St Thomas trip report

Dec 14th, 2004, 09:20 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 223
St Thomas trip report

My boyfriend and I just returned from a week in St Thomas. For early December (and the end of the rainy season) we had a full morning of rain, and a few spotty quick showers, but other than that, weather was perfect.

I had only been to STT on a cruise before, so really enjoyed spending more time on the island. We stayed at the Marriott- an FYI that the standard rooms don't have balconies, which I think is odd in such a great outdoor place. We didn't use our balcony much, but were glad to have it. Our room was clean and updated- we were in Frenchmen's Reef. The Morningstar rooms did look nicer, but we didn't want to spend the extra money. The resort is large and we were told they were 100% full, but it didn't feel that way. There's a lot of property, so we never felt like we were in a crowd of people. There were tons of chairs around the pools and on the beach, so we never had a problem getting a good spot or an umbrella. The beach is long and pretty nice with clean sand, no seaweed and waves that aren't too big. The views from the resort are incredible, and entertaining in and of themselves. We enjoyed watching the cruise ships slip out of the harbor at night. Service was good, not great. If you don't require a lot of special requests, you'll be fine. In typical Marriott fashion, the restaurants were pricey, and not very good. We ate at the beach bar a couple nights because we were too tired to go into town, but found better/cheaper places off the resort. We really only drank at happy hour...we had a car so we went to the Kmart and picked up our own drinks-there's fridges in the rooms. There's also a nice market in the lobby, which has bagels and breakfast rolls for $2 each...better for us than the $18 breakfast buffet. The resort is in a good location, only a few minutes from town, and maybe 20 minutes from Red Hook. It didn't feel like a big mega resort at all and we liked the amenities that may not be found at smaller properties. We would definitely stay at this resort again, but would plan to not eat much on the propery.

Found the restaurants to be good on St Thomas, but not great. We loved the atmosphere at Iggies, down the road from the Marriott, at Bolongo Bay. Had a casual locals kind of feel, with a phenomenal view and decent food at good prices. The Greenhouse, downtown, was mostly tourists, but had a good view, right priced and a very big menu. For nicer dinners, we went to the Banana Tree Grill, which we enjoyed. We also ate Herve- my food and the service was good, but my boyfriend had bad shrimp. For the price, we were disappointed. Mim's, between the Marriott and Red Hook, was a nice little restaurant, sitting right on the water, kinda small and romantic. Not overly priced and the food was good. My boyfriend had a great steak here. I had wanted to go the Old Stone Farmhouse, but looked at the menu book at our hotel and just didn't see anything that seemed really enticing for the prices. Maybe I'm not gourmet enough Others I talked to who went said it was great.

We rented a car for the week, and felt it gave us a lot more flexibility to visit other beaches on the island, plus we weren't in our pockets for taxis all the time. We rented from Budget, online, and got a 2 door for $170/week. Cheap enough.

We took the Red Hook ferry to St John one day and rented an inflatable dinghy from Noah's Little Ark (bookitvi.com) for $130 for the day, including gas. This was so much fun! We visited a bunch of beaches, including Caneel Bay, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon etc on our own schedule. We considered renting a bigger boat, but the dinghy was so easy to zip in and out of the bays, and beach it, instead of fooling around with anchors etc. (Plus the bigger boats didn't include fuel, which we figured would be an unexpected expense for some people not used to boating prices.) The water was a little rough going out around the first point, but after that it was pretty smooth. We packed a cooler of drinks and ate at Trunk Bay, but wished we had eaten at Caneel Bay resort-lunch looked great! Took our snorkeling gear and stopped wherever we wanted. This was a great way to see the beaches, although I would only recommend the dinghy rental for people who are comfortable with the water and boats.

We did one day trip with New Horizons II. It was expensive (about $165pp, including customs and lunch) but worth every penny. I've been all over the Caribbean and never enjoyed a trip more. We visited four places, including the Virgin Gorda Baths, Pussers and Jost Van Dyke-so beautiful! Great swimming/ beaching/ snorkeling. The boat was comfortable and only held 18 people. Being a speedboat, there was enough time at each stop- it wasn't too rushed. A lot of the catamaran trips we looked at could only get to St John for the day. This trip really allowed us to explore the British Virgin Islands.

