I went from Monarch of the Seas with my four teenage children. It was an exceptionally beautiful island. Some tips:
1. If you don't like noise and crowds, walk along the water to your right. You will get more and more isolated stretches the farther you go. A 10 minute walk gets you to hammocks in the midst of tropical trees and hardly anyone around; another 10 minutes and you are all by yourself. It just depends on what you want. Some people dragged the lounge chairs to the shallow waters and relaxed mostly by themselves. It was soooo pretty.
2. Bring plenty of sunscreen. If you want to stay all day you will need to reapply every few hours or you will get badly burnt. There is shade for those who do not like sun.
3. You do not need to buy anything on this island if you don't want to. Perhaps some snorkeling equipment. The water itself is stunning--shallow, warm and clear. I sat in the shallow water next to a stringray and saw two live conches crawling along nearby. In fact, I saw several stringrays--very beautiful. I swam and lay in the shallow waters for many glorious hours.
4. If you keep going to the right you will be entirely alone. I walked as far as I could and reached the impassable point of the island (rocks). Very gorgeous.
5. There are hiking trails in the center of the island. I walked for about a half hour, just thinking my thoughts--encountered many lizards and cool spiders but no people at all. Wear shoes; it's very pebbly.
6. My young adult daughter drank the rum drink ($6 or so) and read in her hammock and then went shell gathering. That's all she did. She was very happy. My boys went swimming and exploring by themselves. Again, the water is very shallow for a very long time. We are from NJ and used to the ocean, though--my boys wouldn't never go out deep because they are aware of the dangers of the ocean. Use your judgment.
7. We all went shell gathering early on and found great conch shells-but we weren't allowed to take them off the island. We WERE allowed to take some very pretty rainbow shells off and they are currently lining our shelves at home--so pretty.
8. Lunch there is fine, but crowded. I barely ate anything--had the salad and some fruit and drank a lot of iced tea. I had a hearty dinner when I got back that night.
9, There are games and music for people who like that sort of stuff. If you like drinking, eating, and being around people, then do not walk too far away from the first beach. Again, the more you walk, the quieter and lovelier it gets.
10. My kids ended up getting tired of it all before me and they went back before me; when I got back to our cabin at 4 or so, I discovered my youngest teen taking a nap! They all had a great time. I stayed until 3:00 and there was no line to speak of to get back to the tenders. Probably if you tried to leave at 4:30 (last call) you'd have to wait a lot. Just be aware of that.
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