Off The Beaten Path Cruise Excursions For Barbados, St. Kitts, Tortola And St. Thomas
Barbados was one with 5 ships at port and over 20,000 people flooding onto the island. We wanted a beach day because I've read that the beaches are stunning with perfect white sands. Normally, I would book a beach day at a hotel through a site like Resort Pass or Day Pass, but I knew all of those hotels would be overbooked with cruise passengers. Instead, I searched hotels in Bridgetown that were not affiliated with any of the day pass sites, picked out the ones I liked then emailed each to see if they offer day passes.
I found that several actually do offer day passes but they can only be reserved within 24 hours of arrival. Because this cruise was over a holiday, again I didn't want to risk not having a day pass so I picked a hotel with the most affordable overnight rate and booked a room even though we wouldn't be staying the night.
I booked a room at Southern Palms Beach Club and the room for a night was only $50 more than if I had booked two day passes. This was worth it to me to ensure we had access to the hotel for the day.
We arrived at 10am and were able to get right into our room immediately. Since I continue to run my business while traveling, having good WiFi was helpful and I was able to get print shop orders uploaded in a breeze. It was also nice to have a place to cool off and freshen up.
The beach front resort was beautiful and pink! I can't help myself when it comes to anything pink :) It was also so quiet and we had the best day lounging by the pool and hopping into the ocean. The resort doesn't have chairs and umbrellas for the beach but they can be rented on the beach by a third party company. If you want to do this, just ask a hotel staff member for directions on where the kiosk is. We opted to stay by the pool because it was basically on the beach and very nice.
We had lunch at their beachfront restaurant and it was delicious. I had mahi-mahi with rosé. Obviously!
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Originally, I made reservations at Arthur's at Belle Mont Farms in St. Kitts. The hotel is an eco resort and Arthur's is a farm to table restaurant at the hotel. In theory, it sounded like a nice relaxing day and I'm sure it would have been but when we arrived in St. Kitts, we decided we didn't want to take a 50 minute taxi ride each way just for lunch. At the last minute, I tried to get a day pass to the relatively new Park Hyatt Resort but it said it was sold out, so instead, I called and made a reservation at their Guest House restaurant. This ended up being a great decision because we had lunch and hung out all day at the resort. We walked on the beach and had drinks at the bar on the water. I wish we had brought swimsuits because I really don't think anyone would have questioned us using the beach. It was so private and the views of Nevis were breathtaking. While there were some families at this resort, it's perfect for couples, too. It's secluded and romantic.
A day pass to this resort, which includes lunch, is 150 USD per person. We spent 150 USD on lunch (we got a bottle of rosé, of course!) and got to hang out all day for half the price. Just going for lunch worked for us and I think it's worth giving it a shot. If someone approaches you, you can always pay the day pass fee or leave. Try it and see. Bring a swimsuit just in case. You'll want to get in the water. So beautiful!
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I read that Tortola doesn't offer much for beaches so we decided to take the ferry to Virgin Gorda to see The Baths. This ended up being a more adventurous day than I expected but it was so worth it and I'm glad we did it.
I noticed our cruise line, Norwegian, offered an excursion to The Baths but it left around 10am. I knew this would be a popular tourist destination so we chose to go it alone and take the earliest ferry we could at 8:30am to get there before the crowds. This would have been a great idea but our ship arrived late to port and then it took a while to get off the ship so we missed the first two ferries and didn't leave Tortola until 10:20am. Not a big deal but it would have been nice to get there a little earlier.
The ferry terminal is about a 15 minute walk from the cruise port. You can take a taxi but the walk was easy and free. We bought tickets when we got there. No need to buy them in advance, which worked out for us since we missed the original ferry we planned on taking.
Roundtrip ferry tickets were 38 USD per person on Sensation Ferries. Other ferry services are Speedy's and Smith's Ferries. They each have different schedules and tickets can be purchased at the ferry terminal. Be sure to check return ferry times before buying a roundtrip ticket. It might be beneficial to your schedule to buy one ways on different ferries. The ferry ride is 30 minutes each way and the tickets included a taxi ride from the Virgin Gorda ferry terminal to The Baths entrance.
Getting to the baths was kind of a hectic day with catching a ferry and getting into The Baths. I attribute this to the fact that we got there later than planned and arrived with the crowds.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Entrance to The Baths is 3 USD per person. Bring cash. US dollars are accepted.
- The hike down to the beaches is about 20 minutes and was steep at times. I found it to be a little challenging but I was also wearing sandal slides (rolling my eyes at myself).
- Wear sneakers or swim shoes.
- Pack light. You won't want to carry a lot on the hike back up.
- Go early! We began the hike back to the top around noon and there were droves of people flooding in.
- When you get back to the top, have lunch at Top of The Baths. The food was good and the views were outstanding. The mixed drinks were super sweet, though. Wine or beer was a better choice.
- Try to catch a taxi back to the ferry terminal around 1pm or 2pm at the latest (if you're on a cruise). We hung out at the restaurant until 2:30pm and there were too many people trying to get a ride back.
Once we got down to the beaches, it was truly such a magnificent place. The water was calm and crystal clear. It was fun to swim through the grottos, too!
The Top of the Baths restaurant was a relaxing place to unwind after the hike back up. There's even a swimming pool!
St. Thomas was the last stop on our cruise and we wanted to splurge a little so we booked a private boat day from Compass Pointe Marina in St. Thomas. We took a shared taxi from the cruise terminal to Compass Pointe and it was 10 USD per person each way. We visited secluded beaches on St. John and saw sting ray and sea turtles while snorkeling. It was so cool to see such desolate and untouched beaches and ocean life up close. The boat was small but perfect for two people. Alcohol and soft drinks were included but bring your own snacks or lunch. Fuel charges were extra at 35 USD for a half day trip.
I don't have many photos from this day because most of the beaches were no wake zones and I couldn't bring my camera or phone in the water to swim to shore, but please know, it was such a fun and memorable day and worth the splurge!
This was my favorite beach and the only name I remember! It was Scott's Beach and was actually the ruins of a luxury resort destroyed by hurricanes Maria and Irma. The water was so unbelievably clear and blue. I could have stayed there all day and we were the only people on the beach!
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This was the most fun we've ever had on a cruise and I would definitely visit all of these islands again and stay for a while. Have fun planning your adventure!