This is our third day at a port stop in a row, our fifth day of our cruise. Today we docked at 7AM-5PM in beautiful Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands.
Now, I thought Saint Thomas was the most beautiful Caribbean island I had ever seen, until we got to Tortola the next day! OH MY WORD. It didn’t seem real!! Everything about this island took me in, and have been daydreaming of it since we left.
So, needless to say, I am pretty happy reliving this day here on my blog.
The ship docked while we were sleeping as it arrived early. We opened up the curtains to find this gorgeous view waiting for us.
Remember when I mentioned that the dining room would automatically seat us with Irfan? Well, on this morning for breakfast, we were seated in Irfan’s section! We got a kick out of seeing each other at his other table in the morning, too. We ordered almost the same things on this morning as we had the first time we ate breakfast in the dining room. Lots of Belgian waffles, egg white omelets, eggs Benedicts, and lots of coffee! The coffee at Cafe al Bacio was too good.
After breakfast we made a beeline to our room to change, grab our bags (our cooler filled with ice) then got off the ship. The port of Tortola was SWEET! It was completely brand new and it was not like the other two we visited this week. The dock let out to this cute entry that started with a local souvenir shop. On the other side of the building there was a piazza that had colorful flags strewn across the top, and the piazza was surrounded by high end shops, Caribbean restaurants and bars. It was beautiful! The transportation stand was at the end of this piazza.
Now here is a funny coincidence, we had almost the same day as the day before.. with exceptions. We went to St Thomas yesterday, right? We had researched beaches and we chose Brewer’s Bay Beach for the best snorkeling, bathrooms and food. Today we were in Tortola, and also did a lot of research ahead of time on where to go snorkeling, have clean bathrooms and food if we wanted it, and the best place in Tortola was…. BREWER’S BAY BEACH!! I found this such a crazy coincidence! When we got to the taxi stand, our driver, Dennis, had a pretty large van, and when we got in he was ready to shut the door but another family from our cruise asked if they could jump with us. They were also looking to to to Brewer’s Bay. So we made it another two family trip! These people were super nice, parents with three teenage boys from Texas.
Man, I loved Dennis! He was an older gentleman, and about 6’10, basketball tall and lanky. He just had this great vibe about him. He warned us that he had to drive up over the mountain to make it to the bay. But we weren’t ready for the roads he had to drive on. We drove at 50 degree angles at times up the mountain, and then down! Scary! But the views were to die for, literally. I think THIS is what paradise looks like. Dennis stopped at the top of the mountain for us to snag a few snaps of Road Town, the area of the cruise ship port. No pictures can do this view justice. After winding up and down the mountain, we saw the bay. It looked like a dream. Dennis dropped us off after setting up plans to pick us up.
We walked to the sand, where we felt like the only families there. Nearby, on the right side of the beach, there were maybe five or six people scattered, all with the signature peach color towels from our cruise. Our two families split up on the beach. We rented chairs ($5 a piece) and placed them in the middle of the left side of the beach for the sunshine and they left their chairs at the back for the shade. We talked a lot in the van, and they had plans to snorkel great distances, well at least the dad with his sons. The mom wanted to hike along the beach to check out the houses and stuff.
We got settled in our sunny spot then hit the water. The beach was just perfect. Beautiful in every way. The sand was soft. The sun was hot. The water was refreshing but not chilly. It was paradise. My husband took the girls straight away towards the reefs with their goggles, which started about thirty feet from the surf and wrapped along the left cliffs the whole way down to open ocean..probably a quarter mile. I swam with them around the closer reef, until they went off further on their snorkel adventure. I stayed behind to relax in the glory of this beach. It was so still out there. So perfect.
