In case you missed it on Instagram (follow me here), we were on vacation last week. We took the Carnival Liberty out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and stopped each day on a different island.
To say I had an amazing time would be an understatement. It was my first real vacation as a grown up. We didn’t go for any particular reason. We had no agenda and no plans. We just went. And oh, how glad I am that we did.
All photos were taken with my old iPhone 5 with a gloriously cracked screen and are unedited. I’d highly recommend using an old iPhone as a camera while at the beach. It was super portable, did the job, and I never worried too much about it getting stolen or damaged.
In case you’re interested, here are some photos and a review of our experience on each island.
- Went to Magen’s Bay
- Most beautiful scenery from the beach
- Jungle looking landscape
- Rode in an old pickup truck that had been converted into a 10 passenger vehicle
- Secluded beach but easier to have more space and privacy if you walk down the beach, away from where the trucks drop you (and every other tourist) off
- Probably the most beautiful view from the beach of all the beaches we went to
- Ported in Bridgetown
- Went to Bayshore Beach
- Difficult to enjoy because of all of the vendors and people hassling you
- Started an inside joke with N where we repeatedly ask the other person “you want to jetski?” “you want to see the turtles?”
- Felt the least safe
- Calm and warm water
- The hassling and general yuckiness of always feeling like they were trying to sell you something made this my least favorite
- Was later told by a retired Canadian couple that there are tons of great, less touristy, more secluded beaches in Barbados and what we saw wasn’t indicative of all of Barbados
- Went to Pigeon Island and hiked up to Fort Rodney
- Most beautiful view from our trip
- The port was nice, not industrial looking like some of the other ports
- Jungle landscape that was so green and lovely
- Calm water you could just float in
- Had low expectations and was therefore absolutely blown away
- Went to Shipwreck beach
- The landscape was dry and desert like, a stark contrast to St. Lucia
- They used to grow sugar by now they make parts for electronics, which showed in the number of factories and the large industrial area
- Took a decade old Mercedes van up the side of a mountain and then back down
- There were no guard rails and the original road was closed off due to landslide
- I was effing terrified the entire ride
- When we arrived at Shipwreck beach, we found it was secluded and beautiful
- Very few vendors, rented two beach chairs and an umbrella for $15
- Had more than a couple of drinks so I wouldn’t have a panic attack on the drive back over the hill
- Ultimately decided that the view and safe, laid back experience was worth the terrifying drive
- For the record, N thought the drive was “fun” and “the view was pretty”
Sint Maarten/St. Martin
- Saved the best for last – it was my absolute favorite
- Took a van from the Dutch side (Sint Maarten) to the French side (St. Martin) to go to Orient Beach
- There are closer beaches but Orient Beach was worth the ride
- Actually had waves – not too big, just enough that they were crazy fun to float over but never scary
- There were dogs! Seems like a lot of vacationers brought their dogs with them or maybe they were locals (they weren’t strays)
- The color of the water was unreal, the most extreme aqua of all the islands
- After a week of super calm water, I’d forgotten how fun it is to ride the waves
- Next time we go to the Caribbean, this is where you’ll find me
As a note, for years I’ve read blogs where it seems like the author goes on vacation after vacation. Every time a blogger posted her vacay pics, you can bet I was sitting in my office, jealousy pouring out of my eyeballs. Because see, I thought vacations were crazy expensive. I assumed we just weren’t the kind of people who could vacation. I’d never been able to afford a vacation before but I guess I’d never really tried that hard to afford a vacation.
Turns out, cruises aren’t that expensive. We wanted to see a bunch of places and we got to. I liked that so much of everything was paid for before we ever got on board. I didn’t love the cruise environment (meh it was fine, it just wasn’t my favorite part) but I loved seeing a new place every day. It was good for my adventurous, cautious heart. And we didn’t break the bank doing it.
If you’re interested in a cruise, consider checking the prices a couple months out. We booked this cruise in March and, because it was so close to the sail date, the prices had dropped drastically. For the record, I just checked and there is a 7 day cruise in September leaving from Miami for $359 per person.
Also, a big thanks to Casey from Road Less Traveled Vacations for her advice and insight about whether or not we should buy the drink package (we didn’t, and I’m glad). Thanks for your help, Casey!
p.s. In case you missed it last week on Blog Brighter, here are 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Blog and 15 Beautiful Brush Lettered Fonts.