Monday, March 5, 2007

Q: What do you do with 44 hours in St. Thomas?

A: Get the hell out of St. Thomas.

Seriously. If you don't want to take my word for it, just look at the officially sanctioned US Virgin Islands website. Sure, they may use words such as "cosmopolitan" and "lively" in the place of the more accurate "overcrowded" and "tourist trappy", but instinctively you know what they mean. The site goes as far as to point out that St. Thomas is the "least virginal" of the Virgin Islands. They, the very people being paid to make this place attractive to visitors can't help but to warn you that this is one whore of an island. If you want to find the Johns, you need look no further than the port which hosts the greatest number of cruise ships of any Caribbean island. Lucky for us, the girl working at the gift shop in our overpriced hotel shared the website's penchant for unfailing honesty. Only with a bit less subtlety. I believe her words were "All the beaches in St. Thomas suck. You need to go to St. John". Her co-worker who was a bit more determined to stay on script tried meagerly to defend the local beaches, but this just led to more adamant (and frankly, more hilarious) testimonials from Honest Girl about the general suckiness of St. Thomas. Instead of sending me to the OCD (overpriced concierge desk), where a tour of St. John runs you $95 (!!!) per person (!!), Honest Girl explained how to get there on the cheap and what to do once we got there. Her advice was to take the safari bus, the island's public transportation, to Red Hook. If you are worried about finding the bus stop, rest easy. If you are standing anywhere near the side of the road, and looking like you might be ready to go venture elsewhere, a safari bus will soon stop for you. (Note: I believe bus stops do actually exist on the island, but the concept is a highly flexible one). Take the ferry, which leaves every hour on the hour, to St. John. Upon landing in Cruz Bay, St. John, take a taxi to Trunk Bay, open up a beer and prepare to enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see. According to the reliable source that is Wikipedia, the National Geographic Society has named Trunk Bay the most beautiful beach in the world. This kind of distinction does lead to a whole mass of tourists, including the dreaded cruise ship packs easily identified by their matching life vests, looking like a special ed school out on a field trip. However, the payoff is some of the clearest water you could ever hope to swim in teeming with big, vibrant, multi-colored reefs, which miraculously enough seem undamaged by the hordes. The sand invites you to dig your toes in with its consistency of baking flour. If you choose to, you can follow an underwater trail with markers embedded in the sand explaining the different varieties of corals and marine life you are likely to encounter. Not ten minutes into my swim, I came across a school of squid, which are just so odd they're charming. They swim backwards (with their body ahead of their face), so that as you follow them, you see their little eyes staring back right at you. There were also plenty of clownfish, trumpetfish, angelfish and even a couple of pelicans, one of whom scared the crap out of me when I popped my head out of the water and found myself eye to beak with him. It is no wonder that Honest Girl was so insistent about having people visit this island and more specifically this beach. For a grand total of $27 per person, she got us off of St. Thomas and to a place of real beauty. All I can say is thank you, Honest Girl, thank you. And thank you also to Barbie, Justo and Homero for joining me on this expedition. I'll leave St. Thomas with you guys anyday.


  1. Oh my god _ it is 3 fucking degrees below fucking zero and my walk to work (against the wind, toward the river) caused my coat collar to slap my cheeks as if Simon Legree was attempting to restrain me. So, perhaps you can imagine how much I would rather be eye to beak with a friendly, if disturbing, pelican. At this particular point in my life, I have never wanted to be anywhere more than St. Johns.
    Your frozen friend,
    PS - I'm so sorry I didn't get to see you when you were briefly in NYC - I was actually in Charlotte until yesterday afternoon.

  2. Cool sunrise picture. Good composition.

  3. Hi Berti,

    This is Ivan your nephew now living here in Sarasota. Those are some cool pics and whimsical mis-adventures of yours. :o)

    Stay well.

    (shameless plug, my own Blog is listed in my handle profile)

    Ciao, Ivan.