Thursday, December 9, 2010

St. John, part 1

Well... it's been a bit over two weeks now since we returned from St. John in the US Virgin Islands. I've been hoping to do a blog post for awhile now, but I've been having serious issues adjusting back to "real life" and the colder weather here in Colorado. Ugh... I'm still not over it... I'd trade to be at the beach without a thought. Like I said, about 24hrs after my last post, we were unloading on the dock at St. John, after a short ferry ride over from St. Thomas. Jesse and I arrived before the girls, and we were waiting on the beach, dipping feet in the sand and ocean, waiting so we could get a live webcam shot from the phones. Jesse and I are in the bottom left of the picture, and that's Jessica at the bottom right of the picture, hurrying down the dock to meet us.

It was pretty surreal to be in the warm, salty air, standing on the dock that I've been staring at on my computer screen for the last 10 months! Once we were all gathered up, we were off to our amazing house, perched on the hills above Cinnamon Bay! No, really, click that link to see some pics of our amazing house. It was dark by the time we made it to the house, but that's okay, we woke up to amazing views, and every single morning, this was pretty much my view as I had my morning coffee and slowly woke up in the warm air!.

As you'd expect, I was in a crazy rush to head off for our first real shot at the beach. Up first was going to be the amazing (and most popular) Trunk Bay.

Though some off-shore weather meant this open beach had some very rough surf, with a short, crushing break. I braved it for a bit, but after Jessica got tossed pretty well with some bad timing on coming out, we decided to head someplace a bit more calm, where we could do some "more productive" swimming.

We ended up at Hawk's Nest Bay, which was a little bit more calm, but also safer. I could do some snorkling, but not too into the reef, as the waves were trying their hardest to drop you down upon the coral. No worries, it was all a real blast to be out and the beaches and weather, and sights in general were just amazing. Plus we had to be home for dinner... and what was our usual nightly plan... drinking island rum, Pain Killers, and locally crafted beer!

The next day we were off early to the far end of the island, where we hoped to hit Brown Bay. This beach was accessible only by about a 2 kilometer hike over a saddle in the hills and down to the bay. This bay is usually not very crowded due to the necessary hike, but we were really psyched to see that we were literally THE ONLY group there for the entire day! Our own beach with a great reef and crystal clear, flat water!

The snorkeling was pretty great, with tons of conch, crab, countless types of fish, starfish and colorful coral. After a few hours of snorkeling, we went back past Coral Bay;

And to the bar Skinny Legs, where I had the best jerk seasoned cheeseburger with local mango chutney, and I sat outside in the scorching sun, while the television covered a huge pile-up in the snow along I-25 outside Denver... I wouldn't have even considered going home at that point... That evening we threw a party and BBQ at our house, with our fellow travelers coming over from their house to party at ours. Massive consumption of theraputic alcoholic beverages took place.

The next morning, everyone was a bit slower to get up. But you know where we were headed... off to the beach! Today's goal was Salt Pond. Another beach with a short hike to get to, and on the far end of the island, so it should be a bit quieter again. I wasn't prepared at all, even with our last few days, for the beauty of this beach. It was simply stunning.

No doubt it helped that the beach had a total of two other groups besides us on it! And even better, the water was simply amazing and the coral was the by far the best I've seen since the Great Barrier Reef! The reef was just teeming with a crazy variety of fish! I think the part I tend to forget about having a beach like this (nearly) to yourself is just how quiet and relaxing it is.

Jesse and I snorkeled for a solid 3 hours easy. And after that? You guessed it... back to the "busy" side of the island for rum drinks and a tasty dinner at the Beach Bar.

Did I mention that our house was amazing? Our bedroom was pretty secluded, accessible only by outdoor pathway and staircase around the side of the house.

We had our own outdoor shower next to the patio (which took a bit of getting used to!), a patio, and even another section of patio around the corner with chairs and table, which had you neatly tucked into the jungle vegetation all around the house. In the room itself, the massive bed completely dwarfed little Jessica!

Another day, another amazing drive on the ridiculous roads on the island!

This time we were off to another island with a shorter still, hike as the only access, Waterlemon Cay. This beach again, absolutely stunned with it's beauty!

Lots of starfish, turtles, flounders and countless other sea creatures were found here too. Jesse and I snorkled out around the cay which dropped off quite a bit and the sea life along that deeper reef was just crazy. We were endlessly distracted as we circled back around to head to the beach. Not the least of the distractions was a huge ray that was nearly 5 feet across.

By now, everyone was definitely settling into full-on-vacation-mode.

And we definitely wanted to rest up for what the following day had in store...

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