When you manage to finish two doctoral degrees during the first year of being a parent, there's plenty of reason to celebrate. So Chris and I pooled our frequent flier miles, took advantage of the "anyone under 2 years old flies free" rule, and headed to the Caribbean as soon as the fall term ended.
After much debate we decided to go to St. Croix because it was still technically in the US, meaning we'd have one less hoop to jump through since Emilia wouldn't need a passport. It was beautiful! We rented a very reasonably priced villa on the eastern part of the island that had incredible views and a private pool.
We liked the ease of traveling to St. Croix. Unlike St. Lucia, the airport was relatively close to where we were staying so we didn't have a long commute by car after a long day of travels. And unlike St. Barths, St. Croix doesn't require any elaborate additional flight on a terrifyingly tiny plane or a ferry trip to get there. It's a lot cheaper than St. Barths because everything is priced in USD and although you find some inflated island pricing, things were mostly akin to prices you find in a major metropolitan area.
Traveling with Emilia obviously changes our ability to just explore aimlessly, without constraints. We wanted to follow her cues and ensure she could have some semblance of normalcy in schedule. Our villa had a high chair and crib so that helped (though we mostly co-slept). It was surprisingly baby-proofed actually, save for the pool.
Renting a car was necessary for us. But renting a car has been something we've done on every similar trip. With baby in tow, we found ourselves looking for beach spots with more amenities rather than seclusion. Our favorite was the resort beach of the Buccaneer, where we met a lovely family from Italy on vacation. The mom was also still nursing her baby and balancing a career with her role as a mother. It was nice to find so many commonalities with her. It was also great to see Emilia with her little beach friend.
As far as food goes, if you ever find yourself on the eastern part of St. Croix, be sure to check out the La Reine Chicken Shack. It was amazing. I wish we had ordered twice as many johnny cakes as we did. The chicken was incredible too. We also loved the Blue Water Café for both take out options and sit down dinners. They had decent coffee and were fairly close to our villa so we stopped by a few times. We had an amazing meal of local seafood at Duggan's Reef. They put lobster in everything but it still manages to be priced quite fairly. We also had delicious island roti from Singh's Fast Food Restaurant in downtown Christiansted. We didn't get to do any shopping while we traveled but that was just as well. I don't recall shopping much on our last island trip to St. Lucia and have no regrets. We ate and slept very well.
We were all super happy to get away and spend some uninterrupted time together. It was a fortunate thing to get to do and we didn't spend a ton of money to do it thanks to the nearly free flights. Finishing our degrees and surviving our first year of parenting were big deals and it was fun to really commemorate them! I hope we are as lucky in 2014!!