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Trip report (7/13-7/23) Day eight: Donkeys, and mongooses, and sharks - again!!!

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Trip report (7/13-7/23) Day eight: Donkeys, and mongooses, and sharks - again!!!

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Sorry these installments are taking so long to write - things have been non-stop both at home and at work over the last few weeks. I'm planning to keep them coming, but please be patient with me - I'll get 'em done sooner or later. If I have to keep this crazy pace much longer, I'm going to need another week on STJ very soon! (here's hoping! :))

Got up early again this morning and had my usual coffee on the balcony - and my last relaxing morning to do so this trip :(. Another nice morning; today the plan is to see the ruins at Annaberg and snorkel Waterlemon. We have visited Annaberg before, but had never made it to Waterlemon, so this would be a first and I was really looking forward it. For breakfast Hubby threw together an omelet made with leftover veggies from last night's dinner. We had a couple of bagels I bought a couple of mornings ago; they were still good. After yummy breakfast, we got our stuff together and were out the door by 9:30.

We made our usual stop at Starfish for lunch provisions - today it would be tossed salad with grilled chicken, a ham & cheese sandwich, and plenty of water. Starfish has a decent selection of ready-made lunch foods and provides dressing packets, plastic utensils, and napkins right next to the sandwich/salad fridge (FYI - so you don't miss them the way we did the first time).

We headed to Annaberg via the north shore; I just can't get enough of the views from the scenic overlooks along the way! Amazing every time!

Rod and Amy were planning to meet us at Annaberg but were running a bit later than we were, so we figured we would have time for lunch before their arrival. There were only 3 cars parked in the lot at Annaberg, but we wanted to eat our lunch in the shade, so we parked in the shade along the side of the road for our tailgate picnic. Still no Rod & Amy after we finished, so we took a very short path through the brush to the Mary Creek side of Leinster Bay. I took a few pictures of the small beach, beautiful yellow and red flowers (not sure what they're called), and a small but very fierce gecko who was doing his best to scare me off - I let out a couple of "eeks" just to make him feel good.

Still no Rod & Amy??? Wonder what's keeping them? Well, we weren't in a hurry or anything, and the little beach was kinda nice... After about half and hour or so (by my best guess) they finally showed up. Apparently Rod didn't realize he had to turn off the north shore road to get to Annaberg, so he just kept going, and going, and going... He finally realized he had gone the wrong way when they arrived at the end of RT 10 in the East End! They turned around and were able to find the turn-off on the way back. It isn't really possible to get lost on St. John, but you can become "temporarily misplaced".

Standing at the overlook in front of the Annaberg windmill, it appeared that the weather was very clear as we were able to see Jost and Tortola quite well; much of the previous haze seemed to be gone today. We explored the ruins at Annaberg for an hour or so. Every time I explore these ruins, I try to imagine what it must have been like for the slaves working the plantation and the hills surrounding it, and every time I come away completely unable to fathom.

After exploring the ruins, we retrieved our gear and cooler from the car and started the hike to Waterlemon Bay. I had heard differing reports about the condition of the road leading to the hiking trail. It looked to be passable by 4WD vehicle, however there were several cars parked on the paved road directly in front of the entrance to the dirt road leading to Waterlemon. These cars were blocking anyone who had decided to drive in and park at one of the handful of shaded spots along the dirt road (we saw one car parked in one of those spots that had been blocked). It wasn't clear why someone would opt to park at the entrance to the dirt road when there was plenty of parking available in the Annaberg lot ~20 yards away. If you decide to drive in and park along the dirt road to Waterlemon, keep this in mind.

The entire hike (dirt road and path) took about 20-25 minutes I think. It was an easy hike; completely flat and right along the water's edge, so there was a constant breeze blowing. Just before the beach were several roped-off areas where sea turtle nests had been sited. Hopefully by now they have hatched and the little guys have found their way safely to the water. The sandy beach at Waterlemon is nice, but not as striking as some of the other north shore beaches. Though the sandy part of this beach doesn't quite compare to some of the others, the beach is lined with flowering trees (the same type we saw near Mary Creek) which provide many shaded areas that are just a few feet from the water's edge. Waterlemon more crowded (by STJ standards) than we expected; ~20 people. We settled in a shady spot on the far right side closest to the point/cay so that we could snorkel along that side to the point and then around the cay.

