Finalized STJ Trip

Jun 21st, 2007, 03:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 73
Finalized STJ Trip

We will be in St John for a week..

We are visiting the Carribean - St. John for the first time in Januray 2008 with our 3 kids (5,10,12).. Got tickets at $384 pp from -- PIT - washington/Dulles - STT..getting in at 2.30 pm

We will be renting a SUV in St Thomas from AVIS and taking the car ferry

Some questions for anyone who can help:

We are staying at the Bay House Villa Western Hillside Coral Bay. Is this a good location?

What are some of the beaches that are in the area that offer off- beach snorkeling?

Can we do it if some of us cant swim; we have done it before in Hawaii in neck deep water....?

What are some of the must do sightseeing , beach and snorkeling spots?

Is a day trip possible to the Baths and approx how much Also is it worth it ( will we see / experience something different than what we get out of St. John?. Is While Bay a good location?


bokill is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,532
Congrats! $384 that far in advance is an excellent deal. We rent a car on STT and drive it over on the ferry too. The only caveat is if there is any delay in arrival, the car ferries stop running around 6 p.m. Unless you have reservations, which are possible, it's basically a first come first serve situation. That said, we've not made reservations before and have never had a problem. There tends to be a ferry every half an hour. Only a couple of times have we had to wait for the next ferry. It will take a good 30 minutes to an hour to get to the ferry from the airport, dependent upon traffic. If things happen in a timely fashion, you should be in your car at about 3:15. You'll have plenty of wiggle room for the ferry. The ferry is relatively short, only about 20-25 minutes. Once on STJ, you may want to provision in Cruz Bay. IMO, the best place for newbies is Starfish Market which is very modern and well stocked (not so much culture shock). With fids, you should buy plenty of the basics including a few gallons of water. (IMO, I wouldn't trust the cistern water no matter how much it's filtered. I'd much rather pay an extra few bucks and drink the bottled stuff.) This supermarket is also in a complex which has a drugstore. Make sure you have all the essentials like bug spray and sunscreen if you haven't brought enough from home. Believe me, you need plenty of bug spray. If the villa is not fully air-conditioned (not a huge problem in January) ask if it is well screened, and if there are fans, etc. I'm not familiar with your villa, but our house is in Coral Bay. Whether or not it's a "good" location is relative. We love this part of the island most because it is still relatively quiet and less developed (at least for now). The western hill refers to the steep hillside facing the east towards the British Virgin Islands. Dependent upon how far up the hill, determines the amount of time needed to travel to the shoreline and the main road. In some cases, the location could have a road which ties into Centerline Road in which case, you have better access to the rest of the island. Coral Bay is approximately a 25-30 minute drive from Cruz Bay. The island is only 7 miles long, but you have to drive about 20-25 miles an hour. We don't mind driving around because it is such a beautiful place. Coral Bay is only about 15 minutes to the north shore beaches. Try Maho Bay for a first time visit. Go all the way to the right hand (if you are facing the water) side of the beach where there is excellent off-shore snorkeling for your kids. Non swimmers will love this beach as the depth increases so very gradually and the water is almost always calm. Great soft sand and gorgeous scenery. Enjoy! Feel free to ask this forum as many specifics as you'd like. Some of us never tire of sharing our experiences.
Tuxedocat is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,532
P.S. There are lots of operators who do trips to the Baths. For your crowd with kids, I'd suggest Limnios out of the Westin. It's a larger, more stable boat, and is about $125/pp which includes lunch. By the way, what agency are you renting from?
Tuxedocat is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 06:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 736
Tuxedocat certainly knows the island! Great advice from, I guess, a local.

When I go to STJ, I stay on the western side close to Cruz Bay, and head to Coral Bay for my adventures, rather than vice versa. But either way, it's a longer schlep than you might think, particularly after dark. I second the idea of stocking up on provisions at Starfish, but do note that it's on the Western side of the island, and you might want to minimize trips back and forth. So if I were you, bokill, here's what I'd do upon arrival in St. John:

1. Drive to the Marketplace mall, where Starfish is. Pick up whatever sunscreen and stuff that you may have forgotten upstairs at the Chelsea Drug Store, then go stock up on groceries downstairs at Starfish. Try to get enough to last you a while. Buy a lot more bottled water than you think you might need, and force yourselves and your kids to drink it frequently.

2. Drive back through town toward Mongoose Junction. Stop at the National Park Service dock/welcome station, and pick up their map of the island. It's the most useful map I've seen for driving around the place, and it's free.

