St. John Trip Report

Jul 12th, 2006, 11:48 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2005
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St. John Trip Report

Hello all,
Thanks to everyone for all of their advice leading up to our first trip to St. John. We had an absolutely amazing trip. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!



Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1, 2006

We flew out of Denver at 7:45 p.m., Friday night, and headed for Chicago where we would spend the night before continuing on to St. Thomas Saturday morning. The airport was quite busy and we left about a half hour late but made it to Chicago and settled in for a long night at the airport gate.

After getting a few hours of sleep (my husband has an easier time than me!) in a cold airport, we were ready to get going. We departed Chicago on a 6:40 a.m. flight bound for Charlotte. The flight left on time for St. Thomas and we were almost there!

Our flight landed in St. Thomas a little after 3 and I really wanted to make the 4 p.m. Charlotte Amalie ferry for St. Thomas. We got one bag right away but our second bag was one of the last ones off the flight. Our taxi had another family trying to make the same ferry and the driver seemed happy to get us there on time. We seemed to hit every red light on the way and pulled up to the ferry dock at about 3:58. After getting across the busy road, we managed to get our tickets and board the ferry headed to St. John. I was so happy to get on the ferry and was pleasantly surprised with the ease of buying tickets and getting our luggage on the boat. We enjoyed a hot, breezy ride to St. John and I smiled knowing we were almost there. When we got to the dock, our villa representative from Destination St. John had not yet arrived so we tried to find some shade. It was very busy as it was Saturday and lots of people were arriving on both the Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie ferries. Leslie soon arrived and we piled our luggage into her car and took off for Conrad Sutton to get our car. Conrad’s was packed when we arrived but we managed to get our paperwork filled out quickly and only had to wait a bit before he helped us. However, the two-door Suzuki Vitara we were set to get had a problem and we had to wait. Finally after insisting we didn’t want to come back in a day or two, they gave us a four-door hard top Vitara without an extra charge. It was red and was fairly dinged up but seemed fine. We jumped in and followed Leslie up the road to Peter Bay.

We arrived at our villa and we were immediately in awe of the spectacular views and the beautiful villa. Leslie showed us around and as many people do, I think we just gawked at our surroundings for a bit. We hadn’t heard much about the villa – Gatehouse at Peter Bay - before we left but were amazed and pleased with our home for the week. The views of Peter Bay were incredible. We saw Cinnamon Bay to the right and had views of the hillside and amazing blue water. After Leslie left, we continued to check things out, pleased with our selection. There are so many villas to choose from but we felt we got the perfect place.

There is a lower unit and an upper unit and we had the lower one. Originally we were worried we wouldn’t have much of a view, but we had no need to worry. We were situated about halfway up the hillside and it was so private with breathtaking views all around. We didn’t hear much of our upstairs neighbors and the deck had huge beams so you couldn’t see onto their deck. This villa is perfect for a couple as it has one bedroom, bathroom, living room, huge kitchen, great patio and offers seclusion and privacy. We had a hot tub on our patio, a grill and coolers and chairs from Destination St. John. We brought some soda, some bottled water, cereal and some snacks and we were glad we did. We enjoyed cereal on our patio for breakfast every day and took the drinks in the cooler and snacks out to the beaches each day as well. The villa had a filtration system and automatic ice maker so we just filled our cooler with ice and refilled the water bottles we brought with water from the sink and had no problems the entire stay. We enjoyed Peter Bay beach and had it all to ourselves when we went down there, although it was a bit of a hike up and down the hill. Anyway, I was so glad we went with the villa and we enjoyed it more than I could have imagined. I originally wanted to stay at Caneel Bay and was disappointed when it was sold out for our stay. However, the privacy, patio, sensational views and the comforts of home made the villa a truly wonderful place to stay.

