St. John trip report

Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:05 AM
  #1  
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St. John trip report

Hello all!

I'd like to give you a trip report but I will leave out much that has already been said on other reports.

We arrived on St. Thomas where our rental company had a private van waiting for us.

We were driven to Red Hook for a fare of $60 for the van.

We weren't thrilled with what happened when we arrived at the dock. We had a local take our bags a total of thirty feet only to be told the ferry (which was still at the dock and still accepting passengers) was leaving. I went down to the ferry and they said they could still take us, but the local disappeared after putting our bags off to the side. We ended up waiting for the next ferry which was an hour later.

I would suggest if you don't want to deal with the public ferry, you look into a private water taxi to take you over to St. Thomas and bring you back. We found one which picked us up at the National Park Dock on St. John, which is away from all the crowds. They carried our luggage on board, had a van waiting for us at a private dock at Red Hook. The price was $100 which is the price for the taxi up to 5 passengers. Each additional passenger was $20 extra. The ride was convenient and no waiting.

Well, we haven't been to St. John in twenty years... what a change. We contemplated on going back to St. John in the first place. When you have visited somewhere twenty years ago, the odds are high it won't be the same. It was sad to us to see all the construction and traffic. It has definitely been discovered. I would say it is as much of a "port of call" as it could be to not have the major cruise ships coming in there.

Our villa was up from chocolate hole. Our views were spectacular with St. Thomas, Chocolate hole and St. Croix off our balconies.

The villa was "tired" and it didn't help to have the neighbors sneaking down in the late hours to use our pool. They scared our kids one night with all the partying.

But, all in all, it was an okay villa. I would say at least for us, having air conditioning only in the bedrooms was not ideal. We cook as much as dining out and the kitchen/living area was very hot until after 9:00 p.m.

The good news about St. John is the beaches are still beautiful. Trunk Bay is where the cruise ships bring their passengers so if you do not like crowded beaches, I would suggest you choose Trunk later in the day when the passengers are taken back to the cruise ships.

The beaches were crowded everyday but we didn't seem to mind much. We had a large cooler where we had drinks, sandwiches and snacks for the entire day. It was nice to have the cooler but at trunk there is a snack bar where you can get burgers/fries, etc.

Cinnamon Bay has a restaurant but the wait was very long for your food.

We were so happy to see Vi's Snack Shack on the other side of the island was still the same! Vi is such a sweet lady and her garlic chicken with johnny cakes is not to be missed. It's quite a drive to see her but it is a beautiful drive and the food is worth the trip!

If you rent a car, make sure it has four wheel drive. The reason for the four wheel drive is if it is raining and you choose to drive around the island, the steep hills and curves tend to be very slippery without four wheel drive.

The snorkeling on St. John is still wonderful but we prefer the British side.

If you can swing it, I would highly recommend you rent a boat and go over to the british side. In our opinion, the most spectacular snorkeling/diving is at the Indians which is just outside Norman Island. You can snorkel the caves which are around the corner from the Indians.


After snorkeling the Indians and the Caves, motor over to the Pirate Restaurant. You will have a great lunch, wonderful cocktails and the snorkeling off to the left side of the restaurant is worth doing.

You won't be disappointed with the trip. We rented through Ocean Runners which is right in Cruz Bay. You can either hire a guide or do the trip yourself. It's not cheap but we thought it well worth the price. Norman Island is approximately, 50 minutes from Cruz Bay by boat.

Customs is on Tortola which took no longer than 15 minutes to clear before you can visit the British side.

FYI, when we returned to Cruz Bay, we had to go to the customs office and clear back into U.S. We were not charged for re-entering but the boat next to us was charged $36. Make sure you find out if there is actually a charge.

We visited the Westin where we ran into friends of ours. They were not impressed with the beach as it is man-made, water was always churned up and if the ocean breeze was not blowing directly through the harbor, the pool area was hot. This was their experience.

We saw the pool and thought it was very crowded. We chose to drive to the beaches.

Our last day and night was spent on St. Thomas as we had an 8:30 a.m. flight to catch the next morning. We stayed at Secret Harbour resort which is a condo resort. Nice beach, good snorkeling but I would suggest with an early flight, stay closer to the airport the day before the flight.

And ironically, our best dinner happened to be on St. Thomas at "Off the Hook" in Red Hook. Very nice venue and the food was great.

Sorry for the length of this but I hope you enjoy the read!





ydoc is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:25 AM
  #2  
 
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Thanks for the report, we must have been there around the same time? We arrived home 4/1. We also thought the beauty of the BVI's by boat was awesome.
brenandg is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:30 AM
  #3  
 
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My husband worked on the construction of Centerline road apporx. 30 years ago ( I was still a young teen

He had not been back until he took me for the first time 3 years ago. It had changed much for him as well.

As for me, even in the 3 years I have been going, the villas in the hills around Coral Bay (and everywhere) just keep on popping up!

Finding yourself alone on a beach is not a frequent thing anymore either!

