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U.S. Virgin Islands?

star sparkle

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
1,706
Hi PSers! :wavey:

I'm currently in the beginning stages of planning a trip for myself and BF to the USVI for next February (well really, it's ME planning and BF going along with whatever I say :wink2: ). I've never been there and I know many of you HAVE, so I'm just looking for any pointers or suggestions or helpful hints you may have!

One of my BFF's is getting married in St. Thomas in mid-February. The wedding and its festivities will probably last 2-3 days, and we've decided to make our trip a total of 8-9 days which would give us a good 5-6 days of our own time outside of wedding stuff to be together and explore. First question is, is that enough time? Too much? We live in CA and this is the first trip to Caribbean for both of us, and we likely won't be back anytime soon. Definitely don't want to leave with regrets wishing we had done more, but also don't want to be bored and twiddling our thumbs. I'm a little worried because I've never done the whole leisurely tropical vacation thing; I adore travelling and have been to countless places, but my trips are generally more in the cultural/museums/monuments/historical exploration mold than sit-on-the-beach-for-a-week-drinking-pina-coladas.

I've also decided that I also definitely want to be able to visit St. John (don't think we have the time or means to also go to St. Croix, but if someone makes a good argument then maybe we can work that in). Along those lines, I'm wondering if we should take a few nights and actually STAY in St. John, or can we get by with just doing a few day-trips there? Logistically I think it would be easier to just stay in St. Thomas the whole time so that we don't have to move hotels and such, but I'm also not sure how easily accessible St. John is (seems from what I've read that it's quite easy, but I'm not sure?).

We definitely want to go diving/snorkeling, hiking, possibly biking, paragliding, and all that fun stuff. Any recommendations for specific places to visit or must-do's?

And finally, will we need a rental car? It seems to me that we certainly won't need one the entire time, but it might be useful for part of the time. I'm not sure how easy/hard it is to get around without one, so insights on that would be appreciated.

Thanks so much!!
 

aliceinwonderland

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 3, 2009
Messages
112
Hi Star Sparkle,

My advice is very limited as I only spent a day there (a 2 week cruise). My experience has been with any of those islands that you don't really need a car. The entire economy basically runs on tourism and taxis are readily available and the roads etc. are very steep and I personally would not love driving on them! Beyond that I don't have advice about other islands but others will chime in I'm sure!

Have a blast!
Alice :)
 

asscher_girl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 29, 2006
Messages
1,155
Hi Star Sparkle! I lived on St. Thomas for 4 months about 6 years ago (it was a blast) :bigsmile:

You can stay on St. Thomas the whole time and take day trips to St. John for sure. Where are you staying on ST. T? There is a ferry out of Charlotte Amalie which takes about 45 minutes to get to St. John. The other ferry goes out of Red Hook (the East End of the island) and that one only takes 15 minutes to get to St. John. I think they both run every hour so you can take an 8 or 9 am and stay the day and come back (I think the last one comes back around 10 or 11 pm).

You can also do a day over in Tortola, that's a British Virgin Island (BVI) so you will need a passport to go there, but it's also super close.

My fav tiny island there is called Jost Van Dyke, it's amazing (bvi too). But there's no ferry there, we would rent a boat for the day and go check it out. If you or your BF can drive a boat then you can rent one out of Red Hook, it's probably about $300 - $400 for the day.

There are some really cool hikes on St. John, if you like to hike.

Beaches - St. Thomas - Magens Bay
St. John - Cinnamon Bay, Trunk Bay (pretty touristy but gorgeous and has a really cool underwater snorkel trail) and Hawksnest
Bay

Let me know if you need any other suggestions. Have a great time! The beaches there are incredible. I miss it so much, we're now living in CA (used to live on the east coast) so we were much closer to the islands, now it takes forever to get there.
 

