It is that time of year where people head to the beach. For many in this area, a trip to the Outer Banks or even Virginia Beach satisfies that beach craving. Smelling the salty air and the feeling of sand between your toes is a summertime favorite for Northern Virginians.
One of the greatest things about living in our area is that we have the best of both worlds: we can be at the beach or in the mountains in three hours or less! With more than 15 beaches within a day’s drive, this is a wonderful place to call home. However, have you have ever thought about taking that leap and trying a beach in the Caribbean? With thousands of beaches and more islands than you can count, where does one start? I can help you with that.
If you hear someone say, “Oh, if you’ve been to one Caribbean island, you’ve been to them all,” I beg to differ. Each island has its own vibe and beauty. Some are more populated, some are more tropical, some are more prone to rain and hurricanes, and some permit cars and some require passports -- but some do not. For instance, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix) are U.S. territories, so they do not require a U.S. passport. Getting to these islands is not difficult; most are within a four-hour flight from Dulles Airport. St. Croix is the furthest at almost a six-hour flight.
A great way to see the Caribbean and get a taste for what different islands have to offer is on a cruise. You can visit three to five islands on one sailing. I recommend a Southern Caribbean cruise.
A Southern Caribbean cruise generally stops at five islands in seven days. Typically, this cruise will leave out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which enables you to plan to visit Old San Juan while you’re there. Old San Juan is rich in history with beautiful multi-colored buildings, and lots of wonderful restaurants and bars to choose from. Historic Fort San Cristobal is also located in the heart of Old San Juan. This city is larger than life with walking tours, food and wine tours, and a “hop-on, hop-off” trolley.
Your first stop on a Southern Caribbean cruise is St. Maarten, an island owned by both the French and the Dutch. The next stop is Antiqua, an island with 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. It is home to some of the prettiest water and beaches you will ever see. Next, you’ll be off to see the beauty and great shopping of St. Kitts (recently I spent three days there, and I could stare at the scenery and tropical backdrop all day). The fourth stop is St. Lucia, where you can take a mud bath in the rain forest or explore where they filmed “Pirates of the Caribbean." Barbados is also a common Southern Caribbean stop where you can relax in the sun or explore the history of this metropolitan city. So, on a Southern Caribbean cruise, you have five amazing island stops as well as San Juan, making it one fantastic trip!
Grab your towel and suntan lotion…the Caribbean is calling, and you must go!