St. John and St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands Trips Recap

GA

Hello Everybody!

We’re back from my 11 days vacation. We have not taken a vacation since our honeymoon back in October, so it’s been four months. Before we went on the trip, Mr.W’s back was hurting, he had a long lasting cold for six weeks and didn’t seem to get over it. And I was working 12-16 hours/day between my full-time job and my renovation projects at the new rental property. A vacation was very much needed for both of us.

Day 1: Still in town, as soon as we got of work, we went to go see our University’s basketball team play, and they won that night, so we were off to a great start.

Day 2: We both got up at 3am to get ready for the flight at 5:30am. Got to St. Thomas at 1:35pm. While waiting for our checked luggage, I got the “maps” of St. John, and St. Thomas. This is the tips that I’ve learned from my previous trips, these maps would tell us the highlight of snorkeling spot or the tourist hot spots. We got on the taxi and ferry to St. John. The Ferry is “Red Hook”. They’d charge $6/person, plus $4 for big luggage, and $2 for small luggage no matter what.

The airbnb we found was perfect, it was beach-front, above a bar, and it was right there at the Ferry Dock, and in the town of Cruz Bay. That set us up to a great start. As everyday, I’d like to come back “home” to great food, and I’m a few steps way to catch the taxi to go to our excursions.

That translated to our first Snorkeling session after we checked in at 3:30pm. We took a hike to Solomon Bay. The water was calm, cleanest, bluest, clearest water that we’ve ever since from all of our trips combine. We totally love the reef here at Solomon bay and the hike was perfect to relieve us from the jet lag. We walked back to have some local barbeque chicken. That was good.

Day 3: Since I did my research on the best beaches in St. John, the best one was Waterlemon Bay. It’s one of the furthest bay, so we basically got a free tour of all the beach a long the way. We looked at each other and felt so glad that we didn’t rent a car, as the road was narrow, and they drive on the “wrong side”, terrible! LOL 🙂

Waterlemon Bay wasn’t disappointed, as we saw turtles right away. It was crazy, as the taxi ride was $9/person, each way, so basically with $18, you can swim with Turtles. How awesome is that?!!! We loved it. On top of that the hike from the road to the Bay was awesome. You can also tour the Sugar Mill Ruin.

View of the Waterlemon Bay from Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruin
Annaberg Wind Mill

We caught the taxi back, then hiked to Honeymoon Bay. The beach was even more spectacular that the day before.

We chatted up with some couple that has been here every year for 20 years, and they recommended Fish Trap restaurant. And The food was great.

***Mr.W reported that he’s gotten over his cold and his back pain was magically gone.*** This was such a great news that we know the swimming/snorkeling, and hiking worked well for us, so we kept doing the same thing, just different beaches every day.

 

Day 4: By now, we know Maho Bay was for Turtles and Sting Ray. We took the taxi there, then hike to Cinnamon Bay.

 

Cinnamon Bay has the longest beach on the island. The swim out to the cay was also pretty easy. There were a lot of dead corals, but when we swam further out and around the cay, the corals were still colorful.

If you question the cleanliness and the cleanest of the water, this Cinnamon Bay Beach picture will show it. No edit.

Maho Bay – the water here is super calm, and there is sea grass here, so it is known to have turtle and sting ray. Turtles eat grass all days, so it was cool to follow a couple of them eating grass, and come up for air for once every 15-30mins. Their metabolism must be super low or efficient.

I had a lot of pictures and footage underwater shots, but the water got into the pouch, and my phone was effectively dead.

Day 5: Trunk bay and Hawkness. Trunk Bay was great when we swam out to the furthest point of the cay, otherwise it was overran by tourists. Hawkness’s reef was awesome.

Trunk Bay – You’d have to pay $5 entrance fee per person, as there are Park Ranger and Lifeguard. It’s also an easy swim to the cay, there is always shallow water, so little children can go to this beach and Cinnamon to have fun.

Hawkness – by far is the best or the second best snorkeling spot. The swim was a little rougher, but it was great.

Day 6: We had this day to travel to St. Thomas. Our Airbnb, again was the beach front property. So from our bedroom, we can see out to the ocean. Coki beach was a short walk away, and we have access to Sugar Beach and Pineapple Beach. All in one resort.

We of course immediately went to Coki Beach. And had a blast in the nicest water.

Day 7: While talking to some experienced travelers, they recommended Water Islands. So, we went here for a day trip. We got to Crown Bay, took a water taxi, maybe $10/person round trip. Turtles here were abundance. We even took a hike to the abandon Military Fort. We came back for another swimming with turtles session before heading out.

I found the business district where they sell watches and stuff to the Cruise people, I thought they’d have great food there, but it was a huge disappointment.

We ended up going back to Red Hook for Asian Food.

Day 8: We spent a day at Sugar Bay. Due to the current, our strategy was to go out of Sugar Bay, and swam with the current to landed on Pineapple Bay. How cool was that?!

Day 9: We were supposed to go out for a swim, but we couldn’t find the key. So, we opt to pack. And travel home. We found the key around 10:45am, so we decided to stay and pack. 🙂

Day 10: A day of rest and watched our University basketball team played and won.

Day 11: back to our Sunday Church and relaxation.

 

So, here are some of the Financial Details:

Flight: $375/person x 2 = $750

Airbnb for St. John for 5 days: $1003

Airbnb for St. Thomas for 3 days: $529

Transportation (Taxi, Ferry Fare, Bus Fair): Average $50/day x 8 days = $400

Foods (We ate breakfast and dinner at nice restaurants, we buy energy bars and water for our day trips to secluded spot where there wasn’t any restaurants, or kios, sometimes we buy lunch if there is a restaurant), average $75/day  x 8 days = $600

Total: $3282

  • My travel hack with credit card yields $775 in credit toward our travel. So I applied it toward the Airbnb stay. That brought our traveling bill to $2502.
  • Cost per person for an 8-days trip is $1253.5.
  • Cost per person per day is $154. 

