Seoul, South Korea: A Quick Trip Of Business Mixed With Pleasure.

My trip to Seoul, South Korea was a quick one.  I had three nights and four full days to explore this beautiful city.  Surprisingly, I left feeling like I knew it pretty well.  Let me just say that nothing pleases me more than beginning a trip that is far away with a red eye direct flight.  A lot of people can’t sleep on planes….I am not one of them.  I flew Korean Air and it was totally awesome.  The economy seats are so roomy and recline so much more than your average seat.  So comfortable!  I flew out of San Francisco at midnight, slept a solid nine hours, and arrived in South Korea very early in the morning.  I felt so rested.  I checked into the hotel, showered, and was immediately ready to begin exploring the Capital of South Korea!

What to pack?

I am from California, and women here tend to dress a bit on the sexy and casual side.  I always research “proper attire” to wear before visiting a new country.  What I found was Koreans cover up below their collar bone and their shoulders.  It is ok to show your legs but your shoulders and chest should be covered.  No cleavage.  This is what is respectful to them.  They dress to impress!  I loved reading this and it was true.  No flip flops and sweats.  Everyone dresses to impress from sunrise to sunrise.  Many of my photos on this trip seem to be breaking the rules.  I packed additional outfits for photos or always had a sweater on me to cover up.  I assure you guys, I followed the rules.  Always good to be respectful when you are in another country.

What Neighborhood To Choose??

When you look at Seoul on a map, it is overwhelming to decide which area to stay in.  It’s a huge city!  I began to research “best neighborhoods to visit in Seoul”.  What I found was a wide array of diverse neighborhoods offering everything from culture, history, shopping, food, and nightlife.  I visited five different areas of the city in my four days spent here.  I decided to book my hotel in the area of Itaewon.  After visiting the different neighborhoods, I felt really happy that I chose this because it ended up being my favorite district.  I decided on the Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel.  I didn’t plan on staying at the hotel much, so I really wanted something inexpensive.  The standards are so much higher in Seoul.  If it says three stars, I can vouch that it is more like 4 compared to USA standards.  I paid $88 per night for this room and the hotel was perfect!  The ambiance and decor were very modern.  The room was nice and the price was right.  Yet what I found to be the best part was the location.  It was located in the heart of Itaewon!

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Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel.
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Matching the lobby at Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel.
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How cute is all the decor at Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel?

 

Right outside the hotel door were so many restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightclubs.  Everything is walkable in this area, and having a car is just not necessary.  It was the perfect area to be in after a day of sightseeing.  It was lively and busy, yet somewhat smaller than the other areas I visited.  It was difficult to get lost. Coming from someone who tends to loose direction in unknown places, this was a plus!  This area felt very safe and I did not feel scared to walk around everywhere until the wee hours of the night.  The Hamilton Hotel is also located in Itaewon, and the alley that is located behind it is filled with international cuisine.  It has everything….Greek, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Pizza, and so on.  In my opinion, the Korean food was the best.  My favorite dinner in Itaweon at the Maple Tree House Restaurant, which served traditional Korean BBQ.  Yummy!  I also loved Thai Licious for when I wanted a break from traditional Korean food.  The soup was seriously to die for!  To be honest, I never had a bad meal in Seoul.  I ate from hole in the walls to fine dining, and everything was delicious.  The area of Itaewon is also filled with nightlife.  This is one of the main reasons I actually chose it.  I always like to choose my hotel in an area where I will like to end up spending my time at night.  It really felt as though Seoul didn’t sleep.  These nightclubs were thumping all night long and the streets were filled with party-goers.  I only made it until 4:00am (one night), and I was blown away at how alive the city is until then.  Even older people are out all night long.

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One of my favorite restaurants in Itaewon!  Thai Licious.  I am in absolute heaven in this photo!!

 

Other Areas To Visit:

Day 1:

This trip was a business trip that I tagged along on.  The first day was spent in Jongno District.  This area has been the center of the city for over 600 years, and it is referred to as the face and heart of Korea, due to its important roles in politics, economics, culture, and history.  The South Korean’s president resides here.  I spent the day tagging along doing banking and hanging out in government buildings.  Let me just say, it was a bit of an adjustment navigating around a city that doesn’t speak any English.  Google Translator is an absolute must when traveling to Seoul.  I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without it.  It was cool to trek around this area but I was eager to explore more.  The first evening was back at home in Itaewon for dinner and an early bed time.  I was still a bit tired from traveling.

