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Published: April 22nd 2019
LeeAnne, Maggie, & Anne - From the balcony at our rental house.
In late March of 2019, Anne and I, along with our daughter and her family, visited St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands for a week of hiking, snorkeling, and other touristy things. It was spring break for Maggie, our granddaughter, and for LeeAnne, our daughter, who is a kindergarten teacher. Unfortunately, David and Sonja were not able to get away from work to join us.
St. Croix's history is a real mixed bag. Columbus discovered the island in 1493. Prior to that, and for some time after, the Carib and the Arawak Indian tribes inhabited the island. Over the course of the last 6 centuries six nations and one vassal state have governed the island. Spain, England, Netherlands, France, Denmark, the Knights of Malta (at the time a vassal state of the Kingdom of Sicily), and finally the US have governed St. Croix. The US purchased the US Virgin Islands, including St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million. The Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States and the island's residents are US citizens. Because it is not a state, it has no senators and its representative in the House of
Representatives is a delegate with limited voting privileges.
I’m going to put everything on one page this time and make it a bit easier to navigate. So there will just be this one page. All the pictures, most with captions, from the various activities each day will be together on this page but in roughly proper chronological order. However, you will have to go to a couple of additional pages to see all the pictures.
We arrived on a Saturday, rented a couple of cars, and then followed our hostess, Sara, to our rental house. Sara was a wonderful resource for information about the island (as well as lending us a necessary muffin pan that wasn’t provided at the house). Driving on the left, we headed to the house we had rented on Teague Bay on the east end of the island, about 45 minutes from the airport. We explored the house and beach that was just a few steps away, unpacked, and met Marley Mae, the resident dog at the yacht club next door who ended up visiting us regularly. Found Ziggy’s, a small store that sometimes serves food, and grabbed fish tacos for supper
The view of the small beach below our house
while watching a dance-off that the locals thoroughly enjoyed.
On Sunday, we drove to the western end of the island and visited Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge and its two miles of white sandy beach and beautiful turquoise waters. At first sight, LeeAnne pronounced it “the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen!” And since we’ve traveled to quite a few Caribbean locations, this was high praise! It wasn’t the best beach for snorkeling but great for playing in the surf. The beach is where the last scene from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed.
On Monday, we hiked about three miles to the Annaly Bay Tidal Pools on the north side of the island. The trail head begins near the Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort that has not yet opened to the public due to damage from the hurricanes in 2017. The tidal pools provide sheltered pools behind volcanic rock that waves tend to crash over at high tide. They were worth the fairly strenuous hike.
Tuesday was our day for a snorkeling tour to Buck Island National Monument. We had intended to land on the island and hike the trail to
The house we rented.
the island’s high point as well as do some snorkeling. As it turned out, our tour was with Llewellyn's Charter on his sailing trimaran which did not actually land you on the island. In order to get to the island itself, we had to swim, not the best way to get hiking gear to the beach in dry condition. So – no hiking. Most of us did enjoy the sail to and from the island as well as the snorkeling there. The trimaran using wind power only was a new experience for all of us.
Wednesday was a day to just hang out at the house for the Vialls, while Anne and I did a short hike to the top of Goat Hill. The trailhead for Goat Hill is located next to a radio telescope that is part of the Very Long Baseline Array
) system of ten radio telescopes which are operated remotely from their control center located in Socorro, New Mexico. If you are interested in more info on the array here is a link to the Wikipedia site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Long_Baseline_Array
Goat Hill at 672 feet high is one of the highest
This little guy visited the poolside one day.
points on the east end of the island and provides 360 degree views from the top. Looking west, the Divi Casino complex can be seen on the south shore, Christiansted on the north side, and the hills at the western end of the island in the far distance. We actually hiked about 2 miles along the road from our house near the St. Croix Yacht Club to the actual trail head and then the last steep mile to the top. So a total of around 6 miles in very warm temperatures with fairly high humidity made for a pretty exhausting hike for us. We returned to the house and rested (at least I did) most of the afternoon. Around 4:00 PM, a generator providing power to the island’s electric grid went off-line for some reason, causing the whole system to overload and shut down power to the whole island. Since the water for the house is pumped from an underground cistern, with no power, we had no water.
