U.S. Virgin Islands

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The U.S. Virgin Islands

The three major islands in the U.S.V.I. are  St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. 

St. John is the smallest of the islands at 9 miles long by 5 miles wide. It is by far the nicest and certainly our favorite. Much of the island is part of the National Park System and is densely wooded. There are hiking trails, areas to explore, beautiful beaches (some private) and a few "ok" snorkeling spots. Trunk Bay, with its marked snorkeling trail, is excellent for those not real comfortable with their skills and/or the water (speaking from experience).

Cruz Bay is the main harbor and with lots of "classy" shops as well as several souvenir shops. There are several restaurants to choose from but the Texas Cafe was of course our first choice. Another favorite was Mongoose Junction. The anchorage in Cruz Bay is quite crowded and very bouncy. Unfortunately, when doing laundry, groceries, etc., it's necessary to anchor there - at least for the day. Otherwise, the cost of transportation on St. John will ruin a cruiser's budget. There are no "deals" on auto rentals and the jitneys can get pretty expensive. Although they are not ideal for everyday transportation, It's definitely worth the cost of a jitney for at least one tour. The scenes from the mountain drive are breathtaking.

We moored in Francis Bay most of the time there. This is a beautiful anchorage and the calmest, most protected one we've seen. The mooring were free at that time so we were lucky enough to take full advantage of them. From the anchorage, you can dinghy ashore to Maho Bay Campground, walk up about 160 steps, use the pay phone, catch a jitney back to Cruz Bay, or use the campground internet for a reasonable fee.

Of course, we had to make it to the back of St. John to anchor in Coral Bay. Wow, what a difference. There were many cruiser type boats in the anchorage but most of them were real eyesores. After a trip ashore for great hamburgers at Skinny Legs, there was nothing else worth staying for. We gladly left the next morning for St. Croix.


St. Thomas is the best known of these islands because the airport and cruise ship docks are located there. There is a lifetime of touristy shopping in St. Thomas, as well as lots of things to do & see. This is the island to meet your visitors, if you remember, that is. Read Sylisha's story below to see how even the best of us could make that mistake.


Sylisha's Story

May 10, 2002

It was to be a trip of a lifetime for my husband and me. Going to a tropical destination, spending time with my parents, whom I had not seen in over a year. The planning went on for months, trying hard to learn what not-to-do from my sister, who had just had her  "trip of lifetime" a few short months earlier. We planned and planned. Considering that email was the only way to correspond with my parents, we thought it was going rather well - until the day we arrived in beautiful St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The emails had gone out and the plans were set. We got a cab from the airport to meet my mom and dad at a bar in Red Hook. It was called "Sopchoppy’s". What a wonderful little place in the middle of paradise.

We had been instructed by my parents that they would meet us there at 5:00pm. "Just wait 'till we get there", had been our instructions.  Cory and I arrived about an hour early and figured that after our long voyage across the ocean, a beer was long over due. As we sat having our beer, we enjoyed the view of the many sailing vessels that were lined along the harbor and wondered if we could find Escapades. To no avail, we never spotted the boat, so decided to have another beer and some fries.

A couple of hours went by. After walking around several times, thinking we had just passed each other, we finally realized that my parents were just not there. Another hour went by and a call to my sister was in order. It didn't dawn on me that we were several hours ahead of Texas and wouldn't reach her at her home. I hadn't packed a phone book because I didn’t think we were going to need one. I had only my memory for numbers that would help us find my parents.

After speaking to several of the folks in the area, asking them if they had seen a sailing vessel named "Escapades", they assured me that everything would be alright. Their thought was that my parents just probably forgot about us because "life in the Caribbean is so laid back you normally forget what day it is". I assured them that they did not know my mother. There would be no way in the world that she would forget about me. SOMETHING HAD TO BE WRONG. Convincing the captain of one of the many sailing vessels to put an "All Hails" out to locate them, we came up empty handed.

After a few more hours we made a trip to the local Cyber Café to use a computer. It took forever and we still couldn't get a connection. Several more attempts to reach my sister didn't work and I felt exhausted.  I just knew my parents had to be dead. I sat in a corner of the bar a cried myself sick.

It was getting late and with nothing left to try, Cory headed out to find us a place to sleep. Once in the hotel room ($168.00 a night), we made one last attempt to reach someone in the U.S.  FINALLY, I got hold of my sister, Syneace. Thank goodness! She agreed to email my mom to find out if something had happened to them. I was most certain that it had, because Mom would never just forget about me. The U.S. Coast Guard was to be out next our next call if Syneace couldn't find out anything.

After arguing with my sister to tell Mom something very specific, she emailed instead, "Mom, email me or call me ASAP". Of course this sent Mother into a frantic. Not understanding the message, and taking forever for the Internet connection to go through, was a nightmare for her. I think they finally contacted by phone. Syneace relayed the information that I had been sitting at "Sopchoppy’s" for several hours, awaiting their arrival. My poor mother called and the only words that she could muster was "I’m sorry is not enough for what you must have been going through". It didn’t matter at that point I was just thrilled to hear her sweet and loving voice.

Unfortunately, after dark sets in, there is no sailing in that area and my mother could not come to meet us. Once I heard that all was well, Cory & I headed out to pick up something to eat and get something to drink. My advice, never eat a pizza outside the U.S. border, but buy plenty of booze because it is really cheap. We went back to our plush hotel room and ate our pizza beside our personal swimming pool, thanking the Good Lord that my parents did not indeed die that night, but that instead, the Caribbean took over their souls.

The next morning my mother was at the door bright and early and a big hug and lots of kisses were in order. The rest of the week melted that dreadful night away and to this day we (Cory & I) laugh about how Jimmy Buffet, the drinks called Painkillers, and the wonderful salty air could take a persons mind so far, far away.

St Croix is really out of the way and it's not on the way to anything. It was well worth the trip though.

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