We just returned from our second trip to STJ in two years (we are truly in love with the island). We traveled with another couple and celebrated my husband's 38th b-day while on the island. We always keep a travel journal ... here are some highlights and updates!
Thur 4/24 we arrived on STJ by ferry from Red Hook. The new ferry terminal (wasn't finished when we were there last year) is very nice and even has a bar to help get you in the vacation mood while waiting for the ferry. Great weather, easy trip. After arrival on STJ, the husbands picked up the Jeep from Cool Breezes (good, easy experience with them, but they don't have much parking to use during your stay) and then went to Starfish to stock up on provisions for the house. The wives met the villa agent and headed up to Peter Bay to check in at Coco de Mer (we don't always splurge like this ... but it was worth it!). Coco de Mer is the first driveway inside the Peter Bay gate and sits high on the hill with an outrageous view of Peter Bay and Cinnamon Bay. I am still dreaming of sitting on the patio and watching the boats sail in and out of the bay. The villa is stunning and certainly has room for 4 couples (and would be more affordable then). After a quick unpacking, we went to dinner at Rhumb Lines. Wonderful atmosphere, excellent food (although every dish is extremely spicy, so order accordingly). The tuna dish was our favorite.
Fri 4/25 was my husband's birthday. He picked Gibney as his "beach of the day" so we made a stop at Deli Grotto for sandwiches and then parked ourselves on Gibney for the better part of the day. A little overcast, but the water at Gibney is always calm and this spot never disappoints. We spent the late afternoon lounging by the pool at Coco de Mer and then had sunset dinner at Asolare. The view was beautiful (would have been better w/o the overcast skies) and the service was very good. Fresh mahi mahi with crab mashed potatoes and a scallop on top was the favorite dinner pick. After dinner drinks at Quite Mon (we love to sit on the deck upstairs and watch the world of Cruz Bay go by ...).
Sat 4/26 we spent a wonderful day on Lion in 'da Sun with Captain Matt (we had spent two days on the water with Matt and his brother Captain Josh in 2007, and couldn't wait to get back to see our friends again). First stop was snorkeling at the Indians (always good), then we went to Smuggler's Cove on Tortola for drinks at the beach bar with Captain Stevens (runs his blender from a cord hooked to the battery on his Jeep, seriously). His "organic" drinks did not disappoint. Had a swim in the cove where the blue-green water was exactly the color you want the Caribbean to be. Lunch on Jost at Foxy's (roti always good) and sampled a few painkillers. Next stop Sandy Spit (no one told me the palm tree at the end of the island had blown down in rough weather ... we were so sad). We headed back to Jost for a stop at Soggy Dollar and a rest on the chairs while watching the boats come in and out of White Bay. Strolled down the beach to One Love where Seddy (son of Foxy) did some amazing magic tricks. Back to STJ in the nick of time to clear US customs before they closed. Picked up dinner at Uncle Joe's BBQ (delicious!), had dinner at home, and then fell asleep on the patio chairs at Coco de Mer.
Sun 4/27 we awoke to find it had rained hard through the night and the day started off stormy and cool. We lost power at the house and had to improvise our morning breakfast. We decided to brave the blustery weather and headed to Trunk Bay (exactly 2 minutes from our house!). We had the beach largely to ourselves in the morning and the sun came out pretty quickly. Snorkeled the trail, swam, worked on our tans. Headed back to the house in the afternoon and hiked down to Peter Bay (not a "walk" so much as a quick hike ... but easy to do). Great reef for snorkeling off to the left of the beach, but the water was still choppy from the storm. BBQ'd steaks at home for dinner.
