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Our Company


The day had finally came.  My parents and Karen are here to visit us.  We love company.  We love showing off this beautiful island to friends and family.  The day was also Jonathan’s birthday, so, he was told to pick dinner.  We loaded up the two cars and went to the Mafolie Hotel for dinner.  As we ate, we talked about the island, our future days full of exciting excursions, and just soaked in the moment.



My Dad


These pictures explain the essence of this trip.  We would, of course, have lots of beach time, good food, and good times, but we would also be relaxing and enjoying each other.



Karen's cooking


While smelling the savory aroma of Karen’s cooking, we told each other stories and planned out the vacation for my parents and Karen.  The kids, with huge smiles on their faces, listened to what was in store for the next week.



Smells Yummy



We all woke up and read the story of Jesus.  The kids even read some of it.  We discussed the meaning of Good Friday and Easter.  It was neat to hear the questions that the kids came up with as we walked through history together.  It was a sweet time as a family.


After that, Jonathan took us out to brunch at Pesce.  We had eaten here for dinner before, but brunch was totally fun and delicious.



My Honey


This move has been great for our family, drawing us closer as a family.  We were delighted to spend our day together thankful to Jesus for his obedience and sacrifice.  We are truly blessed!



Good Day

Coral World


Coral World is located by Coki Beach on the East side of the island.  The best way to describe it is to say that it reminds me of a smaller Sea World.  We had never been and wanted to do something different with the kids.  We ended up buying a yearly pass for the whole family.



My birthday shoes


Equipped with my new walking/hiking shoes, we rolled up to Coral World.





Coral World is a beautiful, well kept facility with awesome views.  You can hear the surf crashing on the rocks below as you walk up to the entrance of the park.  In the background, you can hear faint music and smells of fried food coming from Coki Beach, which is right next door.



Why, hello there?


Just like in Sea World, they give you a map with the presentation times on the back for all the exhibits.  First we went to the shallow pool that houses some juvenile sharks and a sting ray, who is kept in there for cleaning purposes!  The juvenile sharks are nourished and cared for and then released back into the wild when the park feels like they can make it.



Big Fella


There is a side viewing area for this shallow pool.  We stood there are these creatures would slowly glide by us sending a shiver up my spine at least.  The nurse sharks did resemble large catfish.  We listened to the young girl explain which type of sharks are typical for the Caribbean waters.  Ignorance is bliss!!!



Joaquin, don't look to your right!!!



Keep your hands and feet out of the water.


After the presentation by the Coral World employee, her co-worker put one of the nurse sharks in a bin, so, that everyone who WANTED to, could touch it.  I was proud of Isabella who immediately said she wanted to do that.  Since my 11 year old was brave enough, I put my hand on the shark.  Expecting to feel a smooth almost rubber like exterior, I was shocked.  His skin was like sand paper.  Huh?  How much I have to learn about sharks!



Isabella, are you sure you want to pet the shark?



Oh, what's down here?


We continued on our way down to the sea turtle area.  These wonderful reptiles are part of the endangered species and are just spectacular.  They were my favorite.  Coral World will take a few of the babies that they find in the wild and assist them to then be released, just like the sharks, in an effort to help stabilize the population.

Supposedly, with the yearly pass, you would be able to see the babies and watch them grow up and catch in on their progress.



Sea Turtles


As we left the sea turtles, we encountered a curious pelican.  He was hanging out waiting for someone to give him some food.  With the sea turtles and the pelican, my mind started replaying the Finding Nemo movie.  We had already found several of its stars.



Nigel, is that you?



Creatures are all over the place.


I can relate to the iguanas.  I like to sunbathe as well!



The underwater observatory


One of the biggest attractions at Coral World is the underwater observatory, which allows you to descend to the ocean floor and gaze into the “blue” with staying dry!  We went down to the bottom and walked around listening to our kids saying, “Oh, look over here!”  With swarms of fish swimming by and brightly colored coral waving, we enjoyed our underwater views.



The petting zoo


Coral World is very hands on, which is nice for kids and adults to see and feel what is in the ocean.



It felt fake.



