When I see someone online taking a fabulous trip, I have mixture of emotions. I feel happiness for the experience that person is having. I feel grateful for them sharing things I might not otherwise have a chance to see. And… I feel a touch of jealousy.
That’s natural, right?
Last year, when I was invited to and attended the Social Media on the Sand conference at Beaches Turks & Caicos, I fully planned to share much of my trip. But when I arrived last year, my sharing tool a themed approach. We were given a FIFTY PHOTO Instagram challenge. It was fun and clever because it gave me a chance to see and experience things I might not otherwise have.
But it was a LOT of work. And I’m pretty sure 50 photos was a lot for my audience to take in. So I swore that when I was invited back, I would share the beauty of the place but I would not participate in a challenge if one was offered.
Alas, my competitive nature got the best of me (a return trip was, indeed, on the line) and the Instagram challenge was only THIRTY photos with a lot more room for creative interpretation.
If you followed along, THANK YOU. But you might not have understood the context of the challenge. If you didn’t follow along, here’s your chance to catch a glimpse of this year’s conference and how I saw it through the lens of my iPhone.
Challenge #1 The Obligatory Selfie
I love this photo. Not just because of the colors and the hats and old and new friends but because we all looked so happy ready to start the adventure ahead. This was at the Welcome Reception for all attendees. Amazing drinks were provided by The Grand Bevy and I’m still dying for the amazing vodka drink with lime and cucumber.
Challenge #2 A Caribbean Cocktail #DiscoveryDining
Normally, I’m fine with a nice glass of wine. But something about the Caribbean brings out all the fruity-cocktail-loving parts of me. I happened to enjoy this particular cocktail when we feasted at Soy, a sushi restaurant. I asked our server to “just bring me something.” And she brought me their signature cocktail made from saki and other juices. It was perfect.
Challenge #3 A 15 Second Video
Challenge #4 Catching A Wave
Challenge #5 A Beloved Team Member #TeamBeaches
It might seem like a cop out to pick the CEO of Sandals as the Beaches team member of choice but that’s simply because everyone there is so warm and welcoming that I felt like I had to give some props to the man at the top. And I was even able to grab Adam and his father Butch who were onsite at Turks & Caicos and graciously posed for my selfies.
Challenge #6 Toes in the Water, Ass in the Sand
Challenge #7 Friend from Sesame Street
Something is wrong with my 8 year old. He doesn’t want anything to do with anything Sesame Street. I, however, grew up with these guys so they all make me giddy. Super Grover was the first one I saw and I seized the opportunity. And every other opportunity after that.
Challenge #8 Your Best 80s Pose @MyPrintly
I wasn’t sure how my family would do with an 80s themed party sponsored by HP and MyPrintly. But my son was more than happy to go as my little punk (literally) and my husband was happy to play the part of the 80s jerk. My gag me with a spoon outfit was the best I could do but apparently it wasn’t as original as I thought!
Challenge #9 Fav Indoor Spot
Challenge #10 Fav Place to Chill
Who knew I’d travel all the way to the Caribbean to find that I love hanging out at a British pub? As with last year, it was a blogger takeover at The Cricketer’s Pub for french fries, beers, and karaoke!
Challenge #11 Sunrise or Sunset
Challenge #12 An Ocean View
What I love about this shot is that this was such a casual shot. I was walking along, looked up, and grabbed a quick shot. It wasn’t me that did the work. It was the ocean. It just had to sit there looking beautiful which it did quite nicely.
Challenge #13 Favorite Food #DiscoveryDining
The food is great but some foods were exceptional. The caesar salad at Barefoot by the Sea. The linguine at Mario’s. But the one that teased my palate was surprisingly the Vegetable Quiche from The Cricketer’s Pub.
Challenge #14 Best Pool
With six pools throughout the the resort, three of which have swim-up bars, you would think it would be tough to pick a favorite. But hands down, we loved and spent almost all our time at the Italian Village pool.
Challenge #15 A Laugh
Laughs are easy to find when you’re hanging out in paradise. But not necessarily easy to catch because you’re usually too busy laughing right along with them. As I was waiting for my wine tasting class, I heard a laugh and quickly turned with my camera ready. Got it!
Challenge #16 Favorite Village
Challenge #17 A Great Big Hug
Again, hugs aren’t hard to find. Just hard to capture. So while we were walking from our room for another meal, the boys were rough housing. I was busy getting annoyed until I realized this is how they show affection. Hug, captured.
Challenge #18 Your Sweet Tooth #DiscoveryDining
I’m not a huge lover of sweets but it certainly didn’t stop me from getting my fill. One night, while attending a resort-wide beach party, I snapped a pic that I thought captured the small bites of goodness you could always find. My very favorite, though, was probably the Grand Marnier crepes I ate almost every morning from Cafe de Paris.
Well, my suite life didn’t turn out the way I thought. We didn’t actually have a suite this time. And while the room could have used some updating, I couldn’t argue with the view. Beautiful foliage, a giant chess set, a glimpse of the water, and we even got a chance to watch a man knock down a few coconuts.
Challenge #20 On the Pier
This wasn’t the pier picture I had planned. I was trying to get a glimpse down the pier where the Kitty Kat catamaran docks and where other excursions like the glass bottom boat leave. But when this Captain asked if I needed a male model for the picture, I could say no to that smile.
I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be the one to dance for a photo and since I missed all the shots of the professional dancers at our parties, I kindly asked Bert to cut a rug. And he had some pretty good moves, you know, for a muppet.
Challenge #22 Interesting Architecture
I’m pretty sure architecture usually refers to the building structures and with four different themed villages, there were certainly variations in the architecture. What really caught my eye, though, was sitting outside for the conference (yes, it really was outside) and looking up. I loved the creativity of the sun shade.
Challenge #23 Love #WeddingMoons
Challenge #24 Some Flora
One of the things this nature girl loves about Beaches is the grounds of the resort. Not only did I spy a good share of fauna (snails, lizards, cats, and a yet-to-be-identified predator in the water) but the flora took my breath away everywhere I went. It’s clear that a lot of care and work go into the groundskeeping.
Challenge #25 Conga Line with Three Moms
Okay, this photo admittedly does NOT show off my best photography skills. But either I was going to have to fake a photo or actually get in a conga line myself. And SUDDENLY, they started playing Miami Sound Machine at the 80s party and there were three moms doing the conga. And I didn’t have to set one foot on the dance floor.
Challenge #26 A Kiss
If it looks like my son is stiff as a board as I plant one on his cheek, it’s because it was late at night and I said, I’m going to get a picture of a kiss one way or another! A lovely lady stopped to take what I thought would be a poignant photo. Instead, I’ll just remember that it was the one that got ‘er done.
Challenge #27 Selfie with Play All Day Elmo
I’m pretty sure my Instagram fans don’t expect to see photos like me and an Elmo toy. So I knew some creativity was in order. I pulled out my selfie stick and tried to play off that ridiculous expression on Elmo’s face. In the end, I think it’s a really cute photo. The funny part was another guest on the beach watching me do all this. “Are you a mommy blogger?” she asked. And then I tried to explain it all. She was so fascinated, she took a “behind the scenes” photo for me!
Challenge # 28 A Sandcastle
Evan and I had big plans for our sandcastle. While many people took photos of the professionally sculpted sandcastle, we tried to make one that would rival it. In the end, our four towers and significant moat still weren’t enough to battle away our enemy – the sea.
Last year, we weren’t able to see the Kitty Kat because it has been sailed to calmer waters while we experienced the rough aftereffects of a hurricane. This year, it stayed close to the pier and offered daily snorkeling excursions.
OMG. You made it to the end! That’s how I felt when I finally completed the Instagram challenge. And this one was easy. I mean, the whole trip was fun but watching Kelly Loubet sing karaoke (which she affectionately dubs “Kellyoke”) was just fun. I can’t come up with another word and I think that one suits it perfectly.
After all was said and done, I lost a few followers on Instagram. I think others must have muted me. But it was worth to me. Thirty pictures aren’t enough to capture the beauty of Beaches Turks & Caicos. And even though I didn’t win anything again this year I just can’t quit. My consolation prize is that hopefully you enjoyed a few pictures and felt like you were there with me.