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Woo-hoo! Just booked first trip to St. John, would love tips & suggestions...

Woo-hoo! Just booked first trip to St. John, would love tips & suggestions...

Oct 9th, 2007, 08:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,306
Woo-hoo! Just booked first trip to St. John, would love tips & suggestions...

DH & I just booked a trip to St. John, a place we've been wanting to go for years. We'll have ten nights at the end of December-early January. We're staying at the Honeymoon Cottage near Francis Bay, & have reserved a Suzuki 4WD from Denzil Clyne. Would love any tips or suggestions from experienced Fodorites on beaches, hikes, snorkeling, activities, restaurants, shopping, etc. Can anyone recommend the best way to do a daytrip to the Baths on Virgin Gorda? Thanks in advance.
lisa is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 08:57 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 216
Immediately..Go to Amazon and get St. John: Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive by Pam Gaffin. Best guidebook to the island and will answer all your questions. Best part is its cheaper on Amazon than in St. John.

Lots of operators run day trips to the Baths and Virgin Gorda. No problem. Make sure to bring your valid passport though if you want to make these trips.
Kenstee is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 09:45 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 312
I'd definitely recommend going with one of the smaller groups to the Baths. Limnos takes 40 people at once, which is waaay too many, IMO.

We had an awesome time several years ago on the Pirate's Penny (sister ship to the Stormy Petrel). I believe their maximum is 12 people, although we only had 6 on the day we went, which was great. We explored the Baths for about 2 hours, had lunch at Cooper Island (very cool) and snorkeled a beautiful reef off of Peter Island. Overall it was the best day of our trip.

I've heard good things about New Horizons as well, but I think they take slightly larger groups--up to 16 maybe?

Have a great time on St. John--you're going to love it!
Julie304 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 10:16 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 15
Go to Trunk beach before 9am - usually there is no one there and you can get in for free - then talk to the lifeguard when he shows up - he usually has great advice.
Cinnimon and Hawksnest beaches are the best at any time of the day. We went here for our honeymoon in 1994 and have been back twice since then. My favorite place in the caribbean!
trillian is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Congrats!!! you'll Love st.john! it's one of our favorite islands along with anguilla! The bath's r mindblowing! check out tripadvisor.com & also st.john.com for more & lots of info! Good Luck Let us know how all goes when u get back!!!
JoenShell is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 03:08 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 446
You've picked a beautiful island that is very popular with this forum.

Couple recomendations....

Restaurants: We loved Zozos at Gallows, also thought The Balcony was very good. Lime Inn was good (not great), Banana Deck good, and Fish Trap just okay. For more casual fair, the Beach Bar fits the bill. Skinny Legs in Coral Bay also a good burger joint.

Beaches: Most are great, and most have very good snorkeling. Most beautiful IMO was Gibney or Solomon. Best Snorkeling was either Waterlemon or Salt Pond, both of which require a somewhat long swim out of at least 100+ yards. You swim out and around the island at Waterlemon, which will have a current. At Salt pond, you swim out to the rocks that stick up (about 150 yards), and the coral & sea-life abound. Neither are recommended for weak swimmers.

Best advice I can give you is to simply slow down, and just chill out. Our typical day would be eating breakfast at out Condo overlooking the ocean (Gallows). After that packing the cooler with sandwiches & water, loading up the snorkel gear, and head out in the jeep to explore different beaches. We typically spend 2-3 hours at each, and drive down the road to another....and then another. Around 4pm or so, head back and shower up.....then walk into town for happy hour & dinner. Maybe a few drinks at the Beach Bar after dinner, and then either a late night swim or jacuzzi under the stars. It was rough doing this everyday, but we somehow managed ;-)

St John is an amazing place, you will love it. Hope this helps.
ScottB is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
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We stayed at the HC too and loved the location. It is a very short drive to Leinster Bay ( and the trail out to the point where you can swim across to Waterlemon Cay). We went to Leinster every other day for two weeks. We would get there by 8:30 am and would be the only snorkelers around the island for at least a couple of hours. We thought it was the best snorkeling on the island while we were there.

