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First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

Archbald...
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First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

Hello all. I am considering a mid july trip to USVI. I have been to Jamaica and Cancun about 10 years ago. Those are my only Carib. experiences. Now as a dad of a few kids (1st/2nd graders) and the fact that I let my passport expire, we are thinking maybe USVI is the place to go. Does anyone agree that USVI for a family with younger kids with zero non-US travel experience is a smart choice, over other Carib locations? (I can always apply for the passport) Secondly, does anyone recommend a particular part of St Thomas or St Croix? St John looks very nice, but very $$$$. I would think I'd be flying into St Thomas and renting a car. Our biggest interest would be accomodation on a beautiful beach, with great snorkeling not too far from that hotel. Past that, we'd want to travel around the islands for some adventure. We are people who would like it to be not TOO crowded where we stayed. Thanks for your time.

Alabama
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1. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

We just returned from a 3 week trip through the islands

Couple of thoughts/suggestions for you.

Are you comfortable driving on the left side of the road in a VERY hilly envirnoment? If not, I'd suggest relying on taxis or local transport.

For a "family" experience, I'd recommend St. Thomas over St. Croix. More to do for families.

I think St. John is very beautiful and peaceful and well worth the money but it's not going to have as much entertainment for families than St. Thomas.

What you want to do may determine where you stay. We chose Red Hook area because it was close to the more serious level of snorkeling we do and quick ferries to other islands.

There are many good USVI websites which may be helpful in finding family activities. Just google USVI and a great website pops up.

St Thomas
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for St. Thomas
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2. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

I think St Thomas would best suit you and suggest you look into condo rentals on the East end of St Thomas at www.vrbo.com. Sapphire would be an excellent choice for a family and one big advantage to a condo rental is having a kitchen so you can make some of your own meals and save some money! Sapphire is one of the prime snorkeling beaches on St Thomas and the location is only a very short drive from the ferry terminal for day trips to St John.

As far as the driving is concerned, thousands and thousands of visitors come here every year and quickly adapt to driving on the left. The maximum speed limit is 35MPH and the average speed is 25MPH. Taxis for a family are cost prohibitive as they charge per person. Rent from anyone but Hertz and you can pack up your car for that day trip to St John and take the car barge over to enjoy it at your leisure.

Although you don't need a passport to enter the USVI you MAY be asked for proof of citizenship upon exiting the territory so be prepared with photographic ID such as state driver's license along with a copy of your birth certificate(s).

There are literally hundreds of relevant posts on this forum to go through which will help you with your planning - have fun!

Edited: 14 June 2010, 11:54
St. Thomas
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3. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

Check out Secret Harbour and Elysian Beach Resort as well. Both have restaurants, beach, etc.

NJ
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4. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

Regarding driving on St. Thomas: unless you are an inexperienced driver, I don't think you will have any problem and it is a lot more convenient (and cheaper) to rent a car rather than depend on taxis. On our last trip, my husband forgot to bring his driver's license (he had his passport for proof of citizenship) so suddenly, I was stuck with the driving. I was not happy about this at first, but found that I quickly adjusted (cars are American, so wheel is on the left. Rule of thumb is "keep shoulder to shoulder"). You could task one of your kids to keep reminding you to stay to the left (good chance to work on their direction skills). I'm glad I was stuck with the driving since I now feel confident about it.. We are going in 4 weeks and I can't wait!

..sioda.

Archbald...
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5. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

Thanks.

PS Is it abnormally hotter in mid July vs. May/June?

Boston...
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for St. Thomas, East End
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6. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

The temperature really never changes very much. The only thing I notice is that it is more humid when you are away from the beach, but on the beach the trade winds keep it comfortable.

Washington DC...
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7. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

St. Thomas is very different from Jamaica and Cancun. It's a great place for families and offers easy and quick access to St. John -- one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean. So, don't miss taking the ferry over for a day snorkeling and enjoying St. John's beaches.

Best places to stay? If you can afford the Ritz or Marriott, go for it. If not, I'd suggest Secret Harbour -- good snorkeling, excellent restaurant, great location close to the Red Hook ferry, pretty setting, especially for sunsets. Also a nice pool if you need some entertainment after leaving the beach and pretty views.

Boston, MA
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for Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard
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8. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

your family will have a great time in St.Thomas! Please tho, if you don't have passports, make sure you bring everyone's birth certificates & of course, driver's licenses for the adults. You will need them to go thru customs on the way back. Also, you can take a day trip to St. John, beaches are beautiful and the kids might enjoy the ferry.

Boston
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9. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

You also asked about St Croix and you might want to look into the Buccaneer on St Croix. They have a great family special in the summer and they also have a lot of activities for the kids (plus everything else on your list). This is their website: http://www.thebuccaneer.com/

There are also many other accommodation options.

Richmond, Virginia
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10. Re: First Timer....Any opinions/suggestions?

We stayed at Secret Harbour in early May and I wouldn't recommend it. The beach and restaurant were very nice, but the room was not. The units are individually owned so you have no idea what you are getting until you get there and see it. The pictures of rooms on their website looked nothing like the two rooms we saw.