Crystal blue waters, delicious eateries with breathtaking views and stores where shop owners know you by name, this is what St. Thomas was to me. For nearly five months, as I sailed the Caribbean seas singing for Holland America Cruise Line, St. Thomas became a regular stop on my itinerary and I want to share my very favorite places. Tip #1: For healthy foodies, there is an organic market, the Natural Food Grocer and Deli, in port where the ships dock. I always stocked up on dehydrated fruits, nuts and delicious teas while here to have with me aboard the ship and on my travels.
First, let us start with the eats, because. YUM. Caribbean food was by far some of my favorite food of my travels thus far. Fresh seafood, delectable salads and yummy drinks can be found everywhere throughout the islands. I treated myself to some very nice dinners while in St.. Thomas, accompanied by my friend and fellow healthy foodie Samantha Wyatt of Fresh Life Journeys, whom I met overseas.
My favorite restaurant hands down was Havana Blue. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, dining in the open air with blue ocean as far as the eye can see. The sun was just setting and the blue hue that swept through the place was gorgeous. Samantha, some other friends and I enjoyed a delicious feast with wine (back when I still drank alcohol) & I ordered the Marinated Chicken Breast bursting with cilantro & garlic with asparagus and Cuban dirty rice. Delish!
Another must see is the Mountain Top. A sightseeing destination and lunch spot, the tramway is an affordable way to get a birds eye view of the island. There is an internet cafe located at the bottom and at the top you will find scenic walkways, a cafe and a duty free shop that carries island trinkets and souvenirs.
The restaurant was a normal lunch place for us, the affordable eatery offers a wide selection of fare with healthy sandwich, salad and fresh appetizer platter choices. Even though we were high up in the trees, our ship still looked huge - even from way up on the mountain top.
Tip #3: Most cell phones work in St. Thomas because it's American territory. I used this opportunity to call home each time I was in town to save on phone cards and internet cafe costs.
One of my very favorite parts of this island were the colorful, brick covered alleyways. Tip #4: When traveling in a foreign land, NEVER go anywhere alone, especially alley ways. Though they were high traffic, tourist areas, you never know and it's better to be safe than sorry. If there were days my friends Samantha or Cynthia couldn't grab coffee I stayed on the ship. But, if you do have someone to go with, they are fun to check out. There are usually less touristy, more authentic shops and galleries and its fun getting to talk to the locals.
We found an amazing coffee shop that offered vegan coffees and we made it a regular stop. I wish I remembered the name, I do know it was down one of these alleys in the "downtown" area of the island if you want to do some exploring on your visit.
The people here, at White House Black Market St. Thomas, knew me by name. As did the islands Caribbean Surf Co. I know that isn't something to proud of, and I'm not, but they were my weekly or bi-weekly stops and they always saved new shipment items for me when I came in, haha. Always looking for a new formal dress or cute resort wear top, you can say that my wardrobe was very neutral that year with many pieces of Roxy thrown in. The stores also reminded me of home, and there was comfort in shopping there.
Tip #5: When traveling abroad its good to find shops you know. While shopping in unique shops and boutiques is exciting, you can be taken advantage of. Like I was. I way over paid for a camera while in St. Thomas at a Caribbean electronics store and had major buyers remorse later on. Make sure you do your homework before making big purchases in other countries.
Last but certainly not least we need to talk about the excursions. They are SO many things to do here. From shipwrecks to castle tours, ziplining to hiking, St. Thomas offers many options for even the most adventurous traveler.
I however, opted for snorkeling and boating. If I wasn't dining on delicious grub or buying cute beachwear you could find me in the water off the coast of Buck Island. Our friend Cynthia was the shore excursions director and always offered to take us out on that boat up there. A big group of us would board the boat and ride 40 miles off the shore of St. Thomas, enjoying rum and snacks, and snorkel in gorgeous, reef filled waters.
St. Thomas was my first experience with snorkeling and I will be completely honest and tell you the first time they dropped us in the water that far away from civilization, TOTALLY had a panic attack. They threw me a pool noodle, I did some deep breathing and then took a look under water.
The crystal waters, the colorful sealife & God's beauty calmed me almost instantly and I've been in love with snorkeling ever since. It's one of the first things I do whenever we go to Hawaii, and I hope to snorkel with Mr. Charming if we venture to the Caribbean together.
Do you have a favorite Caribbean destination or island story? Share it with me in the comments below!
We all have dreams and goals in life. Big, huge, life changing dreams - like the perfect job, marrying a great spouse, having beautiful and healthy children. You know, the big life dreams.
But then sometimes... we have silly dreams. Dreams, that when they come true, just bring us joy. Because they are fun, they are things that bring back good memories or make us feel warm & fuzzy. Those things. This post is about that kind of a dream.
Living and working in San Diego and Los Angeles for eight years I didn't do much of the touristy stuff. I only went to Seaworld when I performed there, I rarely actually relaxed on the beach unless we were throwing a party on it and I only visited T.V. studios if I had an audition. (Mr. Charming makes fun of my odd life in Hollywood all the time haha)... so when Mr. Charming and I planned to visit Burbank on our California coastline tour, I wasn't sure what there would be for us to do. And then I stumbled upon the Warner Brothers Studio website and then I knew EXACTLY what we had to do.
When I lived in California, I didn't have cable because - 21 years old and L.A. rent - and so I bought every season of Friends on DVD and that's what I watched. I wasn't home much. It was funny and comforting. I moved to L.A. all by myself and I fell in love with that cast of six. Growing up watching them hang in the famed Central Perk, falling in love and making their way in NY as I was making my way in L.A.
So, when I saw that Mr. Charming and I could visit Central Perk, it gave me the same giddy feeling I had when I was first living in Hollywood. Making my way all those years ago. And I knew I had to visit and sit my derriere upon that famous orange couch. Having met Jennifer Aniston (One of my favorite actresses, I attended one of her actor studio interviews), Matt Leblanc (met him twice, at an awards show and on Jay Leno) and Matthew Perry (sat with him at the MTV Awards) in my time working in Hollywood, you would think this wouldn't thrill me as much as the next guy. But oh, did it ever. I'm easy to please and like I said, silly dreams and all. You have to chase those too. Especially those. It just makes life more fun.
Also a big Gilmore Girls fan, I so just admitted that to thousands of people, cool. Whatever. I'm secure with it. I was ecstatic to see so much of the shows set still part of the tour. Mr. Charming and I got to visit Lorelai's house, Luke's diner and walk through the town square.
Being in Burbank just for the day, we didn't do much restaurant hopping, however, we did grab healthy Paleo sand which fixings at Gelson's Market in Burbank. Similar to Whole Foods, or other upscale market, they are good for splurging on vacation or for specialty items.
There are also food trucks EVERYWHERE in this area and throughout Hollywood. Especially around the studios since all of those working in the studios and on the lots need to grab a quick meal. Outside of Warner Brothers there was a Vegan Organic food truck and another healthy looking one - but I didn't want to risk it, so I headed to Gelson's.
After enjoying our fun-filled two hour tour (we also got to see all the memorabilia from Harry Potter! And got to wear the sorting hat - I got Gryffindor, what what! Mr. Charming got Hufflepuff, but I still love him just the same, haha.) we enjoyed lunch and made our way to Newport Beach to kick back at the beach house, exhausted and on cloud 9, ready to explore the eats and sights of another city!
What are some of the little dreams that you got to experience that just MADE YOUR DAY? :D I would love to hear your experiences and hear your happy moments! Leave it in the comments below!
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.