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Need suggestions for St. Thomas / Virgin Islands

Discussion in 'Marriott Vacation Club' started by tb784a, May 22, 2019.

  1. tb784a

    tb784a TUG Member

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    Need suggestions for excursions and restaurants please. We're going the 2nd week of June. Staying at Ritz Carlton - first time! We're going with our 2 (just out of college) children. Any suggestions are helpful - Thanks in advance.
     
  2. TravelTime

    TravelTime TUG Member

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    I will be there the first week of June. The concierge from the Ritz Carlton Residence Club called me and emailed with restaurant and other suggestions including how to get your groceries delivered. Just contact the concierge. Most of them have a list they can email.
     
  3. dsmrp

    dsmrp TUG Member

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    the grade of the roads is steeper than in the US :eek:
     
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  4. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    Take ferry out of Red Hook to St John (short) - then taxi (open air bus) to Northside beaches (Trunk and Maho).

    Take a charter to BVIs (Jost Van Dyke - White Bay, and The Baths at Virgin Gorda) - need passport.

    Take a Fishing Charter for near shore fishing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  5. mjm1

    mjm1 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I can second David’s suggestion of St John and an excursion to the Baths at Virgin Gorda. If you already have a rental car I believe you can take a car ferry over to St John and hit those beaches and other sites there. We haven’t done that, but others can comment on that potential option.

    Have a great time.

    Best regards.

    Mike
     
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  6. mdurette

    mdurette Sighting Expert & TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    On of my favorite vacation activities off all times was done in St. Thomas. We were at Frenchmans and they offered night Kayaking. It was incredible! Illuminated glass bottom kayaks. I want to go back to St. Thomas just to do this again.
     
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  7. bazzap

    bazzap Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    When we were staying at Frenchman’s Cove, it depended on the car rental company as to whether you could take it across to St John, so it would be worth checking this before booking.
    However you go though, whether with the car or as a foot passenger, a tour round St John with a stay on at least one of the beautiful beaches was a real highlight.
     
  8. GregT

    GregT TUG Member TUG Member

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    Marriott: Maui Ocean Club Lahaina Villas (3BRx5), Ko Olina, Shadow Ridge II, Willow Ridge, DC Points HGVC: HHV Lagoon, Flamingo, Sea World, I-Drive, Starwood Bella (x4), SDO, Aulani, Worldmark
    Others have made excellent suggestions, a few to add:

    1) on-site there is an excursion desk (Cruz Bay Watersports?) and they have catamaran trips/power boat trips that you can reserve

    2) if you have the ammo, rent a private boat and do your own charter.

    3) snorkel at Indians and Caves

    4) lunch at the Willie T (floating restaurant off Peter Island)

    5) go to Soggy Dollar Bar (quintessential beach bar on Jost Van Dyke). Stunning location

    6) visit Coki Beach on STT - beautiful beach (and/or Sapphire Beach)

    7) dinner next door at Caribbean Fish Market - walkable but have Ritz staff drop you as close as they can (hilly)

    8) shop downtown (especially jewelry)

    9) go to Moe’s Market in Red Hook to buy groceries (pricey)

    10) if anyone is certified, to diving at Buck island - good reef and wreck dive. Aqua Action can do take you even if not certified (but there are some restrictions)

    It’s a spectacular property and we love STT. Let us know where you go!

    Best,

    Greg
     
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  9. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    That's an understatement. :D It takes me a couple hours to readjust to the steep switchbacks after we arrive on island.
     
  10. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    We did something similar on St John, but it was light up paddleboards at sunset. Very cool, and quite the work out. The night kayaking sounds fun.
     
  11. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    It would be a lot less expensive and less time consuming to take the passenger ferry and use taxi's to get around St. John for a one day excursion.
     
  12. Luvtoride

    Luvtoride TUG Member

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    I thought that St. Thomas was the worst place I ever drove...until we got off the ferry in St. John and drove around there. It was miserable, scary and downright dangerous. That said, there were some great places we made it to on St. John including Skinny Legs Bar and Grill in Coral Bay and some of the beaches were spectacular. Have fun, but take taxis if possible.
     
  13. bazzap

    bazzap Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Yes and that is exactly what we did.
     
  14. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    We had one experience while at St. Thomas which my family still unanimously calls "the best vacation day of their lives".

