Monday, April 30, 2012

More Caribbean Secrets

I'm continuing our visit to the Caribbean and sharing with you some of our favorite beaches and places to visit.  Those of you who have cruises and trips planned to the islands may want to save this information for your own trips. In this post I'm taking you to the islands of St. Thomas and Aruba~~ 

St. Thomas is a beautiful place to visit.  One of the best things about being here is that for all practical purposes, it's just like being in the US - your cellphone works, the US dollar is the accepted currency, and all of your favorite stores and fast food restaurants are just around the corner.  The downside - they drive on the OTHER side of the road here.  

As much as we LOVE to visit this beautiful island - for us at least - our visits here will be by way of cruise ships.  Meaning, it is doubtful that the Gardener and I will ever plan to spend any serious time here on our own.  The traffic in St. Thomas is serious business and we just are NOT comfortable with driving on the OTHER side of the road.  But having said all of that - we most certainly enjoy coming here for a day by way of cruise vacations.

St. Thomas is a mecca for shopping!  If you are a serious shopper - this is definitely the island for you! In all of the Caribbean islands - this is the very best place for serious shopping.  Charlotte Amalie is very walkable - you can spend hours and hours here just going from shop to shop.  But--- I'd rather be at the beach~~

One of the beaches that I love best here on the island is located on Lindbergh Bay.  This quiet, calm little cove is secluded and rarely crowded.  This is the beach where the cruise ship staff often comes to for their quiet relaxation.  This is one of my most favorite beaches in all of the Caribbean.  I absolutely love to come here. 

This is the entrance to the Emerald Bay Resort - and the beautiful beach is just beyond this gateway.  You need to walk through here to get to the beach.  Taxis are very (!!!) expensive on the island of St. Thomas.  So even though this resort is reasonably close to the cruise ship pier - you should expect to pay about $20 each way for a taxi ride to this beach.

Don't you wish that you were here right now?

 You can rent an umbrella and 2 chairs here at this beach for $15.  Just pick out a chair and make yourself at home- someone will be by later to collect the money - they are very laid back here!  You can rent snorkel equipment here at this beach - but - this is actually NOT a good beach for snorkeling.  The best place to snorkel is Sapphire Beach - we actually drove there first - but that beach is on the windward side of the island and the waters were too rough for snorkeling - so we came back here to 
enjoy this beautiful place.  The Gardener was a little disappointed because he had his hopes up for snorkeling - :(

This beach is a haven for me.  I find it to be a tranquil place to relax, and enjoy the warm Caribbean waters.This photo was taken when I first arrived at the beach.  Later that afternoon - about 30 people from other ships arrived - but the beach was still very calm and quiet.  

 There are 2 restaurants with beach bars here on this property.  Both of them are lovely and within a short walking distance.  The mango smoothie and cappuccino smoothies are both wonderful here!  The restaurant food is expensive -- so just be warned.  

Here is a little picture of me and Jan - at the end of our wonderful day here on the beach.  We're headed back to the ship~~ 


Aruba has always been somewhat of an enigma for us when it comes to cruises.  Honestly, we just have not been happy with our choices in the past for this island.  Don't get me wrong - Aruba has some lavish and beautiful resorts that would be fabulous for spending a land vacation  - but when it comes to spending a cruise day there- well~~ I just have not been able to find a beach that has made us happy - until~~

On our most recent trip, we followed a friend's suggestion and went to Moomba beach.  It was love at first sight!  We were greeted by the nicest man who owns a snorkel shop here on this beach.  He walked us over to this area and explained that all of these chairs are reserved for cruise ship visitors and are free - totally FREE for the day!

Umbrellas are available at a cost of $10 - but the chairs are free.  (I did notice that there were several chairs that were in disrepair - so if you want to come to this beach and get one of the free chairs - I would suggest arriving early.)  The beach was truly lovely, and in the course of the day, was NOT overly crowded.  

There is a lovely restaurant here on the beach that has outside seating as well as seating underneath the thatched roof.  The whole atmosphere was just what we had been looking for - great food and a fun place to be.  (they are famous for their fish sandwhich at the Moomba Beach Restaurant - and it IS fabulous! The food here is most reasonably priced.) 

 You can order your lunch or drinks at the restaurant - or from a sweet little lady who will bring the menu (and your drinks and food) right to your chair on the beach. (The menu for the beach chair part of the restaurant is slightly different and a little more expensive than the menu for the thatched roof section -- just wanted to let you know that.) 

