We must have looked pretty crazy towing our suitcases and 2-year-old twins thru the narrow, busy streets. With only two blocks to go to find the Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel, we still managed to get lost. Fortunately, it simply meant that we approached the hotel from the other direction. By evening we had explored enough to find our way around and start getting used to the complete lack of sidewalks, the narrow streets, and the chickens! I especially loved all the noise of people and cars and music. It always sounded like a town with a party going on.
Kicked off this day like all the rest...7am breakfast on the hotel balcony lounge. By 8 we were on our way to Honeymoon Bay via trail. The babes have always been good hikers, but for some reason they decided they would much rather ride. So while we each started with one pack and an easy walk, we ended up doubling the packs and carrying young'uns. It was still a great little hike with lots of lizzards and interesting plants and such to entertain the little ones. And Honeymoon was well worth the effort. We had it almost to ourselves and while my daughter and I really enjoyed the snorkel over to Salomon with lots of turtles, conch and rays, the guys built sand castles and played in the surf with the kids. Nobody wanted to leave, but our Deli Groto sandwiches could only last us so long. Eating dinner in meant we needed some supplies, so my daughter and I walked in the rain, first to Dolphin for produce, then up to Starfish for the rest. Just as I was wondering how we would carry it all home, another stop was added at the liquor store. That is when it got challenging! We definitely earned all those calories by dinner time!
At 9 we walked to the ferry terminal to catch the 9:15 Vitran bus. It came right on time, and we got off at the Moravian Church in Coral Bay. I was picturing a little uphill followed by a lot of downhill on the Johnny Horn Trail to Waterlemon Cay. I was wrong. There was a lot of serious, slide-backward, steep uphill on the wet, rainy trail. But the rain felt good, the views were awesome, nobody dropped a kid, and it turned out that the downhill sliding was as tricky as the uphill. It was only two miles and a fun hike, but we were all pretty happy to reach the big beach. My daughter and I made the long swim to the Cay from there - I was all geared up and she does't even wear fins, yet swims circles around me. This trip was such a special treat for me to have a chance to get out in the water with her. And the snorkel was fabulous. Sooo many fish of all kinds and beautiful coral - definitely my favorite of our trip. Once again the guys spent more time with the kids, and large schools of fish even approached them there in the shallow water at the beach. When we were done, we walked out the 1 mile easy walk to the Annaberg ruins. My husband looked at me so trustingly and said "Now, we wait here for a taxi?" That is when I told him we had to go to Plan B and try to catch one at Maho since none were there at the ruins. The next part of the walk was thru the mangroves and it was full of big crabs - super interesting. We hadn't gotten very far, however, when a couple in a small jeep stopped and asked if we wanted a ride...then managed to fit all 6 of us in their vehicle. My husband swears that they saved several lives and at least one marriage.
Day 3 and 4
My daughter and son-in-law were spending the next two days with LowKey Divers, and they especially enjoyed the ruins of the Rhone. Meanwhile, hubby and I had the young'uns to ourselves, so we hopped a taxi both days and headed to Caneel Bay. It was close enough for the cab fare to be inexpensive, had great facilities like bathrooms and running water for families, and is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Both days we had the huge beach totally to ourselves because of our early arrival. I snorkeled a bit then played with the kids in the water while granddad was in charge of beach activities. Of course there were more sand castles. They progressed so much each day that it was fun to watch. Now when they woke up in the morning their first words were "Go to ocean?" The faucet for washing feet was actually shower high for my little ones, so they were sand free by the time we left the beach, and totally entertained by the huge iguana hanging out in the ruins. And, since we were wet anyhow, the rain was a non issue.
At 8am we checked in at Customs for our ferry to BVI's Virgin Gorda and the Baths. The ride itself was exciting as we went from one squall to another with big waves and huge gusts of water-logged wind. I had envisioned something entirely different but this was pretty cool, tho my SPF 50 shirt didn't stop water as well as it blocks the sun! The taxi dropped us at the Top of the Baths where it would wait for us when it was time to catch the return ferry. We popped into the restaurant for a few minutes to wait out the downpour of the moment, then hiked on down the hill, stowed our belongings in lockers, and spent a delightful day climbing thru the rocks. The babes loved every minute of it - especially my daredevil grandson who is sure he can fly anyhow. He and his sister waited only for permission to proceed, this time they had no intention of getting carried thru all this good stuff. There were no crowds, and the other people there were wandering as randomly as we were. My favorite part was swimming thru all the little pools, feeling the water get increasingly cold and seeing the fish get bigger as you moved out toward open water. The kids loved standing on the rocks and looking straight down at gorgeous fish right at their feet in crystal clear water. In the Bay, my grandson perfected his deadman's float so that he could ride the waves in - pretty impressive at 2 I think, tho his twin sister was not impressed. Before leaving we ate a meal at the restaurant, but I hated to give up swim time for food. It was definitely an amazing day.
This was our last day, and the plan was to take the Vitran Bus to the Cinnamon Bay Trailhead and hike the one mile down. Only the bus never showed up. We waited quite awhile by the ferry terminal, chatting with some of the taxi drivers while we did. And eventually we asked one for a price quote for the 6 of us. It was a good deal, we didn't know if the bus would ever come, and we decided not to waste any more time. This driver was amazing, stopping at view points and photo ops, giving us details about what we were passing, and just making the trip so worthwhile (and a whole lot easier than my planned hike in the rain.) I snorkeled over to the sunken airplane, but nobody else went out that day. After a week of solid rain, underwater views were getting pretty cloudy so I passed on the Cay as well. Still, on the beach, the best castle of all was being built, the kids were rolling in the surf, and everyone was having a great time. It was hard to leave the beach that day, knowing that by the next morning we would be on our way home.
Time to go home. What a great trip this was. The babes loved every minute - the lizzards and the chickens, the beaches and the ocean, the puddle jumping, etc. My husband, meanwhile, had a knee replacement done in September. He was delighted to find that there was nothing that he couldn't do, from hikes to swims to packing kids. I got to swim with my mermaid of a daughter who spent her childhood as a competitive swimmer. And those guys got to do the diving they love without worrying about the kids while they were doing it. A perfect vacation!