Hello Friends and Family,

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

In 1972, I took a trip to the Caribbean to visit the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. If you look at this photo, it looks like we are about to be run over by that taxi. However, nothing to worry about — they drive on the left side of the road there — the photo was taken from the back seat of the taxi taking me to town from the airport. Curiously, most of the vehicles are American with the steering wheel on the left side of the vehicle. History made it all so.

I stayed at a self-described boutique hotel named Club Comanche in the largest town on the island, Christiansted. Out of curiosity, I looked online and they are still in business although, like on the mainland, the hotel business has had to take measures to protect both guests and workers in the midst of the pandemic. The location overlooks the Christiansted harbor and is, per their website, "near the newly opened downtown casino, and within a short walk to art galleries, duty-free shops, custom jewelers, fine restaurants and waterfront bars, excursion boat operators, dive shops and the seaplane terminal".

Seaplane terminal? I remember that. There is a ramp leading from the water which allowed a seaplane with wheels to propel itself out of the sea and on to dry land for passengers to disembark and replacements to board for the next leg of its journey. It was fascinating to watch — also, very loud when the pilot wound the propellers to provide enough force to get the plane out of the water.

They had (and still have) a very nice restaurant which was always a great alternative if you did not want to wander about town looking for a place to eat. You may notice from the photo that the grounds were nicely landscaped to get you in that island frame of mind for your vacation.

Looking at the photos made me realize that, at the time, the hotel may have been in need of a bit of refurbishment. The photos on their website now make it evident that the management has put time and money into improving the physical plant to make it more appealing for the modern traveler.

The hotel overlooks Christiansted Harbor — here you see the Comanche Mill Club that features a mill replica built along the Christiansted Harbor Boardwalk that once served as an island wedding chapel. It is a lovely spot to relax and watch the boats (and seaplanes) coming and going.

There are no piers at this spot, so the boats are moored in what looks like a random pattern. I presume someone offers the owners a quick boat ride out to their yacht and brings them back to sure after a day of sailing. I would love to try sailing that trimaran in the right-center of the picture. Who wants to join me?

Out in the bay is the Hotel on the Cay ("cay" meaning small island). I was curious but too timid in those days to find out if I could go over to explore. Opportunity missed!

Tripadvisor.com says, "Step into an atmosphere of casual elegance during your visit to our inviting private island retreat. If your idea of a Caribbean vacation includes unforgettable sunsets, white sand beaches, and the simple phrase “no problem,” this is the place for you! Hotel on the Cay offers you the best vacation value in the Caribbean. Located on a private cay in the Caribbean Sea, our 53-room resort provides for an unforgettable vacation experience that is ideal for couples, families, and adventure seekers. Here guests can dine at our on-site restaurant, unwind with a refreshing swim in the pool, enjoy water sports at our activity center and explore the historical sights, eateries, shops, and entertainment located on the boardwalk just minutes away by private complimentary boat. A quaint, pristine beach overlooks Christiansted Harbor’s beautiful boats, which makes for perfect photos at sunset. As the only beach in downtown Christiansted, you will enjoy swimming and snorkeling the amazing undersea world surrounding the cay. Hotel on the Cay will provide bountiful sunshine, bright turquoise seas teeming with life, refreshing trade winds, and a place to lay your head at the end of each memorable day."

Some years later, my mom's company had a retreat at the Hotel on the Cay. She said it was "Wonderful". Especially, since the company paid for everything.


Time to get out and explore. The streets are narrow but perfect for walking. Lots of duty-free shops for the shoppers among the tourists.

So typical here — a small opening between buildings and shops beckons. Curious that this spot offers a women's shop opposite a men's shop. Both sexes can be outfitted at the same time.

Much of the town has this type of covered walkway. This being the Caribbean, it rains frequently but mostly for short periods. The walkway keeps you dry.

At the time I visited, there were a number of buildings that had been burned down leaving the rock, coral, and brick foundation but nothing else. I presume that the real estate is valuable enough now that these have been rebuilt to take advantage of the free-spending travelers.

Another street scene — more of St. Croix next week.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com