Virgin Islands - St. John Sightseeing

On Saturday, we explored the island by car. Seventy-five percent of St. John is National Park land, and the island is ringed by pristine beach after beach. After the third perfect postcard view of white sand beach bordered by lush green vegetation on one side and aqua blue water on the other, I put my camera away.

Driving was interesting. We had no car rental reservation, so Saturday morning I called a guy named Delbert Hill at the concierge’s recommendation. Mr. Hill drove himself up to the Westin, picked us up and took us back to Cruz Bay (also picking up a hitchhiker on the way). Turning the keys over to me, he sent us on our way, and I got to drive on the left side of the road for the first time (St. John is a U.S. territory, but the rules of the road emulate the nearby British Virgin Islands). It didn’t take much getting used to, and there wasn’t exactly heavy traffic on the island.

At gorgeous Trunk Bay, the most beautiful beach on St. John and perhaps in all the Virgin Islands, we went to the Ranger Station to pay our $4 entrance fee. The surly National Park ranger barely glanced up from his Border Patrol Agent exam study guide to take our money. I can think of many National Park rangers I've met over the past year in such places as West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma who would probably love to swap assignments with him. Just goes to show you that some people can’t even be happy in paradise.

Eventually, we found our way over to Coral Bay on the east side of the island. If things are slower on St. John than other islands, they’re at a standstill in Coral Bay. Laid-back Cruz Bay is the closest thing St. John has to a “downtown,” so Coral Bay is where people go to “get away.” Here, you’ll find the cruising set, the expats and old salts who have spent the last 30 years of their lives on a sailboat. We stopped for a cocktail at a funky open-air bar called Shipwreck Landing, and I commented to CJ that the name was probably metaphorical: that it’s where people land after their lives back Stateside go on the rocks.

We lazily made our way back over the green hills on St. John’s curvy roads, briefly stopping to check out the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation (where I blew out my flip flop, just like in the Jimmy Buffet song). Pulling back into Delbert Hill’s driveway, I put the gear shift in Park, which I realized was what this trip was all about: putting life in Park, if only for a few days.

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