All in all, we really enjoyed the island. We didn't find it to be near as expensive as we thought it would be. For meals etc, this was one of the cheaper islands I've been to in the Caribbean. I'm sure we could have spent a lot more, but I suppose that's always the case. Some say St Thomas is too congested and touristy, but I think St John (although I loved it) would be too quiet for a one week trip (and we're not night owls by any means). What I think we'll do next time is spend 3-4 days at St Thomas and 3-4 days on St Johh.
LM3682 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 11:47 AM
  #2  
mm
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 534
Hi LM3682,

Glad you had a good time. I enjoyed reading your report.

mm
mm is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 12:46 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
I have visited the New Horizons website as it looks like exactly the experience I would like. Would definitely like to see more than one island when we go. Does this excursion only leave out of STT or does it leave out of STJ as well, or perhaps pick up more travelers on the way? We will be staying on St John. If it only leaves out of STT, where in STT? Thanks in advance
brenandg is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 02:06 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 223
Brenandg- The New Horizons trip left out of Red Hook (actually the Saphhire Resort marina), but we picked up passengers in St John at the ferry dock. So that's definitely feasible. Visiting the different islands was definitely cool- I don't think we would've gotten out to them otherwise (i.e. I probably wouldn't stay a week on Virgin Gorda but the couple hours was awesome!) I had done this trip because I wanted to see the Baths, and that was actually my least favorite stop! They're neat, but the other places that trip goes are amazing. Of all the day trips I've done across the Caribbean, I think this was my favorite. Also- if you rent a Budget car, they gave coupon books that had $40/couple savings for this trip.
LM3682 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 06:18 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
Hi LM3682
Thanks so much for your response. I read these forums every day and every now and then you get just the right piece of information that you need. I had seen excursions that go to just one island but not four like the New Horizons trip. I have looked more extensively at their site and it does seem as if they pick people up in STJ. Did you book your trip before you left or after you arrived? I am not traveling for some time, but would like to know my options before I leave.

Also, what is it you didn't like about the Baths? I just read an article in Caribbean Travel and Life magazine that it can get rather crowded there if there are a lot of cruise ship passengers there and day trippers. Also, what is "Pussers"

brenandg is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 04:37 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 223
Brenandg- The Baths were interesting, don't get me wrong. I just expected to more impressed with them. I was also expecting that you snorkel through them, when in fact you walk through them (but you did swim from the boat to the beach to reach them). Our guide did tell us that 200-300 people can be in them at one time, which I can't fathom. We only passed a couple other small groups during our tour but even with that it took some time to shuffle past everyone (the quarters are rather small in some areas). I wouldn't not book this trip because of that though...you're in them for 45 minutes? So it's only a portion of the trip.
We booked our trip the day before we went and got the last two seats. We had wanted to wait and watch the weather. I would say to book at least two days in advance, especially if you're there during a busier season (we were at the tail end of the slow season).
Pusser's is the restaurant you eat at on the trip. It's located on Marina Cay which is just this small little island that is so picturesque. The restaurant has made famous the Painkiller drink. We read Caribbean Travel and Life a lot too and Pussers is often mentioned, as is the Soggy Dollar Bar (which you'll also stop at on Jost Van Dyke- the beach in front of this place is incredible). So it was fun to actually go to these places after reading about them so often. Have fun on your trip! I don't think you can go wrong with New Horizons!!
LM3682 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 04:39 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
Thanks again, you have been so helpful. As soon as I told my husband that dinghys were available to rent, his eyes lit up, so I'm sure we will be doing that as well. I checked out bookitvi.com and found all the info I need and also saw New Horizons 2 on that site as well. Your trip report has assisted me to find two excursions that I very much want to do and suit our wants perfectly. Too bad we will not be going for a while, just got back from St Lucia...

Since I have already been bugging you, any recommendations on what we could do for a morning or afternoon in St Thomas? Sights, LIGHT shopping?