Look, a human!


Then it was time to see the aquarium that houses a huge variety of ocean life.  The tank itself is filled with ocean water, and then the water is recycled back into the ocean at 15,000 gallons an hour.  This allows Coral World to help keep the reefs alive.  They had someone in the tank cleaning the glass.






Feeding Time


As the feeder sunk into the tank, the fish just swarmed.  We saw the sting ray gobble up pieces of food in his mouth located on the underside of his body.  One of the employees was there to identify the different types of life in the tank and answer any questions that you had.



Omar the painter


I didn’t get very good pictures of the sea lion presentation, but I had to, at least, put up one.  That presentation was informative and just plain cool.  They brought out two different sea lions and had them do different tasks.  One of the tasks was painting.  You read that correctly, they had them paint.

Well, the paintings were definitely more abstract!



Isabella feeding the sting rays.


Right outside the sea lion exhibit is the sting ray lagoon.  Here they will let you feed them, and they have someone talk to the group about these fascinating creatures, which have gotten a bad rap after the Steve Erwin accident.  They are actually quite gentle.  They would rather flee than fight.  They bury themselves in the sand because they are trying to keep themselves from being burnt by the sun, not that they are trying to hide in wait to attack humans.



Coki Beach


After wandering around Coral World for several hours, we decided to leave, but will definitely be back.  I snapped this picture of Coki Beach, which is within walking distance of Coral World.  We have been to this beach.  It is a beautiful beach with probably the best snorkeling on St. Thomas.  You do have to put up with the vendors bugging you to buy, rent, or eat their products.


Sugar Bay Resort


As we were leaving from the parking lot, I glanced over and saw the Sugar Bay Resort.  This was the first place Jonathan and I stayed at when we came to St. Thomas in 2008.  This was the beginning.  This is where I turned to Jonathan and said, “I could live here.”




Careful Honey!


So, how do you open a fresh coconut?  I’m not taking about the ones you buy in the store where the hard green shell has been taken off for you.

The only answer is:  A Machete

This is such a necessary tool for the Caribbean.  We have used it for hacking down the jungle, opening a coconut, and slicing through frozen meat!



Oh,,,,,please be careful!


The only problem is where do you keep such a useful tool that can be used for almost anything.  You keep it where we do:  In the hall closet next to the toilet paper.



The Prize

Limetree Beach


I had reserved a room at Bluebeard’s Beach Club for two nights for our family.  I thought it would feel like we were getting away for the weekend.  We went to see the movie, “Hunger Games” first, and then drove over to the hotel.  We have stayed here before, but it is a breath taking view from the parking lot before checking in.



The crew


We took our overnight bag up to the room and plotted out our weekend plans, which amounted to relaxing and sitting by the pool all weekend.  I snapped a couple of pictures of the pool at night, but we spent all day at the pool Sunday.  We woke up and threw on our bathing suits and cover ups.  We sat at the pool bar and had a satisfying breakfast while hearing the waves crashing on the beach.



Night Swimming


The kids spent the majority of their time in the pool making a new friend.  Jonathan and I got in the pool to cool off and access the swim up pool bar that even has bar stools in the pool.  Nice touch.  We visited with the bartender, Vince, whom we had met back in November.  We acted like total tourist by ordering the fruity blended drinks.  All and all we had a wonderful, relaxing weekend and didn’t even go to the beach at all.



They love the water.


Blluebeard’s Beach Club is a wonderful place to stay.  We didn’t have to drive very far to get here, but it felt like a real vacation.



The Grounds




While our friend, Jana, was here, we went to park at Red Hook.  I like to park next to nice vehicles, so, that if someone was going to break into one, they wouldn’t pick mine!


Though we did not spot Paul Walker, this particular one even had the NOS canister built into the engine.  I might have to get me one.  I could picture myself cruising in that on these curvy roads.




So, Pete and Lindsey came all that way to see us.  What better way to see the islands, than from a boat?  Plus, once you go sailing, I think it becomes a part of you.  We were also so excited to take the kids for the first time.  We are hoping to get them in a sailing program in order to learn such a cool sport.