We had scheduled a kayak tour of the bio bay, part of Salt River Bay, for that evening at 6:30. We left the house around 5:15 and drove to
This little dog was rescued by the Yacht Club a few years ago. Apparently she greets whoever rents the house we were in. We enjoyed the fact that she spent a lot of time visiting with us.
Salt River Marina, and the power came back on as we arrived at the tour company. We enjoyed the tour but thought it was less spectacular than one we had seen on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, on another trip. Returning to the house, we found the power back on but still no water. Apparently we had turned on water faucets to check for water a few times too many and allowed the water to drain back into the cistern, and the pump had lost prime. We had no water until the next AM when we were able to get the maintenance guy in to fix the problem.
Thursday morning, we all drove to the Cruzan Rum Distillery and took the very abbreviated tour. The distillery was not in operation since they produce only a certain amount of rum each quarter, and once that quota for the quarter is met, they stop production until the next quarter. Consequently, we only got to see the outside of some of the production buildings and the inside of the warehouse where barrels of rum are stored while they age. But then at the end of the tour you are served two
On Sandy Pt
On Sunday we visited Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. Anne is standing on the point itself.
complimentary cocktails as well as a small sample of any four types of rum of your choice. So – for $5.00 per person, not a bad deal at all. After the tour, we drove to Frederiksted and had lunch at a nice beachfront restaurant not far from the Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge.
Friday morning, everyone except me got up early and drove the five miles to Point Udall, the eastern most point in the US, to be the first in the US to see the sunrise. Point Udall is named after Stewart Udall, US congressman and Interior Secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Interestingly enough, the western most point in the US, on the island of Guam in the Pacific, is also named Point Udall, named after Stewart’s brother, Morris. A sundial known as the Millennium Monument was built above Point Udall for the New Year's celebration in 2000 — it marks the azimuth of the first US sunrise of that year.
After everyone returned from the sunrise sighting, we had breakfast, then loaded up and drove back toward Point Udall where we parked the cars and hiked a short ¾ mile trail down
The beach at Sandy Point. If you are familiar with the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", this is the beach where the last scene was filmed.
to the shore south of Point Udall to a preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy. The first bay along the coast is Issac Bay where the Vialls settled in for some really nice snorkeling. Anne and I continued on down the trail for an additional mile or so to another bay called Jack Bay. We actually hiked a bit further since the sign marking the trail to Jack Bay indicated it was to Horseshoe Bay. We went a bit further until we figured we had gone too far, then went back down the trail to “Horseshoe” bay. At the coast there was a sign indicating that we were in fact at Jack Bay. I think maybe the names are actually Jack Beach and Horseshoe Bay but, nevertheless, we are pretty sure of where we were. We returned to the trail and hiked back to Issac Bay where I donned snorkel gear and did some fish gazing along with LeeAnne, Bob, and Maggie. After our snorkel adventure, we returned to the house. After we had lunch, LeeAnne, Bob and Maggie did a last bit of snorkeling at the beach below the house while I recovered from the earlier hike and snorkeling
Another of the beach.
with a couple of el Presidente beers.
Saturday was our last day, and we were up fairly early in order to get ready to check out of our rental house. After checking out, we drove to Christiansted where we did some souvenir shopping and ate lunch at a restaurant on the boardwalk in the harbor. Lots of large fish, tarpon we think, could be seen swimming alongside the boardwalk. Maggie enjoyed feeding them scraps from our meals. Our flight left at around 4:00 PM, so after lunch we drove to the airport, returned our rental cars, checked our luggage, waited in long lines to get through customs, then through TSA security, then waited in a very crowded waiting room to board our flight. Once aboard, all went pretty much on schedule and though the meals we had ordered, a salmon dish, were not available, things worked out well with a pasta dish for the vegetarians and chicken for me. Our flight from Atlanta to GSP was on schedule, and we got home around 1:00 AM. LeeAnne and family’s flight to Chattanooga left the gate on time at about the same time ours did but was late getting
Carambola Beach Resort
Taken from the trail to Annaly Bay. The resort is currently closed to the public while it houses FEMA workers still fixing damage from the 2017 hurricanes.
airborne for one reason or another. They still made it home before we did since they are only 20 minutes from the Chattanooga airport. Lucky them. All animals were happy to see their humans, and the humans were glad to be home.
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