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Thinking about St. John and how to go

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Thanks Anne! When I called the car rental company, most of them do not accept one day rent. Minimal three to 5 days. Only one let us rent for one day. But when I asked how to reserve, online or through phone? The guy told me to just walk in, there is no need to book ahead...feel weird. Could you recommend some car rental companies? Any links?

 

Thanks a lot!

 

If I was going to try and do 3 beaches, it would three of these four: Trunk, Hawksnest, Jumbie, Cinnamon. All are relatively close and Trunk, Hawksnest and Cinnamon have at least restroom facilities. I throw Jumbie in because it's between Hawksnest and Trunk and is a little remote and mostly empty. Your taxi driver would know where it is and if you rent a car, you'll see a small pull off on your right for one or two cars with small wooden steps on the left side of the road as you are headed east from Hawksnest to Trunk. The day we were here we didn't see anyone else.

 

Notes on rental cars: If you are going to rent, I strongly recommend doing it prior to leaving home. On busy ship days, rental car companies are often out of cars so if you make a reservation, it can save valuable time and you can ensure you'll have a car. If you rent on St. Thomas, ensure that your rental agreement allows you to take the car to St. John. Many of them do not. The car ferry is a different boat from the passenger ferry so be aware of that as well.

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Hi Augie, thanks thanks!

We will snorkel in Grand Turk and Princess Cay. So it is not so necessary to snorkel in St John. Have you ever snorkeled in Grand Turk or Princess cay? If so, how is it compared to Leinster?

 

I've never been to Grand Turk, but I have been to Princess Cay. Leinster doesn't have the big, white sandy beach that PC does, but the snorkeling there, especially around Waterlemon Cay, is much, much better than anything I saw at PC.

 

We do like some secluded places with less people. Appreciate if you could recommend some?

 

If I had a car and wanted to be at a less crowded beach I'd take North Shore Rd. east, past Trunk and Cinnamon, to Maho Bay. You'll know you're there when it looks like you are driving just a few feet off of the beach. If there's room, just park right off of the road next to the beach, or in one of the little alcoves across the street (you may need to be towards the east end of the beach before you see these). If Maho is crowded (if you're early and it's not a Sunday it shouldn't be crowded) continue east until you see the signs to follow to take you to Francis Bay. Between those two you will get a beautiful beach, and won't have the crowds you'd have at either Trunk or Cinnamon. But you won't have facilities either. I'd suggest bringing a small soft sided cooler with some snacks and water to get you through the beach part of your day. I don't know if it's still possible to bring sandwiches from the ship or not, but there's a place in Cruz Bay, in the Mongoose Junction shopping center, which will be on your way out of town and you head towards the north shore, called Deli Grotto. Great sandwiches, big enough to share, and a lot of folks that stay on the island stop there on their way to the beach.

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Wendyazure - The car rental agencies on St. John generally do not accept reservations for one day rentals. They will rent for one if on the day you want to rent the car you walk in and they have something available. You can call around and get a short list, follow up closer to your trip to see if any think they will have something available and then once on St. John go to those to see if they do. If none of them do have a back up plan.

 

PrincessBride - Carnival general docks in Havensight at the WICO dock. June 29: Liberty and Explorer of the Seas are in port. If you take the 3pm ferry, you should be on STT around 3:15pm. Takes about 20-30 in low/medium traffic to get from Red Hook to Havensight. With traffic longer. If you decide to stay on St. Thomas there are various beaches you could choose, check out a beach guide for St. Thomas for options with photos/description: try http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=st.+thomas+beach+guide+east+end&aq=0&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=st.+thomas+beach+guide+east&gs_rfai=CL2_gTA0ATJe_BYvkgATdg9yiCAAAAKoEBU_Q9VuG. Duffys Love Shack is in Red Hook.

 

--Islander

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Thanks so much for the information islander. is one of these beaches close to red hook? Or are they different areas?

 

My concern with st john is that there is a good chance the other ship may venture there and i would have to get backed up..

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We are in St Thomas from 8am to 4pm (in July),is that enough time to enjoy some beach time at Cruz Bay or should we just head for Meaghans Bay? What is the approx. round trip time from cruise ship to Cruz Bay, Thanks any advise would be greatly appreciated! Would Love to make the trek to St. John"s but afraid of the time constraints!

