Everyone had such a fun time snorkeling on Thursday that we checked out flippers and masks after breakfast on Friday to give it another go.
Wow! What a trip!!! I was extremely excited when Caneel Bay invited me down to St. John for a short trip. I was really counting down the days, especially as the weather was getting colder and colder throughout the winter. It ended up being the perfect week because the temperatures seriously dropped in the city… and I was on a beautiful beach!
Growing up in Florida, I’ve spent my fair share of time on the water and vacationing at the beach. We grew up going to the Florida Keys, venturing up to the Panhandle, taking short drives to Gulf, and even traveling to visit our grandparents on the beaches of North Carolina. We’ve also taken vacations in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
I have to say though, nothing was quite like Caneel Bay. It’s a bit of a journey (flight, taxi, 30 minute ferry) to get to the resort, but when the boat pulls up the resort, all the travel stress you might have accumulated– plus all your regular stress– melts away. And immediately, you’re on island time.
I arrived late Wednesday afternoon and spent some time exploring the resort. It’s a luxury resort but in a very comfortable kind of way. The resort hasn’t changed much at all since 1956 when the doors first opened. The rooms don’t have televisions or phones and it’s really a place to disconnect from everyday life. (There is great wifi though throughout the resort though so you can reconnect to work/family if you need to.) I shot some things with a local photographer and then it was time for dinner. I changed and started the walk to where the group was meeting for the first time and was just blown away by the sunsets.
If I have to pick one favorite thing, it might just be the sunsets. I’ve seen countless sunsets over the years, but the Caneel Bay sunsets were unlike anything I had ever seen. Every night the sky was like a beautifully orchestrated light show. Changing colors by the minute. It was pretty mesmerizing to watch.
We ate dinner at Zozo’s, which is a local restaurant that relocated to the sugar mill ruins located on the resort grounds. In the 1700s, the island occupied a plantation where sugarcane was grown and refined. The donkeys were used in the making of the sugar and they still roam the resort. It’s a hilarious and adorable sight to see when little packs of friendly donkeys mosey around.
On Thursday morning, the whole group of us made the short walk to Honeymoon Beach (the resort has seven different beaches!!!) for an excursion of kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling. I was reluctantly excited about this and I think the whole group was in agreement, however, we all LOVED the entire day. We kayaked to Scott’s beach where we began an easy hike through a trail that wraps around a bit of the island. The views were breathtaking and it was a great way to see a lot of the island and learn more about the (many) critters and creatures that occupy the land. (Um, like tarantulas that bury themselves in little holes.)
After the hike, we snorkeled. This was the BEST time as the water is unbelievably clear and blue. There are turtles, a little reef, and lots of fish. The turtles are amazing and just kind of hang out, eating at the bottom and then come up every six or so minutes for air and then go back down. Very friendly little guys!
We kayaked back to Honeymoon Beach and then went to the Beach Bar and Grill for a relaxed lunch. I was exhausted from the kayaking, swimming, and hiking and food never tasted so good!!! We met up later for a sunset cruise. Let me tell you, the cruise was an amazing way to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Me with my two new friends Xochitl and Ceci! A quick note about the group. The biggest thing I was worried about the trip was not knowing anyone else who was invited. We had TOO much fun together. Everyone came from diverse backgrounds (wedding, photography, travel, design, fitness, fashion) and we learned so much from each other while having a blast. Caitlin, the Gypset Goddess, may have inspired me to actually get into yoga. It’s such an amazing thing to be able to say that in three short days, strangers became friends.
No matter where you are throughout the resort, there’s a view. And not just any old view, but a gorgeous view. I was overzealous in my packing of books. First of all, we had so much fun throughout the trip that I didn’t really even have time to read. (Maybe I read five pages total!) And when we did have downtime, I couldn’t focus on a page because I was just staring and taking in every single second.
Ceci, Caitlin, and I (all the C’s from the group) spent an insane amount of time in the water with Justin (the photographer of the group) and the GoPro I brought. We ended up ditching the masks and the flippers and just free dove and swam around. The water is super salty which makes floating around pretty easy, although we ended up ingesting a good amount while trying to get fun pictures. I wish I could spend my entire life in the water. I’d be just fine with that.
The donkeys were extra friendly while I was walking back to my room to get ready for dinner. They came out of nowhere and came right up to me to see what I was up to. The baby, named Pumpkin, snuck his nose right into my beach bag to see if there were snacks I’m assuming. When they realized I had nothing to offer them, they went on their merry way!
One last sunset! As the sun was setting we took a quick cab ride over to downtown for drinks and shopping before returning back for a gorgeous dinner. We spent the whole night laughing and talking and sharing stories. I think that’s what Caneel Bay is really all about. Something about those tropical temperatures and gorgeous views transports you to this other worldly place of relaxation and fun.
Saturday morning was our departure. One ring of the bell signaled that our ferry back to reality had arrived. We loaded our bags and waved goodbye as Caneel Bay grew smaller and smaller in the distance. A taxi to the airport, a very long strange delay (another story for another time), and a four hour flight back to NYC. The hashtag for the trip was #charmedbycaneel and I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up our time there… I can say with certainty that I was very much charmed by Caneel.
I miss it already! A huge, HUGE thank you to Caneel Bay for the incredible vacation.