*Scroll to the bottom for a 2019 post update!*
Well, friends- we’re back! Crazy to think that after all that planning and packing and prepping…the trip is already over. BUT- I will tell you, it was worth every second and every penny! Virgin Gorda *might* be my new favorite Caribbean destination!I received so many questions via Instagram while we were away and with data roaming charges being so high and the internet connection being less than stellar, I figured I’d answer some of them here!
Q & A’s clothes & bathing suits: I almost ALWAYS tag the shops their outfits are from. Just tap the picture on instagram to see the shop names (I know this seems kind of obvious, but I still get lots of “Where is that dress from?” type questions over in Insta-land. So, yeah click the picture for shop names.) If it’s NOT tagged its most likely an old piece or something that is no longer available. OR my shopaholic brain simply forgot where I got it! 😉
(Ex: These blue rompers got lots of questions and I didn’t tag them because they were purchased at Old Navy last summer- or even the summer before, maybe! I loved it when I bought it and went back and got one in every size- thus the reason Q & A both fit into one this summer! Yaaaay for being a shopaholic!)
Travel Items: Ok, so I definitely over-packed for this trip (See Travel Tips post!) and I wanted to share a quick list of things I did NOT use while on vaca, things I definitely NEEDED and things I totally forgot to bring!
Did NOT use:
- The MiFold carseat boosters. Most travel in the Caribbean is done by way of boat or open air taxis so these seats stayed in the luggage the whole time. Boo!
- Polaroid Camera. The charger got lost early on, the battery kept dying on us, and honestly Q just had no interest. Waste of luggage space.
- So many outfits! We had a chef come in & we ate at the house a bunch on this trip, so the girls went from bathing suits & coverups straight into pjs most nights. I think we went out to dinner twice. So basically aside from travel clothes, I used TWO outfits for the girls. T-W-O. I will not even tell you how many I actually brought!
- So many SHOES! I bought the girls THESE slip on sandals by Igor and they wore them every single day. On the two nights they dressed up to go out to restaurants they wore their brown salt water sandals. I literally only needed two pairs of shoes for them. Same for me. I needed flip flops. The end.
- All those airplane toys. I’m on the fence with this one because the girls mostly watched their ipads on the plane BUT they did play with their toys during down time at the house. So I guess they did come in handy.
- The Monkey Mat. The kids played IN the sand and Max, wellll- never let me put him down. Never needed it or opened it once!
- Water shoes for the girls. We brought them for The Baths but the shoes were actually slippery on the rocks and it was easier/safer to go barefoot!
- snorkel masks
- life jackets
- alllll that food!
- lots of bathing suit options…and lots of rashguards!
- alllll that sunscreen
- 6 packages of wipes! Thought I was over-packing here but, nope!
- Boppy- for feeding, naps, airplane ride, etc. Used this every single day.
- Breast pump, lots of breast milk storage baggies, and a small insulated cooler and freezer packs for toting that milk to dinners and on our travel days!
- Extra bottles! We use glass and one shattered upon arrival…thank God for extras!
- First Aid kit: children’s tylenol and thermometer were needed and definitely USED!
- That Aqua Heat travel bottle warmer. That this is Pure GOLD, I tell you!
- The mosquito net for baby boy. We put this over his rock n’ play every night and every time he was outside!
- Mesh baby carrier! This thing was awesome for carrying Max out in the sun & water
- Giant hat for myself. This served as protection for me as well as a tiny umbrella for Max while I was carrying him in the sun!
NEEDED but forgot:
- More diapers- we brought 50 diapers and were running very low towards the end of the 8 day trip. Ohhhh newborn life.
- Beach toys. We thought there would be a basket of sand toys left behind from the previous house guests (usually the case) but there was not. totally should’ve brought a small package of sand toys.
- Meds- I always pack a first aid kit but I cleaned out some expired meds before the trip and totally forgot to replace them. Luckily I had children’s Tylenol (needed for when Q & A got tummy bug fevers) but I forgot and NEEDED children’s Benedryl and also saline spray and squeeze bulb for baby boy’s congested nose!
Next up, the trip itself! Here are the details, as promised!
