United States Virgin Islands
Like so many of the islands in the Caribbean, 2017’s double whammy of hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated much of St. John. However, as relief funds get funnelled into rebuilding, normality is gradually being restored, and St. John version 2.0 is emerging - bolder, brighter and better.
St. John’s small size might just give it the edge over other desert islands. The US purchased the tiny landmass (at just nine miles long, the island is the smallest of the three American Virgin Islands) from the West India and Guinea Company in 1917 and it remains under US govern to this day. Historically speaking however St. John is Danish, who colonised it for almost 250 years before its sale to America.
The Virgin Island Nation park covers almost two-thirds the island, meaning visually St. John is stunning, and will remain that way for generations to come. This ‘gift’ to the world comes thanks to Laurance Rockefeller who in 1956 gave the 5,000 acres of lush forest to the people of the island, with the caveat that it become a national park. Thus, velvety green hills slope into picture perfect white sand beaches, which are ringed by turquoise seas.
One very definite winner of the tourism hiatus since 2017 has been the marine wildlife. Underwater life was barely affected by the storms and the subsequent lack of tourism has allowed the eco-systems to propagate. The island’s abundant coral reefs were not overly affected by the storms and today the waters are teeming with sea turtles, reef sharks and sting rays.