Travel Report: St. Thomas, St. John, BVI

Nov 4, 2014 by

Travel Report: St. Thomas, St. John, BVI

 

St. Thomas

We flew into St. Thomas, thinking it would just be a stop on the way to other items.  But we ended up loving our time there.  We stayed at two different places, one coming, one going.  On the way we stayed at Blackbeard’s Castle, which although hilltop was a nice location.  The rooms were really clean and well appointed, We had a fridge, which was nice for water and drinks.  I loved our balcony overlooking the harbor.  They had a nice bar and swimming pool.  We ended up walking up and down the hill to town a couple times, and it was a bit of a hike, but good exercise to burn off all those frozen cocktails.  The nice thing was being close to town and the ferry docks.  The only drawback was having to taxi to beaches, but since we wanted to see a few different places this actually ended up suiting us just fine.

We also stayed at Two Sandals on our way back.  It was a great little bed and breakfast by Secret Harbour.  The room was nice, it had  air conditioning, the inn itself was very nice, walking distance to and from Road Town, although there aren’t sidewalks the whole way.  It was really a good deal for the night we stayed there.  The other people were nice, the inside was very accommodating.  The only downfall was at night there was a lot of loud music nearby.  Breakfast here was really good hard boiled eggs, hand made muffins, etc and they had good recommendations on things to do.  Right nearby, Secret Harbour beach was one of our favorite beaches and a nice snorkel spot.  It was just a short walk away.

In St. Thomas we ate at Havana Blue at the Marriott – the restaurant was trendy and had a beautiful view.  The food, while a little pricey was very good.  They also had a great drink menu.  It was nice for a more special occasion evening.  Another evening we ate at Tap and Still which was a great bar and restaurant.  We had some awesome pizza there and nice frosty beverages, this is a casual spot I would really recommend.  All the food coming out of the kitchen while casual was really good.  On our way out of town we got Patties at the ferry building.  I got spiced beef and it was awesome.  Spicy beef in a fried dough fritter.  MK got chicken and it was good too.  At Secret Harbour we ate at the beach bar there, Cruzan at Sunset Grille.  We had some tasty fresh fish tacos and a catch of the day sandwich and again some frosty beverages.  Again this was a highly recommend spot.  We also ate at Meagan’s Bay the day we were there.  It was fine for a national park stand, but feel free to pack a picnic for that one.  We also had lunch at I would avoid Gringo’s downtown, we didn’t like it.  There is good high end shopping in St. Thomas, but if you want special jewelry, save your pennies for St. John.

The best part of our trip to St. Thomas was the tour we took with David Taxi.  We absolutely lucked out to be in his taxi on the way to Frenchman’s Caye.  We arranged for his tour and taxi service the next day.  He was absolutely the best.  His tour included the heights of St. Thomas, we went to an eco-farm that went back seven generations, we had fresh coconut.  He took amazing pictures of MK and I on our phones, which was awesome, we never have pictures of both us on vacation, let alone really good ones.  We got to see so many cool vistas.  He then dropped us off at Secret Harbour and picked us up later in the day.  All for an amazingly good price.  Plus he was hilarious and real with us.  We learned about him and the real parts of the island.  If you have any sense of humor, or just like something different than normal cranky taxi drivers, or tour bus phonies, he is your guy.

Definitely get a tour of the island with David, other than that go hang at Meagan’s Bay, which is just a gigantic beach.  We lucked out getting there on a no cruise ship day, it was really pretty.  Plus it’s so long a couple walks up and down the beach gets some exercise in.  And then of course Secret Harbour is just  a great beach to hang out at.

St. John

We only passed through St. John and from that pass through for a day and half all I can say is, “Honey, take me back!” The scenery was amazing and I loved the beaches, plus you could just jump in the water and snorkel and see crazy, amazing fish right by the beach.  We rented a jeep here, which is the way to go.  We drove up through the parks and stopped to see the ruins, hiked out to see Francis Bay, chilled at the beach at Cinnamon Bay, which was less crowded, but just as nice as some as the other more popular spots.  There MK snorkeled and I watched pelicans diving within feet of me.  There were tiny barracuda babies in the water not big enough to pose any fear, but a lot of curiosity out of the others wondering what the pelican fuss was about.  I got addicted to sucking on sugar cane at the old sugar plantation that we hiked.  We had lunch at Coral Bay at Aqua Bistro.  They had an amazing list of fresh fish to choose from with a selection of really good sauces and rubs to go on them.  This was a seriously good restaurant that I would love to go back to eat at again.  At the little provisions store next to it, we picked up beverages and hot sauce from the island.  We drove back to Trunk Cay which is worth braving the masses for the amazing snorkel trail.  Last definitely do some jewelry shopping in St. John.  That should include a stop at Verace which was my favorite shop in town.  I wish there was a jewelry gallery even half as cool in this area.  Good thing they have a website!  A trip to the Virgin Islands should not miss St. John, no matter what else is sacrificed.

