St. John or Tortola?

Old Oct 17th, 2001, 08:04 AM
  #1  
Iza
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
St. John or Tortola?

We are thinking about one of these islands as a family vacation destination for next July. In St. John we would probably rent a villa but my concerns are safety (have been reading reports of break-ins) and the fact that we will not be on the beach. Also, I am not that thrilled by the thought of grocery shopping and preparing food, and in general not having resort amenities or company for our 8 year old daughter.
I have been reading great things about Frenchman's Cay in Tortola and their package including a car and some meals sounds like a great deal. Is it possible to take your car from Tortola to St. John for day trips?
I would like to get opinions from posters here as to what would be a better choice for us. We like quiet small hotels, no highrises, don't care for nightlife, need a place with a pool, nice beaches (clean with white sand is more important than the beach being long) and good snorkeling, laid back and casual is what we are looking for. We prefer lush vegetation and hilly areas. This would be our first time in the Caribbean.
Our other choice of islands was Grenada, but given the political climate recently I would rather be on US or UK soil.
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 11:27 AM
  #2  
Mark Stevenson
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Since you mentioned Grenada, here's my 2 cents. It's one of my favorites, especially Spice on Grand Anse, but I would never recommend it to a first timer to the Carib. I send most of my first timer friends to Grand Cayman as a perfect transition, at least those looking for the on the beach water snorkelling type of experience. Although Grenada is super lush and hilly, and Cayman is not, the properties on Cayman in the Seven Mile Beach area have great landcaping so it is wonderful.

To me safety is not really an issue in the Caribbean, but I steer people with your concerns to the northern westernized islands - Cayman is just one of many good choices.
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 02:59 PM
  #3  
Iza
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mark, thanks for your suggestion. I am curious why you would not recommend Grenada for a first timer? Grand Cayman, from everything I read about it, may be way too commercialized and westernized for us. While it would be our first time to the Caribbean, we are no strangers to travelling outside of US. To give you an example, the past two summers we vacationed in Costa Rica and it wasn't at an AI either. We flew and drove to various destinations, stayed and ate at local places, explored the country as much as possible. We don't need gold faucets and marble bathrooms and time on the beach with nothing else to do. We love nature and would like to do some exploring as well, so that's why I thought Grenada or St. John would be a good place for us. When I say I like resort amenities, I mean that I like to have maid service and meals that I don't have to cook myself. I hate large resorts and that is not what I am looking for.
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 03:46 PM
  #4  
Jeri
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
"We don't need gold faucets and marble bathrooms and time on the beach with nothing else to do"

What on earth does that mean?
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 04:15 PM
  #5  
Mark Stevenson
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Grenada and St. John couldn't be more different. Grenada is an intense "in your face" Jamaican type of experience, so if you're squeamish about reports of a few villa breakins in the super westernized VI, I wouldn't recommend Grenada.

Since you've done Costa Rica native-style, and love nature, you'd probably love Grenada with it's mountains and rainforests. Grand Etang area gets hundreds of inches of rain a year, and has incredible flora and fauna. The fresh fish and produce in Grenada is wonderful, nothing is imported like the more commercialized islands. But it's just a bit intense for the really fussy types, in my opinion. There's not a lot to do on an island like Grenada, it's just you, the beach, and nature and some really genuine people.
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 04:37 PM
  #6  
Allen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Jeri, the gold faucets and marble comment probably refers to the notion that if you're going to pay for something, then it should be something you value and consider worth paying for. Iza might be focused more on what his family does for enjoyment than having a faucet that does nothing more than what a chrome faucet does, but makes the room cost more. Reminiscent of the old "Where's the beef!" commercials. He does have a good point.
Other folks like to feel like they are in the lap of luxury. The pleasure such a person gets from having a gold faucet simply reflects their idea of value received.
It may be nothing more than that. I sense from your comment that you take it as a value judgment on your tastes, ergo you are appreciative of luxury.
We can't know if Iza meant to slam you, but we can see that you are sensitive to such attitudes which you may have experienced previously. Myself, I think you can feel quite all right about gold plating and need not care whether or not Iza thinks one thing or another about your faucets.
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 04:43 PM
  #7  
Annette
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hilarious, Allen!! We'll never quite know if you're making fun of her or not. Or are you making fun of him... him and her? All of us? Life in general, maybe? Or... could you just possibly be serious?
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 05:25 PM
  #8  
Susie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I have to wonder with Jeri, what is that time on the beach with nothing else to do statement about? I won't even ask what Allen and his cheerleader are babbling about! Full moon tonight?? LOL
 
Old Oct 17th, 2001, 09:38 PM
  #9  
xxx
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
"We don't need gold faucets and marble bathrooms and time on the beach with nothing else to do"

Does this mean they don't need "...time on the beach with nothing else to do" in addition to not needing "gold faucets and marble bathrooms" ????? Please tell me.