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Haven't tried a day rental in a couple of years but we've rented for a day often and always made a reservation. Perhaps things have changed. Here's a list of the main car rent companies on St. John:

 

L& L Jeep Rental

PO Box 493

St. John, VI 00831

Phone 340/ 776-1120

Fax 340/ 774-3975

On-Line Reservations

e-Mail: Info@BookAJeep.com

Ferry dock pickup & drop off. Unlimited mileage. Jeep Wranglers 2DR & Jeep Liberties 4DR.

C & C Car and Jeep Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 693-8164

Call for reservations or pickups.

Cool Breeze Jeep & Car Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 776-6588

Courtesy Car & Jeep Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 776-6650

Prompt, affordable, professional service.

Delbert Hill's Jeep Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 776-6637

Denzil Clyne Car Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 776-6715

Hospitality Car & Jeep Rentals

Cruz Bay

340/ 693-9160

Free mileage and maps, pick up and drop off from hotels and ferry dock.

Reasonable rates and discount packages. Close to the ferry dock.

O'Connor Jeep Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 776-6343

Real Jeeps at the Texaco station.

Paris Car Rental

Cruz Bay

340/ 776-6171

St. John Car Rental, Inc.

Box 566

Cruz Bay, St. John, VI 00830

340/ 776-6103 Phone/Fax

Clean, well maintained Sidekicks, Vitaras, Wranglers, Cherokees & Monteros to suit your needs.

Cafevita ~ if you are off the ship right when you dock and can make the 9:00 AM ferry, it's definitely worth it to go to St. John for the day. At least it would be for me.

Augie ~ can't believe I left off Maho! An awesome beach. No facilities here, though .... just a spectacular beach. Been to a wedding here. Nothing like it!

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As much as i wanted to do st john, i fear with another ship and us being there from only 9-6 it would hardly be any time there.. you also have to figure lunch in there as well and almost 2 hrs for travel..

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We went to St. John many years ago thru the ship excursion. It was the best. I still think about it. It was a wonderful day of relaxing on the beach. We went to Trunk Bay of course. It was not crowded at all when we went, not sure how it is now days. It was just soooooooo pretty. I always recommend people to go there, especially if you have done St. Thomas already. It may even be a little adventure getting there for your son (however you decide to get there).

 

I think about it every day. I have a picture of Trunk Bay next to my bed. What a paradise! Might go back for Christmas...

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Princessbride - beaches close to Red Hook include Coki Beach, Lindquist, Sapphire, Secret Harbor, Cowpet, Bluebeards. Basically all the East End beaches, so check out the East End part of the beach guide http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=st.+thomas+beach+guide+east&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=C6c-TOrAFTNOqN46EygS7qs3-BgAAAKoEBU_Qj6aQ.

 

cafevita - 8am to 4pm is enough time to go to St. John. Cruz Bay is the main town on St. John, its where the ferry arrives. There is a beach there however the beach doubles as the harbor/ferry entrance area so people generally do not swim there. You can hike to a beach from Cruz Bay via Lind Point Trail (beaches along trail are Saloman, Honeymoon and it ends at Caneel Bay) or you can take a taxi to whatever beach you wanted to go to that fits within your timeframe. Figure about an 1 hour 15 minutes for commute to St. John each way (taxi to ferry + ferry to St. John), and then add some time for the taxi from the ferry dock on St. John to the beach you wanted to go to.

 

--Islander

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... For people who don't want to lay on a beach, I recommend taking a tour with a local taxi. They'll charge about $15 - 20 per person to take you on an island tour. You get to go to the other end of the island (which I love); stop at the Annaberg ruins (old sugar plantation - worth the little walk to the top for a view of the BVIs); a few other beaches you don't normally see and Coral Bay. If you get to Coral Bay, Shipwreck Landing is our favorite lunch stop....
...Any of the safari taxi drivers at the Cruz Bay ferry dock will provide an island tour. You probably can't go wrong with any of them. I have used Mario a couple of times when I've had a group that could fill his safari taxi.
We [four of us] are doing the X Mercury Farewell cruise in Feb 2011. We have been to St. Thomas several times, but never to St. John. Mercury is scheduled to arrive Havensack 9am, so I hope that via taxi [approximate cost per person $10] we can make the 10am ferry at Red Hook [$6], putting us into Cruz Bay about 10:20. On the back end we have a 6pm sailing, so are looking to make the 3pm ferry [$6] from Cruz Bay. Assuming we make the 10am ferry that gives us about 4 & 1/2 hours on St. John. We are not big beach people, but would like a short stop [less than an hour] at a beach. I've thought about trying to rent a vehicle [split among four people], but trying to locate one [we could call around on a cell phone before we dock in Cruz Bay] and taking the time to fill out the paper work and get gas etc, seems like it may be better to take a taxi. Ideally we would like an approximately four hour island tour with a less than an hour beach stop, and stops for photos, etc.

