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Please help with BVI portion of USVI / BVI vacation

Please help with BVI portion of USVI / BVI vacation

Old Dec 10th, 2006, 08:07 AM
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Please help with BVI portion of USVI / BVI vacation

Hi everyone,

We (family of 4 - kids are 16 and 12 at time of travel) have FF airline tickets, flying from San Diego to St. Thomas, and returning to San Diego from San Juan, PR. Our plan, to date, has been 10 nights on STT (Marriott, on points), hopping to other islands as much as possible... then a flight to San Juan for 2 nights (Marriott, on points). We only decided to visit San Juan, because we are flying out of SJU on the return home.

I have been trying to figure out a way to do a scuba diving / snorkeling trip from STT to the BVIs... and it just doesn't seem feasible via a day trip from STT. Sooooo.... We're thinking of modifying the plans, such that we stay in the BVIs for 3-4 nights. I've come up with the following 2 options:

Option #1
ST. Thomas - 7 nights
(ferry to BVIs)
BVIs - 3 nights
(flight to SJU)
San Juan - 2 nights

OR

Option #2
STT - 8 nights
( ferry to BVIs)
BVI - 4 mights
(Fly directly from the BVIs to SJU to catch our return flight to San Diego - flight leaves SJU @ 2:26.)

We would prefer Option #2 (less moving around), if it is feasible.

What are the logistics of option 2? Ferry to Beef Island, then a flight to SJU? Can we do this and still make our 2:26 SJU to SAN flight? Is this too risky?

Where would we stay in the BVIs that would allow us:
* to easily get back to SJU on departure day.
* close (walking distance?) to some excellent shore snorkeling
* easy access to our chosen dive operator (divebvi.com) - locations are in Marina Cay, Leverick Bay, and the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor.
* a destination that kids would enjoy
* close proximinty to restaurants, etc.

I was looking at Guavaberry Spring Bay Villas, Mango Bay Resort, Old Yard Village, all on VG.... but what about Tortola... Pusser's Marina Cay Hotel? I don't (yet) have a good understanding of locations and distances around the BVIs.

Oh, also... we're hoping not to spend more than $200 or $250 per night, if possible, but this is a bit flexible.

Any recommendations? This is our first trip to the USVI / BVI.

Thank you, once again!!

Carole

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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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Oh, sorry... this vacation is scheduled for mid to late June.

Carole
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 10:21 AM
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I think you should start your trip in the BVIs, then STT to San Juan. You need to be at the airport 2 hours in advance for international flights, and those ferries aren't always on time and I'm not sure what connections you have from Tortola. I'm sure there are better connections from STT to SJuan. I wouldn't want to stay in SJuan for two nights, really, but that's up to you.There are so many things to do in the BVIs...ferrying to all the islands is a blast.
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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Well, for starters with only 3 or 4 nights in the BVI, I would choose staying on Tortola. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter whether you stay in STT or BVI first, as there are plenty of flights during the day that run between Beef Island (EIS) and SJU, some of which .

But before I forget, what airline are your FF miles on?

Anyway, I'd pick Tortola out of the various BVI because it offers the most comprehensive ferry and airline schedule to get to other islands for daytrips and to get you back to SJU for your return flight home. It's also the largest and offers the most to do--snorkeling, more beach bars than you could possibly visit in one trip, horseback riding, hiking, shopping, etc.

From Tortola I would do a day trip to Virgin Gorda and the Baths if you don't do that from St. Thomas. A day spent on Jost Van Dyke will also give a good taste of laid back beach living.

Check out the Long Bay Beach Resort as a home base. They might even have a 4 night family package that could work for you. From there you can technically walk to Smuggler's Cove, but it's a bit of a hike. I'd say you're better off renting a car while there. During my visit last year I found the best shore snorkeling on the island at Long Bay East (on Beef island, not the same Long Bay where the resort is), Smuggler's Cove, and Brewer's Bay, in that order. The better snorkeling around Tortola would be found on a daysail such as to the Indians or the Caves.

