Geocaching is an outdoor scavenger or treasure hunt that uses GPS coordinates, and sometimes additional clues, to help participants find geocaches that are hidden all over the world.
I had my first geocaching experience while my brother, Matt, and his wife, Angela, were visiting us here on St. Croix. Over the course of a week, we searched for (and found) four different geocaches spread out all over the island. Out of the four geocaches we found, three of them were within walking distance of a road that was easily accessible and were relatively easy to find; however, one of them involved a hike up a hill with no trail through some very tall grass and bushes. I recommend that you wear proper attire, including comfortable walking shoes and sun protection, for your geocaching adventure….and maybe bring a machete!
What is a ‘geocache’? A geocache is a small resealable container that is hidden in the general area of the GPS coordinates, they can be as large as an ammo box, or as small as a magnet (referred to as micro caches). There are even virtual caches! Typically, a geocache will contain a log book and pen or pencil so you can log your name and the date that you found the geocache. The micro caches usually have only a small scroll of paper for you to log the date and your initials.
Zahra O’Reilly and Benito Vegas showing the “Christian’s Defense” geocache at Fort Christansvaern (Photo by: St. Croix Source)Most caches also contain “treasures” for trading. The general rule is that you must leave something of greater or equal value for any item that you take from the geocache. Usually, the treasures are things like coins, magnets, seashells, small plastic toys, key chains, etc. You never know what kind of treasures you’ll find! If your lucky you will find a really neat Geocoin, each is assigned a unique tracking number so its travels can be tracked online through logs posted by the finders. Some Geocoins have a set goal, in fact, my brother brought a geocoin with him that he had found in an Arizona geocache, its goal is to get to Hawaii. So, he left it in a geocache here on St. Croix in the hopes that someone who travels to scuba dive, or enjoys tropical vacations, might find it and take it to Hawaii.
For those of you interested in becoming a geocacher visit geocaching.com and sign up for a free account to participate. Your free account will allow you to search in different postal codes, states or countries and provides a list of geocaches in that area. The GPS coordinates for each geocache are provided, as well as a level of difficulty, additional hints to help you in your search, and there is even a comments section where you can read what others have written about their search for the geocache or add your own comments, stories and/or pictures. There are also many iPhone and Android apps that will help you find geocaches near you and uses your phones GPS to guide you to its location.
Geocaching is a fun and adventurous way to enjoy St. Croix, even for those that have lived here for years. According to the current geocaching.com map of St. Croix, there are more than a dozen geocaches of varying sizes and diverse locations; some are deep underwater or accessible only by boat. For those avid geocachers, keep in mind that the caches hidden on the east end of St. Croix are those which are found at the easternmost point of the United States! I have been told geocaching is a very addicting pastime (in a good way), so give it a try. Happy hunting!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor