I know — you guys thought I’d abandoned you. Even at my worst last year I never took such a long break from my blog. I have excuse, I swear. I was suffering from a little wedding planner burnout coming out of the January, February and March weddings. Before we hit the crazy wedding season that starts in April, Bill and I ran away to St. Croix for four days for a little R&R. All work and no play makes Sandy a bitchy, no-fun wedding planner. But we found a way to tie wedding planning into our little getaway — scoping out locations for honeymooners on the nearby island of St. Croix!
Many of my clients ask me about honeymooning on nearby islands. Lots of brides and grooms want to escape Vieques the day after their wedding and have a little alone time someplace else. It’s hard to get that when you stay here for your mini-moon if many of your guests have turned your destination wedding weekend into their own Caribbean vacation. When we got married, we were on a noon flight out of here the next day. We flew to the big island, rented a car and went to Rincon (on the west side of Puerto Rico) to stay a mind-blowing resort called the Horned Dorset Primavera for a week before we had to go back to DC for our big black-tie reception. The Horned Dorset (Bill calls it the “Horny Corset”) is one of those places that looks like a magazine page, and the service was superb. Of course, we can’t afford to go back there again til our 10th wedding anniversary. By then we may have paid off the first trip. Just kidding.
Anyway, Vieques is a fun place to be if you’re planning a honeymoon someplace else. We have a number of other islands that are quick puddle jumper flights away. Of course, you can go anywhere in the Caribbean from San Juan. but you’re already in Vieques after your wedding and you might not want to take two flights to get to your honeymoon island. You can fly direct from Vieques to Culebra, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Virgin Gorda, Tortola and a few other places that are escaping me right now. Bill and I had never been to St. Croix, but since it’s one of the less expensive islands to visit, we decided to check it out. Purely for research purposes, you understand.
Vieques Airlink flew directly there and it only took 20 minutes. The flight is $150 roundtrip, but you can fly directly back to San Juan if you prefer, instead of coming back to Vieques. At least five airlines fly that route. We stayed at the Carambola Beach Resort on the north side of St. Croix. It’s a posh resort spread out over many acres in a secluded area. It has a nice-looking golf course, an awesome spa, good restaurants, a big pool open 24/7, and is located on a stretch of beach that many of the locals consider to be the prettiest on the island. The rooms are lovely. They’ve been renovating the resort, so you want to make sure that you specify you want to be in a renovated room (I don’t know what the older rooms look like). They have nice little kitchenettes so you don’t have to eat out all three meals, big flat screen TVs (one in the sitting area, one across from the bed), a bathroom as big as my guest room and a closet I wanted to move into (yes, my standards have changed since learning to live in an all-concrete house with no built-in closets). Each unit has a sizable screened in porch, and if you choose a room with a water view, you can really hear the waves crashing. We enjoyed our stay immensely and will go back there again. I highly recommend it. It’s off the beaten path — you have to get a rental car and drive on the wrong side of the road — but it’s a fun challenge and well worth the effort.
We visited several pretty beaches and spent the afternoons there, but none of them compared to the beaches on Vieques or Culebra (yes, we’re biased). But we really had fun with the restaurants in Frederickstead and the shopping in Christianstead. I treated myself to a Cruzan Hook bracelet — a legendary piece of jewelry there — from the original place that first made them (no cheap knockoffs for me!).
The island has lots of old sugar cane plantations in really good shape — not just ruins. You can tour them and learn a lot about the very interesting and varied history of the island. And if you want some lighter culture, you can drive through their rainforest and stop for lunch at the Domino Club, a spot that makes our Chez Shack look like a formal restaurant. The food was good, but the highlight of that place is their world-famous beer drinking pigs. For only $2, you can give the pigs a beer. They crush the can and drink the beer and spit out the can. They only drink O’Douls now. Apparently, with real beer, the pigs kept passing out. How much beer does a 900-pound pig have to drink to pass out? I don’t even want to know. Anyway, we visited with two enormous pigs — Grunt and Hurricane Roger — and bought them each two beers (what a great gimmick). They were both sweet and grateful for the brewski, but Roger has a nasty habit of trying to spray you when he bites the can. Grunt is significantly more gentleman-like and takes the can politely.
St. Croix had some major crime problems 15-20 years ago and for awhile, it wasn’t that popular of a tourist destination. But they seem to have gotten things under control — I didn’t feel unsafe at any point during our trip. I’d recommend staying at a reputable resort or hotel your first visit rather than renting some isolated villa up in the hills, but there are plenty of hotels at a variety of price points to choose from.
We’ve been to St. Thomas before, and I’ll blog about it in more detail the next time we go, but as I remember it, it’s a lot more expensive than St. Croix. St. John is pricey too. Tortola and Virgin Gorda are British Virgin Islands and while they’re a not unreasonable flight away, they’re a lot more expensive in general. So for those Caribbean destination wedding couples out there looking for an affordable honeymoon alternative after their big day, put St. Croix high up on your list of islands to consider. We had a really great time — and I am a total hotel and spa snob. But the hot stone massage and facial I got from Gloria at Carambola’s spa rivaled the best ones I’ve gotten at Elizabeth Arden back home. When can I go back?
Next time I’m going to write a much-overdue blog about Tim and Bethany’s beautiful wedding on March 14th. I didn’t want to tackle it tonight because I want to be able to include all the little details that you guys like to hear — but I’ll give you a teaser and tell you it was some of the best music, dancing and singing (or was that rapping?) I’ve ever heard from wedding guests.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra. Where are you going to honeymoon after your perfect destination wedding in the Spanish Virgin Islands?