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Where to stay for first trip?

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Where to stay for first trip?

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Posts: 2
New Member
Topic starter

My husband, 9 year old son and I are thinking about vacationing in the US Virgin Islands this July. We have been trying to look at all the reviews, etc. and seem a little overwhelmed. We have never been to the Virgin Islands, so we really need some help. I need all the advice anyone can give. We will be flying out of Philadelphia and hope to stay for a week. So the normal...where to stay, what to do, what to know questions apply. Thank you!

Posted : May 24, 2009 10:17 am
Posts: 563
Honorable Member

to get started, you should note whether you have ever been on an island before, and if so, what you enjoyed most. you have a young child, and certainly beaches can occupy lots of time, but maybe you'll want to be near lots of activities, maybe not.

do you envision a house right within walking distance of a beach, or high in the hills for the incredible views? would you like to be near town or in a more private setting?

would you prefer to be at a resort with all manner of amenities and staff on hand, or a private condo or villa rental where you can cook, grill and perhaps have your very own pool?

do you need air conditioning in all of your rooms or just bedrooms or you don't really care as long as you have good fans and tradewinds with good screens?

do you prefer "open plan" with lots of access to sunshine (and perhaps a creature or two) in common areas, or a totally enclosed space?

and, finally, do you have your dates? i am sure that you'll get a lot of suggestions later, but perhaps thinking about these questions to yourself will help you to navigate through all the info you'll likely get.

have a blast in the u.s.v.i. !

Posted : May 24, 2009 10:37 am
Posts: 2
New Member
Topic starter

Thank you for your response. My son and I have only been to Martha's Vineyard - which is obviously a thousand times different than this type of island. The furthest south we have been is to Florida. My husband has been to Hawaii. We definitely like the comforts of home, such as air conditioning and television. I love the idea of walking distance to the beach if possible. When we go to beaches in the northeast US we usually enjoy building sandcastles, etc. We are looking into July 12-19, 2009.

We like eating out, however we don't mind cooking sometimes as well. We were debating the all-inclusive vs. on our own. We had all-inclusive in Disney and loved it because we knew we weren't going to spend too much. So any input on that would help as well. I saw some things about beach bbq's, etc. which sound like a lot of fun.

Hopefully this information helps!

Posted : May 24, 2009 11:01 am
Posts: 660
Honorable Member

Perhaps the most important thing in coming to the VI is the water. So with a 9 year son I would suggest that you stay at Secret Harbor or Crystal Cove on Sapphire Beach . Both have an excellent beach with very little waves, The snorkeling at Sapphire might be a little better and you have the view of St. John and the BVI. If you have a car you might want to go to Megan's, Trunk on St. John and Smith Bay park. Coral World might interest him.


Posted : May 24, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 3318
Famed Member

Take a look at condo rentals at Sapphire/Crystal Cove on, East End St Thomas or, as billd suggested, Secret Harbour would be another good option. Both Sapphire and Secret Harbour have excellent snorkeling right off the beach and the advantage to renting a condo is that you'll have a nice kitchen so can make your own breakfasts and lunches. Have fun planning!

Posted : May 24, 2009 2:30 pm
Posts: 844
Prominent Member

Have you decided on STT? If not, I'd suggest you take a look at the Buccaneer on STX - Might be what you're looking for.

Disclaimer - I'm a Buccaneer employee.

Posted : May 24, 2009 8:47 pm
Posts: 102
Estimable Member

I have two suggestions for places to stay as a first time on St. John. "A Davis" had a really good post about what it is you actually want on a vacation and based on how you answer those questions the two places that would make for a great first time vacation with kids on St. John would be Maho Bay Camps and the Westin.


Posted : May 25, 2009 8:00 am
Posts: 1218
Noble Member

Condo on the Beach? Secret Harbor or Sapphire
Villa with a pool? Plus complete privacy when in your own space? (tu)
I am not sure if we have all inclusive anymore, I know Sugar Bay Hotel used to be all inclusive. :S
Hope this helps.

Anita, great post!

