June 2004by Severine Degnan, Michael Chisholm and Bill Chittick
Monday morning we sailed out of Great Cruz Bay with Captain Rusty to the leeward side of Little St. James where we donned snorkel and fins and then dove in to see what we could see. Brilliant corals and deep underwater canyons provided a colorful backdrop for a dozen species of fish. The highlight for Sev was spotting a sea turtle munching on the waving sea grass. Lunch was at Rhumb Line, a fun, alfresco restaurant in Cruz Bay with a funky mélange of Polynesian, Mexican and tropical cuisines. After a relaxing lunch, we drove over to Caneel Bay Resort for our afternoon appointment, truly a beautiful spot! The resort has over 170 acres of manicured grounds with seven beaches. Little golf-cart trams loop around the property every 15 minutes and the absence of motor vehicles really makes you feel as if you've stepped back in time. The rooms are all tastefully done in a unique style – some with native stonework, some bleached wood and jalousies. They're not over the top or splashy, but simply relaxing in a timeless way. We had dinner in the elegant Turtle Bay Estate House, a superb setting with extremely fine dining and an impressive wine list of more than 265 selections. After touring the Westin Hotel the next morning, we ended our St. John trip at a favorite local spot, the Lime Inn. Limin' is the West Indian expression for relaxing, which is just what we did in this casual, outdoor spot.
After lunch we boarded the ferry in Cruz Bay and headed for Red Hook, St. Thomas, a 20-minute trip across the blue water between the two islands. When we arrived we headed straight for the supermarket and purchased sea bass, Mahi Mahi, New York Sirloin and salad fixings for a fine, fresh dinner in our villa. Dinner was delicious, compliments to chefs Sev, Michael and Bill. Wednesday we had a busy day of touring villas and opted for dinner in Frenchtown, an area west of Charlotte Amalie where we felt like we were miles from anywhere. We spent another busy morning Thursday touring villas, then slowed down a notch at lunchtime for a barefoot meal at the Blue Moon Café at the Secret Harbor Beach Resort. One Beach Road (Villa MA ONE) was our lone afternoon villa visit – but what a treat! Located right on the beach, this brand new modern luxury villa with cool details comes equipped with a pool and Jacuzzi. Following our tour of the villa, we were treated to a private tour of Coral World. We arrived just in time for the 3:15 fish feeding and watched a SCUBA diver hand-feed the barracuda and other fish. The four-and-a-half-acre marine park is anchored by a three-story aquarium. The top floor observation deck provides a panoramic view of the area and the middle floor is a 50,000-gallon circular predator tank with sharks, moray eels and stingrays. The bottom floor is an underwater observatory showcasing the free-ranging sea life surrounding the islands. Although we came too late in the day to catch the last underwater trekking tour, we had a great time petting the stingrays and seeing the giant turtles.
Our last evening in the islands we had dinner with several of our local friends and reps at Banana Tree Grill in Blue Beard's Castle. The unbelievable menu choices - Brie in puff pastry with raspberry and coffee nut sauces, mussels, heart of palms salad, ciabatta bread with rosemary and olive oil, salmon and caviar with pink vodka sauce over penne, confit of duck pared with pan-roasted duck, pecan crusted Mahi Mahi served with cognac peach sauce, lobster tempura with wasabi potatoes – were matched only by the fabulous view of the lights twinkling over Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the convivial, charming company. This exceptional meal and enchanting evening was a great way to end our "tour of the world" in the US Virgin Islands.
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