Last week the US Virgin Island Department of Tourism took me along for the fun, whirlwind press trip to visit two of its three islands — St. Thomas and St. John — with seven other digital storytellers. For both of these islands, you can’t help but be enchanted by the breathtaking views of the coastlines, the crystal sapphire blue skies, and the swirling or puffy white clouds.
The things I’ve come to realize, from a native New Yorker’s perspective, is that everyone runs on island time. In other words, the pace of life is generally relaxed.
When my group all met up at the airport, we gathered our luggage and was driven over to Bluebeard’s Castle Resort. It’s a resort made up of four areas: Hilltop Villas, Hilltop Villas III, Villas I and Pirates’ Pension, perched upon a secluded hilltop overlooking Charlotte Amalie and the harbor where cruise ships dock. I stayed at one of their studio units that had an amazing view of the harbor and about an hour’s break, I had to quickly get ready for the tour.
We had a wonderful tour of the island of St. Thomas. We saw various parts of the island and saw Margens Bay from one particular vantage point, Mountain Top. I saw lush rolling green mountains that open to the vast deep blue bay that leads out to the Atlantic Ocean. The large multi-million dollar homes and exclusive resorts that celebrities and politicians stayed in that hug along the beaches of Margens Bay.
Since it was late afternoon and a few of us were parched and since you see such a huge bar right off the viewing area, it is hard to pass up the opportunity to have Mountain Top’s signature drink, the banana daiquiri. We asked the bartender if we are permitted to carry our drinks outside of the building and it turns out, we can since there were an option between a small ten ounce cup or a larger, neon colored souvenir plastic glass. The daiquiri was very good and they do go on the generous pour of adding rum when the drink is getting blended as well as floating about a half ounce of that sweet spirit before handing over the drink. You get your potassium and a bit of happiness.
We headed over to Fat Turtle for an early dinner. Fat Turtle is a casual bar-restaurant where they serve casual American bar fare, like pizza, hearty salads, sandwiches, and a few seafood dishes, while you have the opportunity to gaze at huge yachts on the docks that’s located adjacent to this restaurant.
I had my first Barritt’s ginger beer, a ginger soft drink that is made and distributed in Bermuda, and found the ginger on the delicate side and not too sweet. We shared plates of fried calamari that was tender, not too greasy and well seasoned.
One of my traveling companions had the jerk chicken sandwich that was nicely spiced and filling. The fries were crisp yet still retained the fluffy, moist potato within.
I had sautéed catfish with a side of coleslaw and roasted plantains. The catfish was cooked through and it was well seasoned but I did not care about the gloppy tomato sauce that topped the fish. I was mildly surprised to learn that the natives of the US Virgin Islands like to have their plantains sweet rather than the deep fried savory versions their Caribbean neighbors would have prepare it. Beyond that note, the plantains were delicious.
Once the sun sets, you can’t help but enjoy the night sky at the Fat Turtle or anywhere on the island.
The night was young and we drove over to the Adventure Center at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef for night kayaking. We joined a larger group of tourists who wanted to seek some adventure and get a view of part of St. Thomas in a different perspective.
I know the photo right above this paragraph looks like we’re paddling in a huge pool but we’re not. The kayaks have LED lights that line the bottom of the kayak and all of us wore a glow stick bracelet. My camera’s shutter was slow to react in extreme low lit area to give it that photo the effect of a fluorescent blue pool glow.
The video clip you may see above is an idea of what happened when I was on my kayak (we’re paired up). This clip was intentionally short since I was paranoid that my camera is getting wet since we experienced a brief rain shower and we are on the ocean and paddling and obviously, there’s bound to be water splashing or trickling in from the paddles. Thankfully, my camera survived and I stowed my iPhone safely away at their office before I hopped on the kayak.
It was cool to see a glimpse of sea life like sting rays and a few types of fish and hear our guides give some historical tidbits of the area we were paddling through. This particular experience was fun and gave my upper body a good workout.
We headed back to our hotel to unwind and rest up for another activity packed day on St. Thomas.
To view more photos of this day, please CLICK HERE or view the gallery below:[alpine-phototile-for-flickr src=”set” uid=”26389565@N00″ sid=”72157645905553341″ imgl=”flickr” shuffle=”1″ style=”gallery” row=”4″ grwidth=”1200″ grheight=”800″ size=”640″ num=”30″ shadow=”1″ border=”1″ align=”center” max=”100″]
US Virgin Island Department of Tourism
Bluebeard’s Castle Resort
1331 Estate Taarneberg, St Thomas, VI 00801
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
U.S. Virgin Islands
at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort
5 Estate Bakkeroe
St Thomas, 00801
U.S. Virgin Islands
Toll Free: 866.868.7784