

We took pictures using our DSLR cameras, our mirrorless Infrared cameras, our GoPro, and our phone cameras -- and then slapped them all together with this cool Adobe Spark content generator. Anyway, we hope you enjoy our images!

The weather was generally pretty good. We had some clouds off and on, and one evening of exciting thunder and lighting. But we certainly had our fair share of warm sunshine! The sailing was generally good because of the wind, but the snorkeling and water skiing were not as good. Oh well. When mother nature gives you wind, there is nothing else to do but go sailing!

The resort photographers sometimes take pictures of guests along the beach, or as they are getting off a sailboat or kayak. The way this works is that guests can review all of the pictures taken of them and only buy the ones they like. For us, this was one of the keepers. We had just finished sailing.

On one particular cloudy and windy day the frigate birds and terns were going crazy over some near-shore fish, so we grabbed our cameras!

Here are some pictures that Hali took during that day. The first two pictures are of a male Frigatebird, there were three of them that were so close to shore that the middle picture was taken with a very short telephoto lens (105mm) and is full frame.
Mike also took a couple of shots that afternoon. The terns had a remarkable hit rate. The image on the left shows a Common Tern as it's just emerging from it's successful dive into the water. The image on the right shows a Magnificent Frigatebird in profile.

Sunset is the most interesting time of the day on the resort, photographically speaking.

Not all sunsets were as nice as this one, we had some beautiful clouds and color early on. The upper left photo (Hali's) shows the over-the-water rooms. The bottom left photo was taken on one of the breakwater platforms. We thought we might have a good sunset this night, but the cloud bank moved right in front of the sun just before it set. The photo on the right (Mike's) shows one of the fire pits and couches on the breakwater walkway leading out to Latitudes bar.

They story goes that customers were asked how they felt about the proposed breakwaters, and the customers suggested the dual-use ideas. Sandals agreed. The new bar (Latitudes) is one of the better bars at the resort, and its location is unparalleled.

Early morning was another great time for photography.

Hali had a new infrared converted camera she walked around with. These were all taken by her before breakfast. Clockwise from top left - the wedding chapel and in-water gazebo/palapa; statuary in front of the main pool bar and the main building; palm trees are just awesome in infrared; palapas and chairs under some sea grape trees.

One change we saw on the resort was the increased presence of cats.

This cute kitten sat still long enough for Hali to get one shot. The presence of the cats is unfortunate because they not only eat rodents but they are decimating the local frog, lizard and bird population as well.

We recently purchased a Go Pro (Hero5) and this was it's maiden voyage.

The new Go Pro let us get some on-the-water and in-the-water shots. Because it's not a vacation for us unless we have at least 4 cameras. ☺ Some kayaks near the watersports area are shown in the left most image. Center is Mike on one of the new SUPs (not nearly as good as the original SUPs from our previous trips). Right most is again Mike, this time sitting on the swim up deck after a short swim.

This was Mike's first time using the Infrared body handed down from Hali.

Mike's first attempts at IR. The image on the left is near the spa and the image on the right is from the beach looking back at the Dutch building.

More of Hali's IR shots around the resort...

It was a cloudy day and there wasn't enough wind to go sailing, so we did a lot of walking. Clockwise from top left - the concierge offices, it was nice and air-conditioned in there and they always had cookies in the afternoon; Statue in the small pool at the Italian village, the quietest of all of the room blocks; One of the hospitality/wait staff getting ready for a romantic dinner on one of the breakwater platforms - it is nice that they offer this, it's a little more secluded than just eating on the beach and it has the added bonus of not having your ankles eaten by sand fleas at night. "Kiss me under the Sea Grape Tree" just down the path from this palm tree is a large sea grape that is being propped up by a post making an arch over the walkway. Of course we had to follow directions as we walked under it. ;-)

Most photogenic

The two most photogenic parts of the resort were this in-water Palapa and the Wedding Chapel -- especially on those cloudy days.
Mike took this image of one of the large palm trees outside of the room, the patterns and colors and textures drew us to them, especially at night. This was a long exposure (high ISO) shot taken at 10pm, there was no wind and it had rained a bit earlier in the evening giving the leaves a nice shine. The light came from the lights in the walkways around the rooms, these palms were right next to the buildings so it was easy to take pictures of the middle of the trees. The next morning saw more cloudy skies and another shot of the Palapa by Mike. That was a long exposure aided by a neutral density filter.
Two more infrared shots. A long exposure of that Palapa by Hali (Hope you aren't getting tired of seeing that Palapa, there's more to come) and one by Mike of the palm tree (this time in IR, and rendered with some special filters in post processing).


The skies may have been cloudy and had a few drops of liquid sunshine but along with that came some good wind that got us out on the Hobies for some fun on the water. The Go Pro was great to have on the sailboat!
Mike took this early morning shot of the main pool area with his cell phone (and tweaked it a bit on the computer afterwards).

We love sunset pictures!

The over-the-water bar Latitudes was a great meeting place and while all the bars were good, there were a few that stood out Latitudes and the bar by Neptune's restaurant had a wider selection than the other bars and it seemed the bartenders were more consistent. The location for Latitude couldn't be beat either. Mike's shot on the left and Hali's on the right show the bar from different sides on one of those nice nights where there wasn't much of a sunset but there was great color in the sky if you just waited around. Mike's picture in the middle shows the walkway leading up to the bar with the tree trunks all lit up. We are guessing they just leave the decorations on the trees all year 'round.