 
Old Oct 18th, 2001, 04:52 AM
  #10  
Karen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Choosing between St.John and Tortola, would find me on St. John. No marble baths nor gold faucets on either but loads of wonderful beaches on St. John! Maybe one of the "condo" places that have daily maid service and you can eat out easily in Cruz Bay would do as an alternate to a villa where you do the cooking, etc if you want. There are a few - Gallows gets lots of reviews but there is no beach there. In fact, few places on St. John are right on a fantastic beach (and the same is true for Tortola)! Might run into some others for the child to play with too. You cannot take the car between countries but if you ferry to St. John from Tortola or Tortola from St. John, there are plenty of taxis that will afford you a good day trip. Your description of beaches fits St. John perfectly with lots of them and most have great snorkling right off the beach. You have the Nat'l Park there to take advantage of their activities, hiking, etc. too. Frenchman's Cay is lovely. Great downisland views and wonderful hosts. Good restaurant and very comfortable accomodations.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2001, 10:32 AM
  #11  
pete
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I don't think that Gallows Point allows children under 12 in-season. I think that the Westin on St. John has a kids' club with its own activities, plus the tennis courts, big pool, etc. etc. Although it's not on a beautiful beach (it's beach is man-made), it does have some of the amenities you're looking for. There may be some kids in some of the camp grounds too (Cinnamon Bay, Maho, Harmony etc.)
 
Old Oct 18th, 2001, 02:41 PM
  #12  
Iza
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thank you all for your suggestions. Based on all this it sounds like St. John may be a better choice for us.
After rereading my posts, I understand why some of you may be baffled by my comments about gold faucets and beach time. I guess I should have taken the time to explain better what we are not interested in and not try to write in shorthand
What I was trying to say is: We would like a nice place to stay at but don't care about what in my humble opinion are unnecessary luxuries like marble bathrooms with gold faucets. The second somewhat unrelated thought that really didn't belong in the same sentence was in reaction to something Mark said about "beach water snorkeling type of vacations". We like to be close to the beach (mostly for nice views and to hear the waves) but are not one of those families that would devote the whole vacation to time on the beach. I read quite a few trip reports from people who have gone to the Caribbean, describing each day of their vacation as "had breakfast, went to beach, sat and read till lunch, had lunch, sat on the beach till dinner". We would like to find an island that in addition to beaches would offer some hiking in beautiful surroundings, exploring by car, local culture, maybe horse back riding and other types of activities.
Again, thanks for all your responses.
 
Old Oct 22nd, 2001, 03:05 PM
  #13  
Julie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Izabela, we were looking for much the same things that you've described, and really fell in love with St. John. I've only seen Tortola from the water passing by, but it didn't look nearly as lovely. We stayed in a villa near Cruz Bay and ate out every night--no cooking for me on vacation! St. John has lots of very good restaurants. If you're concerned about company and/or activities for your child I would second the earlier recommendation for the Westin. It's not as private as a villa and the beach is just OK, but if you rent a jeep it can be a great home base for exploring the island. Be sure to do the Ram Head trail if you go to STJ--it is spectacular!
 
Old Oct 22nd, 2001, 07:28 PM
  #14  
Kara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I have stayed on ST. John at Caneel Bay and Maho Bay Campgroud. It is definatley the most beautiful island in the V.I.s Many of the villas include maid service and I would recommend renting a car or ensuring you have a villa within walking distance of one of the MANY beautiful beaches. The northern side beaches are much calmer. Caneel Bay alone had 7 spectacular beaches. It is a very laid back setting, none of the in-your-face folks selling you trinkets. With a jeep for at least 3/4 days you could explore all of the wonderful South side beaches as well. Maho Bay in my opinion is a great deal, if you can handle the quasi-camping experience. Kids just love it. Tortola is nice as well although I have just pulled a boat into Cane Garden Bay and Road Town so I don't know of any of the resorts. I have taken a taxi across the island and based on that trip alone I would say St. John is a more beautiful island.If you rent a villa you could do a bbq by your villa pool every other night then drive to one of the local rest. for dinner. (that way your aren't cooking every night). Overall I think a villa in St. John with at least a couple days Jeep rental would be the perfect family vacation. Good luck, Kara
 

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO