This past February we decided to visit the US Virgin Islands. The thought of moving to a US territory would be like moving to an island with training wheels. We would have the support of the United States federal government, relative stability and infrastructure, but we would still be living in a beautiful environment. I’ve heard stories about Americans who purchase (or in actuality, lease) land in Central American countries, and then one day, the government revokes their land lease and they lose their property and their investment.
We visited each of the 3 Virgin Islands for a few days a piece. (There is actually a 4th Virgin Island, Water Island near St. Thomas, but it is very small.) The first island we visited was St. Croix. It was absolutely beautiful. It is also the largest of the three islands, and its size is a great benefit. St. Croix and St. Thomas have roughly the same population, but because St. Croix is approximately twice the size of St. Thomas, the people are more widely dispersed. As a result, the island feels less crowded. In doing some preliminary research before our trip, we were already leaning in favor of St. Croix. It has all of the relative creature comforts – it has 2 K-Marts and a Wendy’s for crying out loud. It also has several major industries which would provide more employment opportunities.
We stayed at The Buccaneer thanks to a winning bid through skyauction.com, otherwise we likely wouldn’t have paid their normal high season rates. This resort is arguably the nicest place to stay on St. Croix. It is fairly close to Christiansted, and the property is enormous. We were upgraded to an ocean front room which had a little 1-2 foot brick wall around our patio so we could literally hop over the wall and head to the beach. There is a golf course on the property that is supposed to be fabulous, but I don’t play golf, and H plays maybe once every three years. One thing I liked about the golf course was that it provided a safe and protected place to run. Since I was training for my first marathon (Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego), this was a nice amenity. The roads on St. Croix don’t really seem to have shoulders, and there are a lot of blind curves so I was afraid to tackle a run on the roads for this first trip.
The Buccaneer had very good service for dinner, but breakfast service was not as attentive likely due to the fact that breakfast was a free buffet included with your room rate. We were there the night of the Super Bowl, and despite the fact that we had a “reservation” for the Super Bowl showing, we watched most of the beginning of the game huddled in a corner waiting for a table. This one glitch in our stay would not prevent me from staying there again. In fact, I would definitely recommend the Buccaneer.
On our second day, and first full day, we went scuba diving in the afternoon with St. Croix SCUBA whose dive shop is downtown Christiansted. I can’t say enough good things about them. They were fabulous. Kalen was our guide, and he was so friendly. He really put us at ease since this was only our second time diving.
On our third day, we hired a cab driver (Phillip from St. Lucia) to drive us around the island. Our first stop was the Cruzan Rum factory. The tour wasn’t so much of a tour as it was a brisk walk through several buildings. We finished the tour with some rum-tasting which of course led to rum purchasing. We next drove to the west side of St. Croix, checked out the Fredericksted pier, then headed into the rain forest to see the much hyped beer drinking pigs at the Mt. Pellier Domino Club. Upon arriving we purchased a non-alcoholic beer and followed the waitress across the parking lot to the pig pens. I handed the can of beer to a pig the size of horse standing on his hind legs with his front feet prooped up onto the stall. He crunched into the can and sucked out all the beer before spitting the can on the ground. Fascinating, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was helping exploit these animals. Our next, and final stop, was to Christiansted where we did some shopping and had some lunch.
During our drive with Phillip we got a feel for the island, and we felt like our preliminary research had been accurate. There was such a varied topography – everything from a rain forest to an arid, almost desert-like area, to mountains (or at the very least, large hills). We felt like we could definitely live here, but we still had two other islands to visit on this trip. On to St. John.