Our first port was St. Thomas. The plan was to meet our group on the dock to take a ferry to nearby St. John’s where we would attend a vow-renewal ceremony for some friends. Since it was our first time traveling with Oscar, however, we ended up taking twice as long to get ready as we thought we would and we were late. After discovering that we missed our group, we decided to take a cab to the ferry to try to catch up with everyone. In the rush of the morning and in our inexperience, we left the boat with little cash and no credit card, and when we got there, we realized that if we took the ferry we wouldn’t have enough for a cab ride back to the boat. So we stood there, far away from our ship, momentarily at a loss for what to do. Darin found a map and we saw that Sapphire Beach (which we had heard good things about) looked close by so we decided to try walking there. We headed off down the road: a narrow, winding, two-lane highway with no shoulder. In the middle of the Caribbean. With a seven-month-old.
I was wearing sandals and trying to push Oscar’s stroller through the rocky sand. It was hot and humid and cars went whizzing by every few seconds (on the wrong side of the road no less). Clearly we had lost our minds. After walking probably the better part of a mile, we finally came to a huge hill that didn’t allow us to see what was on the other side. Darin told me to wait with Oscar while he ran to the top to see if there was any point in going further. He came running back and said he could see the water. It was one of happiest moments of my life!
As we crested the hill, there in front of us was a sign for the Sapphire Beach Resort. We walked down the hill toward the gate and saw a guard booth. My heart sank. Surely they wouldn’t let riff-raff like us into their pristine resort. I braced myself for an imposing guard, but instead a large Caribbean woman stepped out and gave us a big grin. She looked at Oscar and said, “You got that baby all bent!” She asked us if we were going to the beach, we said yes, and she sent us in the right direction and welcomed us to the island. Just before we got to the beach we found a gaggle of cab drivers lounging under a tree. We asked them about a ride back to the ship, and they quoted a fare we could afford and said they would be available all day. We were set.
What can I say about this beach? It was the most beautiful, heavenly beach I have ever been to. Turquoise water stretching as far as the eye can see. Clean white sand. Trees for shade. The only beaches I’d ever been to before are in San Diego and Los Angeles, packed with tourists, teenagers, smokers, boom boxes, and beer. Here, it was so peaceful and quiet that a little flock of birds resting in the sand near us never moved.
We immediately stripped down to our bathing suits and plunged into the water. It was Oscar’s first time in the ocean and he had a ball. The water was the perfect temperature. We rented snorkeling equipment and took turns going out while one of us stayed with Oscar and watched him as he napped, made friends with a local iguana, and ate some sand.
For me it was the best day of the whole trip. Although we would see many wonderful sites and visit beautiful beaches on other islands, we wouldn’t find the same degree of beauty and tranquility again. It was just the three of us, our little family, experiencing one of those serendipitous moments that can never be planned, and that can only happen when you least expect it.
Stay tuned for Oscar at Sea Part III: Debarkation is Not a Word