The Water Island Campgrounds is located a quick ferry ride away from St. Thomas. The campground is natural and lush, in keeping with the environment and vibe of this small island. The property provides an elevated camping experience, or “glamping,” as the staff calls it. There are six tented, screened cottages with queen-size beds as well as an indoor suite with a private living room, kitchen, and bedroom with a king bed. There are shared toilets, shower, and cooking facilities for the cottages. It’s not for everybody (it is a campground, after all), but the property, and Water Island, is a special place for those who enjoy laid-back, quiet nature.
A small campground with cottages and secluded, quiet natural charm
This campground is set on a hilly property, and guests will do a lot of climbing (all of the toilet, shower, and cooking facilities are situated at the top of a hill),
but the property is not particularly large or spread out. There is a main path
that leads up from the road to the cooking pavilion and facilities, the suite,
and the owner’s residence. The cottages are located off two small paths on
either side of the main drive. The grounds are woodsy and the cottages are
secluded -- the property has a lot of natural charm.
The campgrounds have beautiful views throughout, especially
from the cooking pavilion, hot tub area, and some of the cottages. The owners
and some of the staff live on-site. They are often found around the property
and are always accessible by phone. They are very knowledgeable about the
island, transportation, and places to eat, and are happy to offer directions
Water Island is extremely safe (most folks don’t
lock their doors at night), a rarity in the Caribbean, and the property feels
this way too. Although the separate accommodations are secluded and private,
there are multiple common areas and you will most likely get to know the other
guests on the property.
Water Island is the fourth and most recent main island in
the USVI. It is just under 500 acres and has about 160 inhabitants. The island
has a small number of restaurants but no stores, public transportation, or
large hotels. If you want to get away, this is the place.
The island is accessed by an eight-minute ferry ride from
Crown Bay Marina. The marina is an eight-minute drive from the airport and a
five-minute drive from Charlotte Amalie’s Main Street. Once you arrive at Water
Island, the owners will pick you up from the ferry dock. The owners will also
drive you back to the dock for departure or help transport you when buying
groceries for no charge.
The campgrounds are not located on the beach, but a small beach
can be accessed down a woodsy nature trail (a 10-minute walk). Honeymoon Beach, a
popular, scenic beach, is also a 10-minute walk. Two popular restaurants are within walking distance from the campgrounds as well. The best way
to explore the island, however, is by golf cart. Many of the roads are rocky
or unpaved and there are no gas stations on the island. Daily golf cart rentals
start at $35 and weekly rentals are also available.
Water Island is friendly, laid-back, and safe -- it is a small
community and everyone knows each other. As many locals put it, you can be as
busy as you want here, or do nothing at all and not feel pressured. For a small
island, there are a number of local events including weekly movie nights,
potluck dinners, and art shows, among others. The main attractions on the
island include Honeymoon Beach, Limestone Bay, the plantation ruins, and Fort
Segarra, an underground, partially constructed World War II fort. The island is
known for its rugged beauty and spectacular views.
There are six cottages and one suite on the property. The
cottages are tented and made out of wood and canvas, and the space is divided into
two sections with a futon on one side and the bed on the other. The beds are
comfortable with high thread count sheets, blankets, and plenty of pillows.
There is also a shelving area for belongings or a small table for two,
depending on the layout of the cottage. Each cottage comes with its own private
patio and some offer great views of the water. The cottages are rustic yet
homey and far more comfortable than the usual camping accommodations. Note that toilets, showers, and cooking facilities are shared.
There is one suite on the property which is located on the
top of the hill near the cooking facilities. The suite
has its own private kitchen (although no stove), bathroom, and bedroom. It also
has a balcony with beautiful views. The suite is still rustic -- there is no AC, the shower is operated by pulling on a string, and there is a composting toilet. The living room is simply furnished with a comfortable futon
and wood table. The bedroom has a king-size bed and a fabulous hand-made
driftwood headboard. The bedroom also has a TV.
Clean and well-maintained cooking, toilet, and showering facilities
There are shared cooking, showering, and toilet facilities
at the campgrounds. The Bathhouse, with the toilets and showers, is clean and
functional, with two 1-pint flush toilets and two showers. There are two sinks and hand soap is provided.
The cooking pavilion is a large open-air structure located at the top of the
hill. Offering beautiful views of the surrounding area, the pavilion has potted
plants, a seating area, and knickknacks that make it feel homey. There is a gas
grill, a large fridge, hot plates, pots, pans, and cookware, and coffee-making
facilities. There is a long wood table under the pavilion and an outdoor picnic
table where guests can eat. Each unit also has a marked cupboard for storing
The campgrounds have a hammock pavilion further down
on the property that contains a hammock and cushioned lawn furniture. This pavilion
offers beautiful views as well. There is a communications room with a computer
that is free for guests to use as well as a hot tub area.