Another St. John Trip Report

Dec 15th, 2008, 12:33 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 71
Another St. John Trip Report

First, I want to say "thank you" to all of you that took time to answer my questions pre-trip! Planning and researching are half the fun for me and y'all helped with that.

This was my and my husband's first trip to the Caribbean. I decided St. John was the place for us mostly from reading information and reviews here; and I was not disappointed! It was everything (and maybe even more) that I expected it to be. Absolutely breathtaking views every way you turned and a nice 4-wheel drive adventure to boot! Casual dining; friendly people. I would say 90% of our dealings were positive.

Let's see...first off, I was a little nervous because I booked car rental with Denzil Clyne, and this was done by phone and we sent in a $100 deposit, but no confirmation was given. The "no confirmation" part was what worried me (and they don't have a website) but I had read that they had a good reputation; they were the only ones that had a smaller 4WD; so I went with it. As it turned out, no problem. The Suzuki we rented was pretty scratched up but it was fine...good size, ran fine, no problems...and after a week of exploring the island I could imagine how it got so scratched up! ;-) We were just sure to make note of the scratches beforehand.

Our accomodations: I found our accomodations online. Lucked out as we were so pleased! We stayed in a little 1,000 square foot cottage on a hillside overlooking John's Folly Bay on the Coral Bay side of the island. It was just on the other side of the hill from Estate Concordia and a very quick drive to Salt Pond Bay Beach. Wow! The views were amazing; the cottage was precious; and to top it off, it was a super value. I can't recommend this place enough: www.tradewindscottage.com Lois (the owner) was very good to work with. One thing...the cottage does not have a/c; but as it turned out for us, this was no problem at all. There were tradewinds blowing constantly. Actually, a storm came through one day and it was almost scary it became so windy, but except for that one day, it was very pleasant with the winds.

Hubby and I drove most of the island...enjoyed the views from the Northshore road (20) looking onto the Northshore beaches; enjoyed the drive to the east end as well.

We spent a day at Cinammon Bay Beach(beautiful- rented chairs there-nice "real" bathrooms); a day at Salt Pond Bay Beach (gorgeous-but you have to hike about 10 minutes to get to beach); and THREE days at Little Lameshur Bay Beach, which was by far, our favorite beach. There are a number of reasons for this:

1) uncrowded...maybe 20-25 people tops each day
2) parking is close to beach so you don't have to lug all your supplies far once you park...just back in, pop the trunk
3) beautiful sandy beach and some pretty good snorkeling too
4) just down the road from where we were staying
5) nice calm water
6) picnic tables and an outhouse
7) shaded areas if you needed to get out of the sun

Now, the only negative is that it is an adventure to get there. Part of the road is dirt/gravel with big pot holes and washed out areas and I can imagine it would not be wise to take this road had it been raining. We were lucky that wasn't a problem. Also, I think some car rental places don't want you taking your car down that road. If it's dry, it's fine to navigate with 4 wheel drive, especially if your husband drives instead of you. ;-)

While we ate out quite a bit, we did also go to Star Market and buy breakfast food and stuff for picnic lunches. I must confess...I had sticker shock in this place. Prices are about 3 times what they are here; but even so, I'm sure we saved some money getting groceries rather than eating every meal out. Plus, having a sandwich at the beach keeps you from having to leave the beach! The roast beef from the deli was delicious.

Our best meals were at Shipwreck Landing. Very nice place with good food and good service both times we ate there. We also enjoyed Skinny's burgers. (twice) Had decent meals also at Aqua Bistro and Island Blues Cafe, oh, and appetizers at Miss Lucy's. Didn't enjoy Miss Lucy's so much, and it was way too buggy there too, so if you go, take your bug spray! All these restaurants are on the Coral Bay side of St. John.

We did a few trails; Europa Trail; Leinster Bay Trail and Francis Bay Trail. My favorite was the Europa Trail. From Little Lameshur beach it took less than an hour to Europa beach and back, and I loved that Europa Beach was totally deserted when I got there.

Enjoyed visiting the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins; for the history and the views!

