Before the busy holiday season set in this year, we decided to take a very slow and relaxing trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our first stop was the island of St. Thomas for two nights at Sapphire Beach and a day trip to nearby St. John and Virgin Islands National Park. Most of this post is about our favorite activities to do on St. Croix, but I had to mention our quick trip to St. Thomas.
To be honest, snorkeling in the Virgin Islands National Park was the only reason we came to St. Thomas instead of traveling directly to St. Croix. While St. Thomas is a beautiful island, it is also the most populated of all the U.S. Virgin Islands and we were really looking for a much more laid back vacation. Our quick stop here was totally worth it though. We had a great day on the water with Breakaway and some amazing snorkeling, which included our only barracuda sighting of the trip. We were actually hoping to see more of these eerie guys.
After our two nights on St. Thomas, we boarded a little Cessna through Cape Air for the 30-minute flight to St. Croix. I don’t typically get nervous on flights, but I’m pretty sure I held my breath the whole time. If propelling through the air with sudden ups, downs, and sideways movements makes you a little queasy, you might want to opt for the ferry.
After landing safely with two feet firmly planted on the ground in St. Croix, we picked up our car rental from the local company Centerline and headed to our condo for the next week in Sugar Beach, just a few minutes outside of Christiansted. If you are staying at a VRBO or AirBnB, I would definitely recommend renting a car. While the island is small, it is pretty spread out and taxis are few and far between and Uber is non-existent. Centerline Car Rentals was easy to work with and very reasonably priced. I would definitely recommend this good local company for your car rental needs.
After making our way to the condo, learning to drive on the left side of the road as we went (yes, they drive on the left side of the road, but the steering wheel is still on the left like American cars), we pulled up to our oceanfront home away from home for the next week. This two bedroom, two bath condo was absolutely incredible. Newly remodeled and right on the water, we couldn’t ask for more.
Best Things to Do on St. Croix
St. Croix is full of awesome things to do and see. Some of our favorites included golf, snorkeling, swimming, and drinking with pigs… yes, real pigs! Below is a recap of the things we enjoyed while we were on the island. If you’ve been to St. Croix and had a favorite activity that didn’t make it on this list, please let me know in the comments below.
What time of year you visit the islands will depict what spots are the best for snorkeling while you’re there. We were there in December, when the winds/waves come in from the northeast. With that in mind, the snorkeling while we were there was pretty limited to the southwest where the waters are much calmer. Since there were only a few places to snorkel, I can’t speak for all the great spots on the island, but we absolutely loved the pier at Fredericksted and Rainbow Beach, both of which had completely calm waters.
The Pier at Fredericksted
Snorkeling through the columns at the pier here was a truly amazing experience. There are tons of life forms that have made their homes on the pier columns. Diving through the columns and checking out all the coral was so much fun. We saw some great fish and a few turtles. We also heard that if you look closely enough in just the right spot, you might find a seahorse on the columns. We looked until our fingers turned into raisins, but didn’t find any horsey friends.
One thing to note, when there are cruise ships at the pier you’re not allowed to snorkel here. But because of COVID, the ships are few and far between which allowed us to snorkel here to our heart’s content.
Rainbow Beach is not far from the pier in Fredericksted. In fact, you can see the pier from the beach, but the snorkeling here was much different. There were spots with large sandy bottoms sprinkled with sand dollars that made for some fun diving. There were also more species of fish here including some beautiful king angelfish, Caribbean flounder, and the one sighting that made my entire trip, a spotted eagle ray.
Although the coral here is still recovering from the 2017 hurricanes, I would definitely put this on your list. There is also a great beachside restaurant and bar, Rhythms at Rainbow Beach. The beach itself here was pretty busy and there are chairs/umbrellas, and jet skis you can rent, but totally worth the crowds for the snorkeling.
Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge
Unfortunately, we were unable to snorkel here due to weather while we were on the islands. The high seas and winds just wouldn’t cooperate for us and both days we had a snorkel trip scheduled, it was cancelled. We’ve heard from numerous people that the snorkeling here is amazing and has some of the most diverse marine life in the area, including some nurse sharks if you’re lucky. Although we didn’t get to snorkel here on our trip, I did think it would be amiss if I didn’t mention it. There are several tour companies that leave from Christiansted and we will definitely try to get on a boat again when we come back!
