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Car Rental for weeklong St John stay

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Jun 10th, 2011, 09:42 AM
  #1
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Car Rental for weeklong St John stay

An option suggested by a condo owner in St John is to rent the car in St Thomas airport and take the auto barge over to St. John, for the following reasons:

1. Save cab fare to ferry. Taxis charge aprx $13 per person plus baggage to take you to the ferry, then the ferry also charges on a per-person & baggage basis, which could add up for a family of 4 (we plan to only take 1 bag apiece).

2. Auto barge charges per vehicle, with no additional charge for people & their baggage.

3. Having a car in St. Thomas allows you to stop at a grocery store to get provisions there where it may be cheaper instead of in St John. Of course, they have to be non-perishable items as it may be a couple hours before you can get the items into a cooler.

4. Auto rentals are cheaper in St. Thomas and most allow you to ferry your car over to St John.

The idea sounds intriguing but I haven't seen anyone mention this in other posts. What do you frequent travelers to St. John do? I haven't checked every agency yet, but I'm not necessarily seeing cheaper rentals in St. Thomas. Also, the condo owner said we don't need a 4WD, but that may be more a reflection of his island activities.

Question to folks who like to snorkel & hike -- do you need 4WD to access your favorite beaches or are they accessible in a regular sedan? Recommendations of rental agencies you've used are appreciated.

Thanks!
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Jun 11th, 2011, 03:54 AM
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Car rentals.com good comp site

Can save for longer stays at remote condos

For me and most cheaper to stay closer to town

and walk or jitney around cute little jeeps are cheap

Go most places Westin better bidding.com

Great value for me when there last.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 05:10 AM
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I just asked my husband who is the primary driver on St John how much we actually use the 4WD. The answer was, probably not that much, but if it rains, you will definitely need it getting up the hills and switchbacks. You don't want to be on a wet, steep hill and go sliding backwards. There are two pretty steep back to back switchbacks on the North Shore road between Trunk and Peter Bay among others.

We use Cool Breeze Rental on St John and have had good luck with them, but no parking lot in town which can come in handy. Very little parking in Cruz Bay. There are a couple of parking lots you can pay to park in however.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 05:33 AM
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I had to go digging for this one. Here is a "Jeep Cam" view of the switchbacks I was talking about. If you are patient and search the video archives on this site, you will see many other Jeep Cam views of the driving. Here you go. Trunk to Peter Bay.

http://www.on-stjohn.com/2007/12/03/...rt-4/#comments
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Jun 11th, 2011, 05:43 AM
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Here is one of my favorite drives, all the way out to the East End of St John. This is the area where Vies' Beach is, Hansen Bay.

http://www.on-stjohn.com/2008/05/02/...-end/#comments
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Jun 12th, 2011, 09:36 PM
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I would definitely recommend a 4WD vehicle. Not just so your wheels don't spin in places like the switchbacks, but because you're going to want the higher ground clearance for when you pull off of the roads and park in dirt.
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Jun 13th, 2011, 06:43 AM
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I would always rent from St John Car Rental because we really like to be able to park in their lot when in Cruz Bay. If you park at Slim Man's it will easily eat up any savings you might realize rental on St Thomas.
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Jun 13th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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Thanks guys, 4WD it is! Watched both those Jeepcam videos -- wow, those switchbacks are hair-raising. All I could think of is "I hope I remember to stay on the left side of the road when driving!"
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Jul 6th, 2011, 05:33 AM
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I hate to sound ignorant, but why is the driving on the left side of the road in the USVI?
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Jul 6th, 2011, 10:56 AM
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Good question, CurlyLoo.

Although St. Thomas was visited by Columbus in 1493, the first successful settlement was accomplished by the Danish West India company in 1672. They expanded to St. John in 1694, and both islands were officially taken over by Denmark in 1754.

St. Croix was visited by Columbus in 1493, and the Spaniards fought the native Caribs for nearly a hundred years. The island was eventually colonized jointly by England (the west side) and Holland (the east side) in the early 1600's. In 1635, hostilities developed, and England took over the entire island, and controlled it until 1650, when a Spanish force came over from Puerto Rico and took over. The same year, they were driven out by France, which conquered the island, sold it to the Knights of Malta, and then bought it back in 1665. In 1733, France sold St. Croix to Denmark, uniting the three islands that now constitute the USVI under Danish rule, until 1917. In 1917, the U.S. bought the islands from Denmark, largely for their strategic location in a time of war.

According to Wikipedia, the practice of driving on the left was inherited from the Danish, from whom the USVI were purchased. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...Virgin_Islands Originally, driving on the left was customary in most European countries, as this enabled a person in a carriage to use his sword hand to ward off attackers who might be driving in the opposite direction. That's discussed in this article by Mick Hamer: http://books.google.com/books?id=qfa...page&q&f=false However, Hamer notes that Denmark converted to driving on the right in 1793, long before the USVI were sold to the U.S.

Therefore, in conclusion, I don't know why they drive on the left in the USVI.
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Jul 10th, 2011, 06:13 AM
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You are hysterical! Thank you for the very detailed and accurate answer! Remind me never to play Trivial Pursuit with you! Seeing as you are so detailed and willing to answer questions, I am traveling to St John in December, have rented a Villa on the Far East End, as privacy and quiet are key to me, and will be renting a jeep to get around. Do you have any particular sights, hikes, snorkeling spots, drives, restaurants or excursions you'd suggest? I am open-minded.....
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Jul 10th, 2011, 02:56 PM
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Sure, why not? I think the OP already got the information that he or she needed about rental cars.