The Fantastic Four


We drove down to the American Yacht Harbor.  We walked along the wooden pier admiring the different boats parked in their slips.  We heard a shout from across the way.  That was our captain.  Rumbaba, the name of the trusty sailboat that would hold our lives in its hands so to speak, was our destination.





After walking up to the vessel, we were relieved of our shoes.  You don’t want to trip on your flip flops at sea.  Captain Chad and his first mate, Lori, introduced themselves.  We were greeted with homemade banana nut bread and fresh fruit.  After casting off (I may have some of my nautical terms wrong, so, bear with me), we cruised out of the marina into the open body of water between St. John and St. Thomas.



Here we go....


Because she has lived here for over 20 years, Lori regaled us with stories and legends of the islands while also pointing out the interesting geography as we sailed into deeper waters.



Capt. Chad


With the wind at our backs and our cocktails full, we set off on our adventure.  Captain Chad even had the kids try their hands at steering the boat.  He would explain why we had a certain sail up and the basic premise of a sailboat.



Lindsey and Pete


Why would any of the adults work if you can get the kids to do all the work for free?


An actual sailing race


As we were just drifting along, we heard a horn blare.  It was the start of a sailing race to the east of us.  Capt. Chad explained that some of the boats were doing circles because there really isn’t a way to have all the boat line up at a starting line.  So, for the minutes right before the start, everyone is jockeying for the best position.  It was just fascinating.  We speculated that this could be a smaller race to prepare for the big Rolex Regatta next week.



Capt. Joaquin?


Joaquin just took to sailing like a duck to water.  He was so serious about his assignment.



Cameras ready


So, serious!


Since we had visited St. John the day before, we chose Christmas Cove to snorkel in, which is off of St. James.  This is supposedly where Christopher Columbus spent one Christmas while we was discovering the Virgin Islands.  How different it would have looked back then?  Just this intimidating, dense jungle with soft, white sand beaches.



Lunch Time


Everyone snorkeled.  Joaquin was having a little difficulty getting the grasp of snorkeling, so, Captain Chad rescued him in his small dingy and took him to shore to explore the island.  They discovered a baby sea urchin, which could easily fit in the palm of your hand.  Isabella just swam off leaving her mother behind.  They grow up so fast!

We swam along the coral reef at Christmas Cove and saw at least a dozen different variety of fish.  I was very impressed by Isabella.  She didn’t even seem frightened when a school of fish kept following us up and down the shore line.  There were several times I would try to clear my tube and would swallowing some salty sea water, and those fish would rub up against my legs or back.



Surf & Turf


Then it was lunch time.  Lindsey had ordered the Filet and I had ordered the Mahi, so, we could sample each dish.  We sat back with the tunes playing, the sun sparkling of off the water, and boat gently rocking.  After everyone was pleasantly plump, we jumped back in the water and continued the snorkel trek.  This time, Joaquin seemed more interested.  So, we thought we would let him try again.  He did great.  His sturdy legs kicked and propelled him through the blue water.  He would occasionally look up with excitement to mumble through his mouth piece, “Mummy, I can see the fish!”  Isabella did fantastic just like in the morning.



Sunset at Secret Harbour


After our very successful day sail, we pulled into the marina.  We unloaded and walked to the truck still with the bobbing sensation like we were still on the boat.  Lindsey suggested, “Since we still have our bathing suits on, let’s go to the beach!”


Secret Harbour, of course, what other beach would we go?



Dinner Time


After our hard relaxing afternoon, we drove into Red Hook, which is five minutes away from Secret Harbour and selected dinner.  Something quick, something cheap, something satisfying: Pizza!



Waiting for Pizza


We went inside and ordered our pizza and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Red Hook from our perfect spot on Senor Pizza’s deck.  A good time was had by all. It was definitely one for the books.



Orange Soda

The Car Ferry


It was very hard to know that it was my birthday today because it normally snows on my birthday!!  Which would have been very strange, if that had happened down here.

My good friend from grade school and her husband flew into St. Thomas the day before, and we planned an exciting adventure for today.


They like to load them in tight.


