St. Croix 2015

It was past time for another beach trip and in the spirit of “just do it,” Susan booked the resort and air travel in the space of about 5 minutes. I could be exaggerating a bit, but not by much.

By May 9th, we were off to St. Croix. Ahhhhh.

First, the complete set of pictures from the trip are available here, with videos here and at the end of the gallery. The pictures below all link to the gallery for the day in question though videos go directly to the video. Our TripAdvisor review is over here.

Saturday May 9

We were off to St. Croix, staying at the Palms at Pelican Cove for 11 days.

We went through the ultra-boring parts of getting our butts out of bed, getting the car packed, driving to the parking area, and so on.

On the other hand, we did get to see a cute itty bitty Schnauzer puppy going through security. We didn’t get to talk to it but just seeing it made going through security less onerous.

The flight was uneventful. I watched a few Doctor Who episodes and Susan watched Call the Midwife while knitting.

Near the tail end of the flight we also got to see the last place we stayed for a beach vacation, Vieques Puerto Rico.

We arrived and were lucky enough to have our single checked bag be first out on the carousel. After an uneventful cab ride to the Palms we checked in and were hustled up to our room.

Our room before we trashed it.

Alright, we didn’t really trash it. It also looked this way when we left, though with more sand in it. Man, sand gets everywhere. This was a nice 2nd-floor room with a refrigerator and en-suite bathroom. The balcony had a nice view of the ocean and previous tenants had started a nice shell collection on the balcony railing to which we added while we were there.

Mostly we were there for the beach.

After dumping our things in the room we stopped into the bar for our welcome drinks.

After a couple of painkillers I gave the St. Thomas IPA a try. I tried all three of their beers over our stay and liked the Summer Ale and IPA the best. The mango was a little odd but not as odd as some people had implied.

After our visit to the bar, Susan went back to the room to recover from the flight, her allergies had completely taken over by this time, I took my camera down to the beach to see what pictures I could get.

Low tide had arrived and the near reef shelf was exposed with lots of snails, urchins, anemones and other nameless critters exposed for my photographing pleasure. There are more pictures on the gallery.

Back off. I’m feeling crabby.

Once I’d had my fill on the beach, I stopped by the bar again to pick up some take-away quesadillas and a few drinks for dinner in the room. The quesadillas were good. Nice and crispy. The salsa was just Pace but since we like Pace ok, so that was alright.

Then it was off to bed. Zzzzz.

Sunday May 10

We decided to have breakfast in the restaurant and got there somewhat early so that we could beat the crowd of 200 that was expected for the special mothers day brunch. Breakfast was good. Service wasn’t as friendly as it was in the bar but it was ok. It was a little more Island Timey than most places we went to. The food was good and helped fortify us for the walk we were about to take.

After breakfast we took a looong (3.5 hr) walk along the beach toward Christiansted and then back along the roads. We didn’t take our cameras or phones, so no pictures for this time frame.

We ran across a couple of spots along the beach where people were clearly camping out under the trees. One spot was littered with conch shells and trash. We also found an adult iguana that had died on the beach, or been washed up. Sad face.

There were several properties that were shuttered or just looked that way. Either because it was slow season or because of renovations. One property looked abandoned except for a lone woman sunning herself on a chair near the beach. Caretaker that had the run of the place?

We took the Nature Conservancy Little Princess trail back to the main road on the way back to the Palms. This photo is from later in the trip.

After returning to the Palms (and running from the steel drum version of “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” being played at the tail end of the mothers day brunch) we planted ourselves on the beach and stayed there the rest of the day, entertained by various dogs that came by for short visits with their humans

These are not our humans, but they keep feeding us hot dogs

and then later by a small wedding that started out behind us and then moved to the beach for photos.

We joked with the bride that we were tempted to photobomb them while they had photos taken on the beach. She replied “you should!” We didn’t.

Later it was a night of card playing at the bar.

and then off to bed again. We somehow managed to do that every night.

Monday May 11

The next morning Susan had some fun making sculptures

and we ran into our first iguana.

He was crossing the field next to our building and stopped to pose for a bit. He was wary but did allow us to get fairly close for a few pictures but since we didn’t have any fruit or hibiscus to give him, his interest in us waned pretty quickly.

Susan struck up a conversation with a man gathering coconuts and he was nice enough to take his machete and expertly hack a drinking vessel from one and gave that to Susan.

After enjoying the milk and jelly we took a cab into Christiansted for some sight-seeing in town.

The world was colorless until we found Rum and Wine. Unfortunately it remained colorless because they were closed.

We toured the Scale House, look, lizard!

Susan got a nice video of him bobbing at her

You are now my woman!

and dropped by the St Croix Earthcam to wave at people back home. Afterwards we went in search of breakfast and found tasty shrimp quiche at Angry Nate’s (whose logo looks like a hat-less Dick Tracy) and then followed up with a tour of the Fort.

I don’t think the original guards stood post like that.