Overall, I'd rate this trip a 9.5! St. John was beautiful and casual, just the way we like it. The people were friendly and the driving was an adventure. I went with the expectation that this would be a once in a lifetime trip but hubby is now saying he wants to go back. So we'll see! Cross your fingers for me.
LisaMS is offline  
Dec 15th, 2008, 05:48 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Sounds like you did your research and were rewarded with a great vacation payoff! I'm glad you enjoyed the island and that you posted a trip report to aid future travelers. How did you happen upon your villa? Just a random computer search?
ejcrowe is offline  
Dec 15th, 2008, 06:38 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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Lisa, Thanks for the trip report. We don't get too many lately about STJ. Sounds like you may have been bitten by the St John bug if you are already talking about a return! We are in love with that island and will continue to go there until we tire of it. If you return, Jost Van Dyke in the BVI's is worth a visit as is Virgin Gorda. We always take one day to visit the BVI's.
brenandg is offline  
Dec 15th, 2008, 08:21 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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LisaMS: Thanks for a great trip report. Good info. on tradewinds cottage too. I guess I am among the ones who aren't disappointed with Miss Lucy's Although I do agree, you should definitely put on the bug spray but I say that about any restaurant near the water. Lameshur is my personal favorite too. After more than a dozen trips to STJ, I still look forward to the next and seem to find more wonderful things each time so you will definitely enjoy another trip IMO.
Tuxedocat is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 06:02 AM
  #5  
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You know, I think we just hit Miss Lucy's at the wrong time. I did wonder if it is buggier there than Island Blues Cafe because of the beautiful trees you sit under/by. We had to go inside it was so bad...the little no-see-ums were biting, had no problems at Island Blues but who knows why...trees, rain, time of day maybe...

Wrong time for a major meal too; so that may have made a difference. We just got an appetizer...crab cakes...and we've had some good crab cakes in our lifetime so felt they were just okay. The view *is* beautiful though.

Yes, I am sure there is much more to experience on St. John! I really wanted to take a day tour to the BVIs, but hubby wasn't too interested. Next time I will make it a priority. Would love to see the Baths, especially.

Honestly, we didn't even walk Trunk Bay (gasp!); just enjoyed the view from the lookout point, so that is a must on a next trip. I didn't feel like I "missed out" because our time at the beaches we did frequent were so enjoyable.

And Cruz Bay...we honestly stayed away from it because it just seemed too diffcult to park! I guess we are just crowd-avoiders. lol Coral Bay area was just right for us.

Oh, Tradewinds Cottage. I *think* I ran across it here first: http://www.stjohnisland.com/ then got to reading the reviews in the electronic guestbook. I spent a huge amount of time on vrbo.com but finally settled on it instead. Tradewinds does not have a jacuzzi or pool, but for us, that was not a big deal. Wasn't missed at all. I might feel differently if I had small kids with me.


LisaMS is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 07:32 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Nice report LisaMS

Another fan of Little Lameshur here. I love that area! It definitely gets more crowded in the high season.

We need to put the Europa trail on our list for the next visit. Another option in the Lameshur area is the Yawzi Trail snorkel. You enter from a small stone cove about half way out the trail.

I'm glad Tradewinds worked out. It looked great 'on paper' and I bookmarked it for future places to stay.
RobertoB is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 08:45 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,589
I went to St. John last month with my husband. I had not been there in 20 years.

I cannot believe how built up it has become. There was so much construction everywhere near Cruz Bay.

I have to say I was disappointed - it was so sad!

I did have a great time but I don't know if I will ever go back!
janiekins is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 10:07 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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We were in St. John at this time last year and your report brought back great memories-thank you. We also stayed on the Coral Bay side and loved it, especially the fantastic snorkeling. Tradewinds looks amazing, don't know how I missed it. We will definitely be back, it is more built up than the first time we "discovered" it during a stay on St. Thomas, but it still has just the greatest laid-back beach experience of all the islands we have visited. And did I mention the snorkeling?!!
snorklesue is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 11:27 AM
  #9  
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Janiekins, I can just imagine how much it's changed in 20 years. The word's gotten out and everyone wants their piece of Paradise! I would love to have seen it back then...

I didn't have that expectation so for me, it was great. There are still no high rises, still 2/3 national park, so that's good! Still some of the most beautiful beaches... Maybe the economy will slow the building of more villas. ;-)

LisaMS is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 01:00 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 446
Still plenty of places on STJ to get away from the crowds. Thanks for the trip report/STJ fix!!
ScottB is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 08:20 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Janiekins: We've been going to STJ only since January, 2002 and we've seen some big changes. It is sad in many respects that "progress" is inevitable, but there are still plenty of "pirates" holding out in Coral Bay. We've done our best to keep development to a responsible minimum but everyone seems to want a piece of paradise pie and it's hard to deny others what you enjoy yourself. Oh well, all you can do is make clear and strict rules to protect this marvel.
Tuxedocat is offline  
Dec 17th, 2008, 05:05 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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LisaMS, great report! Makes me feel like my August trip was yearas ago instead of months. We too love Little Lameshur but with 20 -25 people that sound packed to me!
Pulley is offline  

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