I waited 46 years for a trip like this! I've always been a beach girl with dreams of tropical islands, turquoise waters, and a love of boats. I went off to Santa Barbara for college because it was literally located on the beach! As a high school student, I would daydream about trips to Fiji or Tahiti or Hawaii, but it always seemed so impossible and far off. Then one day my family found ourselves on a Disney cruise that landed in the Virgin Islands. We spent a few hours on the beach there and we couldn't wait to get back.
We never forgot the immense joy that those brief hours brought us on those beaches.
Jump ahead to 2019, pre-pandemic when we were planning a big vacation with our friends and we landed on the USVI and BVI as our destination! Its was one great adventure after another - memory after memory was made as we island hopped between the US and the British side of the Virgin Islands while we held home base in a rental house on the island.
As we wrapped that 2019 trip up, we couldn't help but dream of what we would love to do next. One of our biggest bucket list items was to live on a boat and continue our island adventures from the perspective of the sea.
And as 2020 continued to knock us down with punch after punch, we continued to plan for when the time was finally right - a beacon of hope for when the winds would finally start to shift. And it finally arrived as the world began to open back up and the US side of the Virgin Islands finally opened. We booked through And Beyond a charter company out of the Virgin Islands the most incredible boat and crew you could ask for on The Big Nauti. Now, I know everyone who travels says the have the best crew, but we really hit the jackpot! We got pirate history lessons, history of the islands, sailing lessons, tons of great sailing stories, amazing food (so incredibly grateful that she even made vegan dishes for McKenna and myself!) and now lifelong friends in our crew. They became our family.
From sailing lessons to snorkeling, paddle boarding, turtle swims, private beaches, floating docks, shoreside hors d'ourves & cocktails, a live concert on our boat that the kids were invited to play in, cooked meals on the boat 3 times a day, endless drinks mixed, served, and sometimes even tossed to us... it was incredible!
The photos could fill pages and pages of an album... and they will! But for this blog's sake, and time's sake, I will just share these!
When I think about the fact that these experiences are in my children's lives already, at the ages 10, 12, and 16, I am overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions! Will they understand the gravity of a massive trip like this? Do they know that this kind of experience is so rare? How will they ever be able to top this? What have I don't to their standards of vacations from now on? And of course great gratitude that all the hard work that we have put in over the years has allowed us to give them the opportunity to have this experience.
So at the end of our trip at dinner, we talked about it as a family. We reminded them that what we we were experiencing was so special and not your normal vacation. We made sure to talk about the highs of our trip and share them with each other. We talked about the gratitude we each feel for the experiences we were lucky enough to have over this week.
We walked away with full hearts, souls, and bellys!