    Through the concierge, we chartered a beautiful 45-ft Sea Ray for a day, dawn to dusk,
    which had a captain and a mate. They provided a great brunch and supper on the boat.
    We did the charter "without alcohol" since our kids were there (greatly reduced the cost),
    as our primary focus was snorkeling, sightseeing, and exploring.
    The Captain said we could go anywhere we wanted within the US & British VI, and we did need the passports.

    Since I had done something similar previously (8 days on a 30-ft Morgan sailboat with 7 other guys, sailing all over VI
    and sleeping/living on the boat), that was our desire----just randomly take a swing through our pre-determined highlights.
    We went to the best beaches, coves, and bays of St. John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Norman Island (caves of "Treasure Island").
    We visited Trunk Bay, Cruz Bay, Cane Garden Bay, and spent about 3 hours exploring and enjoying The Baths on Virgin Gorda.
    Also dived at the wreck of the Rhone....we snorkeled at various spots which we knew were good.
    Our favorite snorkeling spot was at Norman Island at the mouth of the caves. The various fish were unbelievable.

    The charter was costly @ $1200 for the day, but I knew it would be something special, and it was.

    Ferries and taxis would be great for sightseeing on the different islands, but we wanted to combine a water adventure
    with the sightseeing. Plus we saw far more than doing it any other way.
    The wind in our hair as we drove around the islands was a special memory, and the stunning views from the boat
    were nothing short of spectacular, and if we ever go back, we'll do that again.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  15. jimf41

    jimf41 TUG Member

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    Please post the charter company that let you have a 45' Sea Ray dawn to dusk for $1200 with Capt and mate.
     
  16. 4Sunsets

    4Sunsets Guest

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    Yes, exactly. Hertz as an example doesn't allow you to take the rental to St John. I'm not sure any will allow you to take a rental over any more. If you are staying at RC, the Red Hook passenger/car ferries are a 5-minute drive away.

    Don't plan too much. The beach at RC is one of the best in all of USVI and especially because you just walk to it from your villa. All the watercraft and water activities you want are right there too. Sailboats, paddle boards, whatever.

    Driving in the USVI can be a nightmare. You sit on the left and drive on the left and most of the locals drive big trucks/suvs and dont like to share the road.

    We spent ~$4000 on food the first trip, then got smart and did our shopping at Pricesmart. Membership is 25 or 30 and you can save 200 or more per shopping trip if you are buying a few days of groceries at a time.
     
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  17. 4Sunsets

    4Sunsets Guest

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    USVI is crazy dangerous place to drive. Try to plan all your driving in the daytime and completely avoid night driving. Don't trust your GPS. The storms wiped out some of the roads and our GPS sent us up a mountain/hill and almost over a cliff.
     
  18. 4Sunsets

    4Sunsets Guest

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    NOTE: Before you move your rental car an inch, take pictures of the entire car bumper to bumper. The rental car companies use that as proof, according to the timestamp, of the car's condition.

    Don't pay the rental car company for the gas in the tank. Fill up yourself. You will have to challenge yourself to use more than a few gallons. We drove all over for 3 weeks on our last visit and used less than 5 gallons.
     
  19. GregT

    GregT TUG Member TUG Member

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    We used Caribbean blue boat, it was a 35 foot something. The charter was 650, gas was 200, the captain was 150 before gratuity. And then there was the BVI costs which were 75 per person.

    It wasn’t cheap but it was fantastic, easily the best excursion I have ever done.

    Best,

    Greg
     
  20. jimf41

    jimf41 TUG Member

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    Everyone has different opinions about restaurants, beaches etc. but sometimes things are stated that just aren't true. Hertz is the only major rental company that won't let you take a rental from St Thomas to St John. That's not because it's dangerous to drive on St John its because Hertz has a car rental agency on St John. The USVI is not a particularly dangerous place to drive unless you are not a good driver. Most people handle it pretty easily. Having been to just about all the beaches on St Thomas over the last 25 years or so I'd have to put the TS beach at the Ritz down as the worst, the hotel beach is a little better but I think that's closed right now until the Ritz opens up as a Ritz. The TS beach is nice to sit on as the attendants put fresh towels and covers on the lounges for you but to swim in it's pretty bad. It's all sea grass on the left and rocky on the right.

    tb784a if you are staying at the Ritz go over to Smith Bay Beach. They have lounges you can rent for $5 and great bathrooms and showers. There is no food or drink so you'll have bring your own. IMO it's the nicest beach on any of the USVI and it has lifeguards and great snorkeling. Sundays can be busy as the locals picnic there for the day but it's very quiet most other days.
     
