One of my favorite parts of wedding planning was determining where we were going to go on our honeymoon. What's better than planning a vacation with the one you love? I love to travel and experience new things with my husband, so picking out a honeymoon destination was so much fun.
As we were planning, we had a few destinations picked out for our honeymoon. We knew that we wanted to go somewhere tropical, so we ultimately narrowed down our list to St. Lucia and St. Thomas. At first, St. Lucia was the front runner. We pretty much had our minds made up and actually made a reservation at a Sandals resort on the island. We quickly learned that there was a glitch as we booked our vacation (the website sneakily switched the room type we selected without us noticing), so we had to call the travel company and have our reservation cancelled. After that ordeal, we took a step back and decided to really think about where we wanted to travel to.
We loved the idea of St. Lucia. All of the photos we had seen were unbelievably beautiful. The Pitons look unreal and the beaches seem like they'd be amazing. As we were researching destinations, I asked my parents to tell me about their favorite places in the Caribbean. They both agreed that they loved visiting St. Thomas and St. John while they were on a cruise a few years back. After hearing this, I started looking into traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As I was browsing around for more information, I read how easy it was to travel from the U.S. to the U.S. Virgin Islands. There's no need to go through customs when you arrive, the currency is the U.S. dollar, everyone speaks English, some of the beaches are rated as being the best in the world...after hearing all this we were having a hard time trying to think of a reason not to visit!
We started to search for resorts in St. Thomas and St. John and saw that the Ritz-Carlton had a property in the southeastern part of St. Thomas. We looked at photos of the hotel online and we instantly knew that it was the place we wanted to go for our honeymoon. When we were looking for a hotel, we knew that we wanted to stay someplace special. Both of us had never been to a Ritz-Carlton resort before, but we were aware of the reputation that the brand has for being luxurious and guest-oriented. We figured that if there was a time in our life to splurge a little and have an extra nice vacation, this was it! After comparing prices on a few different websites, we booked our trip! We were all set to leave bright and early the day after our wedding.
Our wedding day came and went so fast and at the end of our reception we were whisked off by our chauffeur to make our way to our hotel for the night. While we were in the car, I pulled out my cell phone to look at my notifications. I saw that I had a voicemail from an unknown number, so I pressed play and began to listen. It was an automated call saying that our outbound flight the next day was CANCELLED. Upon hearing this, I FLIPPED out. It was bad. I was screaming, yelling and on the verge of crying. How could our flight be cancelled?! We were supposed to be heading out on our honeymoon!
After spending the majority of our wedding night on the phone with our airline and travel provider, we finally got things straightened out and we had to push our trip back by an entire day. After staying an extra night at our hotel near the airport, we woke up at the crack of dawn and finally started to head toward St. Thomas.
Upon arriving in St. Thomas, we walked off the plane and down the stairs onto the tarmac. It felt great to be in the sun and surrounded by palm trees. After we grabbed our checked bag, we hopped into a taxi with some other travelers that were staying at our hotel. We drove through Charlotte Amalie and saw all of the cruise ships in port. The downtown area was bustling with tourists and cruise ship passengers.
When we arrived to the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, we were instantly greeted by the hotel staff (commonly referred to the ladies and gentlemen of Ritz-Carlton), a cold towel and a rum punch. It was so nice to be welcomed in such a grand way. Once we were all checked in, we climbed into a golf cart and we were driven to our room.
Upon entering our room, we found a bottle of chilled champagne, two glasses, a card and a box of chocolates. It was such a pleasant surprise! In the card, the staff wrote their honeymoon wishes for us and told us that they would be happy to get us anything we needed. We were loving the great hospitality right off the bat and our honeymoon had just begun!
After getting settled into our room, we decided to explore the grounds of the hotel. Everything about the resort was absolutely amazing! The grounds were immaculately kept and groomed, the beach and pool areas were as clean as could be and all of the staff members we passed were so friendly.
Since we were exhausted from a full day of travel, we ordered room service for dinner our first night. Both of us weren't very hungry, so we decided to split a pizza. We figured that we'd save the fancy dining for another night. We mainly just spent our first evening talking about our wedding and how we were excited to be in St. Thomas for the upcoming week. It was a really low key night which was a nice change of pace considering that we had been so busy leading up to the wedding and even after it while we were dealing with our travel issues.
Before going to St. Thomas, I did a lot of research on the excursions that were available in the area. There are tons of things to do in the USVI, but we knew that we wanted to take a day trip to Virgin Gorda in the BVI and that we wanted to visit St. John and try snuba diving (a mix between snorkeling and scuba diving). So, during our first full day, we took a boat trip to Virgin Gorda. While we were in Virgin Gorda, we visited The Baths. The Baths are natural rock formations that are on the southern tip of the island. Everywhere you look there are huge boulders in the ocean. Some of the rocks that are next to each other have formed grottoes and caves. We were able to walk through the rocks - sometimes having to bend down real low - to make it to a beach area. We practically ran right into the water and started swimming! The ocean was so blue and the water was warm as could be. It was paradise!