Posted : May 25, 2009 8:33 am
Posts: 11
Active Member

St. Thomas has more hotel and resort options if you are looking for that. We stayed at the Westin in St. John and would highly recommend it for a first trip. You can rent a timeshare villa from the owners much cheaper than directly from the Westin. The beach here is not the greatest but the other beaches on the island are beautiful. They have lots of activities for children. If you don't need the amenities of a resort villas on ST. John are beautiful a (million+ dollar villasa) and reasonably priced during the summer. This is one site just to get an idea: We are returning to St. John next February and are renting a villa this time.

We've also been to the Buccaneer on St. Croix and it was probably my favortive family resort in the Caribbean (not glitzy, old Caribbean charm, family run,...). Three lovely beaches, good food, golf course, tennis. A fabulous breakfast is included in the rate. We stayed in the family cottages which aren't luxurious but were perfect for my family. I prefered the island of St. John to St. Croix but St. Croix is unique in that it doesn't have as many visitors/tourists. Hope this helps!

Posted : May 26, 2009 12:37 pm
Posts: 11
Active Member

Sorry, gave you an incorrect site in my last post. Check out their specials for July.

Posted : May 26, 2009 12:45 pm
Posts: 313
Reputable Member

Another good option on St. Croix is the Chenay Bay Resort. The accommodations are small cottages, each with their own kitchenette. The beach is very pretty and the water is calm. It is located east end and not too far from the Buccaneer and family fun restaurants such as Cheseburgers in America's Paradise and Chicken Charlie's Road House. The Divi resort is also a good family spot but unless you book into the time shares I don't think you will have a kitchenette. The east end of STX has many different beaches where you can snorkel. Green Cay is nearby where many several day trips to Buck Island leave daily and the Tamarind Reef resort there has excellent snorkeling and their Deep End Bar hots the Tito & Sue's crab races - not to be missed by the kids and great prizes . The World Ocean School also has sails on teh 127' schooner The Roseway - fun and educational. Villas on STX can be very economical - a few I would recommend for two would be Island Time, Lymin' Beach House and Sugar Bird Rest (the last two are on the same curve of beach as the Divi and guests of these villas can also enjoy the amenities there).

Happy planning!

Posted : May 26, 2009 2:04 pm
Posts: 2
New Member

Stay at my ocean front condo at Sapphire Beach, for under $99 per nite.
Alan Rockman 717 439 3105
Best views, best snorkeling, fresh water pool at edge of ocean, friendly manager will take you around, so you won't have to rent a car.

Posted : May 26, 2009 2:44 pm
Posts: 1
New Member

Without a dought, if you and your family would like a true Caribbean experience, I have to recommend the Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino, on St. Croix. ( airport code: STX ) It's located on the far east end of the island, so you'll need to rent a car at the airport. ( I recommend that you do that in advance online to save money. ) By the way...; we drive on the "Left" here.

DO NOT go all-inclusive!! There are so many great places to eat on St. Croix that are reasonable priced. Please remember, that the health & food standards are the same as they are in the United States mainland...; therefore; whether you choose a Wendy's; Subway; the Dockside Cafe at the Divi; Antoine's; Cheeseburgers In America's Paradise; Cane Bay Beach Bar & Grill; Bombay Club; Rumrunners; Off the Wall Bar & Grill; and you have to do the Tuesday night buffet at the Harbormaster Beach Club on the island of Protestant Cay in Christiansted harbor. And there's may more. Oh...; if you and your family enjoy ice cream you'll have to find Armstrong's Homemade Ice Cream & Deli. ( on Queen Mary Highway east of the Whim Plantation Museum ) Your taste buds will never be the same. If you would desire an upscale meal...; we've got you covered. There's the Terrance at the Buccaneer Resort; Kendrick's; Bacchus; the Starlite Dining Room at the Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino; Harvey's; and H2O at the Hibiscus Beach Resort; all fabulous choices.

Since you're planning to visit around July 12 through July 19, you'll be visiting during "the low season"; so you'll have the island to yourselves sort of speak. You won't have to share it with thousands of visitors just off the cruise ships as you would on St. Thomas. You'll have a chance to meet the natives and get into the real Caribbean Lifestyle. ( note: Always speak to everyone. It is considered "rude" not to at least say "Hello"; "Good Morning"; "Good Afternoon"; "How are you?"; etc.. ) If you have a "cheery attitude"; you'll get that in return. You may get a little rain...; it's okay!! The rain never stays too long on St. Croix; so leave your umbrellas at home.