If anyone has gone to US Virgin Island, and been to St. John, I think for an 8-days trip for 2 persons, eating at nice restaurants, and has a blast doing all the things that we wanted to do. The price-tag isn’t too bad.

**Chase Sapphire has declined my application for a new credit card, so I’m kind of out of credit card to apply at the moments. I still have a little bit more renovation to do. So, I really want to have a new credit card approve so we can use it toward our future trips.***

 

For those of you who’s interested in where we stayed in Cruz Bay, this was the Airbnb Studio Apartment that we stayed at: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4994838?guests=1&adults=1&children=0&infants=0&s=oQf2jTyD

In St. John, we stayed at Point Pleasant Resort:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14951431?guests=1&adults=1&children=0&infants=0&s=Ev7wDSGm

Review on Airbnb: This was our first trip using Airbnb. The booking was “eeeerk” as I was looking at a room for $100/night, then I came back, the price changed to $150. On top of that they charged fee and cleaning fee, it would turn into $175/night for a room in a 2-bed apartment with another couple. I didn’t like the “dishonesty” in the price jump. It might not have anything to do with the host, or it could be them, I wasn’t sure, but I don’t like the price changes just because I was “interested” in it.

I spooked out and booked a $175/night studio apartment, and it was about $200/night after cleaning fee ($85) and other fees.

About my host: She was super helpful with the direction. We were planning on cleaning up after ourselves before we leave anyways, as it was somebody’s apartment (she’d probably use it as her vacation home, but regardless, we were determined to be respectful of her space.) However, on the day we left, her helper was asking us to clean it spotless, and told us to leave our food. It was kind of weird. But we didn’t make a mess anyways, as we only come back to sleep, and we don’t drink alcohol.

We got locked out of the apartment because we forgot the keys inside. I texted the host. She responded quickly and had her manager on site to let us in. Crisis under controlled.

I didn’t like the A/C was constantly running, and I can’t turn it off. After going back from our snorkeling, sometimes my suits still wet, and I had to walk into a cold room. But she put a lock on the control box, so I can’t shut it off.

Point Pleasant was a much better experience. As I know the second leg of the trip, we would used to be in low key, so being inside a resort for relaxation is best.

Overall, we were happy to pay an average of $180/night for our hotel stay, as the Westin was charging $700/night. Marriott was charging $400/night. There was no way I would want to pay that much to be in St. John.

It was between Airbnb vs a 2.5 start hotel (motel) that have bed bug negative review in St. Thomas. If we want to do anything in St. John, we would have to catch the bus, then the ferry, then a bus. It would not be worth it. Mr.W and I was happy with our Airbnb decision.

**Credit to Mr.W, he was brave enough to take on Airbnb trip, as he’s super worried that we’d stay at somebody house and they would go through our stuff. heheh

Also, all the pictures on this page was taken by Mr.W, he and his talented photography skill.

Some tips for traveling in St. Thomas and St. John:

  1. All transportation – taxi, ferry, water taxi only accept Cash, so bring extra cash
  2. Cruz Bay is “downtown” of St. John, but regardless of what they say, it’s a small little town, so it’s super quiet, even we were living above a bar, it was quiet.
  3. We bought Fiji water, and it was $6/bottle, if you want you can buy the water and food from the grocery store in St. Thomas. Or there are 2 groceries store in Cruz Bay. Beer can be as low as $1/bottle, but bottle of water is $3. Yikes!
  4. Don’t rent a car or a jeep for your entire stay. Parking in Cruz bay is $20/day. Why drive around when the whole island is maybe 15 miles x 5 miles?? The road is small and they drive on the wrong side. And the hill is scary high.
  5. Take hiking trip – the soft or sometimes gravel trails are good for your feet and back. It will strengthen your muscle. And you’ll be surprised what you’d run into. We posted among the wild donkeys, and we laughed hard when we heard noises, turned out the hermit crab got scared and roll around heehhe
  6. You’d probably want to stay in Cruz Bay, as there isn’t a lot of restaurant to eat in other places. I’d like to have options every night.
  7. If you can walk from one Bay to the next, as it could be less than a mile, and you get to take pictures from higher up, as sometimes taxi doesn’t stop for you to take pictures. So, the only way is walking to these amazing views.

Have you been to the US Virgin Islands before? Do you have any tips to share with us?  

GA

9 Comments

  1. Very nice!

    I’m working on a trip to St. Thomas for May and this was very helpful. We plan to go over to St. John and Tortola as well.

    Would love to see some pictures and links to the Airbnb places you stayed.

    • Oh nice! Mr.W wanted to explore the British Island also, but he forgot his passport, and there were still so much to do in St. John, and we had fun. Mr.W wants to come back next year, but I’ll have to see how the cost is going to go.

  2. What not pretty pictures? I was so hoping for white sandy beaches and palm trees 😉
    Pricy trip though, guess it’s harder to find something affordable over on the islands? But I think you had some serious fun while you were there!

  3. Hi Vivianne

    Just wow there at the Waterlemon and Cinnamon bay. I Swear i can live and stay there whole day while looking at the nice blue ocean.

    Amazing trip, wishes you could have put more photos though. I love reading such articles and i think you have the skill to do a leisure blog!!

    • heheh… It’s funny that I’m planning on quitting my day job. LOL 🙂

      I’ll try to comb through the pictures. Each Bay is the same different though, clean water, clear water, we can literally see >20 meters down. The fish are plentiful and colorful. It sure was amazing.

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