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Should you Splurge on an Excursion? {Traveling with Kids}

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Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Where in the world is Making Lemonade? Sometimes I’m not even sure where I am myself, I’ve been on three trips this month alone! March kicked off travel season 2015 with a surprise birthday trip back to one of my favorite places in the world, Turks & Caicos. My husband planned the entire thing as a gift for my recent BIG birthday (cough-40th-cough), proving that I want to turn 40 every year from here on out if I get to go back to one of the most amazing islands of the Caribbean!

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

One of the huge perks of staying at a Beaches resort is that it’s all inclusive– every meal, each drink, camp for the kids, the waterpark, snacks like cotton candy and ice cream, fancy coffee (or plain coffee),  nightly activities, transportation, water sports, and gratuities—it’s all paid for by the time you arrive.  So why on earth would people pay extra for an upgrade such as an off-resort excursion when there is so much to do right there? Here’s why– as much as we loved Beaches resort, I was feeling the call to get off the property and really INTO the islands and water; see what Turks & Caicos truly had to offer.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

There are other companies that offer tours, but since we were already comfortable with the incredible hospitality and safety standards of Beaches we decided to book the 3 hour snorkel tour on the Kitty Kat catamaran through their excursion company, Island Routes. So on a whim I plunked down the money for the tour and tried to quell my nerves about taking my 4 and 6 year old on their first real boat ride and snorkeling experience on a windy day.

Was it worth it?

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

As we left, the DJ started spinning pop reggae tunes that fit perfectly with the mood. My nerves subsided as we cruised out to the reef and enjoyed snacks and the gorgeous views. Even the little guy enjoyed swaying to the beats and cruising past white sandy beaches. I was worried about the wind, but as they said at the tour desk, ‘catamarans are MADE for wind.’

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

When it came time to hand out snorkel equipment, Abby surprised me by jumping up, ready to go.  My husband took very good care of our little adventurer! It was a little rough due to the wind and a few kids went in and came right back out when the saw the fish (I mean, I’ve done the same thing, it’s kind of disconcerting!) But Abby and dad bobbed around and enjoyed the time together. There were lifeguards in the water to help in case it was needed, which gave peace of mind. What an incredible first snorkeling experience!

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Back on deck (and after snorkeling, safety first!) the adult drinks started flowing for those who wished to partake. Um, yes please. Happy birthday to ME (need to add manicure to the wish list, apparently.)

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Next stop was Iguana Island. The guide led us up onto the beach and we saw our first Iguana a minute later! We were tickled to find their unique tracks crisscrossing the sand, and as we came out on the other side of the beach discovered calm inlets and additional gorgeous views. I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE. Next time, I may try to book an entire morning at this gorgeous spot where the kids played in the tidal pools and the views were breathtaking.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

This is also the spot where many people find conch shells, however there were several tours there ahead of use so they were scarce.  A conch would have been nice, but these memories were sweeter.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

As I looked around, I imagined Christopher Columbus landing in the Caribbean and wondering why he would ever want to leave. After leaving Europe and being on the high seas for months on end if I landed here I’d ask for a rum punch and stay put. Forget necessities such as ‘food’ and ‘water’ and ‘fame for eternity’ and give me the deep blue of the Caribbean.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Back on board, we found a prime spot perched at around the catamaran nets.  Lunch was served and we enjoyed fresh fruit and the boys noshed on sandwiches. I almost cried with the sheer joy and privilege of being able to take in these views with my family by my side, legs strewn over the nets, ocean running under our feet, and dolphin playing around the hulls.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Yes,  DOLPHINS. Look who joined us for the waterslide portion of the trip. We zoomed off the waterslide into the turquoise embrace of Grace Bay as this guy checked out the activity and made us all gasp in wonder at the magic of it all.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Back around the nets for the final leg of our trip, I felt supreme happiness as Abby and I jammed to the sounds of a reggae version of Taylor Swift and Sam Smith and looked for more dolphins.  In my head I was calculating how to live here forever.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

I’ve never had so much fun packed into just 3 hours. The tour was so complete it felt like it lasted all day in the BEST way possible. As we pulled onto the beach the satisfaction of a once in a lifetime trip washed over me, along with sadness that it was over. The staff was incredible, and I found myself wishing we’d booked the 2PM cruise as well.

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

The question of the day was why would you pay for an excursion at an all-inclusive resort, and the answer is this:

Turks and Caicos Snorkeling Catamaran Trip through Beaches Island Routes- looks incredible! Love the crystal clear blue water and DOLPHINS!

Memories last forever, and these two talk about this experience daily. Truly, this was one of our best days ever. And that, my friends, is priceless.  ;-)

Meet Carrie Higgins


Dreamer, thinker, + lemon squeezer; you'll usually find me clutching a mug of coffee, glue gun, fandeck of paint colors, and a child at any given time. This mom of two (and wife to one) loves to share freshly squeezed ideas for home and family. Join the adventure as we learn most lemons can indeed become lemonade-- with generous amounts of sweetness, perspective, and love.

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Comments

  1. Julia says:

    Looks like fun! Visiting Turks and Caicos has been on my travel wish list.

  2. Rachel says:

    Yes! This is so amazing and I always think its TOTALLY worth it to do the excursions. Whenever we go on vacation we always try to do one because we know we might not go back there again and it’s great to have the memories of the cool things we did! Snorkeling and boating in the Caribbean is the best!

  3. That looks ABSOLUTELY amazing!!!! I agree with wanting to see more than the resort. This is a great way to do it.

  4. This looks like an amazing day. I get motion sick so I don’t know that a boat and snorkeling are for me, but I’m sure there are other excursions that I will enjoy. I look forward to traveling with our kids once they get a little older.

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