Words by Victor Provost
Photos by Martei Korley
Like the millions of travelers from around the world who pour into the region each year, we love the Caribbean for its beautiful aesthetics. But LargeUp has never been about palm-tree porn. We’re just as interested in showing the real culture and the true stories behind the places we feature as we are in the escapism that they offer. In our new column “That’s My Beach,” we’ll be highlighting some of the Caribbean’s most scenic seashores, from the perspective of those who grew up with them as their backyard. Remember Behind The Music? This is kinda like “Behind the Beach.” In our first installment, musician Victor Provost takes us to Trunk Bay, the postcard beach of the US Virgin Islands.
The view overlooking Trunk Bay from St. John’s North Shore Road is one of the most iconic images in the entire Caribbean. But local St. Johnians enjoyed bathing in the warm, protected waters for decades before this beach became the poster child for “America’s Paradise” — and before there was an entrance fee. Thanks to recent archeological finds, we also know that indigenous Arawak and Caribe people did the same for centuries before them!!!
As young boys growing up, we would always get a big group of friends together and hitchhike out to the beach. We spent all day racing each other up and down the shoreline, playing pickup football, stickball, or “peg” – a painful variation on dodgeball.
Like many of St. John’s beaches, Trunk Bay is administered by the Virgin Islands National Park and is part of lands that were “purchased” and subsequently “donated” to the National Park in the 1950s by American impresario, philanthropist, conservationist, and UFO enthusiast, Laurence Rockefeller.
Today, on a typical day you’ll find Trunk Bay overflowing with tourists from all over the world. They lay out on the sand, hike through the historic Trunk Bay Estate ruins, or snorkel the underwater trail around Trunk Cay. The sleepy old strip of sand with a gravel “parking lot” has been modernized to include an upgraded snack stand, showers and changing rooms, as well as a paved roundabout for taxi pickups and drop-offs.
After a quick “bathe up” on Trunk Bay, most locals will find their way back to Town (Cruz Bay) for more than a few cold drinks at Fred’s, or Cap’s Place, or if we’re hungry, we’ll probably stop off at Hercules’ food stand for a saltfish pate (patty).
The beach and the view from the overlook are featured in the music video “Virgin Islands Nice” by reggae superstar Pressure Busspipe, and in several music videos by country and western star, Kenny Chesney, who owns a home overlooking the bay.
Victor Provost is a world-renowned steel pannist, recording artist, and educator born and raised in St. John, U.S.V.I., now residing in the Washington D.C. metro area.