Focus On Fun Travel

Monday, January 17, 2011

XM Challenge - St. Thomas, USVI

     A Southern Caribbean cruise itinerary is an excellent way to see parts of the Caribbean that are not visited as frequently as Eastern and Western.  But one common port of call for both Eastern and Western is St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  An unincorporated territory of the United States, the capital and main port is Charlotte Amalie, which is a little more than 50 miles from the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

     Known for the excellent duty free shopping here, you can find all you want if you are a shop-a-holic.  What I really like about St. Thomas, though, is the beauty of this little island.  The last time we were here was November 2009.  We chose to visit Coki Beach on the north side of the island, and also its neighboring attraction, Coral World.  We easily caught a taxi van at the port, which took the 8 of us up and over the mountain to our destination.  Along the way, we were impressed with the navigation skills of our driver on these narrow winding roads, that seem to go straight up to the sky.

     Coral world is a fun little "Sea World" attraction, with sting rays, large aquariums, even an under the bay viewing location for you to see what is not "caged."  What is most sought after though, is an opportunity to swim with sea turtles.  For those who who wish to experience the unique attraction, you will find yourself in the pool, touching and being very close to these beautiful creatures.  Barbi and I have always been bird people, so we really liked going into a large aviary that houses many beautiful and colorful lorikeets.  Here, you can feed these highly intelligent and playful birds.

     For me, the highlight of this excursion was snorkeling at Coki Beach.  My son and his friend and I actually snorkeled all the way back to the Coral World underwater observation building and back again.  Diving down 10 feet or so to look at all kinds of anemones, star fish, and just watching the fish was exilerating.

     Driving back to Charlotte Amalie, we stopped for a photo shoot overlooking the port and the city.  What an awesome sight.  Once back in the city center, we did a little shopping before heading back to the ship.  For a first visit, I felt like we got a good initial glimps into the culture of St. Thomas.  The people are friendly and inviting.  The island clean and beautiful.  I can't wait to get back there on May 16, aboard the beautiful Royal Caribbean, Serenade of the Seas.

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