Tortola and a day trip to Virgin Gorda

Lastly we made our way to Tortola.  Note international ferries are much more expensive than in-country ones, although it’s about the same distance or less.  We stayed at Long Bay Beach Club.  We liked it, but to be honest, it’s a bit out of a Wes Anderson movie.  The hotel pre-recession definitely had better days.  While we were there the pool and obviously the amenities that were previously at the hotel like a pool bar and etc were closed.  They seem to have dug a new pool by the beach.  You couldn’t really notice from where we were staying as we had a beach front bungalow.  The dive shop was rarely open and the restaurant was ok, but not great.  Better for lunch than dinner.  But the room itself was great and being right by the beach was great.  While we were there the surf at our beach was up, but the beach was really long and very nice.  At the bar the hotel manager would talk with guests and he reminded me of a man who also had better days.  Not that he wasn’t nice and excellent, just again totally out of a Wes Anderson movie.  Note there are multiple Long Bays on the island.  We walked up the hill over to the next hotel Sebastian’s for dinner- the conk curry was really good, and Sebastian’s rum is possibly the best rum I have ever had.  It’s the type that you sip and just relax into the goodness of a lovely state of goodness.

The next day we headed across the island to UBS Divers.  It was a bit of a hull.  Tortola is a long island and very hilly, I would recommend renting a car as things are pretty spread out.  We chartered UBS for the day to take us diving and through The Baths at Virgin Gorda.  First off Kate and Tony there are super cool.  They do a lot of community give back and education.  They along with the diving and tours, do kayaking.  They have a lovely little section of the island over near beef island.  We did a really cool dive, afterwards I was a little weak, so we ended up skipping the second dive as I re-cooped with some ritz crackers and water.  Then it was off to the Baths.  This is another on my list of must see.  They are like the Badlands mixed with a cave and the amazing bright Caribbean.  It was crowded, but there were plenty of spots that were just us hanging out in a really cool place.  And Tony was an expert that gave us a lot of information.  We then had lunch at Bath and Turtle, which was a casual dock bar and a nice deal for lunch, again out of the crowds as The Baths can be a bit… Disney.

Back on the Tortola, we had a great time on a rainy day checking out the island we loved Cane Garden Bay.  It was really friendly and laid back.  The water was calmer than at our hotel and a good place to take a dip.  We had dinner at Myett’s and it was one of the best meals we had on the island.  We had conch and fresh fish and it was all so good.  We also drove through Carrott Bay which was cool too, this is definitely an island you want to explore, so rent a car, well a jeep, get a jeep.  My favorite meal was at Fish’n Lime.  This place is also on my don’t miss list.  Everything was made from scratch between from burger buns to burger mix to fries to dessert.  Everything is made from scratch and good.  We first came here to watch the regatta and get burgers as we were a little fished out.  The burgers were great.  We split a piece of pie for dessert that was also good.  This place was set right on the dock with a great view, we watched a regatta while we there.  Frosty beverages were good, as well.  We ended up coming back here and I would go again.  It was just so good.  Casual, but everything you want in a restaurant when at the beach.  It is behind the ferry dock, back a way you wouldn’t think there was anything, but instead there is amazingness there.  As we were there the boat with their fish for the day pulled up and dropped it off, nothing more fresh than that.  We also had sushi in town, which was ok, but I think I would pass for somewhere else next time.

Our trip was amazing and really relaxing.  We travelled with backpacks so it was super easy to island hop, throw our bags in the back of a jeep or throw it down by a beach.  I want to go back and explore more areas.  So many of the islands had such character and the sun and sand were just awesome.  It was a great place to relax.

 

 

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  1. @ktmoomau post: Travel Report: St. Thomas, St. John, BVI: http://t.co/iV33NNDgLs

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