USVI 20 Dec 2009 (Sun)

We arrived at the condo around 4:00 p.m. After unpacking, we headed to the beach for some snorkeling in the dimming light. The water was very clear and fairly calm. We snorkeled out to Prettyklip Point.  It looked very promising, but there wasn’t enough light to bring out the colors.

Afterward, we headed to a nearby grocery store for some supplies. The we returned to the condo for sandwiches and a game of Quirkle Cubes, which Derek won.

USVI 21 Dec 2009 (Mon)

After breakfast in the condo, we headed to Coki Beach. We were there early enough to beat the crowd. We snorkeled the rocks on the western end of the beach. We saw a trumpetfish with a bright blue snout.

After an hour, we got out of the water and walked along the beach to the rocks near Coral World. We snorkeled there for about 15 more minutes.

We returned to the condo for lunch. Then we headed to the water in front of the condo. This time we looked in the grass beds and then headed northwest toward Cabes Point. We snorkeled all the way out to the point.  There was an area at the point where the snorkeling was quite good.

After an hour and 10 minutes, we returned to the beach, then to the condo to clean up.

Teagan and I took the Jeep up to Mountaintop. It was shut down. We got some good views of the island from the 1500 ft. elevation, but it was a ghost town. On the way back to the condo, we stopped at Drake’s Seat for a nice view of Magan’s Bay. Drake’s fleet wasn’t there.

We returned to the condo to make spaghetti. Afterward, we played Hearts. Derek won.

USVI 22 Dec 2009 (Tue)

After breakfast in the condo, we boarded a boat at the nearby marina for a snorkeling trip.  Our first stop was Little St. James Island.  Derek saw an eagle ray right after he got in the water.  The area was very colorful with the usual complement of reef fish.  We stayed in the water for an hour.  The water temperature was about 80 degrees.

Our next stop was Cow and Calf Rocks.  There were walls down to about 30 feet.  On the shallow side of the reef, there was a lot of coral close to the surface, so the color was very good.  We saw two turtles, lots of fish.

After the boat trip, we returned to the condo for sandwiches.  Then we took a drive along the north shore of the island to Magen’s Bay.  It is a U-shaped bay with a nice beach at the bottom of the U.  It is a public park with an entrance fee, currently $4/person.

The beach was pretty crowded on the east end where the services are.  We walked the entire beach and took a few pictures.  We left around 4:00 and headed to a grocery store for some supplies.

We returned to the condo and made pepperoni pizza from our grocery supplies.

USVI 23 Dec 2009 (Wed)

We were up early to catch the 8:30 barge to St. John.  We left Cruz Bay on St. John around 9:00 to explore.  We stopped at the National Park Ranger Station in Cruz Bay to learn that the surf on the north side was pretty bad, so we headed around to Salt Pond Bay which is located on the south side.  We got there around 11:00 a.m. and snorkeled for about an hour.  We didn’t see as much there as our other snorkels, but we did see a turtle, schools of needle fish, and very large tangs and parrot fish.

Afterward, we headed to The Tourist Trap for some lunch.  Then on to Anaberg for a tour of the sugar factory ruins.  Then back to Cruz Bay for some shopping.  After that we went back to the ferry dock at 5:20 to make sure we were in line early enough to make the last ferry back.

We returned to the condo for some chicken with brown and wild rice.

USVI 24 Dec 2009 (Thu)

We had cheese omelets for breakfast in the condo, then Derek, Teagan, and I headed into Charlotte-Amalie to look at the shops.  There was a large shopping district along the waterfront back to Main Street (one block).  We looked in several souvenir stores.  Some of the shops were pleasant, but most had aggressive salespeople who wouldn’t leave us alone.

Derek and Teagan bought a few items.  Then we headed back to the condo for sandwiches.

After lunch, we loaded up to to snorkeling at Secret Harbor.  We had talked to a boat captain in the nearby dive shop who said the south side of the island was probably our best bet for snorkeling because of the wind direction.

We had a little trouble finding the correct turn-off, since it wasn’t marked with either a name or a number.  But we finally arrived at the Secret Harbor Resort parking lot.  We unloaded and headed to the rocks on the south side of the beach.

Linda was first into the water, followed by Derek.  Derek quickly returned before Teagan and I were fully in.  He was having a serious leak in his mask.  We were looking over his mask for a few minutes.  Before we had it figured out, Linda returned.  The visibility was pretty bad all the way out to the south point.

We moved over to the rocks along the north side of the bay, but it was just as bad.  So we packed it in and headed back to the condo.  Teagan and I build a sand castle on the beach while Linda snorkeled out to the rocks on the southeast side of the beach.

Derek came to the beach to see the sand castle, then Teagan, Derek, and I played a pickup beach volleyball game with some other people form the condos.

We ate supper in our condo in an effort to use up some of the food we brought from the states.  We had tuna/salmon melt hoagies, mac&cheese, and fiesta rice.  Teagan made brownies for dessert.

We all played two games of pinnocle afterward.

