When Do You Crave A Beach Trip Most?

November 19, 2013

anse chastanet resort

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By Gabrielle. Image of the Anse Chastanet Resort.

We’ve done so much travel over the last few years, but never really a beach trip — the kind where you simply sit on the sand day after day with a good book and an umbrellaed drink. And when you’re not doing that, you’re snorkeling. And when you’re in the mood to get off the sand, there’s a tropical jungle offering adventure. Oh man. That sounds so lovely right now! The idea of a laid-back beach vacation (or maybe even a cruise) is one of those things I daydream about when my head is getting overwhelmed, and specifically a beach vacation in the Caribbean, because a reader sent me a link to this article a few months ago, and the pictures are so stunning I sort of seared them into my brain.

Here are the 4 Caribbean spots on my list at the moment, and when I would most want to visit each one:

Isla Mujeres
I’ve heard this is one of those life-list kind of places, and I can see why. I would not say no to snorkeling through an underwater sculpture garden! Oh. That didn’t wow you? Then how about these sleeping shark caves? Could there be a cooler island than this? It’s too bad the beaches there look like this. (Kidding!) One review on Trip Advisor mentioned that from mid-June to mid-September is whale shark season off Isla Mujeres — and you can snorkel next to 35′ whale sharks! So I’m thinking that’s when we’d aim for a visit.

I was only vaguely aware of Antigua until recently, and now it comes up in frequent conversation between me and Ben Blair. There’s a canopy tour in Antigua that gets amazing reviews. We’d love to experience it and then bring home inspiration for our own mini canopy tour here at The Treehouse. Every time we talk about our yard, we say, “I guess we’ll just need to visit Antigua first.” : ) By the way, I’m envisioning the canopy tour happening when we’re not sitting on the sugar-crystal-pink sands(!) of Half Moon Bay. The off season at Antigua is May to November, so we think May would be fun — we could wait till school is out and make it a family trip.

Aruba is on my list specifically for Eagle Beach. The widest beach on the island. Pristine soft white sand. And four species of sea turtles that nest on the beach! What a sight it would be to see those tiny baby turtles making their way to the water. Makes me gasp just thinking about it. I’ve heard July is nesting season for the turtles, so I think this would have to be a summer trip for me.

St. Lucia.
I’m sure there are plenty of family-friendly activities on St. Lucia, but in my head, this would be a destination just for me and Ben. Mossy mountains, zip-lining, chalky beaches, and a luxury hotel (like this one, pictured at top). Yes, please! They say the weather is best in St. Lucia from December to April — meaning there’s the least amount of rain. And they also say, that even during the peak busy season, that St. Lucia doesn’t get too busy. So I’d say January or February would be perfect — those grey months following the holidays can always use a little sunshine.

I’d love to hear: Have you ever been to the Carribean? If yes, where? And would you recommend it? Secondly, do you crave beach vacations? I know they’re Ben Blair’s favorite kind. Third, when do you crave a beach-y vacation most? If you were taking a trip to the Caribbean, would you make it part of your summer vacation? Or do you save your sand and sun daydreams for the dark winter months?

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When Do You Crave A Beach Trip Most? – Design Mom | caribbean all inclusive vacation packages
November 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shanna November 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

Turks & Caicos has my heart in the Caribbean for sure. The blue waters out there are not easy to find elsewhere!


2 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

Good to know! I feel like I’ve heard about Turks & Caicos my whole life. But I don’t actually know anything about it.


3 Brooke November 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

My husband and me just got back yesterday from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, so your post caught my eye. We did a Caribbean cruise last year that took us to several of the islands you mentioned. Hands down, our favorite was St. Lucia. We are both wanting to go back. It was not too busy or touristy and the snorkeling was amazing. The beaches were beautiful. We loved how relaxing and quiet it was.


4 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 11:49 am

I love that — I feel like you just confirmed my instincts about St. Lucia. It might be moving up on my list.


5 Jessica Oglesby November 19, 2013 at 11:37 am

Yes! I planned a senior trip to Isla Mujeres for me and ten of my friends after graduating from high school in 2012. We went mid-June right when the Whale Shark season was beginning. It was incredible to snorkel/swim inches away from these 35foot long creatures without a barrier or anything. Truly breathtaking and a bucket list item!


6 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 11:50 am

Oh my goodness. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I think I would be stunned and scared and amazed all at once.


7 Ashley November 19, 2013 at 11:41 am

February is definitely my beach-craving month. I’m due that month, however, so this year we went early–just got back from Grand Cayman. It was a lovely island and super easy to travel there (drinkable water and we never even went to the ATM to take out Camanian dollars). I hear St. John is really unspoiled, but I haven’t been. St. Lucia is my favorite at the moment, and Isla Mujeres is awesome because it’s so easy to reach from Cancun (where you can get flights for cheap). I have trip reports for both St. Lucia and Isla Mujeres (part of the Yucan travelogue) on my site, if you end up going to either!