There's a saying that once you get the sands of St. Croix between your toes...; you will return!! Believe It !!

Posted : May 26, 2009 7:56 pm
Posts: 264
Reputable Member

You can get a lot of information on many places at this link. There are endless great places to go in the Caribbean so enjoy.

Posted : May 31, 2009 12:47 pm
Posts: 2023
Noble Member

vibound: Since you linked that twice, and it has nothing to do with the poster's questions, do you have some personal stake in the company?

Posted : May 31, 2009 1:01 pm
Posts: 264
Reputable Member

No, I just found that it provided some interesting information. Forgive me if I overstepped any limits to postings.

Posted : May 31, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 2026
Noble Member

I agree about Sapphire or Secret Harbor. With your son being the only child coming along, I imagine it being important that there be other kids on the beach. You should find other kids at both of these resorts. I usually find more kids at Sapphire.
Sapphire used to have a "kids eat free" plan that saved me a ton. Not sure if Secret Harbor has it.

Secret Harbor has a swim platform out in the water. Kids enjoy swimming out and jumping off.

Secret Harbor is better for the beginner snorkeler since the water is clamer. Sapphire is not wavy, by any means...but there's a "back and forth" rocking motion in the water that might take a little getting used to for the very beginner (don't know if your son swims).

Both beaches have shade, but I think Secret Harbor has more.

Secret Harbor has a good restaurant and bar on the beach. You can go up in your swimsuit, order lunch and take it over to your beach chairs. I haven't checked Sapphire in a while to see if their restaurant is back in business or not.

Both resorts are in a good location - close to Red Hook (shops, restaurants, food market) and the ferries to St John.

I like the view at Sapphire much better - looking over onto St John.

A few years back, both resorts were in the "Traveler's Advantage" coupon book with 50% off rooms in the off season. Check that out and see if they still are. I always got 50% off via a coupon and stayed in the 2 level beachfront villas at Sapphire using the coupon. The main floor has a large bathroom, kitchen, dining area and living area with a sleep sofa. There is a large balcony over the sand. Go upstairs and there is a master bedroom with king bed and also a sleep sofa....and another bathroom...and another balcony. There is a vaulted ceiling up there, so it feels really large. If you do not stay in a "villa", you can stay in a one level suite. The first and second floors of the recort are suites and the third and fourth floors are the villas. The suites have a king bed that shuts off from the rest of the suite via a wall of sliding doors......and there's a kitchen, dining area, living area with sleep sofa. If you go with a suite, my comments are that the first floor has the advantage of opening right out onto the sand beyond your private patio. However, to me, the first floor rooms always seemed more weathered. The second floor rooms always seemed more fresh (maybe something to do with the sand and salt beating them up on the first floor?). If you book Sapphire, be aware that one of the buildings afronts the rocky/pebble beach, while the others afront the sand beach (there is also a building that afronts the marina). It has been so long, I forgot the letters that go with each building. The first building (maybe A?) tends to get more noise and sometimes music at night since it is next to the lobby and bar area. The sending building (B?) is my favorite and I always asked for this one. I think C is behind the pool (not the best location, IMO) and D is the rocky beach. The rooms in D are actually closest to the water (least amount of sand between your room and the water''s edge) if you are interested in sitting on your balcony and looking out...but you'd probably want to walk down to the other area for the sand beach.

I now stay in villas...but fondly remember my kids spending hours playing with other kids on Sapphire beach when we stayed there. Sometimes they'd make such good friends that the other parents and I would take turns making lunch for the kids, having them over the play or watch movies in the evening. Being that both Sapphire and Secret Harbor have many "owned" units, you tend to meet families who are regular visitors and sometimes people who live on the island for a full season or year round. My kids typically met the grandchildren of year-round residents in the condos at these resorts.....since we usually visited in summer when the kids were out of school.

I am a firm believer that your child's ability to meet and enjoy spending time playing with other nice children can really MAKE a vacation for you, too!

Posted : June 8, 2009 12:09 am
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