This was my second trip to St. John (went last year on a girls vacation) and my husband’s first. This would be our first week long trip together without our kids since our honeymoon. After a Michigan winter with the most snowfall in recorded history, my husband and I were ready for a relaxing, tropical vacation.
We had a 6am flight from Detroit to Miami and easily made our connecting flight that had a 50 minute layover. We landed in St. Thomas at 12:25pm, collected our checked bag and caught a taxi to Red Hook where we took the 2:00pm ferry. Angela from Estate Lindholm met us at the ferry dock, picked us up and gave us a brief tour of Cruz Bay. She even let us stop at the store and waited for us as we picked up some bottled water.
Estate Lindholm was perfect for us. I didn’t want to have to cook, my husband didn’t want to drive too much (we had reserved a jeep for a few days), it was close to Cruz Bay and easy to catch taxis. The landscaping there is beautiful and the view from our deck in the Hawksnest room was spectacular. The room was cozy and quiet. Brion, Angela and the staff were all very friendly, and best of all: no kids allowed! (We love our kids, but we really needed a break!)
After getting settled in to our room, we walked down the hill to Cruz Bay. I really wanted to go to High Tide, so we ate our first dinner there. Food was very good I had the mahi sandwich and my husband had the fish tacos. Painkiller and Rum Punch were excellent! The waiter informed us that it was a tradition to have a Painkiller the day you arrive and the day you leave: the day you arrive because it’s such a pain to get there, and the day you leave for obvious reasons. After that, we took a taxi back to our room and watched the beautiful sunset. I’m happy to report no mosquitos and didn’t need repellent the whole trip!
Day 1: Salomon
Ate breakfast at EL, which became our morning routine. Then hiked to Salomon Bay and were the first ones at the beach. This was a perfect piece of paradise! We were going to go to Honeymoon beach too, but we saw some boats pull up and 20 or so people jump off with snorkel gear, so we decided to stay at Salomon. It was a very relaxing first day. In the afternoon, we went to Woody’s for $1 Coors Light-What a deal! Then we went to Joe’s Rum Hut, but all the tables were taken so we headed up to Spyglass and drank Presidente Beer. This was a popular beer on the island, and for good reason. It’s a crisp, good tasting beer. Decided to stay there and try the happy hour tacos and sliders, which were good and the view was excellent!
Day 2: The Jeep!
We walked down to Varlack where we had rented our Jeep. The staff was very nice and had our 2 door Wrangler ready for us. We took photos of the dents, which they recommended. Then off to Our Market Smoothies for a couple smoothies and Mongoose Junction so my husband could rent snorkel gear (I had brought my own) and I went into Deli Grotto and picked up some chocolate coconut bars-delicious! We drove over to Sam and Jacks and picked up a turkey sandwich and homemade chips to take to take with us, then drove to Maho Beach. Beautiful beach but kind of crowded (for St. John). Heard a story that a large iguana had swum into the beach the day before and scared people because some people thought it was an alligator. Next we went to Francis. This was also very nice, but again there were a lot of people. Luckily a family was just leaving and let us have a prime shady spot. Did some snorkeling but my husband’s mask was leaking. We left Francis and stopped to check out the ruins of the former Creque summer home. We decided to stop at Hawksnest on our way back to EL, parking lot was full but we spotted someone pulling out. Walked on to the beach and it was more crowded than Maho and Francis so we only stayed a few minutes. That night we went to Rhumb Lines, liked the ambience there and the food was really good, although our cocktails were weak. Then back to room to drink Presidente on our deck and view the twinkling lights of Cruz Bay and St. Thomas.