8 Ashley November 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

*Yucatan* (oops)


9 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 11:50 am

More votes for St. Lucia!

So glad you had a good trip. And congrats on the upcoming baby!


10 Valerie November 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

St. Martin/Maarten is definitely the destination choice for my “lottery” home .. :-)

I just love the feel of the island, the two cultures and the beaches are wonderful. I feel like my soul can relax there.


11 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

“I feel like my soul can relax there.”

What a lovely sentiment. I love that feeling.


12 Jenny also November 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

We went to Isla Mujeres for our Honeymoon 11 years ago; that little island was perfect! The highlight was driving around the small island on a shared moped and having a beach lunch each day made up of margaritas, guacamole, and tortilla chips. We also loves the snorkeling trip and hearing the dolphins off shore (although we weren’t able to spot them).

I crave warm beach vacations every winter. We went to Maui for each of our November babymoons and we’re taking those 2 “babies” (now nearly 8 and 4) to Mexico over winter break. I cannot wait to swim in the warm ocean all together!!


13 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm

So have you seen the shark caves and the underwater sculpture garden? Or did you stick to the moped (which also sounds wonderful!)?


14 jenny also November 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm

We did some snorkeling (Maui has much more colorful fish) but didn’t see the shark caves or underwater garden. Maybe we’ll have to go back for an anniversary some day! I also think they have a nice dolphin encounter place that we missed the first time.


15 Summer November 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Palau!!! My husband and I are avid scuba divers, and spent a year living on Guam (which itself is an amazing island), but unfortunately never made it to the nearby island of Palau. The jelly fish lake (dive in the midst of a sea of jelly fish) is one of the Wonders of the Underwater World. So many islands in Micronesia are incredible (and quite untouched by tourism – which I like): Yap, Saipan, Chuuk, etc. I love the beach!!


16 Summer November 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I realized you asked specifically about the Caribbean; however, if you want the most beautiful beaches, and definitely best diving, in the world, then Micronesia wins hands down. Just sayin’. :)


17 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

A jelly fish lake? I’ll bet it feels like another planet!


18 rachel swartley November 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

When I was in Trinidad, I got to watch a leatherback sea turtle dig a hole in the sand and lay 100 or so eggs in it. This only happens at night, because the turtle relies on the moonlit ocean to help her figure out which direction to go when she is finished nesting that night. It was such an amazing process to witness!

(P.S. When my kids ask for a bedtime story tonight, I know what I’m going to tell them about!)


19 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Your kids are going to LOVE that story. So cool.


20 Heather November 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I love the Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands and St John are still my favorite. Now that you are in San Francisco, though, you really should just go to Hawaii! It is hard to beat those non-stop flights, and Hawaii is just as warm and spectacular. I love beach trips just about any time. We’ve done some New Years trips, summer trips, but spring break is really when we need them on the east coast.


21 Design Mom November 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

You’re right of course. Hawaii is just a hop away! But I think I’m still focused on the Caribbean because I’ve never been there. Then again, I haven’t been back to Hawaii since I was 13 — so maybe they should both be on my travel wishlist!


22 Cassidie November 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm

My husband and I lived in Trinidad for about a month and a half while he did an internship. Obviously, Trinidad is pretty great, but we also visited Grenada, which is the most amazing place I have ever been. Amazing hikes, small island, great food. It is a bit touristy, which can be a good thing and a bad thing, but if you go on the off season it is just the locals and yourself. And the LDS church is right on the beach.


23 Design Mom November 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

I would love to visit Trinidad someday! And thanks for putting Grenada on my travel radar.


24 Katie November 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Aruba is great. We went there on our honeymoon. Our new favorite place in Ambergris Caye off the coast of Belize. It’s beautiful! The town of San Pedro is very walkable and filled with great restaurants. There are many adventures and day trips available too. We’ve been there 4 times and always stay here:


25 Design Mom November 20, 2013 at 9:23 am

Wow! That hotel has a really bright, white mediterranean feel. So appealing.


26 erica November 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

St. John and the BVI (specifically the Baths and Cooper Island) are my favorite. The people are so friendly on St. John and it’s not commercialized like many islands (with the exception of the Westin – you will not find a chain of any kind). We stay at a cottage right on the water and snorkel right 20 feet from our bed! Groceries are rather expensive so you have to be mindful of purchases (bacon maybe cheaper than sausage $12 vs $6 for package), rental cars are pricey – but you don’t need one the entire time as cabs run frequently and a main source of income for the island, and if you dine out servings are generous, most meals can be split between two people.