If you use Francis Bay as your own personal swimming pool as we did, be sure to leave it before mid afternoon because it starts getting very buggy as dusk starts approaching.

Don't miss Soloman Bay/Beach. Gorgeous.

Love Jumby Bay too.

The book I really like is the St. John Beach Guide by Gerald Singer.

We had a very good, and unique meal at Sweet Plantains in Coral Bay. I highly recommend it. You've read my report, so you know the rest.

Have a good trip.
iamq is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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Thanks so much for all the great tips. We will definitely look for a smaller group for our daytrip to the Baths. Keep the good suggestions coming!
lisa is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 196
You can also rent your own boat right in town... I can't remember the name of the company. That's what we did and went over to the Indians on the BVI side for great snorkeling. You have to clear British customs though.

Also, IMO, we would not take the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. We hired a private ferry and were thrilled with the pick-up and arrival.
ydoc is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,503
I agree, get Pam Gaffin's book before you go and read through and see what you might like to do. We take it with us when we are going to the beaches etc. I read, hubby drives. There are cute shops all over Cruz Bay. Just take a stoll. Lots of shops in Mongoose Junction and Wharfside Village. The Pink Papaya is a cute little shop next door to The Lime Inn.

For restaurants, we have some solid favorites that we keep returning to. La Tapa is my current fave. We don't do much high end dining. We like Cafe Roma, Banana Deck. The Lime Inn was just OK last time but it is an old favorite. Morgan's Mango has lobster night I believe on Tuesdays so going to check that out next time. The Beach Bar has really good casual food, Sun Dog Cafe has nice lunches on a terrace. If you like West Indian food, the is a little place called Mojo Cafe that gets good reviews and is inexpensive. Right next to that is Pardise Cafe for a breakfast sandwich or lunch. They usually only have one sandwich special for lunch. Deli Grotto is good for a quick, casual breakfast or sandwiches to take to the beach. There is also Uncle Joe's BBQ and a newer BBQ place called Candi's that we will definitely be checking out. Our first dinner will be La Tapa again. If you go, ask what specials they have. Sometimes we just get 2 or 3 appetizers and split them.

We have done The Lind Point Trail hike to Solomon, Honeymoon and Caneel Beaches. It is a little less than a mile and not difficult. We took the lower trail. The upper takes you to Lind Point and then back down. If I do it again though, I would just park in Caneel and walk over that way. It's a lot closer. Solomon is gorgeous and the day we went, there was only one other person on it. There is a must have picture from the water at Solomon looking at the 3 palm trees. Next time I want to hike the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail and hopefully go to Salt Pond and continue on over to Drunk Bay. Drunk Bay has a rugged coastline not suitable for swimming but has many interesting "people figures" made out of coral, wood etc that folks have made when visiting. You might also look into The Reef Bay Guided Trail. That takes up pretty much a whole day though.

We did a day trip to Virgin Gorda on Hew Horizon's II. It was a great day, but if you are mainly interested in VG, this might not be the trip for you as we only spent about an hour there.
brenandg is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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ydoc -- Why do you say not to take the public ferry from St. Thomas to St. John? What company did you use for the transfer?
lisa is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 02:40 PM
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JoenShell -- I tried to go to st.john.com but it says there's no such address. Also tried it as stjohn.com but no luck that way either. ??
lisa is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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http://www.on-stjohn.com/ Maybe she meant this website?? We have always taken the public taxi and ferry system due to the cost for private transfers. This time we are going to take a private taxi and water taxi because we have another couple to share the cost with. I'm sure it will be more convenient, but there is nothing wrong with doing the public ferry if you don't want to spend the extra money. We are using Dolphin Shuttle. It is $90 for up to 6 people. We got a good deal on the private taxi because someone from another forum used to live on island and her friend is doing this for us for $15pp, bags included. Our biggest extra expense is the water taxi. If you have more than two of you, it gets more economical. There is also Dohm's Water Taxi but they work with Dolphin Shuttle and the prices are comparable.

