"" Writer's Wanderings: St. Thomas - St. John and Water Islands

Friday, November 19, 2010

St. Thomas - St. John and Water Islands

When you have been to St. Thomas as many times as we have, you sort of run out of things to do when the cruise ship pulls in. We often just stay on board and enjoy the ship's amenities and the beautiful views thus avoiding the ugly traffic and the shopping areas where everyone believes they are finding a deal. On our first pass at St. Thomas during our back-to-back cruises, we took a ferry over to St. John's where we've gone snorkeling before. This time however we found a tour of the island for $25 each and explored.

Our guide stopped at various places for us to see the views and the other islands that make up this group and then stopped at an old abandoned sugar mill. It was hard to believe that they actually did so much sugar cane farming on the island since there are so many steep hills--can you call them mountains?--that form the island. It was a pleasant morning and we stopped for a light lunch before returning to St. Thomas and our ship. The whole trip cost us almost as much as a ship's excursion, $22 (taxi rndtrp)+$12 (ferry rndtrp)+$25 (tour)=$59/each, but we did it on our own time and there were only five of us on the tour.

The next week our ship stopped again in St. Thomas again. This time we had plans to meet with a friend of my husband's family who lives on Water Island--the island that sits in the middle of the semi-circular bay of the port of Charlotte Amalie. Since our ship docked at Crown Bay, it was a short walk to the Crown Bay Marina where we caught the "ferry" to Water Island. It was quite an adventure in the pouring rain.

Right on schedule, the ferry captain appeared and we paid our roundtrip fare ($10/each) for the trip. It was a pleasant ten minutes (or less) to the island and the rain let up along the way. Our friend was waiting for us with a big island smile--the one that says welcome to paradise, even if it's rainy.

We hopped in the back of the open truck that was covered and had seats built into the sides and got a short tour as we drove to the Virgin Islands Campground that she and her husband run on the island. After a short visit and a break in the rain again, we explored the campgrounds and were surprised to find that they were more like tented cabins. The thing that made it camping was a central bath house and composting toilets (a new innovation to me) as well as a central gathering area where food was stored and eaten.

The views from the campground were spectacular even with the cloudy drab day. Nearby was a beach and a great snorkeling area. They were between guests and expecting to be full-up with a group from Denmark. Oh, did I mention the hot tub? It's the first campground I've seen with one.

All in all, if I had to camp out, this would be the place to do it.

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