With the winter chill in the air, dreams are made of sunnier beach days. And with many of our friends getting married this season, it made for the perfect recipe for a swoon-worthy blog post.
Beach vacays are relaxing and sexy—qualities that make for an awesome post-wedding trip. Check out these sunny, sandy spots I absolutely love in Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida.
So I'd be totally lying if I told you the number one reason I was excited to go to Barbados wasn't for the fact that the FRIENDS cast went there in season 9. Even though they didn't REALLY go there. And it was a set in Burbank.
But it totally was the reason I was so excited. I know most people dream of Barbados for the culture. The beaches. The rum. The food. But me, unique & quirky little me that I am, when I saw it on my tour itinerary my first thought was "Ross totally had his Paleontology event there." Anyone else crazy avid FRIENDS fans? Just me? O.K. moving on.
It wasn't long before I stepped off the boat and fell in love with the many reasons people DO visit this beautiful island and my FRIENDS frenzy floated away. The colorful buildings were charming, a PURPLE art gallery, I mean come on. It was rows of canary yellow shops, teal cafes and pink homes and I swooned.
My group and I decided to take the city by foot and explore. Gorgeous brick structures and old architecture reminded me of Europe while the colorful facades were reminiscent of my time in Puerto Rico and east Mexico. And one of the best parts of Barbados? The GLUTEN-FREE options. We grabbed fish tacos nearby in my pre-paleo days before spending the day ocean side, but there are MANY options for those traveling gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian and I've listed my favorites below.
Azul at Sea Breeze Resort
Highlights: Gorgeous ocean views, cozy upscale living room setting, high end menu with GF/DF customizations.
Brown Sugar Barbados
Highlights: A dedicated Friday Gluten Free brunch, the Roasted Butternut Squash, Bajan Herbed Baked Chicken & Flourless Chocolate Cake
Lemongrass Noodle Bar & Grill
Highlights: Can sub any noodle dish for rice noodles, uses Kikkoman GF soy sauce, casual, relaxed environment
Highlights: A gorgeous upscale eatery that's very photo worthy, ocean views, a full vegetarian menu with GF options
Orange Street Grocer
Highlights: A great place to grab food to go or have a sit down meal, a full salad menu, The OSG salad, the wild salmon
Only able to spend a few hours in Barbados before heading to our next island locale, we spent a majority of our day at The Boatyard. The Boatyard is an awesome cafe/bar/nightclub that features piers to jump off, floating trampolines and a floating rock climbing wall. It's like Caribbean ocean play for the child within.
We sat seaside, toes in the sand at our table and enjoyed drinks before taking a dip in the calm, warm waters of the Atlantic and wearing ourselves out before it was time to go.
Do you have a favorite place to dine or visit in Barbados? Or do you have a favorite island I have to check out? Leave it in the comments below!
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!
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.