The Grand Cruzan Adventure (2015)

I went on my first great traveling adventure last year in March. After a long, cold winter that had me supremely soggy in more than one aspect, baptism by salt and sand and rum was everything that the doctor ordered. I met a ton of people, saw incredible sights, kept a water color travel journal, and had my camera on me - until it broke, a few days in to the trip. Not just broke, full on wiring fried no dice, no pictures. I was, to be honest, quite heartbroken. Or, as heartbroken as you can be in the Caribbean. 

Anyways, I swore I'd be back - this time with two camera bodies, extra lenses, batteries out the wazoo - the whole shebang packed up in the trusty Pelican case. I also brought with me three bodies for this adventure; two friends from Kent Island, and one from college I hadn't seen since 2011. I'd never so much as done a 'girls weekend trip', never lived with roommates beyond dogs or brothers or boys and was intrigued to see how it would all play out. (spoiler alert: it was freakin' wonderful)

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Snorkel + camera gear + bathing suits + Annie's mac'n'cheese = absolute necessities. 

SJU is hell. You fly in from snowy, cold DC, and wait in this bright and sunny airport for your piddly little islandhop plane to board, all the while staring out at el yunque in the distance. TORTURE.

But once you're up in the air, all is well. You're reminded that the Caribbean is an infinite host to every shade of blue imaginable, and you're on Cruzan ground in under half an hour. I'm only making important notes as far as captions go, so kick back and enjoy the views...

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Day 2

A run, a dip in the ocean, and inked paged in the sketchbook, all before my alarm went off - and y'all know I'm not an early riser. Caribbean air is better than coffee. 

We had a homecooked breakfast every morning out on the patio in the warm air with the swirl of the lagoon sounding behind us. And I had a breakfast beer, every day, because that's how I vacation.

And we find ourselves in a Corona commercial...

The playground. I don't think I spent more than a few minutes sitting on the beach during the entire trip - face down in the water with fins on chasing after sea turtles and treasure hunting. Mermaid mode! 

Day 3

The Cruzan Rum tour - best $8 you'll ever spend. You get a history/botany/culture/booze lesson, and several VERY strong, very tasty cocktails and shots afterwards.

And off to Rainbow beach, for one of my favorite snorkeling + treasure hunting locations on the island. It's odd to have such large clips of the day missing from camera, but I have no underwater housing. We saw so much here, too! Octopus, eel, barracuda, sea turtle, star fish, to name a few. 

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Day 4

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A morning rainstorm kicked off our outing with Big Beard's to the pristine and incredible Buck Island - a pristine national monument home to over 4,500 acres of reef! 

Such salty skin!

Let there be bottomless rum punch! And let me drink...a lot of it.

And let me totally creep on these cuties getting engaged! How exciting (and how beautiful is that ring!?)

here b mongoose - no seriously, see the little bugger in the brush?

Day 5

Sunrise yoga, anyone? I dig quiet mornings here - so peaceful! Plus, any time spent in a hammock by the ocean is time well spent.

On to the Domino Club, to drink mamjuana and feed beer to pigs.

One last stop at the ocean before we dropped Annie off to fly home.

Dinner at the divine Savant - their outdoor courtyard is breezy and beautiful, and such a tasty place to grab dinner. I'd dreamt of their grilled calamari for a year, yum!

Day 6

brunch, beach, then a sunset cruise with the wonderful Navy John - it was sweet spending our last night in St. Croix out on the water.

Day 7

Our last and most spectacular morning came with a 5 a.m. wakeup call to head out to Point Udall and be the first people on US soil to watch the sun rise.

Just enough time for a snorkel and a quick nap in the morning sun before heading back to pack up and leave this little island.

St. Croix is such a quirky gem out in the Caribbean ocean - the people and experiences follow suit. It's beyond special to visit somewhere, and return a year later as though no time had passed. There were hugs and familiar faces at so many turns, and I'm so glad that I could play tour guide for my dear friends. Sharing the experience, in my opinion, is the best part of travel. Till next time, STX! Much love, -m.ella

[ want more? see all the shots here! ]