We flew from St. Croix to St. Thomas via Cape Air in order to catch the ferry to St. John. (Not on the seaplane, but I definitely want to try that at some point.) We walked around Charlotte Amalie and had some lunch while waiting for the ferry. I think there were 6 or 7 cruise ships in port that day. There were people everywhere. I think we walked around maybe five minutes before I realized that I did not want to live on St. Thomas. One of the reasons I wanted to move to an island was to enjoy a slower-paced way of life. Crowds are not appealing. I am positive that you could get away from the crowds if you wanted to, but it probably takes some effort. Luckily the ferry came quickly and 45 minutes later we were in Cruz Bay.
If H and I were independently wealthy, we would live on St. John. This island was laid back, and words cannot describe how beautiful it was. We had decided to stay at Estate Concordia on the far southeast end of the island, which is the complete opposite side of the island from where the ferry arrived. I’m so glad that we made this decision as it forced us to travel across the island. We rented a car and started out on the “short” drive from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay. I think the actual distance is 8 miles, but it probably took us at least thirty minutes. These were the craziest roads I have ever been on. The hills were so steep that I thought we wouldn’t make it up them at points. The curves were so sharp that I was sure we were going to die before we made it to our room. And don’t forget – they drive on the left side of the road. I yelled “keep left” more than a few times on that drive as I was not driving.
Concordia was really cool. We stayed in the studios, not the tents. I felt really good to be staying in an environmentally friendly resort but not good enough to stay in a tent. The tents really didn’t look anything like my definition of a tent, and it probably would have been just fine, but I was freaked out by the compost toilet, and that sort of thing. I haven’t ever done any actual camping where I didn’t have a toilet and a TV so I was too afraid to try the tents. The hermit crabs that were our “natural” garbage disposal were close enough to nature for me.
Our studio had a kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator and stove. We were in a partial-view studio, and I guess if we squinted, we could see a little slice of blue between the trees. I wish we would have sprung for the full-view studio, but environmentally friendly does not come cheap.
Salt Pond Bay was just down the hill from Concordia. The snorkeling there was some of the best we have ever experienced. We saw so many different fish and our first sea turtle. The cool thing about Salt Pond Bay was that even during the “busiest” part of the day, there were only a handful of people there as it involves a slight downhill ½ mile hike to reach the bay from the parking area. Another very intriguing aspect of this particular bay is a hiking trail called Ram’s Head. It was a gorgeous hour hike to the top of this peak, but well worth it. The views from the top were breathtaking as you could see some of the BVIs to the north and St. Croix to the south. We only saw a couple of people on our hike so it felt like we had the whole island to ourselves from this vantage point.
We also snorkeled at the world famous Trunk Bay early one morning, and it was truly spectacular. There is an underwater trail, but it is obvious that many people have snorkeled there before you as we did not see the variety of wildlife that we saw at the more secluded Salt Pond Bay. Also, Trunk Bay has great facilities, changing rooms, showers, food, etc., and as a result, the park got crowded fairly quickly.
We made our next stop at Cinnamon Bay which is also a campground. It had a lot of facilities, but it did not feel as crowded as Trunk Bay was becoming when we left there. I didn’t get in the water here – it was a little cold for my Texas blood, but H got in and thought it was great – so great that he was distracted and lost our underwater camera with our Key West and St. Croix scuba diving pictures. Oh well, we’ll just have to take more.
St. John is so laid back that there are animals everywhere. I’m talking goats crossing the street and wild donkeys grazing on the side of the road. One of our meals at Miss Lucy’s was complete with goat families and chickens. Miss Lucy’s is supposed to be a must-do restaurant on the island. It’s local food and outside on the water at picnic tables – nothing fancy, but charming nonetheless. However, my chicken sandwich was hard to eat with its relatives walking around.
We had a really incredible meal at Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay. It was not cheap, and again was outside on patio furniture, but the food (I had pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes and H had some type of fish) was something that could be served at any fancy restaurant here in Dallas without the snooty airs. Coral Bay was really cute and quaint. There is a shopping center where the restaurant was located that had little shops with all types of offerings. There was also a VW bus that was converted into a shop for bikinis – otherwise known as the Bikini Bus. The bikinis are homemade, hence the name 3 Virgins (islands – get your mind out of the gutter) Homegrown Bikini Company. I got one, and it is still my favorite bikini.
We finished our trip in St. Thomas – not a lot to report here. With our first experience in Charlotte Amalie, we had already decided that St. Thomas was not the island for us so we took the opportunity to get in some relaxation time to complete our whirlwind vacation. We stayed at the Frenchman Marriott. It was very nice and comfortable and felt like the Ritz since we had just left Concordia which had no air-conditioning and one towel per guest for our 3 night stay. We hung out on the beach everyday, and never left the hotel. To go along with our wildlife theme, we took tons of pictures of the iguanas that were all over the hotel. I am not talking little lizards here – some of these guys looked like they could have easily weighed 30 pounds. They looked very menacing but honestly, they could not have been less bothered by all the guests.