Because it was the slow season we had the fort completely to ourselves. It occurs to me now that we should have crawled into the cells and played prisoner and done various other silly things while we were there but at the time we didn’t know that nobody else would come along. So, we had a fairly quiet walk about the fort, taking pictures here and there.

We did find a critter guarding the canon balls in the courtyard.

These are mine. Stay away.

Yes, there could be a priceless piece of art or architecture in the area and we’d probably be all “oooh, a lizard!” What can I say, we like critters.

After walking the city for a few hours and picking up a new charm for Susan and some gin, we headed back to the Palms for another walk along the beach and then to the bar in time for a few drinks before Caribbean Night began.

It started out with some cover musicians that mostly stayed on key and included a guest musician from New York, whose name we didn’t get, that played a mean keyboard guitar-sounding thingy.

After the music, the Moko Jumbies put in an appearance.

Cavorting about to the music and giving the patrons several photo ops.

Followed by some audience participation dancing. Susan practically led our end of the mob since several of the tunes and dances are ones she’s familiar with from Zumba.

Watch her, she knows what she’s doing

Then Kiki and the Flaming Gypies came out to dance about and threaten our lives with fire.

Two gypsies do battle

All in all, a fun evening.

Tuesday May 12

Today was snorkeling day with Chuck.

If you like to swim and you’re stay at he Palms one day, definitely go out with Chuck if he’s available. His enthusiasm for the water and critters living in it is easy to see and he knows where to find and how to handle them. If he hands you something and says “here, hold this while I take your picture” just do it. You’ll be fine and have a picture and memory to take back with you.

If you want to do a night snorkel (you do) make sure you book the morning snorkel too so Chuck can gauge your level of expertise. Both are free. We were fortunate that we ran into Chuck in the morning just moments before he was about to go out with another group and we were quickly pulled into the morning snorkel.

A Brittle Star climbs on Susan’s arm

Susan said that holding the Brittle Star was a little like holding a hamster. Just keep rotating your hand and you’ll keep him on.

We even managed to see a Spotted Eagle Ray soaring by.

Chuck took us to several areas to see a fish cleaning station and over to see what the pelicans were diving for on the West end of the beach. A huge school of fast-moving herring.

For our night snorkel he set us up with all the gear we needed (coral guards that look like Star Fleet uniforms, wet suits, gloves, lights) and took us out into the reef. While we didn’t get to hold any octopi (though I did see a couple duck into the rocks) we got to see and hold puffer fish and a few eels as well as see a turtle, various fish, lobster, urchins and the like.

Smile, little fishy

If you look closely, you’ll see a shrimp that photobombed Susan.

Goldspotted eel taunts us

Wednesday May 13

It’s my birthday and I’ll swim if I want to…

Or sleep in late and follow that up with a walk along the beach with wifey.

Today was the day that the Sargassum began to invade. While there were people clearing it away from the Palms part of the beach, the other sides began to pile up. It was interesting from a scientific/photographic standpoint but not if you wanted to interact with the sand.

Looking back toward the Palms

One interesting feature of most of the beaches we went to on St. Croix was the pink sand. At the West end of the beach it was particularly pink.

I’m not sunburned. I’m always this color.

Ahh, beach.

We also booked a Buck Island tour with Big Beard’s Adventure Tours for the following day.

The rest of the day was spent lounging on the beach or in the bar.

Around lunchtime Chuck found us in the bar (yes, we spent a lot of time there) and dropped off the pictures from our snorkeling sessions and spent some time with us talking about coast guard politics and showing us places we should drive to on the island.

We tried to do some snorkeling but the sea was way too rough

We found this guy early in the evening after things had begun to cool off.

I’m cold and tired, won’t you help me into that bush?

We both wanted to give him a hand (for those that don’t know, we’ve raised Iguanas) but given that he’s wild and we didn’t have any leather gloves, we decided he’d have to drag himself over to the nearest bush. Took him about 30 minutes.

While that was going on, I was taking long exposure shots of the waves.

Ahh the softness of the ocean

We closed out the day with a light dinner of cheese and crackers on the balcony, watching the end of season 7.1 of Mad Men while the stars came out.

Thursday May 14

Buck Island tour day.

We made it out to Christiansted with time to spare, got on the boat manned by Captain Steve and mates Andy & Mike and sped off to the West end of Buck Island where some of the passengers received a snorkel lesson while Susan and I swam about and walked on the beach.

The sand was incredibly soft and bright white. After walking about a bit and marveling at the pristine beach that we were getting footprints all over, we jumped into the water to look for critters.

We were lucky enough to catch sight of a couple of stingray with fishy compatriots.

Their companions didn’t look like remora but they were certainly keeping up with the rays.

Then of course there was the incredibly tasty-looking lobster.

You will not have me, human

Did I mention that the beaches were all clean and soft? They were.

Afterwards we got back on the boat and slipped on over to the East side where the tour areas were. We had to go through a somewhat silly “tour” with signs on the floor of the ocean and us sort of attempting to follow our guide. About half of the signs were covered with sand and unreadable.

