First a great big thank you to all the posters on this forum who made planning our trip so easy.
My wife and I came for eight days from cold and snowy upstate New York. Our Sunday flights got changed to a later time, so we flew a day early on Saturday, walked to the Island Beachcomber near STT airport and stayed there Saturday night. Ok for one night but we should have stayed at the Emerald Beach next door.
Slept in, had breakfast at Emerald Beach, walked on the short beach, then took the 11:00 ferry to Cruz Bay and went to Conrad Sutton for our Jeep (see the ongoing thread about Conrad Sutton for our positive experience there). We were able to leave the Jeep there with our luggage in it while we walked around Cruz Bay and had lunch, since we couldn’t get into our villa until 3:00. Lunch at the Waterfront Bistro (tuna tacos!) was great and reasonable.
We retrieved our Jeep and went to Starfish market to stock up on basics for the week. We expected prices to be higher than at home in upstate NY, which they were, but not much more than the Vineyard where we go for a week in the summer. We then drove to Upper Carolina near Coral Bay and up the streets to Villa Margherita, managed by Windspree. Beautiful house, large and spacious, nice views to the northwest to Drake channel. Having seen other villas and views, the view was perhaps not as expansive as I would have liked (the hot tub was below the view line), but a really beautiful, completely modern, well cared for lovely home away from home. (VRBO 212681)
Our main activity was snorkeling. We are beginner/intermediate snorkelers (healthy 66 and 72) and wanted to try the more accessible and easy beaches first. In this order, we snorkeled at Maho Bay and Francis Bay (ten minutes from our villa, saw two rays at Francis), Salomon Bay (beautiful beach, but because closer to Cruz Bay it had more people), Cinnamon Bay (the longest beach, absolutely stunning, though we did get soaked in a big downpour), Salt Pond Bay on the south shore, where we saw two turtles, Waterlemon Cay (25 minute hike, then a long snorkel around the back of the Cay where we saw the best coral formations), and Trunk Bay (where we saw an octopus!).
We were concerned by some warnings about Waterlemon, but found it pretty straightforward and not difficult at all. We were there on a Sunday early, and by the time we were leaving about noon it was getting pretty crowded. Next time we will be a little more adventurous and try some of the more out of the way snorkels we have read about.
We also took a drive out to the east end of the island and had conch fritters and Jonny Cakes at the famous Vie’s Snack Shop. We also did the National Park guided Reef Bay hike, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was great to see the south side of the island on the boat ride back.
We did a little shopping in Cruz Bay, but the busy-ness of this town is not our style, and we loved being away in Coral Bay (different strokes, I can see where some would love the activity of Cruz Bay).
We ate dinner and lunch in the villa most days, but had lunch at Pickles in Paradise one day and were very happy with the food there. We ate out at Miss Lucy’s, Sweet Plantains, Skinny Legs, and Shipwreck Landing. The setting and the food at Miss Lucy’s were great. We had the best meal at Sweet Plantains, which was also the most expensive of these restaurants. Skinny Legs for burgers on Thursday with Lauren and Bo performing and all the local people meeting and greeting was great fun. The only place we wouldn’t go back to is Shipwreck Landing. The food was ok, but something about the atmosphere just wasn’t right for us.
Our villa looked out toward Drake Bay and Tortola to the northeast in one direction, where we could see rain showers sweeping across the bay, and Bordeaux Mountain out the back. Though the daytime highs were in the mid-eighties, we had a cooling breeze and never needed air conditioning. Our pets were a bananakeet bird and the occasional scorpion, and the donkeys, who startled us awake the first morning with their loud braying until we realized what it was and started laughing. There were also herds of goats on the road, the crowing roosters, the geckos at the house, and the large iguanas we saw crossing the road.
I put some photos online, mostly for our family, but it has some of the beaches and some underwater photos:
We had a truly wonderful time and are already thinking about when we can come back.