While we were in Virgin Gorda, we had lunch at a restaurant called Top of the Baths. The place has a pool, a bar and great views of The Baths. We enjoyed a delicious meal and then visited a few gift shops before it was time to make our way back to our boat and go to our next stop. As we left the dock in Virgin Gorda, we sailed to Norman Island where we went snorkeling in caves. This island was the inspiration for the novel Treasure Island! Once the anchor was dropped and we had on our fins and snorkel gear, we jumped into the water and started to explore. We headed straight for the caves. Although they weren't that deep, it was still eerie to swim in a place that gradually gets darker and darker.
Norman Island was our last stop of the day and once we were finished snorkeling, we got back on the boat and enjoyed some rum punch and Painkillers. Painkillers are a famous drink of the Virgin Islands. My husband, Kyle, loved them! They have rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice and a pinch of nutmeg! Kyle actually loved the drink so much that he ordered them at the hotel during the rest of the trip.
After our day trip to Virgin Gorda and Norman Island, we spent the next day relaxing at the hotel. We started off our day on the beach, but we decided to move to the pool after getting lunch. This turned out to be "our spot" for the rest of the trip. Since we traveled to St. Thomas the first week of August, it was very hot and sunny. We liked being next to the pool because we could quickly cool off by taking a dip. The Ritz even had pool floats, so we would grab those from time to time and just sit in the water talking and taking in the view.
Our next excursion took us to St. John! The Ritz-Carlton is a 5 minute cab ride from Red Hook, one of the ferry ports on St. Thomas. We were able to drive to Red Hook, purchase ferry tickets and ride on the top deck of the boat over to St. John. After getting off the ferry, we got in a cab that took us to Trunk Bay where we were meeting up with a group to go snuba diving. If you've been snorkeling before but you're on the fence about trying scuba diving, snuba is a great thing for you to try.
When you go snuba diving, you have a 30 ft long breathing hose that's attached to an air tank. The air tanks float in rafts on the surface of the water allowing you to swim freely down below. Aside from using a breathing hose and air tank, you wear a weight belt to maintain your natural buoyancy in the water. Kyle and I had an hour long training with our snuba group before heading into the water with our instructor. We learned important skills like how to get water out of your mask and how to adjust to the pressure that is felt on your ears as you dive deeper into the water.
As we were in the water, we followed our instructor through a coral reef right outside of Trunk Bay. We saw so many different types of coral, rocks and fish. We even saw a sea turtle! We had our Go-Pro in hand and we captured a lot of awesome photos. Kyle and I both agree that going snuba diving in Trunk Bay was the highlight of our honeymoon. We had so much fun and it was such a unique experience. After our snuba excursion was finished, we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging on the beach at Trunk Bay. I have seen a lot of pretty beaches but Trunk Bay takes the cake for the most beautiful beach I've ever visited. The water is so clear and the bottom has the softest sand ever. If you're a beach girl like me, you NEED to check out Trunk Bay.
We spent the rest of our honeymoon relaxing and lounging by the pool. It was so nice to go at our own pace and do whatever we wanted to do! We had one day during our trip where it rained for the entire morning and afternoon. There wasn't much for us to do so we looked into heading downtown, but it turned out that there weren't any cruise ships in port that day. When cruise ships aren't in port, lots of shopkeepers close for the day since they won't receive much business. We were perfectly content will sticking around the resort and hanging out there for the duration of our trip.
I know this post was extremely long, but it honestly doesn't even give our trip justice. We had the most amazing time on our honeymoon. Although it started off on a rough note, everything we experienced at the Ritz-Carlton and in the USVI's/BVI's was exactly what we were hoping for and more.
As I mentioned earlier, we took a Go-Pro with us and took lots of photos and video. We compiled a bunch of the footage to create a fun little honeymoon recap video. Check it out below:
If you know anyone who is looking for a recommendation on where to go for their honeymoon, I cannot recommend The Ritz-Calrton, St. Thomas enough. Everything about the resort is perfect. The food is delicious, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful and the rooms are unbelievably comfortable. You won't regret staying at this resort if you decide to visit St. Thomas in the future.
After planning and going on my own honeymoon, I learned a lot. If you haven't already, check out my post on 14 Things to Consider Before Booking Your Honeymoon. Hopefully you'll save yourself some time, money and headaches by being prepared!
What's your favorite destination in the Caribbean? Have you ever been to St. Thomas or the Virgin Islands? Leave me a comment below and let me know!