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Can I please get some major respect for the soups that Koreans prepare?  So yummy!
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Ha ha…trying to find our way around to find specific offices in banks and govt. buildings.  Thank goodness for Google Translator!

 

Day 2:

The “work” portion of the trip wasn’t done, and I really didn’t feel like spending another day in banks.  I headed off to explore the city….all by myself.  When I say this city is safe, I mean really safe.  I felt completely comfortable exploring on my own.  The most difficult thing was communication.  So, I jumped in a cab with my camera, tripod, Google Translator App, and set off to explore a beautiful palace called Gyeongbokgung Palace.  It was built in 1635, and is the largest of the five Grande Palaces.  It was huge!  Once upon a time it had more than 7,000 rooms.  It was really cool to wander around this large property.  So many visitors were dressed up to the nines in traditional Korean attire.  I loved roaming around and people watching.

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Entrance to Gyeongbokgung Palace.
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Just me and my tripod exploring away.
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I just loved people watching!  So many people were so fancy in their Korean attire.

From there, I got back in a taxi to visit Bukchon Hanok Village.  This was probably one of my favorite stops in seeing sights!  It is a traditional Korean village, and sits on top of a hill.  It has a beautiful view of modern Seoul, yet feels so peaceful and quiet even though you are right next to the hustle and bustle.

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Roaming around Bukchon Hanok Village.
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If I lived in Seoul, this would be my porch.  I loved this neighborhood, and would call this area home above everything I saw!

After two stops, I was getting hungry, so I headed over to the Myeongdong area for lunch.  This area is a huge shopping district.  Myeongdong was listed as the 9th most expensive shopping street in the world.  The streets and alleys seemed endless, and ranged from mid to high priced retail stores.  It is also filled with cosmetic shops.  Korea is huge for beauty and skin care products.  The one thing I loaded up on while shopping here was face masks.  So many to choose from!  I had lunch here and ate…what else??…Korean BBQ!  I wish I knew the name of the place because it was so good!  The truth is that it was a tiny hole in the wall down a random alley that lured me in with it’s loud Bob Marley tunes.  Ha ha!  I’m always a sucker for reggae music!  The plus was my babe was done with work and we got to eat lunch together.

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Shopping in Myeongdong.
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Korean BBQ lunch in Meongdong.

With a full belly, it was time to head back home to Itaewon.  I had this brilliant idea to take the subway.  I had read that the subway in South Korea was so easy and not intimidating at all.  Well, what a sh*t show that ended up being for a first timer!  I believe the subway is most likely not intimidating for those that can read and speak the Korean language.  For those who don’t know the Korean alphabet, the language is incredibly intimidating.  I tried the entire trip to master “please” and “thank you” with no success.  Needless to say I got completely lost on the subway.  Luckily we found the nicest man who spoke English and got us home.  Always ask for directions.  As long as you are kind to people, they are mostly likely kind in return.  BTW, I feel like I would be way better at the subway on my second try.  Just saying.

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LOL!  Sure…this doesn’t look intimidating at all.

 

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The nicest man who got us all the way home to Itaewon.

 

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Happy girl because we got directions to the correct way home.

 

We headed home to rest up, as we wanted to enjoy the Itaewon nightlife this evening.  It was so much fun!  This area comes alive at night.  There were soooooo many nightclubs and bars to choose from to do some hard core booty shaking all night long.  What a blast!  My favorite nightclub was Club Compton.  Ha ha!  You could hookah and listen to good hip hop that reminded me of home.  Most places that I went to played all American music.

