I have the itch to take a beach vacation. Maybe it’s the sunny spring weather or perhaps it’s just spring fever + a toddler who likes to wake up at least once per night lately, but I NEED a vacation. We’re heading to Cancun in early June and I can’t wait! Facebook has been tormenting me with those “memories” posts, reminding me that I’ve previously traveled quite a bit during this time frame over the years. I’m a March baby, so it was always common for me to be on a beach somewhere on my birthday. Since Ben and I were married for awhile before we had the mini-me, we traveled quite a bit and beach vacations were always getaways we could agree on. So, in honor of my wanderlust, I’m bringing you my top 5 fave tropical escapes.
- Turks and Caicos – I could just live here. The pristine white sand is the epitome of what sand should be. And the water — It’s perfection times ten. We went in November, and it was the ideal time of year to go — right before Thanksgiving so we beat the crowds. We traveled to Providenciales, which is a 38-mile beach area that’s the most popular and developed place on the island. It wasn’t crowded at all. We stayed on the north side near Grace Bay at a resort that I highly recommend called Seven Stars. Y’all, it’s just heavenly. Turks and Caicos is recognized time and time again by Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure and so many more top-tier publications as one of the world’s best beaches, and I agree 150%. Just one of the best, most relaxing vacations of my life.
- St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands – this comes in a close second. If you love amazing beaches and you also like the outdoors, St. John is a wonderful place for you. I would definitely go back to this island, which is one of three of the U.S. Virgin Islands. We stayed in a cool house, sort of like a treehouse with nice decks and outdoor eating spaces. We were with family so the house worked well so we could enjoy more homemade meals. Food is pricey here at grocery stores, but so is going out to eat 6 days in a row. We loved this island because there were so many untouched beaches you could explore. One that is a must-see is called Trunk Bay. We just drove to beach after beach with snorkeling gear and waded through the most beautiful water that seemed like the biggest tropical fish tank. The island is very hilly, so driving around is quite the adventure, but renting a car was needed since we really explored the island, which is comprised mostly of a national park. We had a fabulous day on a private sail boat that was so beautiful. I would definitely go back to St. John. One of my friends is going to St. John for her honeymoon next month and I’d love to stay at Caneel Bay the next time I go, which is where she’s staying.
- Grand Cayman – When you can take a 2.5 hour flight to a place this beautiful, why the heck not? We’re fortunate that Houston has so many direct flights to great places like Grand Cayman. This was Braden’s first flight and earned him his first passport stamp at 9 months. It was a wonderful first family beach vacation, and we stayed at the Westin on Seven Mile Beach, which nicely accommodated having a baby in the room by providing a rollaway crib. Pack n plays are pretty terrible in my opinion, so not worrying about lugging that around took a little stress out of traveling with baby. I’ll have to do a whole other post about traveling with a baby one day because I feel like I’ve learned a ton over the past year flying with B. Grand Cayman is another beach that has beautiful turquoise water and soft sand. Not quite as soft as Turks and Caicos and St. John, though but I feel like I was kind of spoiled by experiencing those beforehand and now I compare everything to that! We went to Stingray City Sandbar while we were here and petted/swam/ran through the water shrieking once surrounded by stingrays. Definitely a memorable experience.
- Kauai, HI – A place that doesn’t require a passport, but it’s quite the long flight if you’re coming from many areas of the country. I’ve been to Oahu, HI before, but I would go back to Kauai every year if I could. I can’t really say the same for Oahu to be really honest. Kauai isn’t too touristy or crowded (we went in early March, probably before spring break season hit). It has some similarities to St. John because it has beautiful beaches and fantastic nature activities like hiking Waimea Canyon – a must see for sure. When I say nature, it’s like sensory overload in terms of how beautiful the mountains, canyons and beaches are. We went hiking and took a helicopter tour around the island — totally recommend that. We stayed on two sides of the island during our time there: the south side, Poipu Beach and then Princeville. I liked the latter more, just because it was so breathtaking and we were closer to more outdoorsy areas we wanted to explore. We were just in awe of how beautiful this island was the whole time we were there. I’m glad we made the last-minute switch mid-trip to go to the other side of the island. We stayed at the Westin Princeville (I really like Starwoods hotels) and it was fabulous.
- Costa Rica – This is another quick direct flight for Houstonians, but I would recommend this tropical escape to anyone. We flew into Liberia, which is on the west side and stayed in a surf town called Tamarindo on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in a province called Guanacaste. It had beautiful beaches and a large wildlife refuge nearby. We snorkeled, went scuba diving one day and also did fun activities like taking ATVs through the jungle and ziplining. I’d love to go back to Costa Rica again and visit this area again and also explore other areas of the country as well.
There are a few places I’ve left off the list for now including Belize, Puerto Rico and lots of Mexican destinations including Cozumel, Puerta Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. All amazing places that I’ll share another day.
What are your favorite beach getaways? I love hearing other people’s travel recommendations so please share!