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Trip report - May 19 - 25

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Trip report - May 19 - 25

Knowing that I will incur insults and the wrath of some other posters, I'm going to write this anyway. After all, we all have a right to our own opinions, and I don't have to agree with everyones, or them with me. But I do deserve the right to express both the good and not so good of my experience. With that said, here goes:

Day 1 - we arrived at Sapphire Beach Resort exhausted after a day of travel and wandering around lost for 2 hours. The condo we rented from a private owner was beautifully decorated, had amazing views and even though it was on the top floor, I didn't really mind the climb up and down steps. We drove into Red Hook for dinner and ate at Molly Malone's - I thought it was good, hubby thought it was way overpriced. Got groceries at Food Center which were more expensive than at home but we expected that.

Day 2 - up early, and went to the pool after breakfast. I was a little surprised to find a mother swimming in her bra and panties (seriously) and she had her baby in the pool totally naked (yuck!). I don't think she belonged there because they left shortly after we arrived. It may be the locals know when security makes their rounds to inquire your unit number - which they did about every 2 hours. Spent most of the day at the pool and both of us ended up really sunburned despite applying 50 SPF repeatedly. Oh well. We went to Iggies for dinner and enjoyed the open dining and beach over there. Food was decent, nothing to rave about but good. We stayed at Bolongo Bay on our honeymoon 34 years ago and loved it . Nothing has changed much in that time, but I was a little disturbed by the guests who were obviously on the AI plan because they were falling down drunk.

Day 3 - Drove up to Mountain Top, and went into Red Hook for shopping and ate at Caribbean Steak House and Saloon. Food was very good - one of the best salads I've ever had in terms of freshness and taste. Quote of the trip came from our server - when I inquired about all the boats anchored in the bay, he replied they were Moorings and most were there because people lived on them. "Think of it as a floating trailer park" was his response - cracked me up.

Day 4 - We rented a car from Budget (which was great in my opinion, not like some others have complained about) so that we could take the barge over to St John and explore the island. On our honeymoon we took a day sail to Honeymoon beach and thought it was beautiful. This time we wanted to see more of the island. First of all, the car barge was a nightmare, We were stuck behind a semi with questionable brakes, and 2 dump trucks that weren't much better. The winds were so high, and the sea was a little rough that everytime we hit a wave I was sure we would be either crushed by a dump truck or pinned under a semi. Finally we arrived, and of course had the same issue with having a hard time following the map like we did on St thomas. Somehow we ended up on a road that literally was a 75 degree climb, followed by a blind hairpin turn and after about 30 minutes in a drive my husband describes as "harrowing" reached our destination - Coral Bay. Now, I wanted to go there because other reviewers described it as a "quaint" little village with shops and really cool restaurants. Ah, yeah - I wouldn't describe 2 one room shacks surrounded by rusted out, broken down cars and malnourished goats and donkeys wandering on the roads (some seemed aggressive) as "quaint", but that's just me. I expected to see a toothless hillbilly with a shotgun at any moment. We must not have been the only ones who found this place scary, because there was a lot of traffic leaving, but not much going there. We turned around and got out of there as soon as we could. Back on the harrowing road again, we finally ended up in Cruz Bay. No problem, I tell hubby, this is where all the action is. That is if you can find a place to park. There were some nice shops I would have liked to go into, but with about 10 parking places in the whole area we gave that plan up quickly. We spent the next 20 minutes circling around trying to find our way back to the car barge - we even stopped a uniformed security guard who had trouble giving us directions. Finally we found the barge and although we didn't have the semis on board this time, the trip was pretty rough, and by the time we landed back on St Thomas I had such a headache and nausea, that I spent the rest of the day in bed. Yeah - I could have done without that experience. My suggestion is that if you want to go to St John, take a day sail, or the passenger ferry and walk to the shops. It just isn't the place to drive in my opinion. We did order a pizza and salad from Senor Pizza that night and it was excellent - in fact we ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Day 5 - We decided this was the day to just hang on the beach under a nice shade tree. Our condo owner pays for the services on the beach, so we had 2 really nice lounge chairs they set up. I read and hubby enjoyed the ocean. Nice relaxing day, if not a little boring. We ate at Amigos in Red Hook that night and it was very good, but so much food! Again we ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Day 6 - Decided we wanted to hang by the pool (but in the shade) and I really wanted to swim in the pool. But the water was so cold it was really uncomfortable. The only thing swimming were the numerous ducks around the property. Guess you can't keep them out of the pool, and it was funny to watch them protect their territory.

Last day - we packed up and decided to shop in Havensight since our flight didn't leave until 4pm. We really enjoyed this area and picked up some things for the family. Decided to eat lunch at Tickles in Crown bay and it was really good and relaxing sitting and watching the yachts come and go. Hubby remarked we should have stayed on that side of the island to begin with.

Got to the airport 3 hours early which was way too soon - we got our boarding passes, went through customs and security in about 20 minutes. I know others have said it really gets backed up, but we had no problems at all. It was ok, because I enjoyed looking in the shops at the airport and bought a few more things. Overall, we found the island a little more rundown than the first time we visited, enjoyed our time (with the exception of the St John experience) but probably won't visit again. We have been to other islands (Bahamas and Puerto Rico) and I have traveled for business fulltime to places in the US most people don't even know exist, so I'm not some bumpkin that has never been anywhere. We just prefer some place that is a little more well maintained with modern amenities - St Thomas is not that place in our opinion.

