A Different Kind of Island
I spent last week on the island of St. John, in the US Virgin Islands. Oddly enough, it’s approximately the same size as Manhattan (about 20 square miles), but the similarities end there. Most of the island is undeveloped, protected National Park land. Jason and I went with a small group of people on a yoga retreat. We stayed in Concordia, one of the most remote areas of the island, in Eco-Tents: small, self-sustaining structures attached to wooden slabs on the side of a hill. Everything about the resort promotes low-impact, sustainable living. There are no TVs, radios or outlets, and cell phone coverage is spotty at best. It’s pretty much nothing like New York.
The tents themselves are wooden structures enveloped in canvas. On the exterior, a solar panel is attached to each tent with a water pump below. Adjacent to each tent is a self-composting toilet and a solar-heated shower.
The interior contains a series of flaps that zip open revealing the expansive view of an uninhabited peninsula known as Ram Head, the Salt Pond area to the right, and the open sea. Except for the occasional sailboat or passing freighter, the view is probably pretty similar to exactly the way it looked thousands of years ago. And by the looks of it, it’s intended to stay that way. The structure treads very lightly on the land – it’s easily apparent that nature reigns in a place like this.
The group we traveled with was awesome. We practiced yoga every morning from 8am–11am and again in the evening from 5pm–6:30pm. We had the afternoons free to explore.
The southeastern part of the island where we stayed is pretty wild. Many of the roads are unpaved and quite mountainous. The shores are rugged and secluded.
Some pretty intense switchback roads will take you to the north side of the island, where the beaches feel completely different with luxurious white sand and islands and coves all along the coastline.
On Wednesday we rented a sailboat out of Coral Bay with the group. The tour took us around the island and throughout many of the smaller offshore islands. The snorkeling off the boat was amazing.
Bottom line: if you get the chance, go to St. John. Especially if you’ve been spending too much time on Manhattan.