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Virgin Islands Itinerary: Safety and other concerns

Virgin Islands Itinerary: Safety and other concerns

Old Nov 30th, 2015, 02:45 AM
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Virgin Islands Itinerary: Safety and other concerns

Hello fellow Fodorites!

My wife and I are planning a 6 nights trip to USVI and BVI in Feb 2016 with our two daughters age 8 and 11. My itinerary is as follows:

Day 1: Arrive at Marriott Frenchman's Reef, St Thomas in the evening. Stay at the resort rest of the day
Day 2: Spend at least half the day at resort area (nearby beaches, pool area). Then if time permits, make a trip to Megan Bay
Day 3: Day trip to St John, back at Marriott Frenchman's by evening
Day 4: Ferry to Tortola, stay at Tortola/BVI (perhaps "Sebastian's on the beach")
Day 5: Stay at BVI
Day 6: Return to Marriott Frenchman's Reef, stay the night there
Day 7: Fly out of Charlotte Amalie

I had the following questions/concerns:

1) I have read on the forums that St.Thomas isn't safe and should rather be skipped. Should I rather stay at BVI or St John for the whole trip (though at this point there aren't many reasonable accommodation choices at those places). But while at St Thomas we don't have any intentions of hitting the bars or wandering around the streets late night. At most we would go to town for dinner or grocery.

2) For our trip to St John, can we rent a car at St John or do we have to rent at St Thomas and then take barge with car?

3) I feel one day may not be enough for St John. Perhaps I could make two day trips to St John from St Thomas (on Day 2 and Day 3 in the itinerary above).

4) Any thoughts/feedback on Sebastian's for our stay in Tortolla? I know it is small and dated but location is great (right at the beach).

Thanks in advance!
seattlehawk is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2015, 04:29 AM
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Maybe this will answer your questions;

1) St. Thomas is the most populated island in the USVI's and like all places with a lot of people there is some local "crime" but it certainly isn't an unsafe island. Tens of thousands of tourists visit the island every month without incident. If you use common sense you should be just fine. St. John is less populated island and is the most costly island in the chain. Whether you stay on St. Thomas or St. John is a matter of personal taste - it depends on what you like to see/do and your budget.

2) No real difference, you can rent a car on St. John or in St. Thomas and take it to St. John on the car ferry. Keep in mind if you choose the latter, you'll have to pay for the car ferry in both directions.

3) Again whether you spend 1 or 2 days on St.John is a personal choice. Remember, if you choose 2 days that means 1 day less on the "other" island. No right or wrong decision here - just different options.

4) Never stayed at Sebastian's so can't really comment other than to say it's been around for years and many people have stayed there and been quite happy.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 06:33 AM
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It's expensive to take a car over to St. John on the ferry and time-consuming to line up and get on. Plus, it's hard to drive a regular car on St. John. A jeep is better because of all the steep hills.

To be honest, if I were going to St. John for the day, I wouldn't bother renting a car at all. There are taxis and tours that can move you around the island more expeditiously and probably just as cheaply.

I'm not sure I'd ever do two day-trips to St. John even though there's a lot to see. Better would be a daysail that takes you around the islands. That's a real experience that shouldn't be missed. If you want to stay there, I think you'd enjoy it, but there's not much lodging in hotels. Most people who go to St. John rent a villa or condo, and you'd probably have to stay more than 2 nights to do that.

St. Thomas certainly has crime, but it's not what I would call an "unsafe" destination. There's a direct ferry to Charlotte Amalie from the Marriott, so you can easily get into town for a meal and then come back. The resort itself is pretty isolated, and there's very little going on in that part of the island (you could also go to Bolongo Bay for a meal, and it's a short taxi ride).

I don't know anything about Sebastian's so I can't make a recommendation there, but if you're going to be on Tortola for more than a day, you'll almost certainly want to rent a car there. Again, a jeep will help with the very steep roads.

A lot of people freak out about driving on the left, so keep that in mind before renting your car. There's much more traffic on St. Thomas than on Tortola, so that's a better place to drive in my opinion. I'd get by with tours and taxis on St. Thomas. I really don't like to drive there.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 10:07 AM
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My two cents: spend the entire week on St John. Take a full day boating excursion one day to see the BVIs.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 10:45 AM
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St. Thomas (the town of Charlotte Amalie) didn't wow me at all, but I thought St. John was very beautiful.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2015, 02:54 AM
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Thanks for the feedback! Seems I wouldnt be spending much time on St. Thomas. Just day 1 at the resort (pool and beach). Day 2 we go for day trip to St. John. Day 3 we leave for Tortola.