  21. jimf41

    jimf41 TUG Member

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    Greg, I've done a couple of those 30' to 35' charters. They are very good and if the weather is good and it's not rough they are OK but last year I wanted a little more comfort so we went with the 45' Sea Ray with Magic Moments. If I could get that boat for $1200 it would have been great. Unfortunately all the charters I found forthat size Sea Ray were $2500 and up.
     
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  22. DannyMc

    DannyMc TUG Member

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    I do not recommend taking the car ferry to St. John. You will waste several hours of your day waiting to board the ferry on both islands. I would take the passenger ferry, and rent a Jeep on St. John or take a tour to the beaches.
     
  23. RLS50

    RLS50 TUG Member

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    I'm not saying the below is the best way to go, or for everybody, just sharing our experience...

    We rented from Avis thru Costco at the airport in St Thomas. $421+ for the week and got a brand new Jeep. Driving was a bit challenging the first couple of days because of muscle memory from years driving on the Right. Once I got more comfortable with being on the Left, as long as I stayed focused and drove at or near the speed limit (which is mostly 20ish-30ish mph) it wasn't a major problem at all.

    We took the car ferry over to St John for $50 roundtrip, versus $32 roundtrip for 2 of us ($16 per person roundtrip) on the people ferry. We took the 8am car ferry over and the 3pm or 5pm car ferry back. The wait times were about 30 minutes before each boarding and the trip over is slower than the people ferry. We loved the freedom and flexibility the Car ferry afforded us for just $14 extra for the day. Although if you wanted to stay later in the day you had to be careful because the last car ferry was 7pm or 8pm and to make sure we didn't miss it we didn't want to risk going past the 5pm car ferry. So it can cut your day a little short worrying about that. Whereas the people ferry runs on the hour to 10pm to 11pm most nights.

    So there are definitely Pros and Cons to taking the car ferry. One our next trip I am going to check out the cost and flexibility of DannyMc's idea to take the people ferry over and rent a Jeep in St John for the day or few days we went over.

    However now having been to the USVI, I can't imagine traveling there in the future without renting a car. There are just too many amazing beaches and coves to explore or hang out at in St Thomas and St John. I wouldn't want to have to count on cab rides or private drivers for all the driving we did and places we tried to visit. And we really just scratched the surface of places to see.
     
  24. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    Our charter was 15 years ago....wow time flies. Didn't realize it but after I added up the years since that trip it's shocking.

    Cannot remember the name of the charter, but the captain's name was Tom and the mate was Beth. It was booked
    by the concierge at the Frenchman's Reef Hotel. We loved that place, btw. Grounds and pool were incredible.
    Room was small but the top floor balcony view was spectacular, and it was an easy golf cart shuttle over to Morningstar Beach,
    and the restaurants were convenient.

    The captain knocked off $450 because we requested no alcohol/hors d'oeuvres.
    Total usual cost for that charter was $1650, so our cost was $1200.
    It was last-minute, so maybe he had nothing booked that day. Usually they won't exclude the alcohol because
    it's a money-maker, but he understood it was a family event with one teen and one pre-teen, and we wanted
    to do a lot of snorkeling and sightseeing.
    The captain finally admitted he'd be happy because he was physically exhausted and overworked,
    and for at least a day that saved the cost of the alcoholic beverages, the hassle of rounding it up,
    the physical demands of taking it on board and the stocking, etc, etc.......also reduced the per-trip liability insurance.
    So that helped us a lot.
    Wish I could remember the charter company as it was great and the boat was awesome.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
  25. 4Sunsets

    4Sunsets Guest

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    USVI is a pretty dangerous place to drive. That's a fact. Sorry you don't like the RC beach. We happen to love it and consider it the best part of staying on ST.

    If you want to run all over ST going around beaches, then why spend so much to stay at RC? To each his own, I guess.

    On ST, most of the beaches you may want to visit charge a day use fee to enter. Magen's Bay is worth a visit for the day, as it the one right down from RC just past Red Hook, can't recall the name right now.

    Pick 1 or 2 of the one's mentioned by others or me to visit. Wouldn't waste my time on others.

    I don't think Avis lets you take a car to St John either. Hertz and Avis are the big two at the airport if I remember correctly. Budget also. Not a whole lot of selection all around however.

    Other than that, you are going with local rental companies.

    The reason Hertz, Avis, Budget restrict is because of too many issues, and especially with cars getting damaged. It's not because they want to rent to your from St John. geez, theyve already got your money.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019

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