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Trip Report - St. John isn't that great!

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Jul 5th, 2006, 09:23 AM
  #1
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Trip Report - St. John isn't that great!

Ha! Just kidding! We loved our two weeks there. Here is the link to a quick slideshow. I'm working on the report. Maybe today, maybe not. Thanks for the pre-trip information and encouragement.

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/bquarr...870re2&.src=ph

-Bill
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Jul 5th, 2006, 09:26 AM
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The ink doesn't appear to be working. Try this.

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/bquarr...870re2&.src=ph
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Jul 5th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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The first link works. I just watched your pics. Nice! Love the funny commments. Memories of those lovely beaches.... ahhh...
Thanks for posting.

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Jul 5th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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beautiful! Thanks for posting. I so want to go too!
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Jul 5th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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fabulous photos bill

i just booked my trip to St John for the end of Oct, so i can't wait for your trip report. i'm hoping you share your fav snorkel spots, dining spots and your opinions on caneel bay.

a K9 fan,
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Jul 5th, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Such great pictures and I loved seeing them in the slideshow format. It was like one of my lovely daydreams. Looking forward to the report. Please hurry!
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Jul 5th, 2006, 11:52 AM
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You got me w/that title!

AWESOME pictures w/titles. I don't have a favorite because they were all so good!! Thanks for sharing.
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Jul 5th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Okay. Here goes nothin. I tend to be long winded, so be forewarned.

History and Perspective

Prior to this trip I'd never been to the Caribbean. Martin, my partner had been to the USVI/BVI on a bareboat charter with friends around 30 years ago and to Roatan many years ago on another sailing trip with the same friends. My "tropical island" travel experiences has been exclusively Hawaiian. Since I live on the west coast, it is particularly convienient and easy to get to. I've been visiting Hawaii for around 30 years and in the last 4 years have returned every year to Kaua'i. I love the islands and could return again and again without any regrets about missing other experiences at other places.

A few years ago Martin put the Caribbean bug in my ear. He thought that since I loved the waters and beaches of Hawaii so much that I ought to give the Caribbean a try. He also wanted to return again. So, we decided to forego my beloved Kaua'i for a year in favor of someplace in the Caribbean.

I started reading books, magazines, and the posts here and on other boards. We wanted the classic white Caribbean beach, from shore snorkeling, and it could not be a major tourist trap. We're not huge resort people and generally don't like to share our space with too many other people we don't know. After a few months of snooping around, my top choices were Anguilla, The Cayman Islands and St. John. St.John eventually won primarily because the raves here about the snorkeling and the beaches. It ended up being the right choice this time.

The original plan was for 12 days in mid June. We'd leave right after school got out for the summer. Five days would be at Caneel Bay and 7 of them at a villa rental. I figured that would give us the best of both worlds, even though Martin was not entirely crazy about Caneel, we went ahead with it.

Now more research. Which room at Caneel and which villa? There were way to many choices! I'd like to thank xkenx and poss in particular for their comments about which room to book at Caneel. We normally don't spend that kind of money on hotels, so I obsessed about which room category would give me the most bang for my buck. You guys gave me valuable advice. I booked a beachfront room on Hawksnest Beach at Caneel. I ended up finding what seemed like a great villa, apparently close to, what I gathered is a great beach, so I booked it. Yippee. All set.

Somtime last spring I started having second thoughts about staying at Caneel and we eventually decided to spend our whole time at the villa. Luckily, the villa was available for the extra five days. All set.

Then, in late March, United contacted us and informed us that they have cancelled our previously booked flight from DC to STT and have rebooked us on another flight two days earlier! Hmmm...Two more days in St. John was a good thing, but I was irked at United. We tried to change it, to no avail. I don't think it helped our situation that we "purchased" the tickets using FF points. Luckily, we could leave 2 days earlier (a day after school got out)so we went with it. Our villa was not available for those two extra nights, however so I had to scramble around and find something. I really was hoping for Estate Lindholm, but they were already booked. Gallows Point had openings, so I booked an upper harborview unit in building 10. All set, really.

Next, the acutal trip.
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Jul 5th, 2006, 01:37 PM
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Getting There

We flew from SFO to Dulles on a red-eye that arrived at 7am. Our flight to STT left around 9:30am and we arrived in STT around 1:45pm. All flights were around 30 minutes late, but we made up some time on the STT leg. I took half a 10mg ambien or the SFO - Dulles leg and it worked great. I woke up about 45 minutes before we landed. I normally can't sleep on planes, even at night, so this was great.

I was a bit anxious about getting a cab to the ferry in Red Hook, so I reserved ahead of time a private taxi through Freddy at Dynamic Tours on STT. Seeing as I'd never done this before I thought that spending the extra money would make things easier. In retrospect, I am glad that we reserved Freddy ahead of time, it was very nice to have him waiting there for us when we walked outside, but I don't think that doing the private taxi was worth the extra $$. I can highly recommend Freddy though. He, and the drivers we had were great.

We like to travel light and hardly ever check luggage anymore. Boy, am I glad we did not check bags on this trip! It might have looked worse than it actually was, but the baggage claim area looked like a zoo
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Jul 5th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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OOPs.
...zoo. It felt great to be able to bypass that.

For the two of us we had a 21" rolling bag, our snorkel bag, and we each had a small backpack all of which we carried on. It was a little tight, but we only ended up wearing about 2/3 of what we packed, so next time it will be even lighter. I was good though and resisted temptation to pack a lot of shoes. I brought only two pair of sandles and I surived.

