It’s hard for me to describe the joy I have as a native Crucian in bringing my kids back to St. Croix to experience all the special things I enjoyed during my childhood here. I have twin boys, age 7, that were born in Florida, where we still reside today. We don’t have family living in St. Croix anymore, so they’ve only been there twice. I talk about my home island a lot, though, and many of our family friends here in Lauderdale are also Crucians, so they certainly have a healthy appreciation for the place, if not a tangible connection.
To them, St. Croix is a magical land where one can find the best beaches, best rum, best jewelry, best food, and anything else their proud and overly biased Crucian Daddy wants to brag about. On their first visit three years ago, they called St. Croix “Daddy’s Island,” a nickname I did nothing to discourage. On our more recent trip last month, though, St. Croix became, in many ways, as much theirs as it is mine.
Both of them were just so keenly interested in the island’s historical sites, food, and fun places where Daddy used to hang out, that by the end of the trip, it seemed like that they had lived there their whole lives. All they wanted to eat were pates and Johnny Cakes. All they wanted to talk about were the legends of Budhoe, the slave rebellion and Queen Mary. All they wanted to do was spend endless hours in the clear-blue waters around Buck Island, Sandy Point, Columbus Landing and Rainbow Beach.
If they had to choose just one of their St. Croix experiences to re-live right now, though, I’m pretty sure they’d opt for the scene pictured above.
Jumping off the pier in Frederiksted is one of the seminal experiences of growing up in St. Croix. No matter where you lived on the island, it’s impossible to have been a kid (or a kid at heart) here and not done it.
I can remember many times leaving Sandy Point, just a few miles south of the pier, following a long Sunday of fun to sneak in a few refreshing leaps in the twilight. Jumping off the pier was also always a great way to cool down after the hot Carnival action of the annual Crucian Christmas Festival Adult Parade, or in the middle of any warm day.
The distance from pier to sea is probably around 15 feet or more, depending on where you jump. For smaller kids, it’s a true test of bravery the first time, and nothing but pure joy thereafter.
The deep breath. The butterflies in your belly. The push off (up and out). The screaming. The rushing wind beneath your feet. The violent splash and drifting downward as deep as you dare to go. (It’s pretty deep there, as you can see in this video).
The whole package is an amazing childhood thrill indelibly etched upon my memory… one that I’ll never forget.
As I was saying, I don’t think my kids will ever forget it either. Our return flight home was delayed a few hours, giving us a bit of extra time to fit this little bit of fun into the tail end of our trip. If the twins had their way, we would probably still be there now; my wife and I watching them endlessly jumping, reliving the same thrills I once knew…