We first went to the Virgin Islands National Park about eight weeks after 9/11. It was an especially sad time on the Islands and times were tough. We were there when American Airlines 587 crashed in Queens on November 12, 2001. Everyone on the Islands immediately assumed (including us) that it was another attack. We found it difficult to get into vacation mode.
Today USVI has recovered nicely. St. Thomas is experiencing a mini-economic boom. There is new building everywhere and the Port of Charlotte Amalie gets as many as five cruise ships a day. St. John, the home of Virgin Islands National Park. has excellent tourist traffic. The “viz” for the future of the Islands is bright.
During our first visit to USVI my family talked me into going on a snorkeling trip. I didn’t want to do it. I feared the ocean–I think ultimately my fear was rooted in the ’70s classic Jaws. After a 45 minute catamaran ride I reluctantly “splashed” into the warm salt water at Honeymoon Beach in the National Park. In many ways, that splash was a transformative experience for me. I was so struck by the peace and beauty of the reef that my fears melted away almost instantly. That day, I made three snorkeling runs and convinced our family that that we needed to do it a few more times during our five day trip. They began to jokingly call me “Don of the Deep”.
For the next several years after we visited the Virgin Islands we planned our vacations around tropical locales primarily to enjoy the warm salt water and beaches. I learned how to scuba dive. Each trip we made to the Caribbean or to Hawaii I planned a snorkeling and a dive trip. Eventually I got into the water with sharks and did so several times. Before I decided to give up diving due to a health problem, I splashed thirty times. My last dive was in Aruba in 2008.
I knew that this trip (our fourth) to the Virgin Islands National Park that I wanted to share my passion for the ocean with our readers. I went snorkeling for two hours while we were at the National Park and shot 117 photos at Trunk Bay. Visibility was good, the water was warm and the coral was truly awesome:
This Elkhorn was a little deeper:
There were literally millions of Anchovies on the reef:
Brain Coral is always easy to identify:
Fish relating to the Fan Coral:
While snorkeling don’t forget to shoot a few surface level photos. You might get something special:
We have been asked many times already which of the National Parks we have visited so far is our favorite. To me, that is an easy question. It is hard to improve upon the good viz we enjoyed at Virgin Islands National Park.