Also, Cozumel. My husband’s aunt lives there. The crime rate is extremely low, people are friendly and most of the tourists stay near the port or take excursions. This leaves the opposite side (east) of the island uninhibited by most beach standards and a national park (Punta Sur – AMAZING water). You could easily travel here for a week for less than any other island.

Hotels: Ventanas al Mar (east side), El Cantil Condos (port area, across the street from a grocery store, snorkeling out front)

If you plan a trip to either, please pm me and I’ll give you more inside tips!


27 Design Mom November 20, 2013 at 9:24 am

I love hearing from people that can make solid recommendations about a place. So helpful! Thank you, Erica.


28 Becca R November 20, 2013 at 7:23 am

I always crave the beach. My heart belongs to the Dominican Republic, but I would love to explore more of the Caribbean. Our ultimate dream beach is the Mediterranean.


29 Design Mom November 20, 2013 at 9:26 am

The Mediterranean is a big draw for me as well. But having spent some lovely vacations there, I feel like I need to branch out.


30 Barchbo November 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

The only beach I crave is Boca Raton, where I lived as a teenager. It’s home!


31 Design Mom November 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

Yet another beach I haven’t visited, but have heard of all my life. My list keeps growing!


32 Shannon { writer + editor } November 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

I crave beach vacations from November to March–pretty much the entire time the temperature is below 50 up here!

In our pre-kid days, Tim and I spent Thanksgiving with friends working for the state department in the Dominican Republic. So beautiful, and it was wonderful to discover that everything we’d heard about Caribbean beaches was true. Another close friend is working for the state department in Barbados for the next two years, and my dream is to get the six of us down there for a visit.

I’ve wanted to visit Anguilla ever since reading A TRIP TO THE BEACH by Bob and Melinda Blanchard. They’re a husband and wife who escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise. Food and beaches! http://www.amazon.com/Trip-Beach-Living-Island-Caribbean/dp/060980748X


33 Jessica @ Little Nesting Doll November 20, 2013 at 12:28 pm

When I was very pregnant with my second child, I went to St. Croix with my husband, our almost-2-year-old daughter, my parents, and my in-laws. We rented a villa that had a pool and had it’s own private beach, so we literally went from swimming to snorkeling anytime we wanted right in our own back yard. It was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken. And renting the villa was actually not at all expensive compared to staying in a nice hotel, and we had a huge amazing kitchen where we could cook our own yummy meals. It was gorgeous.


34 Dee November 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

My family is St. Lucian, I grew up there in part and then spent every summer there as a teenager. So, obviously, it gets my vote. I haven’t been in a few years, but am going for a family wedding next year, can’t wait!


35 Dee November 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Also, I don’t crave beach trips. I’ve been lucky enough to visit beautiful beaches on a few Caribbean islands and in Hawaii plus I live at the beach now, so I definitely prefer city vacations.


36 DeAnn November 20, 2013 at 3:54 pm

St. John is my favorite in the entire Caribbean. Camping or in a cottage at Cinnamon Bay. Snorkeling around Water Lemon. Hiking. Lounging. Diving. Kayaking. Sleeping to the sounds of the ocean. We have taken our kids many times. It is a national park and park rangers give tours and lessons and cultural presentations all over the island. Love it.


37 Zoe - SlowMama November 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I’ve been to the Caribbean a few times and I LOVED St. Lucia. And St. John was incredible for snorkeling.

I think Puerto Rico is an unsung place… small but has everything: gorgeous beaches and lots of options for accommodations, rain forest, historic small city with fabulous restaurants, art galleries, architecture and shops — and you don’t have to worry about currency exchange or language barriers. Would go back in a heartbeat.


38 modfrugal November 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Vieques. Tiny island off Puerto Rico – you can take a puddle jumper plane from San Juan or a ferry from Fajardo on the east coast of PR. Not too crowded, but getting more popular every time we visit. It has a quiet rustic charm we adore. There isn’t any high end shopping etc.. Stunning beaches, often with only one or two other people on them…one of which is volcanic black sand you can only access by hiking along a dry riverbed. It’s a special place with wild horses roaming the streets and chickens everywhere. Next time we go, we have decided we will take a ferry to nearby Culebra for the day as well.


39 Claire (@Kurea_San) November 24, 2013 at 5:30 am

My hubby and I backpacked through Central America for 6-months several years ago, and my absolute favourite beach spot was the Belizen Cayes. These islands are stunning an so chilled out. Favourite memory is lying in a hammock all day – suspended over the water and munching on local made banana and coconut bread.
Claire xx


40 Jaye Lucia December 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I loved St. Lucia so much I moved there. Packed up the family and our life and went for it. Your move to France was part of my inspiration and helped me get my head around living abroad. I highly recommend this island.


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