Haven

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 15, 2007
Messages
13,166
We honeymooned in St. John back in 2008 for ten days. It was AMAZING. We visited St. Thomas but didn't really like it. I don't want to offend anyone who loves St. Thomas, but I wouldn't personally choose to stay there. I would 100% stay on St. John if I had the choice.

We also visited Virgin Gorda, which was beautiful, as well as Jost Van Dyke, which was a ton of fun with their swim-up bar.

We stayed at the Westin Resort on St. John and really loved it.

Our favorite place on St. John was Waterlemon Cay. It was not overpopulated at all, there were maybe five other people there, and it was gorgeous! There were a ton of sea turtles and sting rays, and it was just a really beautiful place. We also spent a day hiking, and another couple days renting a JEEP and driving around the island. I cannot say enough good things about St. John. The driving was really fun because we got to go to out-of-the-way places and such, but not necessary if you don't have a lot of time there. We're the type who likes to explore, so we usually rent our own cars rather than relying on public transport or taxis the entire time.

We took ferries to both Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, but maybe things have changed since we were there as it was three years ago. We saw a school of dolphins when we first arrived on Jost, it was amazing.

Have fun! And talk to people. We met so many wonderful people when we were there. One couple took us for a driving tour in their van one day and then to dinner in their home. A bar tender on the resort took us out on his small boat. The island is really filled with great people. We did a lot of hiking when we were there, so bring your hiking shoes, too, if you like that sort of thing. 75% of St. John is a protected National Park, so it really is gorgeous and totally hike-worthy.
 

star sparkle

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
1,706
I know it's been a while since I posted this, sorry it's taken so long to respond!

alice- Thanks for the insights! I'm nervous about driving there, but BF says he's not so that's good.

asscher_girl- Wow, I'm jealous you got to live there for 4 months! That seems like it would be the perfect amount of time because you'd have long enough to enjoy it, but not too long where you'd start feeling island-locked! I think we've pretty much decided for sure that we're going to rent a private condo at Sapphire Beach, so very near the Red Hook area and the ferries to St. John and wherever else. Jost Van Dyke sounds amazing; we hadn't really considered going to the BVI during our trip, but I think now we may to. Thank you so much for the info, I'll definitely let you know if I have any other questions.

Haven- Thank you! I knew you had honeymooned on St. John and figured you'd have some helpful hints. Watermelon Cay sounds gorgeous, thanks for the heads up! I think we've also decided to rent a car because it'll make exploration a whole lot easier than having to rely solely on taxis or whatever. Plus it seems that we can take our rental car with us from St. Thomas to St. John if we choose, which again will make exploring a lot better.

Thanks again, ladies!! :wavey:
 

tyty333

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
22,039
We went to St. John's a few years back and loved it (I want to go back). Its really beautiful. There are ferrys that go to St. John
but I'm not sure how you would get around to all the snorkeling places once you get there if you dont rent a car. I did see an open
air bus/truck but I think it only goes to one of the bigger beaches and not to some of the smaller beaches. I can tell you where
to visit on St. John but we didnt do anything on St. Thomas but fly in/out. I'll see if I can load a few pictures later on. I cant
get to them from where I'm at.
 

asscher_girl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 29, 2006
Messages
1,155
Hey there! I'm glad I caught your post.

You guys are going to have a blast, Sapphire Beach is great, love that complex and the beach too. Sunday's are super fun there, they have Reggae bands play and some good "plate" dishes (chicken, rice, veggie, etc) - a ton of locals go, hopefully they are still doing that these days.

Good idea about renting a car. It's really not that hard to drive on the other side of the road (they drive on the left but the cars are US so the driver is on the left - a little strange but that's island life there) :bigsmile: And yes they do have a car ferry from St. Thomas to St. John (when I lived there it only when out of downtown not Red hook).

Yes 4 months was a perfect amount of time. It was really nice living the island lifestyle, eventually hubby and I will move back (well I'll move back, he'll move there for the 1st time) and retire there or on st. john :sun:

Enjoy your trip!!!
 
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