A strategic point of the Virgin Islands: Water Island
Water Island is about 4 kilometres from St. Thomas. Because of its advantageous location, it was an important strategic site both throughout the colonial period and during the world wars.
During Danish administration, numerous pirates came to the island to hide from the settlers’ ships and control towers; it was also easier for them to target trade ships that came to the port of St. Thomas from here.
Water Island was also the final of the Virgin Islands to be bought by the US, in 1944. The US administration established the island as a strategic control post from the start, commencing with the construction of Fort Segurra.
In actuality, the island was only designated as the fourth American Virgin Island in 1996. Prior to this date, the island had been “leased” by Water Philips, an American entrepreneur who erected mansions and hotels on it. The licence was later transferred to Edward McArdle, but after a hurricane devastated Water Island in 1989, he abandoned his ambitions for the island.
Water Island’s environment is defined by bays and inlets, such as Honeymoon Beach, a white sand beach ideal for romantic getaways in the name of intimacy.
St. John: the jewel of the Virgin Islands
Laurence Rockefeller, the financier, stated of the island of Saint John, “This lovely country will be an enduring delight for everyone.” His remarks accurately represent the little island. He purchased a substantial portion of it himself, assisting in the establishment of the US Virgin Islands National Park, many eco-friendly resorts, and a luxury hotel.
Cruz Bay’s modest harbour is easily accessible from St. Thomas. This island is excellent for travellers and is perhaps the greatest option for people seeking a calm holiday immersed in nature. In reality, the majority of the area is part of the National Park, which is also a UNESCO Protected Biosphere.
If Cruz Bay is colourful and joyful, Coral Bay on the other side of the island is serene. Despite the fact that it is largely a fishing and agricultural community, there are plenty of coastal locations for fantastic cuisine and live music.
Even in St. John, you can dive and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, including Salt Pond Bay Beach, Lameshur Beach, and Haulover Bay, which is ideal for snorkelling.
The island’s beauty does not stop with the beaches and the lovely bottom, where tropical fish and coral reefs may be seen. On this island, there are numerous historic Danish plantation ruins dating back to the 18th century, most of which are concentrated in the Great Cinnamon Bay area.
St. Croix: between forest and colonial towns
Saint Croix is the biggest of the US Virgin Islands and also has the best maintained colonial building architecture.
With such a big area, St. Croix has a diverse range of sceneries, vegetation, and animals, both on the island and in the surrounding waters. The barrier reef that surrounds Isaac Bay and Jack Bay makes human access difficult, but not for green sea turtles. The Nature Conservancy oversees a nature reserve that incorporates a substantial portion of the island’s beaches, allowing turtles to nest in peace.
Furthermore, the island is home to 100 different bird species, and the Caribbean Sea that surrounds it is home to over 400 different tropical fish. When discussing local wildlife, we must not overlook the autochthonous breed of Senepol cattle, which has a reddish coat.
The flora of St. Croix is divided into two parts: an area to the east characterised by hills and dry bush, rich in cacti, typical tropical trees, and sacred baobabs brought directly from Africa. The humid rainforest characterises the area to the west; a suggestive and unforgettable place to visit here is Mohogany Road; it is no coincidence that the mahogany tree is one of the island’s symbols.
Colonial towns to visit on St. Croix
- Christiansted: The city’s harbour area was established by the French in the mid-1600s, although it was at its best during Danish administration. The city’s unique colonial monuments, with turquoise palaces and wide porticoes intended to shield itself from tropical winds and rains, are still visible today and contribute to its historical significance.
- Fort Christiansvaern: built in 1749 to protect the harbour and the residents from pirate incursions, the structure was subsequently utilised as a courtroom and jail on the island. It is now designated as a National Historic Site.
- The Steeple Building, which houses the National Park Service Museum and was the first church erected by the Danes upon their arrival on St. Croix, provides a glimpse into the island’s everyday life in previous centuries.
- The second town, Frederiksted, has a more difficult past, but it is the events that occurred in this town that gave Saint Croix the moniker of “free” American Virgin Island. Frederiksted was erected during Danish authority as well, but during the slave revolts of 1848, many of the island’s ancient structures were damaged and later rebuilt in a Victorian design.