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Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

midwest
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Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

First of all, this post is not intended to offend...keep in mind this was MY experience and opinions....others may share or negate them....I am okay with that.

We just got back from a week in Stx this past weekend...stayed at the Gentle Winds.....Lovely is probaby a word that still does not do it justice. The resort was absolutely wonderful.....well maintained, not crowded, peaceful, beautiful beach with good snorkeling right off the beach....a large pool that was NEVER crowded.....plenty of space to walk around and find that perfect spot to just relax with a good book......again, I can not emphasize how much we enjoyed the resort....a security guard on duty at night who greeted us with a smile.

The food on the island was wonderful...Singhs (sp)..the roti was AWESOME..along with the potoato stuffing and johnny cakes....Angry Nates...excellent conch chowder and conch fritters,.....Rumrunners...had both brunch and supper there.....ate at 2 of the beach bars by cane bay....had fish tacos at one of them...to die for.....We were NOT disappointed in the food on the island at ALL.....LaReine Chicken shack...the best BQ chicken..again with johnny cake...VERY busy, but excellent service.

We went sailing and snorkeling w/ Dee on the Bilinda w/ chandra .....WONDERFUL.....VERY patient with my teenage daughters.....could tell that she loved to teach and talk, both pluses.

We snorkeled at Cane Bay....EXCELLENT...saw barracuda, starfish and countless other colorful fish, coral, marine life.

We went out to Buck Island w/ Carl...i dont remember the business name...it was just our family...not with the big group that goes.....Buck Island is AWESOME....my husband met a biologist working there with the lizards who took the time to talk to him regarding his research. The snorkeling, again, was an experience I will always cherish....we saw a nurse shark, a hawkbilled turtle, parrot fish, baraccuda, and COUNTLESS other marine life. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Carl, you could tell, did this for a living and seemed somewhat burned out dealing with tourists all the time....the trip was still wonderful though.

We also went kayaking...again EXCELLENT...thank you Brice and Adrian.

We took an afternoon and toured the rainforest...found the beerdrinking pigs...Grunt and Hurricaine ? .....Cute and fun....had smoothies at another place in the rainforest.....YUMMMMMMM......went to Whim plantation and took a tour of the big house....very informative...there is soo much history to this island and there you had someone very willing to talk to you about it....again, WOW.

Okay....for the negative....yes there are some as there is everywhere......Crime IS an issue here....you are kidding yourself if you think it is not. Keep in mind my family is from small town, midwest america where most crime is petty and is typically domestic or drug related....while present...fairly easily avoided and not in your face.....

We new right away by all of the bars on windows on both homes and business that crime was a significant issue with this island. Talking to the locals confirmed that. Still, until Friday night, we were not afraid....keep your eyes open, aware of your surroundings, your mouth shut and you should be okay...again, for the most part, I agree with that.

Friday night we were eating icecream in a well lit area that did not seem like a questionable area to be in during the early evening...it was dark, but definielty not late. 5 gun shots went off and my daughters saw a man running and jumping into a vehicle and speeding off. I have no idea if someone was actually shot or not.....we did not see any victims...this occurred about 100 yrds from where we were.

This really shook up my teen daughters....if you live in a city, this may be no big deal....for the kids, it was and they did not feel safe until we had them back at the resort.

There were also 2 other minor things...nothing big....opportunities to teach the kids, but they did not feel there safety was in question.

I am not trying to discourage people from visiting this island.....but you do have the right to know what is going on before you make the decision to come.

BTW this is the second Caribbean island we have visited...and no, we did not see crime as much of an issue on the other island as this one......no, we have not been to jamica, bahamas, or St Marteen.

Overall the vacation was wonderful, and I do not in the least bit regret coming to STX...and I was prepared, minus the gunshots, for everything else...good and bad...thanks to this board.

TJ

Pennsylvania
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1. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

I think for a lot of us, it's still one of the major drawbacks of vacationing anywhere in the Caribbean. But then again, I was just in Florida where there were some shootings. Even in my hometown in PA, same problem. Unfortunately, it's everywhere. Be on guard, be proactive, and don't stay out too late. I want to enjoy Fredericksted, but it gives me the creeps at night. I'll stick to the East End.

boston
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2. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

Thanks for the great description of your fun on St. Croix. You clearly did a great deal and took time to enjoy all the island has to offer. Gentle Winds always gets great reviews here...glad you liked it.

I am sorry you met up with some negatives on the trip. Would be curious to know where you were when you heard the gunshots. That would be disconcerting to me as well, especially when you are with your children. I'd also be curious what the other island you visited in the Caribbean. Crime is an issue there and everywhere. But at home we all know better what areas to avoid.

midwest
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3. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

We were at a icecream shop, i think in the LeReine area I think....an Office Max was close by. It was 7:30 in the evening, dark but not late.