Swimming at Sandy Point
Aside from the spotted eagle ray we swam with at Rainbow Beach, this was definitely my second favorite thing we did while on St. Croix. Sandy Point is absolutely stunning! I’ve never seen water like it in my entire life. Although it was raining a bit on us while we were there, the water was still this ridiculously blueish turquoise color that I can’t even begin to describe and photos do no justice. We played in the waves, swam around, and floated in the milky waters. It was incredible and something I would definitely put high on your list.
The Eastern-most Point in the United States – Point Udal
No trip to St. Croix is complete without driving to the eastern most point in the United States, Point Udal. There is a pretty cool monument that was constructed in 2000 and the shoreline is beautiful. On a calm day (unlike the day we visited), we’ve heard the snorkeling is fantastic.
There are also some quick hikes to some beautiful beaches you can take from this point. The trailhead is just down the road (you can’t miss it as you’re driving to the monument) and you can see the trails down to the beach. We saw some rain coming in when we were here, so we decided to pass, but this is definitely something we will have on our list for next time.
Drinking with Pigs
On a day with some weather, what else are you going to do than visit the Mt. Pellier Hut Domino Club to drink with some pigs? The piggies here live amazing lives and for $3 you can buy your new swine friend a non-alcoholic beer. The beer is made from the same grains the pigs would normally eat and they excitedly wait for you to put the beer in their mouth so they can gulp it down and spit out the can. They would definitely win any shot-gunning contest. It is absolutely hilarious!
If beer is not your thing, the Mt. Pellier Hut has a very special rum infused with a unique blend of spices that you’ll wanna try, aptly named “Mama Wanna.” You can drink it like a sipper or in one of many different mixed drinks. I had it mixed with grapefruit juice and Brian had his with Red Bull. I usually hate grapefruit and Brian’s not a fan of Red Bull, but we both thoroughly enjoyed our drinks.
Whenever Brian and I travel to an island, we try to make sure to fit in a round of island golf. There are three golf courses on the island and we opted for the more casual 9-hole course, The Reef. This was a super laid back course and when we called to make a tee time the day before, they just laughed and said we didn’t need any tee times. They were right. We pretty much had the whole course to ourselves and enjoyed a quick round of golf.
That pretty much sums up our time on the island and we are so grateful for the amazing memories to look back at. We can’t wait to return someday and spend even more time exploring the beautiful USVI. We’d also like to spend some time on St. John exploring the Virgin Islands National Park more.
Check out the video below for more of our trip and some of the amazing sights we saw.
Have you been to the USVI? What was your favorite thing to do? Leave a comment below.
We’ve been taking our Four Wheel Pop-up Camper on adventures for almost a year now. In this week’s vlog, we take you along for a full tour of our camper and all the things we love… and some things we might want to change. Make sure to do us a favor and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you have the same passion for adventure.
Two weeks ago we took one of the most amazing and memorable road trips we’ve had in a long time. From our home in Northern Nevada, we completed a 2,661 mile loop in nine days and traveled through Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. It was a trip we had been planning since the beginning of the year, and it did not disappoint.
Glacier National Park has been on the top of my bucket list for a long time. In addition to the stunning scenery and glassy alpine lakes, there is something enchanting about the truly wild area. I’ve run into my fair share of wildlife growing up in Lake Tahoe, but the idea of grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats, big horn sheep, and moose in the same area you are camping, is pretty exciting.
When we started to plan, we had our sights set on Glacier as the main destination. Then, as we further studied our route and maps, we fell in love with the idea of hitting two other parks that are up that way, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. It was a bit ambitious, but we felt that since we were up that way, we needed to fit them in since we had never seen either.
Our final itinerary consisted of two days driving to Glacier, two nights in Glacier, one day driving to Yellowstone, one night in Yellowstone, one day driving to Grand Teton, one night in Grand Teton, and two days driving home.
Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton Itinerary
- Day 1: Drive from Reno, NV to Cold Springs Campground, ID – 514mi
- Day 2: Drive from Cold Springs Campground, ID to Wayfarer Campground, MT (Flathead Lake) – 480mi
- Day 3: Drive from Wayfarer Campground, MT to Bowman Lake Campground (Glacier) – 71mi
- Day 4: Relax, hike, fish, and paint at Bowman Lake – 0mi
- Day 5: Drive from Bowman Lake through Glacier via Going to the Sun Road to Hood Creek Campground, MT – 396mi
- Day 6: Drive from Hood Creek Campground, MT to Canyon Campground, WY (Yellowstone) and stop at Old Faithful/Upper Geyser Basin – 179mi
- Day 7: Drive from Canyon Campground, WY to Jackson to Lizard Creek Campground, WY (Grand Teton) – 163mi
- Day 8: Drive from Lizard Creek Campground, WY to Elko, NV – 461mi
- Day 9: Drive from Elko, NV to home – 293mi
We packed as much in as we could and made sure to see some major attractions at each stop along the way. In hindsight, we probably should have allowed more time at each park to fully take it in. However, given our work schedules, we made what we could work with one week off. We spent a lot of time in the truck driving, and less time exploring the beautiful areas. Either way, it was a great trip and we found some amazing spots we can’t wait to explore more… with a little more time planned for each.
Check out the video below to follow along as we make our way through the parks, find some great places to camp, and find lots of wildlife… including a grizzly (that was camera shy).
There is no better way for me to charge my batteries than spending time on the trails. Sometimes it’s a backpacking/hiking trail and other times it’s a 4×4 trail. This past weekend we hit a new trail that we found after studying maps and making a list of possible destinations. After a little more research and reading some online forums, we settled on what might be one of my favorite campsites we’ve ever stumbled upon.
We left right after work on Thursday and rolled into camp at 7:00 pm. We got there at the perfect time because within 15 minutes, there were three other groups that were pulling in for the night. According to one camper we met, we scored “the spot.” It was lakefront and under a few trees that provided some good shelter from the afternoon sun.
In this video, we share more from our little weekend camping trip where we hike, make some delicious meals in the Dutch oven, and relax under the starry skies.
On this episode of the Taco Roamer, we cover part 1 of our 10-day journey through Southern Nevada, Utah, and Northern Arizona. We start with our first night in Red Rock Canyon, NV, before heading east to Utah and Zion National Park, including a little muddy 4×4 adventure. At our campsite in Zion, we make some Chicken Pad Thai and breakfast pancakes by the Virgin River before heading on to our next stop outside of Kanab, UT, where we explore some cool slot canyons, make sourdough in the camp oven, and explore the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
In this video, we head out to Joshua Tree National Park on the maiden voyage of our new four-wheel pop-up camper named “Rose”. We explore some of the park’s back roads, make biscuits and pizza in the camp oven, take a hike to Barker Dam, and spend lots of hours in the camper playing Yahtzee before we decide to come back a day early due to some unrelenting wind. Buckle up and come along for this weekend’s adventure to one of our favorite National Parks!
Let me start off by saying I am using the term “hiking” really loosely here. This is definitely more of a walk. But, I have learned that different people have different definitions of hiking, so keeping with the theme of my site, we’ll go out on a limb and call it “hiking.”
This trail is located in the hilly neighborhoods of San Clemente, CA, and as the name would suggest, follows a ridgeline with million dollar homes on one side and dry rolling hills on the other. The trail is paved with small dirt side trails for mountain bikers or hikers.Read More
Just to the west of the sleepy little town of Lone Pine, California lies an incredible area to explore on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, Alabama Hills. This sparse area studded with cool rock formations and high desert flora is also the gateway to the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, sitting at 14,505′. This is also happens to be where Brian and I got engaged after a long and magical (and sometimes painful) week on the High Sierra Trail.Read More
Nestled between the neighborhoods in Orange, CA lies 340 acres of beautiful park known as Peters Canyon Regional Park. Here, you’ll find a decent size reservoir, miles of hiking and biking trails, and great wildlife and bird watching opportunities. There is also another thing that you’ll find lots of… people.Read More
In the hills above southern Orange County, you’ll find an abundance of trails for hikers and mountain bikers alike in the San Juan Capistrano Recreational Trail System. One of the more popular trails because of its stunning views and flagpole at the end is Patriot Hill, which is also fondly called the Rollercoaster Trail because the many ups and downs.Read More
In the north end of Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll find one of five fan palm oases in the park. Here, there are cracks in the hard earth’s surface that have forced water to the top and provide the opportunity for beautiful and lush fan palms to thrive in an otherwise inhospitable environment. The shade, water, and vegetation creates a welcome sight for desert critters and hikers alike.Read More
A little over two hours east of Los Angeles, you’ll find Joshua Tree National Park and some of the most incredible desert landscape in Southern California. The park runs 60 miles west to east and 30 miles north to south. Within its boundaries, there are two separate and distinct deserts – the Mojave and the Colorado. In the northeast Mojave desert section, you’ll see whimsical Joshua trees and large boulder formations that look like they belong on Mars. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful section of the park. In the southwest Colorado desert area, you’ll find a much more vast landscape that makes you feel like you are the only person on earth.Read More
This is the second year in a row that we have decided to skip the crowded beaches and head to the mountains for a very quiet Fourth of July. When we planned this trip several months ago, we thought, ‘what’s a better place than heading to American Lake in Desolation Wilderness to celebrate our country’s birthday?’
