What spring break cruise is complete without time spent on the beach. We had scheduled for three days of beach time during our adventure, but once we had our first one we discovered that it was probably better for our group to spend a little bit less time baking in the sun (most of us were already sunburned when we got to our first beach and the time in the sun did not help our case). Regardless, our beach time was nicely spent.
The first island that we beached on was St. Lucia, where we went to Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay. Carrying our pool deck towels and SPF 50, we hopped in a taxi to spend a day lounging in the sun.
I grew up in Maine, and I haven’t spent much time traveling internationally at all, so there were a few things that I was a bit embarrassed to admit were shocking to me. The first was just how developed the beach seemed to be. Almost the whole length of it was filled with rentable chairs and umbrellas for the tourists to lounge on, and people selling rentable time for all kind of watercraft scanned up and down the beach the whole day asking us if we were interested in an excursion (the rest of the people I was traveling with took an opportunity to jetski, or as they called it, boatorcycle). I’m not very good at avoiding these kinds of interactions, so I found myself a little bit overwhelmed, especially during the first hour of our time on the beach. At a certain point I put in my headphones and pretended not to hear anyone, or I would retreat into the water to get a little bit of peace.
I’ve always been a bit of a mermaid, so time spent in the Ocean was really special, especially since I spend most of the year in landlocked Western NY. Swimming brought the same kind of reward that hiking in St. Martin provided– it felt nice to move my body after spending so much idle time on the boat. The water was refreshing and clear, and it was relatively easy to swim away from other beach goers and other boatorcyclists. When on the beach, I went back and forth between reading About a Boy while eavesdropping on a group of British expats and hanging out with my fellow travelers at the beachside bar (where I took my only photo of the day, a portrait of a frozen mango cocktail that I knocked back).
Our next beach day was Friday, the last day of our cruise, and was a little bit more my speed. We had been planning on going to Magen’s Bay in St. Thomas, because one of the people we were traveling with had been there about ten years ago. We heard from our concierge on the ship that the beach has become something of a tourist’s spot with an entrance fee. We were hoping to find something a bit more hidden away, and we ended up stumbling upon a really nice, quiet beach run by the University of St. Thomas. When we asked our taxi driver to cart us there, he looked surprised at us and asked, “Who told you about that beach?” I suspect it was because this beach is one of the island’s best kept secrets.
We arrived in St. Thomas at 7am and our boat departed at 1pm, so we didn’t have much time and the time that we had was early, but I was so glad with the circumstances. It means that we were able to start our morning with one of the best beach experiences I’ve ever had. There was practically nobody there the whole time we were, except for a few fellow swimmers and sunbathers. We had brought snorkling gear, and swam in pairs out into the bay where we were able to swim with all sorts of different fish, and most show-stoppingly, two sea turtles. We made sure to keep our distance, but were able to swim along with them for as long as we wanted. The water was warm and salty salty salty, and I felt so lucky that we were able to find this place and have a nice, quiet experience with some animals. Afterwards we made sand castles and read our books, soaking up our last time off the ship before the end of our vacation.
For some, a beach is a beach is a beach. And there’s an element of truth to that. Each of our beach experiences were pretty different, and pretty wonderful in different ways. St. Lucia gave us something big and fun, and St. Thomas gave us something quiet and relaxing. Not a bad way to spend Spring Break.