St. John Trip Report

Jul 16th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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St. John Trip Report

We just returned from a trip to St. John. We took our three kids, ages 5, 11 and 18. We rented a wonderful house from Destination St. John called Hale Lani. The house had 4 bedrooms/bathrooms with A/C, a living area, kitchen, large porch over looking a great pool and a laundry area. We had amazing views and definitely could not have lived without the A/C in the bedrooms or the pool.
Food was extremely expensive even at a place like Skinny Legs. Burgers there were around $11 so for a family of five, the bill still comes to a lot for a road side shack! We had excellent food at Morgan's Mangos and The Ocean Grill at Mongoose Junction. Skip Chilly Billys and Compass Rose for poor food, location and overall experience. We liked the deli at Mongoose and also Baked in the Sun by the Starfish Market.
We arranged a boat trip through the Westin over to Virgin Gorda and Norman Island for snorkeling. It was expensive, but well worth it and they served breakfast and lunch on the boat. Virgin Gorda is incredible and our best snorkeling was at Norman Island.
We went to Hawksnest, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon bay, Maho bay, and Salt Pond bay beaches. We liked them all except Salt Pond was rocky and required a walk down a long hot hill. Didn't see many fish there either.

You definitely need to be covered in bug spray when you aren't in the water. We still all had bug bites and I noticed on our boat ride most of the passengers hadthe same big red bites on their legs. It never rained hard the whole week we were there.
I can't imagine going to St. John in the winter because parking was difficult at many of the beaches and downtown during off season.
This was my fourth trip to St. John and I would definitely go back again. You can't beat the beaches and great views!
franzen is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:36 AM
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franzen, Thanks for your report. Morgan's Mango gets really good reports on another forum also. I'm taking my family of ten next month, and I'm gearing up to pay the high food prices. We will have four teen grandchildren along. Three boys with big food requirements. I have made a list of moderate priced places to eat. We are all going with carry-on only so that eliminates taking even snacks. I'm glad you had a great time. owa
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Owa: As you probably remember from being at Caneel before (but the reminder here anyway), the afternoon tea at the Great House is really wonderful. We loved the various little sweets they put out, and we thought the scones were the best we've ever had. Virtually every day we took some extra with us back to the room for breakfast the next day. (We thought their continental breakfast was execrable.) In short, I imagine your big food requirements kids will enjoy the extras at tea-time. That was always one of our favorite parts of the day. (We usually took a beverage and a plate of food down to the beach below-- delicious in every way.)
franzen: Thanks for your report. We've never much liked Salt Pond either, though I know that many folks do.
poss is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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Thanks poss. I love the scones (I have to slap my hand as it reaches for seconds), and I hope the grandchildren do also. Now that you aren't going to Peter Island, where are you going? owa
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:26 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 48
Sad to say we too were not impressed by Chilly Billy's. We were the third group to arrive after they opened in the morning, and it still took over 45 minutes to receive our order! The Trivial Pursuit cards at the tables were fun, but that got old way before our food arrived!
gechter is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Hi Owa,
Still not sure what to do abt Peter Island. I've been interested in that place ever since we anchored off the resort back in the days when we were bareboating in the Virgin Islands, 3 decades ago. LIke yourself, we often enjoy splitting our time between two places when we go to an island (some places we like to stay the whole time in one spot). On St John, e.g. we always do half Gallows, half Caneel.
We're scheduled to be at a villa on Mahoe Bay, Virgin Gorda, for the first 5 days (we absolutely loved the place several years ago), and then we thought to transfer over to PI for the next five. The rate for the beachfront accommodations at PI just seems so crazily expensive (esp compared to the quite reasonable rates for the villa, a place very much larger and better than those PI suites I'm sure). But the ocean view rooms sound so dreary and cramped and badly in need of renovation, especially the bathrooms. I get the idea that there're not nearly as nice as Caneel's Cottage Point rooms, our favorite (tho they're certainly not true luxury accommodations either). I think the thing with the cruising boats dumping directly into the water would probably not be a problem-- but I suspect that the shabby rooms would be.
In short, what I'm thinking now is simply to spend the entire 10 days this time on Virgin Gorda, at the villa. One could do worse! Last time we split our stay, half at Mahoe, half at Little Dix: a pleasant combo. (We visited Biras, but I wouldn't want to stay there. We like great beaches and we didn't think much of the one at Biras. Plus no snorkeling there since we're no longer interested in taking dinghies out. Plus all the up-and-downing to get around is a little tougher on 70+ folks than it used to be. PI may be a bit uncomfortable in that sense also, in fact.)
Anyway-- have a terrific holiday with your family: all sounds great!
poss is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Wow, I'm surprised by a couple of diffferent people not liking Salt Pond. I agree the beach isn't much compared to other STJ beaches, but the snorkeling was outstanding. Close in towards the beach is not good....but if you swim WAY out around the exposed rocks (about 200 yards), there are incredible coral heads out there, and plenty of fish. The current was strong coming back in, so I wouldn't recommend unless a strong swimmer. Beach is average there, but all the beauty is simply off-shore a couple hundred yards....incredible.

Thank you for posting your report.
ScottB is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 09:10 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 215
thanks for your report...i'll be going back this nov and counting the days.!! i agree with you about chilly billys for breakfast.......very slow & it's not even "island time".for breakfast, i like J J's Texas Coast, in the park, in cruz bay. perfect spot to relax at outside tables , get to watch people arriving/departing the ferries and the food and service is great !! fab bloodly marys, if so inclined too !! i've always had good luck snorkeling at salt pond but it's not the sort of beach to hang and relax on, just my opinion , for that i LOVE Gibney !!!
tess53 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 11:21 AM
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Owa: I have an idea, why not make the three big boys carry-on coolers with big packages of frozen, vacuum-sealed meats? With that many big eaters, you could go broke easily!
Tuxedocat is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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Tuxedocat, That is a great idea, but we are already going to have our limit of carry-ons. Plus, we leave SD at 5AM, stay overnight in Atlanta (yes, it takes awhile to get anywhere from our part of the country), and get to St. Thomas the next day at 130PM. Then the water taxi. Since all ten of us are going on FF seats, I feel pretty lucky with saving that money. We just won't do any of the 80-100 dollar dinners!! Thanks for the advice. owa
Jul 20th, 2007, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 185
Have to agree with the afternoon tea at Caneel--wonderful and such a beautiful setting (except don't leave your scones unattended because the BOOBIES will get 'em! Our room (#99) was basically right off the Turtle Bay house terrace--very convenient, a gorgeous view, and a great room. Love Caneel!! (They even put a cold bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut in our room upon arrival for our anniversary
LittleSalty is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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I noticed you've given lots of advice on St. John etc on Fodors. I was just wondering how often you travel to those islands and if there are any other islands in the Caribbean that you highly recommend. I've been to Jamaica, Paradise Island, Grenada, Curacao, Martinique and Venezuela, but so far St. John and BVI have been the best vacation spot. Have you been to Antigua?
franzen is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 02:55 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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LittleSalty: What category room is your #99? Was it one of the rooms in the Turtle Bay complex, or is it altogether different? Caneel really is a dandy place in so very many ways. I do wish, though, that the food were better.
poss is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 06:41 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Rooms 99 and 100 are in the Turtle Bay complex. 100 (I think) is a garden view, and ours was an oceanview. I loved it--some people might not like being part of the building, but we loved it!! It will be the room we request for our next visit! The food at the Caneel Beach Bar is not fantastic, but we did have a wonderful dinner at the Turtle Bay Estate house.
LittleSalty is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 08:04 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Could you please tell me more about Hale Lani? We are thinking of staying there next July.
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