There is joy in the air.
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Two years ago, we fell in love with the US Virgin Island, St. Croix. We even looked at several properties with an agent. Today it is like visiting an old friend but as we become re-acquainted with the island, we realize that some of our memories have faded.
Tamarind Reef Resort is and was our home for about two weeks. It is a small boutique hotel with an outdoor Deep End restaurant, sand beach, pool, tennis courts, spa, and marina. Every day the Deep End offers activities for those staying in the yachts at the marina and at Tamarind. Our number 10 hotel room is 20 feet from the waves. It is fairly large with a small kitchen, sofa, and chairs. On a covered porch we can sit and ponder the many moods of the ocean all day long for $120 a day (off-season).
Beauty All Around Us
There are budding gardenias everywhere. White egrets follow us during our morning walks. Mongooses tease us. Hermit crabs circle around us while Iguanas slither on our porch with the Geckos and sun themselves by the water.
Palm trees sway in rhythm to the sounds of the waves. Even wooly worms without the wool are criss crossing in front of us signaling the beginning of winter. What winter? And the water keeps beckoning us to come back to this place.
Where is the Charm or Culture?
We have docked at 30 islands or more in the Caribbean, but St. Croix touched us. It doesn’t have the glitzy undertone that some have embraced. Islands like Dutch Curacao lost their charm to casinos. Many islands have turned into shopping malls on the sand. Noisy guys hawk tours and jewelry and free drinks as you try to enjoy the landscape.
Hurricane Maria kept us from returning last year. This year we wondered if enough of the island had been restored for us to enjoy it. Evidence of the hurricane is everywhere. We have seen this type of devastation along the Mississippi and Texas coasts. But the water and sky are so blue that you can’t help but ignore St. Croix’s need of repairs and upgrades.
I met a couple from Denmark who were staying at the Cottages by the Sea south of Frederiksted. They loved it because the units have large kitchens. You can find hotels north and southeast. We prefer staying on the East end of the island.
Only a few blocks from Tamarind Reef is the high-end and expansive five-star Buccaneer Resort. Hundreds of rooms go upwards to $500 a night. None of the properties were directly on the water but the views from the hills were stunning. It is a gorgeous place. Here is a quote from their website:
THE BUCCANEER’S PREMIER GROUNDS FEATURE AN 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE, EIGHT TENNIS COURTS, THREE BEACHES, TWO POOLS, WATER SPORTS CENTER, FULL SERVICE SPA AND SALON, 24-HOUR FITNESS CENTER, THREE RESTAURANTS, BANQUET AND MEETING SPACES, AND A SHOPPING ARCADE WITH FINE BOUTIQUES.
The island is only 27 miles long, but it can take you an hour to go from one end to the other because of the curvy and non-direct roads. On the East end is the National Park Site of the town of Christiansted. Its boardwalk is strikingly beautiful.
We aimed to retrace our steps across the island and so began with a visit to Point Udall, the furthest point East in the United States.
The Cruzan Distillery
Yesterday we toured the Cruzan Rum Distillery. It is a lot smaller than the Captain Morgan distillery not far from it. We gave our guide, Shelly at Cruzan, two thumbs up for her presentation and tour of the rum-making-process out of molasses which they import. St. Croix, ironically, used to be full of sugar plantations! Remnants are across the island!
But we wondered about the stories. Jim Beam had bought the 300-year-old distillery and was using it as a source for the production of many types of Rum. The fruit-flavored ones are the best-selling. Jim Beam? How romantic!
We began researching Cruzan and discovered that it is now owned by a Japanese company, Suntory. Supposedly the holding company is called “Beam-Suntory.” Shelly did not mention the Japanese probably because most American tourists would rather hear about their local and world-famous Jim Beam rum. We wonder how long they will keep the distillery on St. Croix?
Crab Races and Jewelry from Heaven
A highlight of the trip so far has been the hermit-crab races. You pick a crab, name it, and then pay your entry in a running contest. During the last race our crab “Farmer” won a prize for us! There was a lot of jumping and screaming from the peanut gallery as they watched their entries battle for the prizes. (Supposedly the crabs only run races one night and then are set free?)
Last time we were in St. Croix, I bought jewelry from a local. (Saw her again outside the ship in Fredriksted.) She was at the crab races also and I traded some cash for jewelry. Sue is very young and on disability because she has had four back surgeries. Without meds she can’t move. As a marine biologist she feels lost and so creates interesting jewelry. But it is not her dream life! I went back twice and traded. I wish I could do more for her!
This is my first installment on St. Croix, more may be coming soon!
Tom checked to see about rooms available on St. Croix after we leave, all of them are booked for the foreseeable future. Probably, this is partly due to the “First Responders” that are still rebuilding the infra-structure. At Tamarind, we were among the few tourists. The rest of the rooms were rented to First Responders.
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge