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Trip Report - Part 1 - St John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke, St Thomas

Trip Report - Part 1 - St John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke, St Thomas

Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 06:42 AM
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Trip Report - Part 1 - St John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke, St Thomas

We just returned from 3 weeks in the USVI's and BVI's. I'm just giving overall impressions, but I'll be glad to answer any questions regarding activities or restaurants, etc.

Arrived at STT, grabbed a free rum punch they were giving out at the entrance to the terminal, claimed our luggage, and took the taxi/minibus to Red Hook. The ride was a nice way to see the island and unwind from the flight. (Anyone who is staying at Gallows Point on St John has pre-arranged transportation which is just across from the baggage carousel and staffed by very pleasant folks.)

The taxi can be a harrowing experience for anyone new to the Caribbean as it winds up, down and around many hairpin turns and blind curves, but just relax, enjoy the sights and feel free to ask the driver questions. Most are very welcoming and enjoy talking about their homes.

Made the ferry to St John just in time and enjoyed the crossing to Cruz Bay and all of the sailboats bobbing at their moorings and the views of the other islands. It was nice to be able to see the resort as we approached. The harbor is very busy (they are dredging a new harbor for commercial boats) and we squeezed into our berth and disembarked.

The harbor area of Cruz Bay is small but very nice and typical Caribbean with a little traffic jam of drivers picking up and letting off. There are some bars in the area, benches in a park across the street and restaurants and shops nearby.

We stayed at Gallows Point for 6 nights in an Oceanfront building number 3. I recommend bldg 3 or 15 for the seclusion. GP was very nice. We used the onsite tour company for our rental car and activities, and were very pleased.

Island positives - easy to get to, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, US dollar accepted, easy distance for day trips to other islands, lots of dining choices, excellent snorkeling

Island negatives - a lot of construction, lack of "island flavor," surly or apathetic American teens waitstaff in nearly all restaurants

Next stop - Tortola. Took the ferry over and stayed at Lighthouse Villas on Cane Garden Bay. Very nice condo accommodations as two minute stroll to beach and restaurants. Clean, airy and pleasant.

There are several nice beach bars and places to eat there, and the whole island has a laid back funky island vibe that St John is missing to a large degree. When cruise ships are in town, avoid the CGB area.

A must see and do is lunch or dinner at Skyworld. A great view, great people and great food. Take your camera.

Island positives - high irie factor, live music, town for exploring, still relatively undeveloped, easy day trips, variety of activities

Island negatives - too many cruiseshippers crammed into too few attractions, not a large array of accommodation choices at different price levels, limited dining choices

I'll post Part 2 shortly.
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Old Feb 12th, 2004, 10:07 AM
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Topping for Susan...
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 10:45 AM
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Topping for kcapuani...
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 01:58 PM
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Diana, what beaches did you snorkle at in STJ? Trish
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Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for the info on BVI...We really think we will stay on Tortola...
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Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 10:51 AM
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For resorts in St John, Caneel bay is the way to go. Also, there are a lot of great villas on the island to choose from. You may want to consider that option. In fact, I was wondering if anyone was familiar with the villa French Cap on Dever's bay in St. John?
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Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 12:57 PM
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Hi Diana,
I'll be eager to read your report on Virgin Gorda. We know St John well (have stayed a number of times both at Caneel and at GP--#3,top!) I absolutely agree with what you say abt St John. We'll be visiting VG in December for the first time. I'm a bit worried that it won't hold a candle to St John (where we snorkel endlessly from the beach-- from so many beaches!), but we wanted to try something else. We'll be half at Little Dix, half time in a villa on Mahoe Bay. Would love to hear your reports of where the snorkeling is particulalrly good. (Did the Baths several times some decades ago when we were bareboating in the Virgins. Fun but mediocre snorkeling.) thanks for your report!
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Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 01:47 PM
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Poss: We've been to Virgin Gorda 3 times on day trips and I love snorkeling around the Baths. Did you try out towards the end of Devil's Bay (I think that's the name) where the same huge boulders are underwater and you can swim around in canyons made by these boulders and there's is even an underwater tunnel to swim through which is about 10 feet down. We love darting back and forth through that.
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Old Aug 24th, 2005, 12:51 PM
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Tuxedocat: thanks for the tip abt where to snorkel near the Baths. It's been so long since we've been in that area, and I can't remember anything abt Devil's Bay. I made a note of it for this time-- thank you!
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Old Aug 24th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Diana,
Enjoyed your trip report! We are booked at Gallows Point the end of November. Now I'm tossing around the idea of a day trip to Tortola, but would take the ferry. Planning on JVD for sure That place looks so beautiful and laid back. We asked for 10C at Gallows as it is the harbor view closest to the ocean views.

Also, I was thinking about not taking the transfer to Gallows on the way in and catching the CA ferry. Any thoughts on that? I actually didn't know that they provided the transfer, I thought it came with our package.

I don't think the winding roads would bother us much after experiencing the driving in the more mountainous part of STL. Did we drive? Heck no!! We left that to the St Lucians.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 08:43 AM
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brendandq: I would definitely go with whatever transfer arrangements Gallows Point or any other resort/villa would make on behalf of their guests. It's done to maximize convenience and comfort for their guests. I've never taken the Gallows Point transfer, but boy, when we went on the Westin's arranged transfer, it was very relaxing as their folks arranged for pickup at the airport of all guests and luggage, transportation to their private ferry boat, refreshments on board and transfer to your room. The CA ferry is fine if you have to do everything by yourself, but why bother if someone else will take care of you on your vacation.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 09:19 AM
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I'm not sure exactly what sort of "transfer" you're referring to with regards to Gallows Point. Is there now a private boat transfer from St Thomas? If not, all it means is that GP picks you up at the ferry in Cruz Bay. Unlike the case with Westin, Gallows is literally a 2 minute walk (albeit uphill) from the ferry; one could easily do it on foot if baggage were light. But I agree with Tuxedocat: Simple and pleasant to have the place meet your ferry and carry you on up.
By the way, if you're snorkelers, be sure not just to snorkel "out front" at Gallows, though there's some ok spots out there too. The best in the area is off the point, kind of towards the middle of the area going into the harbor. Sounds a bit dangerous (and perhaps it is, with boat traffic), but definitely do-able. When the tide is low, you can see the water breaking over the nifty reefs out there-- that's where to go. Have seen tremendous amounts of sea-life, including lots of barracuda.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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My package itinerary says ground transfer to Red Hook provided by Tropic Tours. I guess this is provided by Go Go Vacations? The more I think about it, I will probably just go that route. I had thought the longer ferry ride would be nicer, but this will be more convenient and less dragging our bags around. I had definitely planned on having Gallows meet us at the ferry dock but I guess that would be taken care of too.
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