I love the onstj website and check it daily. They always post the newest things going on. Things change on a regular basis on St John in regard to restaurants, construction etc. It will get you in island mode. They post weekly "Beach Break" videos and have a new feature called "jeep cam" that just started. The first installment was a drive through Cruz Bay. If you check some of the archives, you will find it. Have fun planning your trip!
brenandg is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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http://www.on-stjohn.com/2007/08/ Here is a link to the page that has The Cruz Bay Cruise on it. It is from August 24th in the archives. Kind of fun to watch.
brenandg is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 04:49 PM
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You are in for a wonderful trip! We went to St. John for the first time in August, and loved it! The Honeymoon Cottage looks fabulous too (poster Iamq stayed there and if you do a search will find his pictures).

My recommendations based on our one visit:
-Eat at Asolare, Zozo's, and Cafe Roma.

-Go to Caneel for a couple of days for the beaches, and eat lunch. We stayed there and loved Hawksnest the most, but Turtle Bay, Scott Beach, Honeymoon Beach, and Saloman Beach are also great.

-Go to Trunk Bay early (8ish) so you beat the crowds and don't have to pay an admission fee. Go to the far left for good snorkeling and solitude.

-Go to Little Maho Bay for really good shade and flat, bath water type of conditions.

-Take a day trip. We went to Tortola, which was nice but next time, we would go to Virgin Gorda, which is quite popular on this board. There is a ferry that leaves from Cruz Bay, across from Morgan's Mango, to Virgin Gorda. I think it is $60 rt per adult. I'm not sure the dates, but I believe it only goes 2 days per week, so you may want to check into that when you first get on island to plan accordingly.

Have Fun!!!
mah1980 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 04:51 PM
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Forgot something--as previously mentioned by other posters, get Pam Griffin's book because it does an excellent job of giving you a lay of the land, so to speak, before you get there.

I really liked the diagrams of the beaches she provided so you knew which beach you were close to if you wanted to do several beaches in a day.
mah1980 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 215
you are going to love this island ! it'll be so nice to walk from your cottage to Francis Beach , one of my favorites( fav is Gibney) and have had some great snorkeling there !! had my 1st turtle sighting.restaurants : we enjoy Tage but usually we choose a less exp. one.... Morgans Mango, Bananna Deck,Compass Rose and for even less, Beach Bar or Woodys. we like JJ's Texas Coast for breakfast. the Beach Bar has the BEST jazz sundays 4-7...it's a must do !! since you're renting HC give Terry a call, she can be a great resource for choosing daytrip travel to the bvi's. good luck !!
tess53 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20
lisa- you will be in paradise. we will be returning in Dec (our 4th visit in 2 years). I 2nd FFandFWD-our copy is dogged eared and invaluable to traverse the island. We have a copy of the Singer guide-it has beautiful pictures, but offers little guidance around the island. I am sure in a short time you will find the bays which suit your needs,by all means explore and enjoy the pristine beauty of the grand island!
Kberbones is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 09:31 PM
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Woody's Seafood Saloon...happy hour...every day you are there.
CaribbeanSoul is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 59
Thanks all! Yes I meant www.on-stjohn.com also look at www.virgin-island-on-line.com for lots of info on where to stay & reviews of such! also on the coral bay side shipwreck's landing & Island Blues is also good stop!for food & spirits!there's also Pastory Garden for food & Drinks! which has a putt putt course for the kids & even Big People! as others have said Cafe Roma good food & portions for the $ ! Beautiful beaches well...... all of them ! but faves R Trunk, Solomon, & Honeymoon ! Enjoy!!!
JoenShell is offline  

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