Thanks to my Dad, Jack Smith, (not pictured!) for contributing this post. And for taking me to the beach often growing up. So began my love of island life!
I love visiting St. Croix, fell in love the first time I visited. That was for my oldest daughter’s destination wedding, eight years ago. Months later, when she and her new husband decided to move here as permanent residents, I was tickled pink. I was thrilled to have a true connection with the island, even if it is in a purely vicarious fashion.
I’d come visit, and every time I went through the same wonderful set of emotions: get on the first plane with the first connection, usually DFW, a very busy airport and a rush to catch the next plane. So far, nothing at all special. But the next leg took me to either Miami or San Juan, both of which featured restaurants with a little more Caribbean flare and food choices. While Miami was always busy, it still had a more tropical, international feel, which at least started to get me in the Caribbean mood, and certainly decompressed my usual “continental” fully-wound mode. If the stop was San Juan, the same thing happened, in a bit more exaggerated manner.
Then the final leg to St. Croix! This is where I really started to get in the Caribbean mindset. As soon as I saw the gate agent put that STX tag on my suitcase, I started smiling. Now I get on a plane, often with a good percentage of the passengers heading home. I love to strike-up conversations with those folks, as I’m always amazed at the wide scope of careers and occupations that take place here. I also love the soft, Caribbean/Crucian dialect that many of the locals speak. It’s almost like learning another language. But with the help of a book my daughter provided as a gift, I can usually make sense of most conversations, and occasionally even have a semi-intelligent (maybe even appropriate) response.
Then it’s time to get off the plane, and this is pure St. Croix. First of all, they wheel up a staircase… A STAIRCASE. You actually get some fresh air and get to walk on ground that at all other airports nowadays is extremely restricted… the tarmac. Just try and walk right next to the planes in Atlanta, Dallas, or any other commercial carrier airport. At best you’re detained all afternoon, more likely arrested and put in jail. Next you walk outdoors… no cramped up jet ways and hustling airport hallways, just a short distance and claim your luggage at an open-air baggage carousel… how cool is that! If you haven’t figured out by now you’re in a different, better world. All you need to do is turn around and see the free Cruzan Rum tasting bar.
It doesn’t take long to notice everyone is happy here, everyone smiles and says “good day” or “good night” as the case may be (took me awhile to realize this wasn’t something people said to indicate they were sleepy).
After several trips, I realized that St. Croix has a certain magic it casts over a person. Once it’s in your blood, you don’t want to leave. And if you have to leave, you want something to anchor you here, something that says: “I might not get to live here all the time, but this is where I belong. I have a connection here.” And of course, my thoughts then turned to… exactly what makes that kind of statement? How can I satisfy this want for an anchor? Then it was like a epiphany: buy a place! And that’s a different story for next time.
If you’re ready to purchase your “anchor” to the Caribbean, contact Chris and Kerri Hanley, the authorities on Virgin Islands Real Estate. As the top broker on-island year after year, Chris is licensed to sell on both St. Croix and St. Thomas. Start by downloading their free St. Croix Event Guide to find the ideal time for an extended visit and contact them with your island housing questions: