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St John without a Vehicle

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Orillia, Canada
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St John without a Vehicle

I am considering travelling solo to St John with the main goal being to snorkel. I do not drive. My questions are:

1)Is it possible to get to what are apparently some of the better snorkelling spots like Waterlemon

and Whistling Cayes without a vehicle? For instance could I take the Vitrans bus which I think runs up Centerline Road and then walk over to the coasts on trails or roadways? (I don't mind a 2 mile walk each way)

2)Would hitchhiking be a safe and feasible way to get to the better snorkel spots?

3)How much would a taxi be if I stayed in Cruz Bay to get to some of the better snorkelling spots?

4)Are there any clean, quiet hotel type accomodations in Cruz Bay for under $200/night and if so which one would you recommend?

Thanks in advance for your assistance in helping me to determine if St John is a feasible island for me to travel to.

St. John
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1. Re: St John without a Vehicle

1) First off I wouldn't depend on Vitran for anything at all whatsoever. Their posted schedule is nowhere near reliable. You can easily get to and from Waterlemon by taxi or by hitchhiking (witch is a legal and safe way to transport here). One suggestion would be to plan on leaving Waterlemon by 3-4 because once the taxis leave from out there you can get stranded. Whistling Cay is not accessible from the mainland, you would at least need to go on a kayak tour to get out there. I think they have them leaving from Maho Bay Campgrounds.

2) Answered in one. Yeah, hitchicking is all good.

3) Here is a link to taxi rates to bascially everywhere from Cruz Bay...http://www.vinow.com/stjohn/getting_around_stj/taxi.php#rates

4) What time of year are you planning on coming down? My first suggestion would be The Tamarind Inn. You could also try Cruz Bay Boutique.

Sound like you are travelling down here with an awesome mindset and will undoubtedly have a blast.

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2. Re: St John without a Vehicle

My mom is a hiker and would regularly walk from Gibney to Trunk and back again before breakfast so I know it is possible and that some people really enjoy walking but something important to keep in mind is the roads are very, very steep in spots so the two miles on the map will feel much longer on foot. The change in elevation is pretty significant. I think the inclines over the switch backs are 17 degrees, maybe more. Also, there is no shoulder at all, you will be sharing the pavement.

Don't rely on the bus. Locals will tell you it runs infrequently or not at all. More than once, we have given locals rides because the bus stopped running.

People do hitchhike. We have picked up hitchhikers. Is it feasible? I wouldn't do it but to each their own.

The taxis don't like to run past Maho. From what I understand, they are suppose to take you wherever you want to go but generally resist travelling over towards Coral Bay. The fare would be around $14-$15 to Annaberg each way.

There a several options in Cruz Bay in that price range. Grande Bay comes to mind. There is a new small hotel called something like St. John Boutique. I personally haven't stayed in Cruz Bay but I am sure someone will chime in with more suggestions.

Long Valley, New...
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3. Re: St John without a Vehicle

If you end up staying in Cruz Bay, please also consider snorkeling right at Gallows Point. We have stayed at Gallows several times, and the snorkeling is actually quite good there (even compared to Waterlemon Cay, Salt Pond, Francis Bay, etc.) Good snorkeling both to the right towards Cruz Bay, and to the left and around into Frank Bay (and out to the point).

St Thomas, VI
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4. Re: St John without a Vehicle

You should stay at Maho Campgrounds if you're coming before they close next spring, especially if you don't drive. I think the shuttle from Maho to Cruz Bay is $8 pp each way.

Waterlemon is pretty easy to get to from Maho if you're a walker/hiker. There's also a shuttle (additional fee) that takes you to and from Cruz Bay, and offers tours to Coral Bay and other parts of St John.

You'll also meet other people easily if you stay at Maho.

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5. Re: St John without a Vehicle

I think you could get to Waterlemon without a problem. It was the best snorkeling we had. We saw several taxis there for the ruins until later in the day. I think the issue is always going to be how do you get back to Cruz Bay when you are ready to go? The later in the afternoon you stay, your chances for a ride go down. During our stay, we saw no hitch hikers. Not to say there were none out there, we just didn't see them. The roads have no shoulders or very limited shoulders, as others have said. So, hiking to any beach further than say Gallows, Salomon, or Honeymoon would be tough.

One thing you could do is rent a dinghy. We didn't do this but saw others that did. You could hit a bunch of good snorkel spots this way. I don't know if they rent solo though. And speaking of, I would try to find a "buddy' once you are on island. In diving you learn to never dive alone, and even with snorkeling I think the same would apply.

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6. Re: St John without a Vehicle

I second MS411's suggestion of Maho Bay Camps (assuming they are not sold out through the end, which they may be). Another inexpensive and convenient option would be the "cottages" at Cinnamon Bay Campground. It's one of the few lodging choices on STJ that is walking distance from a sandy beach, yet it's the cheapest place you can stay. Rates range from $85-$160/night, depending on the season and the cottage location. Incidentally, if Cottage #10 is available, pay the extra $20 and grab it! That one is literally ON the beach, a stone's throw from the water.

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7. Re: St John without a Vehicle

I concur with the campground advice, if camping is your bag! Maho, especially, seems to have a very congenial vibe and I know I've seen planned outings on an announcement board there, which is something that Cinnamon Bay didn't have when we stayed there. Also, at Maho, you have access to several good beaches within walking distance.

St. Thomas
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8. Re: St John without a Vehicle

Tamarind Court, Samuels cottages, Estate Lindholm, Star Villas all Cruz Bay less expensive options.

Hitchiking [daytime] is common and easy - find a roadside location that makes it easy to STOP and pick you up.

Maho Bay and Harmony studios are great non hotel style options - easy to meet like minded travelers there too.

There is no need for a cabin at Cinnamon - the tents they have set up are comfortable for 1 or 2 and practically beachfront.

Whistling Cay is swim-able from Mary Point if you cross Fungi Passage in a convoy with some kayaks and swimmers. It is a LONG swim both ways along the shoreline N. from Francis Bay. Tag along with other snorkelers if possible.

The guided hike to Reef Bay from the NPS center in Cruz Bay is excellent.

Solomon, Honeymoon and Frank Bay are walkable from Cruz Bay and good snorkeling.

Very possible to have a wonderful solo vacation in STJ w/o a car - the North shore beaches will be easily explored in a week and the others saved for another visit.

The Coral Bay area is reachable by Vitran if you get lucky one day - plan on hitching a ride home though.

Edited: 20 November 2012, 00:19
Sarasota, Florida
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9. Re: St John without a Vehicle

Stay in Cruz Bay so you can check out the different places to eat, the bars, and entertainment. How about the Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel? Gallows will be too expensive for you. but that's where I would stay if I was alone. Staying in Cruz Bay will give you easy access by taxi to some great beaches as mentioned already. I think you will be able to do Waterlemon and at the very worse will have to hitch back to town. Without a car I think you'll have difficulty getting to the East End, Salt Pond. I do not know the exact taxi prices. I think St John is feasible for you.

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10. Re: St John without a Vehicle

Re tents at Cinnamon Bay: we took a peek at them when we stayed in a cottage there. The tents are big and in a quieter location than the cottages, but they have no electricity. The cottages have minimal electricity, but enough to run one big fan that is mounted up high and sweeps back and forth across the whole room. This makes all the difference when you are trying to get to sleep at night, IMHO. It's hot down there at sea level.

We also stayed at Maho Bay Camps once, and that was a blast. You definitely don't need a car if you do that - there is an activity center where you can sign up for all sorts of trips that either include transportation or depart from the beach at the bottom of the stairs. There sure are a lot of stairs, though.