Here is a selection of the photos Gail and I took during our trip to St. John
in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This tied for the the most exotic trip we've taken in
decades with our 2007 visit to
Ecuador and the
After we moved to Maryland in 1977, almost all of our travel has
involved visits to family - during the first two decades mostly via car
to take the kids to see grandparents, cousins, etc., in the midwest, and
during the last decade going to where the kids are. So going off like this
was quite a novelty.
After a taxi ride from the airport to Red Hook through the neighborhoods of St. Thomas and a short ferry cruise, we arrived on St. John.
The drive to Maho Bay Campgrounds on the north shore of the island in our rented Suzuki was anziety producing (driving on the left, steep tire-spinning hairpin curves, and an erosion control facility masquerading as a driveway), but we got there. We stayed in a fabric-and-screen-covered tent-cottage set among the trees. It had a kitchen area with a Coleman stove, table and chairs, and shelving, a sitting area, a sleeping area with two beds, and a small deck. The tent-cottage also had our personal insect-suppression unit, a gecko we named Waldo, as in "Don't step on Waldo" "Where's Waldo?".
|Tent-cottage B2, our home away from home||Waldo on the screen|
Our first full day on the island, we headed to Trunk Bay where the national park had set up an underwater snorkel trail. It went part way around the left (west) side of the Cay and then came back a little further to the west. It was like swimming inside a tropical fish aquarium. There were blue tangs, parrotfish, long-spined black urchins, staghorn coral, fan coral, smooth trunkfish, large schools of small silverside fish, and many more.
|Trunk Cay in Trunk Bay||Brain coral and a yellow goatfish|
|Stoplight parrotfish||Trumpetfish about to hide in a sea plume|
|Resting after lunch|
|Restaurant at Maho Bay Campground||View from the dining pavilion at sunset|
On our second day, we decided to snorkel off the beach at the campground. In the morning we swam west. In the afternoon we swam east. In both directions we saw many of the same creatures as at Trunk Bay. In addition, in the west direction we saw a rapidly swimming school of bar jacks and a ray. In the east direction we saw a small shark - probably a nurse shark - and a hawksbill turtle.
|Looking west across Maho Bay||Looking east across Francis Bay|
|School of bar jacks hurrying somewhere||Small shark swimming away from us|
|hawksbill turtle||Coconut palm tree on the Maho Bay beach|
On our third day we first went to Waterlemon Bay and swam around Waterlemon Cay, hoping to see some starfish. We did not see any starfish, but the other fish and coral were as interesting as ever. After lunch, we hiked up a hill overlooking the bay to ruins of one of the Danish sugar cane plantations that had covered the island during the 18th century. Then we returned to our campground and swam across Francis Bay to examine the reefs on the far side.
|Waterlemon Cay with Great Thatch Island in the background||Gail and Al in ruins overlooking Leinster & Waterlemon Bays|
The weirdest-looking thing appeared that afternoon. While we were swimming across Francis Bay over a mostly empty, sandy bottom perhaps 10 to 15 feet deep, I saw something on the bottom. The body looked like a fish, but it had large wings folded against its sides and little arms sticking out of the front of the wings. It seemed to be digging in the sand with its arms. I had used up my film the day before so I could not get a picture of it. Later we found a picture in a book and learned it was a flying gurnard. It is said to be rare.
On our last day on the island we spent some time in the town of Cruz Bay.
|Lunchtime at the Lime Inn||A magnificent frigatebird soaring over Cruz Bay|