St. Croix and St. John - March 2008 Trip Report

Mar 17th, 2008, 05:14 PM
  #1  
SZ
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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St. Croix and St. John - March 2008 Trip Report

My husband and I just got back from a fantastic trip to St. Croix and St. John. We'd never been to the Caribbean before -- we like active outdoor pursuits more than lying on the beach, so we weren't sure we'd enjoy it. The verdict: we did!

We spent five nights at Chenay Bay on St. Croix. It's a nice enough place -- clean, comfortable cottages painted in pastel colors, arranged on landscaped pathways on a hillside. It's not luxurious but that suited us fine. The beach there isn't great -- it's small and the sand is kind of rocky -- but the view out to Green Cay is pretty.

We rented a car from Avis -- something like $28/day on Hotwire -- which worked out well (easy for me to say, though, because my husband did the driving. The whole left-side thing freaked me out a little, but I live in NYC and drive maybe once a year as it is). We picked the car up at the airport and were able tp drop it off later at the seaplane terminal in Christiansted.

Our snorkeling trip to Buck Island with Big Beard was excellent. The ride on the catamaran was fun and the scenery was gorgeous. The snorkeling itself was amazing -- all kinds of fish, including barracudas and a nurse shark. Cool. The barbecue on beautiful Coakley Beach was enjoyable, too. We also snorkeled at Cane Bay, which was a little rough and windy. The beach itself is quite scenic -- reminded me a bit of Ke'e Beach on Kauai.

Another highlight: the moonlight kayaking tour at Salt River. Paddling around as the sun set was incredibly peaceful and relaxing, and I loved using my oars to light up the waters of the bioluminescent bay.

We also liked walking around Christiansted. The old Danish colonial buildings are pretty cool, especially the fort. It's not picture perfect -- parts of the town seem rundown -- but it feels authentic and is definitely worth a visit. If you're looking to buy an inexpensive Cruzan bracelet, I can recommend the very nice man who runs the Tropical Bracelet Factory Outlet & Craft Center on King Street.

The one real disappointment of St. Croix: the Whim Plantation Museum. For $10, you get to wander around the grounds reading the signs (where they still exist) on the exhibits. You then get a 5-minute tour of the Great House, which consists of a guide saying things like, "This desk is from 1800 and made of mahogany wood." It's really a shame. St. Croix has a fascinating (and tragic) history, and this place could present it so much better.

As for food -- we loved Cafe Christine, where we had the lovely and delicious vegetarian plate featuring the best quiche I've ever eaten. It feels like a place for locals, so I'm hesitant to recommend it, but hey, it's in the Fodors guide. It's probably a good idea to make reservations. I wasn't as crazy about Harvey's, since I don't really eat meat and vegetarian options were few. If you're into beer, Fort Christian Brew Pub in the harbor has some nice brews.

We took the seaplane from St. Croix to St. Thomas. It wasn't quite as thrilling/scary as I was expecting, but maybe that's a good thing. Seaborne Airlines arranges for a taxi to take you to the ferry to St. John, so the whole thing is pretty seamless.

St. John is, of course, beautiful -- incredible beaches, tree-covered hills, etc. We stayed in a tent at Cinnamon Bay, mostly due to sticker shock from the other lodging options. Turns out an $80 campsite is still a campsite, with all the bugs and dampness and late-night hikes to the bathroom that entails. I got tons of mosquito bites, even with liberal spraying of Deep Woods Off. Ah, well. Being so close to the beach was great. The restaurant at the camp was pretty decent.

We didn't rent a car on St. John, so we ended up taking the crazy (and fun!) safari taxis to and from Cruz Bay. At $7 a person per trip, it can add up, but it's still cheaper than a car rental.

We hiked the trail from Cinnamon Bay to Reef Bay and back. (You evidently can take a boat back but we opted to hike both ways.) It was steep in parts, but the only really harrowing thing was walking for a mile along the narrow, winding Centerline Road. It got kind of scary when trucks whizzed by us. Still, it was worth it when we got to swim at the deserted Genti Beach at the end of the trail. It took us about 5 hours to hike both ways, not including our time on the beach.

Snorkeling at Cinnamon Bay was pretty good, and the beach itself is stunning.

We had dinner one night at Rhumb Lines, where the food was pretty but not terribly tasty.

To sum it up: we had a great trip. We would definitely go back to St. John, though we'd probably splurge on a real hotel room. St. Croix was wonderful, too, though I feel we did all we really wanted to do in the five days we spent there.
SZ is offline  
Mar 18th, 2008, 08:57 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to post your great report.
schmerl is offline  
Mar 18th, 2008, 09:44 AM
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Thanks for posting! Glad to hear you enjoyed the trip

pijeta is offline  
Mar 18th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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I didn't realize that they have a biobay in St. Croix. Did you take a guided trip and if so, who did you go with. We'll be on st. Croix in 1 month. Thanks!
lovethecape is offline  
Mar 19th, 2008, 07:43 AM
  #5  
SZ
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The moonlight kayaking tour was with Caribbean Adventure Tours (http://www.stcroixkayak.com). It was a guided trip, and cost $45 per person for a two-hour tour. I recommend it highly. Have a great time in St. Croix!
SZ is offline  
Mar 19th, 2008, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for the trip report, which I enjoyed reading. St. Croix seems to get short shrift around here, so it's nice to read something on it.
ejcrowe is offline  
Mar 19th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Thanks SZ!
lovethecape is offline  
Mar 20th, 2008, 11:21 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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Thank you for the TR. As far as camping at Cinnamon, I have often thought that I would trade in our lodging once a year for twice a year at the campground!! (to be able to go as often)!!
mahobaygirl is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 02:17 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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Thanks. Nice report. STX, with its shortage of high, high end stuff does get somewhat overlooked, but there are some some fabulous places and activities. Buck Island is a gem ... and would stand out anywhere.
repete is offline  
Apr 12th, 2008, 02:54 PM
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DH and I have begun to talk about doing this next spring break. Great info. Thanks!
SuzieTrue is offline  

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