My friends at Roses on the Road recently did a post giving awards for the best travel spots. I thought I would do the same. Jen and I haven’t been to a lot of adventurous places, but we have really enjoyed traveling over the last couple of years.
I think my entire family will agree that the prettiest beach we have been to is Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI. When we first arrived, my mom said “this is like a dream.” The water is around 80 degrees, they have great facilities, and there is an underwater snorkel trail with signs telling you what fish or plants you might see. I saw a stingray, a barracuda, and dozens of types of fish. The sand is soft, and there is some shade available under the trees.
We started out by arriving in St. Thomas, where we took a taxi to the Red Hook Ferry. This ferry shuttled us across the water to St. John, where we took another taxi to Trunk Bay. The taxis are all open air and seat 8-20 people.
I don’t know what it was about Mullet Bay (St. Martin) specifically, but it was incredible. We rented a palapa (the big straw umbrellas) for the day and two beach chairs for $15. The waves here are sometimes really rough, as shown by the steep beach. But when we were there, it was perfectly calm. The sand was really soft and warm, but not too hot. There were also hundreds of silver fish that would swim right up to you. The water gets deep really quickly, but there was hardly any current when we were there so it was perfect for swimming. It is also a short 10 minute walk to the next beach on my list…
The strangest beach we have been to is Maho Beach. Why is it so strange? Airplanes land at the airport just on the other side of the street from the beach. When planes take off, the exhaust kicks up sand and sends umbrellas and mothers running for safety. Some people hold on to the fence and let the plane blow their clothes (or their bodies) around.
SOFTEST SAND/BEST SNORKELING
Ka’anapali Beach in Maui. The sand was like baby powder. At night, bioluminescent bacteria glowed bright green on the sand at the edge of the water. At one end of the beach is Black Rock. This area has the best snorkeling we have found so far. It can get crowded, which scares away the fish. But if you are brave enough to swim to the tip of the jetty, the snorkeling instantly improves.
We saw a turtle with a shell bigger than my torso, an elephant seal, giant urchins, and tons of fish, including the Hawaiian state fish the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa.
BEST CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
My mom and I went on a tour with Cosol Tours in St. Lucia. It was one of the best days of my life. We tried sop, which is a spiky fruit. We tried Dutch bread the size of a baseball bat with melted cheese inside. We had all the drinks we wanted and dozens of local treats. My favorites were the bananas (grown on the island) and candied coconut. We stopped at a volcano, snorkeled on a rocky beach, drove through rain forests and mountains, and visited local stands (banana ketchup was overrated, but interesting). I had taken a class on Caribbean literature, so I already knew about the Pitons (the two tall mountains in the photo above) and the greatest Caribbean poet ever, Derek Walcott. There was a lot of poverty on the island, but the people were happy and loved to share their culture with us.
BEST DAY TRIP
The Road to Hana is probably my favorite travel experience. It started with Krispe Kreme Donuts and ended with driving along the coast during sunset. We visited a couple waterfalls, hiked through a botanical park, hiked along hardened lava rocks with waves slamming against them, found/peeled/broke/ate coconuts, felt slightly nauseous from the 600 hairpin turns along 45 miles of road, crossed 54 bridges, had amazing fish tacos, walked on a black sand beach, and hiked the Pipiwai Trail, which was incredible. We did all of that in a day. We also had an iPhone GPS app that narrated the entire thing. It would tell us when something noteworthy was approaching, explained Hawaiian history, told us that the fast furry creatures darting across the street were not lizzard/squirrel hybrids (SQUIZZARD!) but were in fact mongoose, and named the various waterfalls, towns, and beaches we were passing. Like all travel, the Maui trip was made even more enjoyable by experiencing it with family.
I have had seafood all over the Caribbean and in Mexico, but my favorite will always be the Point Loma Seafoods in San Diego. The clam chowder is amazing. Everything is so fresh. You can watch boats pull in with their catch. They unload the fish right there in front of you. The sushi is very good too. We have been coming here since I was a little kid, and I always love to come back and think of the time I spent with my grandparents.