Anyway, after looking around and getting cleaned up we decided we were starving but exhausted at the same time. We went into town and stopped by Dolphin Market for milk and orange juice for breakfast, then picked up Uncle Joe’s bbq for dinner to take back to the villa to enjoy on the patio. My husband ordered ribs and I had chicken. We both had the rice and beans, while I had cole slaw and he had pasta salad. We drove back up to the villa and enjoyed our dinner on the patio, still amazed by the views. Dinner was delicious and we even had some leftovers. After dinner, we got settled a bit and crashed early.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Due to the excitement of finally being in St. John and the beautiful sun shining into our windows, I woke up early. We both got up and he took pictures of the gorgeous sunrise. We both went back to bed for a little while but I was unable to sleep too much. I finally got up and let my husband sleep while I got dressed and read for a bit on the patio. After a little while, Brian woke and we enjoyed breakfast outside. We packed up and got ready for our day. We decided to head to Trunk Bay in the morning as there weren’t any cruise ships scheduled. We arrived a little past nine and were happy to see only about 10 people total on the beautiful beach. We put on our snorkel gear and headed for the underwater trail. I was pleasantly surprised with the snorkeling at Trunk as we did the first half of the trail and kept going along the rocks on the right side. We saw a turtle right away, some trumpetfish, beautiful fan and brain coral and many other fish. We turned back and finished the trail. I came in and took a walk along the beach, while my husband enjoyed some more snorkeling. After a while, it started to get a bit more crowded and we got hungry so we headed out around noon.

We headed to Deli Grotto and enjoyed a picnic on some tables outside the deli. We ordered the turkey sandwich with cucumbers and enjoyed some chips and fruit we had brought. After we were full, we decided we would hike the Lind Point Trail and enjoy Solomon Beach. We parked in the lot and headed off along the trail. Solomon had very few people and we put on our snorkeling gear and swam to the left side. The snorkeling was quite good with lots of fish and coral. After doing the left side, we headed to the right but there wasn’t as much to see there. After enjoying the beach and refreshing water a bit, we hiked back up the trail and drove to Gibney Beach. We didn’t snorkel here but instead enjoyed walking the beach and the views. It was fairly crowded with a party and loud music and we were getting hungry so we headed out and went back to the villa.

After a shower, we headed into town and had dinner at Rhumb Lines. It was very good. We enjoyed a peanut chicken skewer as an appetizer and I had Cuban pork, while my husband had spicy barbecued jumbo prawns. Mine came with mashed potatoes and vegetables, while his had these great sweet potato fries and vegetables. I thought dinner was very good, although the service was not great. We sat outside and enjoyed the garden setting. We had no trouble getting in, but we went early, around 6:15. After dinner we walked around town a bit and headed back to the villa, again turning in early!

More to come!

rockie is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 12:06 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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rockie,
Thanks for a wonderful start to your trip report.Sounds like the villa that you stayed in was fantastic!I like Cinnamon Bay and Peter bay looked very secluded and nice.

Christie
christiegr is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 11:35 AM
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Monday, July 3, 2006

We slept soundly after all the activity on our first full day and “slept in” until about 7:30. After a great breakfast on the patio, we headed to Waterlemon, excited for a good snorkel. We parked at Anneberg and walked along the waterfront to the beach before reading in my “Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive” book that we could get closer to Waterlemon Cay by walking a bit further. We set up on the rocks and got in our snorkel gear. We headed out slowly toward the Cay and went counterclockwise around the island. After swimming around the Cay, we snorkeled along the shoreline. This was a fantastic snorkel. We say rays, barracuda, an octopus and tons of different fish and coral. We ended up being in the water for almost three hours! There was just so much to see. By then our stomachs were growling so we packed up and enjoyed the walk back. This was our favorite snorkel of the trip and I loved the setting so much. The trail was beautiful along the shoreline and I enjoyed the setting of the cay and bay. Absolutely gorgeous!