Our best sunset?

Another no-show of the sun at sunset but Mike always makes the best of it. Sandals owns the land past the over-the-water rooms and has put in several of the breakwaters there which are just empty platforms now. We heard that they will be building something on this land in the future but for now we were the only people who ventured down there to take pictures at sunset.

Another beautiful morning

Hali got up early again to shoot the sunrise with her DSLR. After an early swim and breakfast we walked around and Mike got this shot of the walkway up to the wedding chapel (phone camera processed on the computer).
Some go pro shots out on the sailboat left and center. On the right is another keeper from the resort photographers. We were coming in from our sail on a breezy, sunny day. All sorts of tourists are hanging around the water sports beach area looking for things to do, and most are oblivious to their surroundings and any possible hazards -- like sailboats heading towards them with a strong tailwind. It makes things exciting for all concerned. The photogs don't warn anyone of the impending crisis, but they photograph the outcome. Hence the laughter on our faces as we steer towards (and through) the crowds. Always a good time!

More fun with Infrared...

An after lunch stroll around the main piazza with dueling infrared cameras. Clockwise from upper left. Hali's take on the statue near the gift shop, which was the closest we ever got to shopping. Mike's side view of the main pool and the swim up bar. Hali's image of the statue in front of the main building. Another great shot by Mike of the main pool and the hot tub with the clouds reflecting in it.
After some more sailing, swimming and walking along the beach it was time to think about dinner and some pre-dinner sunset shots. There were no clouds blocking the sunset this evening, but there were NO clouds -- and that is not optimal either. Once again, we took some pictures anyway. Mike is still not sure why he was wearing a long sleeve shirt that night, but it was WAY to warm!
Mike was snug in bed (again) when Hali got up to venture out for some late night, early morning photography. The sky was clear but the Milky Way wasn't visible from where we were because of the mostly full moon. The shot on the left was in the late evening the middle is an infrared image at 5AM when the moon was setting and the pre-dawn light was lighting up the horizon. The picture on the right was closer to 6AM as the early light was beginning to chase the stars from the sky.
Another day, more sailing and pictures from the resort photographers (Left and top). Bottom right is another sunset shot by Mike, this time on the resort itself. They have redone much of the resort, often for the better but this one area used to be "the" place to take sunset pictures, the way the tree hung over the platform was perfect, but they expanded the whole area and the balance just isn't the same.


Here are two phone camera pictures from our last night. On the left is Hali waiting for dinner at the "Neptune's" restaurant on the beach. On the right is the area outside of Latitude's bar, taken during our after dinner walk.
Two more night time infrared shots of Hali's, last pictures of that palapa we promise! Where was Mike? SLEEPING!

The sad (last) morning...

And finally two more phone camera pictures that Mike snapped. On the left is a picture of the sunrise near our room on our last morning. On the right is a picture of the resort Hobies.

Review: 9.3

We review the key aspects of the resort on a scale from one to ten -- one being horrendously bad, and ten being perfection.

Rooms: 9.2

Because the resort was not very crowded, they gave us upgrade to a concierge room on the 3rd floor of the Italian building. The rooms were renovated recently, and were very nice..

Reception / Front Desk: 9.5

We didn't interface with the reception desk much. We were whisked over to the concierge lounge for immediate check-in. Our luggage came up pretty quickly after that.

Water Sports: 8.5

The water sports staff were more pleasant than during our previous visit. The equipment was in decent condition, considering the super hard use it all gets. Mike only went water skiing once because the water was usually too choppy by the time the ski boat comes out. The windsurfers looked pretty new, but not the sails or booms. Sail size is very limited. Mike took a windsurfer out once and had a good time with it. The SUPs are those plastic floating tank things, but they're still fun enough. We did do any snorkeling because the water was never really clear enough (due to the weather).

Restaurants: 9.3

It seems like every time we go back there is a different favorite restaurant. Maybe it's staff changes, or maybe our tastes keep changing. This time, the favorite was Neptunes. Fabulous food and excellent staff. We were saddened by the changes at Cafe de Paris, but maybe I didn't need all of those desserts anyway!

Bars: 9.5

We don't drink that much these days, but we still interface with the bars and bar staff when getting non-alcoholic drinks during the day. The drinks were usually well made and the staff was good. Our two favorite bars: the bar by Neptunes and the new Latitudes bar.

Beach / Pool / Grounds: 9.0 / 8.8 / 8.8

Once again, we chose lounge chairs by the pool instead of on the beach. Not that we really spent much time in the chairs. The beach looks very different now with all of the breakwater jetties, but it's still kept clean and it's a great place for long walks. The weather was windy, and that seemed to have the water turned up. We never even brought out the snorkels. The pool temperatures were good, but the hot tub temperatures were way too hot (unusable). We swam early morning laps at the main pool a few times and that worked out fine. There were always towels available when we needed them. The grounds are always nice here, but the numerous cats actually take away from the grounds a bit. There are some new walkways along the beach, which were a nice improvement.

Overall Service: 9.5

The service was generally very good. As always, it seems a little better at some locations.

Overall: 9.3

This is not the numerical average, but instead just our impression of what the overall score should be. They seem to be doing a good job maintaining the facility and staff (generally).

Created By
James and Hali Sowle


James and Hali Sowle

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