As you grow up, you forget things. And since I really did most of the traveling in my life while I was young, unfortunately, I forgot some things. I forgot some beaches, some pools, some hotels, some great meals, and some acquaintances. But even as you get older and your life becomes so full you feel like you can hardly keep track of things, certain moments, experiences, and places stand out.
And in my opinion, there must be a reason for that—no, not a philosophical one. I think forgetting just forces you to remember only the coolest, most momentous, or significant things in your life. Which in the case of travel, means the best of places. So, in my 22 years of travel, which places have stuck with me? You’d be surprised. I mean, I’m surprised at the details I remember about some of these. But I have. So here’s the list of the most memorable places I’ve been:
St. Kitts. We traveled to St. Kitts when I was eight years old, and I can still remember it. Our hotel (whose name I will find out for you) had a swim-up bar, calypso music at night, and pitched thatched roofs over our beds. I remember eating out for New Year’s Eve, the only blonde (besides my mom and sister) in the whole city, and frequenting the local pizza joint called PJ’s. But I especially remember the beaches. One, Turtle Bay I think, was covered by monkeys! They hung out by the beach restaurant and on the picnic tables, and would sit near you on the beach. And the other, near our hotel, had black sand because the island was of volcanic origins.
Sanibel Island. I’ve talked about visiting Sanibel every winter until I was 12 already, but I’ll never forget it—even the details. I remember the sand dollars we collected when the tide washed them in, and the drawing of four people shelling on the beach entitled ‘The Sanibel Stoop’ that hung in the condo we rented. I can still taste the pulpy orange juice the Lighthouse Café serves and the blueberry pancakes I would get every time we went. I also remember the dolphins that would play in the shallows, and how I would try to swim out and catch them. I got close, once.
St. Martin. We stayed on the Dutch side of the island, on Orient Bay Beach. I remember how huge the waves were, and that we somehow managed to hoist a kayak over them, and go for a tour of the bay by boat. I also remember the colorful, fantastic New Year’s party thrown in the lobby. I also remember visiting, on the French side, Marigot, a bigger city. The market was bigger than any I’d seen, and can recall eating baguette, cheese, and those butter cookies encrusted with chocolate, with the image of a soldier on the front, whose name I can’t remember, on a sunny side street.
Hilton Head. The last time I was in Hilton Head, I was about 4. But I still remember the Italian ice sold under a wide umbrella, the little round pool I swam in, and the sand dunes I played on, though I wasn’t supposed to, I think, in hindsight. My relatives still go there all the time, and love it. Nearby, Savannah, Georgia sticks out in my mind too. We would stop there on the way to Hilton Head sometimes, and then I went back when I was 13 for a gymnastics meet. The hanging moss, the Forest Gump bench, the rustic but elegant old houses, and the name Oglethorpe still stand out in my mind.
Anguilla. I believe Anguilla has 33 beaches—or so. While there, we went to probably a third of them. There we visited a place that held and trained dolphins, snorkeled, and laid on the beach . I remember the last day we visited a beach frequented by celebrities—and my sister and I spent the afternoon theorizing what celebrities were in the palapas obscured by palm trees and hedges. I also remember eating at Smitty’s, a tiny place that could hardly be called a restaurant except for its magnificent lobster. It was located literally behind Smitty’s house, and we were the only customers. We sat at a white picnic table, gobbling up the sweet lobster and roasted chicken, while overlooking a tiny bay—or lagoon.
While other trips stand out in my memory too, I can’t give them all away to you right now. So enjoy this list, feel free to fact-check my faulty information, and maybe try exploring one of these places yourself. It’s on my to-do list to visit each and every one of these places again—and I hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Note: The feature image for this blog post: a fishing pier in Sanibel Island, Florida