Return to Virgin Islands National Park: Planning

Sergeant Majors, Blue Tangs, Branching Fire Coral, Sea Fans, Sea Whips, and Sea Rods at Brown Bay

In March 2022, Sean and I returned to Virgin Islands National Park on St. John nine years after we’d first visited. In March 2013 we had ventured to the island with Bethany, Adam, and Phil. It was only the fifth Park on Sean’s and my odyssey. With thirty-three Parks racked up in between, we were now going back, this time with Josh, Nick, and Jimmy. The intervening nine years had been rough for the Park. In addition to the slow advance of climate change and its effects on coral reefs and other marine communities, plus the COVID-19 pandemic and its horrors and disruptions, in 2017 the U.S. Virgin Islands had been hit hard by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In many ways, the islands were still emerging from the hurricanes.

Nevertheless, between our two trips, Virgin Islands National Park now holds the record as the National Park Sean and I have spent the most time in. And for both of us, it is in our top five favorite National Parks of the sixty-three.

Over Christmas and New Year’s 2021/2022, Sean and I had both had COVID. Josh and Nick had also had it at that same time. Sean and I had already taken advantage of our post-COVID immunity to do a long weekend at Arches National Park in February. While we still were within our three-month immunity window, we decided to go somewhere warm with the guys. I pushed for a return to St. John since it was familiar, it was relatively inexpensive, and it allowed for spending a lot of time outside, making it COVID comfortable.

Although Jimmy had not had COVID, he decided to tag along.

In early February 2022, we gathered at Sean’s and my apartment for a big planning meeting, working out dates, travel arrangements, accommodations, and our highest priorities of things to do. Josh’s highest priority was to “Drink Pacificos and have fun.”

We decided to fly down to the islands on Wednesday, March 16 and return on Wednesday, March 23 [2022]. This fit well into our various work schedules. Josh and Nick booked flights on Spirit through Fort Lauderdale. Jimmy and I refused to fly Spirit and booked on American through Miami. Sean was torn because he just wanted to have more fun. He went with us on American. It worked out well because I picked up an extra big North Face duffel that Jimmy used as his free checked bag and that Josh could put his snorkeling gear and extra luggage in. Then he didn’t have to pay for a checked bag.

We also kept things cheap by returning to Concordia and booking an eco-tent. Basically glamping. It was the same place on the far southeastern tip of St. John that we’d stayed at last time. But Concordia had been hit especially hard by the hurricanes. Now under new ownership, it was slowly being rebuilt and reopened. I volunteered to treat for the rental car we’d need to get to Concordia and to get around the island. With that we were all set.

There were a few things that we’d not been able to do on the first trip—swimming at Trunk Bay, snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay—that we wanted to be sure to do this time around. Otherwise, we’d figure it out when we got down there.

Leave a Reply