After relaxing for 15 or 20 minutes, we started our snorkel. The fish were gorgeous and plentiful; Queen & French Angels (adult & juvenile), Blue Tangs (adult -blue, & juvenile - yellow), Sergeant Majors, Butterfly fish, Trigger fish, Palomitas, Grunts, Squirrel fish, Basslets, Royal Grammas etc. (can you tell I've been reading my fish identification book?). Many of these fish swam up to us while we were in the shallow water donning our equipment. As we made our way toward the point and cay, we saw several juvenile Barracudas (~ 1 foot in length) who had staked out territory, one every 20 feet or so, in the shallow water along the shoreline. Though small, they already have that big barracuda look, though I don't think they pose a threat to anything but the small fish in the vicinity. I gave them a few scared looks as I snorkeled by just to make them feel good 🙂

Rod and Amy had already snorkeling across to the cay as we approached the point and prepared to do the same. I had been enjoying this snorkel immensely and was looking forward to exploring the area around the cay. And then I saw it! It was very large, in only about 3 feet of water between us and the shore, and WAY too close! It was Jaws again, only this time he was bigger than me - about 5 - 6 feet long! Okay, time out! I become extremely uncomfortable around a fish that is larger than myself, especially when said fish is also equipped with many sharp teeth! Hubby saw it before I did and we both turned in unison and watched it swim by. Like his Cinnamon Bay cousin, this version of Jaws did not seem the least bit interested in us, but we were fixated on him.

After he disappeared, we swam up to the sandy area at the end of the point to collect ourselves and decide what to do next. Apparently we were not the only ones who noticed Jaws, as there were four others sitting on the sandy point exchanging horror stories. I overheard one of them say that it was a six-foot Reef shark and that he could tell by the black tips on its fins. Until that point I had assumed it was a Nurse shark (and I still think it was), but because it went by so quickly, I didn't get a much of a chance to study it closely. Since I couldn't be 100% sure what kind of shark it was, I was all-of-the-sudden not keen on venturing out to the cay. We waited at the point for Rod and Amy to come return. When they did, we asked them if they had seen it - they hadn't; Amy said if they had, there's no way she would have gone any further either. They did say the cay snorkel was awesome - figures!

So that was that. We snorkeled back toward the beach (keeping a watchful eye for anything large and scary), and then lounged for awhile. While lounging we saw, heard, and smelled mongooses - I think there's a mongoose village in the brush behind the beach. The guys had way too much fun with the concept of "smelling" a mongoose - the pet phrase being "I smell mongoose!". I'm sure you can imagine... men (sigh).

After liming a bit (I've never been able to sit still for too long), hubby and I followed a donkey family along the Johnny Horn trail (keeping a safe distance) to the scenic overlook as short distance from the beach. As luck would have it, the donkeys were in the overlook when we arrived. They spooked and trotted into the brush, so I was able to get some nice pictures of the ruins overlooking Great Thatch and Jost.

Hubby and I left Waterlemon around 4:00; Rod and Amy stayed awhile longer - we were to meet up later for dinner in town. I had a hankering for conch fritters, specifically Vie's conch fritters, so to Vie's it was. We had not been to Vie's since our honeymoon in 1995, but it was just as we remembered - cats, chickens, and goats roaming; shaded tables under the large Tamarind tree; Vie's cooking smelling awesome... Ahhhh, it was SO nice to be back. We split an order of conch fritters and an order of beans & rice, sipped ice tea, and soaked in the atmosphere. The fritters were excellent as always, the beans & rice were out of this world, and the ambiance is everything we love about St. John - I'm so glad we made it there this time. If stop by Vie's, and it is definitely worth the drive, the fritters are a must, but be sure to try the beans & rice - you won't be disappointed.