Location: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
House: Villa Aquamare, via a vacation club we are members of.Virgin Gorda was GORGEOUS and the house was equally as stunning. The staff was superb and all around the experience was a five-star one. Not sure how any other house or beach trip is going to compare to this one! Do me a favor, if you ever go…please hire Chef Mimi to come cook for you…and request her Key Lime pie for dessert. (I don’t even like key lime pie!) Trust Me!
On Virgin Gorda-
- Hog Heaven-BBQ joint. This place is located at the top of the island and the view alone is worth the trek. We stopped here for a drink and a snack (french fries) before heading out to lunch. So I can’t speak much of the actual food, but it’s a total tourist dive spot. Aka: showing up in a bathing suit and cover up is totally acceptable!
- CocoMaya- Asian Fusion. Gorgeous restaurant, beautiful scenery and yummy food! The girls loved the “back yard” (beach with corn hole, giant jenga, and fire pit) they could play on while we waited for food at our table.
- Saba Rock. Tiny little rock island off the coast of Virgin Gorda. Good food, cute gift shop, and you can walk the whole island in about 10 minutes. Only negative- no walk-in beach access, since the island is basically a big rock. (Water taxi to get there)
- The Bitter End Resort. Kind of dated, cute shops, good if you’re looking for some fun water sports. (Can get there by land taxi or boat)
- Chez Bamboo– a local restaurant. We ordered take-out from here one night and were very underwhelmed by the food. I’d maybe skip it.
- Rock Cafe– italian restaurant. Cute place, piano bar inside, we ate outside among boulders (thus the name). Food was just ok, but the atmosphere was pretty cool!
- The Baths! This place was phenomenal! Probably wouldn’t recommend doing it with a baby… but it was worth all the “You guys are crazy” looks we got from everyone! The girls had SO much fun climbing through all the rocks and tunnels and the water and views were just beautiful. Plus, I’m convinced we spotted the Goonies…Sailing Around the BVIs-
- We did two boat days with our favorite boat captain, Dana Paradise on the Take it Easy 2. We sailed all over the BVIs, stopping to snorkle at The Caves, The Indians and several other hot spots. We hit up Norman Island to eat at Pirate’s Bight, Saba Rock, and Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke. Boat days are kind of our favorite…and not just because of the rum punch! 😉
- Side Note: On our first day at sea, one of the boat crew heard the girls talking about their love for Moana. The second day we chartered the boat, she went out into the caves she knew we’d be snorkeling in and planted a special gift for the girls to find. When the girls went out snorkeling in the caves they found plastic bags with their names on them. Inside was a note “from Moana” along with handmade island skirts and flowers for their hair. The girls were completely awe-struck and wore their custom made outfits from Moana for the rest of the day. THAT, my friends, is called quality crew! Miss Alicia, if you ever read this…YOU are the bestest ever! Thank you for making my girls’ day!!!
Seriously…best trip ever!
Next up in our summer adventures…New Jersey!
So we just got back from what might easily be my favorite Caribbean destination!
Here are a few updates and answers to some of your questions!
How we Got there:
This time around we flew from Dallas>Miami (stayed at The 1 Hotel South Beach for 3 days). We then flew to St. Thomas & chartered a water taxi (there is also a ferry) over to Virgin Gorda. It’s definitely a looong day of travel. Last time we flew Dallas>Puerto Rico>Beef Island and then boated over to Virgin Gorda, which is a shorter boat ride but Beef is a much more expensive airport to fly into. We all agreed, in terms of time and cost, that the way we did it THIS year was more practical.
What We Packed:
Aside from the normal stuff, we also packed a cardboard box full of “disposable” (meaning it won’t be coming home with us) items, such as diapers, wipes, some snacks for the kids, a few floats/tubes, some cheap water toys, extra sunscreen, etc. We check the box as luggage (Ryan gets to check bags for free since he travels so much for work). If you don’t want to pay for an extra piece of luggage, check with your destination to see if you can ship your “box of disposable goods” to the location and have them hold it for you until you arrive. A note of warning- ship it FAR in advance…mail to the islands is sloooow! Our rationale behind the box, as opposed to just packing another suitcase, is that we use up the contents of the box while on vacation, and then don’t have a big empty suitcase to cart back home with us. We’ve been doing this for years now!