This sign, we could read.

After the tour we were left to our own devices, chasing fish and coral (coral is really hard to chase) about the sea.

pom pom coral

After an hour or so we got back on the boat and headed off to the barbecue beach, somewhere in Coakley Bay. While the guides were cooking up lunch, we got to meet the resident mongeeses. Pete and Doug. Pete’s a girl but they didn’t know that until after the name had stuck.

Give me the hot dog or I’ll take your arm off

After much eating of hot dogs, hamburgers and fish we slowly paddled back to Christiansted. Actually they used the sails but the progress was slow enough that it felt like paddling. No doubt the slower travel back was to give us time to digest, get over all the rum punches and enjoy the scenery a bit more.

Back at the Palms, we enjoyed the beach a bit more before our usual stop at the bar and then bed.

night, night St Croix

Friday May 15

Today we had a car. It was just a Yaris with manual window controls, but it got us from point A to point B.

We started by wandering the scenic track shown to us by Chuck and even attempted to find LEAP but there was no signage and our paper map and Google both disagreed on where it was supposed to be. We even tried to call but not even a machine picked up. Maybe next trip.

Eventually we found ourselves in Frederiksted and stopped for lunch at Turtles Deli (terrible web site) where we had some enormous and delicious sandwiches. We fed some chickens with the remaining crust and had fun getting the chicks to run about chasing bread.

Afterwards we walked about and discovered that without cruise ships, Frederiksted is practically a ghost town.

Why are the ships gone?

In the evening we went off to have a tour of the local bio bay via Brian of Virgin Kayak Tours. Brian’s a very knowledgeable and chatty sort who will keep you entertained from beginning to end. Also, Virgin’s kayaks are great foot-paddle affairs that make it easy to move about and keep your hands free for stirring up the water.

We had a good tour. It was so dark that Venus was actually too bright. We had a good showing of the little dinoflagellates though. Plenty of sparkling in the water when we ran our hands through.

Unfortunately getting a picture of them is very difficult. We do not have a $2,000.00 camera. Ask Brian about that.

We caught a little light…

We learned about the facility that NOAA is proposing to put around the bay and if you get a chance, vote against it. They weren’t even aware that this was a bio bay, have proposed mooring their ships in the bay and haven’t done a ecological impact study. What the hell were they thinking?

We also learned a bit about the indigenous people that lived on the island before Columbus came along.

After the tour we went into Eat @ Cane Bay where they were kind enough to get us some fries to eat, good lime drinks to drink and talk with us while they closed up the restaurant.

Saturday May 16

We decided to have breakfast at the Palms today so that meant we got out of bed at a reasonable hour.

The Palms was getting ready for a prom celebration this evening.

After breakfast at the Palms and some nice rain showers we went back into Christiansted to wander about.

Naturally, there were chickens.

By 5:30 we were back in the ocean, yay!

It’s an island of sargassum. Interesting in the evening though.

Sunday May 17

Today it was time to head to the East for new sights and beaches.

Our first stop was at the VLBA antenna.

Followed by wandering about Point Udall

and then Isaac Bay for some great snorkeling.

Leave me alone, I’m trying to hide

The stingray would have preferred we left him alone but he stayed in the area and we ran across him several times.

I’m out of here

Susan found some pretty squid

As well as some glowy fish

The bay was great. Fairly calm waters inside the reef and when we arrived there were no other people. By the time we were done snorkeling 6 other people had shown up but when we were ready to leave we had the beach all to ourselves though we did pass another couple headed in on the trail as we were headed out.

With an afternoon of hiking, snorkeling and baking in the sun behind us we headed back to the Palms where we went iguana hunting. We found one female that had settled in for the night in a fairly low bush.

If I stay very still, you won’t see me

She was still in the exact same spot the next morning.

Monday May 18

Another morning in Christiansted, starting off with a glass fusing workshop with Nicole at True Blue Art Studio where Susan and I made a couple of pieces that Nicole was nice enough to drop off at the Palms that afternoon.

After the workshop we wandered about looking at the town and doing some shopping

until we were hungry, and moved on to Harvey’s for lunch.

After lunch we went back to the beach and had a good walkabout.

Until it was time to retire to our balcony for drinks and watching the sun set. Once the Caribbean Night festivities were completed and the kitchen open for general orders again we ordered pizza in the room for dinner. Yummy and hot and way too much food but we ate all of it anyway.

May 19

Sigh. Our last morning.

To the beach!

Snorkeling and lounging as long as possible.

One last drink and chicken salad sandwiches before heading to the airport.

12 hours later we were back home with our puppies.

Author: Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

2 thoughts on “St. Croix 2015”

  1. Your visit blog gave me the twinge to see ‘ol Christainsted. I lived/worked on st croix for 8 years in the 80’s. Never had the slightest desire to return, before. lol Thanks a lot!

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