gay travel
Gay Weddings & Honeymoons in New York Experience Las Vegas this summer Flight Attendants Insiders Tips Rome to Venice 2012 Int'l Gay Cruise Calendar Pan Am, Rhapsody in Blue Costa del Sol Vienna Austria Int'l Gay Ski Calendar 2012 Exploring Tokyo Bali Paradise or Paradise Lost? Fashion Capital Milan Wild Sexy Stylish Madrid The Allure of Montreal Atlanta Heart & Seoul ***More Top Gay Destinations*** Gerard Tremolet Pittsburgh David Ryan, Out2Africa Austin, Texas French Style, Paris Best Shops Bill Egan, Plays & Players Green Hotels Ray Murray, TLA Entertainment Green Eateries Brian Gorman, Lords South Beach Modern Day Slavery Rick Jabobs, Courage Campaign Top Ten Green Cities ***See More Business Class*** Destinations Behind the Scenes WorldBeat Concierge Global Cocktails VIP Lounge The City Channels North America Central & South America Europe Asia & Middle East Africa Oceania/Australia Art of Travel Boarding Pass Concierge Curious Traveler Dreamscape Editor's Letter Gay Friendly Germany Gay Weddings & Honeymoons Globetrotting Hotel Therapy Passport Dispatch Passport Picks Passport Style Road Trips Spa Search Special Effects Stockholm Traveler TravelBound Traveling with Pets VIP Lounge What's New In... WorldEats "Passport To Vancouver" Contest Global Cocktails The Broadway Blog San Francisco Agenda

St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix
U.S. VIRGINS
THE PLEASURES OF AMERICA'S CARIBBEAN

by Rich Rubin
Article Tools Sponsored By


As I sit at the Beach Side Cafe, the wonderful restaurant at St. Croix’s Sand Castle on the Beach resort, a cool tradewind rustles the palms. My lesbian dinnermates are telling me about their commitment ceremony, held here under a canopy twinkling with tiny lights. The Caribbean washes up onto the shore, bathed in the crimson and tangerine light of a perfect sunset. As our seafood risotto, ancho-dusted scallops, and chicken marsala arrive, I have a sudden thought: the U.S. Virgin Islands could be a relationship-saver.

Look at it this way: you want to go to the Caribbean, but your lover prefers to stay in the United States. You’ve had this argument before, and what should be a vacation turns into a battle. Why haven’t you thought of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where “domestic” travel comes with a tropical twist? While there isn’t a specifically gay nightlife scene on any of the three islands, the acceptance level is a welcome change from many Caribbean islands. Best of all, it’s like three vacations in one, as the three islands have such utterly different personalities, from St. Thomas’ urban pleasures, to St. John’s laid-back, pristine environment, and St. Croix’s mysterious, “about to be hip” aura. With a fab hydroplane making the jaunt daily between St. Croix and St. Thomas, and a car ferry plying the waters between St. Thomas and St. John, travel between islands can be as much fun as the time you spend on each.

ST. THOMAS
The most familiar and built-up of the Virgins, St. Thomas boasts one of the prettiest cities in the Caribbean. As I walk down the tiny alleyways of Charlotte Amalie, houses of yellow, white, blue, and pink spill up the hill from the harbor. While only about 20,000 people live here, there’s a real city bustle. One-time Danish warehouses (Charlotte Amalie was named for a queen of Denmark) stretch along quaint little alleyways, now filled with an enviable array of dining, drinking, and (of course) shopping.

I fuel up with a double espresso in R & J’s Island Latte, a sophisticated coffee house that’s my favorite hangout in town. Then I wander along Main Street past duty-free shops like Little Switzerland and Crystal Shoppe, designers like Ralph Lauren, Nicole Miller, and David Yurman, temptations from Cartier, Lalique, Coach, and Tiffany & Co. Diamonds International proudly displays a gay-welcoming rainbow symbol, as do Cardow Jewelers, Imperial Jewelers, and Tanzanite International.

Will power? Fuggedaboudit. There’s just too much on offer here, at prices too tempting to resist. It’s not all duty-free goods from abroad, either. Rising young artist David Hill has a gallery in the Royal Dane Mall (one of the alleyways), while right on Main Street is Gallery St. Thomas, a second-floor gallery where proprietor Claire Ochoa has assembled a truly astounding selection of some of the Caribbean’s finest artists, primarily from the USVI. In her gallery, I admire William Stoehr’s vibrant and evocative portraits, and John Holub’s dreamily impressionistic island scenes. I flip over the amazing woodturning of St. John master Avelino Samuel, vases and urns so delicate they could be made of fine glass.

Among its other city pleasures, St. Thomas once had a thriving gay nightlife scene. That’s no longer the case, though you’ll find a gay-friendly atmosphere (and a lot of “down low” action). “A lot of men here are in the closet,” notes W. “Champagne” Chandler, a longtime fixture of St. Thomas’ gay scene. “I’m in the living room,” he adds. “With pumps on.” This native St. Thomian (“they call me Champagne because I’m a bubbly experience”), while offering the usual caveats about public affection, visits the closet only to pick out the black and white outfits he’s famous for. “If you believe in something,” he proclaims, “you stand up for it. I’m not going to uncomfortable myself to comfortable you.”

Has anyone, I ask, ever given him trouble for being so out? He smiles. “Well…some have tried.”

Chandler is busy reviving the island’s drag pageant, which lit up the scene for years. “Chi Chi Melinda—she was quite a number in the day! Ramona? Another jalapeño!” While the island is no longer full of gay hotspots, he sees a growing acceptance and a tendency toward mixed places. “The gay children on this island, if they like a spot, they make it their own,” he proclaims.