Day 3: Coral Bay
We drove out to Coral Bay and our plan was to rent a kayak from Crabby's and kayak to Hurricane Hole. But the winds were strong that day and we were advised not to. So we decided to go to Salt Pond Beach. We really liked this beach, hardly any people and loved the view from the beach. This was my favorite snorkel, although I made my husband nervous going out so far. He was still having some leaking issues with his mask. We had to watch out for prickly burs on the beach. They grew from a certain type of grass and had small, needle-like prongs. Hurt if you stepped on them. We went to The Tourist Trap for lunch, grabbed the only table and then noticed a bride and groom (full wedding gown and full tux) with family at a table eating. This is one of those: you might “get” St. John if you see a wedding reception at the Tourist Trap. Food was very good, we shared the pork nachos and I had a Drink Right Drive Left, also very good. Then we headed to Little Lameshur. This was a “hold on for dear life” drive. The road was so bumpy, with huge ruts and rocks-really glad we had the Jeep Wrangler. When we got to the beach it was beautiful and hardly anyone there. We loved the color and warmth of the water here. We swam for a while and took a nap on the beach. Headed back to EL to get cleaned up for dinner. Stopped at Mongoose so my husband could exchange his snorkel mask. His theory was that his mustache wasn’t allowing the mask to seal against his face. He was told at the rental place that sometimes people put Vaseline on part of the mask and/or use nose plugs to help the problem. So he went to the Market and bought a large jar of Vaseline (the only size they had).
That evening we ate dinner at Sundog Café. I realized I hadn’t had a Bushwacker yet. Time to make up for lost time; I had two with dinner. I had “The Puff” and my husband had the Shrimp Vera Cruz. Both were excellent and we liked the outdoor setting. We did some shopping at Mongoose and I bought a larimar necklace. We proceeded down to the Beach Bar, here I grabbed a Bushwacker and my husband got another Painkiller. I wasn’t impressed with the Bushwacker, I think they left out an ingredient (rum). It tasted more like a shake than a drink. There were some very drunk people here, but it was after 9, so that was to be expected!
Day 4: Gibney or Bust!
Drenching rain in the morning (this was the only time we had rain), but it stopped by 9am and a beautiful rainbow came out over Cruz Bay. We hopped in the Jeep, drove to the entrance of Oppenheimer and walked down to Gibney. It was a red flag day for the north shore. We came upon a lot of tents with young to teenage kids. Are there always tents at this beach? Surf was coming in over the whole beach so we left and drove down to the head of the Leinster Bay trail. Because of the northeast swells, it didn’t look like a good day to go to Waterlemon Bay and there was still spotty rain, so we decided to go check out Jumbie. We hiked down to the beach and nobody was there. It was sunny there and the beach was hauntingly beautiful. Tall, dark, rocky cliffs flanked the beach and the view out to sea was spectacular. I would have liked to snorkel here but being a red flag day, I didn’t attempt it-the waves were huge. We had ourselves a little celebration in this piece of heaven with an iced bottle of champagne and chocolate coconut bars. In the afternoon, we hiked up to Peace Hill, which we had to ourselves as well and the view was awesome.
That evening, we went to Zozo’s. We ordered a good bottle of wine and the Imported Cambozola. The wine was inexpensive and very good quality (others have made similar comments on this forum); the Cambozola dish was very tasty! For dinner I had the pistachio encrusted Mahi Mahi and my husband had the Halibut- delicious! For dessert, we split a cannoli. After dinner we walked around the resort and around the bay for a while. The view over the water was magical: the lights of St. Thomas, the dancing blue-white lights atop the many sailboats in the bay blending into the stars and moon. I think this was our favorite day on the island.
Day 5: Trunk Bay
We only rented the Jeep for three days, so we drove down to Varlack and returned the jeep. Parking can sometimes be an issue in Cruz Bay-we needed to park half on a sidewalk and half in the road when we brought the Jeep back. We took a taxi to Trunk Bay. Compared to the previous year, I thought Trunk Bay’s crowd was very light. I enjoyed it more this year because there weren’t as many people. Yellow flags were flying. I snorkeled the trail, current was strong and my husband’s second snorkel mask also leaked. He went to get a turkey sandwich from the concession stand and a sign read “please don’t feed the birds”. He came back and said that it was like saying “please don’t feed the dinosaurs” as they’re chasing you in Jurassic Park! A sea gull had swooped down and pecked the sandwich, which he luckily had covered with napkins (heeding my warning about the birds).
