ST THOMAS & ST JOHNS
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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St Thomas Island, part of the US Virgin Islands.
Friday February 10
Up bright and early to have breakfast, pack some lunch and disembark to experience an independent adventure. We had decided to travel to St Johns Island to see the national park and Trunk Bay beach within, rated by National Geographic as one of the 10 best beaches in the world.
The US Virgin Islands were bought by the US in 1917 for $25 million from Denmark which had developed the islands with slavery since the late 1600s for sugar production. The USA, during World War 1 wanted the islands for security reasons and the people are now US citizens.
St Thomas measures 32 square miles and has a population of 55,000, while St Johns is smaller with 4,500 residents.
We had taken some notes from Cruise Critic and Lonely Planet on how to find our way there. First step was to get a taxi to Red Hook from the port but Kath failed to specify which ferry port to the driver of a taxibus and we took off in the opposite direction. After some discussion we understood our error, argued with the driver that we had not reached the port, got down from the taxi and headed back to where we came from.
We hailed a few taxis but they were not interested in the trip and then our taxibus driver came by and demanded we get on board as she was now going to Red Hook, so we joined the locals and finally made our 20 minute trip to the ferry port for $2 so that was a saving on our anticipated $8 pp for a private taxi. The joys of being an ignorant tourist but all ended well and we found our way to the 10am ferry as planned.
The crystal clear water is torquoise and the sands are creamy white and the lovely little town, 3 miles from St Thomas is colourful and artistic. The cafes, shops and galleries are painted with pastel colours and there is a very cosmopolitan blend of people.
We took another taxibus to Trunk Bay Beach, paid $4 entrance at the national park office and joined the other tourists on the lovely beach. OK it is spectacular and the beach is lined with almond beach trees and there is a snorkelling path to admire the fish and coral but top10 who knows? After renting masks and snorkels we swam out to explore the trail, but of course we will always compare snorkelling adventures with our experiences of the Great Barrier Reef and you know that means this is a lesser experience.
But it is lovely and we did see fish and some bleached coral! And best of all the water is cool and crystal clear- unfortunately the photographs don't really depict the beauty!
Because of the reputation of the beach many tourists kept arriving mostly from the cruise ships- the towels are an indication of which cruise each of us is from- and the beach was quite crowded. We talked to the local people in the shop and it was they who told us that the USA had purchased the islands from Denmark but it seems that the famous Mr Rockefeller once owned part of St Johns and gave it over to the US as a national park in 1956.
We drove back through the lush green forest and explored the town a little, admiring the quaint streets and arcades before boarding the ferry back to St Thomas. A lovely adventure!
This was our last night on board so it was a special dinner in the restaurant; we agreed that we had had a happy time and now have a better knowledge of some Caribbean islands.