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First Timer Trip Report - Long

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Chicago
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First Timer Trip Report - Long

Early wake up call on 05/21 and a 3:30 am cab pick for a 5:45 flight from ORD to Miami, and then on to STT. Flights were on time and uneventful (the best kind). Hopped in a cab for Red Hook, very friendly cab driver, answered questions about the island. Took the 4 pm ferry and picked up our jeep from Conrad Sutton. After hearing the horror stories I was prepared for a nightmare, but the ladies working were friendly and helpful. No problems whatsoever. More on the jeep later…..

Met the property manager at Dolphin Market and then on to Anchorage Aweigh. Diving on the left, I found to be quite easy, however, the steepness of the roads are not done proper justice by pictures. WOW. A little freaky the first couple times headed up Seagrape Hill, but became fun by the end of the week.

Anchorage Aweigh was great. Awesome Coral Bay views and great pool and outdoor living space. Really liked the place and much preferred the Coral Bay side. That side of the island fits us to a T. I was up every morning around 6, made my coffee and breakfast, while enjoying the sunrise over the harbor. I think I stayed up until 10 pm maybe twice. I’ll do a full review on the villa sometime this week.

Beaches we hit (in order)

Trunk – Did this the first day to keep it simple. Gorgeous. Beach wasn’t overly busy as I don’t think there were any cruise ships in. Not quiet, but not jammed. I forgot my snorkel gear, so I rented some. Not a bad snorkel. Was better on the right side of the island, as I think less people go over there.

Francis – Parked off the road and walked the trail in. Serious tactical error here, by not putting on bug spray for the walk in. We got ravaged. Never had skeeters bite through my swim trunks before! Ended up with 10 bites on my a…., well, you can figure it out. I love how this beach is framed in by the hills. Good snorkel along the right side. Saw some huge Tarpon and a couple barracuda. Also swam over to that little pocket beach and Little Maho.

Cinnamon – Love this beach and the water. Love it. My favorite. Went all the way down the right had side as far as we could and sat amongst the black rock formations. Decent snorkel out by the island. Beach is a little louder and more active, but it wasn’t too bad. Some people had music, which is annoying, as the natural sounds of the beach are much better than music. Some rays patrolled the beach all day long.

Hawksnest – Also love this one. We had it by ourselves for 90 minutes in the morning, but then got pretty busy. Hadn’t heard much about this one in regards to snorkeling, but I thought it was great. Once you get out a ways, the reef in the center of the beach was very, very good. Saw some cuddlefish and a Nurse Shark, so that was cool.

Gibney – Swam over from Hawksnest and walked it for a little while. Nice little beach. Fairly busy, given the lack of parking.

Honeymoon – Parked at Caneel and walked their trail. It was raining when we got there, so we sat in the water and waited it out, and waited, and waited, and waited. After sitting in the rain for 4 hours we gave up. Which was too bad, as I really liked this beach. On the bright side, we snorkeled the reef between Honeymoon and Salomon and it was fantastic. Parrotfish everywhere, saw a group of 5-6 large Tarpon, stingray, and lots of great coral. Had a good but pricy lunch at Caneel.

Maho – stopped for a brief period to check it out. Not our thing with being so close to the road, but very pretty and looked like a great swimming beach.

In addition to the Honeymoon rainout, we got rained out another day, so we took a driving tour and gassed up the car.

Also did a day trip to the BVI on Bad Kitty. Highly recommend. The Baths were awesome, lunch at Cooper Island was fine, and Jost, well, yeah, I need to spend more time here next time! Loved it. Crew was great. Weather wasn’t really sunny, but the rain stayed away.

Places we ate:

Shipwreck Landing – Ate there twice, loved it both times. Great place

Aqua Bistro – Also ate there twice, good spot.

Island Blues – Only real poor service of the week and our table was visited by some giant roaches. Not one we’ll repeat.

Skinny Legs- Loved it. Great place. Would be epic with a water view. I know burgers and these are great burgers.

Tourist Trap – Went here on a rainy day, but wasn’t raining while we were there. His specialty drinks were great and the blackened grouper sandwich was great. Perfect spice to it.

Sweet Plantains – We ended there on curry night, which wasn’t the right night for us, as we don’t really like curry. I would eat there again, would just have to make sure it was a different night. Service was decent, but they wouldn’t let us sit outside as a group of 2. I understand that during busy season, but it was a quiet night.

Caneel – Had lunch here, pricy but our food was good and the bartender was very attentive.

