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So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

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Minneapolis...
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So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

We are all booked for our trip to St. John in January! This will be our first time and we are beyond happy. We will actually be on St. John for 5 nights, and then on St. Thomas for 3. We rented a villa. We are working on the car rental, but hubs is very worried about writing down our cc# and faxing it. Thoughts?

What else should I be working on/planning? We would like to take a boat trip out, don't have passports so can't go to BVI. Any other recommends? Thank you!

Boston...
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1. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

We have never had any problems faxing our CC to St John Car Rental in the 6 years we have been renting from them. Also, have you considered a Passport Card, they are much cheaper ($30?) and work just as well in the BVI's.

We arrive back Jan 31. It's a great time to be there, between the holiday and President's week/school break crowds,

Minneapolis
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2. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

Personally, with only 5 days in STJ I wouldn't spend a whole day on a trip to the BVIs. You'll have more than enough to do and see on St. John and the time will go SO fast.

There are lots of boat trips and snorkel cruises that stay local to St. John. But with only 5 days... I wouldn't do that either. You're renting a villa and a jeep: spend your limited time enjoying those two luxuries. You could easily spend 5 days driving around and exploring or relaxing on your villa deck and you'll still feel like you hardly had time to get started.

Edited: 14 August 2013, 16:53
Boston
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3. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

I would be sure to followup by phone with your rental company to make sure you have a car confirmed. These things sometimes get messed up and emails are not always acknowledged. Pick good bug sprays and sun screens to bring. IMHO, it would be worth going to the BVIs but if you don't have a passport, you will be coming back so you can plan that on trip #2. You can go to Coral Bay and plan any number of day sails with competent captains so you will have the opp to see the island from the water.

Don't worry about rain reports before you go to STJ- they ALWAYS report some rain every day, I can't imagine a report where they don't.

I would also double check your cell phone coverage if you need that as coverage is very spotty. That might be well worth researching if you have to stay in touch with a baby sitter or someone back up in the States.

Finally, if you plan to snorkle, find and pack your own equipment so you'll have something great that fits you. Well worth the investment IMHO as the snorkling is the very best we have found over many trips to several islands in the Caribbean.

54b
Dallas, TX
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4. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

Once you've got the flights, villa and car booked, it's pretty much a matter of hurry up and wait til departure date (with the exception of maybe reserving a BVI charter, deep sea fishing or scuba excursion)...if I were you, I'd spend the time reading up on the island. Couple of good books to start you off:

Feet, Fins and 4WD by Pam Gaffin

Off The Beaten Track by Gerald Sanger

Those books will give you a good feel for the island - roads, beaches, hikes, ruins, etc. I'd also do searches on this forum and others for things like restaurants and bars just to get a flavor for what's available.

Lastly, I wouldn't go so far as to make an itinerary, but I do find it helpful to make a list of places and things you want to do and then pair things ups based on geographic proximity. For example, let's say you read about the Ram Head hike and also about the cheeseburgers at Skinny Legs. Well, those two things are found over on the East side of St. John and would be good to do in the same day. Or maybe you want to snorkel around Waterlemon Cay and explore the Annaberg Ruins.

I also like to have a rainy day back-up plan. Total rain outs are rare, but when they happen, it's nice to have some ideas of what you might like to do should it rain all day so you don't simply just mail it in and sit around your villa again...then again, a villa gravity day may just be what the doctor order.

Have fun. The anticipation and investigation are a big part of the draw of St. John.

Edited: 14 August 2013, 18:22
Wisconsin
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5. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

I'm jealous and excited for you! This is the first time in 3 years that I'm not headed to STJ in January :(

I have found the car rental businesses on STJ and some on STT to be reputable. Word travels fast on these forums if someone is not. I wouldn't worry about giving out CC information. In my experience, they didn't need my CC info until a month before the trip and held my reservation with only my name. You may want to contact them a time or two prior to your arrival to make sure they are still holding your reservation. Be aware that all STJ rental agencies do not allow their cars on STT. There are a few on STT that allow their cars to ferry to STJ but will not likely bail you out if you have car trouble or a flat...it'll be entirely on you to solve the dilemma. You will want to consider that.

My top things to think about:

--Food costs a lot! If you're staying in a villa and plan on cooking, freeze some items (meat for grilling, butter,etc.) and put them in a checked duffle bag with your snorkel gear. Food is very expensive on STJ. Also, eating in allows you to not have to worry about drinking & driving...when you see the roads, you'll know what I mean. The duffle bag gets checked for the return trip home with snorkel gear and all the souvenirs you're going to purchase...

--Stock up on water for drinking/cooking when you arrive--cheaper by the gallon. Most villas have filtered cistern water, which is ok for bathing. I would never risk getting ill and ruin my vacation.

--5 days will fly by--check out as many beaches as you can; some are better for snorkeling than others if that's your thing (it's definitly mine!) The National Park Service has a water's edge walk that you can combine with the Annaburg Plantation--that'll take up a morning. They also have the Reef Bay Hike (for a fee) that you need to book ahead--that'll take most of a day. Charter boat rentals out of Cruz Bay to snorkel are fun and can be inexpensive or over the top if you want to customize or individualized pampering.

--Pack your clothing in a carry on if you can! Most villas have a washer/dryer and creative packing can pay off with reducing checked bags. Also, the Jeeps don't have much cargo room for lots of baggage.

--The books one of the previous forums posters are great resources! You can get them on Amazon or maybe your local library

Have a wonderful trip!

GA
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6. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

If you're coming in January, you should check out the Reef Bay Trail Hike through the NPS. A great value - you meet at the NPS dock and take a taxi to the trail. Then you have a guided tour with a park ranger, have lunch (need to pack water and lunch) by the famous petroglyphs, then hike down to one of the best preserved sugar mills/rum distilleries on the island (with St John's only native mammal species). A short hike to the beach and you can either swim or take a dinghy to Sadie Sea for a scenic cruise back to the NPS dock where you started.

Check it out here: nps.gov/viis/planyourvisit/event-details.htm…

Plan on making reservations as soon as you can! It books very quickly during high season.

Check out a hike to Rams Head also: stjohnbeachguide.com/Ram%20Head%20Trail.htm Probably not a good one if you're scared of heights, but the views are simply awe inspiring.

Enjoy!

Pia
St John, VI
Destination Expert
for St. John
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7. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

Book your car for January NOW or you run the risk of not having one

Pia

Tampa, FL
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312 posts
14 reviews
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8. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

Been renting from St. John Car Rental for years and have never had a problem with the CC#. And as Pia warned, book your car now....

9. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

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Port Orange, Florida
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10. Re: So excited!! What am I missing/not thinking about?

We just spent 6 days on St John and felt no need to leave the island! Explored a different beach and snorkeled everyday. I agree about getting your own snorkel equipment, ours has paid for itself many times over. We bought sets with shorter snorkel fins, these pack easily and work well. Bring less clothes and more swimwear. You will need hiking type sandals if you choose to go on the rocky/uneven trails to some of the beaches, although there are plenty of places that you can just park/walk. We always bring re-usable water bottles with carrying straps, these are also good for pre-mixed drinks at the beach :) Try to get some "reef friendly" sunscreen. I thought seestjohn.com had some interesting info. And its true about the weather report, don't let it stress you. We actually had rain everyday but it was brief and the sun came right back out.

Edited: 20 August 2013, 22:20