Stayed at the Sapphire Beach Resort this past June 2009, and had probably the best vacation of our lives. I hope this trip report helps some people.
Flight AA, Avis, Road - Flew from O’hare to St. Thomas via Miami. Nothing against Miami airport, but dudes you got to land and send those planes off quicker. Arrived St. Thomas and ran to Avis, and received news that my reservation for a van was unavailable, luckily within half a minute somebody returned a van and off we went. I have to give kudos to Avis St. Thomas. The van had electrical problems, and I called the next day at 8:30. They drove a new one to Sapphire Beach, traded the keys at the desk and we had a new Dodge Caravan. The intersection of 38 and 30, 318 is being worked on so expect delays. We preferred 38 to get to Sapphire Beach, plus Plaza Extra I feel is much better than the food court off of Red Hook. If you know your way, take 40 to skip the evening rush, plus very scenic drive. People, have said this and I’ll reiterate, if at all possible bring a cooler with you, especially if you are staying in a condo/villa, heck even a hotel room. Bring grapes, bread, lunch meat, fruit, tomatoes, cereal, prices are a killer.
Sapphire Beach Resort - We stayed in room C308 which we rented through a private owner; I’ll have a more detailed review under the Sapphire Beach Resort. Anyway, the view was great, the unit is still being remodeled but there is a new kitchen and both bathrooms were redone very well. The overall grounds seem to be getting better, but my only real complaint was unfortunately the beach, for whatever reason has suffered some erosion. In fact with cruise ships in the entrance into water can be really crowded. However, the reef is getting better every time I go back so that is a plus. My opinion, check out private owners for Sapphire Beach and stay there, you won’t go wrong.
St. Thomas Adventures - We checked out Smith Bay Beach twice, and St. Thomas is in the process of adding amenities to the beach. This is a great beach, with fine, and I do mean fine sand. I don’t really think this is the place for snorkeling, but for peace and solitude and a great swim/sand beach go here. It was only 2 minutes from Sapphire Beach Resort. We went to Charlotte Amalie 3 times, every time with a ship(s) in port, however we timed it so the first two times they were only in port for another hour, and the last time we went in the morning and watched the Freedom of the Seas arrive. Go online people and find out when the ships are in.
St. John Adventures- 1st we took the Yacht Nightwind out of Sapphire Beach and did a sailing cruise. Probably the highlight of the trip. We are not large crowd people, so this one fit the bill. Cap’t Rick was great. We also went to St. John on a Sunday and took the car ferry. There has been discussion about one-way versus round trip, sure it is cheaper to buy a round trip, but you are beholden to the times. When we left St. John, there was a ferry and we just drove up on it, others had to wait at least a half-hour for their ferry. TRUST ME, but a one-way ticket and eat the $10. By the way we noticed that a ferry would maybe say 8:30am but it wouldn’t depart until there were more cars on board. Cinnamon Beach is in my view much better than Trunk. You can rent beach chairs at Cinnamon but the lady there; well I’ll leave her alone. You can also rent snorkel, chairs, and snorkel belts at Cruz Bay Watersports. Also, the Starfish Market have some premade sandwiches, somewhat expensive but it’s an option (nice market by the way $$$). On our 3rd trip there we did the beach in the morning and shopping in the afternoon. I really liked the Ocean Grill for lunch. Once again not cheap but their tacos were great, and the seafood sandwich with homemade potato salad was very filling. Speaking of Mongoose Junction, nice shops but we also like the Wharfside Village. In fact that is how my old view of Charlotte is, more unique boutique shops. I picked up a nice individual necklace for my wife at Wharfside. Ferry advice, drive up turn around, back up, and follow directions, go up and enjoy the view. Better, smoother ride than the passenger ferries. Also, if it would have rained I don’t think I would have attempted to go to Cinnamon in the van. Between Trunk and Cinnamon you have two curves that both have a very steep incline, 30-40% (I’m not kidding).
Eats – We had dinner at Agave Terrace and that was very good, however you wallet better be a little heavy, appetizers were the highlight. Cuzzin Caribbean in my view stunk. The conch fritters were just stuffing and I had the mixed seafood. Everything was fried, and generally I/we thought the food was terrible. We did like Fat Turtle, especially since we time it as the ships were leaving, good pizza. Blue Moon is also expensive but their portions are large. My wife had the hot Gouda cheese appetizer, and I had the tuna sampler and both were large enough to be the main meal. Good place, for view, ambiance, and food $$$. Caribbean Saloon in Red Hook was also good, and had large portions, as well Mollys. Both are ok, but you didn’t break the bank with both (still not that cheap, but hey nothing is in St. Thomas). Fat Boys I thought stunk, perhaps it was the loaded and I mean loaded young men in there. I kinda got tired of hearing the lines from Pulp Fiction. We had lunch one day at Fungi’s and I wish we went back. Great place for lunch with a great view; my idea of a Caribbean lunch. Didn’t have a chance to go to Duffy’s but if it was my wife and I, instead of 3 young children with us, I would of hung out there for a couple of hours. Breakfast every morning on Sapphire condo balcony, plus some lunches.
Overall – Great visit, but next time it is St. John. Downtown Charlotte has really changed over the years, and I am turned off by all (90% of stores?) the jewelry stores. In fact, it was non-stop pestering. I liked Yacht Grand Haven just the walk and eats, and Red Hook is fun, but St. John is the place to go. Hopefully, this helps a few people in their trip plans.