Day 3:

Today I got to spend the entire day sightseeing with my babe.  He was stuck on exercising, and I was stuck on sightseeing.  We decided to head up to the Namsan Seoul Tower.  This a a place that is very special for couples, as you can lock a padlock of love onto the railing that overlooks the most beautiful view of Seoul  It is actually the second highest view in Seoul!  We got dropped off in a cab at the bottom of the hill.  You have to walk literally straight up for about 20 mins to get to the tower.  Exercise mixed with sightseeing.  Winning!  We had purchased a lock from a hardware store before heading up, but found there were stores selling them near the tower.  Once at the top, you can eat, have cocktails, and soak in the most incredible views.  After a little vino, we locked our love in at the Namsan Seoul Tower.  It was super cute and romantic….an absolute must for couples or those who love photography.  Definitely my favorite thing I did in Seoul!!!

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Locking in our love at Namsan Seoul Tower.
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I hope to come back one day and find our lock of love!  How cool!?
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The most romantic thing we did the entire trip.

For our last night out, we decided to go to the Hongdae District.  This is the University area of Seoul.  The nightlife here was crazy…in a good way!  So many bars and nightclubs filled with college students partying the night away.  It was like Itaewon, but felt 20 times as big.  With all of this crazy nightlife, I never once saw anyone out of control.  No one was acting stupid or overly drunk.  Just such a good vibe everywhere you go.  This was the night I stayed out until 4:00am, and you would have thought the night was just getting started when I headed back to the hotel for bed.  People were still standing in line at 4:00am to get into clubs and the streets were absolutely packed!  We ended our night (or began our morning I should say) with eating pizza with two Korean guys at 4:00am.  We got lucky…they spoke English!  They were so cool and it was an awesome ending to our trip to have a meal with locals….at 4:00am.  LOL

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Party time in Hongdae District!
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The ending to our trip…eating pizza at 4:00am with two Korean guys who spoke English and were so cool!  What an ending!!!

Being I went to bed so late, I spent the final day sleeping and relaxing until it was time to go to the airport.  I was fine with wasting the last day in bed, because partying in Seoul at night was just as much of an experience as seeing it in the day.

All in all, my write up of Seoul is that it is a clean, safe, beautiful, modern city that doesn’t sleep.  Oh, and has amazing food, shopping, nightlife, and sweet people!  I am always so focused on being next to a beach when I travel,  that it really surprised me how much I enjoyed a “city” vacation.  Two thumbs up!

 

 

Joshua Tree Oasis: Get Wanderfully Lost

It’s that time of year again.  Time to celebrate my anniversary with my hubby!  We get to travel out of the country and stay in hotels for most of our trips so I always try to plan something “different” to celebrate this with him.  It was going to be difficult to compete with last year’s anniversary trip to Havasupai .  This year I decided on Joshua Tree.  Joshua Tree is located in Southern California and is where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet.  The desert setting is gorgeous!  Joshua Tree is well known for camping, music festivals, and getting in touch with one’s “real” self.  For this trip, I wanted to sit back and relax and enjoy the pretty scenery.  I wanted to hole up…have a staycation!  I always plan our trips with my husband’s opinion in mind.  I know what he likes and doesn’t.  For the most part though, my husband goes with the flow of whatever I choose.  His mama didn’t raise no fool!

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Ha ha…truth! No, joking aside, I really do plan my trips with what I think will make my husband happy.

I turned to VRBO and Airbnb to look for the perfect place and stumbled upon Joshua Tree Oasis.  It looked perfect by the photos.  It was a bit higher than I wanted to spend, but we weren’t going to be going out and spending any money on wining and dining.  We were going to hole up and cook at home.  Taking that into consideration, it definitely penciled out and we were able to splurge a bit on the accommodations.  This has turned out to be my favorite VRBO/Airbnb yet.  I loved it so much, I wrote a blog on it!

Joshua Tree was about a 10 hour drive from our house.  We stocked up on very gourmet goods to cook our meals, including all the ingredients to make some amazing cocktails.  We also picked up a ton of wood for the outdoor fire pit on the property.  It felt like we were going camping.  We pulled up to our private gate and entered the property.  It was so much more than I expected!  The house was decorated to the nines, we had views from every room, the kitchen was well stocked, we had a bumping sound system that went through the entire property, and the best part was there was not another soul in site.  We literally had this huge slice of earth all to ourselves (except for the coyotes who kept photobombing me).  We had complete privacy for the next five days.  It was perfect for an anniversary trip!  This place was a two bed/two bath with an in law unit with another bed/bath.  We loved it to enjoy as a couple, but you could fit a large family or three couples perfectly.

