To Beach, or Not to Beach…
Grand, grand, Grand Turk
Full disclosure, I’ve never really been a beach person. You know those gloriously tanned guys and gals who pack up snacks, drinks, games, books and whatever else fits in those ridiculously oversized beach bags, and hit the sand for hours of “fun in the sun”? While it may sound like paradise (otherwise known as vacation) to some, to me it sounds like absolute torture. Ok, maybe torture is a strong word, but I’m a pale, irish-skinned lass. The sun and I are not friends. I love the outdoors, but my “fun in the sun” requires careful planning. I need a hat, some solid suncreen for sensitive skin, and, preferably, a big patch of shade. It’s a wonder that people aren’t lining up to hit the beach with me…
To be fair, this sun anxiety stems from years of harsh sunburns. I was an enthusiastic little girl who never wanted to miss out on the fun. This included the family trip to Mexico, where I was so terribly crisped on my first afternoon in the blazing sun (despite my parents best efforts to keep me in the shade), that I went to sleep coated in sticky aloe vera from head to toe, and was confined to the indoor kid’s club for the remaining midday hours of our trip. Oh, and when I did venture outside, I was forced to don a huge, oversized T-shirt overtop my bathing suit, as an added layer of protection (or embarrassment, in my opinion), per my parents demands. Really sucks when your parentals try and protect you, ya know?
So anywho, the beach and I have never had matching “best friend” necklaces from Claire’s. Then I moved to a beach town in Portugal, but that’s another story…
Enter my boyfriend, Kris, and I trying to piece together our work schedules, in order to have some overlapping time in the same place. What contract was the winner winner chicken dinner?
Most people would rejoice. Glorious sunshine, white sand beaches, and the opportunity to out-tan their entire makeup collection. But as I signed the contract, images of my horrible, oversized T-shirt in Mexico danced through my head. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly excited for the opportunity to see Honduras, The Turks and Caicos, and Belize, to name a few places, but the beaches weren’t exactly calling my name.
my Tuesday lunch date
But after two months of frigid rehearsal time in Hamburg, Germany, I’m now officially on a boat, floating through the Caribbean waters…as of twelve days ago. And I’m still alive! Hallelujah! And while, up to this point, you may think this post is completely and utterly useless, I promise there is indeed a point coming. Because twelve days ago, I would’ve advised my fellow non-beach goers to avoid a Caribbean cruise like the plague. But the more I see of this stunning part of the world, the more my opinion is changing. I am slowly, but surely, becoming a beach person in my own, pale-skinned way, and learning to thoroughly appreciate the sandy backdrop, and everything else that these unique places have to offer.
I’ve found my shady spots, I’ve got Michelle Obama’s new book, and a fantastically large beach basket packed with suncreeen, water, and my camera. And if I do say so myself, I seem to be actually enjoying this thing called the beach. Maybe all of you were right, and my sunburn-scarred self was wrong.
The beach is a pretty rad place to be…
Never met a sun umbrella I didn’t like
But if you know me, you also know that I can’t sit still for long. So I’m harnessing this newfound like-borderline-love for the beach, and setting out on a mission to find the best spots along this Caribbean itinerary. Because honestly, there are some really touristy, Disney-fied ports in this part of the world. Quaint, cookie-cutter-like stalls selling diamonds (why so many Diamond Internationals, why?!), rum, and all of the magnets you definitely don’t need, occupy the prime real-estate directly next to the cruise ports. It all pretends to be a piece of a foreign country, when really, the whole thing was manufactured by Carnival. For some people, it’s enough. If you’re looking for pure, comfortable, Americanized relaxation, look no further than the Las Vegas-like pool area of Amber Cove, which is apparently a piece of the Dominican Republic. Mhmmm.
But hey, these behemoth boats get thousands of people out of their home countries, so that is, at the very least, a baby step in the right direction.
But I crave a bit more when it comes to the definition of “travel.” And I’m finding that if you choose to venture ten minutes outside of the duty-free mayhem, it’s actually possible to experience something resembling culture. Whether it be finding the lesser-known beaches in Grand Turk, hiking through the jungles of Honduras, or sampling the local bakeries in Cozumel, I’m on a quest to become your know-it-all, Caribbean “better beach person.”
So I’m lathered in SPF 50, donning my straw hat, and proudly wearing the label of “beach person” as I navigate the sands on this itinerary. Follow my victories and failures (probably resulting in sunburn) here on the blog, and, pretty please, send me any recommendations you may have for the places I’m visiting, listed below. And to all of you suffering from the brutal winter temperatures at the moment, let this blog be your small piece of paradise, to take refuge from that wintery nonsense.
Oh, and if anyone has connections to some wonderful people in Jamaica, I’d be absolutely thrilled if you could put me in contact with them. Jamaican cruise terminals are crawling with folks I’m struggling to connect with, and by that I mean it’s a zombie apocalypse of cab drivers slinging verbal assaults in the form of fare prices. I’m dying to see the true colors of this wonderful country. Help.
Where in the world?
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Ocho Rios, Jamaica
- Roatan, Honduras
- Belize City, Belize
- Cozumel, Mexico
- Costa Maya, Mexico
- Georgetown, Grand Cayman
- Grand Turk
- Amber Cove, Las Vegas, I mean… Dominican Republic