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 Galapagos. 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 ferry dock at Cruz Bay, St. John, VI with a woman vendor on Jan 21, 2010

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?".

The front of our tent-cottage (B2) showing 
the entrance door and the screens around the kitchen area Our insect-supression lizard on
   one of the screens of the cottage
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 sitting in the middle of 
Trunk Bay with swimmers and snorkelers around it A brain coral and 
feeding tropical fish
Trunk Cay in Trunk Bay Brain coral and a yellow goatfish

Parrotfish nibbling on 
algae A trumpetfish
Stoplight parrotfish Trumpetfish about to hide in a sea plume

Gail sitting on her beach 
     towel at the edge of the Trunk Bay beach
Resting after lunch

The Maho Bay Campground has its own outdoor restaurant, where we ate all of our dinners because driving after dark did not seem like fun.

The restaurant
with lights on as seen from the dining pavilion A view of
the bay from the restaurant's pavilion showing boats tied up for the night
and the colored sky
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.

The west end of Little Maho
        Bay The campground beach at 
           Little Maho Bay, looking east past the rocks marking the 
           end of the bay and looking over Francis Bay beyond
Looking west across Maho Bay Looking east across Francis Bay

Rapidly swimming
school of bar jack fish A shark swimming
away from the camera
School of bar jacks hurrying somewhere Small shark swimming away from us

turtle swaimming to the right Coconuts and fronds of
a coconut palm silhouetted against the sky
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 Gail and Al at the ruins
of a Danish plantation overlooking Leinster Bay & Waterlemon Bay
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.

Gail and Al at a 
table in the Lime Inn with a couple bottles of beer A female (see white throat) magnificent
  frigatebird soaring over the harbor at Cruz Bay
Lunchtime at the Lime Inn A magnificent frigatebird soaring over Cruz Bay