The US Virgin Islands Best Guide

Trip Report / St. John / July 12-17

Notifications
Clear all

Trip Report / St. John / July 12-17

Please Register / Login to take part in discussions about the Virgin Islands.


16 Posts
5 Users
0 Reactions
2,824 Views
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

First, let me say THANK YOU to everyone who posts on this message board! I learned so much from all of you and every tip made our trip more enjoyable. My friends kept saying, "How do you know all this?" or "Where did you find this out?" and of course, my response was "the VInow.com message board"!!!

Day One: Wednesday July 12th:
Our little group consisted of two couples who flew from Dallas to Miami and then on to STT on Wed July 12. Our flight left Dallas at 6:50am so it was a loooooong day before finally taking the ferry toward St. John around 5pm. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was to finally see Cruz Bay after all of the planning and all of the waiting!!! We were staying at Gallows Point which is easily seen on the right point of the Bay as you come in on the ferry. We called before leaving STT and they had a shuttle waiting for us in Cruz Bay to take us to our home away from home for the week. Absolutely loved... I'm saying LOVED Gallows Point. We checked in, scurried to our condos and literally gasped at the view back toward St. Thomas. The condos are right on the waterfront and when you open the huge floor to ceiling doors you can hear the waves and the breeze is amazing. We didn't waste much time gasping and giggling before splashing water on our sweaty (from the ferry) but happy faces and walking into town for dinner. It's only a 5 minute walk and it passed quickly in our excitement to finally be there! It was Wednesday so thanks to tips from this message board, we went to the Lime Inn for the "all you can eat Shrimp" which was spicy and yummy even though a tad small by my Louisiana native standards... but our table was under a fan and the place felt like a true taste of the St. John evenings that I had been hearing about and we were absolutely relaxing into "island time" with our Mango Coladas in hand... "another round???"... YES!

Day Two: Thursday July 13:
We were up with the chickens, as they say in Texas, and it is a particularly appropriate expression on St. John! We gobbled granola bars that we brought along and wandered back into town with our beach bag in hand and took a taxi to Trunk Bay. Okay, okay, I know, it's the one that is supposed to be so crowded, but it was early and after looking at all those gorgeous pictures on the web we just couldn't resist going there first! The taxi stopped at the Trunk Bay overlook and I felt like I was in a dream... I had seen this view on line so many times that it was truly overwhelming to see it from the same familiar vantage point. It was just the perfect morning, sunning, swimming and snorkeling the "underwater trail"! This was my first ever snorkel attempt and I must say that I was pretty good for a beginner. At first, I was a little afraid looking at how far out the island you snorkel around is... wondering how I would keep swimming and not get tired before time to come back in BUT I quickly learned that snorkeling is much more about floating than actually swimming and I got the hang of it almost immediately. I had found my sport... SNORKELING. Loved it, loved it... just loved it. The water was calm and the parrot fish were there to greet us with what appeared to be a big "toothy" smile... and if you are quiet, you can indeed, hear them chomping on the coral. We "chomped" ourselves, on hamburgers from the snack counter and had the best pina coladas with them. Watch your fries though... the gulls are really expecting a taste from the minute they hand them to you!!! There is a great table way down the walk to the right where you can sit and eat and see the sea and it gives new meaning to "cheeseburger in paradise", if you're a Buffet fan! The crowd at Trunk was growing and we began to have visions of Cinnamon Bay so we beach hopped. Cinnamon is the longer, less crowded twin of Trunk and should not be missed. Beautiful. We spent the rest of the day in our tropical paradise at Cinnamon Bay before heading home to quick showers and dinner at Morgan's Mango. Thursday's is Margarita night so the 'ritas are 2 for 1. They were frozen and cold and we were still warm and relaxed and it was a magical combination. The fav for the night among our group was the Blackened Snapper. VERY spicy, but if you're up for it, it is amazing! Skip the lime cilantro soup... barely more than a broth. Live music was a wonderful addition to the end of our relaxing day. At this point, my usually tight shoulder muscles felt like warm playdough. I was definitely in full "island" mode...