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at the same home- Villa Aquamare (It’s one of the locations available through our vacation club, so we book it by using “days” of our membership- it sort of works like a time share). I believe you can rent for cost it without being a member, but at the price, I’d probably recommend looking into some of the cool AirBnB locations on the island!
Where We Ate:
We visited some of our favorite restaurants on the island mentioned above like Hog Heaven & CocoMaya but also tried out a new spot called Sugar Cane which had amazing food & atmosphere. We were going to try a brand new place called Nova over on Oil Nut Bay, but we got tired that day and decided to order in from Hog Heaven (again!) instead. The other nights we had our “BFF” from last time, Chef Mimi come & cook for us! There’s nothing quite like showering after a day in the sun and eating a fancy dinner in your pjs!
What We Did:
-Necker Island: Through our vacation club we were able to book something called an Eco Tour over on the private island. We thought we’d get to see some of the endangered species Richard Branson keeps on the island, get a tour of the property, and then be able to relax on the beach for a bit. We were WRONG! It was a four hour tour of the property- which, don’t get me wrong, was cool to see, BUT…we were not dressed appropriately, not mentally prepared for such a long day, not offered a single thing besides a water bottle, and had FOUR little kiddos in tow! It was a bit of a tease if you ask me. We were made to feel (by our tour guide) like we should be eternally grateful for being allowed to step foot on the island. Listen, Richard Branson has built a pretty freaking spectacular island for himself…but we were all ready to get back to Virgin Gorda where we were allowed to eat, drink, and relax on the beach! It was definitely a “one and done” experience. If you’ve seen the MTV cribs episode, save yourself the trouble (and the four hour “don’t touch anything” tour!)
-Boat Days are our FAVORITE days so we booked two this year. The companies we used were Virgin Charter Yachts & Ocean Bliss Charters . Since our group is expanding, we find that catamarans are the way to go for us! A few of the places we visited in 2017 were unfortunately destroyed in the recent storms (but are being rebuilt, don’t worry!!) so we had to skip Saba Rock and The Bitter End Resort this year but we hit up: snorkling at The Caves & The Indians, Norman Island to eat at Pirate’s Bight, and of course, our favorite (and currently rebuilt after the storms:) Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke. We also checked out a new island this year called Cooper Island. It had a great little beach bar/restaurant and the cutest tables in the ocean to hold your drinks for you! My kind of place! 😉
-The Baths: The Baths of Virgin Gorda might be one of my very favorite places ever!! If you’ve never been, here are a few tips:
1. Check with locals about Cruise Ship days. Avoid those days- it’s way too packed! Unless of course, you’re on the cruise ship- then, have at it!
2. Fun Fact: it’s a national park so it’s technically always “open”. We go VERY early to avoid crowds.
3. Going early means you skip the admission both which opens around 8:30 (I think it’s $5-10 per person) but you most likely won’t have access to the bar/snack hut (which opens around 10-ish…island time 😉) But we like to go early and then stay and swim/hang out on the beach for the whole morning/early afternoon anyways so we get the best of both worlds!
4. Bring your own water & towels and find a nook outside the caves to leave them while you explore. Wear a fanny pack or backpack with your valuables. You will want to be hands FREE inside the caves.
5. We found that water shoes made it the rocks feel more slippery, and we all opted for bare feet instead.
6. Wear a bathing suit or something you don’t mind getting wet!
7. There is a gift shop & a good restaurant at the top of the park- it’s a great place to hit up on your way out!
8. If you find the “secret rock” to jump off of into the ocean, leave a comment below for a virtual high five!
*The girls suits they were wearing in the Bath pics were from MIKOH
Virgin Gorda is in the Britsh Virgin Islands (BVIs) so plan travel documents accordingly. We all needed passports- babies too!! It isn’t a bad idea to travel with a bunch of extra pens as well, since you will need to fill out customs forms, etc. along the way and those places always seem short on pens!
I think that’s about it! I’m already counting down the days until we go back again! Virgin Gorda truly is magical! If I missed anything feel free to leave a question in the comments below!