Friday, December 9, 2011: St. John, USVI
Like a wonderful reunion, waking up to the sights of the Charlotte Amalie harbor brought back all sorts of great memories. Nine years ago, almost to the day, Natalie and I had woken up with much the same view, spent an amazing day snorkeling and just laying on the beach at Trunk Bay, and we returned back to the ship that afternoon engaged to be married. Today, we would return to that same beach as part of a shore excursion with the cruise ship called “Destination St. John”.
Upon arrival at the pier, we were escorted to a smaller ferrry boat with two decks (an inside and upper rooftop seating area) and we began the 45 minute ride out to Cruz Bay, the main entry port for boat and ferry traffic. Here, some of the passengers disembarked to participate in a historical walking tour or to begin a hike on the island. We remained onboard and for the next hour, we were treated to a scenic cruise along the coastline.
Along the way, we saw Salomon Bay, Caneel Bay, Turtle Bay, Hawksnest Bay, Denis Bay, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Peter Bay, Maho Bay, and Francis Bay. Yes, it was a lot of bays, but each seemed to just get better and better with clear turquoise water, golden beaches, and palm trees. Trunk Bay though is still recognized by Conde Nast as one of the best beaches on the planet and for good reason. After completing the hour long scenic coastal tour, we returned to the pier at Cruz Bay where we would have about 3 hours of free time to do as we fit.
We wasted no time jumping into a cab and headed down to Trunk Bay. Not much has changed and to our welcome surprise, as a National Park, there is now a nominal entrance fee, to support the ongoing conservation efforts and to keep the throngs of visitors down. Works for us!
We were getting hungry at this point, so we stopped at the snack bar for lunch where we enjoyed some excellent burgers and then rented a few beach chairs to head out to the beach where the sun was making some cameo appearances in between those persistent dark gray clouds.
We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon on the beach, chasing the sun or just relaxing in the shade (depending on which member of the traveling group you were) and listening to the penultimate sounds of the ocean, the waves crashing gently along the shoreline and just knowing that for this one moment… all was right in the world. Eventually, our time at Trunk Bay drew to a close and just as we were walking off the beach, the rain began to fall again, a tropical shower that was appreciated by all of us for cutting the humidity level a bit.
Back at Cruz Bay, we picked up our ferry boat and made the trip back to Charlotte Amalie. Along the way, the skies opened up again, but again, there were few concerns about the weather as we were on vacation! About 40 minutes later, we were back along side our ship.
We took a few minutes to step into Havensight Mall to visit one of our favorite electronics stores, Boolchands, to see if they had any must pickup items that were on our lists. This time around we left empty handed, which is more than ok, and headed back to the ship about 30 minutes later.
It was an excellent day in St. John, and we were amazed that we had already completed the first week of our travels in the Southern Caribbean. Next week we will be headed to Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, and a return trip to St. Thomas, so there are many more pictures and travel logs to come.