Some parts of the city only a few steps away from the bustling, chaotic waterfront are really quite charming. This is a section of Back Street with homes dating to the 18th century, which has a singularly European charm. These areas seem to exist only in small pockets, however, and tend to be populated by less than savoury individuals. The (sometimes) lack of sidewalks is also a major issue for anyone looking to stroll about. Nevertheless, some of the charming streets are worth a bit of adventurous alley-diving.
The Market Square, located on Main Street in Charlotte Amalie a bit down from the primary tourist district, is a fascinating bustle of local produce and African cultural flair. I felt the place had the sort of atmosphere one might experience in a West African port city with some European architectural influence. This seems to be the city centre for most locals and even a few paces from the tourist zone a more obvious mainlander may be an object of curiosity. When I strolled through, merchants were beginning to unload their wares and set up their stalls while a funeral took place just outside the church, in full public view.
Stairways in the city of Charlotte Amalie are easy to come by, but other than the oddly-famed 99 Steps, most of the city's picturesque escaliers aren't listed in guidebooks or pointed out on tours. They're discovered by the careful observer, peering down the alleys, wandering through the markets, trudging up the hillsides (of particular necessity). One will be rewarded, however, with exquisite urban scenery, guaranteed.
If you are even heading back to the city from Magens Bay, you have to stop at Udder Delight. You'll know it by the huge banner off the side of the road which speaks of it being recommended by the Chicago Tribune. That's what brought us to it. We are from Chicago so if the hometown newspapers says its a good place to go, its worth a try.
They have by far the best milkshakes I have ever had. We loved this place so much, we made sure to come by one more time before we had to go to the airport for our flight home.
Do not miss it!
Cinnimon Bay campground on St. John, USVI is beautiful. The water is light blue and crystal clear. The weather is always warm and the mountains are an amazing shade of dark green. There are many hiking trails that pass through Dutch ruins on the island, and wild donkeys and iguana rome about freely.
Secret Harbour is a hotel/condo complex on the south shore of St. Thomas - the attraction here is the hotel beach (open to the public). During our 1.5 days on St. Thomas, we went to Coki, Magens, and here - Coki is small and a bit commercial, Magens is attractive - but only above the water, Secret Harbour was a nice spot with good snorkeling right off the beach - and being on the south side, it's sheltered from the Atlantic swells (which were a big problem at Coki). From the best I can tell, Secret Harbour is also a bit of a secret considering it's assets.
Salt Pond Bay, Lameshur Bay, Francis Bay, Leinster Bay, and other beaches on the North and Eastern coast. The beaches closer to the ferry stop at Cruz Bay are crowded and most often visited by tourists and cruise ship denizens. The beaches that are farther out equally beautiful (and in some cases more beautiful) that those closer to Cruz Bay and just a little harder to get to. Be warned though that some require easy to heavy hiking to reach.
All the comforts of home. Here is the private swimming pool. The entire ranch overlooks the beautiful ocean. The Ranch reminds you of a ranch in Arizona or New Mexico unless you look at the ocean side. But, it is that rustic.
The whole island of Tortola, The BVIs, is off the beaten path. To the left, more vistas from our island drive. No matter where you stay, or what you do, you are only one in a smattering of people to ever make it here. Sit back and enjoy!
For more info: www.bviwelcome.com
Photo of our chartered yacht, the TriWorld, a trimaran, captained by Jim Eldridge.
Lynhollen Yacht Charters, PO Box 489, Fair Oaks, CA 95628, 800-821-1186, E-mail email@example.com
Lynne Hollen is knowlegable, friendly and experienced in sailing herself before brokering yacht charters. Lynne found us a trimaran, TriWorld, with Capt Jim a dive master and Katy the Maty, a superb cook.
Charter a sailboat with captain and crew. Choose with the captain each days stops and anchorages. Since the TriWorld came with master diver and compressors, we litterally fell off the boat to go diving.
Reluctant to make my first open water dive, a helping hand assisted me!
Three out of five of us took scuba lessons at home but certified in the warm, clear waters by St. John, BVI. A wise idea instead of freezing in the cloudy Pacific Ocean in Monterey or a quarry.
VI Eco Tours!! This is a must-see if you have the time. The group provides tours of the local mangrove lagoon. It's run by this brainy bio. major who makes mangroves seem interesting. Throughout the tour, you row your own kayak through the lagoon while the guides point out various flora and fauna. Then, they take you snorkeling in an awesome reef that's been barely explored since it's not open to the public. This was a lot of fun and it helps work off a few of those pina coladas!
Take the ferry to St. John's for dinner one night. You can take the ferry from Red Hook or Charlotte Amalie. Most restaurants will reimburse the fare when you come over. Definitely try this one night. The restaurants in St. John rival those in St. Thomas. A lot are right on the beach, plus you get the added bonus of taking a night ride through the harbor and seeing the stars reflecting in the water.
The National Park Service maintains a number of hiking trails, for which it provides maps and leads weekly hikes on the Reef Bay trail. Lind Trail is a short 1.1 mile trail leading from the main town of Cruz Bay to two beaches, first Solomon Bay (otherwise known as the unofficial nude beach) and Honeymoon Bay. The trail leads through varied terrain of forest, orchids, cactus and lovely vistas. If you go early in the morning you may find yourself alone on these lovely little sugar-white sand coves with water that feels like silk to the skin.
The beaches I like best are not the most well known ones. Trunk Bay for example is the beach most often photographed, but it is also where they bring all the cruise ship passengers and others who come daytripping from St. Thomas. So I prefer some of the quieter spots; Jumpy, Lameshur, Hawksnest (except on week-ends when the locals are here),Frances, Solomon, Leister and Honeymoon.
Art by Anissa Roth
Magens Bay Road, , 00802, Caribbean
Good for: Couples
7338 Estate Bakkeroe, Charlotte Amalie, Caribbean
Good for: Business
The hotel rooms were old and the bathroom's were rusty, dirty, and downright disgusting. The food...more