Archive for the ‘Islands’ Category

Skinny Legs in Coral Bay

My friend, Sandie, who lives on the island, suggested we eat at Skinny Legs while we’re here. My older brother used to call me skinny legs when I was little so how could I not give it a try?! Even though we were looking like a trio of salty dogs from our snorkeling adventure, we wandered into Skinny Legs for dinner. No one gave us a second glance as to the way we were dressed or how we looked. Definitely my kind of joint:

Coral Bay is on the other side of the island, about a 45 minute drive from Cruz Bay. It has a beautiful harbor and there’s no doubt as to why the sailors would want to stop in:



 It’s very quaint and less affected by the cruise boat tourist trade and caters more to the sailing crowd. Very different atmosphere. We didn’t spend a lot of time there but it would be a place we’d go again on the next visit. Yes, we’re already thinking about the next visit.

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We decided to be adventurous and rent a Jeep for a self-guided island tour. Driving is on the left here and I only had to remind FM a couple times. The roads are hilly, narrow, steep and have hair-pin turns every 100 feet or so. The maximum speed limit on the island is 20 miles per hour with several sections at only 10mph.

Before leaving the hotel property, we decided to take a quick snorkel dip at a beach we hadn’t been to yet: Scott Beach. Children under 13 are not allowed on the beach so we went to the far end of the beach, put our snorkel gear on and got into the water quickly. The reason for the no kids rule is there are a lot of honeymooners at the hotel and they attempt to have a peaceful place for them to enjoy. Since there are 7 beaches here at Caneel, having two as a no children beach is a good attempt on the part of the hotel to please all their guests. It used to be no children under 13 allowed at the hotel at all but that was back in the day (80’s and before). The beach is beautiful but then again I haven’t seen a bad beach yet:

We picked up our rental Jeep at 1:00 pm and headed off to the Annaberg Ruins:

Annaberg Ruins are located at the northeastern end of the North Shore Road and this is where they made rum, sugar and molasses in the 18th and 19th Century. The hill was named after the plantation owner’s daughter, Anna. The windmill of the plantation (see photo above) was the tallest of the 5 windmills on St. John. When we toured the area, it was already hot and humid which made me think of the poor slaves and the beasts of burden (mules, horses and donkeys) who were the backbone of the plantation. How awful it must have been to work in such abhorrent conditions.

Leinster Bay is very close to Annaberg Ruins, so we left our jeep parked there and walked .8 miles down an easy, well-maintained trail. Originally, FM wanted us to swim to the nearby Watermelon Cay but once we got to Leinster Bay, several people told us they saw more fish and sea creatures snorkeling in the bay rather than around the Cay. Plus those pesky jelly fish were out at the Cay. We snorkeled in the bay and what a treat. We saw several sea turtles who were so unaware of us. They just swam around and ate the seagrass on the ocean floor. FG loved the turtles but was not as calm when she got a glimpse of the sting ray who was also just hanging out and digging in the sandy bottom. I was fascinated by it all especially the rays and the turtles. They are so interesting to watch and I was very close to them. I’m very leery of the ray though and can’t help but think of the freak accident that Steve Erwin had with the sting ray. I try to stay on the head side of the sting ray but that’s easier said then done. I didn’t have to worry about FG ~ she was “out of there” as soon as we said “look at the sting ray, it’s swimming below you.”

Looking lovely with our “snorkel” hairstyle and feeling wet & sandy, we headed to the town of Coral Bay for an early dinner…

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Besides the fabulous fishes in the sea, we’ve seen some great wildlife just outside our room. This handsome fellow was wandering around the other day…

An employee told us he has a much bigger brother living outside the cottages just up the hill. We’ll have to check for him tomorrow.

The donkeys always bring a smile when we see them. I can’t help but think of Donk-kay from Shrek:

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St. John has so many beautiful beaches so we needed to go to at least two a day just to get our fill. We took a break from St. John beaches to visit Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

Virgin Gorda is much more dry than St. John ~ complete with cactus plants. We walked around the property which took all of 10 minutes then headed to the beach. The fish were very friendly, almost playful.