Day Three: Friday July 14th:
Up early again... probably because the sleep at night was truly the thing of myth and legend. You can't help but slumber well when you've relaxed into warm playdough the night before. We awoke each morning to the "flap, flap, flap" of the seagulls feet on our skylight above our bed... I can close my eyes and still hear that light "flap, flap, flap... flap, flap, flap". Back to breakfast... we wandered our way to Chilly Billy's for crab bennies (heavenly eggs benedict made with crab), cream cheese and mango stuffed french toast and a couple of Early Bird Specials which included eggs, bacon or sausage and toast accompanied by the most incredible "home fries" I've ever tasted. We looked out over the Bay toward St. Thomas while we lazily started our day and we decide then and there to return to Chilly Billy's again later in the week... we all want to try what the other had that morning! We met Chilly Billy and continued to run into him throughout our stay... Chilly Billy at the beach with a beer... Chilly Billy at the bar with another beer... I see a pattern forming... I want this guy's life!!! We head off by taxi to the Anaberg Plantation Ruins and watch a wedding from not so far away and get our first look toward Tortola and Jost Van Dyke. Great view, fascinating ruins and breathtaking Leinster Bay... however, don't let your taxi leave without a plan for him to come back or you will be trying to beg your way into a private tour to secure a ride back to civilization later. We realized the error of our ways quickly and went through several degrading, if not hysterical attempts to crash a private tour for a ride. Ended up with an amazing group that embraced our stupidity and took us along. We had planned on heading straight to the beach but instead toured Coral Bay and had lunch at Shipwreck Landing with our adopted tour group and a couple of chickens... but the shrimp was pretty yummy and the view across the street was sublime despite a chicken's theft of a top bun from another guest's sandwich... and no... I'm not kidding, hahaha. After continuing back to Cruz Bay along Centerline Rd, we were dropped off by our tour group at Hawksnest to spend the late afternoon FINALLY at the beach. Again, it just wasn't our day for taxi's so we found ourselves singing loudly hopefully to attract the attention of a passing taxi and after a couple of stanza's of "I hear the Taxi comin'.... It's rolling round the bend... I haven't seen a TAXI... since, I don't know when!" we were rewarded with a quick ride back to the Gallow's! For dinner, we chose The Fish Trap and were not disappointed. Cold beer and fresh seafood... yum! We have learned that it is almost always best to order the nightly specials at all of the places because it is usually the freshest and the most skillfully prepared. Our dinners at these restaurants ranged from 85-130 per couple. Enjoy a few nights of this and then throw in a hamburger at Woody's and a pizza at the beach place to even out your dining costs.

Day Four: Sat July 15th:
Ferry to Red Hook to join our Daysail upon the Fantasy with Capt Pam. The four of us plus a young, lovely couple from Florida went out for a day of sailing and snorkeling off Caneel. The snorkeling was similar to Trunk as far as the variety of fish but the real thrill was in the sea grass beds a little farther east of the reef that had the most beautiful sea turtles and sting rays! When you see a group of 7 rays and a large turtle hanging around beneath you... you KNOW you are not in Kansas anymore!!! This was the highlight of our snorkeling and could easily have been reached by just going to Caneel Bay Resort on our own... we had hoped to go to Waterlemon Cay but apparently it was "out of distance" for this particular daysail. Next time, I'd skip the sail and just head to Caneel on my own... A daysail from Red Hook is more for people who are not staying on St. John and want to go to St. John and have a guided snorkel. Our first mate aboard the Fantasy, Michael, was very helpful and a joy to be around and Capt Pam was very sweet. We ladies shopped briefly in Red Hook while our significant others made themselves at home at Duffy's Love Shack for a couple of cold ones. After getting back to St. John, the pattern continued with more shopping and barstooling... We decided to eat ugly instead of dragging up that dang hill to clean up so we ordered pizza and huge bottles of Fiji water for dinner and ate out front of the pizza place by the bar which was handy for ordering round after round. The pizza ordering turned into the only stress of the week and I'll post on that separately but the pizza was wonderful and we laughed and drank and didn't care how we looked (ragged and sunburned) and were as happy as can be. We were right on the harbor front and a million miles from nowhere. When we finally walked back up the hill (which seem to get higher every night, haha) to Gallows Point while some sailor (on his boat tied in the bay) who had reeeeally had too much to drink was barking at the moon (or maybe at us, who knows?). He made me want to sing that song about "what do you do with a drunken sailor?", but he was probably harmless and certainly added to the late night atmosphere of this usually sleepy harbor walk.