 We spent the entire day here at Moomba beach and loved every minute of it!  The beach is about 15 minutes from the cruise ship pier.  Your taxi ride will cost you about $15 (for 2 persons) one way.  OR - you can do what we do - which is ride the local bus.  The bus station is a quick 3 block walk from the cruise ship pier and the bus trip will set you back a whopping $3.00 per person - round trip. You will need to have the correct change because the bus driver does NOT make change.     

 The bus will drop you off at the Holiday Inn.  The easiest way to the beach is to walk through the hotel lobby and then out to the beach.  Turn right and walk just a short distance until you see this restaurant - then you are here!

 Needless to say - we felt that we had found Paradise when we found this beach.  This was the most enjoyable day that we have ever spent on Aruba - and this WILL be our go to place from now on.  (Who couldn't be happy here?!!)

 Look who is all smiles!

 One of the things that we loved most about this beach is this wonderful big shade tree right in the middle of the restaurant area.  We pulled our FREE chairs up right underneath this big 'ole tree and called it PERFECT!!

 If you want a spot underneath this fabulous shade tree - then you need to plan on getting here EARLY.  We are always among the first people off the ship when we get into port.  If you snooze-- you lose!

 Does this guy look happy or what?
(the mudslides are pretty darn good here!)
For those of you who have questions about snorkeling - here is the deal ~~ Aruba is not known for great snorkeling.  They are famous for diving - but snorkeling, not so much.  If you want to snorkel, you can go to Boca Catalina Beach which is actually just a few minutes beyond Moomba - you can take the bus there as well.  That beach is small, not exactly lovely (in my opinion) and has NO amenities except for a couple of thatched shade covers that you can sit under - IF you get there early and claim them for your own.  We have gone there several times in the past  and the Gardener states that the snorkeling there is fair - to good.  One consideration would be to spend a short time at Boca Catalina and then follow it up with spending the rest of the day at Moomba.    

 We will be going back to Aruba again later this fall on another cruise and we are very much looking forward to spending another wonderful day at Moomba Beach.   For us - Aruba is truly One Happy Island!

 These colorful posters were made by local children 
and were part of a beautiful display that we saw while on the island. 

Coming up next - the last stop on our cruise tour~
         this unbelievable beach on the island of Curacao.

The Gardener and I have just returned from travels - again.  (Did you notice that I had been away for a bit?)  We spent 10 glorious days on the island of St. Martin - one of our favorite places to go for total relaxation.  Here is what we did for 10 days ---- nothing~~~
I'm just beginning to sort through all of those pictures of "total nothingness" - and am looking forward to sharing those with you all in just a bit. In the meantime, I'm beginning to make my blogging rounds, trying to catch up with all of you.  Also - I am trying very hard to visit each of you who take time out of your day to visit here and leave such wonderful comments.  (I'm starting to feel gushy again!)
I love you guys-

ps - we are getting ever closer to a Vera tropical giveaway!    


Joyful said...

Simply beautiful. The blue of the water and the whiteness of the sand are so appealing. I'm not a cruise kind of gal so it's doubtful I'll be following in your footsteps. However it is lovely to look at all the beautiful scenes.

Mr Paul said...

Vicki, I love your travelogues even beter when its raining cats and dogs here.
You and the 'Cheshire cat' look like you had a wonderful time.
NO spice girls this time though, I do like the pictures of the locals.
Happy days.

Patty C. said...

I have never been outside the US & have never been on a cruise - blessings to you & thank you for sharing the photos - I have so much fun looking at your blog ;)

SuZeQ said...

WOW ... another wonderful trip with beautiful beaches. Ain't God good to us?

Julie Marie said...

Oh Vicki, I just love cruising with you!... the islands are all so beautiful and I love your secret cove... and shopping!... I would be in serious trouble!... I love the sea and have not been in quite awhile and your posts make me want to grab my thongs (what others call flip~flops I still call thongs, certainly I don't mean the swimsuit thing!) and head for the beach..we have the Great Salt Lake but it is not very clean and inviting... and certainly not the ocean!... you always look so calm and relaxed in your photos... and I know you don't mind walking anywhere either... I would rather walk than take a cab or drive anyway, especially along those Heavenly white sands... thanks for sharing... much love to you, xoxo Julie Marie

Thee Alley Kat said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful travels, Vicki! Sitting at my desk this morning, reading your blog whisked me away to a tropical happy place for a moment. What a lovely trip and great tips for planning a vacation. Loves.~ Amy

Susan said...

Oh my....oh my ..what a beautiful place. I'm going now to pack a suitcase....wait, I have to work at the library this week. Thanks for taking us on a great trip.

