What an amazing vacation and thanks to all of you for helping me plan it!
Day 1 – Arrived in St. Thomas at 11:45 AM, picked up rental jeep at Discount Car Rental. Very simple to use and accommodating, we were in and out of there in ten minutes and on our way to Red Hook. Stopped for some beer, wine and groceries and made the 1:30 ferry to St. Thomas (Note: 1:30 ferry doesn’t mean it actually departs at 1:30!) Someone from Caribbean Villas met us at the ferry dock and we followed her to Cruz Views, where we were staying. The condo was great, views were amazing, it was clean, well stocked and close to town. The hill to the complex and driveway were a little scary, but my husband did the driving, so I just enjoyed the ride! After a quick unpack, we went to the Beach Bar for a bite and painkiller. Our kids played on the beach and we slipped into island life pretty quickly. After lunch, we headed to Hawksnest Beach and marveled at the beauty of it! Swam for a while, picked up dinner at Uncle Joe’s BBQ (chicken and ribs were pretty good, corn was gross) and ate at the condo while watching the sunset. We all fell asleep pretty early.
Day 2 – On Monday we took a fantastic trip on Island Roots with another couple from TripAdvisor. Jason was amazing with my kids and answered our many “Survivor” related questions. We loved being on the boat! Jason showed us his favorite beaches and snorkel spots, we stopped at Tortola for customs and made our way to Sandy Cay and Jost. I haven’t been to Jost in eight years and couldn’t believe how different it was. I was so sad to see sleepy little White Bay turned into something that resembled Rodney Dangerfield in the Caddyshack movie! It is still gorgeous, and we had fun playing in the surf, but way too crowded and ‘forced.” They even had food trucks on the beach, not at all how I remember it! Regardless, Jason did a great job and I would highly recommend his charter, especially with kids. Once we returned to St. John we stopped at Castaways for happy hour drinks and snacks, and then walked to dinner at The Banana Deck. I had a great steak there and the rest of the family enjoyed burgers. Castaways had a fun and CHEAP happy hour.
Day 3 – On Tuesday we rented snorkel gear at Cruz Bay Waterports ($40 each from Tues – Sat night) picked up sandwiches at the deli in Mongoose Junction (great sandwiches and well priced - breakfast sandwiches, too) and drove out to Maho - it was fabulous! Snorkeled to the far right side and spotted turtles, sting rays, jacks, tarpon(?), and lots of other fish. Beach was beautiful and snorkeling was a success! Went back to the condo for sunset and then planned on going to Woody’s for dinner. It was a little too crazy to bring ten year olds, and they were starving, so we wound up at Across the Street. Steak tacos weren't bad and although it wasn’t my favorite meal it was okay.
Day 4 – Wednesday started with a short walk up to Peace Hill and a hike down to Denis Bay. We loved it here! Felt like our own private paradise, well worth the trek! Later we went back to Hawksnest for more swimming/sunning/snorkeling followed by happy hour and dinner at High Tide (awesome calamari!)
Day 5 – We tried to go to Trunk, but arrived too late and there was no parking. Drove out to Cinammon instead and we enjoyed it. Rented a kayak and one of my sons and I paddled around for an hour or so. Water was very, very calm, actually the water was calm all week except for Saturday. I read about Cinamon’s history after we left and was disappointed we didn’t hike the trail or see the museum. Next time! Back to the Beach Bar for burgers, beers and a nice sunset.
Day 6 - Friday we finally made it to Trunk Bay and it did not disappoint! I know everyone says it is overrated, but we really enjoyed it. Great finds on the snorkeling trail, one of my sons saw an octopus and we all saw plenty of colorful fish (yellowbelly, sergeants, barracuda). Later we snorkeled on the far left, near the rocks and there was a school of very large fish, maybe 80 of them, they looked like tuna, but I’m not positive. We also saw some large grouper and parrotfish. My sons picked Trunk as their favorite beach, I really couldn’t choose, maybe Maho? I loved them all!!! We had dinner at Rhumb Lines and I was a little disappointed. It was the only place we had poor service and the food was good but nothing to rave about.
Day 7 – We all woke up a little sad knowing it was our last day, so we took a ride over to Coral Bay and the East End in search of donkey. Not only did we see donkey, but also goats, horses, sheep and chickens. The waters were really rough, so we didn’t snorkel but enjoyed looking around. We had lunch at Skinny Legs which was very fun and had surprisingly excellent burgers (and a good bloody mary, too!) and then headed back to Hawksnest for some final snorkeling. The waves were kicking up a bit and we finally realized how lucky we were to have had such calm waters for snorkeling all week. After we were nicely sunburned we headed into town and did a little food and pub crawl to the Beach Bar, Spyglass, Joe’s Rum Hut and High Tide.
We left on the 8:30 AM car ferry on Sunday (again, it doesn’t mean it’s leaving at 8:30!) dropped off the rental in St. Thomas and made it to the airport shortly after 10 AM.
We fell in love with St. John and can’t wait to go back next year. I was surprised at how many young Americans were working in the restaurants and bars. Made me wish I took a year off from the rat-race of New York City when I was in my 20’s!!!
Some Observations – the island is casual!!!!! Tee shirts, flip flops, bathing suit cover ups were fine for all the casual eateries we dined at. Renting a car on St. Thomas and taking the barge was really simple. YOU NEED A JEEP! I was so happy I listened to everyone who convinced me of that on Trip Advisor. The sunsets are amazing, the painkillers are strong and the drinks are surprisingly inexpensive.
Can't wait to return next year!