I don't know much about Marina Cay, but if your dive operator is located there, you might want to stay there as well. It's convenient to Road Town for small-scale shopping and a few restaurants, and not that far awayby car from a few cool restaurants along the north shore.
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 03:11 PM
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LLindaC - I didn't even think of doing our trip in reverse order... I'll look at that as an option. We don't really want to back track, but even more so, we don't want to miss our flights!!

ejcrowe - I just looked at the longbay.com website and they don't show the price of their Family Escape package that I was looking at. By the way, this package covers transfers to the ferry dock and/or airport... what is the location of this ferry dock (heck, maybe there is only one on the island!), and which airport are they referring to? Anyway, I've sent them an email inquiry on that package, as well as their scuba dive package.

Any other hotels I should look into?

Carole

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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 03:11 PM
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From St. Thomas we did a day snorkel trip to VG (the Baths), ate lunch at Cooper Island, then stopped to snorkel at the caves. It was an easy day trip.

Having said that, St. Thomas is not one of my favorite island and I recommend spending less time on it and more time in the BVI or other USVI islands.
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 03:21 PM
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Hi LvSun - We also have a snorkel trip currently reserved from STT to Virgin Gorda/the Baths (also stops at Jost Van Dyke, and Guana Island)... but we'll cancel that and do something out of Tortola or Virgin Gorda if we change our plans to stay in the BVIs part of the time.

A day snorkeling trip works well from STT. But a day trip to go scuba diving out of Virgin Gorda doesn't work well, from what the dive operator tells me.

I too, am not too excited about St. Thomas, itself, but we're doing this trip to spend some of hubby's FF miles and Marriott points... so St. Thomas, it is. We actually plan to spend quite a bit of time on St. John.

ejcrowe - our FF tickets are on United Airlines (not American Airlines, unfortunately, which I know goes from Beef Island to SJU).

Carole
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 03:41 PM
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The ferry terminal and the airport are at opposite ends of the island. Most ferrys leave the West End(Sopers Hole) and there some out of Road Town, as well.
As far as island hopping between STT adn TOR, do ferry, it is $40 pp and flying is $125 pp one way.
If it were my trip, I would divide my time between tortola and Stt, with day trips to STJ while on STT.
But having teens with you, I cannot think of a place there with great shopping(let them get it out of their system in Cruz Bay STJ). There are lots of inexpensive places to stay on Tortola. You may enjoy Cane Garden Bay, lots of beach bars, and little restaurants, places to stay all along one beach.
For day trips, we have done the Indians (great) and the Caves at Norman Island (I thought over rated). Jost Van Dyke, the ferry pulls into Great Harbor where Foxy's is and you can hike over to White Bay. I will say it again, I think my favorite spot on earth!!!
Have fun, do not over plan and the best will happen!
PS...I would do just one night in San Juan also...but just my opinion!
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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Thanks mahobaygirl for the additional information.

Are you saying you'd do 1 night in San Juan, as opposed to 2... or 1 night in San Juan as opposed to 0? If we find we can get over to Beef Island and catch a flight to SJU such that we're at the airport by noon or so... we'll go the same day with no overnight stay in San Juan.

Carole
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 01:25 AM
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Well, St. Thomas is MY favorite island so I hope you enjoy it.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 03:02 AM
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A day and a night in San Juan as opposed to 2, but that is just my opinion. I would rather be on one of the Virgin Island beaches...but that is just me...
for shopping, you can't beat STT. I love looking at the historic buildings and the feel of being on Old San Juan, but as far as shopping goes, I found lots of trinket shops with items made in China. But there are some nice, high end galleries.
It is worth a visit, just one day or two depends onyour family's interests!! Have fun
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:34 AM
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I agree that one night spent in San Juan is a good idea, especially if you can stay in Old San Juan. For starters, it eliminates all worry of connecting to your United FF flight. But secondly, It's a very nice transitioni between a laid back beachy vacation and easing back into Real Life. It's bustling, cultural, beautiful, and you can walk everywhere in OSJ. The museums, the galleries, the architecture, the restaurants, the forts--all of these would make for a pleasant afternoon/evening/morning.

However, if you really don't like the idea of moving that many times in 12 nights (and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't), then skip San Juan this time but consider it for your next trip.

ca, I've not checked the Long Bay website recently, but you might find more info on the Family Package on their parent website, www.eliteislands.com .

