The Virgin Islands
Two weeks in paradise
Phillip takes us over to explore the Virgin Islands
New friends at Jose Cuervo Tequileria (Miami Airport)
I may not be a "Pirate of the Caribbean", but I put the "RRR" in "RRRelax".
My trip to the Virgin Islands was my first true vacation in a long time. Usually, I travel for work and try to tack on a couple of days as "vacation". Sometimes, I'll take a day or two here and there and stay at home. But this time, I spent nearly two weeks with the sole purpose of de-stressing & decompressing. My phone was off and my Out-of-Office was on with a message saying, "I probably won't read this e-mail, so if it's really important, contact me when I get back." My beloved and I were heading to the Virgin Islands.
First stop – the Airport. Nightmare, right? No. I don't know how this happened, but I think someone out there knew we needed a vacation just as badly as we did, and we got bumped to first class! Hot meals, lots of legroom, and Champagne were a great way to begin the trip. FYI, Even though the U.S. Virgin Islands are a U.S. Territory, it's not a bad idea to bring along your passport.
After arriving in St. Thomas, we crossed the tarmac and rode to our temporary accommodations near Red Hook. We only stayed for a night, but the morning view was breath-taking, and we knew we were on vacation.
A little view with your coffee? Yes, please!
The next day, we leisurely made our way over to Secret Harbour, where we would charter the Twilight Rodeo, a 50' Catamaran, and spend the next several days touring around the islands. The Virgin Islands offer a variety of great charter boat services, and I highly recommend it.
Preparing to set sail
The first island, other than St. Thomas, that we ventured to was the British Virgin Island of Tortola. If you are lucky enough to visit the Virgin Islands during a full moon, prepare yourself for a multitude of "Full Moon Parties". One of the most notorious ones occurs as the Bomba Shack. There, you can partake of a variety of teas and other drinks that will keep you dancing until the sun comes up and the full moon is long gone. Trellis Bay also offers a full moon party complete with fire displays, but I wouldn't suggest going there for anything else.
Frying up some Johnny Cakes
The drink of choice in the Virgin Islands is Rum. The Cruzan Rum distillery is located in St. Croix. However, also located on the island of Tortola is Cane Garden Bay. By the way, all of the beaches are going to be called "Something Bay" or "Something Cay" (pronounced Key).
Cane Garden has a great beach and is home to the Callwood Distillery, which has been producing rum for over 400 years. This was definitely the place to buy our souvenirs. After stocking up on rum for our friends and family, we headed to the beach. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to see a stage setup along the sand. Once the sunset, the BVI Music Festival kicked off. We enjoyed a lot of great music from local artists while we drank rum and ate "Johnny Cakes" and plantains from local beach side vendors.
The original boiler is still in use
There is a lot of great food in the Virgin Islands. If you are a fan of spicy foods or jerk seasonings, you will probably enjoy the local cuisine as much as we did.
BVI Music Festival
Next we ventured over to St. John. While, this island was originally purchased from the Danish government by the U.S. In 1917, it was later acquired by Laurence Rockefeller (yes, of those Rockefellers) who donated the land back to the US Parks department. As a result, this is one of the least disturbed islands in the chain as most of it is a national park, and it is, indeed, beautiful. I highly recommend visiting Trunk Bay. This beach features soft sand that leads you directly into pristine steady water. It's like walking into a swimming pool. This was one of my favorite beaches by far. The snorkeling was excellent.
After a busy day of doing nothing, we ducked into a beach front restaurant, finished our rum-and-whatevers and watched the sun sink into the Caribbean.
If you've heard heard of the "Soggy Dollar", you've heard of Jost Van Dyke or vice versa. The Soggy Dollar is a beach front bar set along White Bay. It's known for its scenic views and Pain Killers garnished with freshly shaved nutmeg – definitely the drink of choice at this bar. Jost Van Dyke is only 3 square miles with a population of about 300 people.
Most people take a day ferry over to Jost Van Dyke. You might've heard the song, "Adios to Jost" by Kenny Chesney. Unless you are on a boat, you will eventually have to take the ferry back to one of the larger islands and say "Adios to Jost." Fortunately for us, we were on our charter boat! After sunbathing and having our fair share of painkillers, we watched the tarpon and other nocturnal fish come out and swim beneath our boat.
We decided to ditch the sailboat for a day and head out to sea with Johnny Malibu, a local fisherman and guide. After tailing a flock of frigates and seagulls we homed in on some Mahi Mahi. After a 25 minute battle, we had one on the boat – then two! We took our filets back to Red Hook to be blackened, grilled or fried at Fish Tails, a local seafood restaurant.
Mahi Mahi / Dolphin Fish / Dorado
After we completed our boat charter, we stayed in a HomeAway vacation rental in Red Hook. There are a lot of great places to shop, eat, and drink in Red Hook at the east end of St. Thomas. After some free drinks for Ladies Night at Duffy's Love Shack, stumble over to Island Time Pub for some great pizza.
Island Time Pub
The Virgin Islands are known for their beaches. We were used to going to THE beach. Here, we had to choose WHICH beach. Each beach offers something unique, whether it was white sands, amazing snorkeling, privacy, good bars or great shopping at local boutiques. Popular beaches get crowded when the cruise ships come in. Anyone on the island will know how to find out when they are scheduled to dock. Be sure to plan around it.
Please remember that people drive on the left side of the road and everyone lives on "island time". Be patient, take it slow, and enjoy the scenery. There are so many fun things to do, and we have already begun our list for our next trip. We definitely want to visit the Caves and the Baths at Virgin Gorda. We'd love to ring in the New Year at Foxy's, explore French Town on St. Thomas or take a Sea Plane to St. Croix.
*Banner Image from Michael Brashier