Talk about tranquility only a stone’s throw away from the continental USA. If you have a long weekend, I would highly recommend a journey down to USVI or BVI. I have made my residency on St. Thomas in the USVI more times then I can remember, heading there for family vacations, my brother’s destination wedding or just for my week away from the world. I would not really recommend the island of St. Croix, mainly because it is not so tourist friendly and it’s a bit out of the way. I would suggest that you hit up the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. If you are looking for that stamp in your passport, Tortola is a beautiful island not even a two hour ride from St. John.
On St. Thomas, there are many places to stay, but even with it being an island, a hotel on the beach can be a rare find. I would recommend the Sapphire Beach resort near the center of town. Talk about lush and private. If you are looking to escape the world, sit on the beach, read a book, maybe go for a snorkel and have a drink after, Sapphire Beach is definitely the place to go to.
Some of the best snorkeling spots on St. Thomas are located around that beach front. The water is always crystal clear and the sea turtles come out in full force in the early morning times when the sun is just rising. If you catch them at the right time, when they are heading up for air, you can grab their shells and go for a ride. It’s a real experience. But be careful of the surrounding groups of fish. There is a neighborhood sucker fish that damn near looks like a shark, but trust me, it's not. I was warned by the local woman selling snorkel gear that this fish was out there and I told myself that I wouldn’t be scared when and if I saw it. But when I saw him while floating around, I damn near jumped out of my skin. I have never run out of the water so fast, I felt like I was running on top of the water to get out of there. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best idea in the world because if it had been a shark, I would have not been able to write this journal today.
If you are there during the winter time, be careful of the jellyfish. During the wintertime, the jellyfish are brought up by the changing tides and tropic storms and are out in full force. I was swimming around following a group of clown fish (damn Finding Nemo) and I swam right into a school of jellyfish. But not big ones, just babies, but a full school of them. After being bombarded by the electric shocks with tinges of pain, I decided that I should vacate the water ASAP to avoid throwing up all over the place. Those shocks can make you so nauseous and weak that if you don’t get out soon, you could pass out. So beware. However, don’t let that scare or worry you to not go snorkeling, because it is so worth it. Seeing stingrays and a rainbow spectrum of fish and of course turtles. It really is a sight.
After a day of sunning, swimming, and basically doing nothing all day, a night of strong, fun drinks are definitely called for. Duffy’s Love Shack promises everything the name offers. It is literally a shack, based right in the middle of a parking lot across from the ferry to St. John in Red Hook, and with a tiki-torch-surrounded-hut feeling and strong drinks that can help produce love with anything you see. If you have the liver for it (and cab fare home) I would suggest the Fish Tank. I have no idea what’s in it but I think I finished one at some point (I never remember finishing those because of their strength) and I enjoyed it.
If you feel like leaving the beach for some reason during the day, you should try hitting up Charlotte Amalia on the other side of the island. This is a great area for the seasoned shopper. There are nothing but outdoor flea markets, high end boutiques, local stores, and St. Thomas culture around every turn. But bring your bargaining skills, because these vendors are slick and will take you for everything that you have. Tourism is their business, don’t forget that.
After a day of shopping, dinner is most likely the only thing on your mind. So, head back to Red Hook and try out Off The Hook. And it is just that. Phenomenal food at very affordable prices. And again, the location can’t be beat; right next to the ferry and across the street from Duffy”s. So, have a bite, cross the street, grab some drinks, then catch the ferry back to St. John or a cab back to Sapphire Beach.
I hope that St. Thomas treats you in the same friendly manner that it has for me and my family and friends. And, if you haven’t already, please make St. Thomas a goal for your future destinations. Enjoy!