But even having experienced a few other islands in the last few years, I have to say STJ is my favorite and has a special place in my heart!
Though my snorkeling experience around the islands is limited, I have had the best luck in STJ, except for the boat trips to the Caves, Flanagan Island, etc.

Glad you had a nice trip...
soggydollar is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:18 AM
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owa
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Soggydollar, Could you tell me about Flanagan Island? After I read your reply above, I went to the net to see what I could find. We are going to STJ in November and I am always open to new snorkeling sites. Do a lot of people not go or have I just missed reading about it. Thanks, Owa
 
Apr 3rd, 2006, 02:50 PM
  #5  
 
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ydoc; I am curious as to which villa you rented. The neighbors sneaked into the pool at night??? I would be furious if that happened.
karenlf is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 02:52 PM
  #6  
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Karenlf

The villa was called Meritage
ydoc is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 10:10 PM
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thanks for posting your trip report! snorkeling at the indians outside of norman island sounds awesome. glad to hear you had a good time.
jackiehammond is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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owa:
Flanagan island is outside of Coral Bay Harbor, if you were heading the the Caves, you would go past it. It is very close to STJ. The coral was much larger and more colorful, the fish were the same you would see on the island snorkeling from shore, but much larger.

We went there with a Dive boat that operated out of Coral Bay (I think they sold or were trying to sell the business) My husband and neice went diving and my son and I snorkeled.

There is a boat company called Flyaway charters and they operate out of Coral Bay. If have the number if you cannot find it on the VI website.

Also, I know you love to snorkel, check out Lameshur or Little Lameshur, I forget which is which, but one has a coral rubble beach and one has a sandy beach. Go to the sandy beach and look into the water towards the right there is this rock sticking out of the water, it looks small but lots of fish there we have never seen, plus squid. It is a lot larger under water that the rock sticking out makes it look!
soggydollar is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 02:28 PM
  #9  
owa
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soggydollar,
Thanks so much for the information. I did find information on Flyaway charters.

ydoc, thanks for the trip report. Owa
 
Apr 24th, 2006, 04:59 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1
Hi ydoc! Would you be able to provide more details about how to arrange for a "private water taxi" to get from STT to STJ and back, instead of taking the public ferry. With children, LUGGing our LUGGage around at the docks was a pain we'd like to avoid next time (and yes, we learned to travel lighter: ) Thanks loads!
SandySole is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 08:01 AM
  #11  
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SandySole

The water taxi we used was:

DOHM'S Water Taxi

[email protected]
or I think their web is
watertaxi-vi.com

Phone # 340-775-6501

They will arrange land taxi for you on either island. The taxi which met us on St. Thomas was fabulous. A large clean, new van which holds approx. 8 people. The taxi owner was great.

I personally will only go this way in the future!

ydoc is offline  
Apr 25th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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Wow! This is what I was looking for in guide books! Fab info!
GatorDee is offline  
Apr 25th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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So I'm trying to do the math. It's $100 for the water taxi (5 persons)plus $75.00 for the land taxi from the airport in St. Thomas to the dock. Is that right. What about the land taxi in St. John, is that also additional?

Trying to see if I should do this instead of the Westing transport.
lia_b is offline  
Apr 25th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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Lia, I assume you're staying at the Westin, since you're considering their ferry as an option. Are you aware the $85 p.p. RT cost includes unlimited trips back to St. Thomas, if you want to go back to go shopping or whatever? That sounded like a deal to us, since we wanted to spend a day in STT. We're off next week, can't wait! I'll post a full report when we get back.
RaymondLuxuryYacht is offline  
Apr 25th, 2006, 06:51 PM
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I know the Westin ferry will allow you trips back to St. Thomas. But we are a family of four so it seems more economical to take the private ferry if it is $100.00 vs. $85 *4. WE can always take the public ferry back to St. Thomas for a day. I'm still thinking.
lia_b is offline  
Apr 26th, 2006, 07:07 AM
  #16  
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Where are you getting the rate of $85 from the Airport?

With our villa rental, we were charged $60
ydoc is offline  
Apr 26th, 2006, 07:07 AM
  #17  
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Sorry, I see it is $75, the $85 is the Westin's deal.
ydoc is offline  
Apr 26th, 2006, 07:24 AM
  #18  
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I found the card of the taxi on St. Thomas. I hesitate to give such a great recommendation but his van was absolutely clean as new. He was a very nice gentleman.

His cell: 340-690-1581

email: [email protected]

I don't know if he only works with the water taxi or not.
ydoc is offline  
Apr 26th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Sorry for more messages but I just remembered something.

If you take the public ferry from St. Thomas to St. John, based on what the locals told me on St. John, the odds are high you will have to carry your luggage from the boat all the way down the dock to where taxi's are waiting. We had to carry our own luggage and it was a long walk. The reason for possibly having to carry the luggage is it depends on what security guard is at the dock on any given day.

We saw this first hand while having a cocktail at the bar right next to the dock. That day there was a different security guard and he allowed guys to go down with carts to carry luggage from the ferry.

Just thought I should share this with you because I'm one who always takes more clothes than I need and even with rollers, it was a long, hot walk.

ydoc is offline  
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