The taxi ride from the airport to the ferry at Red Hook was interesting and uneventful. We took the "high road" that went into the hills above Charlotte Amalie and then wound it's way down into Red Hook. The ride took about 30 minutes. We made the 3:00 ferry with plenty of time to spare. As we boarded the ferry, it finally began to feel like we were really on vacation! What a great feeling it was to be sitting on that ferry knowing that we'd be checking out of the rat race for the next two weeks! The travel weariness we had been experiencing was replaced by excitiment and anticipation.

Next, being there!
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Jul 5th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Love the photos and am so loving your report!
 
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Jul 5th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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Forgot to add, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the music! I downloaded so much of what you suggested and my husband and everyone who listed to my iPod (ten people) just flipped!
 
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Jul 5th, 2006, 02:05 PM
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Enjoying your trip report. Please keep it coming!
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Jul 5th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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GoT,

Thanks. Were you ever able to get any Orchestra Baobab from i-tunes? We left for the airport an hour or so after that whole exhange here and I was wondering how it all turned out. Having the right tunes when one travels is KEY in my opinion.
How was Tortola? We looked at it every day from our rental's deck.

-Bill
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Jul 5th, 2006, 02:13 PM
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Yes, I did download a couple of their songs and the one I particularly love I can't think of the name of!

I can totally relate to the flight mess. United canceled my first flight from MYR to Dulles so I missed my Dulles SJU leg. They finally rerouted me on USAir through St. Martin to Tortola!

Loved Tortola! The groom gave me his house for the week of Christmas!
 
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Jul 5th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we loved St. John. All we wanted to do was to flop ourselves a gorgeous beach, snorkel and forget what day it was. It was the perfect island for us.
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Jul 5th, 2006, 03:04 PM
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I'm hunting around for island ideas with the kids and came across your pictures. They were wonderful. Looks like you had a great time. Maybe I should leave the kids home??
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Jul 5th, 2006, 03:08 PM
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dang it. I hate it when I do that. anyhow...

I relax best near the ocean or on the beach.I had just wrapped up a fairly stressful year at school and I was SO ready to just let it all go and forget about my life.

St. John, it's people, it's laid back feel, it's water, it's beaches and it's sea-life allowed me to do that perfectly. I have never swam in ocean water than clear or warm before. I have never been able to float on a raft for hours without worrying about being toppled by a wave, being sucked out to sea or getting cold. I have never seen such a wide variety of fish and colorful coral before. Now, remember, I am not that widely traveled with respect to these things, so there may be better, warmer and clearer out there, but I remain one satisfied and impressed customer by what I found on St. John.

The urge to compare St. John with Hawaii is strong, but I now know what I suspected before: It's an apples/oranges thing, so I am going to avoid the dreaded comparison thread. We're going back to Hawaii at least once next year, so I'm still right with my other paradise.

Our daily routine went something like this: Rise early, go snorkeling somewhere, either stay there for the rest of the day and veg, or move onto another beach to hang out at for the afernoon. It was an informal goal of Martin's to visit a different beach everyday. The amazing thing about that is that there are easily that many beaches on the island to accomplish that on a two week trip. Then we'd go home to rest and refresh. Then head out to dinner. Come home, read or play cards until we were nodding off. Go to sleep and do it again. We're not big partiers anymore, so the early rise/early sleep thing works for us. I slept very well.

We did not do any organized tours or boat charters. I had reservations with New Horizons II to go to the Baths, Jost Van Dyke, etc..., but we were having such a great time doing what we were doing and seeing what we were seeing, I cancelled it. Next time, we'll hit the BVI, maybe for two weeks too! I also had thought about doing the guided hike on the Reef Bay trail, but I was so lethargic by that time that I bagged that too! I usually like to hike a fair amount wherever we go, but this time the thought of doing any hiking made me dizzy. That will have to wait for next time too! Can you say LAZY? Martin and I have this joke that when we are truly relaxed, we are doing the "Thorazine Shuffle". It did not take us long to start shuffling!
Next, where we stayed.
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Jul 5th, 2006, 03:23 PM
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mother,

LEAVE THEM! >

-Bill
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Jul 5th, 2006, 05:22 PM
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We stayed the first two nights at Gallows Point Resort in Cruz Bay. They are one bedroom condos. We stayed in an upper "harborview" unit C in building 10. We really liked it here. It was great being so close to town so we could explore Cruz Bay and get the lay of the land before we got our rental car and villa. Our unit was a little long in the tooth and could have used a bit of sprucing up, but it was fine. The bed was comfortable and the unit was very spacious. I might have asked to see another unit if we were staying there for a longer time, but for two nights it was fine. The employees were all very nice, helpful and courteous. The grounds are well kept and there is a nice beach/patio area out front right on the water. We snorkeled there our first afternoon on the island and thought is was pretty good. It is a nice place to watch the sunset. I think it is the nicest place to stay in town. I'd stay there again.

For the bulk of our time we stayed at "Honeymoon Cottage" near Francis Bay on the north shore of the island. I included a lot of pictures of it in the photo link. We thought this place was great and it exceded my expectations. From my dealings with the agent, Terry Witham, to the facilities, to the loaction, it was perfect. Terry was easy and fun to work with. She took care of arranging for a rental car from St. John Car Rental. She completely answered all my questions the house. I really liked staying on the north shore. We were only a few minutes drive to many great beaches and the house was a 5 minute walk from Francis Bay. It took us 20 minutes to drive to Cruz Bay and about the same amount of time to drive to Coral Bay. I would highly recommend it for two people. If you like it enough you can buy it, as it is for sale for only $1.6 million.
More tomorrow.

-Bill
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