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Posts tagged ‘Ultimate Travel’

UltimateMama and her family had a spectacular time in the Virgin Islands recently. One tip:  buy your snorkel gear ahead of time so you don’t have to rent – that goes for adults and childrens gear!  UltimateMama’s kids loved Head Pirate snorkeling gear (the 3 piece set includes a mask, snorkel, and fins).

Stay at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove in order to get a villa with full kitchen.  UltimateMama enjoyed her two bedroom unit in the Tortola building.  The pool with water slide is terrific for kids as is the hot tub for adults.  There are myriad activities on site for people of all ages (bingo, movies, karaoke night, crafts for kids, and more).  You can snorkel right off the beach.  Additionally, one can take advantage of the Marriott Hotel’s offerings next door.

You will want to rent a car in order to explore the island of St. Thomas and have the ability to go to the car ferry to St. John.  UltimateMama was happy with our Avis rental and used it right away to stock up on groceries for the week at Gourmet Gallery.

An absolute must is an all-day boat trip on the Breakaway II to the British Virgin Islands (bring your passports).  You will board the boat at Sapphire Marina then have a wonderful day exploring The Baths at Virgin Gorda, snorkeling at Diamond Reef, eating lunch at Pusser’s in Marina Cay, and jumping off the boat to hit the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.  Make sure your entire family has water shoes, sunglasses, UV protection shirts, bathing suits, towels, and plenty of sunscreen.  There is a short stop in St. John then you return back to St. Thomas in the late afternoon.

A trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands wouldn’t be complete without a trip to St. John to hit some great snorkeling beaches such at Trunk Bay.  Choose either a car ferry or a foot ferry to get over to St. John (car ferry obviously gives you more freedom once on the island) from St. Thomas.  UltimateMama advises you to get to Trunk Bay early as the parking lot fills quickly.  Trunk Bay has an amazing underwater snorkeling trail, a bathhouse, snack bar, and souvenir shop.  Cinnamon Bay is nearby too.

Back in St. Thomas, take your family on a drive to explore the beautiful beaches that the island offers.  Coki beach (on Coki Point) was a big hit with UltimateMama’s family due to the amazing fish seen when snorkeling in addition to not only a full rainbow sighting but also a double rainbow sighting.  UltimateMama arrived late in the day, parked and spent an amazing early evening snorkeling and taking pictures of various species of fish.  Apparently, the beach gets crowded when cruise ships are in port so be aware of those times in addition to making sure that you know where your belongings are at all times.  UltimateMama had a lovely time at Coki and it was not at all crowded.

UltimateMama’s family looks forward to their next meal so the following restaurants greatly appealed to all travelers (make all reservations in advance):

Havana Blue (on the Marriott’s campus):  Get a table overlooking the water and enjoy the blue lights

Grande Cru (located in Yacht Haven Grande): Upscale food in a tranquil setting

Banana Tree Grille (overlooking the Charlotte Amalie harbor):  Go on a night the piano player is playing and order the amazing Key Lime Pie

UltimateMama has a big meal tip for you — always have a meal in the freezer that can be easily heated up for a meal the day you return home from vacation travel.  This way, if your flight is delayed or you return home late you have a nutritious meal ready for your family! UltimateMama’s favorite heat and serve meal is meatballs and sauce.  Soups work well too.  Just boil pasta and add cheese on top and your family has a complete lunch or dinner.  No mess, no fuss.

UltimateMama and her family enjoy staying in condos when on vacation. She always makes grocery lists in advance so that she can swing by the grocery store and stock up on necessities for her family before checking into her condo. That way, all she needs to do is supplement here and there as the week progresses.  Also, there is no temptation to buy unnecessary items. 

By creating the grocery list a few days before she leaves for her trip she can also discuss the items on the list with her children who like to offer their input. This is a great way to involve the whole family in the process of meal-planning as well as get them excited for their upcoming vacation.

Below is a sample Grocery List for UltimateMama’s upcoming trip to Florida:

– Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
– Bananas
– Apples
– Kiwi
– Oranges
– Lemon
– Cucumber
– Broccoli
– Garlic
– Carrots
– Pancake mix
– Syrup
– Cheerios
– Barbara’s Puffins cereal
– Fruit spread
– Peanut butter
– Ham
– Ground chuck, veal, pork (1 pound each)
– Salmon (1.25 lb)
– Apple sauce
– 2 cans of crushed tomatoes
– 1 can tomato paste
– Tomato sauce
– Olive oil
– Pam spray
– Thinly sliced whole wheat bread
– Rice cakes
– Pizza crust
– 2 dozen eggs
– Turkey bacon
– Cottage cheese with pineapple
– Mild Cheddar cheese
– String Cheese
– Mozzarella cheese
– 1 gallon Skim Milk
– 4 half-gallons of organic milk (or 2 gallons)
– Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt (big vanilla and small travel packs)
– Raisins
– Bottled water
– Size 4 diapers (Pampers)
– Size 5 diapers (Huggies overnights)
– Kandoo wipes
– Pampers sensitive wipes
– Desitin
– Sunscreen