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St.John or St. Thomas

cleveland,oh
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St.John or St. Thomas

Last Christmas we went to the Caymans and loved it. This year we want to try St. Thomas or St. Johns. Just not sure which would be better. We are 4 adults who love the beach and love to snorkel. Please Advise! : )

PA
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1. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

Here's my humble opinion. St John, hands down. The two islands, although very close in proximity, are very different. St John is more laid back and low key. Great restaraunts,bars, but if you're looking for late nights dancing, you won't find it on St John. However, what you will find are too many amazing beaches to see in one trip, underwater life that is colorful and plentiful and locals that will welcome you. The island is 2/3 National State Park, so there is lots to explore, or do like we do and pack the cooler in the morning and find a beach to park and relax all day, snorkel and have a few drinks!! The vacation rentals are plentiful and we always spend at least half the evenings cooking and enjoying the views.

ok...nuff said.

I highly recommend reading the St. John Forum. There are a few "experts" that will be happy to answer any questions, and loads of past posts to read!!

Enjoy!!

Edited: 18 February 2010, 13:24
Elk Grove Village...
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2. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

I agree with everything that littlecoconut said. The one thing that I would add is that St. Thomas is just a short ferry ride away, so you would still have the ability to do the things you wanted on St. Thomas.

Boston...
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for St. Thomas, East End
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3. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

I love St. John, and visit either by boat rental, or by ferry, but I prefer to stay in St. Thomas.

I don't want to have to pack up and drive to a beach everyday the way most do in St. John. I prefer to just walk out the door and be on a beautiful beach. There are very limited options for beach property in St.John, because it is a National park. St.Thomas has many beach front units to fit most any budget and offers more choices for restaurants, activities, and trip options, not to mention the expense and necessity of another leg of your trip coming and going.

Just my opinion!

Sunny California
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4. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

I enjoyed staying in St. Thomas and driving over to St. John. St. thomas had good nightlife, bars, restaurants and shops, but St. John had awesome beaches, especially for snorkeling. St. Thomas also has some great snorkeling spots, but way more in St. John. We stayed near Redhook, so it was really easy to catch the ferry and go over to St. John.

On our 5 day trip, we went over to St. John twice... really enjoyed both islands.

Camano Island...
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5. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

If you are of pioneering spirit, stay in St. John. less populated much more relaxing. If you want to party and snorkel, then stay in Thomas and take the car ferry over to St. John for a day or two. We like to have a good time when we're out, but we usually get so beat during the day, our nightlife is pretty early so the bars in Cruz Bay suit us just fine!!! We like the laid back atmosphere of St. John better as well.

Seattle Area
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6. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

No comparison. If you want to explore a number of beaches and also want good snorkel sites, St John is the place. You will go via St Thomas, but try not to stop ... just get a ferry to St John for your stay. If you must stay a day in St Thomas, Magans bay is a great beach ... not great for snorkel.

You must have a car in St John. None are cheap. Only one gas station on the Island and it closes early evening!

The book St John Off the Beaten Track by Gerald Singer is a must for you. It shows all beaches and discusses snorkel areas in detail. It is a very easy drive between the many beaches on the North end. With 4 adults you might want a condo rental WITH A/C. If you have a little camper in you (can get by without A/C but like good rooms with a great view but having access to a bar and restaurant at night, consider the Concordia Studios (there are only about 4 of these units at Concordia). Far end of the Island. About 20 minute drive to the start of a around 20 miles of different beaches.

I would tend to avoid Cruz Bay ... the place you arrive from St Thomas ... except for getting provisions and getting you car. It does have the bulk of restaurants, however. Mild warning. Food on St John is a bit expensive. If you like wine... bring it with you, Very $$$ . But rum, gin, and other necessities of life are a reward.

Also, don't miss Annaberg on St John to learn about the sugar trade of earlier years and the understandable slave rebellion.

PS. Remember to drive on the left --- it takes only a few miles to get used to this. Also, the roads are narrow, can be steep, and windy. Beautiful views but until you drive them a bit, probably avoid nights. Goats and mules along the roads on the East End are common.

Hate St Thomas, greatly enjoyed St John.

Ohio
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for Cruz Bay
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7. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

I'll add my 2 cents. We have stayed on St John 17 times. We arrive on 4/22 for #18. We have made a couple of day trips to STT but find no need to again. STT is larger & MUCH busier. We perfer the laid back feeling on STJ. While Cruz Bay can get a bit congested at times because of the day trippers & cruisers from STT, we still stay on that side of the island. Just more convenient for us. We always go to the Coral Bay side at least 2 days during our 10-11 day stays. We usually rent a villa with a sunset view in the Great Cruz Bay or Maria Bluff areas, but have also rented 2x in Fish Bay and once on North Shore Rd.

We prepare most of our meals, but always stop in town for a couple of beverages after spending the day at one or more of the many beautiful beaches.

We have also been to Grand Cayman 6x's & Cayman Brac 1x. You will love STJ and be planning your next trip before you even leave.

Renting a villa with a pool for 2 couples is the way to go. There are many in all price ranges. Renting a jeep is a must so you can really explore the island. It's impossible to get lost!!!

Check www.stjohnusvi.com for lots a great info. If you decide to go then also get a copy of ST John: Feet, Fins, & 4WD.

cleveland,oh
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8. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

Wow lot's of great info. Thanks so much!!

Washington DC...
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for St. Thomas
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9. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

Okay...maybe another take on the two. I love them both -- for very different reasons. I also love the Caymans (which you mention visiting). St. Thomas is more like the Caymans in this way -- more resorts, more places to eat, more shopping, more "activities," etc. Jet skis (I don't like them, but St. Thomas has them), Coral World, the tram to Paradise Point, the Butterfly exhibit, St. Peter Great House and the Botanical Gardens. St. Thomas, like Beautiful Bill says, has LOTS more places, i.e. resorts/hotels, right on the beach.

That being said, possibly one of my favorite places in the whole world is St. John -- for all DIFFERENT reasons. Beautiful beaches. National park. Great hiking. Great snorkeling. Incredible scenery. IF you can afford to stay at Caneel Bay, by all means head to St. John without giving it a second thought. Seven beautiful beaches, great snorkeling right off the beach, beautiful sunsets, scenery, landscaping....it's all good. But expensive.

Otherwise, St. John is extremely limited in places to stay on, or even in walking distance, to the beach. The Westin has a beach, but it's not the naturally pretty ones you find along the north shore. The National Park has camping/cottage facilities, which are very nice, but they're not for everyone. The Estate Lindholm is a B&B a few minutes from Cruz Bay that sits on a hillside with a great view and a walk (20-25 minutes along the national park trail) to two beaches -- Honeymoon & Soloman.

Lots of villas on St. John but none on the beach. The roads are narrow, winding, sometimes not paved, some locations high on the hillside. Fantastic views and, if you don't mind driving each day to the beach, that's fine.

Bottom line (my opinion only): If I can afford Caneel, I go to St. John. If not, I go to St. Thomas and head to St. John for the day. I like to be on the beach...so it's all in the eye of the beholder!

Washington DC...
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for St. Thomas
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10. Re: St.John or St. Thomas

Also...you can check out my blog for pics/prose about the Virgins and the Caymans. (See "categories" in sidebar on blog)

http://katiepickardfawcett.wordpress.com/