Thanks again very much!
brenandg is offline  
Dec 16th, 2004, 03:38 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,658
What a great trip report! I really enjoyed reading this.

I have been to all the USVI's and BVI's a couple of times, but never got to spend more than a day or two on St Thomas, and will be spending a full day there with a party of four next month.

Could you tell me what to see/do on St Thomas in one day that would be more along the non-touristy lines? I was thinking of going to one of the less crowded beaches like Coki - isn't that where they have the local food stands?

The problem is that it is two older ladies - mil and her sil - and they are in their 70's, (but they are PARTY animals!) and my husband and I.

We have traveled quite a bit in the islands and don't want to do the mainstream stuff like Coral World or Magen's, but we want them to have a good time too and not be intimidated by the differentness of what they will be seeing and doing since they have never been to the islands.

Any help would be great! Thanks
Diana is offline  
Dec 16th, 2004, 05:01 AM
  #9  
cdt
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Coki is not one of the "less crowded beaches" - this is where Coral World is located.

We spent a quiet day at the Secret Harbor beach two years ago, although I have read that they sometimes allow groups from cruise ships now. Another alternative is to go to a beach like Hull Bay, which has big waves but few tourists.

One our one day "in town," we found that the shopping area was packed, but when we walked a few blocks east to visit some of the historic sites, there were very few people - e.g., from the fort up to the top of the 99 (or so) steps.



cdt is offline  
Dec 16th, 2004, 06:29 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 223
Hi all-I agree with a previous poster that Coki is rather touristy now. Magen's probably wouldn't be bad if you visited it in the morning and planned to leave before the crowds came in. If you haven't been, it is gorgeous. We tried to find Secret Harbor beach on our own, without luck. I can't help much with other non-touristy stuff...we beached and ate, and took a couple side trips so we were tourists too We didn't find the shopping that great downtown, but there was a nice art gallery that we bought a reef painting. We only wandered down there for a couple hours, but it was fun and interesting. We had breakfast at Bumpa's that morning, a small breakfast place overlooking the harbor, so that was pleasant. One morning it rained so we went to Crown Marina (where some of the private yachts dock) and wandered there a little bit before having lunch at Tickles, the pub in the marina. This is also where the ferry to Honeymoon Beach leaves from, which we wanted to visit, but didn't have time. The one other thing that might be worthwhile is going to the Mountain Top bar for a drink. The views are great...we did this when I was there on a cruise. Have fun on your trips!
LM3682 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 06:00 PM
  #11  
az
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 79
Diana--cdt is right on target: coki is probably the MOST crowded beach on stt when cruise ships are in. there may be a greater number of people at magens, but it's so much longer than coki that the people aren't stacked on top of one another like they are at coki.
definitely secret harbor for fewer people and good snorkeling. to get there, take hwy 322 just (less than a mile) south of red hook; hwys 32, 38 and 322 all come together at that point. go about a mile, maybe a little less, on 322, and you'll see the small (~ 3 ft x 3 ft) secret harbor sign on the right. the beach itself is less than a mile down the windy road from the sign. best snorkeling at secret harbor around the rocks on the right and left sides of the beach.
enjoy.
az is offline  
Dec 21st, 2004, 03:43 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,658
Thanks, everyone!

I think breakfast downtown and some (short) very early shopping, and a trip to Magen's will be nice.

Is Malfolie the place that overlooks the island? Are they open for lunch?

We had lunch downtown, and it gets so hot down there, I was hoping to find a nice cooler place rather than get back on the ship. Maybe I'll check to see if Blackbeard's is open for lunch. There is a nice view there.

We also really like local food, so if there is a good local place, that would be great too. (Doesn't have to be fancy.) Thanks!
Diana is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
iw
Caribbean Islands
6
Jul 5th, 2007 06:18 PM
christiegr
Caribbean Islands
23
Sep 29th, 2005 10:02 AM
owa
Caribbean Islands
13
Sep 25th, 2005 04:33 PM
iw
Caribbean Islands
10
Jul 23rd, 2005 09:43 AM
Hayden
Caribbean Islands
4
May 6th, 2003 09:11 AM

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 -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:01 AM.