Just got back from a week stay at RWI! I looked into other places (closer to Bight Reef) but I am happy I went with RWI. The beaches in the area around RWI are much wider than closer to the reef area. The Coral Gardens (where Bight Reef is located) has an abandoned hotel next to it and it's such an eyesore! Plus this area is pretty crowded because of the public access beach.
I agree with the other reviewers - pros: quiet, small (not like those massive hotels), clean (no issues with our room - ok, we did have one cockroach in our room but it was half dead and we didn't see any other bugs - another reason to be off the ground floor), beautiful gardens, wonderful view from our room (#535) - 1 bedroom suite with a garden/pool view but had a view of the ocean from our table on the balcony. Would definitely recommend a 3rd floor room for the best view if you are not traveling with small kids. The 2nd floor is nice for those rainy times (ask for one with a ceiling fan). The room was very spacious for us. The bed was oh so comfortable! Wish the windows in the bedroom had blackout blinds. Woke up to the sun peaking thru the wooden blinds too early. Next time I'll bring an eye mask:)
Loved having a Hobie Cat (small sailboat) to use - they only had one working (the other two were in repair). Wished they had paddleboards! I rented one over at Grace Bay Club (two hotels west of RWI (very close) and they were nice to let me use it (I paid them $40 for 2.5 hrs). The guys working at RWI said they could get me a paddleboard (they had a brochure from a local place) but their rates were expensive ($100 for a 1/2 day). I paddled from GBC over to our place and paddled back to return it. Super easy!
Loved the free DVD rentals at the front office - would be better if they had more selections but got to see a few movies I've never heard of before. My kids loved it!
Cons-pools were a bit cold and there is only one that's ok for kids to splash around in (the other two are in the quiet zone). However, the pools are not the main attraction when staying on Grace Bay Beach so really, it wasn't a big deal. Don't bother snorkeling around here - nothing to see. If you want water slides and such, then go to Beaches. Agree with BeachFan711 that the front desk and staff in general could be a bit more welcoming and willing to extend themselves. I think you just have to expect that and make sure to ask instead of waiting for them to offer their assistance.
Not much for the kids to do besides the beach and the pool (which should be enough, right?) The pool isn't very exciting for bigger kids. Would be great if they had a few games - ping pong table, shuffle board.
As for general info about what to do in Provo, I would highly recommend renting a car for at least one day or two. It's cheaper than taking taxis (we paid $56/day for a Toyota Corolla - yes they are old cars with over 100,000 miles but work fine). We rented from Grace Bay Rentals and even if they say they don't have a car available, keep inquiring (they will drop off and pick up the car from the hotel and their office is a 8-10 min walk from the hotel). They have cars that are being turned in all the time. The island is very small and easy to get around (the dirt roads can be a little bumpy but it's worth the trek to explore the other beaches and sites). If you're worried about driving on the left side, the max speed limit is 40 mph and seriously, half of the people driving are tourists so no worries. They have turnabouts - just remember to yield to the right.
Check out the Hole - a huge hole in the earth with seawater below. I guess some crazy people have jumped in. There used to be a rope hanging down from a tree but that's gone. If you walk about 10 feet on a little side trail from the rim, you'll see a little cave that takes you a few feet below the hole. Be careful because it's sandy and could be a little slippery. We went in and saw a few bats and a different view of the Hole! Pretty cool!
Long Beach is very nice - you'll see the beach and waters littered with conch shells. The water is very shallow here and it's a remote location. Sapodilla Beach & Taylor Beach are beautiful! Taylor Beach is a little tricky to find. There are no signs but there are usually construction workers around and you can ask them. These beaches are great because if it's windy on the east side, the waters here will be calm:) We didn't get to really see Chalk Sound very well. We wanted to eat at Las Brisas but it was closed on the day we were there (Tuesdays).
The next day we rented a car to snorkel over at Bight Reef at Coral Gardens and over at Smith Reef. Worth the stop. You could probably get snorkel equipment from RWI and take it down to snorkel here (we brought our own snorkel gear) but they also have equipment to rent at Coral Gardens. There's a shower, bathroom and places to eat here too. However, at Smith Reef, there is nothing there except nice homes. Bight Reef - lots of fish to see right off the beach (really, like 10 yds off the beach!) Great for little kids (I have 2 boys - 12 & 10.) We also snorkeled at Smith Reef but there are rocks on the beach and going in is a little tricky. Had to try to avoid stepping on shells on the rocks and sea urchins. Would recommend wearing water shoes if you have them. I went down in a few inches a water to avoid having to walk into the water. I would not recommend this for smaller kids unless it's pretty calm. It was a little windy that day (and it was late in the day) but my husband and I snorkeled while my boys stayed on the beach/rocks. My husband saw an Eagle Ray and some other people there saw turtles. Not many people here so that's a plus (there was only one other person snorkeling). Yes, the coral looks a bit damaged both here and at Bight Reef but there are still lots of pretty things to see.
RWI is about a little over a mile from the grocery store and the shopping area. I walked to the grocery store (Graceway Gourmet IGA - it's huge & they have everything! FYI, they don't sell alcohol on Sundays) and took a cab back ($10). You can always use the bikes they have to ride back to the store if you needed a few items. Expect to pay at least twice as much as home. I brought a suitcase of food - mac n cheese, microwave popcorn, granola bars, ramen noodles, Crystal Light powder packets, salt/pepper shaker, cooking oil, cereals, etc. Expect nothing in the kitchen besides dish soap, coffee & sugar packets. We ate breakfast and lunch in our room and ate out for dinner every night. Explore the many restaurants around. We loved walking to and from the many restaurants near RWI. All were so good (Cabana Bar and Grill and Mango Reef had the quickest service and excellent food!). Pelican Bay restaurant at RWI was very slow and we ate there for dinner just once.
Lastly, if you are taking a taxi to and from the airport, it's kinda vague as too how much to expect to pay. It's not like you are in a position to bargain on the spot. But to give you an idea, we paid $46+ $4 tip each way for a family of 4 with our luggage. There was a guy traveling alone and he paid $25+tip.
We also did a late check out (2pm) for a charge of $55 - it was totally worth it! We got to spend another lovely day at the beach, had lunch in our room, showered up and left for the airport.
Sorry for the long review - I really rely on people's comments when making trip plans so I wanted to do the same.
All in all, it was a wonderful week in Provo. We will definitely be back someday!
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