Hi All --
My boyfriend and I are headed to St. John in a few weeks for a much overdue vacation. I've been reading all the helpful tips on the forum, but have some specific questions that I was hoping folks could help with.
I've been to St. John once before but 12 years ago (when I was 18 -- so a bit of a different experience!), and this will be the first visit for my bf. We are staying at the Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel. We're looking for a nice mix of active (hiking, snorkeling, etc.) and relaxing (reading on beach, cocktails with a view).
Rental Car for 1 Day? -- I know that people highly recommend renting a jeep to really see the island fully. However, we picked Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel, partly for it's central location and also b/c it was more reasonable in price than other places. We don't want to rent a car for the whole week since parking in town could be a pain and we really won't need it for much of our trip. However, we do want to get out and explore, so we were thinking of renting a jeep for one day. Is this something we could reserve while we're down there? Not sure how busy of a time it will be, but thought it'd be easier and we could be more flexible? Any particular rental car companies you'd recommend for short rental like that? And, lastly, what off-the-beaten path or hard-to-get-to-without-a-car places should we try to see the day we have the car?
Boat Charter -- We're looking into doing a boat trip one day. It doesn't necessarily have to be a private charter, but we'd prefer either a private charter or a small group (i.e. not 40 ppl on one boat). Trying to decide between a fishing trip or a snorkeling trip and trip over to the BVI (i've been to the BVI many times, but bf has not). Cleve from Local Flavor and Sail Cloud 9 are both highly recommended (I know the boat vs. sail boat is a big difference). Which do you think is a better value/experience? Anyone else I should look into?
Reef Bay Hike/Any Other Can't Miss Hiking Trails -- The national park aspect was a big part of St. John's appeal for my bf. The Reef Bay Hike looks like a good one, but should we do it through the National Park Service or on our own? 9:30-3:00 kind of seems like a long time to do the hike, though I do suppose it includes transportation time, etc.? The biggest appeal for me about NPS is the boat trip back, rather than having to hike back up. Is it possible to get the boat transfer separately? Any thoughts? And, any other hiking trails you'd recommend? Not looking for anything too crazy, but being a little active during the day helps offset the painkillers ;-)
Restaurant/Bar Recs -- I've read a lot of the restaurant recs on here, but curious what your faves are for local cuisine? Pad Thai, sushi, Chinese, etc. seem a bit odd to me on a Caribbean island. Definitely want to find some places with fresh seafood and local food. Any recs for dinner in Cruz Bay or elsewhere? Also, would love to find a couple of great places where we could enjoy a couple of drinks and some nice views?
Thanks in advance -- can't wait until April!!