Island Living – Water Island

Written by Chuck Gidley as Travel


What is it like to live on an island? Is it harder than living on the mainland? What do residents do for shopping? How do the houses get water and power? Does the island have internet and cable TV? How do people get to the island? How are medical emergencies handled? What do people do for entertainment on an island? Why do people live on an island?


All of these questions are asked, and answered, everyday by those of us that live on an island or want to live on an island. In our case we are talking about Water Island.


Sitting right next to Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean is Water Island. The atmosphere on Water Island has been referred to as “an emotional world away from the hustle and bustle of St Thomas”.


If you want a slower pace of life Water Island gives you that. Nobody is ever in a rush to get some place else. There really isn’t “some place else” to get to! Most of the 100 residents on this little 500 acre island drive a golf cart as the main mode of transportation. That works out good as most of the narrow roads have potholes and there is no high speed traffic to worry about. There is only one “STOP” sign on the entire island. All of the neighbors know one another and are eager to help each other if need be.


Expect to do your own upkeep of your home. Expect to fix anything and everything if it breaks. You tend to become quite the handyman when you live on a small island. You develop special “McGyver” skills. If you are still stuck one of the neighbors usually has the skills and tools needed to help.


Getting to St Thomas is no problem at all. The Water Island Ferry, owned by a Water Islander, runs from Crown Bay Marina on St Thomas about every hour from 6:35 am until 6:00 pm Monday thru Saturday and night ferries run generally on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. You can make arrangements for a special ferry or a water taxi. Most residents own a dinghy or boat to commute to Crown Bay Marina on St Thomas.


All shopping is done on St Thomas. You will have to rent a car or go by taxi to stock up. Most homes have freezers so that residents can stock up when they make a shopping run. There are several grocery stores (Pueblo, Cost U Less, Price Smart, Plaza Extra) for food shopping. Home Depot is a full service store as is Kmart. You then bring your items back to Water Island on the ferry or private boat. You can also take you car or truck to St Thomas on the car barge (owned by a Water Islander), do your shopping and then come back on the barge.


Water Island is the exception when it comes to having medical emergency services. They have the Water Island Search and Rescue Squad. This squad of trained volunteers responds to all medical emergencies and treats the victim before transporting them to St. Thomas for further transportation to the hospital.


Utilities are provided just like on the mainland, with one exception. Water is collected from the roof of a home and is stored in a cistern (concrete vaults) located under the house. Residents use faucet filters or ultraviolet light to prepare the water for drinking. Electricity and telephone service comes from St Thomas under water. Cell phones work well, internet service is provided by a small roof mounted antenna, and television is provided by satellite or wireless cable from St Thomas.


Many residents work on St Thomas. They commute by ferry or private boat and keep a regular work schedule. Water Island is a diverse community of people with many skills. We have doctors, lawyers, office managers, general managers, craftsmen, shop keepers, waitresses, and other professions.


You make your own entertainment on a small island. They have done just that on Water Island. Lunch at the beach at Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill or a fruity tropical drink at “Joe’s beach bar. If that is not enough for you you can go to the Drive-in on the beach every Monday night during high season. There is even a BINGO night held every other week in season.


The final important question is why do people live on an island? We enjoy the peace and quiet, the breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, good friends, being independent, protecting nature and taking the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the blessed life we live here on Water Island.


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