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

Beautiful pictures! I love visiting your blog, it is always filled with such lovely happy photos.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

The waters of the Carribean are so beautiful. I have been on cruises in that area, and yes, they are the best way to go. When you get to land and want to go someplace on the island, the taxi drivers serve as your travel guide and are always fun to talk with.

Lois Evensen said...

Wonderful images! We'll be back there in the middle of June for another ten weeks. We visit St. Thomas every other week on alternating weekly itineraries aboard Freedom of the Seas.

nanny said...

Yes, Yes, Yes, I wish I was in either place right now!!!

I've been to both and your pictures are fantastic. There was a hot tub down a winding stairway by the sea at St Thomas that we fell in love with....It was heavenly!!

Thanks so much for sharing these shots....

Unknown said...

it all looks so divine...relaxing....other-wroldly! i so enjoy "traveling" with you if only by way of your truly wonderful are quite the travel blogger! merci..merci...for bringing me some sunshine on a wet New England day! ;)

Tanya said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh - I was going through Vicki withdrawals! This was worth the wait - thanks for the tour! Just beautiful! Happy Tuesday, Vicki...Tanya

myriamkreativ said...

Hi Vicki,
it was - like always - a short trip visiting your blog. It is alway so wonderful to stop by and look at your fantastic pics. We are just having an iced latte in our garden and I am thinking of you. Hugs all around the worls

Mila said...

Ciao Vicki and thanks for sharing this Paradise with us !!!
Mila :)

Completely Coastal said...

I love your travel posts!! And I'd love to visit the US Virgin Islands..., I hear St. John must be amazing too. Wasn't aware of the driving on the other side situation.

Tanna said...

Color me green with envy, Vicki!! LOVE your photos and tour!! Man, I wish I were sitting in a beach chair right now!! blessings ~ tanna

Createology said...

Lovely photos and they truly show how much you enjoy your travels to amazing beaches and destinations. Blissful...

yaya said...

So beautiful! Brought back fond memories of being there many years ago. I guess it's time to return..your pics made me feel like I did! I'm always blown away by the beautiful blue water and white sand. I need a tan too! Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous said...

Simply breathtakingly beautiful.. what fun.


Deb said...

Hi Vicki! Just beautiful!! If I ever win one of the Wheel of Fortune trips to St. Thomas/Aruba etc...I'll have to come back and re-read this post for some good tips of what to do and where to go. :) I would love to claim one of those relaxing chairs!

Dorthe said...

One beach more beautiful than the other my dear Vicki- Oh and the sun--We could use a bit of that here!
And you are looking so brown and beautiful sweetie.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour and the tips! Your photos are lovely and you look quite adorable.

Never having cruised before (call me crazy), it's nice to see what you like and don't like so I can put your suggestions into a folder.

Right now, at 8,000', it's cool and breezy without a HINT of a beach!


Bumpkin Hill said...

Beautiful photos, cant wait to see curacao too. Looked into Antigua and sadly it was way too expensive, the island looked so beautiful. Hugs, catherine x

Rustique Gal said...

Thanks for a lovely tour! I love traveling with you. Gads, I wish I was there today!

Shirley said...

Hi Vicki, I had to read your blog tonight to see what adventure we could go on today. It is always fun to see the world through other peoples eyes. It is to places that I know I will never get to go in my lifetime. It looks so relaxing and enjoyable. I am ready for the next excursion and looking forward to the nothing pictures. I bet they are great. Have a wonderful weekend. Take care Your Missouri Friend.

Plush Possum Studio said...

Looks idllic and enchanting! thank you for sharing your lovely photo memories here. Such a treat!

Donna said...

Absolutely fantastic photos...makes me feel like I am right there! You captured the wonderful blue Carribean just perfectly!
Thank you also for my uplifting card!! I can't believe how thoughtful you are! It was such a pleasant surprise. BTW...I have 7 left...8 in all. But you are's ONE down!!!

knitalatte said...

Moomba Beach looks like a fantastic place to spend your day with the Gardner. I loved looking all your beautiful photos. You two have become quite the explorers. Thanks for sharing your travel tips with us. Truly Amazing!

Pat said...

Vicki...What beautiful photos! I feel like I went on vacation with you after seeing them. You and your Gardener look great and so happy. Welcome home and have an equally Happy Mother's Day! pat

Pat said...

Vicki...What beautiful photos! I feel like I went on vacation with you after seeing them. You and your Gardener look great and so happy. Welcome home and have an equally Happy Mother's Day! pat