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I Lived Like A Local In The Virgin Islands For A Week, Here's What Happened

Life & Travel

Most times, when people think of the islands, their minds automatically shift to places like Jamaica or Puerto Rico. What a lot of those people don't know is, you don't need a high-end cruise, a ton of money, or even a passport to take the island vacay of their dreams. The U.S. Virgin Islands are slept on in a major way but have so much to offer at a fairly reasonable price point.


I'm lucky enough to have a mom that lives in St. Croix, and since I work remotely, I had the opportunity to visit her and live like a local on the island for a whole week. Along with making some new friends, like a cashier at the local eatery named Vanessa and the skittish peacock I met in my mom's backyard, I had the opportunity to experience St. Croix like a native.

Yam Yams @lovetaylormichal

In 2016, St. Croix was devastated by Hurricane Maria, and citizens, including my mom, were left without power or a way off the island for months. Since then, the people of the island have worked together to rebuild their city and keep it beautiful. Unlike most places I've traveled, St. Croix instantly felt like home. Everywhere I went, I was happily greeted with a "good morning," or "good afternoon," and it was a type of hospitality that made this Southern girl feel especially welcome.

If you're thinking about taking a trip to the Virgin Islands, here are a few activities you can add to your itinerary:

R&R At Hotel On The Cay

@lovetaylormichal

While about midway through my trip, I stayed with my mom, the first leg of my trip was spent at Hotel on The Cay (pronounced key). This hotel made me feel super rich and bougie because it's located on its own island and you actually have to take a short boat trip to even get there.

The hotel also has a bar, which stays open from 10 in the morning to 10 at night, and a restaurant on the beach that is open from 11 A.M. to a little after 6:30 P.M. The rooms were a little dated but very clean and offered an amazing view. If you keep an eye out, you might also meet some iguanas during your stay.

Chill At The BREW STX 

@lovetaylormichal

Since I stayed at the Hotel at the Cay, the boardwalk was the quickest and easiest place to grab food and drinks. Although a lot of the food establishments closed early AF (around 9 or 10), the party didn't stop until a little after 1 in the morning. If you're looking for a destination with an extremely wild night life, this island may not be your first choice.

The Brew was open until 9, and I ordered fish tacos and mac and cheese. The mac and cheese was slamming but I found the chopped carrot medley on top to be way too spicy. Friends of mine also ordered fish and we were pleased with the food and the service, but we definitely wish it stayed open a little later.

Watch The Sunset At Rainbow Beach

@lovetaylormichal

My mom lives in Christiansted, or the east end of the island where the sun sets, and the sun goes down on the west end in Frederiksted. If you can't quite get used to driving on the opposite side of the road, call a taxi and ask them to take you to Rainbow Beach to watch the sunset.

While Point Udall is the farthest point west on the island (and in the U.S.), Rainbow Beach is said to be one of the best places on the island to watch the sun go down. If you make it to Rainbow Beach during the day, you can also participate in activities like jet-skiing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.

Yum Yum At Yam Yam 

@lovetaylormichal

Yam Yam (not to be confused with Yum Yum, which is another eatery on the island) is small and easy to miss if you don't know what to look for, but it's definitely worth seeking out if you decide to take a trip to St. Croix. My friend Khaleel, who's lived here his whole life, showed me this spot (which had a line out the door) and it did not disappoint.

I ordered a shrimp burger and wedge fries. It may look simple ladies, but this place gave me the Caribbean comfort food vibes that I had been looking for my entire trip. The food and service was great, and it's not far from Rainbow Beach. Another plus for this location is, unlike other places on the island, it stays open until midnight.

Eat A Mean Crawfish Cake At Angry Nate's

@lovetaylormichal

I'm from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try some of the island's crawfish cakes. While Angry Nates wasn't exactly my favorite place to eat on the island, the service was great and the managers came over several times to make sure my party and I were having a great time. The food was aight, but the service is what would make me return.

Locals on the island that I talked to labeled Angry Nates as more of a tourist location, but I'd still give 'em another shot because their breakfast menu looks lit.

Dance With The Moko Jumbies 

@lovetaylormichal

Nothing says island vacay like men on stilts in festive costumes dancing to Caribbean music. Moko Jumbies originated in Africa and have been a part of Saint Croix's culture for more than 200 years.

You'll normally see these talented entertainers during special occasions like festivals, carnivals, and weddings, but you can normally check ahead of your trip to see if there are any open events where the Moko Jumbies will be performing. Touristy hotels like Carambola often have these shows along with a buffet by the water.

Since I've lived on the island for a whole week now, I've pretty much certified myself as an islander.

Take it from me, gal, you don't need to book some all-inclusive cruise to have the perfect island getaway. There are plenty of islands to visit and tings to do in the U.S. territories that exist right in our backyard. Why not start with Saint Croix?

Featured image by Getty Images.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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