So you are planing a vacation to the warmth and relaxing Caribbean? In fact you choose to visit the Virgin Islands. Now regardless of whether you came on a cruise ship, are staying in a hotel, or chartering a boat I have a few suggestions that may help you enhance your experience.
1) Put some clothes on! – I understand you are on vacation and it is a tropical paradise making you feel loose and carefree, but outside of the beach, resort, or boat it is completely inappropriate to walk around town in your swimsuit. It is disrespectful to the locals and trust me when I say they don’t want to see it and will treat you poorer for doing it. Would you walk around your town like that?
2) Use good morning/afternoon/evening – When you enter a store or are asking someone for help you will get much better results if you start with the appropriate greeting. For some reason hello, excuse me, how are you, and any other beginning is not considered as polite as good morning, afternoon, and evening. Oh and they will correct you if you say morning and it is one minute past noon.
3) Don’t expect the same level of customer service – Unfortunately it is true that the level of customer service you expect back home is lacking many times in the islands. Part of that is the slower pace (or island time) and part, I venture, is the attitude and manners of past visitors. If you are not treated with the level of service you would like, do not get mad. Simply move on to a different cab, restaurant, bar, ect that is more interested in helping you.
4) Obnoxious drunks need not apply – Everyone expects you to enjoy yourself while you are on vacation, but don’t expect everyone to party with you. Just like you back home, people that live in the Caribbean have to work and are not on vacation with you. Also remember no one enjoys dealing with a drunk that is belligerent and out of control. I think this is true here or back home.
5) The weather report – Let me save you time and give you the weather for your vacation. It will be 80-90 degrees during the day with 15-25 knots of wind coming somewhere from the east. It may or may not rain, but if it does it will only last 15-20 minutes. I know it is hard to believe, but this report will cover 85% of the days down here. In fact legend has it the radio stations would air a weather report in late October and not change it until June.
6) Everything is imported – This is especially true in the most visited locations. You see even if the local farmers and fisherman could provide enough food for the population there is no way they could also keep up with the influx of tourist. Take St Thomas for example, there are days when the island sees 20,000-25,000 visitors from cruise ships alone. Can you imagine trying to grow that much food? As you can imagine once you factor in the shipping cost, everything is more expensive (for example, $6 for a box of cereal or gallon of milk). You don’t have to point it out though because everyone knows.
7) Don’t over pack – This is especially true if you are going to take a charter, but still applies for a land based vacation. You just don’t need it all. The joke is to lay all your clothes and money out. Now put half the clothes away and double the money and you are set to go.
8) Please wear sunscreen – The sun is way intense here and nothing ruins a vacation like a sunburn. Those that say they never burn seem to be the first to lobster up. Lather up or better yet don’t be afraid of the shade.
9) Try a local restaurant – You would think this is a no brainer, but it amazes me how many people get off the cruise ships and head to Wendy’s, Hooters, McDonalds, and the like. The whole point of visiting a new place is to see a different perspective, so try some of the local foods or even just a local restaurant that serves food you recognize.
10) Fishing for your dinner – This is my favorite one, because I get told all the time that guest want to fish and catch their dinner. I just have to laugh because in between the Virgin Islands you will usually either catch a bonito or a barracuda. Plus you have to worry about ciguatera (a toxin found in fish) in reef fish. The fish you want to eat are deep water fish and unless you are willing to take the time to go to deep water rarely will you catch them. Even better are the people that say they want to catch a lobster, but can snorkel more than 7 feet underwater. Where they think the lobsters live is beyond me.