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First time to USVI. St Thomas or St John? Help with a hotel.

First time to USVI. St Thomas or St John? Help with a hotel.

Aug 26th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 130
First time to USVI. St Thomas or St John? Help with a hotel.

Hi Guys,

First trip to the US Virgin Islands that we're tentatively planning for Sept 20 for 6 nights. Have been debating between St Thomas or St John. Would really love to just collapse somewhere that has a great beach, access to kayaks, snorkeling, scuba diving, either restaurants on site or nearby etc St John came highly recommended but I'm a little lost on where to stay. Caneel Bay was the first place that struck me but it is booked solid and under construction. Then I glanced at Galllows Point....expensive and no restaurants which might be an option if there were access to places close by. All of the hotels seem to have such mixed reviews. Any thoughts on the Westin?

Checked on St Thomas next. Glanced at the Ritz but don't necessarily need to go that fancy this time around. Sugar Bay was the next place I looked. Pictures looked nice but the north side of the island?....does that effect weather. Never have done an all inclusive plan....any opinions? The prices were by far the lowest at $2700 for 6 nights including airfare for 2 people and all inclusive for the stay. But then I start looking at the reviews....and yikes! The Marriott Frenchman's Reef with Morningstar Beach is under construction and Marriott's Frenchmans Cove is booked. hmmmm....

Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Rael8l is offline  
Aug 26th, 2011, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
sugar bay is actually on the east end - faces towards tortola & st. john. the hotel is large, nice, not near enough to anything to walk (neither are any of the other resorts you mentioned). you can snorkel from their beach but the beach is fairly small when the resort is full. ai is nice if you drink. i would plan to eat out once or twice anyway as lots of good restaurants on island.
the ritz is super nice with gorgeous infinity pool & good beach. very pricey.
i highly recommend secretharbourvi.com very good snorkeling from their very pretty beach, great restaurant & beach bar, onsite dive company.
you might look at bolongo bay resort.
check out this map. find the town of red hook. it's near the se corner. the ferry from there to st. john is 20 mins so makes an easy day trip. secret harbour, bolongo are marked. ritz is by great bay, sugar bay resort is just south of coki beach & coral world.
st. john has tons of great beaches to explore, you definitely need a car, lots of hiking, very laid back, ample snorkeling.
st. thomas is a busy island, has wonderful duty free shopping, good but fewer snorkeling options, lots of good restaurants.
virginia is offline  
Aug 26th, 2011, 01:36 PM
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Posts: 130
Virginia....thanks so much for the map....that kind of put things in perspective

Glanced at vrbo.com and found some cute little places at sapphire beach resort right on the beach. Have rented through vrbo before never on an island though.
Rael8l is offline  
Aug 26th, 2011, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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i've rented in the bahamas for this fall through homeaway.com & i think it's gonna work out well. great communication with the owner.
sapphire has a decent beach but cruise shippers are brought to it, so can sometimes be crowded. some units are said to be a bit outdated but i've never been in any so can't really say. i don't know of any restaurants right there but i may be wrong. you might check on tripadvisor
virginia is offline  
Aug 26th, 2011, 07:21 PM
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Posts: 130
Great to know about the cruise ships! I'll be avoiding them like the plague...lol Any other areas I should lookout for with the mass tourists? Had a chance to check out secret harbour...and I like the way it looks. No pictures of the pool though. Looked at the 1 and 2 bedroom beachfront suites...definitely a contender
Rael8l is offline  
Aug 27th, 2011, 03:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
www.betterbidding.com get deals on the Westin St John from $80

bidding priceline also www.maho.org can be laid back and fun.

www.magenspoint.com my fav side of St Thomas

used to own a condo here... good hotels also quite a bit

more touristic not as laid back some dodgy ares like Coki

So be careful there... carrentals.com best if you do St Thomas

Have stayed at Marriott Frenchmans Reef oldie but goodie

Pavillonsandpools.com privat plunge pools cheap Ritz

Bolongo Bay all nice just more expensive/touristy
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 27th, 2011, 03:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
www.booking.com will have best honest reviews from recent guests

on hotels unlike the owner/mod culled fakes reviews/rankings

mostly on Tripadvertizer be careful their.

I only buy mixed reviews from very established posters there

perhaps 1 in 10 of reviews so look at profiles carefully there

It is essentially a totally owner controlled/censored forum
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 27th, 2011, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
here's a pic of the shbr pool. it's really nothing special (unlike ritz or sugar bay) but is pleasant & kept clean
the beach is so wonderful we hardly ever used it.
shbr is all condo with 1&2br and studios. all have large deck of patio.
magens bay beach is the other big tourist place. you can go early in the am & plan to leave at 10ish or go at 3 when they all head back to the ships.
virginia is offline  
Aug 28th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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I recommend Gallows Point. Great sunset views and walking distance to all of the restaurants in Cruz Bay. Rent a jeep and explore the the beautiful North Shore beaches...Trunk, Salomon, Hawksnest etc. Definitely recommend St. John over St. Thomas.
Kristen1206 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2011, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 84
If you are traveling in September (low season in the Caribbean) many restaurants close up for the month and return in October to get ready for the busy season. St John is one of those islands, that close some of their restaurants during Sept and part of October.
stella39 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2011, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 481
Another vote for Gallows Point on St John. If you want to get away from the busy/touristy areas, St John will be much better choice than St Thomas.

Gallows is not on a nice beach, but the way to enjoy St John is to rent a jeep, and drive to the many different (most uncrowded) beaches each day. By far one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.

Gallows is located right near Cruz Bay, and you can walk to many different restaurants & bars at night.

It sounded like you are trying to avoid crowds, so St John should be a great choice for you.
Bassguy66 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:27 AM
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Thank you so much for all the input! We ended up booking Secret Harbour(thanks Virginia for the suggestion). The price was so low for the beachfront suite its going to allow us to be really flexible with our activities. St John would have been my first pick but as we started checking lots of things were under construction which had me a little concerned about things being open and the rooms were almost double. We are definitely going to go exploring there though.

So now for the fun stuff....what to do and where to eat! We'll be there for 6 nights starting Sept 19. What day trips would you suggest? Is a day in St John sufficient? Can I go to bvi without a passport? If so, where would you suggest going? A friend suggested the baths and jost van dyke? Are ferries the easiest way to get around between the islands and do we take the rental car? What about a boat rental? Could we go out on our own or would it be better to take someone out with us? We really like doing outdoorsy things and would love to explore and walk some beaches, go snorkeling, maybe go scuba diving (if I haven't done it before can I take classes once I get there or do I need to do it before I leave) and maybe some cute stores/places to stop at for a few minutes and grab lunch.
Rael8l is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2011, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 145
Caneel Bay is not sold out in September, it is closed. Caneel has closed in September through at least mid October for the last few years due to low occupancy during hurricane season.
turtlegirl is offline  
Sep 8th, 2011, 05:24 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,866
Can I go to bvi without a passport? NO, it is a British territory and you must have valid US passport.
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 14th, 2011, 06:13 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 68
We stayed at the Bellavista Bed and Breakfast in Charlotte Amalie. Check out the reviews on tripadvisor.
sarabaudo is offline  
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