Day Five: Sunday, July 16:
Sunday early, our friends took the ferry to CA to shop some and my hubbie and I lounged blissfully listening to the waves, reading and relaxing while enjoying our incredible view from 15D of the Gallow's. Turns out the shops don't open if the cruise ships aren't in port and they weren't so they didn't. When our friends returned we all went back to Trunk to spend the day. Saw a huge sting ray just rambling along the shoreline headed toward the small reef at the left end. He didn't mind our swimming along with him. Stayed until almost sunset and shared this perfect beach with only a handful of other lucky groups. No cruise ships in STT makes for a very nice day on Trunk Bay. Dinner tonight was Panni Beach and it was fabulous! Pricey yes, but worth every penny. We were on the water front porch listening to the lapping of the water on the sand while we enjoyed pesto pizza, goat cheese salad, fried ravioli for appetizers followed by veal scallopine and a sauteed grouper that demanded applause. The beer was cold and the rum was sweet and we were all sad that our time on St. John was growing short. Tomorrow was our last day to enjoy ourselves and Cinnamon Bay was calling our names...

Day Six: Mon, July 17:
Early off to Chilly Billy's for one final breakfast... what is it about those potatoes??? So good... I got something called the 1,2,3 and all I know is that I had the potatoes, eggs, sausage and a pancake (I upgraded to the chocolate chip pancake). What a way to start a day looking out above Cruz Bay. We decided that all day in the full sun at Cinnamon might be too much since we were already as brown as toast so we shopped our way back to the Gallows at our own pace and met our friends at Cinnamon Bay later that afternoon for what was almost a private beach afternoon. We fed and photographed the gulls. We snorkeled along the far right reef. We drank our frozen pina coladas from our cooler. We ended our week on the beach in St. John in absolute perfection. What else to do on our last night, you may ask??? Well, WOODY'S, of course, for a giant burger that we are still thinking about and too many orders of onion rings and potato skins. Cold Corona and greasy grub from Woody's was the perfect ending to our island time... there is no sense of the past or future on St. John, just the glorious present. The last day you'll keep pushing the idea of leaving out of your mind because that brutal reality shouldn't rob you of a minute of it. Tomorrow will be here soon enough... there will be luggage to pack and ferries to board and flights to catch. By the time we hit Miami, the cell phones will ring and life as we know it will draw us back in, so tonight we will just continue to soak in the sounds, the sights, the tastes and the feelings of St. John

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 7:17 pm
(@byrequest1)
Posts: 117
Estimable Member
 

Kathleen,

I've been dying for your trip report and I'm so happy everything lived up to the hype for you. I love reading reactions of people who are seeing St. John for the first time. We all share that amazing experience. GREAT report.

Lisa in CT

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 7:34 pm
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

I finally understand why everyone goes back again and again... St. John has a magical ability to relax you into "warm playdough" as I said, and I can't stop thinking about all the images of my trip even now that I am home. It brings a smile to my face several times a day and I hear myself saying "Island time" to myself every time I am tempted to speed up... I "get it" now!

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 2:18 pm
(@coden)
Posts: 112
Estimable Member
 

Bravo - bravo!!! I Loved your report, I felt like I could have been there with you....and I am so happy to have read how much fun you all were having. Can't wait for our turn!!!

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 6:07 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

Kathleen,

Loved your report and our reference to warm playdough. So true.

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 7:11 pm
 Nick
(@Nick)
Posts: 1
 

Enjoyed your report. I agree that the daysail sounds odd----take the ferry to Red Hook, sail back over to STJ, spend the day snorkeling off Caneel, sail back to STT, take the ferry back over to STJ. For me, much of the appeal of a daysail is to be able to get to places (like some of the nearby cays) that I couldn't reach without a boat.

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 7:37 pm
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

When are you going??? Where are you staying???

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 10:20 pm
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

I enjoyed your trip report and can't wait to go next Saturday! How was the weather? I heard there was alot of rain earlier in July, but sounds like you had better luck.

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 10:33 pm
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

Hi Kathleen.... guess you noticed that I'm a Kathleen too! I'm from Texas, what about you?

Now, about your question about the weather... It was very warm, humid and wonderful with an occassional sudden downpour early in the morning that lasted only a few minutes and you would actually have to be standing under the right cloud to get wet. One morning we had about a 20-30 minute hard rain on Trunk Bay and it actually cooled things off for awhile and was really kinda fun. We stayed in the water because there wasn't any thunder or lightening and it was warmer in the water. We laughed about how long it had been since we played in the rain! Don't worry about the weather... unless there is a big tropical depression headed your way, which you will check on before you leave... you should be just fine and dandy!

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 10:44 pm
(@tess53)
Posts: 1
 

Kathleen..sounds like you had a wonderful, fun trip !! you made me recall my 1st adventure to st. john..although i've returned many times, that 1st encounter is and always will be etched in my mind.... i continue the adventure as much as time and money allows...keeps me sane. !!! great report !!

