We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

Hudson, NH
Level Contributor
26 posts
21 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

This was our first trip to St John. I have always admired and appreciated others trip reports. I learned so much about St John from reading them so here is to my first trip report ever.

Day 1- Travel from Boston was smooth, no delays. Arrived in St John on the 3pm ferry. We stayed st the Cruz Bay Boutique hotel on our first two nights. The owners are extremely nice, friendly and go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. The rooms are very small but also very clean. We walked across the street and had our first drinks at the Lime Inn. Woody the bar tender was awesome. Walked around, visited the Beach Bar and Joe’s rum hut. Went back to the Lime Inn for dinner. I had Coquille St John (scallops) and my husband had the seafood pasta of the day. We both enjoyed our meals very much. Off to bed early after a long travel day.

Day 2-Breakfast a the landing was good, had to run to the bar with our meals to get out of a quick down pour. Hiked the Lint Point Trail. (It was long and VERY hot). The humidity here is higher than anywhere I think I have vacationed before. Possibly, because it is July? Also the Sarah dust is very thick. Stopped at Solomon first which was beautiful only two other couples on the beach when we arrived. We snorkeled a little on the right side by the rocks and saw a good variety of small fish. Walked over to honeymoon to have some lunch. Snorkeled again on the right side by the rocks, we saw a lot of fish but nothing too spectacular. A good intro to snorkeling in St John. Walked to Caneel to take a taxi back to Cruz Bay. Had two drinks at Caneel which were very expensive. Went to castaways for some cheap Coranas for happy hour. Played some bingo and had some apps. Walked over to the Barefoot Cowboy for dinner. The brisket smelled so good we had to try it. The food was ok, dry but the service was very good. Finished up at the Landing and met the Fire chief at the bar. Nice to chat with him.

Day 3-Moved to Grande Bay today for our VRBO rental. We are in 4-203 very nice room. The owner was great to deal with and was helpful with our last minute changes that we needed to make. Picked up our rental car today from Vralack Ventures and did a tour of the North Shore beaches. Stopped at the Annaburg Ruins. The driving is not for the faint of heart. We went to the Tap room for lunch. I had the fish tacos very good and my husband had the burger. The R& R (homemade Root bear and rum) was very good. Settled in at Grande Bay and went to the complimentary drinks at Motu-Best painkillers we have had yet. Ended up at the Landing for dinner. We both had the fried shrimp-ok. Played some shuffleboard and called it a night.

Day 4-I was lucky enough to find Ziggy the pig on the beach today. My granddaughter and I follow his Facebook page. She was thrilled to see my pictures with him. Husband went fishing today with World Class Anglers. He met up with a man and his son that we met through Trip advisor. They caught about 12 Tuna and the young man got the large fish of the day. I spent the day at Trunk. One cruise ship in town it was kind of busy. The beach was beautiful. Had dinner at Banana Deck great salad and steaks. Finished up the night listening to some music at the Beach Bar.

Day 5-Breakfast at Café Livin this morning. Great quick breakfast and good service. We went to Salt Pond today. The beach was beautiful but the snorkeling was disappointing. I also had a leak in my underwater camera. I have asked on trip advisor and here on the island there is no place to buy or rent a camera anywhere, maybe go back to St Thomas and maybe try the K mart. Very bummed…I do not want to waste a day going to St T and we are spending next week in the BVI’s. Oh well need to move on. Went to skinny Legs and it is just an ok place. My husband ordered a bushwhacker and did not like it so we traded drinks, had some burgers, one more bushwhacker and I was down for the count once we got back into town. Had take-out from the Beach Bar for dinner.

Day 6-Went to Sam and Jack’s for breakfast sandwiches and to pick up some lunch. Off to Francis Bay. We had a great beach day here, not too many people. Snorkeling was interesting in that I have never seen so many small fish and I have never seen so many large tarpon in one place. The pelicans were fun to watch dive in to get the fish. We saw a couple of deer in the woods. We went to Motu for drinks, thank you Grande Bay. We back to our home for the week and had the tuna that my husband caught a few days ago. We have never eaten tuna and it was very good. Good word here for Low Key water sports, I bought a prescription lens a couple of years ago and fogging has been an issue since day one. One this trip it seems no matter what I do I can only see for a few yards and then I have to clear the lens. I switched lens half way through the day with hubby and he finally agreed it was not the operator (me) and the lens were crappy. I could see better out of his inexpensive non prescription lenses. I went into Low Key to buy new lenses and instead the nice man said I will sell you new lenses if you want but let me take a look at yours first. He spent some time cleaning them with toothpaste (which we have done before but not as good as he did). We discussed various lenses and he showed me some others. I will try my newly cleaned lenses today and use the new defogger. I expect all will be fine but if not I will go back there tonight for a new pair. (Update: The lenses were perfect for the rest of my trip ☺ thank you Low Key for being an honest retailer, showing excellent customer service even though I only bought an $8 defogger if I ever need snorkeling gear you would be my first choice!)

Day 7- Last full day in St J. We got breakfast at Deli Grotto. Went to Jumbie beach. We thought it was a great spot, just a few people. We saw two stingrays while snorkeling. Went to trunk in the afternoon and snorkeled the snorkel trail. There was a large variety of fish and many interesting coral. The park service does a nice job of attempting to maintain this reef even though it gets abused every day. It was disappointing to hear the lifeguard yelling over and over to not stand on the coral. No cruise ships in today but it was still very busy. Got back into town for our last happy hour. We bar hopped to try to hit all of the places we did not make it to yet. Started at the Beach bar, went to across the street, Woody’s was too busy. Went to Rhumba Lines which looked like a very interesting restaurant. Went back to Lime Inn for dinner. The food was great again. Finished up at the beach bar with some live music.

