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On a budget in St. Thomas

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Johnny
 Johnny
(@Johnny)
Guest

My wife and I are going for the 1st time to St. Thomas, and need some help about how to be there for 5 days on a tight budget - great, but cheap resturants, things to do (St. John?), best beaches, how to travel around. We're staying at Secret Harbor Beach Resort Aug. 25-31. I would really appreciate any help and referrals to info web sites.

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Posted : August 15, 2005 5:53 pm
rh1958
 rh1958
(@rh1958)
Guest

The ferry to STJ leaves from Red Hook at $3.00 per person one way. The ferry from Charlotte Amalie cost more but the fare to get to Red Hook might offset what savings you may have there, unless you are renting a car then it is worth it. I suggest you buy some groceries at a store and have some meals in your hotel instead of eating out.

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Posted : August 15, 2005 7:25 pm
On Island Time
(@on-island-time)
Reputable Member

Johnny,

Here's our short list of good and inexpensive (we think anyway) places to eat:

At SH, Bluemoon Cafe is reasonable
Greatful Delli for (deli) sandwiches
Burrito Bay
Chinese carry out in Red Hook, across from Burrito Bay (can't remember name)
Bottoms Up
Bonnies By the Sea for lunch
Carribean Saloon
Delli Deck - Haven Site
Jack's - by K-Mart

If you can find one, buy this years coupon book, cost's $25.00 but, you'll get a lot of 2-1 coupons for dinners and lunch, along with some xxx% off coupons. Well worth the $25.

We usually pick up some quick, easy, food for the room ie: english muffins, bagels, coffie, munchies, pop, water (any left overs). We figure We're on vacation and not going to cook.

We always rent a car, from what we've seen on this board renting vs. taxie is about the same or less and give you more freedom to roam the island.

Enjoy STT, have a great trip.

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Posted : August 16, 2005 10:10 am
lip
 lip
(@lip)
Guest

well Johnny, you cant post that you are staying at secret harbor and cry poor at the same time(althought thats an awesome resort) but here are a couple of thoughts. rent a car for transportation, visit "the warehouse" (right in red hook)for drinks.

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Posted : August 16, 2005 10:18 am
LandLockedBeachLover
 LandLockedBeachLover
(@LandLockedBeachLover)
Guest

Green Iguana in C.A. is a fairly reasonable, casual restaurant. My personal fave is Sopchoppy's for pizza (I'm from St. Louis, and nothing here compares). Also very casual. Located in Red Hook along the harbor (great view, too). In my opinion, most restaurants are pretty pricey, so I agree with buying groceries and cooking yourself.

Luckily, sitting on beach is cheap entertainment that can (at least for me) occupy an entire day. Bring your own snorkel equipment - - you're set for entire trip! Bring a cooler with lunch & drinks - - as both are expensive if you buy on location.

For wonderful beaches/snorkeling - - definitely take the ferry to St. John. There are also some affordable dining options there as well -- Uncle Joe's BBQ, JJ's Texas Cafe.

Go to the open market plaza in C.A. to buy any souveniers.

Also, there are coupon books available in your hotel, most likely. Some offer 10% off charters as well as buy-one-get-one free entrees.

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Posted : August 16, 2005 10:23 am
golden
 golden
(@golden)
Guest

Hello

Where do I find this "coupon book" for St Thomas. Can it be bought on the internet?

thanks

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Posted : August 16, 2005 10:38 am
canoebase
(@canoebase)
Estimable Member

LOL, I didn't know what you meant, lip, about crying "poor" until I looked at how much is costs to stay at Secret Harbor! And landlocked, I'm in STL all the time, what's your favorite pizza place? And if you're ever in Carbondale, try Quatros. (www.quatros.com)

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Posted : August 16, 2005 1:21 pm
maestrojohnnyj
(@maestrojohnnyj)
New Member

OK - just so everyone knows . . . I did splurge on Secret Harbor. I really wanted something special for my wife. And we've saved up for the trip - not going into debt. BUT, I am using all my frequent flier miles to get both of us to St. Thomas, and I worked really hard to get a rate on our stay at Secret Harbor that is less than the deals I found I found from tour companies, and I checked a lot of them. Thanks everyone, for all your help.

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Posted : August 16, 2005 1:32 pm
lip
 lip
(@lip)
Guest

no worries john im just bustin' em... and golden those coupon books usually come w/ car rentals, however there are some coupon books and other publications w/ coupons in the airport

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Posted : August 16, 2005 1:40 pm
JLBear71
 JLBear71
(@JLBear71)
Guest

This can be done and still have loads of fun. We stayed at Secret Harbour last year and because of a series of unfortunate events (husband losing job 2 weeks before leaving) we really needed to scale down what we wanted to do. We did rent a car to help cut down on taxi costs as there were 3 of us. DH, me & 18 yo step son human garbage disposal.

We did alot of exploring the island (put close to 500 miles on rental for the week) and just stayed at SH for at least 3 of those days. We took a day trip over to STJ via the car ferry. Twice we went to Charlotte Amalie (first time most everything was closed as no cruise ships were docked for 3 days and we explored what we could, second was a specific shopping trip). One day we sat and watched a group of local children playing baseball and talked to some locals. They told us about a church dinner (I think) as we were asking them about things to do that did not cost much if any money. We never did make it to the function but they did give us some good ideas.

Stanley, the main taxi driver at SH, is also very knowledgeable of things to do even if you don't use his taxi. I was waiting for my DH and son wake up and decided to take a walk and he was waiting for his next customer and we ended up talking for 1/2 hour.

We would eat breakfast in most days as the men are night owls and would not wake up until at least 10 (I was up and at 'em by 6:00 am but was able to get my peace & quiet time), eat lunch out as lunch is usually less expensive, and most days we cooked dinner at SH. I did bring a few select cuts of meat (ham steaks and beef steaks from directly off a farm) with me. I went to the 2 markets, Food Center (I think) and Marina Market in Red Hook (I much preferred this one as far a quality went). I tried to buy easy stuff to prepare and serve (read - muffins and scones for breakfast) as I was definately on vacation from vacation as our normal vacation is in a tent.

Blue Moon Cafe is reasonable for breakfast and lunch. We did eat breakfast there 3 times and lunch twice. It was too expensive for dinner for our budget.

for BBQ on STT, there is a trailer that parks just outside the marina market in Red Hook right about 3:30-4:00ish (some days earlier, some days later) that has really good food and the price is very inexpensive. One meal will definately serve 2 people. We got 2 meals and had enough for dinner another night.

Greenhouse in CA was another lunch location that worked well for our not well rounded tastebuds (both the kid and myself are very picky eaters)

The Deli Deck in either Havensight or AH Riise was another place we really liked for both the food and the price.

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Posted : August 16, 2005 2:29 pm
LandLockedBeachLover
 LandLockedBeachLover
(@LandLockedBeachLover)
Guest

Canoebase - there are a couple good pizza joints in STL. My favorites are Stephanina's in O'Fallon, Rossino's in the city, Chirco's in West County, and then there's the "chains" (CA Pizza Kitchen, Pizzeria Uno's, Fortel's). I am not a fan of Imos's - - although I can't say that too loud lest it insight a riot!

The best in C'dale is Paglaia's (sp) though. Love the Quatros, too. Also there used to be a place in Duquoin called Alongi's. It might still be around.

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Posted : August 16, 2005 3:52 pm
On Island Time
(@on-island-time)
Reputable Member

JLBear71,

When did you sleep 🙂 ....500 miles in a week? I thought we did a lot of driving....350 miles in two weeks!!!

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Posted : August 16, 2005 8:22 pm
JLBear71
 JLBear71
(@JLBear71)
Guest

I think we literally drove every possible road on the island and left very few stones unturned. We did both STT & STJ. We went as far west on STT as possible (later found out this may not have been a good idea) and as far east on STJ. Spent most of the one day just driving around and taking in as much as possible (overcast and drizzly most of the day, no ships in).

I know it was crazy but we wanted to do as much as we possibly could and I have difficulty walking sometimes so driving around was much easier for me (Torn ligaments in my ankle but not enough to require surgery).

PS checked back to my notes, we only stayed in at SH 2 days not 3

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Posted : August 17, 2005 12:02 pm
Loyal Reader
(@loyal-reader)
Eminent Member

I believe that Grateful Deli is under construction/switching owners/remodeling.

And the ferry prices just went up a buck each way.

Best,

LR

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Posted : August 18, 2005 7:26 am
On Island Time
(@on-island-time)
Reputable Member

Well I'm thinking this year, with the price of gas, we won't be doing as much driving as we have in past years ... Who am I kidding we'll still put on the miles 🙂 Da@* the gas prices...full speed ahead.

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Posted : August 18, 2005 8:58 am
ryansmom
 ryansmom
(@ryansmom)
Guest

Are gas prices high on the island? We leave tonight and will be there tomorrow afternoon

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Posted : August 18, 2005 11:39 am
Ryan
 Ryan
(@Ryan)
Guest

I have never seen anyone mention the Shipwreck Tavern in Havensight
My wife and I ate there in April and it was the best burger I had while we were there and it was only $7. Is there any reason why no one mentions this place? In Cruz Bay on STJ you can get bottled beer for $1 at Cap's Place and its right next to the ferry dock. Woody's has a good happy hour also.

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Posted : August 18, 2005 1:18 pm
Bluwater
(@bluwater)
Island Expert

Ryamsmom-

Yes, gas prices are very high.

Safe travels!

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Posted : August 18, 2005 10:46 pm
canoebase
(@canoebase)
Estimable Member

does it really matter WHAT gas prices are? I went to pick up my daughter at band practice this evening and band practice ran about 30 minutes late. What did the waiting parents do? Go listen to their children playing music? HAH! Of course they sat in their big SUV's WITH THE ENGINES RUNNING and the A/C turned on max. For 30 minutes!

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Posted : August 18, 2005 11:25 pm
Gerie
(@gerie)
Reputable Member

I returned yesterday from a two week vacation with two children, 13 and 14 to whom vacation means eating as much food as possible when not in the water. We did try to find more affordable places and some of the above suggestions are exactly what we did. We had the Rotary coupon books, which did provide the opportunity to take them to some more upscale or expensive evening dinners, such as Mafolie and Caribbean Night at Iggie's. One of the kids' favorite nights was the "appetizers for dinner" night at Greenhouse's Tuesday "$3 off any appetizer and 2-for-1 drinks." We ordered 6 appetizers for the 4 of us and had a great time. That was a very affordable evening and lots of fun.

Gerie

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Posted : August 21, 2005 9:51 am
Ellen Prasse
(@ellen-prasse)
Eminent Member

We have stayed at Secret Harbor the last couple of years, we love the laid back lifestyle. I would also suggest you bring your own snorkle gear and rent a car. I pack a duffle bag, the kind with handles, with snorkle gear, two beach towels, paper towels, ziplock bags with coffee, filters, napkins, small bottle of dish soap, salt and pepper containers, sponge and two larger ziplocks for wet bathing suits on the way home. I do this more for convenience, but it does save time and money. We stop at Walmart on the way to the resort for liquor and then into Red Hook , and a stop at Marina Market for some munchies. Since we get into St. Thomas late afternoon we are most interested in getting into beach attire, getting a drink and doing some serious vegging. Always a order a pizza delivered the first night. Lots of reasonable places to eat on the island. Do spend the money to take the ferry to St. John, you’ll love the beaches.
Land Locked Beach Lover, where is there really good pizza in West County?

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Posted : August 21, 2005 1:36 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Island Expert

Ellen: Do you stop at K-Mart or Cost-U-Less? We don't have a Walmart!

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Posted : August 21, 2005 1:56 pm
Ellen Prasse
(@ellen-prasse)
Eminent Member

Sorry, brain dead, K-mart

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Posted : August 21, 2005 2:43 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Island Expert

I was hoping there was a Walmart out there that was built since Friday! 😉

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Posted : August 21, 2005 3:13 pm
natalie
(@natalie)
Active Member

My husband, son and I just returned from STT and we dined out most lunches and dinners. Here are some of my reviews for what they are worth:

Fast Food: Hey I had to give into the kid a few times. Generally a little more expensive that stateside, but not too bad.

Wendys and McDonalds same quality of food as on the mainland. Service not so good. But not expensive by island standards.

Pizza Hut by Havensight. Believe it or not the quality of the pizza was MUCH better on STT. Service was horrible, but pizza and prices were good.

Others:

Charlotte Tameles - This was very reasonably priced. Being from the Oklahoma/Texas area I'm pretty picky about my Mexican food, and this was a great little place. They have some huge burritos for around $8.00. It was plenty for lunch or dinner. The place was a little hard to find because it's behind some other buildings. It's in Havensight across from the cruiseship dock. Look for the little red sombraro. This is a no frills place, but good food and the people are friendly.

Caribbean Saloon at Red Hook. I thought it was moderately priced for the amount of food, and the quality was ok. Drinks there were good also. Service was ok.

Jacks - We ate at the one on the way to Redhook. We had dinner and drinks for less than $50.00. They have some great burgers and wings. Service was ok.

East End Cafe - The food was some of the best I had on the island (I had a coconut grouper), but it was one of the more expensive dinners we had at around $25-$30 per person. Service was pretty good.

Cuzzins - The food here is very good, and prices weren't too bad. I was surprised by the poor service of the waiter, but oh well it's the islands.

The North Drop - This was my favorite place at around $20 per person. The food was pretty good, but the view and staff really make this resturant! We were going to go back on Monday, but they were closed :-(.

Not to leave out STJ we ate lunch over there for our day trip. Island Blues Cafe over at Coral Bay was a GREAT bargin for STJ. Staff was friendly and the view was great. Great burgers, chicken, etc. I think is was around $10-$12 per person.

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Posted : August 21, 2005 6:33 pm
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