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Island Advice

Philadelphia, PA
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5 posts
9 reviews
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Island Advice

We are looking on advice on which USVI to visit. I have been to St. Thomas, St. John, Bermuda, St. Maarten/Martin, Grand Cayman, Paradise Island, Nassua. The questions we have are the following: relative safety (as compared to St. Maarten and St. Thomas), beaches ans snorkeling, casual meals, car rental ?, beauty of Island. We have the option of staying at the Carambola resort in St. Croix or the Westin in St. John. Since they are timeshare exchanges, price is not a factor. I thank you in advance and Happy New Year.

St. Croix
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for St. Croix
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1. Re: Island Advice

I love St. Croix but if I were going on vacation, my preference would be St. John. It's a beautiful island with fabulous beaches. However, you have already been to St John so why not come to St. Croix. We have beautiful beaches (Shoys, Carambola, Sandy Point & others). Take an all day tour with Tan Tan Tours for awesome views.

South Bend, Indiana
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2. Re: Island Advice

I have never been to St. John and I have only visited the other islands you mentioned from 1 day stops on a cruise ship. We stayed on St. Croix for a week for the first time last March and feel in love! The West end of the island (Fredricksted) offers awesom sunsets, many beachs and a rain forest ... the East end is more arid .. almost like 2 islands in one! Many casual dining places but at the same time there are some really nice dining options. Car rental is a must and once you conquer drivining on the left (takes about 20 minutes) you can explore to your heart's content. It is a lovely laid back peachful island!

Santa Monica, CA
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for Santa Monica
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3. Re: Island Advice

I have only been to Grand Cayman on your list (off your list - Puerto Rico, Belize, Hawaii). St. Croix is much hillier than GCI and has a distinct wet and dry side. It is bigger than GCI but very easy to drive around (no roundabouts). When we stayed on GCI, we were on the east side and enjoyed the quietness of it and Rum Point. St. Croix is probably more similar to that as opposed to GCI's 7 mile beach. You won't find long lines of huge hotels on STX. Small places spaced far apart.

I think shore snorkeling on St. Croix is easier than GCI.

Lots of friendly beach bars on St. Croix. And the Cruzan rum is wonderful (take a tour of the factory and have samples).

I really studied St. John as our destination because my family enjoys hiking. There were a couple of things that made me choose St. Croix instead. (1) St. John's villa rentals were mostly in the hills and mountains, as far as I could tell. No beach front condos. When I go to an island, I'd like to be as close to the water as possible. Prices for rentals are also significantly higher than STX so I would have paid more to be far from the water. Additionally, and I might be wrong, but heard that the Westin on STJ is not located on a very good snorkel beach. Carambola is a much better choice if you want that. They also offer diving lessons and you can walk right in to scuba dive the reef. (2) St. John seemed more formal; dressing for dinner (men - slacks & collared shirt for example). No way were we going to pack pants for a tropical vacation! (3) Driving can be challenging on St. John and it seems that visitors usually rent trucks and jeeps to negotiate the steep roads. It is very easy on St. Croix. Although you might get a bit lost sometimes, the roads are relatively good and not too many hairpin turns, etc. Renting a Toyota Corolla is just fine; no need for a 4wd.

My idea of Caribbean paradise is a warm, friendly island with plenty of beach bars/restaurants, access to beaches, a botanical garden, and not in a big resort. St. Croix is very authentic and gives a tourist all of those things.

We went to the Carambola for a day and it was stunningly beautiful. The backdrop of the rainforest mountains comes right down to their beach. The staff were very nice to us. We travelled with my 85 yo mother and, when they asked us to park at an upper lot far from the beach, I asked if we could drop off closer for the sake of mom. They were very accommodating and even sent a nice man with a golf cart to drive her to the beach. We weren't even paying guests there! Our intent was to get mom set up under a palm tree enjoying the sea breeze while we hiked to the famous tidepools nearby. Once we saw the beach and had a dip, we just melted into the chairs and spent the afternoon watching the Caribbean change colors.