Day 8- Had a quick breakfast at the condo, filled up on gas, hubby dropped my at the ferry dock and he dropped off the car. Off for our next adventure a week on a catamaran sailing in the BVI’s with Tradewinds.

My final thoughts on St John. I loved our trip, my husband not as much, not sure we have the “bug” but we will be back. We usually go somewhere different every year but now that I have been to St John I feel like I will be better acquainted and will not spend so much time trying to figure out what to do and where to go on the island. We only briefly made in to the tip of Cruz Bay and did not get to as many beaches as we would have liked, so we still have a lot of exploring left to do. We usually try to go to all inclusives which I like mostly because I do not have to think ahead about where to eat or where to go and I know the total price I am going to spend before I leave. I loved the beaches on St J and the beauty of the island. I thought July was the off -season and in my opinion it was still very busy. I cannot imagine what it would be like in the busy season. I also did not find the snorkeling as great as what everyone had said. One of my biggest disappointments. I had feet, fins and 4 wd and went were it suggested but was not lucky this time I guess.

Thank you to everyone who offered input and answered all of my questions before leaving, and especially to those who reached out in my panic when my underwater camera died. If anyone is interested you can rent an underwater camera from the dive shop at the Moorings base in Tortola. I emailed about 10 companies in Tortola and I do believe that is your only option. I did not try the new shop that others suggested on St J as we only had a few days left on the island.

Best drinks-Motu

Best Bar-Beach bar

Best bartender-Woody at Lime Inn

Best dinner-Lime Inn

Best Breakfast-Cafe Livin

Best lunch-Sam and Jack's Deli

Best steak and salads-Banna deck

New Jersey
Level Contributor
2,963 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

Thanks for taking the time to report. It's a shame the snorkeling was a let down. Was the water cloudy? The 1st time we snorkeled Salt pond the water was very cloudy and I could not see what all the fuss was about than the last time it was crystal clear and we snorkeled the right side of bay, it was terrific. Same with Francis , maho etc... have had great snorkeling conditions and than very disappointing conditions in same area.

Would love to hear about your sailing trip.especially curious as to heat and bugs on boat at night for sleeping.

Edited: 25 July 2014, 14:48
Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
2,534 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

>We usually go somewhere different every year but now that I have been to St John I feel like I will be better acquainted and will not spend so much time trying to figure out what to do and where to go on the island<

I enjoyed the second more than the first. There is something comfortable about knowing what you want to do. Friends of ours took their first trip to STJ three years ago. They really liked it well enough the first time but LOVED it the second time (and are booked for their third trip) because of the reason you mentioned.

Too bad you didn't find good snorkeling. Was the water stirred up?

Please report on your sailing trip. Twice I nearly booked crewed cat trips but chickened out at the last minute because I thought we might go a little stir crazy on the boat.

Level Contributor
288 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

"We usually go somewhere different every year but now that I have been to St John I feel like I will be better acquainted and will not spend so much time trying to figure out what to do and where to go on the island"

I totally get this. I can see how you would feel like you wasted valuable time just figuring out what to do and how to get there.

Like the other posters, I'd love to hear more about your BVI sailing trip.

K P
Illinois
Level Contributor
652 posts
91 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

Great report. We will be returning for our 2nd trip this winter and cannot wait. For exactly the reasons you said, we probably will be more relaxed having been here once. Would love to hear how your week on the catamaran was - something I would like to do!

Ohio
Destination Expert
for Cruz Bay
Level Contributor
6,069 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

Thanks for report. I always love reading about a newbie's first time to STJ. How did you like Grande Bay? Was noise a problem from the Beach Bar, ferries coming & going, etc? We will be staying there for the first time end of Nov/Dec (I think the same building, one floor higher). How do you get from the building to the street if you walk? Elevator to parking garage, then walk through the garage? I never thought to ask the owner when I've talked with her.

Ohio
Level Contributor
1,202 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

We walked or took the elevator to the garage level and walked out. I know there is an entrance from what I would call the rear area where you can go between the buildings - this led to the stairs/elevator access.

K P
Illinois
Level Contributor
652 posts
91 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

We never had any issues with noise when we stayed. And, we took elevator down to garage or walked down. No big deal.

Rockwall, Texas
Level Contributor
892 posts
228 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

I have been to Salt Pond and Francis each twice and must have just picked "bad, cloudy" days because I haven't had good snorkeling at either of those spots. It looks like we are taking 4 newbies in October and we won't have time to go everywhere, but will probably hit Salt Pond and hike Rams Head so I'm hoping for better conditions! My hubby is in love with the sound of Blue Cobblestone Beach and just wants to hang out there!

Level Contributor
15 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

Great report! I can relate to a lot of it. We loved Grande Bay- it is just so convenient being able to walk right to town. Hope you make it back soon!

Irmo, South Carolina
Level Contributor
180 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip Report July 5-12 long-newbie

Hate you didn't go to Beach Bum right at the ferry for a camera rental. They have all kinds of stuff to rent. Off season is the best in oct/nov. Still a good amt of pp but not like the summer off season mths.