USVI 25 Dec 2009 (Fri)

Teagan and I went to Coral World at Coki Point soon after they opened.  We started with the shark/ray tank, then went to the underwater viewing area.  This is a building that allows you to descend below the water level to the reef offshore.  You can look through viewing windows to see the reef.  The visibility was ok, but not great.  We saw an unusual number of trumpet fish there, along with the usual other reef fish.

We looked at the sea turtles on the way back in, then went to the lorakeet aviary.  From there, we went into a building that had lots of acquariums set up.  The displays were very nice.  There was an area in there lit only by uv light to show reef creatures at night.  We were able to see coral with their soft tissue exposed as they do at night.

From there we saw a ray petting tank, then a nature trail that had lots of land turtles.  Then we went to the large acquarium full of large reef fish.  Its set up so the viewers stand in a large circle and look out to see the tank, which is like a giant torus.  The fish tend to swim around the circle so you can really just stand in one spot and see the fish swim by.  Then when you walk around the circle, you can see the stationary creatures.

We hit the gift shop, then headed back to the condo.  We ate lunch there, and headed to the beach to snorkel the point just southwest of the condo.  Derek’s mask was leaking, so he headed in quickly.  Teagan was having fogging problems, and since the visibility wasn’t that good, she headed in too.  They went back to the condo.  Linda and I swam around the point and came in in front of the condo.  Then we walked the the northwest end of the beach and swam out to that point.  The visibility was a lot better there and we had a pretty good snorkel.

When walked back the the beach in front of the condo and we played on the beach there.  Derek, Teagan, and I played volleyball, but we only picked up one other player, so we had to play 2-on-2 on the full-size court.

We ate supper at the condo and played cards afterward.

USVI 26 Dec 2009 (Sat)

Teagan got up early to head to the water for a windsurfing lesson.  We got there a little after 8:00 a.m., but the instructor said he was short-handed until 10:00 and we should come back then.

Derek, Teagan and I played frisbee in water while we were waiting.  It was a little difficult because the water got deep quickly off the beach.  So were were trying to throw in chest deep water.  We also had to watch out for the rocks.  But we did ok.

We checked back a little after 10:00 at the dive shop and set up a lesson for 10:30.  Teagan got some instruction on land for about 15 minutes, then headed out to water.  The instructor followed her in a kayak to give further instruction.

There was very little wind to practice on, but Teagan learned the basics.  After the hour lesson, since there wasn’t enough wind to do much with, we headed back to the condo for lunch.

After lunch, Linda headed down to the beach with her snorkeling gear and a floatie.  She explored the point southeast of the condo.  A little later, Teagan and I went snorkeling out to Cabes Point northwest of the  condo.

Linda had good visibility on her snorkel at Prettyklip Point and said it was great.  Teagan and I had limited visibility.  The only saving event on our trip was that as we come coming in, we saw 3 cuddlefish.  They were very reclusive and did a good job keeping their distance as we tried to get close to them.

We returned to the condo and cleaned up.  Teagan and I drove over to the Botanical Gardens.  We got there around 3:00 p.m.  We looked at the gift shops, went to the observation deck for a great view of Magen’s Bay with Jost van Dyke, Tortola, and St. John in the background, and did the short boardwalk through the gardens.

The gardens were very lush with all sorts of plants I’d never heard of and only a few that I recognized.  Many were labeled.  Several caged parots added to the tropical feel of the walk.

We looked around the property a little more, but we didn’t go into the Great House since it was almost closing time.  We returned to the condo to get ready for supper.

We ate supper at Iggie’s at the Bolonga Bay Resort.  The food there was quite good.  Teagan had crab cakes, Richard Mahi-Mahi, and Linda and Derek had fish and chips.  Teagan and Richard’s entrees came with vegetables, rice, black beans, and fried plantains.  Karaoke was going to start at 9:00 p.m., but we were out of there by then.

We returned to the condo and played cards.

USVI 27 Dec 2009 (Sun)

Since this is our last day in the condo, we had large cheese omelets for breakfast to get rid of the remaining eggs.  Then Linda headed down to the water with her snorkeling gear and a floatie to check out at Prettyklip Point.  Teagan and I followed soon thereafter.  Derek stayed in the condo to read.

Teagan and I entered from the beach nearest the marina an swam straight out from shore rather than heading directly for the point.  It was overcast, but we could see pretty well in the shallow water.  There were lots of reef fish in that area, especially blue tangs and sergeant majors.  We headed toward the point so I could take pictures of the coral formations.  The we swam out to meet Linda.

She was out pretty far, and there was a current out there, so we headed back to the point.  She surf was difficult to content with there, so we headed back to the condo side of the point, then on to shore.  Linda was in for about 70 minutes.  Teagan and I were in for about 50.

Once ashore, we got Teagan set up to go windsurfing again.  She took off about 10:30 using a board with a training sail.  The wind was around 5 mph, but variable.  She did well for about an hour, but the wind carried her around the  point on the northwest side of the beach, so the staff took a jet ski out to bring her back.

After we got the windsurfer turned in, we headed back to the condo to pack and head to the airport.

The flight left around 5:15 USVI time and arrived in Atlanta at 8:10 EST.  We caught a shuttle back the the Hampton Inn where we parked our car ($7/day) and headed home.  We arrived home at 12:30 a.m. CST Monday morning.