I'm back to blogging. Our fun vacation to the Caribbean seemed like the perfect excuse. We spent many Minnesota winter months planning and looking forward to this tropical escape and it turned out to be exactly what we needed.
Our cruise didn't depart until Sunday, so I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to fulfill a teenage fantasy by going to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios on Saturday. I was so giddy to drink butterbeer and explore Ollivanders Wand Shop! Chad was a good sport, and secretly I think he enjoyed it too.
We boarded our ship on Sunday and enjoyed a few days of relaxing, reading, swimming, and lots of eating.
Unfortunately, we missed our port of call at CocoCay in the Bahamas due to safety concerns. The winds and waves were too unstable for us to tender into the island. We were really sad, because we had been looking forward to a day of snorkeling, but safety is obviously more important.
They tried to make it up to us by getting into St. Thomas earlier than initially planned. It was great to have a whole day to enjoy that beautiful island. In true Hyland style, we walked straight past all of the cruise excursions and found our own, less crowded way to explore the island -- a local taxi driver. We loaded on the back of the taxi truck and then were treated to some beautiful overlooks. Our last stop was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, Magens Bay beach, where we decided to spend the rest of the day.
We rented some lounge chairs and found the perfect spot on the beach, under a tree, away from most of the crowd.
Our next port of call was St. Maarten where we had planned a scuba diving trip with a local company, Octopus Diving. They were fantastic, especially with it being my first time. We highly recommend them. After getting past the initial fear and mental block of breathing underwater, I had the most amazing time. My dive instructor said I was the best exploratory diver he had ever taken out and that I ought to get certified. I definitely will. Chad's a certified diver and has been on over 14 dives, so I'll have to get certified so we can continue to dive together.
We did two dives while in St. Maarten. The first was at Creole Rock (30 feet for 48 minutes) and the second at Turtle Reef (30 feet for 52 minutes). We saw and experienced some amazing things. Our favorites were the nurse shark, the turtles, and the schools of fish.
Here's an example of why I absolutely love traveling with Chad. Instead of heading back to the cruise ship for lunch like the other couple from our dive, he asked the locals where the best place was to eat. We weren't disappointed and enjoyed some fantastic, local cuisine. We spent that lunch discussing how our next trip to the Caribbean will involve island hopping at our leisure. We will make very minimal plans prior to arriving and simply explore each of the islands for as long as we want. We're accepting applications for travel companions, so let us know if you are interested!
We then had a few more days on board to enjoy simply being together--getting a massage, attending the evening shows, reading, mini-golfing, and we even picked up shuffleboard. The ocean was so calm on these last few days, it was crazy. The biggest ripples were coming from our ship.
We had a fantastic time exploring our beautiful world and reconnecting with each other away from the busyness of life.