Other observations:

Locals – We had a very good experience. Other than the ferry staff, everyone was very friendly. Conrad himself was working when we brought the car back and he was as friendly as can be. Joking around with everyone, despite it being quite busy and hectic. Got some parking help from a very friendly water utility employee that stopped to check a meter or something when we were looking for parking for our BVI trip.

Jeep Liberty – Not sure if we go kind of a bad one, but I did not like this thing, at all. Very bad response and very herky jerkey movement. Reverse barely worked, you had to rev it up to like 3000 rpm before reverse would do anything. Car had 18,000 miles on it. Not sure of that is a lot for a STJ rental car. Also had the turn radius of a school bus. After 2 quite comical attempts to turn the car around at the top of our villa’s driveway, we decided to just park at the bottom of the driveway and traverse Mount Anchorage Aweigh on foot for the rest of the week. That worked fine. Interior was in good shape and I will say that it did pretty well in the rain.

The Island – The pictures do not do the island justice. Absolutely stunning in its beauty. Weather wasn’t great overall, but what can you do. Can’t control it and we made the best of it and got to see almost all of the island through a nice driving tour. It was fairly buggy, but I expected that, given the recent rains.

We’ll be back to STJ. No doubt.

I’ll post a pictorial review on the other site.

Hackettstown, New...
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1. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Tremendous review....especially liked the in-depth beach reports. We will be in STJ in November and I will bookmark your post. Thanks for sharing!

St. Louis, MO
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2. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Great trip report! We are making our first trip to St. John in a little over 2 weeks. Your report was very helpful as we are also staying in Coral Bay!

Chicago
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3. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Forgot something.

We used Ali from Villa Food and I would highly recommend her. Everything was accounted for and nicely put away by our arrival. I loved not having to hit the store for an hour after a long travel day.

Chicago
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4. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

For the first timer staying in Coral Bay. While I wouldn't shop there for the entire week, if you do need some items, I was impressed with the selection at Lily's Gourmet Market. It's in the shopping complex that contains Aqua Bistro. No need to run all the way back to Cruz Bay for a few itmes. Open until 10 pm.

After our Honeymoon Beach rainout, we were a little soggy and didn't feel like getting cleaned up, so we got a frozen pizza and Ben and Jerry's for dinner. We also picked up some more water. In my water usage calculations, I neglected to include bottled water for my morning coffee.

Didn't hit up the Love City Mini-Mart, but that is close too.

Yes, I did do water usage calculations, I'm crazy.

New Jersey
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5. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Loved your trip report, we are going to STJ for the first time in November as well. I love all the trip reports but really enjoy reading about the experience newbies have.

Looking forward to the snorkeling Salomon, we were planning that as our first day and planning to stay the whole day after stopping at the park service ranger station. Did you get there via the lind point trail if so how was the hike would carrying small cooler, chairs and snorkel gear be to much(hot, exhausting) for three active people? OOPS never mind just reread your report and see you went from Honeymoon via Caneel maybe that is what we will do.Thanks again.

Lisa,NJSU

Edited: 01 June 2010, 19:12
Chicago
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6. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

The Caneel option worked well. It was still a good 10-15 minute walk from the parking area. The lady at the security gate was very helpful in explaining what to do and where to go to get to the beach. We had planned on just getting a drink to cover the parking charge, but ended up doing lunch to kill some more rain time. Plus, we just kind of wanted to check out the Caneel grounds (lovely).

15 minutes was about as long of a walk that I wanted when carrying snorkel gear, a chair, a back-pack, and a cooler.

There were a few days trips that stopped to snorkel at Honeymoon, so I waited until they were done flopping around out there before heading out.

Despite the rain, visability was good.

Southern California
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7. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Great report. We arrive Monday for our first visit to STJ, and I was worried about the rain and mosquitoes. Glad the rain didn't slow you down too much. Good info. about snorkeling and restaurants. Thanks.

Pia
St John, VI
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for St. John
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8. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Hi there - sorry I didn't get a chance to say hi to you (I assume I checked you in for your trip on Bad Kitty) I'm glad you had a great day on your charter :)

Thanks for a great trip report - see you again next trip (and just let me know and I'll book your next Bad Kitty trip *wink* )

Pia

Charlottesville...
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9. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Great trip report!

What do you mean by "we used Ali from Villa Food"? Is that some sort of business that will stock your condo before you arrive??

Thanks!

Chicago
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10. Re: First Timer Trip Report - Long

Pia, that's my bad. I should have introduced myself, but I totally forgot.

Satchmoocat: Yes, Ali has a website www.villafoodvi.com. You basically pick off of a shopping list. She charges a fee and delivers and puts away your groceries. It was very nice.

I hate grocery shopping in general and espcially after 13 hours of traveling.