The other island we have visited was St Kitts...yes there is crime there....but i did not feel my safety was an issue, and being that it was only my husband and I that went to St Kitts, we were out MUCH later at night.

To be honest, seeing barred windows everywhere advertises to tourists that crime is a significant issue on the island. Newspapers (avail to read on the internet) and talking to locals confirms it. For many people it may not be an issue; however, again, i am from small town, midwest america where barred windows and gunshots are not a part of our daily lives.....It especially shook my youngest daughter up.

Yes, crime is all over...someplaces worse than others. This was a significant factor in my family choosing not to go to stt....we couldve went there much cheaper (timeshare) than stx. Do I regret my trip? NO...overall it was wonderful....I do wish the gunshots had been left out of it though......

Will I go back to the caribbean?? Yes....will looking at the crime rates, types, ect play a part in which island I choose to go to...you bet....without ANY research I can eliminate several.

This does not just play a part in my vacation choices to the caribbean...it plays a role in ALL of our vacation decisions....stateside or nonstateside.

The island is beautiful, but there are significant issues and crime is one of them.

TJ

St. Croix
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4. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

TJ,

I'm so glad that you were able to enjoy so many of the gems that our island has to offer... and so sad that you also experienced the crime that so many of us endure here. It's sad, because our paradise is being hijacked by the crime that has become common place. As much as many of the regulars on this board would like to call names to those of us who actually validate the crime concerns (primadonna, disturbed, etc.), this really is a problem. And a serious one, at that. Yes, there is crime everywhere. And, yes, you have to be careful no matter where you go. Unfortunately, stx has gotten out of control.

Regardless of what many people on here say, it IS much worse than most popular tourist destinations. And it has very little to do with how careful you are. It makes me sad to see and hear so many residents chalk it up to "tourists thinking they are in paradise and not using their heads." If only it were that simple. This amazing island needs help Perhaps if more people called attention to the police corruption and the out-of-control crime we have, something could be done about it. Unfortunately, I think it is going to take the governor being taken to task by state-side officials before things get cleaned up.

For those of you who are going to be visiting our island, stay alert and enjoy what we have to offer. That's the best you can do. I would avoid going anywhere after dark--unless it is the boardwalk and you are parked very close-by. If you are in Christiansted--even during the day--stick to the area with shops. If there are no shops, go back. I'd say about 2 or 3 blocks in from the boardwalk max. You are safe at your resort, aside of possible theft. That IS a problem everywhere. You should also be safe in restaurants and shops in Christiansted during daylight. Buck Island is a must. If you like snorkeling, going around Hotel on the Cay is neat. You will get all the different types of underwater environments… Grassy with conch and lobsters under debris on the northwest, rocky with octopus dens on the east, sandy with big chunky starfish on the southeast. Just watch out for the ferry driver. He doesn’t always pay attention to people in his path. Either that, or it’s his sport. Tough to tell.

There are lots and lots of amazing and wonderful people here. If you encounter some of the ignorant ones, please don't assume that everyone here is that way. There are many who are extremely helpful and glad have tourists enjoy our island as much as we do. If you have any questions about where it would be safe and where it isn’t, talk to any of the shop owners. They are great and want you to be safe and enjoy your holiday. One more tip. If snorkeling is your thing, the Caribbean/Atlantic is often more rough during the full moon. For those of you who are tentative swimmers in open water, you may want to plan around that. The rest of the month, you can enjoy water like glass and see colors you never knew existed.

If you do encounter any crime, please please spread the word. Not that our island is horrible. Spread the word that our paradise is being stolen by ignorant thugs, and we need help getting things under control.

I love our island. I find the crime problem here upsetting. My outrage at our crime is exactly that… Outrage at the crime. We all need to find a way to fix it because it ISN'T like this everywhere. (San Francisco, San Jose, Guadalajara, Colon, Virgin Gorda, Alameda, Boston, Nashua, Oakland, Tampa, Brandon, Madison, Chicago, Toronto, London, and other places I have lived.) Our tourists and the good people of stx deserve more.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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5. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

Thanks for your report....we are going for the 1st time in August and will be careful. We have been to 23 islands, Hawaii, and Mexico. Loved St John, St Kitts, Nevis, Barbados, Anguilla, and St Martin. Hawaii speaks for itself, and we just returned from Mazatlan Mexico last week. If we can be of any help for a future vacation, please contact us. Gary and Bonnie.