3. Provided you're comfortable with your SUV and the whole driving on the left thing, continue on the North Shore Road past Mongoose Junction toward Coral Bay. Your new map will help. Stop at the scenic overlooks that will be on the left side of the road-you'll be glad you did. Particularly the second one, overlooking Trunk Bay. I say "provided you're comfortable with your SUV" because, after Trunk Bay, you'll hit the switchbacks - basically some very sharp curves going up a very steep hill, which could be a little unnerving depending on your preexisting comfort level. I mean, it's not THAT bad, but you're there to have fun, right?

I strongly second the Maho Bay recommendation. That's where I always take small children, non-swimmers, and beginning snorkelers. Actually I snorkel there myself alot - of the North Shore beaches, it's the calmest and best protected from the North Swell. I agree that the best snorkeling is off to the right. Also don't overlook the huge flat grassy expanses over the main part of the beach. I saw a bunch of beautiful turtles there (my favorite) and a very impressive spotted eagle ray there recently. As I noted in another post in a similar thread, Maho doesn't have facilities (bathrooms, snack shop, etc.), so you'll have to head over to Cinnamon Bay or Trunk Bay if you need that stuff.

I went to the Baths at Virgin Gorda once, on a private boat. It was really crowded. Sort of cool, I guess, but I'd say it's not really worth the trip as a destination in and of itself.

You may want to look up Vie's Snack Shack, which is off on the eastern side of the island. Ironically, you'll read about it in all the guide books, which generally portray it as sort of a local secret. A little wooden shack where a local woman prepares greasy, deep-fried local food items. I thought the food was pretty lousy, but I suppose this variety of cuisine is likely to appeal to 5-12 year-old kids. It'll be an easy operation to accomplish with three kids, and the setting is quite charming. There's a veritable petting zoo of animals wandering around the outdoor dining area looking for scraps.

What's While Bay?
hawksbill is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 05:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 73
We are renting from Avis..

As far as driving, we should be OK. I drove down to Waipio Valley at the Big Island, Hawaii without any hiccups.. Any who has done that will understand!

White Bay is supposed to be the beach area on Jost Van Dyke..
bokill is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 24 fiance and I will be honeymooning in Jan 2008 and are leaning toward St. John as our leading option.

Those ticket prices sound great...I will certainly check on kayak prices!!

I am particularly looking for advice on accommodations near Cruz Bay. We really want the option to be able to walk into town and enjoy resturaunts, bars, etc. at our leisure. Any suggestions?

Also, are there any spa options near-by?

We'd prefer to do something more a villa or b&b..but would like to have a pool option.

epaine is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8
"What are some of the beaches that are in the area that offer off- beach snorkeling?"

We liked Caneel Bay and Leinster Bay for off beach snorkeling...

"Can we do it if some of us cant swim; we have done it before in Hawaii in neck deep water....?"

Even though we can swim... we used ski belts or I believe the dive shop called them snorkel belts... see the link below.

I grew up on a lake and we lived in the water all summer. Even though we could swim, my parents made us wear ski belts whenever we were in the water.

You can rent them for $5 a day at the dive shops in Cruz Bay or you can purchase them for $35 - $40.

Have fun!

mecook is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 01:03 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 73

please look at the attached link. It tells you all the villa options based on location, A/C, Pool, # of bedrooms, etc. We booked thru them and found them to be very helpful.

Abt spas, I can't help since we have never been there before..

bokill is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 12
We just stayed on St. John two weeks ago. We used the Westin's Cruz Bay tours to go to Virgin Gorda and Norman Island. It is not the Limnos as Tuxedocat said because I called them and they only operate out of St. Thomas. It is well worth the money so don't miss it. It costs $125 for ages 11 and up but includes two meals and all the drinks you want. My kids are 5, 11 and 18. Also, when I signed up I said that my son was 10 to get the cheaper price of $65 and they don't check. But you'll need to bring passports or birth certificates with raised seals for the actual boat trip. Another thing is that you must pay a $25 per person customs fee when traveling to any of the BVI. They have a Jost Van Dyke trip and another trip that involves swimming with the dolphins that are half day excursions. Another thing to note is that I had a little bit of trouble with my five year old because they do not go to shore on these tour boats. At Virgin Gorda, they took my son and I to shore with a dingy because he was too afraid to use the floatation devices. Then at Norman Island he got brave and got into the water with the floatation thing around his waist but he was scared. Lots of kids were on this tour and they didn't seem to mind. Yes, you can snorkel if you don't swim. You might want to buy some floatation devices before you leave or buy some at Mongoose Junction. We didn't bring enough and it's much easier to snorkel if you've got something keeping you afloat.
Our four bedroom/4 bath house with a pool cost us $2150 for 8 days and that was a great price. We were on the Maria Bluff area. As long as you've got your rental car don't worry about your location.
franzen is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 12
Tuxedocat....Just curious, do you live on St. John all year or do you rent your house out at all???
franzen is offline  

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