Island Hopping - 10 islands in one week and why St John is still the Best.
This week, I was fortunate enough to get a little time off and get in some Island Hopping and had a chance to compare islands and research Caribbean service styles. I could title this article “Why you love to hate Caribbean Service Style”, but I am not grabbing headlines with click bait. I will tell you why that when you arrive, you think the service is lazy and when you leave, you think it was amazing and why you can not wait to come back and get some more.
An amazing week is easy to have with St John as a home base. Wednesday, we went boating in the British Virgin Islands. Leaving St John on a calm sunny morning, and heading out to sea is breathtaking. The cool breeze coupled with the warm sun as the clear blue water slips beneath you under the boat. It’s transcendental. That day I took us to Tortola, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke and a quick stop at Flanagan Island to finish the day. The dark green steep hills of Tortola, the Rugged outpost and mind boggling clear waters of Norman Island, the beach life of Jost Van Dyke and the lonely majestic reefs of Flanagan Island all offered in one day what some people are not lucky enough to experience in a lifetime. Still, at the end of the day, we wanted to come home, to St John.
Friday, we literally hopped our way to Nevis, another tiny island 158 miles South East of my home in Coral Bay. That trip took us by Car to Cruz Bay, by Boat to St Thomas, by Taxi to the Cyril King Airport, by Plane to St Maarten, By Plane to Antigua, By Plane to St Kitts and by Boat to Nevis. What a day! St Thomas, a necessary evil for St John was hectic and practical. St Maarten was brief on this trip, with it’s looming over development and multi national culture clash all ready to bring luxury to the beach. Antigua proudly embracing it’s European roots and preparing for cricket matches with cheese on baguettes whilst a regatta begins just off shore. St Kitts with its fiercely proud history and independence (independent since just 1983 – a moment in history too large and so recent that men reminisce about it with a twinkle in their eye…because they lived that midnight moment.) And Nevis, with it’s small island feel and it’s single peak, a symbol of natural pride and self reliance.
So what did I learn about in such brief glimpses? Besides that we are lucky to have the opportunity to travel and experience such beautiful places. Besides that you can find diversity and kindness everywhere? Besides that each place can be so close and so far from each other; geographically, culturally, practically and most important that ever subtle VIBE? What I learned is that although Caribbean Service style may sound like an oxymoron, in fact, I believe service in the Caribbean to be some of the best in the world. To be fully served without pretentiousness and with casual style takes a talent unknown to the modern fast paced world. It is this key combination of casual attitude and full attention to detail that creates a world class experience. Day after day, travelers arrive carrying stress and quick judgment. It takes unbelievable talent to turn that around, a talent found throughout the Caribbean, but mostly on St John.
Even with my visit to the 10 very different islands this week, St John remains the best. I can say this with the confidence of experiencing hundreds of islands and destinations across the globe. St John has the unique quality of being the best of everything. The best beaches, the best food, the best service, the best accommodation options, the best access, the best infrastructure and the nicest people.
I will continue to travel with an open mind, and hope that one day, I may find a better place, but for now, St John remains on top.