My family kept calling to me, much like yesterday, about all the underwater life. Sea urchins, Angelfish, squid, so much to see. As they went back around a bend to explore the craziest thing happened near me!! I have never had this happen so I was a tad freaked out; like the turtle incident the day before. I was floating in the water, enjoying the sun, then I heard this weird splashy sound. Like the sound of someone using their feet to swim vigorously. The sound grew and grew, so naturally, I was trying to figure out what was trying to kill me underwater. As I turned, up flew a giant school of silvery fish out of the water towards the surf. Like FIFTY fish! They were literally a foot away from me. The sound was insane!! As quickly as they bolted out of the water, I screamed, and they disappeared below. There were a few people who ran to the edge of the water as they had never seen anything like that either.
I wonder if they do that often or if something was chasing them from beyond the reef??
After I came down from that high, my family made their way back asking for my phone in the case to take videos and stuff. They took it out underwater, but it wasn’t working well for them, the lens was fogging up and they couldn’t see what buttons to press. Bummer, but that is life. The other family we were there with were gone a long time, I could see their breathing tubes so far out. When they made it back they told us about all the cool stuff out there, so naturally, our kids heard that and wanted to brave deeper waters to snorkel. My husband took them further out.
I took this opportunity to do more swimming… and just chill out in the peacefulness. The surroundings were beautiful. Every aspect around me was something you’d see in a magazine. The azure waters. The beige sands. The cliffs. I had never felt more relaxed in my life than on this trip, at this moment. Seriously, never. There was a very zen quality to our days. There was no pressure to be anywhere or do anything. No scripted routine to chase after. No long car rides. No switching hotels every few days. Nothing but being in the moment, enjoying our surroundings. THIS is exactly what I wanted to experience on this vacation. A whole lot of being in the moment, appreciating the beauty of life, my husband and children. Thinking about nothing else but myself and them.
My husband and girls swam back not too long after I wound down, and they told me all about their adventure. They saw an octopus! But there were claustrophobic moments along the reefs out there, so they were only gone a short time. The dad and three sons were nearby swimming, so we all started talking about back home, they were really cool people. They brought three sons on this trip, and had two more adult sons at home! Woah, talk about a Full House!
At this point we had two hours or so till Dennis came back for pick up. We got out of the water for a walk, our youngest however was not up for it so she stayed swimming. I kept an eye on her along the walk then as we turned around to head back, our oldest decided to jump in and stay down that end to swim. Shake my head. She, at a snails pace, made her way back to her sister so we went back to our loungers to watch them play. Once they saw us grab snacks, they seagulled it right to us. Yes, that’s a word. I took their swimming break as an opportunity to apply more sunscreen on them. We all sat on the chairs having snacks and my husband and I some wine. It was a picture perfect afternoon.
With time to spare, we all went back to swim. We noticed Dennis, our driver, much like the driver the day before, came back early to pick us up. About thirty minutes early. We saw him sitting in the shade with other drivers who were picking up the few families from our cruise, too.
At 15 minutes till meeting up with Dennis, our cruise family hit up the grill for some lunch as my family made our way to greet Dennis for the ride. When we approached the men to say we were ready to go, I overheard them joking and joined in. One driver called Dennis a Menace so that caused some fake drama. He was trying to get Dennis upset. This driver ended up talking to me for a while as he was breaking Dennis’ chops. He was also an older man, very stylish AND a very slender, tall man, probably 7′! We got to talking, he was so charismatic and wonderful. He asked where I was from, so I told him Boston. He told me that he had been to Boston once but not the city, just to visit a friend’s son at school in a town called ANDOVER!! (WOW!) He told me all about seeing Philips Academy! Which is down the street from where I live. Small world! Of all places to have visited. We shook hands to say good bye, and he complimented me to the heavens and for my family. It was such a great encounter. Such a sweet man!
Our drive back over the mountain was just as exciting as the drive there. The views all around were breathtaking. It’s kind of funny how driving around reminded me of Sicily. There was just something similar about the roads and the crazy picturesque views. But, Tortola was lush with green shrubbery not dessert-like as it is in Sicily. Weird how things unrelated can feel familiar like that isn’t it?