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I can’t believe I didn’t get the coyote in the background. It was running behind me trying to photobomb me! LOL

The first morning we woke up with bacon jalapeño bloody mary’s in hand and jumped right in the hot tub (bathing suits optional!).  We spent the day doing all there was to do on the property.  Hot tub, cowboy tub (which was very refreshing), horse shoes, more eating and drinking, bbqing, napping, repeat, and finished the night off with a gourmet meal and a campfire.

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Bacon jalapeno bloody marry in hand to enjoy my first morning in the desert.
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This view though…just perfect
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Refreshing Cowboy Tub
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Horseshoes anyone??

This property is also located about five minutes from the Joshua Tree National Park entrance.  The second day we explored the park, saw all the sites there were to see, scouted our favorite campground for the next trip, and hiked the day away.  Cholla Cactus Garden and Skull Rock were fun and perfect photo ops.  The park is huge and there is so much to explore!

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Joshua Trees all around me.

There isn’t much to the actual “town” of Joshua Tree.  This property is just a short five minute drive down the hill to the town but there really isn’t much to see.  We did stumble on a fun saloon called Joshua Tree Saloon (of all unique names).  It was super fun!  They had live music, karaoke, pool, darts, and a beer garden.  Being the incredibly brilliant young lady that I am, I wore the highest heels I own to enjoy this beer garden.  Always trying to look my cutest for my man!  Well, I then returned home to my desert property only to walk through a cactus garden in those five inch heels.  Low and behold, I ate it hard and took a fall straight into a cactus (hands first).  No matter how much I enjoyed that beer garden, it couldn’t numb me enough for the pain of diving hands first into a cactus.  That ish hurt!  My husband had to sit me down and pull out the needles, one by one.  I may have shed a tear or two…and maybe had a shot of tequila or two.  Maybe.  I actually had needles deep in my hand for over a month after this trip.  Very wise advise to share with you guys…don’t wear your high heels to enjoy a beer garden and follow it up with a walk through a cactus garden.  Cactus 1, Jessica 0.  I still love the desert though!

Belize: You Betta Belize It!

Jungle or Beach???  Why not both??

Belize is located in Central America.  It is a tiny country on the western edge of the Caribbean Sea.  Belize is located below Mexico, east of Guatemala, and north of Honduras.  Half of Belize is covered by dense jungle.  Belize also has many coral reefs, cayes, and islands in the Caribbean Sea.  Most of these form the Belize Barrier Reef, the longest in the Western Hemisphere.

When I first began planning my trip to Belize, I read that most first timers break up their trip between the jungle and the beach.  I’m very glad I listened to these reviews!  Fast forward through an 8 hour plane ride and a 2 hour drive into the jungle and I landed in the middle of the Belize rainforest in a city called Belmopan.   I chose Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge to call home for this leg of the trip.  It was a larger lodge in comparison to others in the area with 25 rooms and casitas, pool, bar, and a restaurant where you eat every meal.

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Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge

I’m typically a beach baby and was nervous about spending time in the remote jungle.  Would it be boring?  It was a bit of an adjustment upon arrival….no TV, no internet, and no phone in the room.  I’ve never been on a trip where I was forced to completely disconnect.  I gulped down my rum welcome cocktail and went to unpack.  Now what?  That first night I explored the grounds, ate ridiculously amazing food, and closed down the lodge bar.  The next four days were filled with adventure, mind blowing food and cocktails (all made fresh), and forced restful recharge.

