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Sandals Best Swim Up Bars & How It All Started

Food & Drink
June 25th 2019
Sandals Best Swim Up Bars & How It All Started

The swim up bar can entice just about anyone to slip into a swimsuit, and hop in. It doesn't even matter whether you like alcoholic cocktails or not. The fun of being able to sip on something cold and fruity, or smooth and delicious, while relaxing in the comfort of a swimming pool, is all you need.

As the name suggests, the swim up bar is a version of the traditional bar, located directly in the swimming pool. Since you don't have to leave the pool to indulge in your favorite drink or cocktail, swim-up bars cut out the walking or seeking aspects that usually come with a crowded bar setting. Typically, swim up bars feature submerged barstools, and relatively shallow waters. Though they're called swim up bars, the area around the bar itself is usually shallow enough that you can stand or sit if you wish. Most people are intrigued by the fact that at swim up bars, you barely need to lift a finger to order your drink. It is an ideal situation for the vacationer who is absolutely serious about getting some relaxation in.

The roots of the swim up bar

The swim up bar has roots in Las Vegas, and its beginnings had much to do with incorporating gambling into regular vacations, particularly post 1950s, when swimming pools rocketed into popularity at hotels around the world. In 1952, The Sands was on a mission to monetize guests who preferred to spend their day in the pool, instead of in the casino. They created a world where people could partake in their favorite casino games while hanging in the pool, introducing poolside Blackjack tables, Craps, and even slot machines. To keep up, the Tropicana started introducing floating gambling tables, accompanied by a tiki bar.

sandals regency la toc swim up bar

Picture: Modern day swim up bar in Sandals Regency La Toc in Saint Lucia, including underwater barstools.

Sandals resorts has pioneered the transformation and popularization of the swim up bar concept since that first floating tiki bar, introducing modern day swim up bars to nearly all their resorts in the Caribbean.

Unlike in Las Vegas, these swim up bars aren't used to monetize guests who prefer to spend their daytime in the pool. After all, unlimited cocktails, premium liquors and other alcoholic beverages are included in your stay at Sandals!

Opening the first swim up bar in the Caribbean

Sandals Montego Bay was the first resort to popularize the swim up bar - introducing this amenity in the Caribbean at its opening in 1981.

Architect Evan Williams proposed to have serving windows carved out of the round building next to the pool, creating a bar at which guests could order their favorite drinks directly from the swimming pool. Sandals Chairman Gordon "Butch" Stewart jumped on the idea and decided to make it happen.

sandals montego bay swim up bar

Picture: Carved out serving windows at Sandals Montego Bay made this one of the first swim up bars in the world.

In 1984, during the renovation of Sandals Montego Bay, the swim up bar was increased in size due to its popularity. Today, almost all 16 Sandals all-inclusive resorts boast different versions of the swim up bar, which are all intricately built to match the ambiance of the individual resorts. Expectedly, this has added to the appeal of the all-inclusive resort chain, which has already gained significant momentum in the Caribbean over the years.

Swim up bars today have become popular in all-inclusive circles, particularly for cruise ships and resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, and Sandals is still a front-runner.

Also read: What does all-inclusive mean? Includes a list of inclusions!

Today's collection of swim up bars at Sandals

Can't wait to give the swim up bar a try? Chose your favorite!

Sandals South Coast

sandals south coast swim up bar

Location: Whitehouse, Jamaica.

At Sandals South Coast in White House, Jamaica, you'll find seven bars, inclusive of bars of the swim up variety. You'll be able to sip on your favorite drink without having to think too much about separating pool time, from bar time. Be sure to take in the sunset views at this location!

Sandals Regency La Toc

sandals regency la toc swim up bar

Location: Castries, Saint Lucia.

It's always a party at Sandals Regency La Toc's swim up bar, where you can find a great view of the turquoise waters of La Toc Beach. In this swim up, you'll be close enough to the entertainment, that you might be tempted to hop on to the nearby entertainment stage for a quick Soca lesson.

Sandals Emerald Bay

sandals emerald bay swim up bar

Location: Exuma, the Bahamas.

You can live an exotic and opulent lifestyle at Sandals Emerald Bay, which features three freshwater swimming pools, one of which is a half-acre, zero-entry pool with an unexpected and completely unique fire pit in the middle, a sunset tower, and a swim up bar.

Sandals Grande Antigua

sandals grande antigua swim up bar

Location: Saint John's, Antigua.