Mon 4/28 another windy morning, but we are diehard beachgoers, so headed out early after a stop at Deli Grotto for lunch. Parked at Peace Hill for the hike down to Denis Bay. Lovely beach, but stormy water and a little rocky for swimming. We did see a guy writing out a marriage proposal in seashells while his girlfriend slept on her beach towel nearby. We hope she said yes! Did a little afternon shopping at Mongoose Junction (we ruined a camera while out boating on Saturday and had to replace it), then headed to the Beach Bar for drinks in the sand. Next stop Starfish for groceries (the new Starfish gourmet deli and wine shop across the hall from the main grocery is wonderful!). We did a brief tour around the south end of the island to show our friends where we had stayed the year before (La Bella Vita on Gifft Hill). After dropping our friends back at the house, my husband and I went to Trunk Bay (I told you we love the beach) for the late afternoon / sunset. We were all alone on the beach by 6 pm ... a truly amazing spot that must be one of the most beautiful sights on earth. Dinner at Morgan's Mango (really good mahi mahi again) and then Quiet Mon for nightcaps with the locals.
Tues 4/29 out the door after morning coffee on the patio by the pool, and the usual stop at Grotto for sandwiches. We hiked the Lind Point Trail to Salomon and ended up spending a full 8 hours on the beach. We loved it on our last visit, and weren't disappointed. The low, bending palm trees provide a picture perfect setting next to crystal clear, calm waters. Snorkeling to the right, between Salomon and Honeymoon, was some of the best we had during this trip. (Beware of the "clothes optional" habits on Salomon if you are easily offended.) the tennis player in our group played tennis at Caneel (open round robins on Tues and Thurs at 4 pm for anyone who wants to play). Another BBQ dinner at the house, followed by rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.
Weds 4/30 the tennis player in our group played tennis at Caneel again (clinics from 9-10 on Weds mornings). My husband and I had the breakfast buffet at Caneel while we waited for our friend ... good food but very spendy ($30/person). We spent the day by the pool at Coco de Mer, then went to Trunk for late afternoon / sunset swim (alone again!). We had dinner at Rhumb Lines again ... very good again. Nightcaps at Quiet Mon.
Thurs 5/1 we had a second trip on Lion in 'da Sun, this time with Captain Josh. First stop West End, Tortola for customs. We walked around the Sopers Hole Marina ... very charming and a great place to "window shop" for yachts! We went snorkeling for turtles at Newfound Bay at the end of STJ (saw just one). Next stop, snorkeling at the RMS Rhone shipwreck site ... really clear water and amazing views. Lunch at the Cooper Island Beach Club, a really nice spot and not as crowded/popular as some of the places on Jost. We had drinks at Pirates at the Bight on Norman Island (homemade "Pirates Punch" was a highlight), then stopped at the Willie T (they do still allow the jumping off the top deck, but aren't "encouraging" it with free t-shirts anymore). Next stop Smuggler's Cove for drinks with Patricia (apparently the ex-wife of Captain Stevens, see Saturday, above). She made a mean "Smuggler's Punch" that we will be trying to replicate back here oll summer. We had another amazing day with Captain Josh and we just can't say enough good things about these wonderful brothers who run Lion in 'da Sun ... such a class act, so knowledgeable about the islands, and just like spending a day with your good friends. Pasta dinner back at Coco de Mer, lounging by the pool in the evening, watching the boats sail in and out of the bay.
Fri 5/2 we had breakfast at the house and then made our pilgrimage to Deli Grotto for sandwiches (they really are very good). For our last day on the island, we all "voted" on which beach to visit for the day, and Salomon won in a landslide. We invented "Coco Bowl" on the beach, which invovles a coconut ball and some empty Caribe cans as pins ... we amused ourselves for several hours this way, in between swimming and snorkeling around the reef. We stopped at Starfish before going home, and made a last-night feast back at Coco de Mer ... trying to take in the amazing scenery for every moment of daylight.
Sat 5/3 my husband and I were nearly in tears as we packed our suitcases. We have also been to Anguilla and St. Lucia, but St. John is such a special place. It's full of charm, wonderful people and amazing natural scenery. It is also one of those places that "is what you make of it" - you can be adventurous and athletic or find complete peace and calm on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world ... all in the same vacation. We love this island and have already started making plans for 2009.
Happy to answer any questions about any of the above!