My activities included a hike through the thick jungle, a bike ride to the orange orchards, paddle boarding on the river, relaxing by the pool, a massage on the river, and a full day of adventure exploring the famous ATM Cave of Belize.  ATM stands for Actun Tunichil Muknal.  The ATM Cave was the top rated tour to do for adventure and it did not disappoint.  I hired a private guide for this tour which I highly recommend.  If you can’t swing private, definitely ask how many people will be on the tour with you and go with a smaller group.  I saw large tours with 10 people going through in a line.  They just weren’t getting that much attention from their guide.  If you are 10th in the line, how can you learn anything from your guide who is leading?  Plus, I had very heightened nerves on this tour.  Being the 10th person in line of a tour would have been terrifying (for me).  Our guide led us through 6 miles of adventure.  We crossed the river (neck deep) six times, hiked, and explored the ATM Cave which you have to swim into.  Once in, you climb and swim your way through two miles of total darkness with only a headlamp for sight.  I literally had a minor panic attack going on for about three hours.  But just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the only way out was through.  It was pretty amazing learning about the Mayan people and what this cave meant to them.  We came across many artifacts and skeletons that were human sacrifices to the gods.  Our guide was Gonzo from River Rat Expeditions.  He was so knowledgeable and actually spends about three months per year living in these Belize caves doing research.  He took his time educating and calming my nerves all the way through.  Once out of the cave, I was on an adrenaline high.  I was so proud I finished but I’m in no rush to do it again.  Ha ha.

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Vino break in the orange orchards.
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Paddle boarding on the river.
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Pool time!
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Just completed the six miles of adventure exploring the ATM Cave.

For beginning my adventure in the jungle with the question of “will I be bored here?”, I actually began to freak out by day three that I wouldn’t fit in all there was to see.  I fell in love with the jungle!  I’m usually pretty attached to my phone and staying in touch with my family.  For this leg, I had to forget about all of that and it was all about exploring and recharging.

Once my stay at the jungle lodge had come to an end, I was ready to put my toes in the sand and have more than one dining option.  Five days in the jungle was perfecto but now it was on to the beach for another nine days.  I decided on Ambergris Caye.  It is the largest Caye (island) of Belize.  From the jungle, it was a 2 hour drive to the ferry station and a 1.5 hour boat ride to Ambergris Caye.  I chose Captain Morgan’s Retreat as my hotel on Ambergris Caye for the sole reason that they had true beach huts in the sand for much cheaper than your average hotel room.  However, we were still part of a huge resort with all the amenities including the only Casino on the island.

OOOOHHHEEEMMMGGGEEE!!!  Opening my porch door and stepping into the sand was truly paradise.  When I arrived I was warned how bad the bugs were from another guest.  He told me to soak myself in bug spray every day.  After four days of literally getting eaten alive, I accidentally forgot my bug spray and didn’t get any bites.  I ditched the spray and never had a problem again.  Thanks for that sweet advice bro!

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Relaxing under a palm tree off of my beach hut porch on Ambergris Caye.

The  coolest thing about Ambergris Caye is that there are very few cars and the mode of transportation is by golf cart equipped with off road tires.  Oh hells ya!  Look out for me!  I drove that golf cart up and down and back and forth.  We mostly only ate breakfast at our resort and spent the rest of the days beach and bar hopping our way around.  Ambergris Caye is so lively!  Whether you are eating pizza or the abundant fresh sea food they have to offer, it was always a party.  Live music was everywhere.  My favorite drive was a 40 minute golf cart ride to Secret Beach.  It was a bumpy adventure through the center of the island to a beautiful beach with food and music.  A must see (or drive) while on Ambergris Caye.

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Beep beep!
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Beach bar hopping.

Belize is famous for it’s ocean life.  I’m sadly too big of a wimp to dive but the snorkeling was the best I have ever seen with my own eyes.  Belize has the second largest coral reef system in the world, with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef being the largest.  If you like diving and snorkeling this is truly a wonderland, or wonderwater I guess.  Our captain took us to Hol Chan Marine Reserve .  As soon as you get in the water there are a gazillion fish around you.  I saw huge spotted eagle rays, eels, large puffer fish, endless schools, oh ya….and sharks!  Our second stop that our captain took us to was Shark Ray Alley where he chummed for sharks to come right up to the boat.  My crazy husband jumped into the water to swim with them.  I volunteered to be his photographer from inside the boat.  😉  The day was perfect.  I wish I had spent more time exploring the reef of Belize because (not to be lame) it was magical.

