As two gingers traveled the Caribbean it was often asked why we would head so close to the equator during July. Firstly, neither one of us got burnt the entire 10 day trip. Sunscreen and limited exposure were the key. It also helped that neither one of us had a desire to spend endless amounts of time sitting on the beach soaking in the rays. This trip was amazing and something we will always remember. Our trip began by going to St. Thomas to attend my cousin’s wedding. I was one of the bridesmaids in this beautiful wedding. I was so happy that my entire family could make it down to the island to watch my cousin marry her wife. My grandmother was the flower girl and it was such a cute idea. St. Thomas is US owned so no passport is needed in this mountainous island.
The first night we got to the island we had a bachelorette party and headed to the bars at Red Hook. After a night out the next morning we began more festivities where we had brunch at the beach… Well some of us did. I unfortunately had my luggage lost and was waiting at the house for an hour for some mystery taxi man to drop off my luggage. Thankfully it was a wedding with two brides so there was no shortage of clothes for me to borrow.
Now the best part, on Saturday I watch my cousin marry the women of her dreams. It was such a beautiful wedding. Seriously my cousin looked like she was straight from a bridal magazine. The hair and makeup were a bit on the pricier side but they did a wonderful job and showed up on time. Which if you know anything about island time it is very relaxed on the concept of ‘on time’. After the wedding we had a Mexican buffet which I highly recommend for all weddings. Not only is it more budget friendly than individually served meals but it also meets ALL dietary requirements (vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free). After the bridal parties inhaled some food (and tried to not spill queso on ourselves) we headed to Sapphire Beach to take some photos. I had seen smoke bomb photos on the interent but I think ours is by far the best. Look at this beautiful photo that we took with smoke bombs. My cousin is a photographer and even took some photos of my boyfriend and I here a couple days later.
Once the photos were taken at this beautiful location the entire wedding celebration cruise headed to a catamaran were we all got on an enjoyed the sunset and an open bar. A common drink that they offer is called PainKiller and I highly recommend it. Rum is a staple in the Caribbean and it is definitely worth trying even if you aren’t a hard alcohol fan. It is a mixture of OJ and rum of course with a sprinkle of cinnamon. After the boat ride, we all headed back to the house to continue the celebration where I watched my father take his first shot of Jim Beam since college. I’d call it a successful celebration to a happy marriage.
The house that we stayed in was beautiful and in a location that I would highly recommend to other travelers. The name of the place was Sea Star Villa and came with a private beach, hot tub and my favorite part and infinity pool that looked out on the ocean.
The island taxi service works in a strange way where each rider pays a certain fee. It is not metered where a group can split the costs. It was anywhere from $6-$15 a person to get to most places on the island. We stayed near Cabrita Point which is about 2 miles from the ferry dock. If you plan to travel to St. John or dining regularly consider staying close to this side of the island. There are very few roads so traveling on these VERY curvy roads isn’t exactly quick. An eight-mile trip will be a half hour drive easily. Did I mention yet that you drive on the opposite side of the road? After the wedding my boyfriend and I rented a car and he got to experience driving on the left side. It was roughly $50 a day and was totally worth it if you are traveling with more than on person. Our first day here we spent a little over $100 on taxi fares getting from location to location. The learning curve wasn’t TOO bad; I only had to remind him 3-4 times with a simple “Left Side”. However, the drivers are CRAZY! If you are anxious or carsick person you might want to consider some medication.
On the island of St.Thomas we visited many viewpoints with our favorite being Drakes Seat. This spot overlooked Magen’s Bay, a highly-ranked beach. We visited this beach and enjoyed it but after about 45 mins I was done getting roasted in the sun. It is very commercialized so there is food and plenty of booths for you to spend money on. You do have to pay to get into the beach but it is very clean and beautiful. We went snorkeling in Coki Beach and honestly it was okay. It was cool to snorkel around but the coral has been bleached almost completely due to travelers I assume stepping on it and wearing sunscreen that can harm it. The fish are the coolest part to see while swimming around. I would recommend it if you’ve never snorkeled before but if you are used to snorkeling it isn’t a place to go out of your way to go to. If you are fair skinned please do yourself a favor and make sure to pack a sun shirt. Sunscreen doesn’t stand a chance when in the water and so close to equator. There were several of the other people who we stayed with that were burnt to a crisp because of this mistake.
My second favorite adventure we had on the island was yoga at the Nirvana Buddhist temple. I honestly haven’t been back to the yoga studio in my hometown since my mother passed away. It was something that we used to do together weekly and just haven’t had the strength to return without her. I like to go to yoga at other studios because I miss it. When I found this class I knew we had to go to it. It was located sort of near Magen’s bay and is only on Sundays. It is donation based classed and filled with locals to the island. The view point was seriously AMAZING. We were staying there doing poses and staring at the beautiful view. It looks directly out onto St. John which is mostly a national park so it is very beautiful. I would HIGHLY recommend it. It wasn’t extremely strenuous at all and my boyfriend who has never done yoga even joined me. It was one of those adventures that make a trip stand out from touring to traveling. Crazy enough a lady was walking to yoga so we offered her a ride and she had graduated from Purdue many many years ago.
On the last full day in the VI we took a ferry to St. John. This was both of our favorite parts of the trip (besides the wedding of course). The ferry ride is only 10 minutes long which is a lot shorter than we had expected and is $14 roundtrip. We honestly like St. John as a whole better. There are ample amounts of look out locations that you can drive a car to and take a short walk. We unfortunately didn’t have a car and actually got ourselves into quite a predicament. We hiked down the mountain on Reef Bay Trail. If you love nature the foliage here is AMAZING! We spent more time just looking at the different plants then we did staring at the mountains. There are air plants bigger than I’ve ever seen before in my life!
When hiking down we stayed to the left to go on another trail that lead you down to a beach that looked like it connected to a road. Yes it was a road but not one that was highly traveled. Google REALLY needs to redefine the definition of a road on the maps. We came out on a beach with only two other groups and it was gorgeous but we had no idea how to get home. We ate lunch in the shade and enjoyed the views as we discussed what to do. After getting some tips from the other groups we decided to just walk this road that only jeeps had dared to go down. About 10 minutes into this walk we hear a taxi behind us. Wave him down and tell him how he saved our lives because we were a 40-minute drive from the ferry dock. If you continue on to read my Puerto Rico adventure, you’ll see how this was only the beginning.
What do we wish we could have done? Gone to the Baths in the British Virgin Islands. Several of the wedding party members went on a day cruise there the day we left. We didn’t do enough research about until we were already on the island and missed the chance. My boyfriend and I agreed that if we go to the Caribbean our next place we will stay will be the BVI. St. Thomas is honestly kind of run down. It is such a huge tourist attraction and such little government that there is waste all along the streets because tourists have no care for the island so neither do the people living there. It is insanely beautiful but it sad to see such a beautiful place be treated so wastefully. Although we have no idea how different the BVI is compared to the USVI it is an adventure we are willing to take. I believe the reason the island has the ability to stay so rundown but such a big tourist attraction is because many people don’t leave their resort. If you plan a trip to the USVI I highly encourage you to make sure your resort is taking care of the island. It is seriously one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and I hope you have the chance to see the beautiful mixture of mountains and beaches.
After the VI my boyfriend and I said goodbye to the wedding party and headed to Puerto Rico to spend the next four days there. An adventure doesn’t even begin to explain our trip in PR. It was honestly one of those had to be there moments for all the fear and fun.