We took our lunch of leftover Uncle Joe’s and walked up to the Anneberg Ruins. We found a bench and enjoyed the food, while seeing a mongoose and lots of lizards. After lunch we toured the ruins. This was one of our hottest days and after such a long snorkel we didn’t feel like doing the Francis Bay trail and snorkel that we had originally planned. However, it turned into a great afternoon. We followed our book and found the Colombo smoothie stand. We had to stop and my husband found his new favorite treat of the week – a coconut smoothie! It was very good and was very refreshing. We left the smoothie stand and decided to do one of the tours in the book and do a little sightseeing of the island. We drove up to the Chateau Bordeaux overlook, enjoyed the breathtaking views, went to the Catherineburg ruins and stopped at the Centerline overlook. By late afternoon, we decided we wanted to cool off with a refreshing swim so we headed back to the villa and trekked down to Peter Bay beach. We relaxed in the water for a little while and enjoyed the small beach as we were the only ones there most of the time. After heading back up to the house and getting cleaned up, we decided pizza sounded good so we headed to Café Roma. After ordering a deluxe pizza and house salad to go, we wandered around town. We found an outstanding steel drum band from St. Thomas playing down at the dock so we enjoyed the music for about 15 minutes. We picked up our pizza and headed home for dinner on the patio. The pizza was delicious - huge, loaded with tons of toppings - and the salad was great as well. We both thought the pizza was quite good and we ended up having leftovers for lunch, which was great. We enjoyed sitting outside for a little while before getting ready for bed.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Tuesday was Reef Bay Trail hike day! We got up early and enjoyed breakfast on the patio before heading out. In retrospect, we probably should have gotten to the trail even earlier but we arrived around 9 a.m. We were doing the hike on our own and set out. There wasn’t anyone else around and the hike down was pretty and not difficult. We went off and saw the petroglyphs and pond before heading down to the ruins. Despite heavy rain Monday night, the waterfall was not flowing. Brian found a ton of fruit bats inside the ruins and enjoyed taking lots of pictures. We walked down to the beach and enjoyed a breather. I had frozen some water bottles overnight but they were already melted by the time we got down to the bottom of the trail. We headed back up the trail and saw two deer, along with plenty of lizards and big black millipedes that we had seen on the way down. The walk up was very hot, despite all of the water we had brought, and we were both starving. A brief shower refreshed us a bit but it was a relief to get back to the top! We loved the trail and thought it was a beautiful, challenging hike, but we should have brought lunch to the beach or started earlier in the day. I had brought granola bars but it barely made a dent in our hunger pains.

After the hike, we enjoyed leftover pizza and cold water in the shade, then made a stop at the smoothie stand. I had strawberry and my husband tried banana. Both were good but Brian liked the coconut better and it was a very long wait as it was packed. After our smoothies, we decided we needed to cool off so we headed to Francis Bay and headed to the beach after skipping the trail walk. We enjoyed a nice snorkel along the left side of the beach and I relaxed on the beach for awhile. I had heard a lot about snorkeling here but I didn’t see a whole lot but I could have just been tired. I did enjoy the beach, though, and there were more locals here. After the beach, we headed back to the villa and enjoyed a snack on the patio. Because of the holiday, many restaurants were closed but we headed to Mongoose Junction and were happy to see that Morgan’s Mango was open. We got right in and I ordered pork tenderloin, while my husband had a jerk chicken sandwich. We decided to try conch fritters as well. The main dishes were good but thought the sides of rice and beans were pretty mediocre and unimaginative. I had a yummy mango colada. The food was decent but not worth the price, in my opinion. After dinner we headed out and back to the villa, then hit the sack pretty quickly after a tiring day!

More coming...
rockie is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 12:59 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 14
enjoying your report and look forward to the next installment, we are going in the first week of Aug and will be arrving on the same flight you did, is the ferry from Charlotte a better option then the one from Red Hook? Is the 4:00 PM ferry you mentioned the last for the day?
keep the posts coming!
Idratherbesailin is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 01:51 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Ahhh...Thanks for the report. Reading it is taking me back to the not too distant past. You got there just about the time we left.

Isn't Waterlemon amazing? We went there several mornings early like you did and were glad we did. We snorkeled along the right side of Francis Bay out towards the point and the snorkeling, while not as good as Waterlemon was pretty darn amazing. You're right though, there's not much too see along the left going towards Maho. How was the Carnival party and parade? Looking forward to hearing more.

