HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT DO-NOTHING BEACH VACATION

HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT DO-NOTHING BEACH VACATION

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Once in awhile, we all need to take time out and do nothing.

I’m talking about a vacation where you celebrate the joy of idleness and revel in a love for loafing.  In Italy, this enjoyment of inactivity is called “La Dolce Far Niente”, or “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I love exploring and learning about new places.  But, in this fast-paced world where we’re constantly bombarded with pressure to do and see more before we die, sometimes you just need a break. 

Indeed, science shows that it’s important for your well being.  There’s also evidence that one of the best places to recharge is at the beach.

For many people, it’s not easy to “power down”. 

So, here are some tips based on my recent winter escape to the beach in Cuba, where (almost) nothing was on the agenda.

Keep it simple

The simplicity of the do-nothing vacation should also be applied to the planning stage.  That’s one of the reasons why an all-inclusive package is perfect for this kind of trip.  It makes the arrangements really easy and provides good value.

After reviewing the options and prices, I booked a package with Sunwing Vacations, a Canadian family-owned company that specializes in sun destinations.  After filling in an online form,  I was all set for flights, accommodation – – everything for a week on the beach at the Sanctuary at Grand Memories, Santa Maria in Cuba.

The Sunwing online bookings system sets up an account for you to access your travel documents, book your seats or add in any extras.  It also allowed me and my friend to each enter our credit card information on our booking.  That way, we didn’t have to settle up afterwards and we could both collect our respective credit card points.

No muss, no fuss – – booking done in no time.

Start relaxing right away

Let’s face it.  These days, the traveling part of a trip can be a hassle.  So, to help get the relaxation started right away, I took advantage of a couple of upgrades offered by Sunwing.  With ElitePlus, there is no lineup to check your luggage and you get a seat with extra leg room, a real bonus for long-legged types like me.

We also enjoyed a private car service to drive from the airport to the resort.  It takes about 90 minutes to get to the Santa Maria beach resort area and, by taking a private car, we avoided the extra time it takes for a bus to stop at each resort to drop off passengers.

We were surprised at what a difference these two things made.  We arrived feeling refreshed and, even though it was close to midnight, we couldn’t resist going out to take a peak at the beach under a starry, new moon sky.

Unplug

Unplugging is good for the mind, body and soul.   According to a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, staying constantly plugged in has been associated with stress, loss of sleep and depression.

If, like me, you find it almost impossible to disconnect, Cuba might be the destination for you.  Internet access, which is run by the government, is notoriously unreliable.  To access the wifi, you need an Internet card, which costs $1.50 per hour.  However, the wifi was often unavailable or dropped frequently.

This, as they say, is a “good problem to have”.  If the wifi had been working better, I would not have had the discipline to avoid it.  This way, I felt like I had the perfect excuse to be offline.

Similarly, I welcomed the reprieve from my “just can’t look away” fixation with American politics on TV.

Instead of TV, this was the must-see programming.

Take it easy

It can take some willpower to get down to the serious business of doing nothing.   But once you’ve had a swim in the ocean and a long walk on the beach, (and maybe a mojito), that salty, languid beach feeling comes over you and doing nothing becomes, well… effortless. 

Psychologists say that beach vacations help to calm our minds.  One study shows that looking at water, being around it or in it causes our brains to release happy chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.   Maybe that’s why I was so fascinated by watching the various shades of blue in the ocean change with the light of the day.

I must confess, we did break up the agenda of beach nothingness with a fascinating Sunwing tour to several intriguing towns in the region, which I will write about separately. 

The resort also offered activities such as volleyball at the pool or sailboat rides.  But as you can tell by now, the reason I take a vacation like this is to spend time on the beach and that was a real highlight.  The Sanctuary is a separate part of the large Grand Memories resort which was recently refurbished and reopened as an adults only section.  Although there were some rough edges, such as repairs that were still underway,  it was extraordinary to have a shady spot on the beach with an unobstructed view of the ocean.  The sand was powdery fine and the waves were just right.  A bar and a barbeque lunch cantina were nearby. 

It was everything I needed to fulfill my objective of achieving nothing.

That week, I slept better than I had in a long time.

Savour the moments

It’s also restorative to focus on the beauty and enjoyment of simple things.

One day, a staff member came by offering ice cream bars from a cooler.  It reminded me of the “ice cream man” that used to ride through the neighbourhood on a bike when I was a kid.  I wasn’t really craving anything, but the moment was too perfect.  I had to have a chocolate covered ice cream bar. 

As I watched the ocean and savoured the treat under the warmth of the sun, I laughed as the ice cream began to drip, making my hands all sticky.

Yup, this is happiness.

“How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.”   (-Spanish Proverb)

 

You may also like:

7 Signs Your Work Life Balance Needs Fixing

The Beautiful Blues of Varadero, Cuba

Should You Book a Havana Tour on the “I Know a Guy” System?

 

Sunwing Vacations provided complimentary upgrades on this trip, but my opinion are, as always, my own.

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