Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sun? Check! Sand? Check. Fun? Check!

Hotel Beach 2We spent our spring break in the US Virgin Islands. It is my job, as Dad, to get my girls to sunshine, heat, and beaches each year at this time.

This year, we traveled to St. Thomas and stayed at the Wyndham Sugar Bay. A nice place, with its own beach and several pools down about 100 stair steps from the hotel buildings. We got plenty of exercise.

Sea Turtle 2We spent part of our time sunning and swimming and purposely doing nothing. We also played tourist in a minor way.

We visited the Coral World Ocean Park, a small aquarium with the usual pretty fish, a shark tank, sea turtles, and reverse tower that goes down a few stories into the channel between St. Thomas and Thatch Cay.

The Aquarium is adjacent to a very pretty beach at the bottom of Coki Bay, where we spent did a bit of swimming and floating. This is a public beach, and very tourist-y.

 Coki BayAs you walk onto the sands, men come forward to offer you rental chairs and umbrellas and what-not. As you sit, you are approached by wandering waters working for the half-dozen or so make-shift taverns that shelter under the palms at the back of the beach. It's moderately annoying, but firm, polite refusals are respected.

We also spent a day on St. John. We signed-up for a guide-led tour of the island, which is mostly made up of the Virgin Islands National Park. We were driven on breathtaking mountain roads, saw colonial ruins, and had lunch at an open-air diner at Shipwreck Landing.

Trunk Bay 3The park includes Trunk Bay, a public beach maintained by the National Park Service and listed as one of the best beaches in the world. It features a snorkeling trail, perfect white sand, and warm clear water. We snorkeled together around a small island in the bay.

After a brief shopping stop, we enjoyed a sunny, scenic ferry ride back to St. Thomas.

I took about 600 pictures. I've distilled that down to 78 posted as a photo set. I've also created a map-based travelogue, using the new My Maps feature of Google Maps.

The US Virgin Islands are a great place to visit. They, like many travel destinations, remind me of our own Delaware beach resorts, but the pace is much slower and the geography is stunningly different. I was pleasantly surprised out how steep and mountainous the islands are; it looks like they are up-thrust sedimentary rock rather than accumulated coral.

Don't go there expecting speedy service. That's not the point. Slow down, look around, and enjoy one of the more beautiful spots on earth.

3 comments:

Nancy Willing said...

Nice surprise!
The turtles showed up over at my place!

Alan Coffey said...

Mike:

I spent some time on St. John in a rustic cabin with my pregnant wife a few years ago. You brought back the memories! Walking up and down the stairs to the beach was a chore for her. But doing nothing in that setting is better than doing most anything in sunny Delaware!

Thanks

Evil Spock said...

Soooooo jealous!

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