island life
🇻🇮St. Croix

Island Life: It’s Not All Rum and Roses…

Island life in the Caribbean isn’t always as paradisiacal as it appears. Idyllic beaches, great weather, and endless rum don’t absolve West Indian residents of the vagaries and responsibilities of modern life. On top of that, island life also comes with its own unique challenges.

Do you like it when lights actually turn on every time you flip on light switches? Hate crater-sized potholes? Need your grocery store to always be fully-stocked with everything you need?

If you answered yes to any/all of these questions, then island life might not be for you.

This is especially true on St Croix

The island of our birth shines in many regards, as we’ve chronicled extensively over the years. I, of course, love visiting and reacquainting myself with her charms. The prospect of returning for good, though, is not something that I ever really seriously entertain.

Why I can’t ever truly go home again

WAPA, the foulest four-letter word in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is chiefly to blame. Indeed, regular blackouts have long been a much-hated fact of life across “America’s Paradise.” So too are WAPA’s exorbitantly high rates. On average, USVI residents pay 42 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. That’s easily among the highest rates anywhere governed by the Stars and Stripes; on-par with Hawaii and 16 times higher than the USA average.

St Croix potholes are also the stuff of legend (nightmares?), though I have to admit that most of the roads were looking much better during my March 2024 visit.

Grocery options have also improved in recent years. Prices, on the other hand, have not. Stateside inflation doesn’t even come close to what amounts to regular pricing on most shopping needs in STX. 

The typical STX visitor remains largely oblivious to most of the drawbacks to island life, of course. This is largely seen as a good thing since, as conventional wisdom might suggest, tourist dollars are required to fuel the local economy. 

With the struggles of island life in St Croix only worsening, though, you have to wonder if those tourism dollars are actually worth it. Does tourism actually serve the people of St Croix, and if so, how can it serve them better?

You know, to the degree that the lights always go on..?

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