Our family of four just got back from a fabulous week at St. Thomas (two teenage boys, hubby and me). Here is my trip report. I found it helpful to review information on the forums so hopefully there will be some tips here that may be useful if you are planning a trip.
TRAVEL - We left from the D.C. area and had to connect in San Juan - flight down was a little longer than expected because of storms along the East Coast - but overall it was uneventful. I strongly suggest packing light - just take carry on bags (so much easier). My kids and hubby all groaned when I said we were only doing carry on, but it was easy. Seriously, you don't need much, just shorts, bathing suits, flip flops and maybe one simple summer dress. I didn't realize the plane from San Juan to St. Thomas would be so small - only nine passengers total. I'm not crazy about small planes, but I survived and it's pretty cool to look out and see the island when you are flying so low.
RENTAL CAR: We rented from Hertz - located right there at the airport. It was easy and they had plenty of cars. You don't need a four wheel drive, although riding around in a jeep would have been more fun. My hubby did all the driving and I can't tell you how many times he had to keep saying "stay to the left, stay to the left" - we also got honked at A LOT! Not sure if we were just too slow, or people were just sort of annoyed or what, but we have never been honked at that much. The roads are quite curvy and some are steep. Did not seem all that safe to be walking along some of the roads.
ACCOMODATIONS: We stayed in a private condo rented through VRBO - If the owner doesn't mind, I'll post it for anyone who wants to know. It was on the East End at the Elysian Resort. It was a fabulous condo - very clean, modern and had everything we needed including an in unit washer and dryer which came in very handy. The beach here is extremely quiet and the water was perfect - did a little snorkeling and saw a very large barracuda just hanging out in the shallow water.
FOOD AND SUCH: - ok, if it hasn't already been mentioned - eating in St. Thomas is expensive. We stopped at the Food Center on the East End (right before we got to the condo) and bought a few items, but I almost freaked when I saw that a gallon of milk was $8.00. We did find the K-mart near the Tutu mall which was much more reasonable, but they didn't have milk there. We usually just ate cereal, bagels etc. for breakfast - then a light lunch and then out for dinner. We really enjoyed Latitude 18 - just a funky little place down a bumpy little road on The East End. Our waitress, Lulu, was great and the fried chicken was excellent. They have live music playing every night. We also tried Amigos in Red Hook - it was fine - nothing too exciting, but not terrible either. We ordered pizza from Senor Pizza (they deliver). We splurged on our last night and ate at the Caribbean Market located the Elysian Resort. It was probably one of the most expensive dinners we've ever had, but it was really good and when I think about being on the beautiful beach with my family, it really didn't matter to me how much we were spending. Also went over to the Ritz for lunch at Sails. Again, SUPER expensive ($30.00 for a cobb salad with shrimp)! but it was such a beautiful place I can't really be too upset about it.
ACTIVITIES: We went on a daysail with Captain Kathleen on Highpockets. This is small boat (she only takes out 6 people). Her first mate, Melissa, was wonderful. She took us over to St. John for snorkeling and we ended up at Hawks Nest Bay then to Honeymoon Beach. Both spots were excellent for snorkeling (saw an eel and decided that was enough - hate those creatures)! She fixed us a wonderful lunch and rum cake for dessert. Also had some champagne as the couple who were with us were celebrating their wedding anniversary - they had sailed with Kathleen when they got married on the island a few years ago. We also did the eco-tour - kayaking, hike and snorkeling. I really enjoyed this three hour tour. The snorkeling was fantastic and it was only our group of four plus another couple so we had the water all to ourselves. Our guide, Zulu, is super passionate about the environment and shared a lot of interesting information with us.
Shopping - sorry, can't really comment about this because when you travel with 3 boys, you don't always get to go shopping. We attempted to go to one shopping area, but because there weren't any cruise ships in port, most of the stores were closed and the thought of even going in to the Louis Vuitton store intimidates the heck out of me. My son went in to ask about a purse I saw in the window and reported back that is only cost $1500.That is just ridiculous to me!
BEACHES: - we went to Coki Beach and it was not quite what I expected - there were locals hanging out smoking weed right behind us and I felt like we were easy prey for the guys selling the chairs and food. There was a nice older woman offering to fix us fresh fish, but we passed and had some grilled cheese sandwiches instead. Snorkeling was good! Also visited Magens Bay - it was nice and a little crowded. On the way home we stopped for shakes at Udderdelight. I know they are just milkshakes, but they are really quite good and it's a fun way to end the day
II know this report is a little long and rambling - but I hope if you are planning a trip I have passed on a few tips that are worthwhile! Happy travels!