 

QUESTION: How close to our ideal taxi trip [doesn't have to be a perfect match, but reasonably close] are we likely to get for the $15-$20pp mentioned above. If this is available at a higher cost, what might that be?

 

On the back end, assuming we have time, we'd probably try the bus [$2] back to Havensack. With a bus on the back end and $20 for the taxi that would bring the costs addressed to approximately $44. I somewhat enjoy trying to figure out how to get around on our own, as opposed to the minimal mental effort ship tour. Value, not cost, is the ultimate driver, but costs are less than the ship tour, but not enormously.

 

For those in the know [Host Anne and others] does it look like I've properly summarized my thoughts? Suggestions gratefully received.

 

thanks

Thom

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We will be on Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas, docked in Charlotte Amalie on 7/5/10 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. We just learned that the Carnival will be held on St. John that day. We have never been to St. Thomas or St. John and are trying to plan our day. A couple questions for your input:

 

1. Will extra ferries be in service between Red Hook and Cruz Bay because of the Carnival?

 

2. Will there likely be additional ferries between Charlotte Amalie and Cruz Bay?

 

3. Is it worth the trip for Carnival or should we just stay on St. Thomas and explore some of the beaches, etc?

 

4. It sounds like lots of places are closed for Carnival. Will that only impact St. John and not St. Thomas?

 

Thanks for your advice!

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For those in the know [Host Anne and others] does it look like I've properly summarized my thoughts? Suggestions gratefully received.

 

Hi Thom. I didn't reply before because I'm missing a piece of information critical to your choice - namely, how much a taxi would charge you for that kind of tour.

 

Several years ago, before I'd ever done a land vacation on St. John, a group of us rented jeeps on St. Thomas and took them to St. John for the day on the car barge. From a strictly $$ point of view this would save you vs renting a car on St. John in two ways - the rental fee would be less and round trip car barge fare is a little less than round trip ferry for four.

 

If you decide that this might be a viable option then I'll be glad (as I'm sure will others) to help you chart a course to get the most out of your time on St. John.

Edited by augie

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We will be on Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas, docked in Charlotte Amalie on 7/5/10 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. We just learned that the Carnival will be held on St. John that day. We have never been to St. Thomas or St. John and are trying to plan our day. A couple questions for your input:

 

1. Will extra ferries be in service between Red Hook and Cruz Bay because of the Carnival?

 

2. Will there likely be additional ferries between Charlotte Amalie and Cruz Bay?

 

I have heard that the ferries will be filling up and going as opposed to just departing at their regularly scheduled times, so I'd imagine that there will be more.

 

3. Is it worth the trip for Carnival or should we just stay on St. Thomas and explore some of the beaches, etc?
Depends on whether you'd prefer to be in a large street party/festival/parade atmosphere or not. Carnival is the busiest day of the year in Cruz Bay, and it may be harder to get transportation into and out of town on St. John that day, but there will be a lot of activities, food vendors, music, etc in town.

 

4. It sounds like lots of places are closed for Carnival. Will that only impact St. John and not St. Thomas?

 

I believe that is the case. If not, someone will no doubt correct me!

Edited by augie

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Hi Thom. I didn't reply before because I'm missing a piece of information critical to your choice - namely, how much a taxi would charge you for that kind of tour.

 

Several years ago, before I'd ever done a land vacation on St. John, a group of us rented jeeps on St. Thomas and took them to St. John for the day on the car barge. From a strictly $$ point of view this would save you vs renting a car on St. John in two ways - the rental fee would be less and round trip car barge fare is a little less than round trip ferry for four.

 

If you decide that this might be a viable option then I'll be glad (as I'm sure will others) to help you chart a course to get the most out of your time on St. John.