-Bill
iamq is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 02:35 PM
  #6  
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Thanks everyone for your replies! It's been tough to be at work this week, that is for sure. We had the best trip. Idratherbesailin, we wanted to try to take the CA ferry instead of Red Hook because we prefer the views of the water to a longer taxi ride. However, since the next (and last) CA ferry wasn't until 5:30, we would have gone to Red Hook if we didn't make the 4 p.m. CA ferry. It seemed like each ferry was a bit late as well so hopefully you can make it if you want to go the CA route. Bill, I enjoyed your report as well. I loved Waterlemon and not just for the snorkeling, although it was great. The setting for that part was just gorgeous and the trail to get there was so peaceful I didn't mind the walk at all. I loved how it was set back in the bay and the endless views. We didn't see the parade, unfortunately. We didn't do much in town during carnival, with the exception of watching the steel drum band. There was sure a difference coming into town after the carnival ended. Next installment coming soon! Thanks everyone.
rockie is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 06:56 PM
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Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Wow, it’s Wednesday already! We can’t believe how fast our vacation is flying by! Today we headed out to Coral Bay and the East End. We enjoyed the different pace of this part of the island and seeing where the locals lived. First, we headed to Salt Pond Bay and snorkeled. My husband set off and immediately went to the rocks to the left, before heading all the way out the rocks way out in the middle. I decided to snorkel the middle first hoping to see some turtles in the sandy bottom. Almost immediately I found a sea turtle, a bit bigger than the one at Trunk, and followed it around for 10 or 15 minutes. It wasn’t at all scared and was swimming very slowly. My husband saw me and joined me and then went toward the shore to fix his camera. After he started swimming away, a second bigger turtle joined the first turtle but swam away very quickly. I swam with the original turtle for several more minutes and then it started to surface for air. It came toward me and I could have touched it as it surfaced and lifted its head above water four or five times. It was amazing. Then it swam down again and went toward some boats so I stopped following it. However, I was in heaven! After the turtles, I swam toward the rocks on the right and saw quite a bit of coral and fish, before heading off to the left shoreline. But, on my way I saw a big ray as well. I was so excited at my discoveries and enjoyed the rest of the morning on the beach. We ended up staying several hours and left hungry but happy with the snorkel.

We headed back toward Coral Bay and stopped at Shipwreck Landing. Since I also wanted to stop at Vie’s, we just decided to split a hamburger. The setting was beautiful, the burger was decent, nothing outstanding, but the service was awful. It took quite a while to get our food as it was busy and the waitress was not at all friendly. Heading toward the East End, we took in the sights and stopped at Vie’s. It was open! She didn’t have the garlic chicken that day so we split the rice and beans and a coconut tart. It was quite good. After looking at our book again, we decided to head to Hansen Bay in search of another good snorkel. We were the only ones there for much of the snorkel and swam out to Pelican Rock. The snorkeling was quite good with tons of fish, sea stars, barracuda and fan coral. After the rock, we also snorkeled along the right side of the beach. The beach was rocky so we headed out without much lounging and headed back to the villa. The roads on this side of the island were unbelievable! I couldn’t believe the rolling hills and steep inclines but my husband did very well driving.

There were several things we wanted to do today but didn’t get a chance to, like Lameshur and Haulover so we’ll just have to try those next time! But, we loved what we did and enjoyed the laidback nature of this side of the island. We had to head back as we had reservations at Stone Terrace for our anniversary dinner. Stone Terrace was amazing and we were glad we chose it for our special dinner. My husband had lobster and I had the filet mignon. The presentation was beautiful and we enjoyed a sunset from our table at the rail. The lobster came with risotto and a black bean sauce, while mine came with potatoes au gratin and vegetables. It was all delicious. For dessert, we got an incredible flourless chocolate brownie with chocolate mousse and whipped cream. It was warm and melted in our mouths! Truly an outstanding meal. Another great day!

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Today was our day sail to the British Virgin Islands with New Horizons. We were going to the Baths, Marina Cay for lunch, snorkeling at Guana Island and to Jost Van Dyke. The boat picked us up at the national park dock a little before 8 a.m. and we set off. The boat was full with 17 people. It made things a little crowded but the boat was nice. Our captain was John and Liz was helping him. We arrived at the dock and Liz went to get things settled at customs. After she returned, we headed over to the Baths and swam in for the tour. I loved the Baths and would have liked to stay a lot longer as it was packed and very difficult to explore and get around. It felt like we didn’t get very far before we had to go back. It was frustrating. After the Baths, we headed over to Marina Cay for lunch. This small island is beautiful and has a population of two – the owners of the restaurant. Our orders had been sent in while we were at the Baths and lunch was served right after we sat down. We both had jerk chicken wraps and French fries. I didn’t expect it to be a hot wrap for some reason but it was very good. We didn’t have any time to explore here before heading off for snorkeling at Guana Island. We snorkeled for about an hour and it was very good. We saw flounder, parrotfish and lots of other fish. We explored a cave and went all around the bay. After snorkeling, we headed over to Jost Van Dyke and the Soggy Dollar Bar. This was a little disappointing as it was packed. There were tons of boats anchored by the beach and the beach was full of people. It was a beautiful beach but I wasn’t prepared for how crowded it would be. I don’t think it was the norm but it was disappointing. We enjoyed a refreshing swim and walked along the beach.