It does seem there is benefit of not taking a car to St John. There are fewer car ferries between St. John and St Thomas for one. Could we rent at car/jeep at St. John ferry terminal when we get there? Unlike taxi, personal car might be more convenient like making stops on the way etc.

We may not need a car at St Thomas as we would just need transportation between hotel, ferry terminals and Charlotte Amalie.

We could rent a car at Tortola but West End ferry terminal is close to Sebastian. Sebastian is also close to cane sugar bay and Smugglers cove where we want to go. So we could take taxi.

Is taxi easily available on these islands and do they have standard fares or does that have to be negotiated? Since Feburary is peak period I wonder if rental car or taxi will be readily available. Wouldnt want to get stranded otherwise.
seattlehawk is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2015, 02:20 PM
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Dear Seattle: You are doing an awful lot of moving around in 6 days. You might consider staying at the Reef and doing two day trips- one to St John and a BVI boat trip. I am gathering you haven't been to the VI (US or B)? Consider this trip an introduction for more fun in the future.

One problem with taking a car to St John is that the last car ferry back will prevent you from being able to stay for dinner.I suggest you take the regular ferry, end up at Cinnamon where every one can take showers, have dinner and be exhausted when you return. ;-)
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Old Dec 4th, 2015, 02:48 AM
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Eastenderusvi: you are right this is our first trip to usvi and bvi. I have the same concern about car ferry that is last ferry leaves too soon from St. John. But if I rent car or jeep at St. John are car rental offices open late for us to return the car and take ferry back to Red Hook late evening? Also is it easy to take a taxi from Red hook back to Reef?

At St John I was actually thinking of first stopping at Trunk Bay. Then maybe Caneel Bay resort for dinner?

I do wish I had found accommodation at St John that was less than $400 per night but the ones available are too expensive or too basic.

By the way a couple of people have suggested boat trip or sail experience to BVI. What exactly is that? Is that boat tour that stops at various beaches/islands?
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Old Dec 5th, 2015, 01:25 PM
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Dear 12 (I suspect):If you only go to Trunk Bay, you can take a safari. Plenty of taxis from the ferry at Red Hook. Are you thinking of Zozo's at Caneel for dinner? It is nice, but there are plenty of great restaurants in Cruz Bay.

There are lots of day boats to the BVI: look at New Horizons and Breakaway, Pirate's Penny/Stormy Petrel to start. These are power boats that will take you to a couple of destinations in the BVI, stop for lunch somewhere, snorkel, etc. You will get an idea of the scope of the area so that when you come back (and you will!) you will have an idea of what you would like to see. Everyone needs passports for this.
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Old Dec 5th, 2015, 06:22 PM
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Seattlehawk have you looked into renting a house or condo on St John?
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Old Dec 8th, 2015, 01:04 AM
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brennynp, actually i was wondering about that and thought I would start a new thread. I was looking at expedia and such sites looking for lodging options and found only limited options
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Old Dec 8th, 2015, 04:36 AM
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Personally, you're doing a lot of hopping around.

Stay in the same place and day trip, as check ins, check outs, luggage hauling will take up a lot.

You can either split St. John/Virgin Gorda

OR:

Staying in Tortola the whole time. Many day boat trips to St. John, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda (the best anyway!) Even Peter Island and snorkeling. There are ferries to all from Tortola so you can do it independently, or many sail boat catamaran excursions that stop at multiple islands in 1 day.

Forget planning different places to stay!

PS If you skip St. Thomas it's not the end of the world, Meagan's Bay is nice but my opinion the others mentioned are nicer. Shopping is best at St. Thomas, but you can get everything via internet these days anyway.
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Old Dec 8th, 2015, 04:39 AM
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PSS unless things have changed, Frenchmen's Reef didn't have much of a beach anyway--it's up on a cliff, and has a small cove (that use to disappear at high tide

PSSS from Tortola you can feel like a castaway at Marina Cay, very fun little island with a Pusser's Restaurant. You drive there and wave the water taxi (or prearrange) and can spend lunch there.
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Old Dec 20th, 2015, 04:15 AM
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Just as follow up to blamona's post above...There are three properties on the point. Frenchman's Reef is on a cliff, but Morning Star, a short walk or free shuttle ride down the hill, is on a lovely long beach. There is a time share, The Cove, which is next door to the Reef and it has a small beach as well.
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