San Diego...
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291 posts
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4. Re: Island Advice

Are you a DIY' traveler or a "Palm Springs" give-it-to-me -now pampered camper? If you're a DIY'er like our clan, St. Croix (vs. St. John or St. Thomas) will be your American Paradise...otherwise the other two islands will fit the bill nicely. STX is the "big fat" of the three and offers a lot for ramblers. Our friends live on those other 2 islands, but sent us to STX for very good reasons - and simply met us there instead. Statistically, safety is not an issue as all these islands of the Carribbean share a locality to massive drug smuggling offshore (lived in South America so been there, done that!) and everyone needs a job...That said, as a tourist in a US Territory you won't be bothered and will be snug unless you hang near the two big towns in the wee hours...and even then, you will really have to work hard to bump into the thugs.

Philadelphia, PA
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5. Re: Island Advice

In response to tplife, we always like to make our own plans vs go with the traditional "tourists traps". In reading accounts out of St. Maarten and some other Carribean Islands, it appears that violent crime is out of control. We always use good sense when traveling but we really don't want to feel threatened while on vacation. We just need to know that St. Croix is the type of island which can provide a safe, fun family vacation. Any ideas on good, casual restaurants would be helpful. Other thoughts are tours, sights, car rental companies, and the Carambola resort. Thank you.

Boston
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6. Re: Island Advice

I don't know when you went to STT or STJ, but STX is about the size of the other two combined. It is like STT was about 25-30 years ago. Also, IMO it is pretty laid back compared to STT. There is a lot to do on STX, you can go on a Tan Tan tour, go to Buck Island, go kayaking, hike to the tidal pools, snorkel, hike, horseback ride, scuba, snorkel, go to the rum distillery or the Whim Plantation. You can go to the Botanical Gardens, go see the beer drinking pigs, play tennis, play golf, etc., etc. or, you can do nothing and lay on the beach and read a book. The restaurants on St Croix are fantastic and there are many options at many price points. However, one thing you should know is that although the Carambola is very nice and is in a beautiful location - I think one of the most beautiful beaches on the island - it is quite far from town. I would say about 30-40 minutes drive. There are some restaurants not too far in Cane Bay, but to go to C'sted it is a bit of a drive. As far as safety, you should not feel threatened in any way. I go there with my sister and we have never felt unsafe in any way, just use your common sense as you would at home and you will have no problems.

Philadelphia, PA
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5 posts
9 reviews
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7. Re: Island Advice

In response to tplife, we always like to make our own plans vs go with the traditional "tourists traps". In reading accounts out of St. Maarten and some other Carribean Islands, it appears that violent crime is out of control. We always use good sense when traveling but we really don't want to feel threatened while on vacation. We just need to know that St. Croix is the type of island which can provide a safe, fun family vacation. Any ideas on good, casual restaurants would be helpful. Other thoughts are tours, sights, car rental companies, and the Carambola resort. Thank you.

Philadelphia, PA
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5 posts
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8. Re: Island Advice

To saffie11, I thank you for all of your advice and information. I believe we will be vacationing in St. Croix very soon. The beer drinking pigs pushed us over the edge. I just hope he/she saves a few cold ones for me. I'm not worried about a 25-30 minute drive since that's what we did on Grand Cayman and St. Maarten. Thank you again and I'm sorry for the double post.

South Bend, Indiana
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for St. Croix
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9. Re: Island Advice

I don't think you will be disappointed Quaker! So many of the islands, while beautiful and just as inviting, are very commercialized. When the cruise ships starting becoming floating countries my husband and I opted for a beautiful laid back island. If we wanted to vacation with "6,000 of our closest 'friends'" I guess we would have stayed home. One thing to warn you about is that once you vacation in St. Croix I have a feeling you will want to return.... the sooner the better! The Pigs are very sharing and there is always a cold one for you also!

New Britain...
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10. Re: Island Advice

We've stayed twice at the Carambola. It's a beautiful resort with a great pool that was retiled late '09 or early '10. We never had to share the pool with more than three other people. The rooms east of the lobby were remodeled a few years ago and are outstanding.