Trip Report Feb 7 - 15 Days 1-3
Please Register / Login to take part in discussions about the Virgin Islands.
We had 3 couples heading to STT/STJ for a week, and had planned the trip for a full year. You know - planning for me is half the fun - gives me much to think about while awaiting the pinnacle of our Kentucky winter - our annual trek to the islands. Here's a little about the couples. #1 is us - mid-40's married 25 years and have been coming to the VI annually for 6 years now. #2 are great friends - early 40's married 20 years and have been to STT with us 3 years ago. #3 is my sister and her husband - late 40's, married almost 30 years and first-timers to the islands.
We began our journey early on the 7th of Feb. Couple #3 and we departed from Cincinnati at 6:40am, so we used some Hilton points and got a room at the airport Hampton (and took advantage of their "stay and fly" program). The 4:15 wake-up call wasn't really needed as we were all "too excited to sleep". My desire to get on island time and island relaxation was immediately tested at the US Air counter. We tried our best to pack our items into one larger "checked bag" and 2 smaller carry-on bags. Ticket agent informed me that they "just changed the rules for carry-on last Sunday" and the bags we had were now too big to be carried on. So - we had to check 3 bags instead of one bag. Ultimately - not a big deal. Cost a few extra bucks but now I didn't have to drag them around all day. Flight departing Cincinnati was delayed by over an hour because they couldn't find the "EXIT" sign on the door. FAA regulation says that sign must be hung and it was missing so we had to wait until they could locate and hang a new sign. No big deal for us as I booked a long layover in Charlotte so we could get breakfast and not worry about the connection.
Arrived on the island right on time, and I headed for the Budget counter while the others gathered the luggage. Bags came out really quickly - well before I made any progress in the line for the car. Got to the front and had a great rep named "Bobbie" take care of me. I had reserved a 7 passenger Dodge Durango 4-wheel drive but they were out. So - she gave us the option of 2 Jeeps for the same price. Couple #2 arrived just a few minutes before us and volunteered to drive the other vehicle, so we took both Jeeps. Most of the time, I'd have rather just had one vehicle as all we did was follow each other around the island in separate cars. But - the luggage would have been a real pain with just one car - so it all worked out.
We loaded-up and headed to Island View Guesthouse (IVG) for our only night on STT. We always like to stay our first night on STT, head to Magans Bay on day 2 then take the car ferry to STJ for the rest of our trip. The people at IVG were really nice. Although I didn't get to meet the owner, Ron, I've spoken to him several times. In fact, since we were guests, we also booked him and his boat for a daytrip later in the week (more on that later), and he was always great about wanting to make our trip a memorable one. The rooms were basic and clean and the view was really good. We normally stay at the Mafolie, but they couldn't accomodate us this time. Hotels are really similar, but Mafolie has a slightly better view. Our normal routine is drinks by the pool then dinner at the Greenhouse. We'll probably change our dinner routine next time. Last year and again this year the Greenhouse was just "okay". Nothing dramatically wrong - just nothing really "good" either. I think maybe Iggies will be our first night restaurant next year. We also stopped at K-Mart for general supplies including the week's supply of liquor (well - we did have to get a little more Banana Rum by week's end).
Quick basic continental breakfast at IVG then we headed to Mountaintop. Couple #3 have never been on island and I think it's a great start to go to Mountaintop for quick shopping and to see Magans Bay from above. It really seems to mean more when you actually go to the beach after having seen it from up top. We took plenty of pictures, bought a few items from the merchants then headed to the beach. I've always really enjoyed Magans Bay. We generally head down the left side and away from the bar area, and the crowds a bit. We arrived around 11am, got our chairs and readied ourselves for a great day. Oops - forgot to tell mother nature about my order for a sunny day! It rained off-and-on through the early afternoon then around 2pm the sky opened-up and it literally poured rain. Oh man! Not the way any of us wanted our first day in paradise to turn out! Oh well - can't change the weather so we decided to leave the beach and head to the grocery store to get provisions for the week then off to STJ. Found Cost-U-Less and began our search for groceries. We were soaked from the rain and I swear the store was completely refrigerated - it was freezing cold - so we hurried ourselves, made our selections, and headed out. Got to Red Hook just as the ferry had left, so we had a little wait till the next one come by. Used the time to gather and talk about the rest of the week - you know - keep everyone focused on the Paradise yet to come since Day 2 was a real wash-out. Ferry was uneventful and we called Mary-Eileen from Private Homes for Private Vacations. She met us at the ferry area and we followed her to Island Horizons Villa atop Bourdeaux Mountain.