A couple of items of note:

Cellphone coverage - my Verizon smart phone was a paper weight the whole week - no service to get e-mail or the internet, much less make a call. Hubby's Sprint phone worked just like we were at home. So if you have verizon, don't worry about international calling fees - there isn't any service for anything.

Rental car - as I said we rented from Budget and had no problems. It also wasn't that difficult for my husband to adjust driving on the opposite side of the road, What was a problem was the lack of road signs, and the maps that are basically useless. I know everyone says that taxis are expensive, but for just 2 of us I think we would have preferred that to wandering around lost most of the time. I'm not sure if it would have cost more than the car fee and gas but it would have caused less stress and frustration.

The other thing to consider is that while we were there in the "low" season, there was hardly any parking anywhere we went (with the expcetion of Havensight). I can't imagine what it must be like during the busy season.

West Frankfort...
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1. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

Thanks for your report and your honesty - I have been gathering info for our upcoming trip and taking the car or people ferry to st John was one of our quandaries

St. Thomas
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2. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

Thank You - I was really hoping you would post your impressions of the VI - no one inferred you were a bumpkin, [that I read anyway,] and for sure there are better maintained destinations around the world, no doubt, maybe look into Mustique for a Caribbean vacation if you come down this way again.

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3. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

The car barge is a little tricky. One thing you could have done is get out of your car and sit up top to get away from the trucks. To me it's always an adventure.

I still have no idea how you got lost on a small island for 2 hours. I also think that the maps are good here...oh well.

Thanks for the trip report. We're here now at sapphire. Perfect weather. Heading out to Coki and Secret Harbour for snorkeling today.

St Thomas
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for St. Thomas
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4. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

I don't know why you assumed that your trip report would be met with "insults and wrath" so the preface wasn't necessary but, all in all, it sounds as though you had a reasonably nice vacation even though it wasn't exactly what you'd expected. Thanks for taking the time to write and I'm sure your many comments will be very helpful to other visitors. I should note that you really weren't here during "low season". Sliding down to it but not there quite yet!

Schaumburg, IL
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5. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

Thanks for taking the time to share your impressions in a trip report. We are planning our first trip and it's hard to get a handle on what to expect. Happy travels!

St Thomas, VI
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6. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

The car barge is better on weekends, because there are fewer deliveries to businesses, so fewer big trucks.

Los Angeles, CA
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7. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

Thanks for the good information.I going next week and will definately take the ferry to St. John's Island!

New Jersey
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8. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

I did not think your trip report was out of bounds. The car barge is quite an adventure. I do agree with Connie though, you should always get out of your car and head uptop for the views and a smoother ride.

I am curious as to why you never swam in the ocean at Sapphire? Perhaps you did but neglected to put it in your report? I use the pool at Sapphire very infrequently. Maybe 15 minutes a day and that is mainly because my kids want to go in it. It is usually colder than the ocean and it is exasperated by the fact that it is on a very windy part of Sapphire.

North Pole, New York
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9. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

Thanks for the report, always enjoy reading of others experiences where we've also been!

Sorry to hear of your bad day on STJ, we're looking forward to visiting Coral Bay for our first time based on descriptions from friends who stay there every year and obviously your description wasn't encouraging! Cruz Bay is a great spot to shop and enjoy lunch, it is unfortunate you couldn't take the time to see that area.

We loved the pool at the Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina, it was chilly in April but refreshing. I spent more time sitting in a pool lounge with a Carib and staring at the sapphire-colored water and STJ while my wife enjoyed the pool though.

We enjoyed the Sapphire as you did and hope to stay there following future trips to the BVI. We too have visited other destinations that are more "cosmopolitan", if you will, and STT is not really on that list. But it is a very nice island that makes the BVI easily accessible and that's why we will return. For a "place that is a little more well maintained with modern amenities" there are definitely better destination and resort choices like Sandals, Iberostar and RIU resorts and non-AI options as well. But glad you were able to have some good moments while there!

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Trip report - May 19 - 25

First time there 5/25 - 6/1. Agree with you about the maps and road signs. But I wouldn't be without a car. We never got lost for very long. The narrow and steep roads were a little challenging. Blew the left side driving a couple times but no big deal. I had a tendency to return to the right side when all alone on a road. We were able to visit Drakes seat, Great House, Mountain Top, Magens Bay, Iggies, Room with a View, Coral World, Havensight, Ritz, Red Hook a few times and an all day excursion out of Red Hook to BVI. Cabs are expensive. We took one once to party in Red Hook. They charge per person. Even if (like us) their are only 2, they will wait for more fares (and not just to your destination so you may have additional stops if your not 1st). Always the same price per person regardless of the amount of passengers. Marriott Frenchman's to Red Hook $20 per person R/T without tip. We rented from Hertz. They don't tell you; 1) you can't take the ferry and 2) if you choose the gas option you will be charged for a full tank after 100 miles. We returned the car after 118 mi. a little over a half tank but charged for a full tank. We wish we had the car on St Johns to see more of the island and snorkel there also. We will rent a car next time but not from Hertz.