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Well after exploring every nook and cranny of Ambergris Caye, pigging out at all the fresh seafood restaurants, bar hopping to every bar, and hearing every live band on the island, I jumped on the ferry to explore the sister island of Ambergris Caye….Caye Caulker.  It’s a 30 minute hop to this tiny island that has a super laid back vibe.  There were a lot of backpackers and simple people who love to party.  If you bring more than a bathing suit, cover up, and flip flops to this island, you have over packed.  You walk everywhere on Caye Caulker and I spent most of the day at a place called the Split.  A hurricane split this island in half and they turned it into the largest place to party with a picture perfect setting.  They have a bar there called the Lazy Lizard that has everything from hot bodies to grannies with fanny packs twerking and taking shots.  I took the last ferry ride home to Ambergris Caye which was a very fun ride home at night. I wished I packed a backpack and stayed overnight.  One more day would have been fun to run back into the friends I made there in such a short time.

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The “Split” on Caye Caulker.
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Swinging away at Caye Caulker.

One last day on Ambergris Caye to stuff my face with fresh seafood, drink too many fresh squeezed margaritas (the ice was safe and I didn’t get sick once), and listen to one last performance of live reggae music (my favorite).  The people of Belize are so incredibly friendly and I always felt safe day and night.  Belize was a great trip and mixing in the jungle with the beach was a twist I enjoyed more than I realized I would.  I also brought home five dread locks!  Lol.

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British Virgin Islands: Bareboating For Beginners

The first time I thought about creating a travel blog was at the end of this vacation.  So, I found it fitting for this to be my first blog on my page.  This trip was so nontraditional, adventurous, stressful at times, and truly the biggest adventure I have ever taken (to date..I can always top myself).  It changed me in a way once it was all over. In the end, it confirmed my dream of retiring on a yacht one day and cruising my days away.

What is Bareboating?  Bareboat: (n) A boat, such as a yacht, that is chartered without a skipper or crew.  That’s right, you rent the boat and head out to sea without any captain or crew….just yourself.  I planned this trip with my husband in tow.  We both have always loved boating, grew up owning a boat, and still own a boat today.  It is a dream of ours to retire on a yacht so I thought I would give bareboating a try to test the waters on our retirement dream.

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When I say that we have always owned a boat, I am talking about a ski/wakeboarding boat that we take out on lakes while camping.  This trip I planned was going to be for one week on a 38ft 2 bedroom/2bath power cat in the Carribean.  Sailing is really big in the BVI, but we opted for a power cat as we know nothing about sailing.  We both had very little experience boating on the ocean.  However, I banked tens upon tens of hours researching this and where would be the best place to bareboat for beginners.  I came up with the Virgin Islands.  The Virgin Islands are perfect because the islands are very close together so the seas are fairly calm.  Plus, you can always see shore somewhere so that is very comforting as a newbie.  Lastly, the route I chose had us driving the boat 1.5 hours (at the most) to get to our next stop.  Bouncing around from island to island on calm water seemed like a perfect fit to get our feet wet.

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We flew into St. Thomas and took a ferry to Tortola which is where we were picking up the boat.  We spent a couple of nights unwinding from our travels and also preparing.  We hit the grocery store, got our fishing license/gear, and had a very nice dinner filled with nerves of excitement to board our boat.  Our route was Tortola, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke (including Sandy Caye), Virgin Gorda (two sides of this island), Cooper Island, and back to Tortola.  We were shooting for six different islands in seven days.

I decided to rent our boat from Marine Max Vacations.  For the main reasons that they were very fairly priced and had power cats.  Most bareboating rentals in the BVI are sail boats.  I was very happy with them and they actually rent boats for bareboating all over the world.  I am secretly planning my next bareboat adventure while writing this blog.  Probably Greece!

After a 2 hour orientation of our new home we drove out of the marina into open waters with butterflies in our stomachs and feeling totally in over our heads.  Our first stop was Norman Island, which was a very short hop from the marina we were in.  There were literally hundreds of boats anchored here which definitely solidified the fact the BVI is extremely popular for bareboating.  We were the little guys on the block for sure.  The boats around us were filthy gorgeous.  I found yachters to be much like campers.  All our neighbors were so nice and willing to help.  Like that one time we woke up to find that our dingy was no longer tied to our boat…the dingy we had signed a $10,000 replacement cost on.  Ya, that was a stressful moment!  Our neighbors came and picked us up and we found the dingy which had floated away.  Yachters are good peeps!  But back to Norman Island…We got our anchor secured (after about an hour of trial and error), bbqed some steaks and scallops, and took the dingy over to Willy T’s Floating Bar for some cocktails and dancing.  This place was rowdy and fun!  Everyone was getting straight up crazy!

