Monday, May 20, 2013

caribbean camping

I am so sorry for my blog absence over the last month! I have been working a lot, trying (unsuccessfully) to fix up my blog and website, and taking a nice long break to marinate in warm salt water.


For the last five years, Mike has talked about one specific beach on one particular island in the Caribbean as being his absolute favorite place on Earth. We've been to the Caribbean together before but never made it to Cinnamon Bay, so we found a cheap pair of plane tickets and headed down to the Virgin Islands. We ended up staying longer than we planned so I have a lot to share with you.


We packed a tent and camped at Cinnamon Bay, in a sandy patch a few steps from the beach. Bright, sparkling blue water lapped gently on the prettiest white sand beach I've ever seen. I love beach camping... there is something special about falling asleep to crashing waves and waking up to a gentle breeze under sun-dappled palm trees. It rained torrentially the first night, loud enough to wake us up, but we lucked out that our little patch of sand had a large tarp left over by some other camper and we stayed completely dry. During the day, the breeze off the beach did an okay job drying clothes hung on the line. I've never been to a resort, but I expect that camping and hosteling are more my style (and certainly more budget friendly for an artist and a grad student!)

Every morning I (inexplicably) woke up around 6:30 and went for a walk alone on the beach, which was usually completely empty except for a few gulls, herons and wild donkey tracks. There were lots of other little beasties ducking in and out of our campsite as well.


And my favorite resident of Cinnamon Bay...


She let us swim peacefully alongside her for almost half an hour during our first snorkel right off the beach from our campsite. We probably could have stayed with her longer if a very large barracuda hadn't decided to join us and totally creep me out. They're supposedly not a threat to humans, but they look like this, so... yeah.

After each morning at the beach we headed in to Cruz Bay, the main port town, to wander around before our scuba lessons. To save money, we didn't rent a car and instead took taxis that were only $7 each and usually just pick-up trucks with bench seats bolted to the back. Factor in the 10 miles of left-side driving and winding hairpin turns and it was probably a good thing we left the driving to professionals.


A little handwoven palm basket I watched this guy make was the only souvenir I brought back from the entire trip. There was lots of other pretty stuff, but always in the back of my head is the reminder that the less stuff we have, the easier it would be to potentially move somewhere like this:


How pretty is that little bay full of boats? I liked Cruz Bay. It reminded me a lot of where I lived on St. Simon's Island in that it was an interesting tourist-town mix of cheerful locals, surly locals, straight up vagabonds, wealthy resort-goers, young budget travelers like me and Mike and everything in between, all kicking off their shoes and taking in the hot salty air together. Some people temporarily escaping the rush, others permanently. It seems like the overwhelming vibe of the Caribbean is that everybody talks to everybody, sharing snorkel spots and sailing advice, and there was hardly a moment when we weren't chatting with people at the bar or making friends with people we'd met at the dive shop. We left Boston just a day or two after the marathon bombing lockdown was lifted so it was nice to commiserate with fellow New Englanders and hear the latest updates in a much less stressful environment. 

And there's nothing like a Red Stripe and a traveling band to close out the night before making the long haul back to our beach tent and slightly sandy sleeping bag.

15 comments:

  1. oh my this is so beautiful... I need to go there with my husband. We would love this place.

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    1. Teresita I'm sure you would! It was very relaxing, quiet and not at all crowded. Definitely a place you could sit on the beach all morning, grab a quick lunch at the outdoor kitchen and head into town at night for music without spending much at all.

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  2. Thanks for sharing that piece of wonderful with us.

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  3. Living the dream...That is so awesome Mae! Caribbean is on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.
    -- BeckyRG

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    1. Glad it's on your list... I've loved both experiences traveling there. People are so friendly and relaxed. If you make the trip down, try to make it to Jost Van Dyke too! White Bay and Great Harbor were fun too (photos coming soon!)

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  4. This looks very peaceful and relaxing! Definitely something I would love to do someday with my husband. I would love to know more about the camping.... are you able to pitch a tent anywhere along the beach or is there a specific area they want you to stay in? Were you able to leave some of your items in your tent during the day or do you pack it up and carry your packs with you. Any info would be greatly appreciated. :)

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    1. Thanks Shelly! Cinnamon Bay is totally secluded and about a 10 minute drive from any other beach and 20 minutes from the main town. It has sandy bare sites (usually with a fire pit) surrounded by palm trees right along the edge of the beach... you camp in a specific one, but all of them are pretty secluded from each other and steps from the beach. There are also canvas tents a few furnished cabins, though they are close together, less private and more expensive. There are bathrooms with outdoor showers, sinks, etc. We left all our luggage in the tent all day for a week (except for my camera gear and our wallets/passports) with no problems. As far as campgrounds go it's very clean and quiet, with a tiny general store, lockers, kitchen open at lunch and dinner, and a place to rent paddleboards and windsails. We literally walked out of our tent, down the beach and into the water to snorkel with that turtle. I'd totally recommend it as long as you're the camping type :)

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    2. Thanks for the info Mae! It sounds very relaxing and something I would definitely want to check out.

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  5. Hi Mae, I was wondering what baresite number this is. My husband and I are looking into getting a tent at this campground. Our first choice is right on the beach (21, maybe 22 or 23). We also liked seclusion of 62 and also did not want to be right next to the bathrooms. It's hard to tell what kind of view you will have just by looking at the map online. Any advice you could offer would be great. I enjoyed looking at your great pics!

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    1. Hi Carol, I think this was site 24. It's next to the beach and a bathroom, but not unpleasantly close at all, and the bathrooms are never busy or loud. 24 and 53-56 are all right by the beach, separated by a little area of palm trees and paths.

      We were just there in January and were put in site 51, which is up a little hill and very secluded. Both were nice in different ways; there isn't a bad site in the whole campground and even if you don't have a direct view of the beach you're only 2 minutes walk from it no matter where you camp. Even up in 51 we could hear the waves crashing at night and a few deer strolled right past our tent. If you bring your own tent to Cinnamon Bay, be sure to pack an 8'x8' or larger tarp and plenty of rope… even when we've had perfect weather, there is always a freak rainstorm around 3am.

      Feel free to email me via the contact tab at maechevrette.com if you'd like to chat more about Cinnamon Bay :)

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  6. Carribean island is very beautiful and the place you have chosen for camping speaks for itself. What a beautiful place and you have made the right choice by staying in the camping tent. I love all the pictures shown in this blog.

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  7. Stunning photos, the Caribbean looks like absolute bliss.

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