Jul 18th, 2003, 09:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2

I've been searching for weeks online about where to go, stay, do, etc.....I think all of the info. is only making me more confused! What did we do back in the day before the internet and had to rely on the travel agent's advice? Anyway, my wife and I are planning a late August trip to either ST. JOHN, ST. THOMAS, or ARUBA.

#1. Where to go? we want to relax, yet shop, good dining etc. I think I like St. John for it's laid back atmosphere. We like the Westin in St. John, but the cost of dining, lack of quality beaches may deter us.

#2 The Renaissance in St. Thomas is considerably cheaper, but do we get more of a "touristy" atmosphere here? Do we spend less our first time in the Carribbean to get a feel for everything?

#3 Aruba seems interesting with Jeep tours, however it's a longer flight and some time would be wasted in travel.

Lastly, do we need to be worried about hurricanes in the USVI's in late August??

How spoiled we are to be complaining about where in the sunshine to vacation!

Any reply's would be greatly appreciated, I know there are a lot of these help messages, but maybe that's why I'm here!!!

Thank you.

skinrat is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 02:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32
Hi Jamie!
Don't know about Aruba, but we just returned from a week of staying at the Renaissance on St. Thomas, and had also done a day trip to St. John (as well as Virgin Gorda to the Baths... a must see). Anyway, we are going back next year, but we will be staying at the Westin on St. John. The Renaissance is a spectacular property (my review was posted here 7/16/03), but St. Thomas, while having a lot of great things to see and do, which we did, is not St. John. St. John is so much more pristine as a large portion of it is owned by the park system. Of course we were only there 1 day (and also 1 day during a cruise 3 years ago), but the people seem more friendly there as well. I'm sure the prices at the Westin restaurants will be expensive, but the restaurants at the Renaissance were not cheap either. We had more inexpensive dining away from the hotel... at Red Hook, but I know there are places outside the Westin, in Cruz Bay as well... It is very "doable" to stay at the resorts (either one) and have a short drive to more reasonably priced meals... it's also fun to do that... it's all an adventure!
Any questions, just ask!
LPOWMAC is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 02:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32
Oh, one more thing... as far as St John and your mention of the "lack of quality beaches"... WRONG! St. Thomas has lovely beaches. Even the beach at the Renaissance we actually found to be tranquil and lovely! Coki was fantastic for snorkeling... BUT, we felt the beaches at St. John were even more beautiful... and with respect to snorkeling, St. John (Leinster & Watermelon Cay area) are where we swam with a sea turtle, stingrays and saw spectacular fish!!!!!! If you want a tropical paradise, I don't think St. Thomas can really compete with St. John. If you want a much more commercial shopping area, St. Thomas is your best bet. Knowing what I now know, I'd stay on St. John and take a day trip or 2 to St. Thomas... as well as going to the Baths on Virgin Gorda.
LPOWMAC is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 723
You can stay at the Westin on St. John and just rent a car to get to get around to other places to eat, beaches, etc. Driving around St. John is very, very easy and worth every second. The Westin is about a five minute drive to Cruz Bay, which has some very good restaurants that are certainly more reasonably priced than the Westin. Also, you cannot miss some of the other beaches on the island - absolutely gorgeous and far superior to the one at the Westin. Honestly, getting around St. John is easy!! Try it!!!
SusanLynne is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 08:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,898
Aruba does NOT get hit with hurracaines as it is BELOW the equator....
So you are fine to go there.....

Aruba is a much more arid island- not specifically pretty, as St.Thomas and St John...but Aruba does have nice hotels and nice downtown shopping...and casinos at nite...if you are into that...but like most caribbean islands , it is also laid back...Also since it is below the equator, the word EXTREMELY HOT is on the top of my list..We went during the month of May and you only laid out on the beach between 9-11 am,otherwise you would look like a lobster...

The Renaissance Hotel on St Thomas is Mid Island---so it takes a long time to drive into town for any shopping on the 2 lane roads....
andy is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 08:55 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 371
Jamie, my wife and I and 2/3 other couples will be on St. John 8/30-9/8 for the third year in a row. We purchase trip insurance in case of a hurricane but have not had to use it.

St. John has many lovely beaches, you just need a car to get around to see all of them. If you search a little you should be able to get a pretty good deal on a garden view room at the Westin($149-$169).

We love St. John for it's solitude, beauty, friendly people and great shore snorkeling. If we see you at Woody's or Dufy's the first beer is on me!

Pulley is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
You're going to have a great time no matter where you go, but if I had my druthers, I'd choose to stay on St. John, rent a car to visit as many of the great beaches and restaurants as possible, and possibly do one over night on St. Thomas for shopping (I'm not a shopper, but if I were I'd want more than an afternoon on St. Thomas).

FYI: Aruba is NOT below the equator and it CAN get hit by hurricanes, but historically it has been hit less than the islands more smack dab in the hurricane belt. No matter where you travel in August, trip insurance is a good idea.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 10:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 67
Without a doubt St. John. Last month I stayed at the Ritz on St. Thomas and then Caneel Bay on St. John. I will never go back to St. Thomas to stay. Too touristy, too hard to get around, too expensive - Cabs are a rip and you just might as well add $45 to the price of every meal when you leave the resort.
St. John is beautiful, laid back, great beaches, great restaurants, great snorkeling!
sinnedgh is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,898
to ejcrowe--

Ok- I am sorry-got my latitudes messed up-- I was off a couple of degrees- it is 12 degrees N of the Equator--

From the aruba website- here is the weather:

Dry and sunny - it's always summer in Aruba.

A swim in Aruba's pure water is invigorating and the sun will give you a nice healthy glow. Do keep in mind that the sun is at its strongest between 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and the use of protective sun lotions is strongly recommended. The median temperature from day to night and the difference between winter and summer temperatures is only 3 to 6 degrees. The average rainfall is 20 inches per year and occurs in showers of short duration during the months of November and December.

BUT as noted on the website-it IS completely OUT of the HURRICAINE BELT:

Many visitors try to escape the cold from mid-December through mid-April to enjoy the island's mild temperature and beautiful dry climate.

You may be interested to know that this fine weather prevails throughout the year. In the summer, nature provides special attractions such as refreshing trade winds that cool the land and a sea temperature that hovers around 72 degrees. As rainfall is not a problem, there is virtually no period of the year that doesn't offer its own visiting advantages.

Remember, Aruba lies completely outside the hurricane belt.

andy is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 10:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2
I just want to say thank you for all who responded so quickly. This forum is a great resource and helps tremendously. After reading the reviews it sounds like St. John is the way to go and I will absolutely post our decision and review for others also. Thanks again to everyone!!

skinrat is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,963
Hi - I've been to all three (though just passed through St Thomas on way to St John). Aruba is nice. More crowded than St John and way more touristy but good restaurants. There isn't that much exploring to do. Personally, I wouldn't go to St Thomas. It seemed very crowded with giant cruise ships and hordes of people everywhere - and this was the off season.

So you guessed it, I recommend St John hands down. Consider renting a villa (we rented through Our villa was $1400/week during the off season which is the same as what you pay for a room without a view at the Westin. Our villa (happy moon) had phenomenal views plus we had our own pool and so much more space than a hotel room. St John has so many beautiful beaches and scenic lookouts to explore (and the best snorkeling I've found - including Hawaii). How can you go wrong?
snowrooster is offline  

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