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Trip Report Back from beautiful St. John!

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My husband and I were in St. John from May 12 to May 19. We had a great time - what a beautiful place! Here's a recap of our trip:

We flew into St. Thomas using Delta frequent flier miles. From the airport, we took a taxi to Red Hook and then the ferry to St. John. Our taxi ride was about a half hour or so, and the ferry ride was about 20 minutes. On the way back, though, we took the ferry from Cruz Bay to Charlotte Amalie (about 45 minutes) and then a brief taxi ride to the airport. Both trips were about equal in length and cost, but we preferred the longer ferry ride and shorter taxi ride, simply because it was more enjoyable to us.

Once on St. John, we rented a Jeep from Conrad Sutton for the week for $390. We found that most rental places offered the same price. Conrad Sutton has a decent-sized parking lot right in Cruz Bay for anyone who is not staying within walking distance of town. No complaints about Conrad Sutton or the Jeep we had. We are definitely glad we swung for the car for the whole week - it allowed us so much flexibility! And my husband had no problem driving on the left side of the road. For the first few hours, I kept doing my mantra: "left... left... left..." But he quickly adapted.

We rented the Azul de Mar room in Mahogany Tree Villa ( for about $1,200 for the week. The villa has two other rental units - decent place, with a pool and honesty bar. Our unit could use a bit of a facelift, but it was clean and had loads of character. We had a kitchen, a TV, and A/C in our bedroom (a must for us). A word to the wise for anyone interested in renting here - the biggest unit (whose name I can't remember right now) does not have A/C in the bedroom - rather, it has some sort of cooling unit that didn't seem to do the job for either of the two couples who rented that room during our stay. They both complained about the heat in the bedroom. Also, the guest comments on the website are a little out-of-date - they are directed to the former owners, who apparently were very sociable with their guests. The new owner just recently took over - he only lives there part-time, and I'm not sure he guarentees picking up guests from the dock like the old owners did. He happened to be on the island while we were there, so we did get a lift from the dock. Just be aware that the website *might* not be completely up-to-date with the new owner's policies. (But please don't let that stop you from looking into it!)

The location of Mahogany Tree is excellent - it's a 5- to 10-minute walk to downtown Cruz Bay. For anyone familiar with the area, it's just around the bend from Gallows Point. All in all, it was a good place for us to stay.

We snorkeled every single day - so much fun! Our favorite snorkel spot was undoubtedly Waterlemon Cay in Leinster Bay. You have to walk about 20 or 30 minutes to get there, but I highly recommend it. The coral was amazing; we saw hundreds of huge starfish, several turtles and stingrays, all kinds of fish... it was one of the highlights of our trip. Our favorite beach was Cinnamon Bay. We also enjoyed Trunk Bay, Francis Bay, Salt Pond Bay, and pretty much every other beach we visited.

We hiked the Reef Bay Trail - also highly recommended, although it's a bit of a challenging hike on the way back up. (Apparently you can arrange for the National Park Service to pick you up at the bottom of the trail.) The highlight of this trail was the petroglyphs, ancient stone carvings surrounded by a waterfall.

Another highlight of our trip was an excursion with New Horizons II to the British Virgin Islands. This trip goes to the Baths on Virgin Gorda, lunch at Pusser's on Marina Cay, snorkeling at Guana Island, and Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. We loved this tour! Unfortunately, the weather was not so great - by the time we got to Soggy Dollar, we were pretty soggy ourselves. But it was worth it for those Painkillers!

Food and Drink
What can I say - I love Painkillers. We've been making them at home with our Cruzan Bay Rum - yum! Our favorite watering spot (besides Soggy Dollar, which we only got to enjoy for an hour) was The Beach Bar in Cruz Bay. Also enjoyed Woody's and Skinny Legs. Didn't care for Duffy's, simply because it was more like a club than the kind of laid-back Caribbean bars we were looking for.

We ate well in St. John (although food is generally pretty expensive). The best restaurant of our trip was Asolare - food, service, ambience, everything just blew me away. Fabulous - expensive, but fabulous. Also adored the food at Morgan's Mango, Rhumb Lines, Uncle Joe's Barbecue (I picked up a rib and the meat literally slid right off), Stone Terrace, Woody's and Skinny Legs. We weren't that impressed with The Lime Inn, and we were downright disappointed with Cafe Roma.

We ended up buying "Feet, Fins and Four-Wheel Drive" by Pam Gaffin and "St. John Off the Beaten Track" by Gerald Singer. One of those would have been enough, and we preferred "FF&FW" - it was more user-friendly, with tons of great details. The other book was good, too, but we found ourselves using this one more.

Those are the main details of our trip. St. John is just stunning - within the national park especially, it is so lush, with so much wildlife and absolutely pristine beaches. The only downside of our trip was the weather - it was mostly overcast, with intermittent rain. Our last day was so sunny and so HOT that in retrospect, those overcast days were kinda nice because they were so comfortable.

I hope someone finds this trip report useful. I'd be happy to try to answer any questions!

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