We piled our surfboards into the little car and took off into the hot, humid Caribbean island night. The sound of reggae music and mufflerless cars rose in the evening as we drove through Red Hook on our way to the North side of St. Thomas.
“I heard about this place from this guy. But I’ve never been.”
This is how most of my surfing adventures in St. Thomas began when I tagged along with Rob, a kid I worked with over at the Bolongo Bay Resort. We had bonded over surfing, an uncommon passion on St. Thomas where drinking and floating around like a bloated manatee were the most common pastimes.
As it turned out, there were three of us surfers at Bolongo Bay, and, as I was the most recent flotsam to wash up on the shore, I appreciated both the instant crew and the limited size of the group.
More often than not, if we decided to go check out a rumor of a surf spot, we would be the only ones there. After all, when Hull Bay, the most well-known surf spot on St. Thomas was generally uncrowded as it was, why go looking around for something else.
But we had a lot of fun exploring the island, as long as we kept our expectations realistic. This wasn’t Hawaii after all, but we didn’t expect it to be.
Night Surfing – A First
A night surf was a new experience for me, but I was up for it. The only hesitation was that surfing in St. Thomas rarely entails sand. Like most islands, you have to be ready to deal with rocks and reefs, a delicate situation even with daylight.
Often, a night surf requires a full moon as your source of light, the waves catching the light as they rise, turning from shadows to glowing walls as they approach. The trick is that you don’t get much warning, and depending on the angle of the light, you can go from light to shadow at any time.
This night surf turned out to be a little bit different.
We found the rocky point that had a nice little left peeling off of it. The swell was good for this sort of adventure, not too big, enough to get rides. We weren’t looking to test our limits against black seas and shadowy rocks.
It turned out that we weren’t reliant on the moon for light. This point was developed and had an apartment complex with a sidewalk hugging the curve of the shoreline – interspersed with benches and lamp posts.
How could we be the only ones out? Again we thanked the rum gods who were busy rotting the brains of the general ex-pat island population.
This was like a perfect little wave pool – water and air 80 degrees, waist-high waves peeling in point break perfection, well lit for night surf sessions, the whole place to ourselves.
Our laughter brought a bit of an audience as spectators walking along the path stopped to sit and watch us surf. Not one person grabbed a surfboard to join us and we weren’t worried about the word getting out.
After all, there’s no surf in St. Thomas.
Surfing St. Thomas
If you haven’t noticed, the inconsistent surf and hard to get to breaks have led to a reasonable decision by most traveling surfers to just go elsewhere on their quest for waves. Surfing in St. Thomas is possible, and in fact when I lived there I surfed more than I thought I would.
But it is a local’s game, and the empty tropical waves are their reward.
Read more Roam Chronicles.