Bearing in mind Champagne’s words, I set out to find which spots the “gay children” have adopted. I start at Epernay, a classy little wine bar in Frenchtown, an area on the west side of Charlotte Amalie that boasts some of the island’s best restaurants. This sleek, chic little spot attracts a nice mix of professional types who gather under the deep red walls, Moet et Chandon bottles, and Van Gogh-ish café painting. On Friday and Saturday nights it really buzzes, for this is when Stereo, the upstairs club and the current rage among gay St. Thomians, is open. You’ll find a mixed, youngish crowd making their way from wine bar to dance club and back.

Slideshow

Oops!

It looks like you don't have flash player installed. Click here to go to Adobe download page.

For a downhome, local spot, try Wet Willy’s, a small place with pool tables on the second floor—unpretentious, unglamorous, lots of fun. “A lot of mixed children go there,” notes Champagne with approval. Or join the tourists (you’re one too!) at Greenhouse, right in the heart of town, a favorite for “2fer Tuesdays” and live music on Wednesdays and Fridays. Plunk yourself onto a pink, orange, or purple barstool, or kick up your heels in the large back area, its purple wall is painted with a pink-trunked palm and blazing sun.

Of course, there’s more to the island than Charlotte Amalie, and I set out with my pal Louise to discover some of its riches. Magens Bay is the most famous beach on the island, often making “Top Ten Beaches” lists. This long, curving strand of pure gold fringed by verdant cliffs is the quintessential Caribbean beach.

You can also soar to paradise (Paradise Point, that is) on the St. Thomas Skyride near the cruise ship port, plunge to the depths on Atlantis Submarines, and cavort with dolphins or feed the sting rays at Coral World. In town, don’t miss the dignified beauty of North America’s oldest synagogue. Note: the rabbi performed the St. Croix ceremony of my lesbian friends.

As you’d expect from a well-touristed destination, there’s a great choice of hotels. The island’s luxury leader is the Ritz-Carlton, set above Great Bay on the island’s east end and offering plush rooms, private boats for sunset cruises, and the Great Bay Grill where you’ll dine in style on a creatively spectacular menu.

I also love the Best Western Emerald Bay with subtly-designed, comfy rooms overlooking the sea, and Pavilions and Pools where landscaped walkways lead to spacious, very private villas with their own pools.

Continued
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 NEXT>>

Facebook Twitter Bookmark US Virgins Caribbean - St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix at del.icio.us Google Bookmarks Digg US Virgins Caribbean - St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix Mixx US Virgins Caribbean - St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix Bookmark US Virgins Caribbean - St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix at YahooMyWeb Bookmark using any bookmark manager! Print this article! E-mail this story to a friend!

Wow, I'd been looking for definite information on GLBT on the islands because I am going to be working there for 2 years...superb information...if anyone has more info email me please. Looking forward to meeting all of you local GLBT peeps :)
- Oscar , Tampa, FL USA

The name of the gay bar years ago was The Safari.
- Jay , Washington DC USA

Long time off & on resident of St Croix, I remember the days of Last Harrah owned and operated by my late friend and owner of the establishment. I remember the Royal Dayne Hotel and when things were out and cool ! Hope something can come back!
- thomas flowers , currently richmond, va

years ago; what was the name of the gay bar in St. Thomas ?
- Ric , kennett square, pa USA

There is a fourth Island which is a local secret. Water island is adjacent to St Thomas and can be accessed by a small ferry from Crown Bay. Honeymoon Beach is within walking distance from the ferry dock. Take your own towels and swim gear. Enjoy!
- Tom Price , St Thomas. USVI. USA

St. John is simply amazing! In addition to beaches you mention, other notables are Maho Bay, Water Lemon Cay (great snorkeling without the Trunk Bay crowds), Salt Pond Bay - from here you can also walk to Ram Head and Blue Cobbles Beach.
- Michael , Lynn, MA USA

Having lived in St. Thomas in the early 80's, I was delighted to read about your lovely vacation and long to go back. I think you captured the good feelings of the VI and the Caribbean easy lifestyle.
- Donna Chesler , Jerome, Arizona, USA

I can't agree more about St Croix. It is a beautiful island. I have been going there for several years now and spend a good part of my off season at Sandcastle on the Beach. A truly realxing enjoyable place to visit.
- christopher vildavs , methuen, MA USA

Best Gay Spa Search in the World

Every day, more and more people are discovering that a trip to the spa, whether for the day or an entire vacation, is the perfect way to rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit. Passport has left no hot stone unturned, or therapy untried, to bring you our favorite spas from around the globe. Best Gay Spa Search in the World.



2012 Gay Event Calendars

International Gay Pride Calendar 2012
Hundreds of cities and towns across the globe host gay pride events each year, but there are battles yet to be won. Protests and parades highlight our setbacks and accomplishments, and coming together as a community is always cause for celebration. See our 2012 Int'l Gay Pride Calendar!

International Gay Cruise Calendar 2012
Our annual Gay Travel Cruise Calendar, an expansive list of the world's best gay and lesbian cruise voyages for 2012. See our 2012 International Gay Cruise Calendar!

Contact Passport

Editor
     For story ideas or comments
Advertising
     To inquire about placing ads
Curious
     Readers letters/Comments to Passport
Subscriptions
     Questions, change of address, etc.


PASSPORT Magazine | Contact Us | Subscribe | Newsletter | Site Map | Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2012, Q Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.