Life on the US Virgin Islands - Studio Finch Chicago Wedding Photography Blog Life on the US Virgin Islands - Studio Finch Chicago Wedding Photography Blog

Life on the US Virgin Islands

So during the couple of days of off time before and after the fantastic love session with Christ and Dan, (big shout out to how wonderful the two of you are!) I snapped a few happy little critters and some amazing views on the USVI. This is such a fantastic place!  Since over 60% of the island is protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, much of the island is forested in a lush green tropical blanket.  It’s the perfect island to go to, if you are looking to get away from the cruise ships and tourist jewelry shops on St. Thomas- which is where the airport is. St. Thomas consists of many transplanted locals- most from the cooler regions of the US, who just grew tired of the bitter cold winters. So what did they do? They booked a one way ticket to USVI and stayed!  Good plan indeed.  Hitching is actually quite popular on the island, most locals own a jeep or a truck, so you just point your index finger and hop in the back.

It’s amazing how you can feel like you’re in your own little world while on this island. Which is why I took the liberty to create a mini world out of a Panoramic I shot down at Rams Head Point, which is on the South East end of the island (photoshop tutorial courtesy of photojojo). A grueling hike, but worth it! (TIP- don’t go at high noon) 🙂 After our hike, we hoofed it to a lovely little intersection near the beach by Rams Head Trail- on that intersection is a little yellow building in the middle of nowhere with a sign called ‘The Tourist Trap‘  Oh the irony!  And they have the most delicious homemade iced tea!  I felt like an eager thirsty little kid when asking for thirds.

The main town/harbor in St. John is called Cruz Bay. Its a busy little town filled with restaurants, a grocer, a ballpark, and a few hotels and giftshops. It’s also filled with chickens of the sorts- which seem to be all over the place, and are much more entertaining than pigeons. And of course lizards are all over the place as well, moving at jet speeds with their little legs.  Once you’re finished with the nightlife festivities that Cruz Bay has to offer, you are in for a roller coaster ride to get home.  Since the islands are made of series of volcanoes from long ago, the hills are quite steep- making for narrow roads. So it’s a bit of an adventure driving or walking along the roads.  But!  once you leave town, make sure to look up and check out the stars. They are amazing! Jason and I tried to get a shot of the stars with our travel camera, but the photo doesn’t do the sky justice. Quite a contrast from the orange hue of the Chicago sky indeed. 🙂

St. John US Virgin Island Studio Finch

My personal favorite day was the day Jason and I went snorkeling and kayaking.  We rented the kayaks from little Maho Bay’s beach and proceeded to go out to Whistling Cay, a tiny island off the coast of little Maho.  At Whistling Cay there is ample snorkel viewage along with- the possibility of sea turtles!!  Oh the happiest looking reptiles ever.  We spent much of the morning snorkeling away, seeing loads of lovely little tropical fishies who have great resemblance to Ellen Degeneres’ Character ‘Dori’ in finding Nemo (along with all of Dori’s friends of coarse).

After a bit of snorkeling we ended up swimming upon- A SEA TURTLE!  Oh it was amazing!  He looked so large, so graceful!  So happy (both the turtle and us). He even surfaced for air!  Oh it felt like we were in the middle of a National Geographic Movie. It’s amazing how vibrant the yellows and oranges are on a sea turtle. After that amazing experience, Jason decided that that was the highlight of his trip.  Indeed!

Later on in the day, about two hours before sunset, we decided to head out snorkeling again, just for fun at a nearby reef between Maho Bay and Little Maho Bay.  So off we went, bubbling away for a bit.  Jason, for the moment stuck his head out of the water to catch a glimpse of how far in to Big Maho we swam.  Just in time to hear a lady in a parked yacht shout and point “Dolphins!”  What What? Who Who? Dolphins?!  Away we went as fast as our flippers can go! Halfway across the bay on our way to the supposed dolphin spotting, a gentleman in a dingy was telling his story  of how he just had a quick chance to swim with one of the dolphins.  Yay for him, but our spirits sunk a little…. did we miss them?  We decided to keep swimming anyway.

At the point of almost reaching the other side of the bay- we saw it! A dolphin make a little dive about the water only 15 feet away.  Low and behold, it turned out there were 3 dolphins! All playing with a buoy and enjoying fish.  We stayed still and had high hopes that the dolphins would come to us- and indeed!  They noticed us and swam our way.  It was amazing!!  We began swimming in circles with the dolphins- looking straight into their eyes! I can’t even begin to describe it- the adrenaline rush of swimming with a group of wild dolphins.

So, indeed, the sea turtle was quite amazing, but the dolphins were unbelievable! And, of course, I didn’t bring my underwater camera. Lol. 🙂

So back at The Tourist Trap, we heard that there was going to be some sort of a storm.. of course, without TVs everywhere, we didn’t exactly realize what we were in for until we got to the airport on St. Thomas- The Storm of the Century!  But it’s only 2011?  Needless to say, we enjoyed our comfortable flight to Charlotte- Jason with his Pirate book and all, but we had to stay overnight before heading up to Chicago. Which worked out for our benefit- since we were bumped to first class and ended up sitting across the aisle from Dennis Rodman. Crazy!  The dolphins were friendlier though. 🙂

Best. Vacation. Ever.


  1. Christine says:

    Hello! I stumbled upon your site from a flickr search result… we are heading to Maho this Saturday! Of all the photo-googling I’ve done to satisfy my vacation countdown cravings, your photos exactly capture what I hope to experience on my trip! ( – Rodman, + first class) Just lovely – I also skipped around the rest of your site and really enjoyed it. What beautiful lucky couples 🙂 AND the boudoir photos, ooh mama if you ever come to Vermont let me know! Anyhow, thank you for getting me oh-so-excited for my trip, and we will make it a point to look for the Tourist Trap 🙂 Cheers!

    Christine, Stowe VT

    1. Studio Finch says:

      If you head over to the Tourist Trap go on a hike at the Ram’s Head Trail, but go in the early morning because it gets HOT and bring plenty of water. Send us a link of some of your photos we’d love to see them!