What better way to celebrate this occasion than to take the car ferry over to St. John and beach hop!  If you ferry your car, you do not have to pay the taxis in St. John, which can be quite expensive when you have six people.


St. John


We landed and drove our car off of the barge and winded our way up the roads and stopped at the scenic overlook to Trunk Bay.



The turn off spot


You can't get tired of that view.


We had trouble finding a parking spot at Trunk Bay and headed over to Cinnamon Bay.  Cinnamon Bay is quite beautiful, but the sand is a little coarser and little more “cinnamon” colored than Trunk.

Upon reaching the water, we noticed how rough the surf was.  This may not have been the best day to go to St. John.  The waves crashed into the beach with such force that they had caution signs on the beach that swimming may result in injury or even death!



Trunk Bay with Rough Water

Surfing Time










Did that stop us?  No, instead, we looked danger in the eye and said, “Bring it!”  You can’t keep our kids out of the water.  Plus, the kids enjoyed themselves since the beaches are usually quite calm.  One wave did take out Lindsey, who thought she might drown in three feet of water.  I went down once with the power of the wave knocking me into the sand and scraping my hip along as the wave tossed me up on shore.

We did make it to Trunk Bay, but the water had churned up the sand that visibility was low.  So, we didn’t snorkel.  We had a relaxing and entertaining day in St. John despite the unsettled ocean.


Car Ferry with Palm Trees


We caught the car ferry back to St. Thomas.  Because we had used the great facilities at Trunk Bay to clean up, we were able to come back into Red Hook and go to dinner.



My Birthday Party


We decided to do Amigos, which should be obvious by its name that it is Mexican food.  We shoveled in the chips and salsa and guacamole while recalling the days ups and downs.


Surrounded by friends and family



Yeah Mexican food!


Since we weren’t able to eat at my parents Mexican restaurant, Sundance, in my hometown, we thought it would be fitting to at least stick with that theme for dinner.  We all really enjoyed our food.  Then they tried to order me dessert, so, I could have a candle to blow out, but the waitress said that they were completely out of anything sweet.



Happy Birthday!!


So, we asked for the birthday candles and went back to the house to eat a chocolate cake from the grocery store, which was wonderful!!!



No cake?


I opened up my gifts.  It was a great day with family and friends, and it didn’t snow on my birthday!!  A first!



My present from Jonathan




The Ferry next to Tickles

Jonathan had suggested that we try this particular attraction.  We would catch a water ferry to Water Island and enjoy “Movie Night” on the beach.


We had scouted the location of the dock for the ferry to Water Island several days in advance.  After picking up the kids from school, we drove to Crown Bay, another location for the cruise ships, and found Tickles.  Tickles is the casual restaurant next to the slip for the water ferry.



The Ferry?


Upon seeing how small the boat was, I will start referring to it as the “water taxi.”



We are on board.


We loaded up with several others who seemed like they were residents of Water Island.  There were three school age kids in uniforms on the boat with us because there are no public nor private schools even on Water Island.



The Harbor


We cruised along and left the harbor with St. Thomas growing smaller in the rear view.  It was a nice relaxing ride that only lasted for about 15 minutes.



Leaving St. Thomas



People boarding the ferry to return to St. Thomas


The water taxi has scheduled pick ups and drop offs in St. Thomas and on Water Island.  That schedule can be found online and is helpful when making your plans.  As we arrived, a group of people had formed to board the taxi back to St. Thomas.



Welcome to Water Island


Intentionally arriving early, we set off on a little walk to get ourselves acquainted with the island, seeing that it was our first time on it.



Their PO/Library


We walked up from the docks to discover what may serve as their post office and makeshift library.  At least, that is what our theory is.  We also observed that many of the passengers hopped into golf carts as the main source of transportation on the island.



View of St. Thomas



Exploring Water Island

Golf Carts in the driveway










At a leisurely pace, we made our way over to Honeymoon beach where the movie would be displayed.  We admired the different charm the island had to offer compared to St. Thomas or St. John.  We weren’t able to explore one of their main attractions, Fort Segarra, which is a military fort constructed by the US  during World War II.  That just means we will have to come back.



