Have you been wondering about reef safe sunscreen?
What is it and why should you should you use it?
You may have read that Hawaii and Key West are implementing bans on the sale of certain sunscreen ingredients in order to protect their reefs. Many scientists now believe that oxybenzone and octinoxate are killing the world's coral reefs. I've rounded up a few articles below with great information and lists of various products that do not contain these two ingredients, or the nano particles that are also harmful. And guess what? The ingredients that are not good for the health of our oceans can impact our health as well.
Over the summer I went on a week long cruise around the Greek Islands on the Silver Whisper. One stop that I just loved was Paros, Greece. Paros is a fairly popular island for tourists and religious pilgrims. There is regular ferry service from Athens and neighboring islands, as well as a small airport, making Paros quite accessible. I wandered around the town of Parikia for a bit before visiting a famous church and the beach. The town is full of brightly colored flowers set against white washed houses and stone alleys.
After a short flight from Chiang Mai, we arrived at Koh Samui's small and charming airport. We found our driver from the Four Seasons without any trouble and set off for the resort. There is a wide range of hotels available on Koh Samui, but we chose the Four Seasons based on the location away from busy towns and beaches. We didn't want to be near the party beaches! Each room having its own pool was another factor in our choice.
The hotel grounds were absolutely beautiful. The entrance to the resort was at the top of the hill, with the grounds spreading down the hill towards the beach. Buggies were easy to call and arrived promptly. I walked a few places for a little exercise, but rarely! The rooms were scattered along several winding pathways.
Each room had a gate, which created a very private feel in the pool and patio area. The patios were covered and had plenty of shade, not to mention gorgeous views.
We spent each day at the beach, where the main pool and a restaurant were also found. We ordered lunch on the beach, and they brought it right to our seats. No need to get up from under the umbrella and brush off your sand! The beach is a fairly small area, with rocky areas to each side. This keeps other beach goers out, but it also means you can't walk too far. The water was very, very low the days we were there. Apparently, this happens often in the summer. There was a swimming platform floating out in the water that I went out to on a paddleboard, but mostly we just waded around the sea and saved our swimming for the large pool that was right on the beach. There were interesting birds to watch and a few boats out in the sea. It was also interesting to watch some local people fishing out in the shallows and seeing their catch as they walked by. There were some games available at the beach as well if you got tired of relaxing and reading. (I did not!) In the usual Four Seasons way, they had thought of anything you might need-sunscreen was available at the beach, ice water was constantly refilled, and someone came around with small complimentary snacks from time to time. My favorite was the fresh corn on the cob, hot from a small grill the server actually carried around.
We came to Koh Samui after some pretty strenuous sightseeing in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, so I have to admit we actually did not leave the resort to explore the island. If we had stayed one more day, I would have booked a tour of the island and a boat ride to the nearby marine park. We relaxed on the beach and spent quite a bit of time on our own patio swimming in our pool. My mother got a massage and reported that the spa was excellent. The treatment rooms were down a tranquil, forested path and very private. We ate our meals at the resort, and the food was very good. I think the breakfast may be the best hotel breakfast I have ever had. They put out a beautiful display of fresh pastries, tons of fruit, homemade yogurt in different flavors each morning, and eggs and other hot items cooked to order. The tables were all situated with plenty of shade and a view from each seat.
The highlight of the Four Seasons Koh Samui was definitely the warm welcome we received from the staff and the level of service was amazing. When we were chatting with the waitress and hostess at breakfast about the various tropical fruits that were new to us, we asked what durian tasted like. You hear about it all the time and is widely eaten in Thailand, but we hadn't seen any served. They had the chef pick up a durian on his next market run so we could try it! The caretaking continued even after we checked out. While we were waiting for the car, we got an email that said our flight to Bangkok was canceled. The men at the front desk kindly called Bangkok Airways and arranged for us to be switched to the next flight. He even had the boarding passes emailed to the hotel so he could print them for us before we left. It was extremely helpful to have him sort it out on the phone in Thai, rather than us trying the website. Meanwhile, we sat on chairs looking out over the sea sipping on the mango juice that magically appeared on a tray...What could have been a disaster turned out to be a lovely ending our stay.
My mother and I went to Nassau, Bahamas for a long weekend earlier in June. My mother had wanted to return to Cable Beach for a while. She spent vacations there when she was a child, and took me back several times when I was little (photos below circa 1978.) So, when Southwest started offering direct flights from BWI, we planned a trip. The flight was quick, and we were on the beach by 2:30 pm.
There are some condo and timeshare accommodations directly on Cable Beach, but we weren't interested in those. We chose the Melia Nassau Beach all inclusive. There is also a Sandals on Cable Beach, but Sandals is not really our style...so Melia it was!
The beach was the reason for whole trip. It is a wide sandy beach with beautiful, clear water. It is a great beach for long walks, swimming, and just floating around in the water. At the Melia, kayaks, snorkeling gear, aqua bikes, and stand up paddle boards are available for no charge. I love to paddle board and the calm water was perfect for paddling. If you have never tried, this would be an ideal chance to try it!
The Melia is a large hotel, with 3 pools and a big section of beach. It was not quite full the weekend we were there, so there were plenty of beach and pool chairs. It might feel crowded at peak times. The other hotel guests were a mix of families with young children, families with teens, young couples, and several groups of women having a girls weekend. It did seem like they could accommodate every group pretty well. The pool at the center of the resort had a swim up bar, music, games, and activities all day long. But if you wanted a quieter day, the two other pools and the outer areas of the beach were away from the craziness. The food at the main restaurant was typical resort food (it reminded me of cruise ship buffets), but the dinners at the Cilantro and Nikkei restaurants were very good. You do need to reserve these ahead. Based on TripAdvisor reviews, we booked a "Level" room, and it was worth the extra cost. We took advantage of The Level amenities a few times-the quick check in was great, restaurant reservation help was wonderful, but the separate beach area was probably the best perk. Beach waiters would bring bar drinks, sodas, and water to your seat on the beach. More shade was also available in that cordoned off beach area-I'm a shade lover!
The huge Bahamar complex is being built next door, but construction is halted while financing is being reworked. Their beach is empty, and not regularly swept, so it was a great place to find shells. You can walk or run a long way down this part of the beach.
A few notes about Nassau
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