When booking our trip, we wanted to make sure that we selected an itinerary that included as many ports as possible. We’ve never spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean so why not see as many different islands and ports, right? On our journey on the Carnival Breeze, we had stops in St. Maarten, Antigua, St. John, and the Dominican Republic. In each port, we had a very different experience, but from spotting planes in St. Maarten to kayaking in the Dominican Republic, we had a fantastic time exploring each of our beautiful Caribbean stops.
It was so incredible to experience all four of these places on one trip. Logistically, I can’t imagine planning a trip to all these separate spots on my own so I was more than thankful we were cruising! It really allowed us to maximize our time enjoying ourselves vs. worrying about transportation, lodging, and how to get to the next location. Easy as can be!
Today, I’m sharing some of what we did in each port, general tips, and what our favorite spots to explore were on each island.
For our first stop, we dropped anchor in St. Maarten where there are both Dutch and a French sides of the island. Full disclosure: this was the stop I was most excited for, and it did not disappoint at all. Just a 15 minute walk away from the port is a great shopping area in downtown Phillipsburg that we enjoyed walking through, but we had our hearts set on traveling to Maho Beach (on a different part of the island) to see the famous plane landings at Princess Juliana International Airport located just beyond the beach area.
I’ve seen photos of the plane landings online for year, and I’ve always wanted to see them in person so we couldn’t have asked for a better first stop. We took an inexpensive local bus to Maho, and despite our apprehensions about finding the right bus, it could not have been easier. We got to the beach in about 30-40 minutes, grabbed some snacks and drinks, and found a good patch of sand to settle into.
Planes flew in fairly regularly, and words can’t even describe what an incredible experience it was. There was so much excitement about seeing the planes all across the beach, and the idea of seeing a plane fly just a few hundred feet overhead is pretty wild. We made some great friends on the beach, and really had to tear ourselves away to make it back to the boat in time.
After our pretty exciting experience in St. Maarten on the first day, we opted for a more quiet time in Antigua at Dickenson Bay. In contrast with our previous day, Antigua was low key with very few people on the beach, and definitely no plane landings! It was a quick ride from the port, and home to the most perfect turquoise waters I’ve ever seen.
On any trip, it’s always good to have a good mix of active days, and more relaxing ones so we tried to make sure we did a good job mixing it up. There were a few different local spots along the beach at Dickenson Bay if you’re looking for a bite to eat, and if you’re not one to relax in the sand for more than an hour or two, there’s also the option to take a horse ride right on the shore.
From Antigua, we made the short journey to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are a lot of different beaches in St. John to choose from, and we definitely had a difficult time figuring out which we’d like best. In the end, we settled on Coki Beach which was a quick cab ride away from the ship’s port. We were hoping for a beach that had snorkel rentals, beautiful scenery, and that didn’t feel too cramped. Though we heard that Coki can get crowded at times, it wasn’t bad at all, and it could not have been easier to rent a chair and get a good spot right by the water. As the day went on, things definitely got a bit more lively so try to get there early if you want to get a good spot.
The same person that helped us with the chair rental handled our snorkel rentals (how easy is that?) so after a traditional island lunch consisting of fresh fish, we set off in the water with our gear. At the end of Coki Beach is the Coki Dive Center so we were excited for the sea life we’d be able to see, and luckily there was quite a bit out there to look at. Snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts will absolutely love this spot.
Though we had explored each of the other three ports on our own, for our final spot in the Dominican Republic, we opted for one of the planned excursions to La Casa En La Playa, a beachside getaway complete with kayaks, snorkels, paddleboards, a chef and bartender, and plenty of lounge seats. After planning each of our other island trips (which was a fun but at times overwhelming process), it was so nice to hand the reigns over to someone else.
The beach is completely secluded, and absolutely beautiful with the most picturesque palm trees lining the water. We fit in some snorkeling, kayaking, reading in hammocks, and walking along the short all in one afternoon which was quite the feat.
All in all, our goal was to really seize the chance to see as much as possible, and we were so glad that every stop felt like a completely new adventure for us.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.