Can your family vacation change the world?


Thank you to and TODAY Parenting Team for publishing my story: “Can your family vacation change the world?

Where can you travel that not only allows you to have a top quality family vacation but that also changes the world one step at a time?

One diver at a time

I fell in love with scuba diving the very first time I went underwater in Monterey Bay, California thirty years ago. At that time, I learned about the giant kelp forest and its creatures. While it can grow rapidly per day, kelp exists in a narrow band of pH and temperature. I was taught by my dive instructor about how fragile our ocean is and how we need to take care of it.

Diving at Beaches Turks and Caicos with Felipe, Danny, Captain Lancelot, Lisa and Jacques

PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) certifies one million new divers a year. PADI and Project AWARE teach divers and their families about the issues for our oceans. Beaches Resorts and Sandals Resorts were honored with the PADI Award of Outstanding Achievement for achieving more than 100,000 PADI certifications across both brands since Sandals Resorts International’s (SRI) membership with PADI began in 1997. “Issuing over 100,000 PADI certifications is a monumental accomplishment,” said Erica Wedepohl, PADI Worldwide, Territory Director for Caribbean & Latin America. “In fact, Sandals and Beaches Resorts are among the few elite resorts worldwide to accomplish this tremendous achievement.”

Erica Wedepohl, PADI Worldwide, Territory Director for Caribbean & Latin America underwater at Beaches Turks and Caicos
Erica Wedepohl, PADI Worldwide, Territory Director for Caribbean & Latin America underwater at Beaches Turks and Caicos

If you and your family are already trained to dive, your daily dives are included at Beaches Resorts. Become one of PADI’s one billion torchbearers who actively work towards a better balance between humanity and the ocean. 

It would mean that one in 7 people are focused on taking care of and protecting our ocean in this UN Decade of Action for the Sustainable Developmental Goals 2030. I have loved diving for thirty years and I hope to be able to continue to see creatures like humpback whales, dolphins, sharks, rays and turtles on dives like I did in Turks and Caicos. Our daily dives were truly awesome. We all need to do our part to take care of the water and the creatures. 

You can try out scuba diving at any time as a DSD (Discover Scuba Diver). Come see the magic of the world underwater!

Remember no matter your skill level – whether it’s your first time or you’re a certified diver – you will have a comfortable and rewarding experience. And I have to say it again— daily scuba diving for certified divers is included. 

One family at a time.

Does your family LOVE Sesame Street? Your child can spend their days at Camp Sesame and even have a meal with their favorite Sesame Street character. There is a Sesame Street Parade on Wednesday nights, a live show on the beach on Friday nights and your child can bake with Cookie Monster or play soccer with Rosita.  I loved having my photo with Elmo.

Families who are traveling with someone on the Autism spectrum can feel comfortable at Beaches Resorts as the staff have received the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) training through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) including all the dive team members. Beaches Resorts wants everyone to feel safe and included at all of their resorts and activities. Your child can have a ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ which is personalized, private childcare with a buddy who is certified by IBCCES. Beaches Resorts’ friendly cast of Sesame Street characters now includes Julia, a new character who has autism. Children can meet Julia in her quiet corner for an art activity. Every member of the family can truly relax and enjoy.

One person at a time

At Beaches Turks and Caicos, I was able to see one of the newest Sandals Foundation projects which is a partnership with the Real Madrid Foundation – the social arm of the Real Madrid Academy – to host five days of comprehensive soccer clinics for guests and local students.  Top coaches from Spain were brought to both Jamaica and Turks and Caicos for workshops for students aged 9 to 12, there was also a separate day just for training the local coaches.

Real Madrid Foundation Clinics at Beaches Turks and Caicos. Photo courtesy of Sandals Foundation

There are over 100 Sandals Foundation projects around the Caribbean chosen and supported by the local staff and villages. In the last ten years Sandals Foundation has assisted more than one million people in the Caribbean.

I was fortunate to have Sandals Resorts International’s Group Watersports Director for all 18 resorts, Michael Clarke, as my dive buddy on a recent adventure in Turks and Caicos. He was Jamaica’s first PADI Course Director under SRI, and was recognized for earning PADI Gold Course Director status. This level signifies the following accomplishments as a PADI Course Director: 50+ Pro-Level Certifications; 20+ Dive Master (DM), Advanced Instructor (AI), Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI), or Instructor Development Course Staff Instructor (IDCS); and 60% or more Continuing Education (CE) ratio.

Lisa Niver and Michael Clarke, Sandals Resorts Group Watersports Director
Lisa Niver and Michael Clarke, Sandals Resorts International’s Group Watersports Director

He has changed the trajectory of hundreds of young people through his commitment to training. Every year he offers an IDC (instructor development course) in both Jamaica and St. Lucia and trains young people to be scuba instructors. In some companies, there is no room for advancement but at Sandals and Beaches Resorts, they want you to have your best vacation and their employees to live their best lives. When Clarke teaches a young person to find their passion that changes their life with a new career as well as the lives of their entire family and community. 

One Environment at a Time

I love that Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, all 18 resorts, are luxury all-inclusive but you never need to eat at a buffet. There are up to 21 different restaurants at every resort. Eat and drink at all the locations as they have different specialities like the Jamaican Jerk Shack, Bombay Indian, Tokyo Jo’s and Kimonos! 90 percent of all your food offerings are being locally sourced including vine ripe fresh produce and the highest quality meats. 

You can dine somewhere delicious and your children can join you or eat burgers, mac’n cheese and ice cream at Bobby Dee’s. The water park is included. The drinks are included. The meals are included but styrofoam and single-use plastic straws are not. As part of their commitment to save our oceans, single-use plastics are being eliminated at Beaches Resorts.

Does your vacation save the ocean? Lionfish belong in the Red Sea but they have been inadvertently introduced to Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Invasive species are out of place in the ecosystem and have no predators, so their numbers grow and grow. Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts are committed to managing the issue by culling as many as they can. Everyone can help by eating more Lionfish. They are very tasty and they are available as filets in many Whole Foods.

One Vacation at a time 

When you choose Beaches Resorts, your family will have a top quality luxury all inclusive with a company that cares about you and your family having the best possible experience and is taking care of the islands and environment for this generation and future ones.

Whether you want to relax on the beach, by the pool or scuba dive with sharks, Beaches Resorts is waiting for you in paradise. Not only will you have a memorable vacation, but you will also be helping change the world, one lionfish, one soccer student and one career at a time. I look forward to seeing you underwater.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

One response to “ Can your family vacation change the world?

  1. Wow wonderful article!
    Each one at a time narrations are interesting to read.
    Kudos to the article!!

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