Today was the day after our 3.5 mile hike.  So, I admit.  I was a little fatigued.  I was elated to finally gaze down at our destination.



Honeymoon Beach


Honeymoon Beach is a short walk from the docks, but does have a pretty sharp incline at the beginning.





Our plans were to grab some snacks from a local establishment and let the kids play on the beach.  A good way to turn around an ordinary Monday.



The Beach just follow the music




Joe's Beach Bar

Seating area



In the distance we heard Jimmy Buffet playing.

We knew that we were heading in the right direction.  We wandered up to Joe’s Beach Bar which serves several fried essentials like chicken strips and fries.  We grabbed some potato chips for the kids and some cold refreshments.










He is easily entertained.


The kids jumped and raced along the beach.  Jonathan, who had been caught by some “salty sailors,” was told all the history of Joe’s Beach Bar, which boat to start with when purchasing one, and all the perks of island living.



View from Joe's Beach Bar



And they are off.....


As the sky grew darker, we made our way over to the middle of the beach to have our dinner.  Heidi’s Food Cart pulls up with wonderful selections of cheeseburgers, pizza, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and a large drink selection including beer and cocktails.  The best part is she serves fresh popcorn as well!!!



The sun is going down. Almost time for the movie.



The Setup


The crew, which I believe consists of locals, sets up the seats with plastic chairs and strings up the movie screen, which is a large sheet tied between two coconut palms.



Putting out the chairs


With the addition of the locals bringing their golf carts, they had created “theater seating.”



Dinner as well as the golf carts



Let's get a seat!


We ordered some popcorn and sodas just like we would have at home and selected some seats in the middle.  We had brought our light coats because it can be a little breezy along the water at night making it a bit cool.



The Big Screen


When they started the movie, they played the old commercial of the big hot dog singing “Let’s all go to the movies and get ourselves a treat.”  Then they played a Looney Tunes episode just like how they used to before previews.  Finally, it was showtime.



Oh, and a cruise ship


Right before the movie presentation started, a huge cruise ship sailed past in the distance as it was leaving St. Thomas.  I’m sure I looked like a tourist as I stood up and ran over to the side to snap a quick shot.  I thought it was totally neat!





During the movie you could lift your eyes to the black sky that twinkled with the stars.  The ocean breeze was our air conditioning.  It was the best way to watch a movie.



Tokens for the return trip


After the movie ended, we fished in our bag for our tokens, which were given to us when we paid the round trip cost on the dock in St. Thomas.  It was $10 for an adult and $5 for a kid.  Joaquin was obviously disappointed to find out that he couldn’t keep the golden tokens



About to board the ferry to go home.


The last taxi ride from Water Island is 6:15PM, but they always have one last one on Monday nights after the movie.  They told us to just follow the crowd back to the docks to catch it.  The movie wasn’t that great, but the experience was very memorable.  This is definitely a hidden gem.


Tip:  You can call a cell number, which I am pretty sure it is Heidi’s, to find out the movie selection for that night.


Ferry Ride


Jonathan had said all weekend, that we would do a nice hike and also the beach, which suited both Joaquin (the hiker) and Isabella (the water girl) and me (….the mom).

So, we left the house at a decent time and headed for St. John, which meant we needed to ride on the ferry.  This was the first time for us on this type of boat where you could sit on the front, which is the “best seat in the house” in my opinion.



Trail head

We landed in Cruz Bay and set off for the Visitor Center to secure a map for our hike.  We had read someone’s post on a different blog, so, we sort of knew where we were going.  We wanted to hike up to Caneel Hill, then over to Margaret Hill, and back down to Salomon Bay.

We had read from the other blog that the first part was the hardest!



Are you ready?


Of course, I had to make everyone stop for a couple of photos because this was the time when we were going to be looking our best!



Let's go!


Okay, I thought I was going to die.  The trail was steep and unforgiving.  Joaquin raced ahead of the rest of us, bragging about his abilities since he hikes all the time with his Papa in Red River, NM.  Isabella did pretty well.  Jonathan had a couple of moments, but I definitely brought up the rear.  Eventually, Jonathan had to be behind me to encourage me.

