Published: October 12th 2006September 30th 2006
You may recognize Trunk Bay from our 2003 Christmas card.
We had one whirlwind day on St. John. Really we're cutting things way too short on this beautiful island, but 10 days is all we had allocated for the Caribbean, and we can't change the dates on our first US leg per rules of the around-the-world ticket.
The four of us began the day with an early trip to Trunk Bay and leftover baked goods from Havensight Bakery. Trunk Bay, along with Magen's on St. Thomas are routinely rated in the top 10 beaches in the world. Most of St. John is a national park, donated about 50 years ago by Rockefeller, who owned nearly the whole island at one time. We arrived at Trunk just before 9AM, when the park ranger arrives and begins charging for entry. Aside from two people swimming, the entire beach was empty.
The next stop on our beach tour was Francis Bay which was also completely deserted. We swam out from shore and were just floating around when J spotted a fin on the horizon. At first, that invoked a bit of fear in all of us. When the fin appeared again, it arched over and a tail slapped the water. It was
then that we realized it was a dolphin - two of them to be exact. I started swimming straight for them with gusto, the others held back a bit. The dolphins set their sites on us and swam straight toward us as well. Both parties were curious about the other. It was an amazing adrenaline rush!! The dolphins came within 5 feet of us, swam around, dove down, eyeballed us above the water, and swam away. Once our collective shock wore off, we wanted them to come back. J started whistling under the water hoping they would hear us. Sure enough, not a minute later the fins returned - this time they brought a friend for a total of 3 dolphins. They did the same drill - swimming within 5 feet, checking us out, and swimming away. We were completely euphoric! You couldn't wipe the smiles from our faces for hours. Please note, that in nearly 4 years of living in the VI J and K had NEVER seen a dolphin. This experience definitely goes down as one of the best of the trip if not our entire lives. The four of us will be bonded by it forever.
Trunk Bay Morning
CM alone in the water.
Reluctantly, we left the beach and prepared for our journey to Virgin Gorda. The ferry schedule I had looked at online before the trip indicated there was a ferry straight from St. John to VG that day, however when we inquired directly we were told would not be running it because there were not enough people. This is a hazard of the slow season, schedules aren't adhered to rigidly. Luckily, J's high school buddy and ferry captain MG was able to hook us up! We took a boat from St. John back to St. Thomas, another from St. Thomas to Tortola, and a third to Virgin Gorda. We were assured that a ferry to VG would be leaving Tortola just a few minutes after we got there. However, we saw that ferry pulling out as we came into the dock! The next ferry would be 2 hours later. So we left our bags with the "porter" who basically demanded $5 to "take care of them for us" and set off into Roadtown on foot. We ended up eating appetizers at a nice restaurant called Nexus during the unexpected "layover." When we finally boarded the ferry to VG, we noticed a
lot of hooligan kids running around, in and out of the wheelhouse, yelling, etc. One in particular caused quite a ruckus. He harassed the kids, took a lollipop out of one guy's mouth and threw it overboard, and gave the crew a hard time. The gentleman sitting in front of us with his family was very nice and apologized to us for the other guy's behavior. He didn't want us to think VG was unsafe or that we were unwelcome. Turned out he is a bartender at one of the high end resorts and was the only one on the boat able to calm this guy down. He talked to him in a calm voice and asked what he thought his father would say if he saw him now. That did the trick and he quieted down. About this time, the captain came up to tell us one of the engines on the catamaran had died and we might have to be towed in to the dock. We were in the middle of the channel in pitch black darkness at the time. Somehow, they managed to bring the boat in without a tow. By the time we got to Mango
Bay Resort, it had been 7 hours since we left the Westin on St. John. Whew!
After meeting Gino, the manager at Mango Bay, and checking into our fabulous two bedroom suite complete with indoor and outdoor shower, hammock, and kitchen on the verandah we headed out in search of dinner. We came across a small restaurant (really a BBQ and some plastic tables) called Island Pot where the BBQ was cranking. What were they serving? How about a full rack of ribs for $10? Or a huge piece of chicken for $3? The johhnycakes (basically chewy, fried dough) were fresh and hot too. Mmmmmmm!
Now we are chilling for a week on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. We had been to VG on day trips twice before and always said to our selves "we have to stay here next time." The BVI is much more relaxed than the USVI. People are more friendly, and there is very limited crime, especially on this island of only 3000 people. This is the extreme slow season (read - hot, hurricane season) here so although many restaurants are closed, we are really getting great service and a lot more
of the local flavor. We can't say enough about how wonderful Mango Bay is. We are going to post our thoughts on Tripadvisor, we figure since we use this site as a resource for our travels, we should "give back" by writing up the places we stay on this trip.
There are more photos below