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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 surely are in a beach lover’s paradise.

Caneel Bay is a beautiful resort which blends in with the natural surroundings of the island. Built in 1956, it’s a classic and traditions run deep with guests still dressing up for dinner, not wearing their swimsuits to meals and the number one priority here is relaxing. There are no phones or TV in the rooms which I love so much!! But never fear, there’s WiFi.

Families come to visit year after year. I met a couple at the beach bar celebrating their 30 year anniversary ~ they’d come to St John for their honeymoon in 1978.

Caneel Bay has seven beaches on the property. We swam at the beach outside our room, Caneel Bay Beach, and then we went to Hawksnest Beach for a snorkel and swim. At all the beaches, there are hammocks, lounge chairs and floats.

After all our beaching, we were hungry for a good meal. We caught a cab into Cruz Bay which is known as “Love City” ~ a quirky but fun little town.

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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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Exploring Pohnpei

For our only full day in Pohnpei, we took a boat tour from the resort and had a wonderful guide named Billy. Come to find out, Billy was featured on a history channel program about Nan Madol which was our first stop. I wish I could share photos but I have no patience with the dial-up, 14KB connection so I will add photos when we get to Majuro or Honolulu ~ depending on how fast a connection I can get.

NAN MADOL: This ancient archaeological site is located on an artificial islet off the southeast coast of Pohnpei. It was a bumpy 40 minute ride to the location but so worth it. We entered at a break in the seawall and we were lucky because the tides were going out and we almost missed our chance. If we had another full day, we would have done the kayaking trip throughout the area but we’ll save it for next time.

We came to the huge temple on Nan Dowas which is surrounded by up to 25 feet walls made out of basalt logs. The chiefs would greet visitors on this islet and the visitors had to crawl through a small opening up to where the chief sat thus showing their reference and paying tribute. Even today, we had to pay a $3.00 per person visitor fee to the current Chief’s representative which was his 7 year old son.

We spent our time on Nan Dowas but all in all there are about 80 islets which make up Nan Madol. The earliest carbon dating of the buildings date back to the 7th century and the building went up through the 16th century. When the Europeans came to Pohnpei, Nan Madol had only recently been abandoned.

KEPIROHI FALLS: We parked the boat along the shore and hiked in-land for about 10 minutes. We were rewarded with a GORGEOUS 70 ft waterfall which cascaded into a pool fit for swimming. Thankfully, we hadn’t mentioned the eels to FG until after she swam in the falls. She and FM really enjoyed it while I choose to just walk around in the water rather than swim. Like Nan Madol, this property owner charged $3.00 as well.

MANTA ROAD (Mwand Pass): After a nice lunch on a small, private atoll, we took the boat to a location close to the hotel which is referred to as “Manta Road” and there is no doubt as to how it got its name. There were SO many beautiful mantas in the water and they were so big we could easily see them from the boat. Manta Road is a cleaning station of sorts for the mantas ~ there are small fish there which will attach to the mantas and eat the parasitic insects and leftover food on the manta’s gills & skin.

John’s lunch wrapped in banana leaves:

FG reluctantly got into the water to snorkel with us. Unfortunately, the death, and subsequent news casts of Steve Irwin has left FG nervous around ocean creatures especially the Manta Rays which so closely resemble the Sting Rays. There were also a few sharks below us and she did freak out a little when she saw the first one. She swam faster than I’ve ever seen her swim before ~ heading back to the boat. There was a nice Englishman on the boat with us who is a very experienced diver and he educated her about how the rays and the white-tipped sharks, mostly telling her they won’t hurt you. I’m proud of her for getting back into the water. She did jump on FM’s back a couple times though.

We swam with about 6-8 rays during our snorkel as well as two white-tipped sharks. The rays are really majestic in the way they spiral and swim ~ like a bird in flight. If they got a little too close, I have to say, my breathing got a little quicker and FM got nervous when one ray decided it wanted to “play” and stayed between him and the boat 🙂 Too much fun!

We decided to spend the afternoon in the capital city of Kolonia…more on that later.

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Our room at the Village, Pohnpei

We stayed at the Village Resort in Pohnpei and it was the most unique hotel any of us had ever experienced. The drive to the hotel was up a winding, single-lane, dirt road and ended at the entrance to the main building which included the “Tattooed Irishman” restaurant.

Since there’s only one flight into Pohnpei each day, we didn’t have to give our names to the front desk agent ~ she knew we were the only check-in for the day.

Our room:

We were given our key and she pointed toward a path saying that was the way to our room. It was a path through the JUNGLE ~ literally. The Village is an eco-lodge so there are no TVs, telephones, a/c, internet connection, etc. The room itself is built into the hillside on stilts and is made from palm frawns and wood collected from the island. It is all open air, with screens to keep the bugs out. No curtains which would have made me a little more nervous if there were other guests around. The rooms have waterbeds which I have to say is not my favorite thing ~ my back didn’t really appreciate it after a day of hiking, swimming and boating.

It was very breezy so we didn’t miss the air conditioning but the birds were a little loud in the early morning hours. Ah, the sounds of nature…

We ate most of our meals at the “Tattooed Irishman” and the food/service was fabulous! Not to mention the view of the ocean couldn’t be beat. It’s definitely a place to go to unwind, relax and enjoy the slow-pace of island life. We enjoyed the peacefulness and lack of “bad” news.

The resort was opened 28 years ago by Bob and Patti Arthur. We had the opportunity to speak with Patti Arthur and asked how they found themselves in Pohnpei. She said her husband had the idea about starting the resort even though he didn’t have any experience in the hotel business. She followed with their 4 children, a dog, 16 pieces of luggage and a box which held a waterbed.

And here we thought we were adventurous 😉

Beachbums in Paradise:

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After several weeks off, mostly due to rainy weather, we returned to Boonie Stomping. We explored the southeastern coast and ended in the village of Inarajan. It was a beautiful day ~ sunny, clear and, most importantly while hiking, not too hot. The drive to the area is spectacular. Gorgeous views of the ocean and the southern part of the island is much less developed. Our hiking guide got permission for us to park at someone’s house which sat right on the beach ~ so lovely.  As always, we were welcomed by the local hospitality.

The entire five mile hike to Bear Rock, at Agfayan Bay, was along the coastline in water up to my knees. Talk about a good workout for my legs. Can you make out the “bear” in the photo below?

There were a few waves which made me a little leery and concerned for my eight years old but we were able to time it so we made it through without getting pushed around too much by the water.  Being from Hawaii, I have a healthy respect for waves and never turn my back on the ocean. Sometimes there are rouge waves lurking…

On our way back home, we stopped at a fun seaside restaurant called Jeff’s Pirates Cove for a late lunch.  It’s a tourist stop but you can’t beat the atmosphere, beach-side location, good food and fast service.

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