Gee I just assumed [yep, I know: ass u me] that renting a car and taking it would be much more expensive. It is actually just about the same price for the 4*$6*2 walk-ons as round trip with a car and passengers, and that eliminates the cost and hassle of getting to and from Red Hook and would seem to make things much easier IF there is someplace at Havensack that rents cars [don't think we have to have 4x4] that we may take to St. John. I haven't been able to locate that piece on the internet - any possibilities for car rentals in Havensack?

 

Thom

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It's been awhile, but when we did this I was able to rent a jeep from one of the national chains that had a facility right in Havensight, within easy walking distance from the ship. Someone else will have to chime in with whether or not that's still the case.

 

We also went during slow season and you're going in high season, but you have plenty of time to get your ducks in a row.

 

At least you save some viable options - I'm sure you'll have a great time!

 

[EDIT] Budget of St. Thomas is where we rented from http://budgetstt.com/

Edited by augie

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Hi Thom. I didn't reply before because I'm missing a piece of information critical to your choice - namely, how much a taxi would charge you for that kind of tour.

 

Several years ago, before I'd ever done a land vacation on St. John, a group of us rented jeeps on St. Thomas and took them to St. John for the day on the car barge. From a strictly $$ point of view this would save you vs renting a car on St. John in two ways - the rental fee would be less and round trip car barge fare is a little less than round trip ferry for four.

 

If you decide that this might be a viable option then I'll be glad (as I'm sure will others) to help you chart a course to get the most out of your time on St. John.

Hi,

 

My husband and I will be going to the Islands on a cruise for seven days. One of the stops is in St Thomas, I would love more information on how to rent the jeep and take the barge over to St John for the day.

 

Thank you

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It's been awhile, but when we did this I was able to rent a jeep from one of the national chains that had a facility right in Havensight, within easy walking distance from the ship. Someone else will have to chime in with whether or not that's still the case.

 

We also went during slow season and you're going in high season, but you have plenty of time to get your ducks in a row.

 

At least you save some viable options - I'm sure you'll have a great time!

 

[EDIT] Budget of St. Thomas is where we rented from http://budgetstt.com/

Wow, THANKS Augie! Cruise Critics are the greatest. I have gone ahead and already made a reservation at Budget Havensight. I'll give them a call to confirm if we may take it on the St. John ferry. Is there any major reason to get a 4x4, or will a car be okay?

 

Thom

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Is there any major reason to get a 4x4, or will a car be okay?

 

I'd get the 4x4 Wrangler if you can. You'd probably be OK with a car, but if you get any rain you'll be glad you have the 4x4 available when you're navigating some of the switchbacks on North Shore Rd. And, this may just be me, but St. John seems like a "Jeep kind of place".

 

Let me know if you'd like any help planning where to go/what to see once you get there!

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One more thing - I looked on line and the car barge costs $30 each way. You can buy a round trip ticket on some of them for $50, but most people recommend buying one way so that you can take the next available barge when you're ready to return to STT. There's also a $3 fee that they'll charge you at Red Hook before you board for the STT-STJ leg. So that's $63 plus gas (probably no more than $10) and the rental cost.

 

I don't know if you could catch a $2 bus from Red Hook to Havensight (I read someone that indicated they could take it in the other direction, but not going back towards the ship). if not, then you'd be looking at $32 per person round trip from Havensight to Cruz Bay, then you'd still have to pay for some form of transportation on St. John, so the rental on STT should still make fiscal sense, not to mention that you'd be free to make your own schedule (except for the ship!).

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Do make sure that Budget permits you to take the car from St. Thomas to St. John. Not all rental companies do. I have never rented on St. Thomas but all rentals on St. John are Jeep-type vehicles (no cars).

 

I'll be happy to send a note to a friend on St. John and ask how crazy it is on Carnival day.

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Hi,

 

My husband and I will be going to the Islands on a cruise for seven days. One of the stops is in St Thomas, I would love more information on how to rent the jeep and take the barge over to St John for the day.

 

Did the other posts on this thread give you enough information, or do you still have some questions? If so, fire away!

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Do make sure that Budget permits you to take the car from St. Thomas to St. John. Not all rental companies do. I have never rented on St. Thomas but all rentals on St. John are Jeep-type vehicles (no cars).
We just spoke with Valerie at Budget, St. Thomas [800-626-4516] and she said yes you can take the car on the ferry to St. John. But good to know that that is a question to ask, so that one is not surprised at the last minute. I'm amazed that renting at Havensight seems both easier AND cheaper, at least for four people, and assuming that you don't mind driving on the left [i have many times and never had a problem (knock wood)].

