My family does not have many traditions. We don't have family reunions. We don't have huge Thanksgiving celebrations full of extended family.
We do, however, travel. Every January, my dad, brothers, and I travel to Colorado for a few days of skiing and snowboarding. Likewise, every summer, we take a trip.
Sometimes, it is another trip to Colorado, trading our skis and snowboards for mountain bikes and whitewater rafts. Other times it is a trip to an island paradise, complete with sailing, snorkeling, and island hopping.
Last week, we took our annual summer trip to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it certainly did not disappoint. It had been about 12 years since our last trip to St. Thomas, so it was questionable whether or not our memories would live up to the reality of what the island had to offer.
The approach into St. Thomas may be one of my favorites that I have ever experienced. Finally seeing the beautiful azure sea, dotted with tiny islands, let's one know that they are entering an island paradise.
After arriving at the resort, it quickly became evident that, while relaxing, this vacation would be full of activity. Thanks to complimentary hobie cats, paddle boards, and kayaks, our competitive sides were out in full force, as we raced each through Great Bay.
The most exciting day, however, was our second full day, when we chartered Magic Moments' 45' Sea Ray, complete with Captain and First Mate, to take us snorkeling and island hopping.
The morning began with snorkeling Hawksnest Bay, off the coast of St. John. The water was absolutely beautiful, full of coral, more fish than I could count, and turtles. Yes, turtles, which we of course tried to catch, but the damn things were too fast for my brother and I.
Next, was a continental breakfast aboard the boat as we plotted out the rest of the day. We made snorkeling stops in Leinster Bay, the Aquarium off the coast of Norman Island, and Lovango Cay.
Lovango was my favorite stop of the day, as the island has an interesting story. It originally housed a multitude of brothels, so sailors would anchor at the island, "love and go." Today, the island is privately owned and generates its own energy through solar panels and wind turbines, but there are a couple of the original brothels still standing. The snorkeling here was exceptional, as well, with thousands of bait fish literally surrounding me at times. It was quite the experience.
After a great day with the Magic Moments crew, we decided to go to dinner off the resort property in Red Hook. The concierge recommended Fish Tails, and it certainly did not disappoint. After all, a dinner of blackened snapper, rum roasted plantains, and key lime pie is certainly one of the ways to my heart.
After such an adventurous day, the rest of our time in St. Thomas was spent reading on the beach, racing each other on paddle boards and hobie cats, and eating our faces off.
We certainly did A LOT of eating, especially the last night, as fresh fish and lobster were brought in and cooked to order. To say we indulged would be an understatement, but it was all worth it.
Sadly, as with most things, our island getaway had a to come an end at some point. Four nights in paradise was plenty for us, and left us craving more, as any good vacation should.
Now that we are back home, we have memories and pictures to last us another twelve years....but I don't think I can stay away that long again.