There’s not very many beach “destinations” only a short direct flight away from mainland USA. You could fly to the Bahamas but there’s usually a stopover somewhere in Florida. The mainland itself has a few beachy areas that make for veritable beach vacations. But if you’re looking for a Caribbean flair without having to forgo American comforts, look no further than the Virgin Islands.
Historically, after being owned by various European settlers, the Dutch wrested control of the region until modern times. The United States bought the islands for a paltry $25million at the beginning of WW1, and they have been a US territory since then. The ancestry of its people however remains firmly African (from the slaves brought there by the Europeans. Ugh, what a nasty word/concept it is!)
Today, the USVI is a haven for those seeking powdery-sand beaches and spotless aquamarine waters. Our family isn’t inherently beach vacationers. However, after exposing the kids to Peru (not a vacationy vacation), we felt like they needed a beach break where there would be no expectations of getting them anywhere on time or them having to endure sightseeing that we wanted to do. So they did a lot of this.
Our stay at the Marriott Frenchman’s Bay was all that it promised to be. Our room, situated in a building right on the beach, meant that the kids could just descend right into the waves whenever the mood struck them. Although ours are still too young to be in the water without supervision, for older kids, I reckon, parents would appreciate not having to accompany them if they didn’t want to; you could keep an eye on them from your balcony. This is what our balcony looked out to.
For how common it’s becoming, being vegetarian still causes eating challenges in many countries. Luckily, we were able to discover a couple of restaurants that served tasty veggie fare so much so that we didn’t feel a pinch. The Sandbar restaurant in our hotel, for one, served a killer Black Bean Burger. A crispy patty sandwiched between crunchy buns, served with a mustard aioli, really hit the spot. Sandbar also serves totally yummy drinks during happy hour every evening. I tried the Havana Blueberry cocktail that was just delicious — sweet vanilla rum mixed with fresh blueberries, passion fruit juice (and pieces!) and crushed graham cracker crumbs (what!). It was like a floating cake in a glass; if you’re a fan of sweet not dry cocktails, this is definitely your drink. The only downside was that because of the restaurant’s casual ambiance, the drinks were served in plastic cups. Half the fun of a cocktail is the vessel it’s served in, so a few negative points there.
We also discovered the bohemian Barefoot Buddha in town that serves yummy veggie wraps and sandwiches. It offers free Wifi, great food and a relaxed island vibe that is much appreciated in an otherwise lackluster town. We felt like besides the touristy area of St Thomas that boasts luxury brand outlet stores, bargain liquor shops and an open marketplace for the cruise-ship hordes, there wasn’t much else to do. I guess if you’re there for the beach you don’t really care for exploring much else. We took a quick driving tour of the whole island without stopping for much.
For once the kids weren’t complaining.