The swim up bar at Sandals Grande Antigua is one of the best in the Caribbean. It is quite a spectacle. Not sure what cocktail to order? Ask about the Hummingbird, the Dirty Banana, or try an energizing Caribbean Coffee and Rum cocktail!

Sandals Grande Saint Lucian

sandals grande st lucian swim up bar

Location: Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia.

This sleek swim up bar located at Sandals Grande Saint Lucian is every vacationer's dream. The high rise swim up bar can be spotted from most locations on property. It will literally be impossible to go your entire vacation, without trying it out at least once.

Sandals Royal Barbados

sandals royal barbados swim up bar

Location: Saint Lawrence Gap, Barbados.

Some guests describe the swim up bar at Sandals Royal Barbados as 'simply heavenly'. The views from this bar will undoubtedly help make your vacation in paradise that much more memorable and perfect. Not to mention that you'll probably be here so much that the bartenders will remember you by name.

Sandals Montego Bay

sandals montego bay swim up bar

Location: Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Sandals Montego Bay was one of the first properties in the world to be fitted with a swim up bar, and the standard has continued to be raised ever since. The swim up bar at this resort is gold standard, and you'll be glad you came.

Sandals Royal Caribbean

sandals royal caribbean swim up bar

Location: Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Options are endless at Sandals Royal Caribbean, but the swim up bar is one of the must-do activities while at this location in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Guests love the swim up bars at this location, as they are relatively secluded, with a jacuzzi nearby!

Sandals Ochi

sandals ochi swim up bar

Location: Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

At Sandals Ochi in Jamaica you'll find 16 restaurants and 11 bars, inclusive of swim up bars. All the bars at this Sandals location offer unlimited premium Liquors, which you'll have more time to savor since you don't have to move a muscle to go order your drinks. While in Ocho Rios in Jamaica, you may also want to check out Beaches Ocho Rios and Sandals Royal Plantation.

Sandals Royal Bahamian

sandals royal bahamian swim up bar

Location: Nassau, the Bahamas.

Sandals Royal Bahamian has two sky-sized colonnaded pools waiting to be discovered, both with lounge seating and swim up bars. With powdery white and pink sand and clear waters on most beaches in the Bahamas, your dreams of a luxury lifestyle will surely come to life here.

Sandals Halcyon Beach

sandals halcyon swim up bar

Location: Castries, Saint Lucia.

Measuring 600 feet, Sandals Halcyon Beach has the longest pool in the entire Caribbean. The pool leads to various rooms, and to what will probably be the best swim up bar experience you've ever had in your life. May this beautiful destination be in your future travel plans!

Sandals Negril

sandals negril swim up bar

Location: Negril, Saint Lucia.

Sandals Negril is one of the most popular resorts in Jamaica. You won't be disappointed as you explore the resort located on one of the most idyllic parts of Seven Mile Beach. Its five bars include swim up bars, which are fully stocked, and ready to cater to your day of complete relaxation.

Sandals Barbados

sandals barbados swim up bar

Location: Saint Lawrence Gap, Barbados.

Sandals Barbados features innovative pool and bar designs, and one of the areas where this is most seen is in the layout of its luxurious swim up pool bars. The zero-entry pool here is the largest and longest lagoon pool in Barbados, and within the pool you'll find the most perfect swim up bar.

Sandals Grenada

sandals grenada swim up bar

Location: Saint George's, Grenada.

If pools in the sky, private plunge pools, cascading waterfalls and meandering river pools aren't enough, you can add swim up pool bars to the list of attractions that keep guests at Sandals Grenada coming back for more. Sandals Grenada delivers this concept expertly, and you'll be blown away by the tropical feel of the resort's swim up bar.


Celebrating 35 years as the creators of the modern swim-up bar creators in the Caribbean, Sandals this month announced a swim up bar sweepstakes offering amazing prizes. The promotion began on the first day of Summer (June 21, 2019), and will see the resort giving away one vacation every Friday.

sandals south coast swim up bar

Picture: Sandals South Coast in Jamaica.

To enter the sweepstakes all you need to do is visit the Sandals swim up bar sweepstake page before September 20, 2019 to enter. You'll need to complete the registration form by providing all the details requested.

Up for grabs are 13 Grand Prizes. Winners will receive a 6-Days/5-night stay in a Club-level or higher category Swim Up Suite at any of the following Sandals Resorts: Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Grenada, Sandals Royal Caribbean, Sandals Halcyon, Sandals Royal Barbados, Sandals Barbados, Sandals Grande Saint Lucian, Sandals Negril or Sandals Royal Bahamian.

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