We spent almost 2 weeks on St John this year, so I’m probably going to write this in 2 parts. Hopefully it will help people out with decisions on what (or what not) to do. We spend most of our time snorkeling, and when we eat out, it’s rarely at upmarket restaurants, so that’s what the report will focus on. Let me know if you have any questions.
This year our timeshare at the Westin ran from 4/21 to 4/28. We arrived on St John around 3pm on the 21st – about an hour late. We were renting from Dependable again this year, so called them and they sent someone out to pick us up quickly. We rented a jeep Wrangler for the entire stay. Pretty good price, and while the jeep was a bit weathered, there were no issues with it mechanically at all. The only issues might be since the jeep was older the softtop and sides were stapled together meaning we couldn’t remove the sides, and there wasn’t a back flap, meaning we couldn’t enclose the jeep. Was a little damp on the couple of occasions we got a shower, but unless there was a lot of rain, it was fine. And the dents and scrapes that were in the car already meant we didn’t have to worry too much about a few more. We’ll probably rent from them again next year. Stopped at K-Mart for rum and a few supplies and a beach chair for my wife, stopped again at the Food Center for more supplies and made the 5 pm ferry, so we made pretty good time from the airport. Met up with our daughter and her friend, who were staying with us for the Westin week, got checked into the timeshare, and had dinner at Joe’s Rum Hut on the Cruz Bay waterfront. Food decent and not too expensive. It’s pretty busy there at sunset, but we like it a little better than the Beach Bar.
Monday the 22nd we packed up in the morning and went to Francis. It’s always been one of our favorite beaches because it’s always sheltered. It was calm as expected, and we stayed there most of the day. My wife and I like to snorkel, and the shoreline out to Mary Point has always been a good spot for us, but this year the numbers of fish seemed to be down. That was something we noticed at several snorkeling spots, although later in our vacation, and at different beaches we seemed to see more fish. On this occasion we saw some angelfish, cowfish and a couple of rays in addition to the parrotfish and others we see everywhere. No turtles this year though. Most days we just take cheese and crackers for lunch (along with beer and water), so we don’t feel the need to go somewhere off the beach for lunch. We ate at the villa this night, so no restaurant report.
Tuesday the 23rd we went to Honeymoon with the girls. It’s beautiful there and there are new facilities including a little store and restrooms. We try to arrange our snorkel to avoid the St Thomas half-day trips that arrive in the morning and afternoon. Not sure what the attraction is – IMHO, the people would be better getting a ferry to St John and a taxi to Honeymoon, but I guess everyone is different. Did some snorkeling on the point between Honeymoon and Salomon. Again a little disappointed in the numbers of fish, but we did see some angelfish there. Had a drink at Caneel late afternoon to use up our $20 parking fee. Went into Cruz Bay for the sunset and had some drinks at Joes. Sunset was nice but not spectacular. I’ll post pictures once I get them all processed. Ate at Sogo’s – that’s something I’d been meaning to do for years. Good West Indian food – I had the goat curry, as did my daughter’s friend. My wife and daughter had one of the chicken dishes. I’d go again.
Wednesday the 24th we were up early since we had chartered Palm Tree Charters for the day, along with another couple (Mike and Suzy, also forum regulars) that we met last year. Captain John is a blast to be with. He knows everyone and all the places to go. This is our second year with him and I’m pretty sure there will be a third. Snorkeled the Indians. We must be getting used to it, but it’s still a great snorkel. Saw a black durgeon there. Then went to the Bight at Norman Island (where the Willy T is). There’s a stretch of shoreline between the Willy T and Pirates in Normal Island that is really good snorkeling – and pretty quiet since everyone else is at the Caves. We spent some time swimming very close to a Hawksbill turtle, who was completely unafraid of us. Also saw some Queen Angelfish and a couple of different types of filefish. Best snorkel yet. Went to Pirates for a drink, then Willy T for lunch. My daughter and her friend wanted to jump from the Willy T, and they persuaded my wife and Suzy to do it also. We have the pictures. From Willy T, went over to the Soggy Dollar. All in all a great day with Captain John. Ate at Candy’s. Much as we like Uncle Joes, we have decided that we like Candy’s a little more. Bought 2 chicken and 2 ribs. The girls polished off the chicken, but my wife and I had enough ribs left over to feed me the next day. Great, cheap food. Cant recommend it enough.
Thursday the girls decided to hang at the Westin pool. Karen and I decided to go to Waterlemon (my daughter hates the walk there). When we drove out to Waterlemon, there were 25 cars parked there. Decided to go somewhere else. After much debate, we decided on Denis. Great beach, and pretty quiet. It does face NE, so it is kinda exposed when the wind is up. It was pretty breezy that day and the water was quite choppy, so Karen decided not to snorkel. I went out though – you’re never out of sight of the beach. I went on the right side on the bay and saw a porcupinefish and a couple rays. Then I went over to the other side (near Perkins Cay). On the way I saw a spotted filefish and a shark taking it wasy on the bottom. He was about 4 feet long, and decided that I had interrupted him and took off. It was still windy, so I didn’t snorkel the Cay, nut got more into a sheltered part by going down the shoreline towards Gibney. Disnt get too far, because I finally saw an octopus there. Pretty small, and it didn’t move much, but it’s the first one I have seen in years, and I’ll take it. We ate at the villa that night. I did go to Cruz Bay for sunset shots, but again nice but not spectacular.
Friday we took the drive over to Little Lameshure. I wouldn’t like to be taking that drive without the clearance a jeep gives you. Seemed to be better snorkeling there than on the northside. I snorkeled both sides of the bay. As always, the farther out you go, the better the snorkeling is. On the west side I saw a hawksbill turtle, queen angelfish, tarpon and porcupinefish. On the east, rays, squid and some angelfish. Stopped at Shipwreck on the way back for a dark and stormy and some gazpacho. Shipwreck is our favorite place on the Coral Bay side. The gazpacho is great. Also stopped in at Skinny’s for shoppint – it was our daughter’s friend’s first time on St John, and we wanted her to see the Coral Bay side. Went to the Banana deck for dinner. Don’t see many reviews for some reason, but the food was great. We’ll have to remember to go again.
Saturday 27th was the girl’s last full day. We went to Hawksnest, which is probably my daughter’s favorite beach. Was a little windy, but still a beautiful day. I was a little disappointed by the snorkeling on the right side of the beach, but if you snorkel the reefs in the middle it’s pretty good. It’s too shallow to snorkel over the reefs, but you can see a lot from the sides. The coral is very healthy, and I saw some angelfish and a trumpetfish. Ate at the villa, then our daughter and friend went out for a last evening in town. Too energetic for my wife and I.
Sunday the girls left and we moved to the Coral Bay side of the Island. I’ll review that in part 2. Hope this is helpful.