The roads were wet from the rain, so we already had our Jeeps in 4-wheel drive for the trip over to Coral Bay. I've driven Centerline Road before and knew what to expect from it. The other couple have never driven on STJ so it was a little scary for them. Anyway - we drive to Coral Bay, take a right at the junction then another right up a very steep paved road. Now my knuckes are starting to get white from gripping the steering wheel! I knew Island Horizons was up a steep path, but it's still scary the first time. About three-quarters of the way up, Mary-Eileen stops and her husband comes back to our Jeep and tells us that NOW would be a good time to put the car in 4 wheel drive because it's going to start getting steep. START getting steep?!!? We all looked at each other, swallowed hard and pressed forward. Up we go - and up and up and up then she turns left in the driveway (actually turned out to be a road leading to multiple villas) and her Sequoia litterally disappeared DOWN. Oh my goodness this was straight down!! I threw it into low gear, put my foot on the brake and prayed for safety. That driveway, the first couple of times, is a real heart-stopper. But - the benefit of the adventure was worth it. Island Horizons is an excellent villa with a breathtaking view.
We made dinner in the villa (Peppery Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo), sat out on the covered deck, and told lots of stories.
The weather was still really unpredictable. High winds and it looked like it could rain any time, so we decided to stay on the south side of the island just in case we got rained out again. I've never been to Salt Pond before and wanted to see it, and I only recently discoverd Drunk Bay and the fun coral "inhabitants" that reside there, so that's where we headed. Parked and walked down the trail to Salt Pond. I can see why it's highly regarded - it's really beautiful. We continued on the trail to Drunk Bay and, having never been there before, were pretty unsure of what we were getting into! Slowly we began to hear the ocean sounds grow as we continued to walk through the brush, then we were rewarded with a siimply awesome view!
We really enjoyed walking through the rocks and seeing the more "rustic" part of STJ. We also began to see the local coral people which were created by others, so we just HAD to join in the fun! Here's Steve Austin (6 million $ man) our group tribute to the area!
We walked back up the trail and took our little caravan over to Little Lameshur. Man that road is BUMPY! After the tough ride, we were anxious to get some sunshine and snorkeling done and we were able to accomplish both. The water was pretty cloudy so snorkeling was only "fair". My first time out found me swimming and looking down below. I headed around the rocky area in the middle and got to the back side. I looked up from the bottom and just about peed my pants! There was the biggest fish I have ever seen (I think it might have been a tarpon) just about 15 feet from me! Truly - it made my heart pick up a few beats! It slowly swam away and, well frankly so did I. We really enjoyed our day at Little Lameshur, except that couple #2 actually had his snorkel mask stolen! We don't know when or how because we really think someone was around our stuff througout the day, but after our picnic lunch, he couldn't find it anywhere. Pretty bizarre!
We left the beach and headed back to the villa for dinner. Couple #2 was in charge of dinner tonight (we each took a turn cooking and cleaning up) and grilled chicken for chicken tacos. Delicious! We were all very tired, and crashed for the night shortly after 10pm.
I'll write the next couple of days report soon. Have some awesome pics of snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay that I'd like to share on the next installment. Hope this has been worth your time!
What a great trip report and thanks for all of the pictures. I'm starting to get a little island envy. Looking forward to your pictures of Waterlemon Cay, I had a chance to go snorkeling with some friends on their private boat for a day, wish I would have taken more pictures so I look forward to seeing yours.
Nice report so far, Thanks for sharing!
Bobbie at Budget is the best for sure! Her co-worker Debbie is also a wonderful person and the two of them are always helpful in any way that they can. They are keepers!
Look forward to reading the rest! (tu)
Ronnie is the best also! I see him at the airport often, picking up his guests!
VI Lover, Your coral man looks like a sock monkey to me.
It's his disguise - remember - he's a secret agent "in real life"! Or - just too many Banana-wackers! :@)