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Trip Report Limin' in Love City (Dec 6-11 St. John trip report w/photos)

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Wedding anniversary + cheap flight + realization that you haven’t vacationed with your BFFs in years = recipe for a fun trip. And St. John is one of our favorite destinations. What’s not to love? Numerous beautiful beaches, picturesque bays, breathtaking vistas and a lively little town. Since this was an adult escape, we chose to stay right in Cruz Bay so we could walk to happy hour, dinner and the various watering holes each evening. Usually when we travel alone or with the kids, we are in bed by 9:30 PM since we get up so early and the sun and salt suck our energy. But this time we took advantage of our freedom and the convenience of having accommodations in town.

Our last anniversary trip to Anguilla was a wash-out…so when we landed at STT in clouds, took the ferry over in rain, ate dinner in rain and woke to rain the next morning, I started getting nervous. But the skies cleared and for the rest of the trip we had lovely weather. Air and water temps were perfect. And unlike our trips in late May and June, there was no haze. Always bright and clear (except for a few brief pop up showers). And the water was very clear at all of the beaches. I was, however, a bit disappointed not to have seen any donkeys or mongoose this trip. We did see some goats, iguanas and chickens though. But none of the hens hopped in our jeep to lay eggs while we were on the beach like they did during our first! Another interesting thing to note was all of the little cream colored butterflies on the beaches. There were so many of them fluttering over the water and sand that it almost looked like it was snowing. Very cool to see.

We stayed at Grande Bay, which was very convenient. Our studio had beautiful views of Cruz Bay, except for those pesky telephone lines which detract from the scenery. Our friends had a higher, set back unit with a more expansive view (but also more walking). Our place was colorful, beachy and well stocked (though the only things we used were the Tervis tumblers). We also had a parking spot to use in the covered garage area, but boy was it tight. Thankfully Mark didn’t have to maneuver in and out of it in the evenings.

We definitely had some memorable moments, as we do every trip. And as usual, my camera was attached to me as tightly as my right arm, sometimes to the chagrin of my travel mates. But when we are old(er) and our memories fail us, we will be able to re-live all of these fun times through photographs.

Arrival day was Sunday which meant the boys wanted to watch football. So after freshening up, we hit Dog House. What a packed, smelly place it is during games. Not my scene at all. We moved on to Joe’s Rum Hut (we ended up here a lot) for happy hour…they have a great one but it only worked out that we made it there once during that time (all drinks $3). But Reed’s game wasn’t on there so after one drink, the boys headed back to the Dog House while Allison and I walked across the street to somewhere I was really looking forward to...The Longboard. It did not disappoint. Classy yet casual coastal decor with unique drinks and delightful food. Favorites were the Caribeno (gin, fresh lime, coconut rum and young coconut water. We will make this at home, but probably with more mature coconut water )and the Sunshower (grilled lemon vodka, elderflower liqueur, basil, cucumber, fresh lemonade and celery bitters) which literally tastes like summer in your mouth. The frozen pain killer was awesome too. The boys soon joined us and we stuffed ourselves silly. Trio of passion fruit pico, island guacamole and chili con queso, a tuna tower, Korean chicken bowl, tuna bowl, shrimp tacos, and swordfish kabobs. Everything was delicious. Then we went back over to Joe’s for a bit and finally called it a night since we had been up since 2 am.

We slept with our slider open at night to listen to the waves and the frogs, but all I heard when I woke on Monday was pouring rain, so back to sleep I went. It was still dreary when we got up and going so we decided to do some shopping in Wharfside Village. Caribbean Hurricane Hook bracelets from Bamboo may be in my and Al’s future. After a bit, the boys bored of poking in and out of shops so they went to High Tide for a Bloody Mary. Then the clouds parted and the sun peeked out so we suited up and walked to North Shore deli to pick up sandwiches and beer. Just as we arrived, the skies opened up again. We ate our delicious sandwiches inside, and waited. The plan was to hike to Salomon and we debated the merits of doing this after torrential rains. The backpack coolers were loaded and we were ready, so once the rain stopped, we powered on.

This was our first time hiking the lower Lind Point trail, and I do prefer it to the upper trail. But on this day, it was nothing but a mud pit. Flip flops were held hostage by the squishy muck, there was slipping and sliding, and our back sides were caked in mud splatter…it was comical sight, but we made it, and boy was it worth it. When the trail opens up to reveal that gorgeous swath of sand, jutting palms and turquoise water, I always get a thrill. I was finally at my happy place. We enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon at the beach complete with cocktails, tunes and some football tossing in the shallow water. Then we made the hike back to Cruz Bay, with many laughs and much mud-slinging along the way. Then a quick stop at the Beach Bar for Pain Killers and Bushwackers since we were thirsty from the hike.

