White top- vintage; Striped shorts – See by Chloe; Black sunglasses – Prada; Green t-shirt – Topshop; White shorts – Abercrombie & Fitch; Pink sunglasses – Dolce & Gabbana; Sneakers – Converse; Crochet Dress – Topshop, very similar here; Black dress – Zara.
It feels very strange to live on a Caribbean island and be able to wake up in the morning and say ‘let’s get the ferry to America today’! But that’s exactly what we did when we went to the US Virgin Islands for a long weekend. I used to think of the Caribbean almost as one homogenous tropical country – but it’s amazing just how different all the countries and territories actually are. We arrived in the capital of St John – Cruz Bay – where you can definitely feel the US influence with its busy shops, resorts and American food-oriented restaurants. We had lunch in Cruz bay but I was anxious to see our hotel room which was on the other side of the island so we got in our very Caribbean lime-green Wrangler rental and set off.
I know that some people manage to taxi around St John when they visit but I really would recommend renting a car. That way you can really explore the island’s myriad beaches and trails – all accompanied by some awesome tunes! I’d say put your feet on the dashboard but don’t attempt if you get a Wrangler. It’s narrow. I’d been looking at places to stay in St John for ages, and although I would never have thought to stay in a tent, pictures kept popping up on Tripadvisor for Concordia Eco-Resort in Coral bay and it looked amazing. I booked and we weren’t disappointed. The rooms are gorgeous, and not really comparable to your average DIY I’ve-lost-a-pole-hook-what-do-I-do-now festival tent. I dutifully did my research and picked the most popular room, p12, as reviews said it had the best views and they were not wrong. All of the windows and the balcony looked out south-east to amazing uninterrupted views of the ocean, including the bathroom. There’s something about taking a shower while looking at precipitous views of the ocean that’s just unbeatable.
Concordias’ tents are eco-tents which means that everything is solar-powered and the only way to charge anything is to leave it at reception. It also means no hairdryers or straighteners :-0 ! But that’s pretty much as camping-like as it gets. The only issue we had was the wind. Having the best view on the cliff meant that we were battered from each side by pretty strong trade winds (at least it wasn’t hot!) which was quite noisy. The next night we bought earplugs and it was actually lovely to sleep with the ocean breeze. I’m not much of a poetry buff but being in a tent with the ocean breeze blowing through reminded me of a line from a Ted Hughes poem about a house in a storm; ‘This house has been far out at sea all night.’ That’s exactly what it felt like.
That afternoon we did the Ram’s Head trail, which leaves from nearby the eco-tents. The trail goes from woods, to cactus shrub, past amazing white-sand and pebble beaches up to the top of a hill with interesting-looking cacti and amazing panoramic views of the ocean. I was surprised to discover that 2/3 of St John is actually national park, but it would explain why we saw so many animals – deer, mongoose, turtles, rays, lots of tropical fish etc. In fact the snorkelling was amazing at St John. We found the best place to be the weedy bits of Watermelon Cay, where we followed baby turtles and a sting ray.
The second day was our designated chill-out beach day. We chose the beaches on the north side – which are of the paradisiacally clear, turquoise sea, white sand type. Almost as good as just chilling and paddling on the beaches is the panoramic view of all of them from the Annaberg sugar-mill. The arid land and turquoise sea reminded me a lot of family holiday trips to Sardinia when I was younger.
Where to stay: Eco-concordia tents – Stay here! Bring earplugs and insect-repellant. If you can, ask for rooms p10 or p12, although they all have ocean views. I’d also recommend here if like me you prefer to stay on the side of the island with a more typically Caribbean, laid-back, village-y feel.
Where to Eat: Zozo’s – Since we were economising by staying in the tents, we decided to splash out at Zozo’s, an Italian restaurant near Cruz Bay. The individual ingredients are delicious and the wine list is awesome. Try to get here before dark if you can as the grounds and views are beautiful. For pre-dinner cocktails get the Martini, I couldn’t stop eating the blue-cheese olives! In your tent – On our last night we decided to cook on our little, two-hob stove and have a romantic meal on our balcony.