Joaquin, who was a good 30 feet ahead of me, would yell out, “Oh no, it is about to get harder again!”

We told him that if he wanted to be a good leader, he is suppose to keep up morale amongst his troops.



Worth It!


We finally reached “the bench”.  According to the blog, it marked the end of the hard steep part.  We sat.  I collapsed.

Joaquin pointed out that my backpack was stained from all of my sweat, which it was.



The Bench



Just hangin'


We took in the views and enjoyed the cool breeze.  Then it was off to Salomon Bay, right?

Wrong.  We quickly realized we hadn’t made it to the top of Caneel Hill yet.  Needless to say, I was upset, but we finally reached the top of the hill (although I would call it a mountain).



Cruz Bay


There is a wonderful platform to stand and take in the nearly 360 degree views.  The photo above is of Cruz Bay, where the ferry comes into port to drop off people from St. Thomas.



Views from Caneel Hill


Because my legs were shaking, I convinced the group to stay here as long as we could to enjoy the scenery.  We looked to what I think was north and saw one of the British Virgin Islands, Jost Van Dyke.  I swore I could almost hear the music coming from the bars and restaurants on Jost, but I think it was just my head pounding.



Jost Van Dyke in the Background




Nice viewing area


Joaquin, “Let’s go already!!”

Me, “No, slow down.  Life will pass you by if you are in such a hurry.”

Joaquin, “Mommy, why are you breathing so hard.”








So, after we rested, took in the sights, and snapped a couple of photos, we were off to Margaret Hill.  Jonathan looked up the blog post again to check the details and realized that she said that the platform was the signal of the end of the steep part.  The rest of the hike was quite enjoyable.

Bursera simaruba


We were trekking right along when we saw this peculiar tree.  I listed the proper name above, but it is also referred to as a tourist tree, since the bark appears red and is peeling like a typical sunburn on a tourist.



AKA Tourist Tree


Eventually, the trail winds its way down to the main road.  Across the street is the security post for The Caneel Bay Resort.  You just need to say “Afternoon, we are heading into Salomon Bay.”  Although, when we said it, the nice security guard replied, “Oh, okay.  It is quite a ways still.”




The Ruins


These ruins are on the property of the resort and definitely worth seeing.  We continued through the ruins, past the gift shop, and up a small road to the left.



More Ruins


The kids were complaining asking why we couldn’t just stop at Caneel Bay and play on that beach.  Jonathan answered, “Because our final destination is Salomon Bay.”



Caneel Bay Resort


We will definitely have to come back to Caneel Bay Resort and have lunch and play on the beach.

And then……we finally made it.  And it was everything we had hoped it would be:  Soft, white sand with barely anyone there.  Salomon and Honeymoon are two beaches you have to hike into because you cannot take a taxi into them, making them a more private pick.



Salomon Bay



Or so we thought!


After we had lunch and consumed five water bottles, we rested on the beach and soaked our tired joints in the cool, blue water.  We had encountered other hikers on the trail.  One of them said they were going to town to reward themselves with smoothies.  We agreed.  What a wonderful way to end the day.

So, we started hiking back out of the bay on Lind Point Trail.  Then we saw a sign and realized that we had spent the afternoon at Honeymoon Bay instead of Salomon Bay.  Oh, well.

We also discovered that the trail spits you out at the Visitor Center behind the bathrooms, where we had originally started our adventure.  Next time, we will just hike Lind Point Trail to Salomon Bay and skip the fun stuff.



Passionfruit Smoothies



Mongoose Junction


We ordered our smoothies and found a nice spot to sit and enjoy them.  Mongoose Junction is also a great place to grab a bite to eat or shop, but we couldn’t go into any place smelling like we did.




Outside of Mongoose Junction


I felt sorry for the people near us on the ferry, but at least we were outside with plenty of fresh air.  So, let this be a lesson.  Even if you don’t end up at your final destination, enjoy the journey and enjoy the loved ones who braved it with you!



Our way home