Finally, our first port of call. We arrive early at St-Thomas. The first thing I do (right after taking my shower), is going down on the Promenade deck and admire the view. It is beautiful indeed. There is a feeling of joy in men when they see land after some time at sea. I could feel it. Everything was very quiet, the harbour filled with boats like little patches of white on the blue sea. On the opposite side of the bay, a vision of white and red: Charlotte Amalie, the island’s capital. As soon as breakfast is eaten, we go ashore. The first stop is the tourist info but I already know where we should be going: Magens Bay, supposed to be one of the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean. Taxis are waiting (they are in fact mini-vans that can carry about nine people and they won’t leave until they are full). Ours is a very outspoken guy. "Now, you gotta have my name, just in case you forget something in the car. If you ask for Albert, people don’t know who it is. If you ask for small Albert, people don’t know who it is. If you ask for Fat Albert, people don’t don’t know who it is but if you ask for Uncle Albert, now people know it’s me!". That may give you an idea. And here we are on our way to Charlotte Amalie. Once you’re in town, it’s a tricky stuff. The streets are VERY narrow and steep.
Uncle Albert describe us the main points of interest along the way, like that park dedicated to the Slaves freedom and were you can see sculptures of important people of the island. Then, we’re driving up towards the other side of the island to Magens Bay, as the car climbs up, we have a great view of the harbour and the city below and you can have a clear idea of how big the Grand is. May being the start of low-season, we are fortunately the only cruise ship here and Magens bay will probably be empty. We can get a glimpse of it through the dense tropical foliage and it looks promising.
Finally, here we are. Magens Bay is a park but It’ll only take you one dollar to get in. The view is stunning. Imagine, a crescent shape beach of powdery sand, a sea of intense blue, further away, an inhabited islet, coconut and palm trees, flamboyant and mountains surrounding the beach. It would be hard to find a beach that can fulfill one’s Caribbean fantasy. Magens Bay is being protected from harsh current and is very safe to swim. But Justin and me like waves but what the heck? *lol* The water is warm, fishes are swimming all around. It’s a dream. Justin and I have a chitchat with the lifeguard on duty, I go for a little walk around at the end of the beach to have another perspective. Swim some more… As I get thirsty, I decide to go to the snack stand and have a drink. This adds more to the intense feeling of bliss: a book in my hand, a cold drink, in the shade, surrounded by colourful flowers, with the soothing sound of the sea… But unfortunately, after a couple of hours, we have to go. If we want to have a chance to explore some more of the island… We head back to Charlotte Amalie.
As I said, Charlotte Amalie is a city of white and red: white for the walls, red for the roofs. It is a cute town which sometimes reminds me of Italy. It used to be a Danish possession and the streets bears 2 name (their Danish and English names). It also have some very distinctive architecture (like the clock tower). At a pub, I have my first taste of Caribbean brew… let’s say maybe I didn’t choose a good one. Charlotte Amalie is shopping heavens but Justin and I, not being really interested by jewelry, made-in-China pareos… skip it and walk through the city streets, past the tourist area. As soon as you live that little shopping area, the town changes, it is poorer but it is real life. People walk at a slow pace, a police woman in front of a school is controlling traffic, sheltered from the sun by an umbrella. It’s indeed time to get out of school for these kids.
A group of majorettes, twirling their batons and babbling walk past us, another little girl on her way back home has to climb stairs that doesn’t seem to have an end. Further away, a market is folding. A shame we weren’t here earlier. We have a little talk with a man who who was sitting here. Aah… the legendary Caribbean outgoingness! But it’s time to go back to the ship. Unfortunately, the only drawback of a cruise is that there is not enough time for discovery ashore. One our way back, we’ll bring some rum bottles, that is mandatory when you go to the Western Indies! As the sun goes down and the evening settles down, leaving the beautiful bay and Charlotte Amalie behind, I hope it’s not a farewell.
In short: St-Thomas is very pretty. Those amongst you who don’t feel comfortable with a lot of exoticness, be reassured: this is the US Virgin Islands. They even have a baseball park. It is probably too touristy for my taste but Magens Bay really blew my mind. Would I go back? Yes, but I’ll take a ferry to St-John this time although I really wouldn’t mind staying there a few days.