I knew this was going to be a lot to pack into one day and it certainly was. We did enjoy ourselves and thought the BVIs were very pretty. I would have liked about another half hour or so at the Baths, definitely, and we could have used a little more time snorkeling too, but I understand the schedule was tight. I thought that New Horizons did an excellent job with the logistics of the trip…things ran very well, lunch was organized and good, they took care of customs and were very professional. However, I felt like John could have been a little more outgoing and friendly. He wasn’t very talkative about what we were seeing and only talked when we asked questions. He didn’t really add a whole lot to the boat trip. Liz is fairly new but she did a great job. I was impressed with her ability to keep the drinks flowing and keep a smile on her face the entire time. She had tons of energy and seemed to enjoy what she was doing. We’ve been on several tours and feel like the crew can really make things entertaining and fun for everyone. This crew didn’t do that as much as others that we’ve experienced. We did have a great day, though, and enjoyed the boat.

After returning to town, we looked around some of the stores that had been closed previously and I got a pretty Larimer ring and matching earrings. Then we drove up past the Westin Resort and explored some of the island that we had not seen. After deciding that we didn’t want to go home and then come back into town for dinner, we stopped at China Shack in the Marketplace and got some takeout to enjoy at the villa. We got some vegetable lo mein and sesame chicken and ate on our patio. The food was decent, but much saltier than we like. Also, the chicken wasn’t as crispy and sweet as we are used to here. But, we were starving and the view made it taste even better. We watched a little TV, got cleaned up and headed for bed, sad and amazed that tomorrow is our last day.

More to come!
rockie is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 05:22 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,121
Rockie,
I am really missing St John after reading your trip report!(our last trip there was Sept.05).

Jeez! Tuxedocat (a regular on this forum) is REALLY going to be upset at yet another turtle sighting.She has a place in St John and has yet to see a sea turtle. maybe next trip!

I am looking forward to the rest of your report.

Christie

christiegr is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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Thanks Christie,
That's funny about what you said about TuxedoCat because I did think about that when we saw our first turtle at Trunk, about 15 minutes after getting in the water. I feel bad she hasn't seen one! I have enjoyed your reports as well and am glad you and your family had such a great time in Grand Cayman. Thanks for reading!
rockie is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 04:25 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 315
Why in the world would you choose to sleep in a cold, deserted airport overnight rather than get a room???? I sure wouldn't spend the first night of my vacation that way.

jlillberto is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:26 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 666
thanks for reporting back rockie

i'm very much enjoying your report as i'm set to visit in October

love the details; like, i was planning to take the new horizons II trip to BVI like you did but it seems too hurried, so now I may look into 2 sep BVI trips - 1 to the baths and another to JVD - but it seems like too much time away from SJ when I only have 7 days

i could use any advice you can offer
bluefan is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 07:35 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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rockie,
Thank you!

Christie
christiegr is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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Friday, July 7, 2006

