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considering visit to St. John

philadelphia, PA
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39 posts
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considering visit to St. John

We've travelled to the Caribbean several times in the past, and are considering vacationing on St. John this year. I'd like to get some feedback, particularly from you St. John "regulars," on whether the island would be a good fit for us. We're intrigued by the hiking possibilities in the national park, but our passions generally lie in finding good beaches and enjoying good restaurants. We're not really keen on crowds or nightlife, so our island travels have been to places that are on the quiet side, with less of a tourist flavor. I'm eager to hear what you all think. Thanks in advance....

Rockwall, Texas
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1. Re: considering visit to St. John

There are lots of GREAT beaches IMO on St. John! I'm a beach girl, myself! One of the things I LOVE about St. John is the lack of crowds. We stayed at the Westin our first time there and the other times have rented houses on the Coral Bay side . . . very quiet and laid back! Donkeys and goats roam and it is just generally lovely! My husband and I like to eat . . . and as we've grown older we've gotten pickier. We only frequent restaurants we enjoy here in Dallas. We are not gourmet foodies, however. Anyway, we have enjoyed most all of our meals on St. John. You have to rent a jeep to do St. John right!Visit a couple of different beaches each day. We pack up our ice chest and snorkel gear and head our. Oh, and one of my favorite things: the snorkeling, in generally calm water! I LOVE SJ, along with Kauai because of their quaint laid backness!

Ohio
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for Cruz Bay
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2. Re: considering visit to St. John

We love St John! I've been going since 1991. (I think it was the 3rd or 4th trip that I finally took hubby). There is plenty of hiking, LOTS of beaches and restaurants in all price points.

Beaches - if you go early you will have most any of them to yourself. Later in the day, we pick our beach by the number of cars in the parking lot. But even then, none of the beaches are that crowded. You will never be on top of one another. Be aware that none of the beaches have beach chairs or umbrellas (although I think maybe you can rent chairs at Cinnamon). STJ is a DIY island. Pack up your beach bag, chairs & a cooler and head out. I need shade and almost always have no trouble finding a spot. We usually pack our lunch in the cooler, but it's a short drive back to Cruz Bay from the North Shore beaches if you want to have lunch out. You can also find food on the Coral Bay side of the island if you're over there. Just not as many options.

Restaurants - PLENTY to choose from. Everyone has their favorites. We also like to cook/grill at our villa and have dinner on the deck while enjoying the view.

Nightlife - Our idea of nightlife is gazing at the stars from the deck. Really love it when the villa has a telescope!

Get a copy of St John: Feet, Fins, and 4WD by Pam Gaffin. It's an excellent reference book.

Boston
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3. Re: considering visit to St. John

Not much more to add to the above other than we can compare it to St Martin, Jamaica, Anguilla, and St Lucia and STJ still wins. We love snorkling which is best right from the shore (unlike most other islands), laid back beaches, flip-flop living and great food. We also hike and have done most of the hikes on STJ. You'll be happy. Stay on the Coral Bay side for the quiet although the Cruz Bay side is still quieter than some islands in general. Lots of cute little villas. You MUST rent a 4 wheel drive car well in advance so write that down:) Also know that you have the option of day trips to the British Virgin Islands which are even more laid back. Enjoy!

philadelphia, PA
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4. Re: considering visit to St. John

Thanks all for the input thusfar.... I've read that cruise ship day-trippers visit the Trunk Bay area, but that cruise ships don't actually dock at St. John. We've previously chosen to visit islands that don't have cruise ship dockings, like Anguilla, so I'm wondering how those visits change the dynamic on St. John. Any comments?

I will be picking up Pam Gaffin's book!

CT
Destination Expert
for St. John
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5. Re: considering visit to St. John

Cruise ships don't change much at all for STJ. Daytrippers will come over either on a boat, directly to the beach or on a ferry and will take a taxi to Trunk Bay.

In most cases you will not notice them at all, unless you choose to go to Trunk on a day when there are several ship in St Thomas or are in town about 45 minutes before the ship ferry brings them back.

East Coast
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6. Re: considering visit to St. John

When we were visiting St. John last May there were no cruise ships that week. Just check the schedule in advance and don't go to Trunk Bay on those days if they will be there during your stay. I am sure someone here will have the link for the cruise ship schedule for you.

It was our first visit there so I cannot give any insight how it would of changed our trip had they been there. I would assume that you would avoid Trunk Bay and maybe Cruz Bay for that day in case they get taxi's to the shopping and dining there.

Based on how you say like to travel St. John sounds perfect you. It was our first trip to the Caribbean and it totally spoiled us. We have looked at other islands and keep coming back to wanting St. John. This next trip we want 10 days because 7 days was not enough. We did not go hiking and we want to be able to do that and island hop for the day this next trip. We stayed on the Coral Bay side and loved quiet it was there. We had several days that we did not even leave the villa because the view was so spectacular. The restaurants that we tried were fantastic and casual. At one we saw just caught grouper being brought in then later ordered that for dinner.

If you have any questions for a first timer let me know. I would be happy to help you in any way I can.

philadelphia, PA
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7. Re: considering visit to St. John

Thank you all very much for your prompt input. It sounds like the Coral Bay area might be where we'd want to look for a rental, though the thread here re: the VRBO snafu opens up a whole new can of worms...!

CT
Destination Expert
for St. John
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8. Re: considering visit to St. John

VRBO is a great site, you just have to be dilligent and smart.

Find a villa that you like and then look for reviews on other sites.

Try and determin who the on island manager is, so you know who your contact will be on island.

Ask questions here! Many of us have been around the block a time or two when it comes to renting villas, so we are happy to help!

Maryland
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9. Re: considering visit to St. John

Agree that VRBO is a great site, but know that there are at least a half-dozen very reputable on-island management companies with villas to choose from that don't appear on VRBO...

Take your time and have fun searching!

Corydon, Indiana
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10. Re: considering visit to St. John

Technically there are a few cruise ships that call at St. John. They tender in to Cruz Bay. They are the smaller ship cruise lines with less than 450 passengers (Silver Sea, Seabourn, and Windstar). You are not going to notice an uptick in people on the island when these ships are in port.