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First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

Wisconsin
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First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

So we leave on the 5th and could not be more excited! We have never been to the Virgin Islands before, and the pictures alone make me believe we won't want to leave! I just have a few general questions that I would love some insight to:

1- Snorkeling...if we have never been, does it makes sense to take a tour? Or, should we buy the stuff here and bring it with us so we can snorkel whenever we want? Any advice?

2- Water shoes...does it make sense to bring them along?

3-By the time you take a taxi from St. Thomas to the ferri, take the ferri, take a taxi to the hotel...about how much does it run for two?

I would also love any tips you have for us as we make our first trip! Thank you so much for your time and replies!

New England, USA
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1. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

We are heading down there for the first time on Saturday. Rented snorkeling gear for the week from www.divelowkey.com

They have prescription masks, which I need.

I would think water shoes would be a very good idea. I've read a lot about rocks in the water and approaching some beaches.

CT
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2. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

If you have never snorkeled before, I would recommend that you rent equipment on island. If you reserve in advance from Low Key, you get a discount.

I would start recommend that you go to Trunk Bay the first time. There is a $4 entrance fee, but there are lifeguards and a snorkeling trail. If you get scared, you can rent a snorkel vest there to help you with floating.

The entrance to almost every beach on STJ is all sand. I have never needed water shoes

Prices vary depending on how many in your party and how many bags

The ferry ride from Red Hook to STJ is about 15 minutes

Ferry and Taxi rates are posted here:

vinow.com/stthomas/…

vinow.com/general_usvi/interisland_ferry/#St. John Passenger Ferry: Red Hook to Cruz Bay

vinow.com/stjohn/getting_around_stj/taxi.php

remember you will need cash for taxis and ferry rides

Have a great trip!

Pennsylvania
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3. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

How exciting for you!

To answer your questions -

1. Snorkeling came easy to me as a 22 yo. A few years later, it took my husband a couple of minutes to get comfortable but then he was fine. Any of the dive shops on STJ are a good source for rentals or purchases.

If you do go on a tour, I would recommend Capt Phil on Wayward Sailor. He got two of my very uncomfortable friends in the water and loving snorkeling after a few minutes of instruction. The dive shops may also have recommendations for an instructional outing.

I would first try it out on your own at a nice calm beach like Maho where you can easily stand on the sandy bottom and just put your face in the water to get the feel of breathing through the snorkel.

2. If you have water shoes, take them but I don't think they are necessary for most of the off the beach snorkeling spots like Maho, Francis, Hawksnest, etc.

3. Transportation costs will depend on how many bags you have (both the taxi and ferry charge by the piece) and where you are staying on STJ.

Ohio
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4. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

1. If you've never snorkeled before I would not invest in gear (yet). You can rent everything you need by the day or for the week from LowKey or Cruz Bay Watersports. I think it's about $40/wk for mask, snorkel & fins.

2. If you have water shoes, bring them. Most beaches have a sandy entry, but not all. I have sturdy sandals that are good for hiking and can be worn in the water. I wear them to dinner too.

3. Taxi time from airport to Red Hook ferry can be between 25-45 minutes depending on traffic and how many stops you make along the way. FYI - the taxis are large 11 passenger vans and they will be filled before you leave the airport. Fare is $11pp + $2.50/bag + tip. Ferry is $6pp + $2/bag. Ferry ride is 15-20 minutes. Have your camera handy. Taxis will be waiting at the dock when you arrive in Cruz Bay. You didn't say which hotel you are staying, but if it's the Westin, the taxi will be $5pp and it's about an 4-5 minute ride.

Have you reserved a jeep for your stay?

Wisconsin
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5. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

Thank you all for the responses! A few things I left out - we are staying at the Westin, there will be two of us each with two small bags (we plan to carry on), no experience with snorkeling - but really excited to give it a try! We don't own water shoes, but wasn't sure if we would use them if purchased.

Syracuse
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6. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

With carry on, there's no need to waste space with water shoes. But a sandal with a strap (like tevas, keens) will be good for hiking/walking.

Cary, North Carolina
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7. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

Agree! We are staying at the Westin in a Villa in June for a week. We've been to St. Thomas 3 times and only to St. John for day trips, so we are excited to spend a week on STJ! It's just my husband and I, and we typically carry on our clothes and bring one checked big suitcase with snacks/coffee/dry goods for the condo and our snorkel gear/towels, beach stuff. I am investing in Tevas or something along those lines for this year so I can hike or hit up some of the rockier beaches comfortably. It's all very casual down there, but I like to wear sundresses for dinners out, maybe 1 pair of wedges, but probably just pretty flip flops. We have bought our own inexpensive snorkel gear, and don't mind bringing it along to have. We like the option of being able to bring it to whatever beach we're checking out. We did a snorkel tour out of St. Thomas one time, the Fury, huge sailboat--that was pretty good, got a great lunch and we saw sea turtles, might be a good choice for a first time visit. We are excited to try Waterlemon Cay on STJ-which is where we've heard is the best, but you have to be a fairly strong swimmer we hear too! Trunk Bay sounds pretty tame for first timers and equally pretty. Plenty of good options to eat on St. John (we probably won't eat at the hotel much)--sad to hear about Cafe Roma though--were really looking forward to it! We're considering a Jeep as opposed to a scooter as well to get around. I trust my hubby driving a scooter (we did once on our day trip), but for a whole week, might be another story! Ferry travel is pretty inexpensive, should be less than 60 bucks for the both of you--ferry/taxi/tip together, we are doing that rather than the Westin Ferry as we've read that it has a pretty specific schedule and we want to get there faster!!. We have a GREAT boat captain that we plan to go out with to see the British Virgin Islands (Jost Van Dyke for Soggy Dollar & Foxy's! The Caves on Virgin Gorda)--Alex Poe with SunSea Charters. (sunseavi.com) He is AWESOME! Worth bringing your passport and going for the day! (My photo was taken on his boat at Sandy Spit-notice the BIG smile!)Have a great time, jealous you guys are going sooner!

Pia
St John, VI
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8. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

Just remember not to step on the coral and watch that you don't accidentally kick the coral with your flippers - you will love snorkeling :)

Pia

ps: welcome to STJ :)

Ohio
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9. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

Autumn - leave your towels at home. They will be provided. Reserve a jeep now for your entire stay. You are nuts if you rent a scooter! Just my opinion..... You will be taking more stuff to the beach staying on island vs a day trip. Snorkel gear, beach chairs (also provided by the villa), cooler (provided) with lunch and beverages....

Have a great time!

Wisconsin
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10. Re: First trip to St. John - a few newbie questions :)

Has anyone done parasailing on the island? Something else we wanted to try...