Hard to believe, but today is our last full day. We really wanted to make the most out of the day so we decided to stay close to the north shore but wanted to do some new things as well. We looked at our book for beaches with good snorkeling and headed over to Jumbie. After parking and getting to the beach, we enjoyed snorkeling all by ourselves for well over an hour. The left side was very good with tons of fish and beautiful coral. I saw a school of blue tang of at least 100 fish. As the book said, the coral does get shallow and you have to be careful. We swam over to the right side and it was still good, but we didn’t see as much as the left side. We saw some small creatures that looked like jellyfish but didn’t feel them stinging and my husband looked it up when we got home and saw that they were harmless. Good thing as there were tons of them! After snorkeling and swimming a bit, it was getting more crowded and a big group plopped down right next to us so we left and headed back to the Marketplace to Baked in the Sun for lunch. I got a turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, while my husband got a turkey pesto sandwich. We took our lunch and decided to go over to Caneel Bay to check it out. We walked to the main public beach area and enjoyed our lunch on a bench. Both sandwiches were outstanding and we got a gingersnap and a macaroon that were both very good as well. It was very quiet. After walking out on the main dock, we saw a huge ray as the water was so clear. After leaving Caneel, we headed over to Cinnamon Bay to relax. My husband headed out to snorkel, while I decided to spend my last afternoon relaxing in the sand with a good book. He snorkeled all the way out to the island on the right, then went over to the left side. He saw a conch crab, lots of fish and millipedes, although there wasn’t much to see while he got out to the island. We stayed at Cinnamon as long was we could, watching the windsurfers and boaters until the bugs came out, then we headed back to the villa to get cleaned up. After deciding Mexican food sounded good, we headed for Margarita Phil’s in Mongoose Junction for dinner. We ordered the nachos as an appetizer, disappointed there wasn’t chips and salsa served like at home. The nachos were very good, we just got regular nachos with no meat. They came with cheese, beans, tomatoes and sour cream. I had a yummy strawberry margarita. For dinner, my husband got steak fajitas, while I had a taco salad. Both dishes were good. We skipped dessert as we were going to try and get key lime pie at Lime Inn to go. We made our way down the street and I got a piece of pie. We headed home and started packing before enjoying our pie and heading for bed.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Our last day…where did the week go? We awoke to that fabulous sunshine and got up to finish packing. We walked around and took some pictures of the villa and spent some time outside on the patio. After packing up, we headed to Chilly Billy’s for breakfast before returning the car. My husband got French toast and I had the early bird’s special of eggs, potatoes and toast. His was definitely better but mine was fine. After breakfast, we gassed up the Vitara and headed to Conrad Sutton’s. No problems returning the car and we headed to the ferry dock. With some time before the 11:15 Charlotte Amalie ferry, we took turns inside St. John Spice getting some souvenirs. After heading back out and buying ferry tickets, 11:15 came and went. Knowing we were on island time, I tried to be patient knowing our flight wasn’t until 2:20. At 11:30, they said the ferry was 10 minutes away. At 11:50 people loaded up the Red Hook ferry and ours still hadn’t arrived. Our ferry ended up not leaving the dock until 12:25, an hour and 10 minutes late! I was panicked, sure we would miss our flight. About 25 other people seemed to be on our flight to Charlotte. Luckily our luggage was near the back and we got off the ferry and got our bags quickly. After a small wait to fill up the cab, we asked the driver to kindly hurry to the airport. He reassured us that we would make it with no problem. Somehow we did make it and arrived to pandemonium in the St. Thomas airport. I think five flights took off around the same time. We left about 30 minutes late after the arriving flight was late but we made it! After connections in Charlotte and Chicago, we finally arrived in Denver to pouring rain at midnight local time. We had to file a report after one of our bags failed to arrive and we headed home. We fell into bed after an exhausting travel day at 4 a.m., St. John time, missing paradise already.

Tips and advice we discovered

We had an absolutely amazing, wonderful vacation to St. John. I can certainly see why so many people come back again and again. The island was gorgeous and views from every point were spectacular. We loved the fact that we could rent a car and explore as much as we wanted on our own. I am very schedule oriented and although I had a list of things I wanted to see on the trip, it was refreshing to decide the morning of or even during the day what we wanted to do next and not be on a rigid schedule. I know we packed a lot into our trip, but it was completely relaxing and perfect for us. I didn’t wear a watch the entire week and I truly did unwind after a very difficult few months. My husband and I snorkeled every day and loved our snorkeling adventures. Despite our several tropical vacations, we saw many things that we have never seen before and that was great. We loved becoming a part of nature in St. John and seeing all that the island had to offer.

I’ve seen the arguments on bringing a cooler full of food and we decided not to, although I brought a box of cereal, some granola bars, some bottled water and some soda. This worked out beautifully. We got some milk and juice and ate breakfast every day out on our patio. I packed a cooler every morning with drinks and snacks to take to the beach and we could stay as long as we wanted without having to leave because we got thirsty. We also enjoyed getting takeout food and coming back to enjoy the views on our patio. I didn’t think that I’d want to do that, but it was perfect, plus we had leftovers for lunches the following day.

Villa or resort? We looked at going to St. John three or four years ago and I had always wanted to stay at Caneel Bay. However, when we started looking at booking our trip in March, Caneel’s courtside rooms were booked up for July and we didn’t want to spend the money for beachfront rooms. I didn’t want to split our week’s stay between two places so then I reluctantly began searching for villas. This was the best thing that could have happened to us. I was so pleasantly surprised by the beauty, convenience and comforts of a villa. We loved where we stayed because of the privacy, fabulous views, location and amenities. While others might enjoy the resort experience, and we enjoyed Caneel when we looked at it, I think a villa was perfect for us and I can see why so many others enjoy it as well.

