9 Unusual Things You Probably Don’t Know About Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands – Caribbean Islands 1
Port of Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Located on the western tip of St. Croix (pronounced: Sahn Crwah), one of the 3 major islands that make up the US Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States of America. This is a cruise port surrounded by most important colonial attractions of the islands. In the centuries when St. Croix was still under the Danish crown, Fredriksted was a shipping port for the island’s sugar industry.
Port of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
One of the busiest ports of call for cruise ships in the Caribbean, Port of Charlotte Amalie was once a haven for pirates. Protected by Hassel Island (a smaller island of the US VI, south of St. Thomas), this harbor has a docking and fueling facilities, machine shops, shipyards a was a US submarine base until 1966. It is located on the southern shore of St. Thomas harbor.
Cruz Bay Harbor, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Nicknamed “Love City”, Cruz Bay is St. John Island‘s cruise port and located on the isle’s west coast. Access is through Cruz Bay harbor. Besides cruise vessels, the port is also frequently visited by barges and ferries connecting St. John to St. Thomas island.
About the US Virgin Islands:
An exotic group of islands along the Caribbean Sea, the US Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States since 1917. It is composed of 3 major islands – St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas with 50 smaller ones that are part of the Caribbean archipelago. When Christopher Columbus reached St. Croix in 1493, the islands were inhabited by Carib natives. He named the group of islands Santa Ursula y Las Once Mil Virgenes in honor of St. Ursula and the 11 martyred virgins.
A Spanish expedition subdues the Carib people in 1555 and claimed the islands for Spain but French and English settlers arrived in 1625 though the Spaniards drove the English in 1650, then the French conquered the islands in that same year. In 1666, Denmark claimed St. Thomas, then St. John in 1684 and divided the islands into sugarcane plantations, sending in slaves from Africa in 1673. The Danes would later buy St. Croix from the French in 1733 which became a major hub of sugarcane industry but by the early 19th century, sugar production declined due to slave revolts until it was abolished (slavery) in 1848.
As early as the 1860s, the United States has began to negotiate with Denmark in buying the islands until 1917 when it was finally ceded to the U.S.A. Tourism began to flock in the islands towards the end of World War II because of the economic embargo of the US from Cuba. Hess Oil constructed a refinery in 1966 and HOVENSA Refinery in St. Croix became one of the largest petroleum refineries until 2012. Hurricane Irma caused a catastrophic damage to the islands in Sept. 2017 and 2 weeks later by Hurricane Maria.
During my contract with M/T Fronthunter which began in September 2009, we were chartered as a liner along the US Virgin Islands group (sailing exclusively among the 3 major islands to deliver oil) by Hess Oil, a New York City, USA-based Hess Corporation owned by US billionaire Leon Hess (who also owns the New York Jets, an American football team based in New York). Each of the islands offer something different. St. Thomas, nicknamed Rock City is known for luxury as this is where the megayachts are docked with all the high-end shops at its main street. St. John (Love City) is a honeymooners’ paradise with its exclusive beach resorts while St. Croix, the Twin City (and birthplace of Tim Duncan) allows you to explore of the island’s Danish heritage. Here are 9 unusual things you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands.
The US Paid $25M In Gold From Denmark In 1917
For almost 300 years, the Danish West Indian Company owned the US Virgin Islands until 1917 when control of them was transferred to the United States of America. It paid Denmark a staggering sum of US $25M in gold just to gain control of the territory away from the Germans, an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands. The archipelago’s strategic location in the center of a shipping lane that leads to Panama Canal is an important target for the United States.
The Sea Along St. Croix Glows At Night With A “Light” Show
A rare phenomenon called bioluminescence, the water lights up at night in St. Croix as if electrified caused by the blooming of tiny planktons called dinoflagellate. Not only one but two bays where you can view the sparkling algae along the Caribbean, they are Salt River Bay and Altonna Lagoon. Depending on the right condition (moon phase and weather), night tours are offered, in glass-bottom boats so that you will have a closer look at the “light show” below, an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands.
St. John Is Home To Caribbean Sea’s Underwater National Park
Along Trunk Bay in St. John is the home of an underwater national park, one of the best places for snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. There are actually signs in the water that give you information about the marine life which you will encounter while swimming, an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands. All levels of swimmers are able to snorkel in Trunk Bay, which is perfect if you will be traveling with kids.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Is The Largest Historical Town In The US
Named after the queen consort of the Danish king, King Christian V, Charlotte Amalie (1650-1714) is the main city and capital of the US Virgin Islands, the largest historical town in the US. The houses and narrow streets of the town have distinct Danish architecture. Many of the street names still reflect its Danish past like Dronningensgade (Queen Street), Lilletarnegade (Little Tower Street) or Kongensgade (King’s Street), an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands.
St. Croix Is A Site Of A Grand Carnival, Crucian Christmas Festival
In the Caribbean islands, Carnival celebrations are the results of different festival traditions being introduced by European colonialists in the mid 1600s-1700s. The African slaves interpreted the traditions with music and dance using simple items like masks and drums. This cultural fusion took place during the holiday season, Christmas and New Year of which were the only times when slaves were allowed to take part. St. Croix‘s festival, Crucian Christmas Festival is an annual event since 1952, not only a grand party but an exposition of culture and tradition that starts from Dec. 1-Jan. 2, an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands.
It’s Rum Culture Is Intense
When you think of an American spirit, it is usually the whiskey, but in the US Virgin Islands, it’s the rum that takes the center stage for cocktails. Two of the best rums in the world – the Cruzan and Captain Morgan – call the islands their home. St. Croix’s Cruzan rum represents the oldest still operating producer in the US VI while Captain Morgan (also St. Croix-based) is new in the rum scene famous for its spiced version and one of the most popular rums sold worldwide, an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands.
St. Thomas Is A Shopping Destination Since 1607
In Charlotte Amalie, it is not only known for its exquisite Danish culture but as a “duty free capital of the world” because of its tax-free policies. And even in colonial times, Jamestown settlers (1st English settlement in North America) would stop in this town to stock up in supplies before sailing off to establish a state in now present-day, Virginia, U.S.A., an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin islands.
Honeymoon Beach In St. John Is The Most Romantic Beach In The World
One of the few corners where you can still find leaning palms on the islands after Hurricane Maria in 2017, Honeymoon Beach in St. John, US VI is Caribbean‘s most romantic beach in the world, an unusual thing you probably don’t know about Tim Duncan’s US Virgin Islands. This is an idyllic stretch of white sands and shallow, clear water which earned its name due to its seclusion. It’s a perfect place for honeymooners to go and enjoy the views in private.
Tim Duncan Started Out As A Swimmer In St. Croix
A 14-time NBA All-Star, Tim Duncan, retired player of San Antonio Spurs was born and raised in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, an unusual thing you probably don’t know. But do you have any idea that he started out as a swimmer and dreamed of competing in the Olympics one day? He began playing basketball in 9th grade after Hurricane Hugo (1989) damaged the only (Olympic-sized) swimming pool in the island and was left unable to train. At some point, his swimming team was forced to practice in the ocean which Tim declined because of his fear of sharks. But nevertheless, he holds the Virgin Islands‘ record in 50 and 100 meter freestyle event for swimming when he was just 13 years old. Well Tim might be fearless in basketball court, yet he has all-time aversions actually- that of sharks and heights!
More than cruise ships and gorgeous beaches, the US Virgin Islands also offer a rich cultural legacy. Each island has its own unique character and charm where all of your senses will be awakened by their enchanting beauty. If one day you want an easy Caribbean allure, then consider the US Virgin Islands, which is sometimes known as America‘s paradise.