I was a bit melancholy (just a bit) on the drive back to the villa because I knew it would be my last trip to the east/Coral Bay side of the island this trip. Yes. I am one of those sentimental; fools who thinks about these things and allow them to bother me prematurely - sniff! 🙁

After we cleaned up, we went into town (parked at Courtesy again - great deal!), and met Rod and Amy. We decided on Rhumblines tonight - I insisted. We were seated immediately (it was about 7:00) as Rhumblines was not terribly busy. We split an order of fritters with aoli - they were so good, we ordered another. For main courses, I had shrimp pad thai - excellent; Rod had the seared tuna - he said it was outstanding; hubby and Amy had a variety of selections from the pu pu menu, all of which they loved. The food and drinks were outstanding - I think I have found a new favorite restaurant both in and outside of Cruz Bay.

After dinner we stopped at Woody's for a night cap, then headed back to the villa for an early turn-in in preparation for what would be a very busy day tomorrow...

Posted : September 13, 2006 9:21 pm
Posts: 519
Honorable Member

Wow! We've been going to the VI's for 4 years straight and last year was our first to explore Waterlemon. I remember it exactly as you describe it except - no SHARKS!!! I didn't do the Cay, but my best friend did, and I do regret it. I'm determined to go "all the way" on next February's visit. Thanks for the great trip report! I really loved your detail and the emotion behind your story. We are staying on St. John for the first time next year. I cannot wait for a great day of beach and snorkeling then a Woody's nightcap. You've set the stage for us!

Posted : September 13, 2006 10:36 pm
Posts: 2026
Noble Member


Love your reports! I know what you mean about the pace at work once you return from vacation! If I didn't finish and publish my report tonight, it would have never gotten finished.

You made me laugh when you made scary faces at the young barracudas to make them feel good 🙂 I do wonder what kind of shark that was!

Aha, so you're another Rhumblines fan? You and I both posted reports of that place tonight, and we both said it was our favorite on STJ. Isn't it just an awesome place?

Can't wait for more - though, I know you'll be winding down soon 🙁

I sure hope someone else goes soon so we can get another report!

Posted : September 13, 2006 11:13 pm
Posts: 323
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Blu -

I've really been enjoying your reports as well - almost like being there! I wish I had thought to embed our pics in the reports - such a nice touch!

Yeah, I thought the little 'cudas could use an ego boost - honestly they made me chuckle more than anything, but don't tell them 😉

We absolutely loved Rhumblines! The food, atmosphere, everything was so "island" - we could have stayed for hours (those bar swings were calling my name!), and probably would have if we didn't have a completely full dance card the next day (so un-island time I know, but just the way things happened to play out).

And like you, we also love St. John Spice. We do a lot of cooking, both at home and away when we have a kitchen at our disposal. St. John Spice was our first stop after we decided on mahi mahi for our first dinner. Actually, it would have been regardless of our choice of entree - you can't go wrong there. Rather dangerous that their stuff is now available on-line... I have some serious plans 🙂

Posted : September 14, 2006 6:15 pm
(@Kathleen B)
Posts: 1

Okay, how did I miss Rhumblines? When we were there in July, I never saw it, never heard about it, nothing... I guess I need to put this at the top of my list for next time?

Posted : September 14, 2006 9:36 pm
Posts: 2026
Noble Member

Aha, have missed my other trip reports. I have been raving about Rhumblines for over two years now! It is really easy to miss, so don't feel badly that you didn't see it. It would surely be more popular if it was easier to spot.

It sits in a courtyard in that building in Cruz Bay that was burned out last year (I don't know the name)- you can't tell from the inside of Rhumblines that there was a fire, but if you look and see a building that looks like it has been seriously burned, that's where Rhumblines is....just walk through the little alcove and you'll find Rhumblines inside. It'll feel like you've wandered into Bora Bora - and taste even better!

They have a website:

Posted : September 14, 2006 10:36 pm
Posts: 323
Reputable Member
Topic starter

The burned out building is Meada's Plaza (there's a large sign on the front of the building posting a reward for information leading to the arrest of the arsonist). It is a couple of doors down from the corner where First Bank is located (heading toward Mongoose Junction, the post office, etc.).

Posted : September 15, 2006 6:22 am

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