What better place to start our blog than our honeymoon to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We flew into St. Thomas (tip: dress for hot weather – most of the airport is actually outdoors) and then took a short (30 minute) ferry ride over to the island of St. John. This island is beautiful – over 60% of the land is pristine national park. Our ferry was provided by Caneel Bay for free but there is also a Virgin Islands ferry that you can take between the islands ($6/person). All the ferries arrive in the area of Cruz Bay – this is where most of the restaurants, bars, and activities are. We began our trip at THE BEACH BAR (Wharfside Village, 1 Strand Street, Cruz Bay) and ordered some delicious painkillers (these are the island’s specialty) and watched the boats out on the ocean. Tip: $4 painkillers at happy hour (3 – 7pm).
WHERE TO STAY: We stayed at the luxurious resort CANEEL BAY. This resort has seven private beaches and is a great place to stay if you are looking for romance and relaxation. There are also sugar mill ruins throughout the resort (as well as scattered throughout the island). The resort is so large that there is a shuttle service to take you around. This was nice because it meant that the area where our room was only had a few other rooms nearby. Also, there are no televisions or phones in the room! Don’t worry, you can walk to nearby public phones. This is the ultimate place for peace and quiet!
Caneel Bay is very secluded, so you have to take an open air taxi into town to do anything. So, if you are young (or young at heart) and looking to go out and explore, I would recommend staying somewhere in Cruz Bay (a friend recommended the WESTIN). Caneel Bay was a great choice for our honeymoon but if we ever go back we will be staying in Cruz Bay. Another good option is to find a place to stay using Homeaway.com or VRBO.com. Here is the view from our room at Caneel Bay:
OUR FAVORITES PLACES TO DRINK/EAT:
RHUMB LINES, (Caribbean, $$$, Cruz Bay) Tips: Restaurant is difficult to find, it is in a small courtyard located at the end of an alleyway in Meada’s Plaza, so ask a local for directions. (Our cab driver was able to drop us off and tell us exactly where to go). Open for dinner only. Great food, great atmosphere, feels very authentic and not so touristy. Try the Ultimate Pad Thai!
ZOZO’S RISTORANTE (Italian, $$$, Cruz Bay). Food was delicious, romantic atmosphere, incredible views of the ocean. Tip: Go for sunset and ask to be seated on the same floor as the bar. It is located at Gallows Point Resort. Open Monday – Saturday at 5:30PM. What we ordered: Mahi Mahi & Swordfish.
NOTABLE MENTIONS: Sun Dog Cafe (Cruz Bay, lunch spot in the middle of the town shopping center – Mongoose Junction), Larry’s Tourist Trap (Coral Bay, good place for a quick drink), Skinny Legs Bar and Grill (Coral Bay, a little bit touristy feeling but overall a great bar with yummy burgers)
TRUNK BAY: I know, I know – so “basic”. This beach is the most famous and most popular beach on St. John. We visited early in the morning expecting it to be over-run with tourists but it was completely deserted. Even when it got more crowded this beach was absolutely beautiful and by far my favorite of the trip. This beach is great for relaxing, but not the best for snorkeling. Tip: Try to plan your trip to Trunk Bay on a day when the cruise ships will not be there – we found out this was why it was not that crowded. Also, this is the only beach we went to that charged an entrance fee. $4/adult.
BEST SNORKELING: LEINSTER BAY/WATERLEMON CAY. Be prepared, it is a little bit of a hike from where you park but the snorkeling was worth it. Tip: To reach the best snorkeling, continue on the beach trail until you are adjacent to the offshore inlet, Waterlemon Cay (the small island). Runner-up: HAWSKNEST BAY.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Honeymoon Beach & Soloman Beach (private, located in Caneel Bay Resort)
HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP:
BAD KITTY TOUR: We took a large catamaran called the Bad Kitty around the Virgin Islands. This tour is what I would consider a sophisticated booze cruise. The crew members were great and it was open bar ALL. DAY. LONG.
First stop on the tour, THE BATHS in VIRGIN GORDA. The Baths are a group of granite boulders that you climb through. I would definitely recommend visiting here, even if you aren’t on the Bad Kitty tour. Below is a picture of the CATHEDRAL OF THE BATHS, this was our favorite place within The Baths. The crevices that you climb through do get a little small, so make sure you aren’t too claustrophobic! Also, this is a very popular tourist attraction so be prepared for crowds. All in all it is a 20 minute trip through the Baths climbing over boulders and squeezing through crevices.
Once you have made it through the Baths, you will end up at DEVIL BAY. This place was absolutely gorgeous. Our tour guide told us that the locals named it Devil Bay so that it sounded less appealing to tourists.
Next stop, lunch at COOPER ISLAND BEACH CLUB. This place was ok, nothing too special. However, after hours of drinking painkillers we were ready to eat!
Next stop (and my husband’s favorite) was snorkeling at THE CAVES AT NORMAN ISLANDS (BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS). I had never been snorkeling before and prefer NOT to know what is in the ocean with me (“ignorance is bliss”). However, this place was absolutely beautiful. According to our guide, this spot inspired the book “Treasure Island”.
Final stop and my personal favorite, was WHITE BAY, JOST VAN DYKE (BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS). We stopped at the famous SOGGY DOLLAR BAR – this bar got it’s name due to the fact that there are no boat docks on Jost Van Dyke and therefore, you must swim to shore with your money. They invented the famous “Painkiller” (rum, coconut, pineapple, orange juice, and nutmeg). White Beach was one of our favorite beaches – a must see if you are anywhere in the Virgin Islands. It was gorgeous and a great place for people watching. Tip: Soggy Dollar Bar is cash only.
Tips for The Bad Kitty: tour goes to islands that are part of the British Virgin Islands, so make sure to bring your passports. Bring an under water camera for all of the snorkeling and pace yourself with the open bar.