I had stumbled upon American Lake five years earlier when on a backpacking trip to nearby Lake of the Woods. I remember thinking it would be a great place to camp and made a point to return there, which is exactly what we did this weekend and it could not have been more perfect.Read More
“Third time’s the charm” has never had as much meaning as it did this past weekend. The last two years in a row I have had permits to backpack Big Pine Lakes, but for reasons due to weather, fire, and Elton John, they have all been cancelled (and yes, Elton was totally worth it on his Yellow Brick Road tour). This past weekend, those backpacking dreams came true and I laid my eyes on what might be one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen.Read More
My soul was seriously thirsty for some fresh air in my lungs and dirt under my feet. You see, I’m currently in Orange County, CA about to approach one of the hardest weekends of my life. This weekend we’ll say “goodbye” to my mom at her funeral followed by the burial on Catalina Island.
Scout Lookout and Angels Landing boast some of the most picturesque views of Zion Canyon in the whole park. With sweeping 360 degree vistas, you can easily understand why this is one of the more popular hikes in the park. There are no permits required for this trail, and in the summer, you can see lines of hikers dotting the cliffside. We hiked the trail in the middle of January during a short three-day road trip. While the crowds weren’t as bad as they are in the summer months, there were still a fair amount of other hikers when we started at 1:30 pm.
Utah is an amazingly beautiful state from north, south, east, and west. With a state that has so much to explore, we had no shortage of things to do in our three short days spent in southwestern Utah. The hardest part of our brief trip was narrowing it down to a few key things and deciding what we would have to wait and do until our next trip. Another factor at play was the weather since it is the middle of January. Luckily, we had some nice days, but there was a fair amount of snow and ice to contend with from a previous storm.
All-in-all, our three days in Utah could not have worked out better. Some of our adventures were: hiking to Scout Lookout and Angels Landing, wading through the Narrows, exploring Belly of the Dragon, playing on the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, scrambling up to (and down from) the Kanab Sand Caves, viewing Bryce Canyon at sunrise, and wandering through Snow Canyon.
With winter quickly approaching, I was glad to be able to get in one last backpacking trip before the snow flies in Lake Tahoe. Temperatures are already pretty chilly in the Sierra, so we headed to Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes is a beautiful stretch of protected land approximately 1 hour north of San Francisco. The beaches are pristine, the bluffs impressive, and the views extensive. It is definitely a beautiful place to visit whether you are backpacking or just exploring for a day. We were also blessed to experience beautiful weather for mid-November.
Guess what?! On August 17, 2019, Brian and I did a thing! We got married! After getting engaged on Mt. Whitney last summer and a year of planning, we had the most amazing wedding in Crystal Cove, CA. I’ll write another post on that after I have wedding pictures, but in the meantime, I have to share how amazing our honeymoon was in Fiji!
The Sierra Nevada mountains have always had piece of my heart… and now, more than ever. Since I was a child, I’ve called these majestic mountains home. I grew up in Lake Tahoe, nestled in the northern part of the Sierra Nevada range. I’ve covered countless trails, explored many peaks, and camped under the stars. However, it wasn’t until I hiked the High Sierra Trail (HST) that I truly had an appreciation for everything that makes these mountains so magical. Not to mention, I promised the love of my life my hand in marriage from the top of the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, at the end of our trip!