Davidsonville, MD
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6. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

Your advice is very sound and should be followed by everyone. Too many visitors think "Hey, I am on vacation and everything is great' - as a result, reality becomes suspended and they do things and go into areas that they would never think about traveling at home. I live in the Washington D.C. metro area and we have some of the highest crime %'s nationally. If you play it smart, be aware of your surroundings (have your head on a swivel), make eye contact and greet people, and don't advertise by your dress that you are a tourist, your visit should be fine. The one time I experienced crime in the Caribbean was on one of the islands that was considered safe - Grand Cayman Island. Forgot to lock my sliding glass door and lost my cash and traveler's checks. Fortunately, it was $40 cash and all of the traveler checks were replaced the next day. I was not careful and paid the price.

St Thomas
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7. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

beachlover333: you said, "Will I go back to the caribbean?? Yes....will looking at the crime rates, types, ect play a part in which island I choose to go to...you bet....without ANY research I can eliminate several."

The responsive posts to yours have been very sane and productive and I'm sorry that you were subjected to such an incident which obviously was very scary. That said, crime statistics of themselves can be very misleading.

The major crimes in the USVI are local-related and it's statistically VERY rarely that a visitor is a victim of crime. Yes, it has happened but it's very, very rare.

I own a business on St Thomas and I have bars on the windows and doors. Over the years I've seen just a couple of comments on a couple of forums from visitors who have said that although they wanted to visit my establishment they were "turned off" by those bars. To me they're a Godsend and if they weren't on the building when I set up my business, I would have had them put on. Why? Because relying on on motion detectors provided by an outside security company is a total joke here.

Power outages (and they're not infrequent) render them useless, "false" alarms are endless. There's nothing worse than working a long day, driving home, finally settling into bed late at night and then being called by the security company who advises that an alarm has gone off and that one has to go to the site and that, "the police have been advised and will meet you there." I can't tell you how many times I dragged myself up between 2-4AM, dressed and drove several miles to my business to find that (a) no police were there and (b) upon entering the business found nothing amiss. I rid myself of the security company's services in short shrift because I just was getting bloody tired of those disruptive late-night/early morning calls...

The bars are a great deterrent to any criminal activity and they also serve a purpose in event of a hurricane when they can deflect flying debris! Fortunately we've been spared anything major where hurricanes are concerned since 1995 but one never knows when another climatic trajectory shift might occur!

Between the iron bars and self-installed security cameras I feel most secure but I'm nonetheless always "en garde" with eyes wide open.

Sorry if I've been rather longwinded with this response but just wanted to make a point for whatever it's worth. The world in general, unfortunately, becomes more unsafe as time passes.

I do hope too that your unfortunate experience on STX hasn't eliminated the USVI from your vacation agenda. There was so much positive in your post. Cheers!

Nebraska
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8. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

We stayed at Gentle Winds as well - it was far enough away from the LOCALS to be secure and very thing was very well cared for.

I would feel very uncomfortable going into alot of areas on St. Croix. The bums are hovering around inside of the towns and the projects are very close as well. Some resorts are on the very outskirts of the projects.

I don't buy the idea about incidents being few and far between for travelers visiting the island - I do think the police do shove alot of the problems out of the paper and are not reported for the general good feelings of the people. My impression there is alot of crime on St. Croix - you can avoid it but as you will see below - it sometimes can find you... read on...

We had an incident where our cab driver turned in front of an oncoming pickup - the pickup instead of going along its merry way - turned and accosted our cab, actually came alongside and within a couple of 100 feet - eventually in an effort to stop our cab, scraped against the side of the cab (get this - it was a chevy about $40,000 pickup - running into a 1990's $9000 van) our van eventually stopped and the driver and passenger in the pickup hopped out and started screaming at our van driver - I though surely the way they were acting we would go to their pickup and get a gun and shoot the cab driver (meaning guess whos next). Chilling.

We were very happy visiting the island, but this incident cemented our decision to never return to paradise.

Sorry St. Croix people - clean up your problems, if you want travelers to return. Cause you have chased this traveling couple away until reports of change on the island are public heralded.

St Thomas
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9. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

"We stayed at Gentle Winds as well - it was far enough away from the LOCALS to be secure and very thing was very well cared for."

The choice of the word "locals" (with emphasis) is very demeaning.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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10. Re: Just returned from STX trip / opinions on crime,

We are visiting for 1st time in August and have been to 23 islands. We have had no problems so far and I assume if you are careful none will exist. Am I correct about this? I suppose you could have trouble anywhere if you go into areas late at night or do something dumb. All places have their problems including here at home. Somebody tell me what I definately should not do on St Croix. We are staying at Carambola but always like to venture out for dinner each night and explore the island during the day.

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