Underwater camera…After several tropical vacations with mediocre underwater pictures due to a disposable underwater camera, we decided to splurge and purchase an underwater housing for our Nikon Coolpix digital camera. This was the best decision we could have made. After not finding the right housing in area camera stores, my husband did an internet search and found the housing for his camera on B&H Photo’s web site. The housing worked beautifully and we love our underwater photos. The only problem we encountered was occasional fogging between the lens and the case but it never lasted long and the housing stayed completely sealed with no problem. Definitely a great purchase!

I read several travel boards and hundreds of trip reports before we left…thank you to everyone for their input, it was so valuable. I loved reading about everyone’s experiences. We also thought Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive was an outstanding resource. I got it on Amazon a few weeks before we left and read it in preparation for our trip. But it was a great help once on island as well with the jeep tours and directions to things, as well as the helpful snorkeling locations at the beaches. We really enjoyed this book.

It was a perfect trip and we loved St. John. The beauty of this island is remarkable. It was a relaxing, adventurous and wonderful week!
rockie is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 09:46 AM
  #14  
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 196
Thank you for all of your replies! Bluefan, I too struggled with the right BVI trip to take before booking NHII. In my opinion, I would not take two separate day trips to the BVIs if I had just one week on St. John. We didn't have time to do everything we wanted to do with the one day away. I would have liked to spend more time in
Coral Bay/the East End but we ran out of days. I know people rave about it but Jost van Dyke wouldn't be a "must do" for me again. It was a pretty beach but we saw pretty beaches on St. John all week. The day we went was very crowded and the line at Soggy Dollar was so long we turned around and enjoyed a walk and a swim instead. We are not big drinkers so I didn't mind missing that, especially because we got more than enough to drink on the boat. I would have preferred more time at the Baths or snorkeling to Jost van Dyke. However, we purposely didn't book a trip with an emphasis on snorkeling knowing that we'd get plenty of snorkeling in during our week in St. John. The BVIs are beautiful and it was a great day on the water - I don't think you can go wrong with any boat trip!

In response to sleeping at the airport, it made the most sense for us. Our flight arrived in Chicago after the delay close to midnight and our flight left for Charlotte at 6:30 a.m. To leave the airport, find a hotel, then come back to go through security and check in again did not make it worth it to leave.

Thanks to everyone for reading!
rockie is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 10:37 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 666
thanks rockie,

that really helps in my planning.

and i completely agree with you on the u/w housing, which i also bought on B&H...well worth the $$$. i love the u/w photos and vids i got on my last trip with the flexibility and instantaneous results of digital compared to disposables. to best prevent fogging, i put in 2 silicon desiccants for each photo-op
bluefan is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 11:23 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,121
rockie,

What a nice finish to your report! We never really got to explore the Coral Bay end of the island.(and we have been to STJ twice ) We did TRY to explore but when we got over that way..the car was low on gas and the only gas station in Coral Bay was outta gas. (this was on our 2nd trip)

On our first trip to STJ (June 05) we did go to Saltpond Bay.I enjoyed the snorkeling here but my husband did not as he did not like the rocky bottom.The kids liked this beach but did not like the walk from it to the car.

Next time I would like to explore Little Lameshur Bay.

Christie
christiegr is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 02:53 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 436
Great TR!!
You found the turtles at SPB! That is where we always head and always find them. It is always the highlight of my trip.
You guys really saw a lot on your trip.
I have always felt that packing a trip to Virgin Gorda into a BVI trip to White Bay, Norman Island or other places that are closer is just rushing it too much.
Last time we were there, we rented a boat and captain for the day (we were a family party of 4 couples). First on our list was JVD, and some snorkeling. We mentioned VG and he told us that it would be too rushed. Glad we listened. As it was we did Foxy's, White Bay, Indians snorkeling, Sandy Cay, and toward the end it seemed we had to rush!!
Now you know why people who choose STJ, just keep going back!!
mahobaygirl is offline  
Jul 16th, 2006, 03:43 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 71
Thank you for such a wonderful report, I really enjoyed reading it. Especially about the Coral Bay area since we've rented a villa there.

Thnx again!!
Coden is offline  
Jul 16th, 2006, 09:20 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,220
rockie: Thanks for posting in such wonderful detail. Those specifics are always terrifically helpful. I hope you have many more fine trips to St John and the other Caribbean wonderlands.
poss is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 07:36 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,392
Rockie, thanks for a great report! I just returned, so it's especially timely to re-live the memories. We were at Vie's the day after you. Did you meet her adorable toddler grandson whose main spoken words are identifying the fish on Vie's snorkel card?
CaliNurse is offline  

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