The US Virgin Islands: A Country of Contrasts

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I recently had the immense pleasure of spending a week in St. Thomas, USVI. I was there on a photo shoot and took a little time to explore the islands.


The US Virgin Islands are comprised of a few islands in the Caribbean near Puerto Rico. The most inhabited island, St. Thomas, is the largest location of the island’s capital, Charlotte Amailie. It is also the port of entry for most visitors, like myself. St. John and St. Croix are the other primary islands most often visited. I spent most of my time in St. Thomas but also explored St. John for an afternoon.


Both St. Thomas and St. John are breathtakingly beautiful. The white sand beaches are plentiful and the azure water is crystal clear. It’s a haven for sea turtles and coral reefs. It’s no surprise that snorkeling, paddle boarding, and other water sports are so popular. Due to work, I was unable to participate in the water activities but I saw fins and snorkels floating along the surface all day long. I did have time to explore various bays and mountaintop overlooks while not shooting the resort. In my opinion, St. John is more photogenic and genteel and definitely the preferred island to stay.


The US Virgin Islands are a territory of contrasts. Although I was mesmerized by the mountains falling into the sea, white strips of sand separating lush green tropical foliage and the turquoise Caribbean Sea, I was taken aback by the underlying resentment and animosity of the native West Indian people. As I understand it, the islands were under Dutch rule until they gained their independence 100 years ago. Bad memories linger, I suppose. My intent is not to dwell on the discontentment of the native people. However, the feeling is palpable. I have visited other Caribbean nations where the native people were genuinely happy to see me arrive.


Unfortunately, I did not find that genuine warmth an hospitality in the US Virgin Islands. Fortunately the natural beauty of the islands – pristine beaches, mountainous terrain, sea life, and cool breezes overshadowed the negatives and make the islands a wonderful vacation spot for a few days.