A couple photos of the ABOSOLUTELY GORGEOUS Little Dix beach!

We caught the return ferry to Caneel at the Little Dix Bay dock but we were late departing. A honeymoon couple (so we’ll forgive them if they were a little distracted) got on the wrong boat and were on their way to Beef Island. We had to wait until they returned to Little Dix and could get on our boat. Travelers Hint #256: Always ask “Is this the boat (plane, bus) to “where ever” you’re heading?”

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Yesterday, we took the weekly ferry from Caneel Bay to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. This is a day trip which leaves at 8am and returns at about 4pm The boat trip was about an hour and a half &, along the way, we were able to see Tortola, Norman Island, Peter Island, Salt Island, Cooper Island, and Beef Island. The Caribbean is littered with these wonderful drops of land.

As a teenager, we lived in Puerto Rico and the resorts where my dad worked had two sister properties: Caneel Bay and Little Dix Bay. I was fortunate enough to spent time on both St. John and Virgin Gorda visiting friends of my parents. I would babysit for their children and during my off-duty time, I went to the beach, played tennis and enjoyed the area. As you can see, my love of islands comes from my parents.

This trip was planned so I could show FM and FG this beautiful part of the world. For me, it’s a little strange because most things are the same and feels so familiar but, then again, after so many years, a lot of changes have occurred. 

Virgin Gorda is still as beautiful as ever but has a lot of new construction and additions. The boat landed at the dock, we went through immigration which is where I got another passport stamp, then we headed about 1.2 miles by taxi to The Baths. At the Baths, there are several big boulders leaning against one another and water flows in-between creating a very interesting hike and swim area. 

There’s also a beautiful bay at The Baths to swim and snorkel in ~ unfortunately, there were a ton of other “daytrippers” attempting to enjoy paradise. And the jelly fish decided to make it an adventure in pain for all of us. Fortunately, we all saw several jelly fish floating but we all managed not to get stung.

After spending the morning at The Baths, we headed over to Little Dix Bay to enjoy yet another gorgeous beach. More to follow tomorrow…

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We made it back to the beach today ~ we’re in St.John, US Virgin Islands. It’s paradise and we’re all so happy to be here but both FG and FM are asleep already and I’m right behind them. It took 3 flights and a boat ride for us to get here. It was so worth it.

More to follow…

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Majuro, the capital of The Marshall Islands, was our last stop before we headed on to Hawaii. There was much debate on my part as to whether or not we would actually stop, I’d heard such bad reviews about all the hotels on the island and about the island itself.

In the end, I decided it would be best to check it out because my motto these days seems to be: it may be a long while before I’m this way again.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands consists entirely of low-lying coral atolls. There are 29 separate atolls in the Marshalls which contain a total of 1,225 islands, 870 reef systems and over 160 specis of coral. The Marshalls are one of four other all-atoll nations. The others are: The Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Bikini and Kwajelein atolls are part of the Marshall Islands. I’ve had several people ask me “what exactly is an atoll?” so I did a little research and here’s what I found out:

In 1837, scientists first became interested in atolls and coral reefs when Charles Darwin returned from his 5 year exploratory expedition through the Pacific and Indian oceans. Darwin postulated the following stages of an atoll:

Stage 1: After a volcanic island is created, a fringing coral reef begins to develop closely around it. Oahu, Hawaii is considered to be in Stage 1.

Stage 2: Over millions of years, the volcanic island steadily sinks back into the ocean. The distance between the fringing reefs and the island becomes larger and larger. Eventually, the reef becomes a barrier reef. Guam would be considered in stage 2.

Stage 3:  Over time the high volcanic island becomes a smaller and smaller island.

Stage 4: Ultimately, the entire island is washed away to the sea and all that’s left is the barrier reef outline which is what is referred to as the coral atoll.

Other atoll facts:

* The word atoll comes from the Maldivian word atolhu.

* Atolls can only be found in tropical ocean regions, near the equator.

* Coral reefs, which form the foundation of atolls, can only be grown in waters with an average temperature of 23 to 25 degrees celsius.

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