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I think we checked the anchor about 50 times that night but we didn’t float away and woke up to a beautiful morning feeling confident to move to the next island.

Our second stop was Jost Van Dyke.  We spent 2 nights here including NYE…Oh, did I mention the weather is perfect in the BVI’s at this time of year?  I am always chasing that summer weather!  We got to Jost Van Dyke early and scored a moor ball…no need to worry about our anchoring skills…winning!  This island was a party.  One of my favorite spots here was the Soggy Dollar  where I consumed too many of their famous Pain Killers.

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My other favorite spot was Foxy’s where I spent NYE dancing the night away in the sand. There had to be a thousand boats parked here for NYE.  People travel from all over the Caribbean to come to the NYE party at Foxy’s.  Our boat rental company strongly suggested that we stay away due to all the traffic on NYE.  I was very happy we rolled the dice and went anyways because it was an absolute blast!

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Before leaving the island we popped over to Sandy Caye on the dingy early in the am.  Not bad for New Years morning.  We were literally the only two people on the island.  It was gorgeous.  We toasted a little champagne and enjoyed this little island to ourselves for a couple of hours.  It was a great way to start the New Year!

sandy caye

On to the next stop!  Virgin Gorda.  This was our longest drive on the route at about an hour and a half.  We trolled along the way but came up empty on catches.  We went spent one night on one side of Virgin Gorda exploring and snorkeling the Baths.  It is just a must if you ever visit BVI.  The water was so pristine and the Baths lived up to their reputation.  We got here pretty late and weren’t supposed to spend the night but oopsie…we had no choice because it got dark.  No ticket in the morning.  Yippee!

The other two nights were spent on the other side of the island at Bitters End.  We were surrounded by multimillion dollar yachts and caught fish right off the back of the boat.  Pretty amazing.  Saba Rock is also located here.  It is such a small island they call it a big rock.  We took the dingy here at night for lobster, cocktails, and dancing.

saba rock

The last stop on the route back was Cooper Island.  There were turtles everywhere and we had the most beautiful sunset of the entire trip.  After all of the anxiety I started the trip with, I couldn’t have felt more relaxed at this island….and sad to return the boat the next day for that matter.  I like to push myself to just a bit outside of the comfort zone when traveling.  I always want to challenge myself with adventure.  This trip ended up being the biggest adventure of my life (to date) and I am proud of how much I learned.  It also confirmed that I am 100% sure my dream is to retire on a boat one day.

cooper

After being on a boat for a week, I was ready for a hot bath, some makeup, and high heels.  We spent another four nights at the Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriot Beach Resort on St. Thomas before heading home to California.  It was beautiful and luxurious, but I have to say….I preferred the boat!

driving

Recommend this trip for: People that know more than the basics about boating.  I really think anyone with a pulse would love this trip but you do need to be able to handle the boat.  If you can’t, hire a captain or invite a friend who is a boater.  It’s great for families, couples, and friends.

Favorite restaurant in St. Thomas: Havanna Blue.  Love me some Cuban food!

Favorite Bar in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amelie):  Rum Island Pub, aka Husband Daycare.

Favorite Wine Bar in St. Thomas (Red Hook):  XO Bistro

Favorite Place to shake my bon bon in St. Thomas (Red Hook):  Duffy’s Love Shack

Bikinis on the trip: Beach Bunny and Victoria Secret.

Favorite bar/restauraunt on Tortola: Pussers I had chowder every time I went.  So good!

Best place to stop for lunch on your way to Vigrin Gorda:  The Dogs!  The Dogs are a small group of five uninhabited Islands that sit just to the West of Virgin Gorda. They are named for the barking sound from the seal population that used to inhabit these islands (long ago). The Dogs are made up of Great Dog, George Dog, West Dog and Seal Dogs (east & little).

Tip for the trip:  If you are prone to sea sickness or have a fear of becoming sea sick, get the prescription patch from your doctor.  It works wonders!  Slap that baby behind your ear, and come away with me.