I agree that Cane Garden Bay might be a fun base for a 4 night stay. Most of the places there are small guest houses or tiny inns and I don't have any specific recommendations. The Light House Villas might give you the most space for your money, however.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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Thanks everyone for the new ideas. Will look into Cane Bay Garden too, ejcrowe. I would really like the nicest beach possible, in a decent price range (less than $300 per night, for sure... prefer $250 or under).

Still have to mull over whether to spend a night in San Juan. We'd likely stay at the Marriott (Stellaris)... how far is that from Old San Juan? I know there is a Marriott Courtyard, as well. Prefer to stay there as the stay is free.

Carrybean - glad to hear you like St. Thomas! I wonder why it gets some negative comments... I guess it's just busier than many want on a vacation? I'm sure my daughter (16) will love STT!!

Carole
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 09:32 AM
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ca, I'd say that whether Cane Garden or Long Bay is the better beach is strictly a matter of opinion. Long Bay is close to a mile long, and the only thing on it is the resort. It's simply gorgeous, the white sand flanked by two rising headlands. It's difficult to enter the water along most of it, though, because of rocks right at the water's edge. I don't think there's much snorkeling, there, either but I've not tried it myself. The most expensive rooms are right on the beach, but there are less expensive rooms on the hillside that have fantastic views.

Cane Garden Bay is much smaller and cove like. It's got a variety of beach bars tucked in among the palms there and is the busiest beach on the island. Lots of sailboats anchor there and it has a very lively atmosphere. There are a few small inns and guesthouses, but there you're paying for location rather than amenities. The Lighthouse Villas are just a short walk up the hill on the other side of the road from the beach. They're supposed to have good views from the 2nd & 3rd floor.

I prefer quieter places, so Long Bay would get my vote in this case. But there are just as many people (maybe even more) who would give the nod to Cane Garden Bay.

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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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It will be less busy in June so just don't go downtown if there's more than one ship in port. You can take the liitle boat from the Reef across the harbor which lets you right downtown to shop & have lunch (I recommend Gladys' restaurant - anyone downtown can direct you there.)

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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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Skip Puerto Rico, not worth imho.
If you have Starwood points use them to stay at the Westin in St John for a couple of days. Split your time between St John and St Thomas, St John will take you 4 or 5 days to explore, St Thomas about 2. Definitely go to The Baths in Virgin Gorda and Jost is wonderful too. We do it from St John, we rent a 25 or 28 ft boat from Oceanrunners or Nauti Nymph and my husband has a boat so he is in heaven zipping around the waters. We do not stay in Virgin Gorda because it is too quiet for us. We prefer to be near Cruz Bay in St John. You can do Tortolla from St John too. Also check out Villa rentals on St John, they are affordable in June. Vieques is another island we would like to visit someday close to Puerto Rico. I wouldnt waste 2 days vacation time in San Jose though.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:34 PM
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Hi ej - Sounds like our kids would prefer Cane Garden Bay (oops... I was dyslexic earlier on the name!). We would like to be in a place, if possible, to walk out and snorkel. And (for better or worse) the kids will be happier where there are local places nearby (places to grab a snack, etc.). I'll check out the Lighthouse Villas!!

carrybean - We'll definitely check out Gladys' restaurant.

sebasco - Sorry... we only have Marriott points... no Starwood points, otherwise we could definitely stay at the Westin on STJ. We've decided NOT to stay in Puerto Rico, unless we don't feel we can make it back to SJU for our flight home in plenty of time. I still haven't quite figured out the ferry route / schedule to Beef Island from Tortola.

Carole
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:37 PM
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I just noticed on the Lighthouse Villas website that the prices are by the week.... do they also rent for less than 1 week (for us that would be 4 nights)?

Thanks.

Carole
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Never mind that last question... I see they will rent, on request, pro-rated with a 10% surcharge.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 06:07 PM
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We stayed at Long By Resort and went everywhere. LOVED it.Unlike one poster here, I HATE St Thomas. the crime is bad, the traffic is bad...we just had a terrible time there. I loved St John. But the BVIs are the best hands down. No need to worry about anything, mon. I disliked parts of San juan, and would not put it on the priority list. Still, if you have airline issues, do it for one day/night only. Enjoy Old town!
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