The countdown is on for the second of what has every likelihood of becoming an annual trek across land and sea to the beautiful island of St. Thomas. It’s not a party mecca like Cancun or a mega-resort like Atlantis, but if all you really want to do is sit on a secluded beach with a stack of good books you’ve been meaning to read or belly up to the pool bar for a few rounds of Cruzan rum punch, this place fills the bill very, very nicely. For five days at least, the only plan is to eat well, drink well, sleep well, and repeat as necessary.
If I’m feeling adventurous, it’s a night of bar-hopping in Red Hook or the search for duty free local booze and rum cakes in Charlotte Amalie. For the record, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort isn’t anything flashy and it’s about as far from the Ritz as you can get… literally and figuratively. It’s low key and a little dated but the beach is only three steps outside the room, the tiki bar is maybe 30 paces past that, and they have one of the best steaks I’ve had anywhere in my travels at their Lobster Grill. If your expecting luxury, I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you really just don’t want to give a damn about anything, this is the place for you.
One of the real perks of the USVI is that it’s a “domestic” trip. That means no passport necessary. You’re not going to be subject to foreign laws, you’re not going to get caught between warring drug cartels, and if the worst does happen, you’re still protected by American law. Running into those issues has never been an issue for me, but knowing it’s different-but-not-foreign is actually a little comforting. For all good things, there is the inevitable down side. In this case the first of them was the gang-rape I was subjected to at the hands of Delta Airlines. I won’t go into details, but will say that my AmEx now has a smoking hole in it thanks to two tickets from Memphis.
The problem with the travel bug is that it can be a painfully expensive disease, especially when you’re use to doing your traveling on Uncle Sam’s credit card. Because it’s an island, anything that can’t be grown natively has to be brought in by air or sea… and that means everything is expensive. The all-inclusive package mitigates that for dinner and booze, but if you want a snack “on the economy” you’re going to pay big for the privilege. In most places in the Caribbean, tourists benefit from a relatively strong dollar when compared to the local currency. Since St. Thomas is a US Territory, their currency is the dollar. What that mostly means is that you’re not going to get the bang for the buck you would get going elsewhere. For me, the few extra dollars are offset by the fact that everyone speaks English (more or less). You can still find some deals at the duty free shops and if you’re planning to keep most of your gluttony on the resort, you won’t spend that much anyway. Long story short… I’m not quite to the point of counting days, but Mid-May can’t get here soon enough. I fell better just knowing there’s a mark on the wall out there and that good things are coming.