 
Posted : July 22, 2006 10:45 pm
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

Thanks for the weather update. Hopefully it will be fine for us. I'm from New Jersey, flying out of Philadelphia.

 
Posted : July 23, 2006 3:42 pm
(@gari-ann-in-tx)
Posts: 403
Reputable Member
 

What a great trip report Kathleen! Are you from Dallas? (I'm here in the Dallas area myself). I had to laugh at what you said about Leinster Bay and finding a ride back BEFORE getting there. When we were there in April, the girl at the activities desk at our resort recommended Leinster Bay because of the great snorkeling and low number of people. We got off the ferry from St. Thomas, found a taxi and started to head out. Another taxi driver said "do you have arrangements to get back?" And we were like "um, no, figured we hop another taxi." He laughed and said oh, no, you need to have made arrangements in advance. Who knew? We didn't, as nobody told us. 😉 So we made arrangements with him, even though he wasn't the guy driving us there. He told us he's an old military man and would be there before our set time. Told us it's quite a drive there, so we better be there waiting at our designated time. LOL

When we were done, we went up to the road and waited. Sure enough, he came rolling around the bend. I wish I'd gotten his name..he was THE nicest person we met. Since we were his only fare, he stopped (without us even asking!) at the Trunk lookout for us to take a picture, and at a few other places to tell us about them. What a sweetheart. He said he was born there, and moved back to live there, and you could really tell he loved his island. He told us about being up at Annaberg the day before with his family, seeing a shark in the water. You could tell the pride he had for STJ. It was so nice!

Sorry for the hijack, but you just got me remembering these things from my trip. 😉

 
Posted : July 24, 2006 11:37 am
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

Gari-Ann,
I really enjoyed reading about your experience at Leinster Bay! Still can't believe I spent all that time trying to find a ride back and didn't have my snorkel gear so I didn't even go out to Waterlemon Cay!!! Oh well.... next time. The man that finally drove us back was a wonderfully sweet older gentleman (taking a private group on a taxi tour) who loved, loved, LOVED STJ and drove a dark maroon taxi that was one of the nicer ones on the island. Wouldn't it be funny if it was the SAME nice man that came to get you? Oh and I just love my picture from the Trunk Bay overlook... it's on my computer as my desktop background right now! Also, interesting to hear you are in Dallas... my daughter lives in Uptown and I'm in northeast Texas in Texarkana. What a small, small world.

 
Posted : July 24, 2006 12:47 pm
(@gari-ann-in-tx)
Posts: 403
Reputable Member
 

Small world for sure!

The taxi driver we had was an older man as well. His taxi was a maroonish/dark red color! I think the umbrella portion over the back of the truck was striped.

BTW, I didn't get to snorkel around Watermelon either because we didn't have fins. We had our own snorkel mask and mouthpiece, but forgot to borrow fins from the resort. and that current was pulling me out, and without fins, I was panicking. I was having to actually swim pretty hard, but I wasn't getting anywhere..just staying in the same spot. So I was disappointed about that. Next time, I'll bring fins for sure, because I want to see all the cool fish around Watermelon!

 
Posted : July 24, 2006 3:28 pm
(@Kathleen)
Posts: 1
 

It was, indeed, striped!!! That sweet man probably makes his living picking up the lost souls of Leinster Bay that the other taxi drivers just leave to go make their quick fares running from Cruz Bay to Trunk Bay, hahaha!

If you haven't snorkeled in front of Caneel Bay Resort where the sea grass beds are, you should. We saw large groups of rays and several of my new best friends... the sea turtles!

 
Posted : July 24, 2006 11:54 pm
(@gari-ann-in-tx)
Posts: 403
Reputable Member
 

Oh, I'm really thinking we may have had the same driver! He had glasses and a slight lisp. Very sweet man, one of the nicest people we met. I got the feeling he didn't mind running that route because he could enjoy the views as well. 🙂

We'll definitely rent a car next time so we can check out all the beaches. I heard Caneel was wonderful. I wish we'd seen some turtles!

 
Posted : July 25, 2006 11:42 am

St. Thomas Activities

Set sail on top-rated charters, explore underwater wonders with scuba diving, encounter exotic animals, and venture into the wild with kayaking and ecotours. Feel the adrenaline with parasailing, aerial tours, and water sports for a memorable vacation.
Book Your St. Thomas Adventure Now
Virgin Islands Books & Maps