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Trip Report 12 Days on St. John

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We just returned from a 12 day family trip to St. John. We had gone there many times from the early 80's until 2001 but were now returning with our grown daughters, son-in-law, boyfriend and 20 month old grandson.
We used frequent flyer so we had to fly through Miami- the best way from Boston is on the AA nonstop and I am told Jet Blue has a nonstop now also. Changing planes in Miami was much easier than several years ago because we stayed in the same terminal and did not have to go through security again.
Landed on time and took a taxi to Red Hook. For those of you who have not visited St. John don't think you are there when you land at STT. The ride to Red Hook is at least 30 minutes depending on traffic and where other people in your taxi are going.We made stops at two different hotels in the hills before getting to Red Hook. Plane landed at 4:10 and we got the 6:00 P. M. ferry to St. John. Arriving in Cruz Bay we walked to the St John Inn where we had a room for the night. Our villa rental began the next day. The St. John Inn is one of the few places that rents rooms for a night or two, especially during high season. The owner of four years has improved the Inn but it still needs some work. It is fine of a few nights and you can walk everywhere in Cruz Bay.
We shared a two room suite with one daughter and boyfriend that night. We all went to the Beach Bar for supper. Great location right on the beach, decent pub food and there was a band.
Next day we had lunch of the Tap Room which I believe is owned by the St John Brewery which brews several kinds of beer. Lunch was excellent- the menu is better pub food and we tried Virgin Islands summer ale- excellent beer.
We then went to St John car rental to pick up our Wrangler and Dodge Nitro for the week. I recommend them because of a problem we had later in the week. The rear hatch failed suddenly and gave my son-in-law a gash on the head. St. John Car rental offered us a new car but we didn't want to waste time on that hassle so we kept the Nitro but were careful with the hatch. When i returned the cars I didn't request anything because I don't think the rental agency could have foreseen that but they volunteered to give us an excellent discount. I've read some bad stories about car rental agencies on St. John on this board so I was very pleased. My son-in-law said Dodges are notoriously bad cars.
I called Caribbean Villas about noon and even though check in time was 3:00 P. M. the agent said he could take us to the house and we could leave lugggae there and we would know where it was when my other daughter and family arrived later that afternoon.
So we went to Rara Avis on Hart Bay. A beautiful villa with great views. It is about 10 minutes from Cruz Bay on paved roads-4 bedrooms and 3 and one half baths. This house worked beautifully for us- 20 month old grandson and parents had the connecting bedrooms below the main house and the grandparents and unmarried couple each had a separate master suite pod. Kitchen was fully equipped. pool was really nice and the young guys proclaimed the grill awesome.
Our schedule for the rest of the week was to go to one of the famous North Shore beaches in the morning-usually leaving between 8:30 and 9:00 A. M. because my grandson was up by 6:00 A. M. every day, return to the villa around noon or slightly after for his nap and return to a beach about 4:00 P. M. This meant we missed the midday crowds on the beach and didn't have trouble parking. It was a busy week on St. John- President's Week. We always found shade on the beaches at that time.
There was a path to Hart Bay from the house and we went to that beach to look for shells or sea glass and my son-in-law fished. It is a rocky beach and the water is rocky and rough. I had been warned about that by the woman at Caribbean Villas when we rented. We saw snorkelers in the water but I don't think beginners should snorkel here-unless it is calmer in other seasons.
We ate in the following restaurants:
High Tide- right on the beach- good food and grandson played on the beach while we were waiting for dinner so good for kids. We ate there twice.
Lime Inn and Morgan's Mango- both were excellent and lively. We ate there years ago and they are still two of our favorite restaurants. Only my wife and I ate there after the others went home.
Lunch at Uncle Joe's one day- fabulous ribs and reasonable. Had a cheeseburger at Skinny Legs one day and Shipwreck landing the next- Skinny Legs won for the best cheeseburger but Shipwreck's is very good also and they have a more interesting menu and eating there with the water view is great.
My wife and I returned to the St John Inn for two nights after the house rental ended and the others went home. Again- the outdoor areas are nice, so is breakfast is good, staff is really nice but the room needed to be improved. Fine for a couple of nights. We spent the next two days back at North Shore beaches and eating at some of the restaurants I mentioned above.
On Monday afternoon we left St John to spend a night at the Island View Guest House on St. Thomas. Originally we had an early flight on AA and needed to do this. Of course after we had booked the guest house AA changed the flight to a later time and we could have stayed on St. John for another night. Unfortunately this led to the worst experience we have ever had and we started going to St. John in 1983. The ferry was crowded, the taxi situation at Red Hook was chaotic- most people were going to the Cruise port or the airport. I asked the driver more that once if he knew the guest house. When we got in the cab with about 8 other people he started yelling at me-very angry- that I should not be asking him more than once , and that I shouldn't be listening to people on St. John-who had told me they didn't know the guest house. I remained polite and tried to brush it off. As we approached the airport he pointed up the hill and said the guest house was up there and then started asking me in a very angry tone why I didn't stay at one of the hotels along the airport road. I calmly said I had read good reviews. At the airport he told me to move to the front seat so the woman next to me could get out- I said that we were together- he angrily accused me of saying that I was alone- I said she was my wife and why would I say that. At the guest house I gave him $40 for a $30 fare and said just give me ten back- normally I would say less but there was not going to be a tip. He again started yelling saying he wasn't going to steal my money. My wife was terrified and still maintains she thinks he would have killed me if I was alone. Believe me- I am not an aggressive person and remained totally calm - I showed a little irritation when I told him that other woman was my wife. When I told the guest the guest house clerk she said so you got one of those. When I told the owner he said some of those drivers are weird and they don't like to come up here. This led me to believe that there is more than one crazy cabbie on STT. I've been ripped off by cab drivers in several locations around the world and have had some who weren't friendly but this was a very bad experience. Unless I am going straight to Red Hook or the airport in the future I will arrange a private cab. When we left the guest house the owners arranged a cab- very nice guy and I got his card.
The Island View Guest House was beautiful. The standard room was bright and comfortable, very clean with a good sized bathroom The views from the pool and dining areas were fabulous. They cook dinner there several nights a week but this wasn't one of them but since we didn't have a car the girl who works the desk prepared a shrimp scampi dinner for us and some other guests. We had a nice bottle of wine from the honor bar -very reasonable dinner. We could stay there for a week but you would want a car to get around as taxis are expensive.
Flew back smoothly through Miami to Boston. Except for the cabbie- great trip.

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