St. John Advice Needed - for First Timers!

Aug 25th, 2009, 04:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 12
St. John Advice Needed - for First Timers!

We would like to visit St John in late July/early August of 2010 for the FIRST TIME!
we love to snorkel and because we live in Florida, we would like to see some hills! (family of 4, two kids ages 8 & 10)
We're trying to figure out how long to stay. Would 7 days be enough to really see a lot of the beaches/snorkel spots, and do a few hikes? Or is 10 days much better?!
We MIGHT also stay 3 nights in St Thomas when we first arrive at a beachfront condo, before heading to St John for the rest of the trip. Should we even bother with St. Thomas... or just spend the whole time on St. John? Our interests are nature, snorkeling, hiking, beaches-- not shopping or nightlife. But it might be fun to stay at a beach resort on St Thomas a few days..... we would love any advice you can give us.
Another question is, can we get away with only renting a car for a few days on St John- and taking taxis/buses the rest of the time? Or is it a lot better to have a car for the whole time? We will probably stay within walking distance to Cruz Bay town- not in a resort but a small condo, most likely.
Thanks for any tips!
mvan is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 08:02 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
If you have 10 days, go for it. The more I go to STJ, a week isn't enough. Two of your days are pretty messed up with travel, but with you being from Florida, maybe not as much.

Where did you have in mind to stay on STJ? There are very few places that I would consider comfortable walking distance to Cruz Bay. The Frank Bay area is an option but there will be hills involved to walk. You might also look at Gallow's Point Resort or Lavender Hill. I have not personally stayed at Lavender Hill, but it is close to town. With 4 of you, I would rent a vehicle for the whole time. The taxi prices add up quickly as the rates are per person one way. The taxis will basically only take you to the North Shore beaches and you will have to wait for them to fill up as well. The is the $1 bus that goes to Coral Bay and Salt Pond via Centerline Road, but the one time we tried it, found it to not be that reliable. There were less running and we spent a lot of time waiting on the road with the goats for the bus. It's cheap, but no way would I recommend it. The bus does not go to The North Shore Beaches.

It's hard for me to answer your question about staying on St Thomas. If being at a beachfront resort is something that you would like, then do it. Otherwise, I would spend the whole time on St John. Plenty to keep you busy and you could also do a day trip to The British Virgin Islands either by ferry or charter.
brenandg is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 03:59 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 607
I would recommend going for ten days if it's within your budget. It's very difficult to accomplish much on the first day other than settle in and chill out. I definitely would not throw St. Thomas in the equation for a seven day trip. You'd loose another day on check-out and check-in. Given your interests nature, snorkeling, hiking, beaches it seems an entire trip on St. John would better suit your goals.

I'd go for the 'jeep' rental the entire trip. There are too many places that taxis and buses don't travel to such as Little Lameshur, the East End, and the North Shore beaches. Taxis do go there but with your own rental you can beach hop all day or week. Plus you have the added flexibility of your schedule.

Also consider renting a house in lieu of the condo. There's a huge rental market on St. John and you'd be traveling in the off season with its' favorable rates.

No matter how much you research it, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how great St. John is for hiking, snorkeling ( off the beach-no boat trips ) and beaches.
RobertoB is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 06:37 AM
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Posts: 12
Thanks for all the great advice. I'm thinking that maybe we should stay on St John for 10 days, and rent a car for 7 days, and 'make do' with walking and buses for 3 days of the time. (this would help our budget) We don't know yet where to stay so I will look into your suggestions. Do you think that the hiking will be unpleasantly hot in late July, or are there enough breezes to make it tolerable? We love snorkeling in the Keys every July, but are ready to expand our horizons to a better snorkeling island! Sounds like St John would fit the bill. Does anyone have any suggestions/advice on day trips to the BVI from St John? We might be able to afford just one, so we'd want to pick a place to go with good snorkeling, once again!
mvan is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 05:50 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
You can go a few different routes for day trips to The BVI's. We have experience with these:

New Horizon's II is a powerboat trip that has a nice overview of The BVI's but it not focused on snorkeling.

For the minimal diffence in the money I recommend a private charter to take you where you want. Since there are four of you, it will still be expensive to do a group trip like above. This way, you would have the boat to yourselves. Captain John Brandi is the best and you would have a wonderful day.

Or, you could do a cheaper option and take the ferry to Virgin Gorda to see The Bath's. I'm sure they would love crawling around the boulders.

You will be OK with a car for 7 of the 10 days IF you are walking distance to town. The taxi's do not really go to the villas, mainly the North Shore. The bus will not take you to any beaches except Salt Pond. It will take you to Coral Bay.

It will be hot in August, but if you are used to Florida climate, you should be OK.

I haven't personally seen this place but it looks really cute and would be very close to town.
brenandg is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 05:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
Sorry, wrong link for Palm Tree Charters above.
brenandg is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Whether you decided to stay on St. John or St. Thomas I would recommend a daysail to the BVIs on the Scubadu. You can book a private sail with Capt. Joe and go wherever you want. Whether it be a snorkel stop and go to Jost Van Dyke to the Soggy Dollar Bar for a few painkillers or whatever, he'll take you there. We tried the Scubadu over 6 years ago and have been going with Joe everytime we go to St. John. He's a bit pricey but its so worth it. It is always a highlight of our trip - which is hard to beat when you are already on such a beautiful island!

When you rent a car, be sure to do the 'North Shore' Drive around the island. You do have to stay left but you will get the hang of it. The speed limit on St. John is very slow. Also be sure to head out to Coral Bay (the quiet side of the island) and stop in for a burger and a beer at Skinny Leg's. For dinner on St. John, our favorite is La Tapa and Rhumblines. And of course you must hit the Beach Bar and Woody's for happy hour!

Depending where you want to stay is entirely up to you. We usually split our time between Caneel Bay and the Westin. The norm though is to rent a villa and with 10 days you can easily swing it. Enough of my ramblings, I just get excited about St. John! Hope this helps - Susan
SSypniewski is offline  
Aug 31st, 2009, 02:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,532
If you are able to swing 10 days, I'd go for it. IMO, with kids 8 and 10 it promises to be a vacation they'll remember a lifetime. But the problem with 10 days is most places like to rent out for a week at a time which is not bad... you could put 3 days on St. Thomas, but I would definitely do that in the beginning because I fear, STJ is such a special experience, STT will have a really hard time following that act. The first time we went to STJ, it was for 10 days and it changed our lives... we ended up investing in a little place there. Hopefully, we and it will survive this economic hurricane.
Tuxedocat is offline  

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