Water crashes gently off the shores of the surrounding cliffs, then rolls casually back out towards the horizon. As the sun shines warmly overhead, the ocean breeze gently blows over the local vegetation while drying the unexpected tears I find falling from my eyes. Had this been any other location, it would have made for the classic picturesque postcard. However, despite its unmistakable beauty, it’s hard to consider any place formally known as “Suicide Cliff” … The place where many of my ancestors perished, as anything other than a place of resilience and strength.
Hey Royal Fam!
Happy Monday! Today’s travel adventure is a personal one close to my heart. If you’ve been following my recent stories on Instagram (and I hope you are), then you’re already in the know. This past week, after 6 years away, two of which were spent living abroad, I finally made it back to my home country of The United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I)!
For a bit of context, during the hurricane season of 2017, both hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean. At the hight of the storm, and in the subsequent days that followed, my Stateside family and I were glued to the news outlets and community forums such as What’s Going on in St. Thomas for by the minute updates. The word coming from each respective island was devastating … The major hospital in St. Thomas gone ... Entire neighborhoods underwater in St. Croix … Deafening silence from St. John, with no human contact since the initial hurricane hit. Ultimately, our first sighs of relief came as family still residing on these islands regained telephone capabilities or managed to send messages via word of mouth.
As the dust settled, islands throughout the region began the long and arduous task of rebuilding. Almost two years later, the U.S.V.I is still in the midst of recovery efforts after experiencing two nearly simultaneous direct hits from both Category 5 storms. Thankfully, despite the utter devastation a sense of strength and resilience continues to emerge. During my trip home, the first since renovations began post-hurricanes, I had the incredible opportunity to rediscover longstanding favorite places as well as a few new personal staples around St. Thomas. Enjoy!
The beaches in St. Thomas always bring back happy memories. As a child, I came home each year to Megan’s Bay where I ate yummy foods, listened to steel pan music playing in the distance, and swam to my heart’s content. This year I found myself at Lindbergh Bay and Secret Harbor Beach Resorts. While both offer must-haves like: beach-side food, drinks/cocktails, crystal clear water, and individual cabanas, the main difference will be accessibility and the desire for privacy.
While Emerald beach is centrally located in the heart of Charlotte Amalie and perfect for music / beach parties with friends … Secret Harbor is located off the beaten path in the countryside and has a much more relaxed profile. It’s the perfect choice for sunbathing or quiet time with the family. If I had a choice, Secret harbor is definitely a new favorite.
If you’re anything like me, food is a major part of any traveling adventure … And just like the snickers commercial, when I can’t find a satisfying meal, I turn into a major grump. After experiencing a few hits and misses meal-wise, two top contenders emerged: Vegan friendly Speedy Redemption and local favorite Ashley’s Restaurant.
Sitting on completely different sides of the culinary spectrum, I love Speedy Redemption for creating 100% healthy versions of familiar foods we all know and love … Food that actually tastes good! Trust me. I’m no vegan. As a matter of fact? I’m craving a plate of oxtail all now, LOL. That said, from banana fritters and tofu scramble ... To lentil burgers and a variety of raw juice concoctions, their meals have opened my mind to considering full-on vegan living as even possible. Who would have thought?
On the other hand, if savory, traditional island food is more your speed Ashley’s Restaurant is definitely a good look. Here in the U.S.V.I, we love a good paté (think the latin empanada’s West Indian cousin). At Ashley’s you get your choice of beef, conch, and salfish / baccalou. With a light fluffy outside and a well seasoned filling, they sell quickly, so you’re always guaranteed to have them freshly made. The menu also ranges from hearty soups to full entrees, satisfying whatever your stomach is calling for. Plus with a super convenient location (just outside the airport) it’s the perfect pit-stop after a long flight or just before heading home with a yummy souvenir. In case you’re wondering, I brought home 3 beef patés, don’t judge me!
PS: For my big breakfast lovers, check out Tickles Dockside Pub and Gladys’ Cafe … While my online fam with a sweet tooth can check out my childhood favorite Daylight Bakery And Diamond Barrel Restaurant. Pro-tip, get the mini tarts filled with your choice of guava, pineapple, or coconut. Thank me later!
Finally, if there’s one thing we love in the U.S.V.I? It’s jewelry! Just a quick glimpse around the three islands and you’ll see men, women, and children decked out in uniquely styled gold accessories. My popular “letter A” earrings that have graced countless blog and Instagram photos are just one example.
Now, while there are many jewelry stores to choose from, especially on Main Street, there’s always one store I make sure to frequent … Star Jewelers.
I’ve been visiting this shop for years with my mother and between us, we have a pretty substantial collection of necklaces, rings, bracelets … You name it! The owners have maintained the shop at the same location for over 25 years and the pricing /service is always amazing.
My latest purchase? These extra large gold hoop earrings (to match my grannie’s bangle) and hibiscus (the U.S.V.I. national flower) earrings. As always, my gold accessories tell a quietly in-depth story with special meaning. They really are my cultural reflections.
Navigating any country can be daunting if it’s your first time visiting. On the island of St. Thomas getting around can mean hopping on an open-air taxi (called a safari) or searching for reputable drivers with the local taxi association. During this recent visit home we met with Mr. Rohan Roberts who was absolutely wonderful. From secret foodie spots and details on where to stay .. To which troupe to join for jouvert during carnival … Mr. Roberts is a one-stop shop of information and taxi services. If you’re an on the go traveler and considering a trip to St. Thomas, definitely look him up!
He can be found at the following contact information and can accommodate groups of up to 20:
Tell him Angela sent you!
Alright, loves, that’s all for now. I really hope you enjoyed some of my island favorites. If you happen to visit any of these places, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to comment below or drop me a line on Instagram. Coming up in part two of my homecoming series, I’ll be sharing the experience in St. John that brought me to tears. Stay tuned loves.
As always, the Journey Continues.