We got back to port with enough time to shop for souvenirs and send out postcards to our friends back home. The port was actually a lot cooler than I had realized, so i procrastinated to get back on the boat. I was trying real hard to get stranded but my family persuaded me to get my butt on that ship! ha
Once we got on board we got showered, grabbed some food and sat outside to watch the boat take off. It was hot, however, so once a shady table opened up we ran to it. The views around us as we were shipping off were just.. beautiful. My husband grabbed us cocktails, and we sat there watching the views slide by as our girls went to go play at the arcade. It was the best way to end the day.
When the girls returned we took a walk around the ship. I wanted to see the one place I didn’t see yet, the library. Why? I don’t know, but it was the only space that I didn’t see and I wanted to see it! We got to the library and it was pretty. There were high-back leather chairs grouped together that called our names. We sat down, and wow so comfy. Our daughters were being loud, so I told them we could talk on the cruise’s app where there is messaging capabilities. Our youngest daughter played her games, as our oldest and I talked smack on the app for about forty minutes. haha! My husband was on his phone playing games, but totally zoning out because the day caught up. We kept saying we would be moving on, but the atmosphere was so relaxing and quiet, and those chairs were so comfy!
We had dinner reservations for 7:30PM, so after our little break, we went to check out the shops, as our oldest daughter saw they were having a sale on travel shirts. She is starting to get the shopping bug. Oh brother! We browsed all the shops, and they were actually having a decent sale on the travel t-shirts, and on Swarovski and Vineyard Vines. I was pretty surprised, but that’s because I am skeptical of almost everything. After this, we went to check out the photo studio. This is where all the photos the cruise is taking of you are kept throughout the days. Once we found all of ours, we decided it was martini time!
We really enjoyed this bar because it was not only good martinis but so pretty!! Also, it was a good place to have the girls sit with us outside of the bar area. They had some cool nook seating for us to have them there. Not that having kids anywhere was an issue, it was more for me to be courteous of other patrons.
We got to our reservation a tad late, but they still had our table available. Now, this night we went to dinner at the specialty restaurant Sushi on Five. When I told Irfan earlier this day that we were going here he was actually sad! haha So sweet! But he also told us this is where the staff will go to eat because it is really good.
Our children love sushi. If you give them the option to go out for dinner they will 99% of the time choose sushi/Japanese food. Which is great! But it can be difficult for us too since my husband has a sesame allergy. Normally, he is fine, because at a restaurant they customize everything they are able to customize. On the ship it is different. So, guess what everyone? When my husband went up to make reservations here a few days ago he never asked them about their use of sesame oil, or seeds. Which made dining this night a task for him. It was in almost everything..everything he likes. And their preparation for things is not like a conventional restaurant at home, being out to sea comes with restrictions. Also. He is a big guy, so to eat two gyoza, three avocado maki bites with a bite of sashimi tuna IS NOT going to make him happy haha We got around this by repeating items he could eat. Till he felt like he ate well.
The Japanese here was great! We ordered Truffled Albacore Tuna sashimi, Lobster Rangoon, Pork Gyoza, Shrimp Tempura, Spicy Tuna maki, Green Roof Tuna maki, Tuna Avocado maki, Sake and Maguro nigiri sushi, and of course, Mochi Ice Cream – green tea, strawberry, mango. It was a literal feast on the table, especially with the things we had to double or triple for my husband. What he could eat he liked, and the girls and I enjoyed all the dishes we ordered, too. We ended up eating and socializing at this place for a long time. We had table neighbors who ended up being two really cool people, so we got carried away talking. They were on their first ‘kid free’ vacation of their marriage, and were very excited to tell us about it. 🙂 By the time we realized the time it was almost 10PM!! We had to run to get to the magic show that we wanted to catch.
There was a hilarious comic magician that we went to go see in the main theater. We made it just in time to get decent seats. The performer was really good, and super funny. His magic was pretty complicated, and he made it look effortless. Our daughters were struggling to keep their eyes open, so once the show ended we went up to bed. The girls curled up in bed, as we sat on the balcony finishing our night with the moon light bouncing off the ocean.
This was a great way to end our day in Tortola!
Next up is Day 6, our second full day at sea!