After getting cleaned up, we hit Dr!nk for happy hour. I had high hopes for this place, but I think it only exists to hold the welcome happy hours for Grande Bay guests because unless it was 4-6:30 on a Monday or a Thursday, it was either dead or closed. It has a great location and much potential though. And they do make good margaritas. We had a couple of drinks, met a fun couple from Vermont/Florida and then moved on to Woody’s for some shark bites, cracked conch and conch fritters. Somehow we also got roped into doing a shot ski of Fireball (four shots lined up on a ski and everyone tilts the ski to drink at the same time). We stopped by Cruz Bay Landing for a bit then decided we were still hungry and went back to Joe’s for Hawaiian pizza and mango BBQ wings. The Beach Bar was our last stop of the night. While we still enjoy it there, it’s not quite the same since being under new ownership.

Tuesday dawned bright and clear, and before picking up the jeep we rented for a couple of days, we enjoyed some coffee on the balcony. Since we planned the jeep days around our BVI boat trip, I didn’t reserve it until later and Grande Bay didn’t have any left, but they did find us one from Cool Breeze. It was only a 2 door (which barely fit us and our beach gear), and pretty beat up at that (dents, warning lights and a broken front seat) but it served its purpose. After picking up the jeep, we stopped by Dolphin Market for a few things, then were on our way to Hawksnest for the morning.

Lunch was at Skinny Legs. Burgers and Mahi sandwiches…best meal we can remember having there. Their drink special was a “gingerbread soda” – ginger beer, vanilla vodka and fireball. Tasty, festive beverage. Plan was to hit Maho after lunch but we got fouled up and ended up at Francis so decided to stay there. Saw a stingray, nurse shark, and something that made us go hmmm… tall, thin, pale gentleman in a clear thong “swimsuit” who had a photo shoot of sorts with some very “interesting” poses. Some things you just can’t unsee. We also met some nice folks from South Carolina. As the sun sunk lower into the sky we loaded up the jeep and headed back to Cruz Bay.

I was very excited for dinner this evening (our official anniversary meal). Extra Virgin. It did not disappoint. But first a cocktail at Longboard. I really hope this place lasts. Such a perfect addition to the Cruz Bay scene. Back to EV…top notch in every way: service, food and ambiance. We started with calamari, and smoked pork and garlic sausage. Entrees were two orders of beef short ribs, seafood cioppino and a ribeye. The short ribs were anything but short! For dessert, we shared a banana pudding (delish) and Mark had an espresso martini made with their homemade Kahlua (more of a spicy, cinnamon liqueur). Allison had a glass of port which was good but we still miss the white port from La Plancha Del Mar.

After this thoroughly delightful meal, we played a game of corn hole on the beach at the Beach Bar which was a lot of fun, but also where I was eaten alive by bugs. The Maryland game was on and we tried to find somewhere to watch with no luck. We almost headed back to the condo but then Mark suggested we try Woody’s. Great call because we had the most fun night of the trip.

The place was hopping. Music, dancing and lively conversation. And they had the game on, but it quickly became just something to glance at in the background. A patron had just landed a record deal and bought the whole bar a shot of Fireball. Where was all this Fireball coming from? Until this trip I had never even tasted it! Of course some people didn’t want theirs so my husband generously drank some of the extras. We talked a lot with owners and brothers, Chris and Rob. Great guys. Chris spent the night walking around and controlling the tunes from his phone. Reed has decided this will be his job when he moves to the VI. We also learned this evening that we had missed Kenny Chesney by 4 days. Sigh. Doesn’t he know he is supposed to clear his travel schedule with me?! Maybe next time. We did lots of dancing and merry making, and were the ones who closed down Woody’s at 1:30 AM.

Wednesday we once again stuffed the beater Jeep to the gills, stocked up at North Shore Deli and headed for Maho. After a few passing sprinkles, we had a lovely day at the beach. I love how calm and serene Maho is. We played some skip ball and just enjoyed having our toes in the water and a$$ in the sand. Mark tried to snorkel out to see the sea turtles but had a mask malfunction so we nixed that plan. Then we headed over to Cinnamon for a little while and back to the condo to clean up.

The boys spent some time at the Tap Room while we browsed the shops in Mongoose Junction. They are still in their temporary location after the fire but the new space is coming along nicely and is very large. Though I don’t drink beer, Liquid Sunshine has always been the favorite among our group. But today we found a great new draft they brew...Mango Shandy. I highly recommend. Tonight was going to be an early night since we had our boat trip the next day. St. John Sushi had just opened and we wanted to eat there but they weren’t getting their liquor license until Thursday and you can’t have sushi without wine, so we decided to save that. We waited for a water’s edge seat at Joe’s Rum Hut and had a casual meal while watching the boats bob in the bay. Their food is very good. We tried the conch fritters, cheese steak, Mahi sandwiches and tuna BLT. After dinner we headed home for a good night sleep while Al and Reed had one last drink at the Beach Bar.