First of all, if you like to snorkel and hike, you'll need to get a copy of St John: Off The Beaten Track, by Gerald Singer. Make sure it's the second edition.

Second edition: http://www.amazon.com/St-John-Off-Be.../dp/0964122073
First edition: http://www.amazon.com/St-John-Off-Be.../dp/0964122014

If you're really interested in hiking, check out the Trail Bandit's web site: http://www.trailbandit.org/ The Trail Bandit was a secret character who went around creating and maintaining his own set of unofficial trails, and making a map of them, which was only available through certain sources who agreed to protect his identity. The Trail Bandit used to be an enemy of the National Park Service, but at some point they joined forces, and now you can buy his map at the NPS Shop by Mongoose Junction if you want. Or just download it from the site, if you don't need it to be on a big folding sheet of paper.

There have been a bunch of other threads about hiking trails, often describing the Reef Bay Trail. As I've said before, it's good, but I think it's kind of monotonous to do the whole thing. I prefer an alternate route in Singer's book, in which you park by Fish Bay and hike over to Reef Bay, then hike backwards up the trail at least as far as the Petroglyph Trail.

You'll be staying reasonably close to the Ram's Head Trail, and that's one of my favorites. I'd recommend avoiding the Brown Bay Trail, even though it's really close to you. It's really deserted, and for some reason, huge numbers of illegal aliens swim ashore there. They leave their clothes and certain other belongs strewn everywhere on the beach and along the trail. It felt creepy and maybe not so safe to me.

I don't know snorkeling around the East End at all. There are probably lots of great sheltered spots in Hurricane Hole and Round Bay, but I don't know where they are. I think brenandg has recommended Haulover Bay. Singer's book will steer you right.

I usually turn right when I get to the end of Centerline. The only restaurants I've been to in the other direction are Skinny Legs, which, to use their own slogan, is a pretty okay place: http://skinnylegs.com/ It's a laid-back bar with good burgers. You should go there. The other place out by the East End is Miss Vie's Snack Shack, always a favorite in travel guides. It really is a little shack by the side of the road, where a West Indian woman (Miss Vie) sells heavily deep fried food that I didn't care for too much. It's fun to see, and it's cute how there are goats and chickens walking around in the parking lot, but I wouldn't plan to eat much there. I think the Donkey Diner is in the direction of the East End too, isn't it? People seem to like it, but I've never been there. The other restaurants I've been to are in the other direction from Coral Bay, i.e. a right turn from Centerline.

One thing that's on the East End somewhere is Sloop Jones' studio. He's an artist who makes beautiful brightly colored clothes, as well as rugs, pillows, and so forth. Here's his web site: http://www.sloopjones.com/ Some of his stuff can be found in shops on St. John, but I suspect you'll find a much better selection if you visit the man in his studio.
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Jul 12th, 2011, 04:22 AM
  #13
 
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There is very good snorkeling on the East End. Some of my favorites are: Haulover Bay (the west/north side), Hansen's Bay by Vie's, Blue Cobblestone Beach (you walk past Salt Pond & snorkel back), Kiddle Bay (DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT 4WD!)and Lameshur Bay. Hawksbill nailed it with the Reef Bay Trail we always go the Fish Bay way. There is also great snorkeling where you first arrive at Reef Bay but it can be a very difficult entry.

I think cab fare is now $15 pp + $ 2 per bag & tip so that's about $ 75 each way. Car barge is only $45 - $50 so the $100 savings buys a lot of time at Slim Man's. You may also save on the car rental price and buying groceries at Cost U Less or K-Mart will save you more money. Starfish is nice but way more expensive.
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Jul 19th, 2011, 07:41 PM
  #14
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They charge cab fare by the person, not the cab? So glad we decided to rent a car in STT & go over on the car barge, then!

I'm the OP, but have been sidetracked from trip planning and was pleasantly surprised and glad to see that this thread is still alive as is the other one I started! I'm making note of everyone's comments -- leaving in a week so time to get all those little but impt details!
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Jul 22nd, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Traveladventurer! Sorry for getting your original subject off track....Hope you have (are having?) a phenomenal vacation! When you get back, if you are up to it, please share any details about what you loved/hated, your experiences with your car rental agency, trails you did, places you ate! I'd love to get your take on things as I prepare for our trip in December!

Thanks!!!
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Jul 22nd, 2011, 10:21 AM
  #16
 
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In my opinion, the easiest way to go is to rent a jeep with St John Car rental. They are within walking distance of the ferry. Definitely wouldn't rent anything (without) 4WD. As others have said, the switchbacks are brutal....but fun!! St John Car rental has good rates, and great service. Hassle free!!
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Jul 25th, 2011, 10:04 AM
  #17
 
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Anyone dealt with Courtesy Car Rental? Past the police station and near the library? They seem to have better rates than St John Car rental, and I've ready mostly positive reviews. Would a Jeep Wrangler 4x4 suffice for the east end?
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