St. John: Finding Freedom on the White Sands of Paradise
Many people have an ideal picture of an “escape to freedom.” For some, it is a hidden bed and breakfast in the big city. For others, it is an adventurous hike through a remote jungle. My idea of freedom is to be on the open water with the wind and spray of the sea in my face. From atop the deck, you can look out forever and see the blue ocean in all of its beauty. I came by this love honestly; because when I was four years old, my parents moved my brother and me to Grenada, West Indies. We stayed for only a few months but they will never be forgotten. We now go back to the islands every chance we get.
Many Americans work nine to five every day of the week and with all of that stress it leaves one with an itch to get away and find the freedom that a few days off work can give. My family finds this freedom on beaches with sand as white and soft as baby powder and water so clear you can see for what seems like miles. The most recent search for freedom led us to a small island in the U.S Virgin Islands known as St. John. From the isolation to the local food and atmosphere it is just about as close to heaven as you can get to on earth. In the instant we landed in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas, our troubles melted into the blue waters and our cares drifted away with the summer breeze – warm, salty, and sweet with the scent of Caribbean flowers. As we boarded the ferry to head over to St. John, we quickly regained our Caribbean spirits. Our condo was beautiful with views to spare. Every day we took a trip over steep, winding roads to beaches, both popular and remote – visiting a different one each day and returning to our favorites often.
If you were to search “Best Beaches,” Trunk Bay would always show up near the top…and it does not disappoint. With a little island that pops up right in the middle and remarkable snorkeling, this beach really is one of the best. However, it was a little crowded for our taste. We enjoy the more remote beaches with few people. That is where we find our freedom. One of these remote beaches is Maho bay. Here the only crowds you will find are under the water. There are schools of tropical fish in every color of the rainbow, turtles who love to graze along the bottom of the crystal waters, and manta rays that ripple along the ocean floor displaying their beauty for the visitors. These animals have the kind of freedom I can only find in my dreams. They get to enjoy every minute of an island life I hope one day to experience.
One of the days during our two-week stay, we sailed on a catamaran. We rented it for the whole day, leaving at nine in the morning. As soon as we set sail, we began to experience a freedom like no other.
We got to choose where we went and what we did; and from the trampolines at the front of the boat, the ocean was ours that day. Our first stop was for snorkeling; and here we saw beautiful underwater plants with colors so rich and beautiful we didn’t want to leave. Even though we could have stayed all day, we had much more to do and a delicious lunch was calling our name (actually it was Captain Joe…but that isn’t as poetic). After visiting several empty beaches, Captain Joe took us to a remote part of the island where we discovered “Akin Beach,” a hidden cove where the word “Freedom,” rings loud and clear. Even though our last meal was cooked on a tiny grill off the back of the boat it was the best meal I have ever been lucky enough to taste.
We sat at the table watching the sun set and finishing our three-course, boat-cooked meal. As it sank closer to the horizon, it filled the sky with colors that can be seen nowhere else. Pinks and oranges described in fairy-tales and witnessed only in dreams were experienced first-hand off the back of our boat. As we headed home that night, with the moon shining on the water like a spotlight from Heaven, all I could think of was how free I had felt during those weeks and how nothing can ever give me the feeling of freedom like the open waters and soft sands of the Caribbean. Where the sand meets the sea is the only place I can feel free.
About the Author: Samantha Akin, raised in Texas, has had a love of travel beginning with a trip to Kansas City at the age of 13 months. She is currently a Junior in High School and plans to pursue a career in Travel Journalism. Read more on her blog, Around the World with Travel-Ninja.