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Trip Report A Short Report on St. John

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We returned last week from seven days on St. John. In this brief trip report, I’ll give my impressions of our hotel, the restaurants and the beaches we visited. I'll spare you the day-by-day!

We stayed at Gallows Point, just outside Cruz Bay. This proved an ideal location for us, allowing nightly walks to town for dinner. We took a lower unit, ocean side, and spent many contented hours on the porch gazing a boats and water and the lights of St. Thomas. There’s a pool, a gazebo, some okay snorkeling off the rocky beach. Parking is limited, but since we usually returned in mid to late afternoon, we always found a spot (there’s overflow parking just past the resort, but we never needed it). The kitchen was well-equipped. although we used it only for breakfast and preparing a few sandwiches to take to the beach. The other guests ranged from elderly retirees to young families with kids. I highly recommend Gallows Point if you like the convenience of being near town.

Restaurants:

High Tide -- stopped here the first night. I cannot judge it. We hadn’t eaten in 11 hours and the conch fritters and calamari seemed wonderful. Jerk chicken was acceptable, if not as highly seasoned as I’d like.

Beach Bar -- had a couple of lunches here -- a dry mahi-mahi sandwich and a good burger (actually, two good burgers, one serving as an emergency dinner). Really tasty fries.

Fish Trap -- Excellent seafood chowder and a nice seared yellow fin tuna.

Uncle Joe’s Barbecue -- Our favorite, went back twice. Tangy barbecue sauce on chicken and/or ribs. Good rice and “bean” side. Some might say too much sauce. I like to lick my fingers. Quick service and low prices -- dinner was about the price of an appetizer elsewhere.

Skinny Legs -- stopped in for lunch after an active morning. A classic beach shack, marred for me only by the presence of Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriot paraphernalia. I enjoyed my burger. My wife and son thought their’s a little overdone, but still quite good.

Morgan’s Mango -- Also went back twice. The crab and lobster cakes might be the best version of this classic I’ve ever tried. I had it before a Caribbean fish soup seasoned with lime juice -- plentiful shrimp, squid, snapper, etc. Second night I went for the crab chowder -- rich but not as hot as it might have been, and an excellent grilled wahoo. Service was sort of spotty. The first night our entrees arrived at the moment our starters disappeared -- felt rushed. The second night our wine arrived about halfway through the entrees.

Cantina on the Blue. I know, what were we thinking? Can’t say if the food is good here, because after waiting 45 minutes to an hour for our entrees we gave up, paid for the drinks and salsa and left. I’ve never done that before. We crossed the street and had those emergency burgers at the Beach Bar.

In general, I found the restaurants very expensive for what they were, and the quality generally acceptable but certainly not rave worthy (the fries and the crab cakes aside). Service was pretty amateurish. Morgan’s especially has a nice lively atmosphere.

Beaches:

We rented a jeep for the week. We used the four wheel drive every time we went further than Trunk Bay, up those steep twisty roads. A daily adventure!

Trunk Bay -- most beautiful. Okay snorkeling trail. Annoying thirty-somethings loudly and drunkenly tossing a football around.

Waterlemon Cay on Leinster Bay -- best snorkeling we experienced, though some might be put off by the 3/4 mile walk (lovely) and fairly long swim required to get out to the best spots. The interesting Annaberg sugar plantation ruins are nearby.

Cinnamon Bay -- Pretty spot, again marred by a group of merchant marine sailors three sheets to the wind at 10:30 AM. They were still conscious and talking, but no more interesting, at three when we left.

Maho Bay -- narrow beach convenient to the road. Quieter surf on a rough day.

Hawknest Beach -- had our best overall beach day here. Good snorkeling on two reefs.

Overall, spectacularly beautiful water and sand. While the snorkeling is not as good as it is in Mexico or Belize, it’s good enough to keep you swimming a while.

Warning! The only real disappointment on our trip was learning we’d left making reservations for the Reef Bay Trail walk too late! It was full every day we were there, and though we got on the waiting list, we were never called. It is probably worthwhile calling a week or two ahead, though I’m not sure they take reservations that way.
So, overall, an excellent week on a beautiful island.

I’d like to thank those who answered my questions about leaving the island on a previous thread http://www.fodors.com/community/caribbean-islands/time-to-allow-from-st-john-to-returning-us-flight-from-st-thomas.cfm.

We took your advice, left early and hired a porter. We were through security and in the departure lounge in under forty minutes. People who didn’t use a porter waited two and a half hours!

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