We had to make it to Joe’s Rum Hut! But first we went back to our room, took a nap then headed to town to shop for some souvenirs. Our son wanted us to bring him back a pet tarantula (luckily we didn’t see any). He said he would call it Peter and hug it every day! YUCK!!! We told him we weren’t allowed to take them off the island. “Sugar Birds” in Mongoose Junction was a really nice gift store. We bought a print of a photo of Salomon Bay there and a few more souvenirs, which they were happy to hold for us until we could pick it up on our way back to our room. We went to Joe’s Rum Hut and it was busy, but we found a small table. I ordered a Bushwacker, which was excellent!! My husband ordered an orange freeze, which he said was perfect on a hot day. We had some conch fritters-not all that tasty by themselves, but the dipping sauce was really good! We enjoyed a pepperoni pizza and another Bushwacker. We stopped by St. John Scoops for lavender honey and blueberry pomegranate ice cream. Then we went back to Sugar Birds and picked up our souvenirs and went back to our room, where once again we relaxed on the deck with a couple Presidentes and enjoyed the beautiful night view. This was the night I noticed a spotty, bumpy, blistery rash on my arm from the elbow down and two patches on my other arm. It didn’t hurt but was itchy. Luckily, I had packed hydrocortisone cream which really helped.
Day 6: Cinnamon Bay
We caught a taxi early and went to Cinnamon for the day. We had planned to kayak but the rash on my arms was a little worse today and I wanted to keep them out of the sun. So my husband decided to rent a paddle board. An hour was enough time for him to paddle over to Maho Bay and back around Cinnamon Cay. I did some snorkeling, saw a few sting rays. We ate some snacks on the beach by the trees with a mongoose stalking us from behind.
We went back to EL and cleaned up. We walked down the hill to mongoose Junction to shop for a couple more souvenirs. Then we went to Our Market Smoothies again. My husband had a fresh coconut with pineapple rum. We got to hang out with Thomas, had a “Life Lesson” and free rum shots. We had our last dinner at Banana Deck. Had another Bushwacker, the food was very good, and loved the Banana Xango for dessert! Then we went to St. John Spice to pick up some “Kiss of the Jumbie” coffee to take home. Then back to our room for our last night on the deck.
Day 7: Departure
Had breakfast and packed our bags. Angela from EL gave us a ride down to the dock. Husband ran to “Our Market Smoothies” for us to share one last smoothie: a coconut pineapple banana. We sat on the dock and soaked in the sights, sounds and taste of the island for one last hour, not wanting it to end. But at 12:00pm we had to leave and begin our journey back to Michigan. On the ferry we saw a 4 foot shark swimming through Cruz Bay. By now my blistery rash was very inflamed and itching more. It looked similar to poison ivy-maybe it was Christmas Bush but didn’t recall seeing any. Has anyone ever experienced anything like that? It took about 10 days for it to go away.
At home, our kids viewed our photos and said “It’s so beautiful, it doesn’t look real”. They also commented how much younger we looked in our photos. I told them being on St. John makes you 10 years younger (well at least makes you feel 10 years younger)!
Favorite Bushwacker: Joe’s Rum Hut
Favorite Painkiller: High Tide
Favorite Restaurant: Zozo’s. (Favorite casual restaurant: Tourist Trap). We didn’t have a bad meal the entire trip and all the servers were nice and friendly.
Favorite Beaches: All of them! They were all unique in their own ways.
Best advice we received from the forum was to not over plan, we enjoyed just walking around Cruz Bay hitting happy hours, not having to worry about being anywhere or caring what time it was.
We were blessed with beautiful weather and found ourselves often saying “can we stay here forever”? I fell even more in love with STJ on this trip, and my husband definitely caught the STJ bug! We can’t wait to go back!