The US Virgin Islands, consisting of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John might be the best kept secret down south. Quiet and central to the Caribbean, these islands offer an adult break from the hectic and sometimes aggressive visits to over populated islands like Jamaica and the Bahamas.
St. John is the smallest (and least populated) of the three islands, and likely the most serene. A quick ferry ride from St. Thomas will get you on the island in about 20 minutes from STT. The ferry entry is the busiest part of the island with people traveling back and forth from the island from 5a until early evening. The Cruz Bay area is buzzing with taxis, hotels, bars and restaurants. A variety of shops and car rentals are available in this small downtown area. It is easy to navigate and people are very helpful, locals and ex-patriots alike.
A 30 minute ride via car or bus will get you to the other side of the island where Coral Bay and the National Forest are located. Coral Bay is much smaller than Cruz Bay and far more limited in resources. There are only a handful of restaurants but there is a grocery, but better shop or eat before sundown, because this sleepy side of the island shuts down at dark. There are only two breakfast options that we found and one was consistently open every morning with coffee and US TV, so if you need CNN and a solid cup of coffee every morning head on over to Pickles in Paradise. The food here is also very good. The best deli on the island; breakfast sandwiches, burritos and so many choices for lunch items. We enjoyed everything we tasted here.
The other breakfast place we found was only open some mornings and at sporadic times. The evening dining was just as limited with only a couple options for food and drink. There were many rental homes on this side of the island, so prepare to make your own meals if you choose to stay in one of the beautiful homes in the Hurricane Hole area.
|Local Island Fare|
You can’t leave the island without trying the local pate. These breaded pockets hold meat or fish and are the specialty of the Virgin Islands. You can find them almost anywhere, but like food trucks in the states, some are good, and some are really good. Make time to head over to the local mall in the center of town and visit Etta’s. These were the best Pate’s we tasted, and were fresh and flavorful. Hands down, a must try for island fare.
|Good evening, Donky!|
The wildlife all over the island was rampant and fun to watch. Deer, goats, sheep, dogs, chickens and crabs roam freely. There was no surprise when donkeys came right up to our car to greet us. By the second day, the donkeys were meeting us at the gate to our rental home to get more apples from the kind main-landers. We were happy to oblige and even made a special trip to the grocery to get fruit and carrots for the local animals.
The nightlife is restricted to Cruz Bay, so if you want to drink and party into the wee hours of the night, you will want to stay on this side of the island. There is nothing going on in Coral Bay after dark. Nothing.
Coral Bay is famous for snorkeling and hiking and if you are the outdoorsy type and appreciate exploring National Parks and wildlife, please take advantage of the hiking trails and open Park trails to the many secluded beaches. We found trail maps were easily accessible, but not very accurate. Follow the local signs and trust the handwritten tips. They work.
If you are like us, we enjoyed sitting on the porch of our house and watching the sunrise every morning, and the sunsets in the early evening, as they reminded us how precious life is in Technicolor. The coquis chirping and the wave’s consistent sounds kept us attached to the earth as we just enjoyed breathing in the natural gifts of the earth.