 

So why do you drive on the left in USVI? I thought maybe that Denmark [who owned the islands until 1917] used to drive on the left [sweden did until 1967], but Denmark has been "right" at least since the 1700s. All I can figure out is proximity to British islands.

 

 

Thom

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It's funny - you drive on the left, but the steering wheel is also on the left side of the car!

 

Fortunately the speed limit is low, so adjusting to driving on the left has never been a big deal for us.

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I'll begin by saying I LOVE St. John. We have been heading there for years (and taking fellow passengers with us) each time our ship docks in St. Thomas. I even love the adventure and anticipation of getting there (grabbing a taxi, arriving at the Red Hook ferry, watching St. John grow closer as we cross the channel). It does take a little bit to get there but for us, it's worth it.

 

There are several reasons I'd recommend going on your own (or with a small group from your ship): You can go and return on your own schedule; you can go early and beat the crowds (we always get off the ship as early as possible and catch the first available ferry); you'll save money. While a sailboat excursion will give you a sense of the beauty of St. John, I think the experience is better if you take the ferry to the island, explore and enjoy the wonderful views and beaches from on land.

 

To get there, regardless of where you dock, hop in a taxi and head to the Red Hook Ferry dock. The ferry to Cruz Bay St. John leaves every hour on the hour. If you make the 9:00 AM ferry, you'll beat the crowds and have more time on the island. It's only about a 20 minute ferry ride. When you get off the ferry there are bunches of taxis waiting to take you to the beach or on an island tour or both. It's about $6 per person from the dock to Trunk Bay with a couple of wonderful scenic overlooks on the way (my avatar is taken from the Trunk Bay overlook). It is a spectacular island.

 

If you want to rent a car, they run about $70 - $75 for the day and are typically small jeep-type vehicles. The drive on the other side of the road here so be prepared for that. If you just want to relax and enjoy, I'd suggest taking the taxi to the beach.

 

Trunk Bay is by far the most popular beach. It has the marked underwawter snorkeling trail and it is a beautiful beach (you can see it in my avatar). There is a $4 admission fee for Trunk Bay. If snorkeling isn't key, I'd suggest going to Cinnamon Bay, the next major beach down from Trunk. It, too, is very pretty, snorkeling not as good but no admission fee.

 

Trunk Bay and Cinnamon both have a decent beach snack bar (burgers, chix fingers, etc) and a place you can rent beach chairs (not the best shape) and snorkel gear (OK stuff).

 

There are many other gorgeous beaches along the north shore of the island. Hawksnest (has restroom facilities but not food/chair renta) and Maho (no facilities) are two of my favorites. Taxis will take you to any of them. Taxis are readily available at Trunk and Cinnamon all day long.

 

If you prefer a nicer lunch, there are also lots of nice restaurants back in Cruz Bay within walking distance of the ferry dock. www.stjohnguidebook.com gives you plenty of suggestions and they are all pretty good.

 

Heading back, I'd recommend you take a ferry that leaves Cruz Bay no later than 3 hours prior to your ships departuer. If your ship leaves at 6:00, I'd take the 3:00 PM ferry back to Red Hook at the latest. That will get you back on St. Thomas by 3:20 with plenty of time for a cab ride back to your ship. There are always plenty of cabs at Red Hook waiting to take passengers back to ships, too.

 

I should add that we, too, have vacationed on the island. We've been there three times for a week vacation in the past ten years. It continues to be my favorite island. Here's a link to photos from our trip to St. John last summer: http://stjohntrip2009.shutterfly.com/26?size=All&startIndex=0

 

Enjoy whatever you do.

 

Anne, thank you so much for your tips and suggestions. Also thanks for the link to your pictures, they are simply beautiful!!!! I have been looking at a Southern Caribbean cruise for next year and trying to decide which itinerary. Your review definitly has me leaning to the one with the St. Thomas stop. I definitely see a trip to St. John in my future!!!

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We have just decided to return to St. John for a weeklong trip next year to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I can't think of any place I'd rather spend it. We'll be back there in February on a cruise as well. For me, I can't get there often enough. Just starting to look at places to stay makes me want to hop on a ship today and go visit :)

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