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Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

Boston
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Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

We are going to be on St. John from Nov 2nd to 9th with our twin 3-year-olds. This was decided on short notice so I am trying to look into things quickly and choose accommodations etc.

From what I can tell, Maho Bay is the best beach for toddlers, plus I like the thought that we could be car-free and just take the shuttle when we want to go to Cruz Bay. So we were tending toward staying at Maho Bay eco-camps, but now I've read so many reviews that warn about the bugs, the stairs, the shared bathrooms, etc. We (the adults) are used to roughing it but I'm thinking all those stairs don't sound like a great idea for small kids. Also I'm not sure if they're safe (?).

Any thoughts on any of that, or recommendations for other places to stay? We like laid-back places that feel real, not resort-y, and we'd like to be close to hiking trails and the beach. Walking distance to a restaurant that serves light, healthy food is also a plus.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!!

CT
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for St. John
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1. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

I can not imagine having toddlers at Maho, all those stairs would surely be a challenge

Northeast
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2. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

I'd lean more towards someplace like a child safe cottage, Grande Bay, or the Westin with two toddlers. I don't think Maho would be a good choice. There are lots of stairs, some with steep drop offs. I'd be worried about a child falling there.

Boston
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3. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

Thank you both -- Yes I did wonder if there were steep drop offs. That doesn't sound good. I think the nicer tent-cottages have their own bathrooms, so that at least eliminates having to deal with the steps to get back and forth from the bathroom. But I think they may be further from the beach, and I've heard that's a bit of a hike.

I appreciate the suggestions -- but I'm still hoping there might be places in the Maho Bay area, or maybe Hawksnest Bay, that are closer to our style. Not resort-y, not crowded etc. Our kids are nearly 4 and are pretty rugged, they traveled very well in Costa Rica and are used to a lot of hiking and camping. Are there other places in the style of Maho Bay Camps, but without all the steps, in the same general area?

Ohio
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4. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

How about a cottage at Cinnamon Bay Campground? They have a website: www.CinnamonBay.com

Water Island, St...
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5. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

The note below is from their web site:

Cinnamon Bay will be closed September 1 - November 4 and reopen November 5, 2012.

Rocky Dock

Water Island

kod
Sarasota, Florida
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6. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

I can't think of anywhere on St John that will meet your specifications of within walking distance to the beach and hiking trails, little steps, within walking distance to a restaurant, car free, and laid back. where you can take your toddlers ( except Caneel Bay). Otherwise, If you want St John, then you'll have to reconsider things. You'll need a jeep to visit other beaches esp with little kids as you'll want to take along a cooler, chairs, beach toys. You can drive to the hiking trails.

Miami Beach, Florida
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7. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

If there was something that met all those criteria, surely some people here would have found it (including myself). But alas, not all criteria can be met at once.

As a mother of two young children (3, 5) I would recommend Grande Bay. I can tell there is at least one unit open for your dates by checking Caribbean Villas website, you may also find more of VRBO.

Grande Bay offers you walking distance to town/food, Frank Bay beach, Soloman/Honeymoon beaches, and the park in town. Plus there is a pool.

A villa would be a good choice, but a vehicle would be a must.

Pennsylvania
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8. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

There are very, very few walk to a sandy beach rentals on STJ. Some rentals are advertised as close to a "beach" but do your research, most of these are rocky beaches that might not be great for little kids or even adults (like me!).

Maho has studio type of units (not tents) but you will still have the stairs to deal with coming and going to the beach. I would wonder about availibility at any of the Maho unit though.

Walk to the beach accomodations are almost non-existant unless you stay at Cinnamon (closed) Caneel or the Westin.

What is your budget?

We stayed right above Gibney Beach when our son was an infant. The walk is short and steep but doable. Check out Terrahawk, managed by Catered To. That location is very convenient to town.

There are two cottages on Gibney Beach. I think those start at $5,000 a week.

A rental vehicle is really necessary unless you are willing to stay at the Westin or Caneel and take cabs but with 4 people, you will spend a lot of money on cabs and if you do more than one trip a day, it will cost you more than a rental jeep.

At this stage in the game, I would recommend emailing your budget and list of must haves and would like accomodation requirements to several rental agencies and see what they have available.

We have travelled to STJ once or twice a year since our son was born and some places do have age restrictions on kids so make sure the rental agents know your kids' age.

Boston
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9. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

Thanks for all the good info, much appreciated. Yes, we have realized it would be good to rent a jeep, so we'll be doing that. I don't think our criteria are really too tough, Maho Bay would have worked fine without the problem of so many stairs (I read in one review, 87 steps to the bathroom!). There's what we'd like ideally and then there is what would work just fine!

We're pretty low-maintenance, don't take coolers to the beach (or toys, beyond what we can throw in a backpack). We'd be OK with a short drive to the beach, but would prefer to walk if possible. And yes we do want to be near the beaches that are more gentle and child-friendly. Being very near a good restaurant or cafe is important to us. I cook A LOT at home so I want to get out of the kitchen.. Budget is not a big issue for us right now.

Gibney Beach looks and sounds lovely, I will look into that. Thanks again for all the helpful info. I have a lot of emails/calls to make now..... : )

Pennsylvania
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10. Re: Where to stay with two toddlers on St. John

Have you considered Caneel? They are openning for the season in November and may have some room/breakfast deals. Yes, it is a resort but not in the traditional sense. It is very understated and low key. It was designed and built-in to blend into the landscape. No tvs or phones, very quiet. We split our stays between villas and Caneel. When at Caneel, we walk everywhere and just enjoy the beaches.

Unless there is rough weather, all of the North Shore beaches are gentle enough to your 3yos (assuming you are with them) We have been taking our son since he was 4 months old so we have experienced infant up through 7yo stages.

Maho is overall a great little kid beach because of the stable, shallow entry but the other beaches has good characterists too. Hawksnest has areas with some small rocks. Our son loved playing around them when he was younger. Francis also has an area off to the left (when facing the water) that has some small boulders that create fun play areas.

With the exception of Zozo's, all the the restaurants are kid-friendly. You won't necessarily find kid menus at every place (but I am guessing with your well-travelled little onese, they probably don't need a typical chicken finger diet) Requests for kid-size portions of the daily catch or scaled down versions of specials were always granted.

We really enjoy dining out in Cruz Bay (Coral Bay too) and there are lots of great options. What is great about Cruz Bay is that you can park and spend the rest of the night on foot. You will probably be able to find a rental within a 10 minute drive to town.

Are you taking carseats? We rented one last time and I was very disappointed - dirty, cracked base. I would recommend taking yours along.