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Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

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Washington, DC
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Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

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!!

New Jersey
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1. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

First , I hope you guys have a blast.

As for The vehicle rental thing it gets discussed alot, and I have come to the conclusion that you must decide for yourselves. But if you dont reserve and no even in low season I dont think you can reserve for just a day on stj, youll just have to chance it.

If you do have one for a day hit the east end and than salt pond maybe lameshurs. Vies on east end for beer and conch fritters or tourist trap near salt pond for killer drinks and lobster rolls.

Wayward sailor has a small sail boat and is reasonable, but dont expect fancy. We went out with him and he accomadated our request to go to whistling cay and then he took us to Lovongo. It was a great day.

New Jersey
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2. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

Oh and a great little hike would be Lind point trail starting behind visitors center in CB to Salomon which imho is the prettiest beach in the world. Stop by deli grotto in mongoose junction across from visitors center and get picnic lunch to take to Salomon for the day.

Princeton, New...
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3. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

I will be there April 6-17, can't wait. Jeeps are pretty hard to find for one day, not impossible, but you may have to hunt around a bit. I would go out to Ms Vie's beach or Lameshure. Cloud 9 is a nice sail/snorkel/Jost trip. Ram Head is a nice morning hike, it gets hot so bring plenty of water when doing any hike.

Hope this is helpful.

kod
Sarasota, Florida
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4. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

Since your very intent on only renting a car for 1 day, you have restricted your hiking choices ( as well as beach choices). Without a vehicle I think the only way to do the Reef Bay Hike is through the NPS. From your hotel other hikes are the Lind Point Trail and the hard but great hike to Caneel and Margaret Hills. Other hikes you could get to by taxi are Cinnamon Hill and nature trail, and possibly Leimester Trail to Johnny Horn ( but I have read that taxis don't go there much). If you have a vehicle for a day then I would start as early as I could and do the Rams Head Hike, hang out a little at Salt Pond Bay, then to Skinnys for lunch. On the way back go to Francis Bay, a beautiful beach that I think the taxis don't come to much. Beach Bar is fun for drinks and has live bands. I think you should rent a car for more than one day.

Washington, DC
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5. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

Thanks this is all really helpful so far! Looks like most of the rental car companies won't let you reserve in advance unless you commit to at least 5 days, so we may have to play that by ear. Though I may email them to see -- would be open to having the car for between 1-3 days but seems like a bit of a waste given our location to have one for longer than that.

Portsmouth, New...
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6. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

Hi. These are some of the best and most specific questions I've seen asked here. Real good. And a lot of good answers. I'd just add my best advise, on a budget, skip the expensive charter this time. Bring a soft sided cooler (as a carry on with swimsuits and undies in case they lose your checked luggage if you have any) and pickup sandwiches/subs for lunch and eat cheap. It will be difficult to get taxi to go everywhere you want and pick you up when you want. Instead of relying on that I'd bite the bullet and use the savings for a jeep the whole time. How long are you going for? The boat ride back from the Reef Bay hike with NPS is nice, but is it worth taking up time from 9am-4pm? You decide. I just think a young active couple will not want to be tied to Cruz Bay or taxis. But it can be done, for sure. As NJ said the Lind Point Trail is great and it could be a daily thing offering Solomon, Honeymoon and also the main beach at Caneel Bay for options and a cheap taxi back to Cruz Bay when you call it a day. Or probably a $5 ride from there to beaches farther out like Cinnamon and Maho Bays. Have fun and write a report please.

Ohio
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7. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

You definitely don't need a jeep for your first or last day. We are staying right in Cruz Bay for our next trip and decided to save the money those two days. We can walk to a small store for beer for the condo and to dinner the first night. We can't pick up our jeep until noon the second day, so we'll head to the grocery to pick up a few things after that, back to the condo to make sandwiches & pack the cooler, load the beach chairs and head to a beach for the rest of the afternoon.

We do carry-on only so getting to the ferry without a jeep is no problem. It's a short walk.

I do agree that if you can get one for 3 days that would be ideal.

You can find all the car rental places here: www.stjohnusvi.com Some place regard April high season, others start low season on April 1st.

Have a great trip!!

Bronx, New York
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8. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

Sunshine's Jeep Rental offers 3-day (minimum) rentals:

http://www.sunshinesjeeprental.com/

Hope you have an awesome time, you'll be there before you know it ; ) Am going for the first time end of August and am excitedly .. patiently looking forward to it!

K P
Illinois
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9. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

We rented a jeep last February for 3 days. For us that was perfect. We actually walked to Starfish got a few groceries, wine, and beer. It was bit challenging, but doable. I can't remember where we rented from, but just check around. I think restaurants are a personal taste. I loved Rhumb Lines, food was spicy and loved the atmosphere. Lots of recs here for LaTapa, we had horrible service, therefore the food was soso. Enjoy your trip!!

Edited: 12 March 2014, 22:52
Kentwood, Michigan...
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10. Re: Preparing for April 5-12 St. John Trip -- Some Questions

I would go with the response above and rent for 3 days. Finding a jeep for one day will be a challenge at best and impossible at worst. Use your jeep days to visit Francis, Annaberg, Lameshur and Salt Pond Bay. While at Salt Pond, take the hike over to Drunk Bay. I love High Tide for views and drinks, Beach Bar is fun too. If you want to try some great local cuisine, Sogos is delicious. If you have a jeep and want to eat on the Coral Bay side, Aqua Bistro is my favorite.