I had read good things on TripAdvisor about Captain Iggy and the Rock & Rolla (Beach Bar boat), so we chartered it for the day. I had a specific itinerary in mind and he was happy to accommodate. The week prior, I saw on TripAdvisor that a couple was looking to share a charter and since we had room for two more, we made it happen. After dropping off the Jeep, we had a quick breakfast taco at High Tide/The Dock then met up at the Beach Bar. Along with our new friends, a couple named Steve and Natalie, we waded out to the boat (a 29’ center console) to begin our adventure. It is a nice boat and comfortable ride!

Our first stop was Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke to clear customs and make a stop at Foxy’s. Customs took a long while and we couldn’t get off the boat until we had cleared. So we watched the Brown-Footed Boobies dive for their breakfast and the big tarpon swim around. We had a drink at Foxy’s to try the Fire Water rum (I bet this place gets crazy later in the day), perused the store, bought tank tops, then headed back to the boat and over to White Bay.

We got our dollars (or plastic as the case was) soggy as we waded in and right up to Soggy Dollar for a Pain Killer. I actually had a Nilla Killa, which is my favorite. Then we settled into the Adirondack chairs and spent some time limin’. Next up I tried a Sunshine. It was okay but Mango and traditional are better. At the recommendation of a fellow travel friend (the lovely Vicki H, who also helped me fine tune our plan for the day), we walked next door to Gertrude’s for “pour your own” rum punches. Unfortunately Gertrude herself was not there. A young girl set a bottle of dark rum, mango rum and a fruity mixer on the counter and let us have at it. And that was the end of any hopes I had for a clear head the rest of the day. This also led to purchasing postcards of a well-endowed man in a very skimpy swimsuit. Turns out it was Wendell, the son of Gertrude and Foxy, in his younger days, who also happened to be working the register at the gift shop. Something to hang proudly in our Tiki bar at home I guess!

Now it was time for food. We strolled down the beach a little further to One Love Bar & Grill. What a fun and funky place. After taking photos next to the sad little Christmas tree on the beach, we ordered up Lobster and shrimp quesadillas. Very good. We sat at a table in the sand in our swimsuits, enjoyed the food, and listened to music and the waves. I could get used to this.

After one last Soggy Dollar beverage, we made our way back to the boat and cruised over to B-Line beach bar on Little Jost. Story is that the children of the man who owned the land had been trying unsuccessfully to persuade their father to put up a beach bar. But after he passed away, the B-Line was constructed within a few months. Very nice little bar in an off the beaten path location. Cash only. It’s set back from a little beach and there is a an area with corn hole boards and a couple of tables. We didn’t stay too long but we were the only ones there. Then as we left another boat pulled up. Hopefully it gets enough business to stay afloat!

Final stop…Sandy Spit! A perfect little cay with a green interior and wide, white sandy circumference. We all jumped into the water and swam ashore. After walking around the island, we just floated at the water’s edge and enjoyed our last hour in the sun. I definitely want to spend more time here next time we visit St. John or the BVIs. We had a nice ride back and cleared US customs before 5 PM. We bid adieu to Iggy, Steve and Natalie and went home to shower and change for our last night in Love City.

After cocktails at Dr!nk, we made our way to St. John Sushi. The spicy edamame and sushi rolls were very good. The mojitos and the service need some work, but I have no doubt they will iron all of that out. We had a table overlooking Woody’s so we could do some people watching as we ate. After dinner, we made it over to Woody’s to purchase some merchandise, had a couple more cocktails and then begrudgingly called it a night.

We caught the 11 am ferry the next day (though had I received the notification earlier that our flight was delayed, we would have stayed longer). We dragged our luggage across the Red Hook parking lot for lunch at Fish Tails (we frequent a similar place in Ocean City, MD called Fish Tales). We had wanted to go back to Duffy’s Love Shack which is a lot of fun, but it was a longer walk (and up a hill) with luggage in tow so we decided to try something. Food was good and view was nice, but lots of construction noise from the new dock they are building.

Another great trip under our belts. But there were a few things I had wanted to do but didn’t get to, so a return trip is definitely in order. Sooner rather than later. I had really wanted to check out the tire swing at Oppenheimer but each time we went by there were are 3-4 Jeeps in the tiny parking area so we kept putting it off. Needs to be done first thing in the morning I guess. I had also hoped to snorkel at Waterlemon. But there wasn’t time and we had equipment issues anyway. I would also like to eat at Waterfront Bistro, maybe do the mermaid swim and see the new and improved Tap Room. And hubby is already talking about a stay on Jost for his 50th in two and a half years!

And now for the best part…pictures!

First link is for the full Shutterfly album and the second is a smaller Facebook album:

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