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Trip Report 12/31 - 1/10... or How We Rang in the New Year

Travel discussion for St. John

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Trip Report 12/31 - 1/10... or How We Rang in the New Year

Postby KatieH » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:09 pm

This was our 3rd trip since last February, yes we love it that much! 2016 was a challenge on many fronts so we decided to ring in 2017 in our favorite place on earth.

Thanks to JetBlue for some awesome airfare, nonstop from BOS on 12/31, a serendipitous opening (or two) at Grande Bay (Seaside Properties; Egrets Rest for 6 nights and Seaside for 4 nights. I have rented from Tracy multiple times and have high praise for her service and her condos).

The rental jeep was a slight challenge – I do enjoy renting from Amalie and STJ Car Rental, but they were both booked, so we opted for an 8 night rental from Mr. Pipers and had a great experience with them as well.

NYE – tradition dictates that our first night’s dinner is at Joe’s Rum Hut and we never stay awake until midnight no matter where we are  Drink was a happening spot that night and Cruz Bay was jumping.

Dinners for this trip are kind of fuzzy – we wound up having a lot of late lunches, and couldn’t commit to dinner reservations at the nicer spots, so there was no fine dining this trip. Joe’s Rum Hut (twice plus a take out pizza night), Café Roma, Sun Dog (twice) Rhumb Lines, Steaks from Starfish grilled at the condo, Lime Inn, and I’m sure I’m missing some others.

January 1st – no Jeep, no problem. We hiked to Solomon via the Caneel Spur Trail. The beach was lovely and not busy at all. Nothing to report from the snorkel and hunger pangs drove us to Honeymoon. OH MY. It was like a Carnival Cruise ship had landed – boom boxes, crowds. I needed a Painkiller – STAT. A quick drink and sandwich (not recommended) and off to Caneel for some late afternoon snorkeling. This has been a favorite snorkel spot on my last 2 trips. The water was clear and calm and the highlight was a Green Moray surrounded by 3 Angelfish not 6 feet away from us. We floated for what seemed like 10 minutes just watching him open and close his mouth. The Angelfish were not impressed 

We stopped for geltao at Canella and took a taxi back to town. Dinner was at Rhumblines – we shared some small plates and the ultimate Pad Thai and enjoyed live music.

My activity tracker recorded 190 minutes of walking that day.

January 2nd: Snorkel and Scuba day with Colette at 6 Paq but DH woke up with a sore throat and opted to stay back at the condo. It was a good call. This was the only “bad” weather day we had – rain squalls, rocky seas, and it felt cold out on the water. I was glad I’d taken a Bonine that morning. I snorkeled the first stop, but not the second and DS enjoyed the diving. Colette is a Geologic Engineer so they talked diving from a science perspective. Listening to them was like sitting in on a foreign language class.

Back on shore Mr Piper’s delivered our Jeep to Grande Bay and we were off to Skinny’s for lunch, followed by some beach time at Maho. Slowly the island is quieting down. Dinner at Café Roma and back to the condo for sleep.

January 3: Hansen Bay and face your fears day. About 10 years ago I was involved in an accident on the Trunk Bay switchback. I don’t think I’ve driven on Island more than twice since that trip. When we got to the jeep DH told me it was time. Since 2017 is my year of saying “yes I can”, I got behind the wheel and did it. All the way to the East End and back. The more you do it the easier it is. It’s not that it’s hard. I just needed to overcome my fears. And I did.

We picked up lunch from Northshore Deli (I had a great salad) and drove to the East End. Hansen Bay was lovely and we got a spot far right with a lounge chair and a picnic table. The only disappointment was not making it to Pelican Rock, as DH isn’t an avid snorkeler and DS had blisters from his fins and wasn’t up to going that far with or without them.

January 4: We planned to go to Francis, and I packed the appropriate footwear for that beach– flip flops. Actually I only packed 2 pairs of shoes for the entire trip – flip flops and my running shoes. Driving by the Peace Hill parking lot we noticed an open spot so we turned around and squeezed into the last spot.

I have serious pronation problems and should not be hiking down to Denis Bay in flip flops -but I do it anyway (I just bought these Vionic flip flops and I LOVE them. Can I get an Amen for Arch Support?)

Oh Denis Bay – you are so beautiful and worth the hike. We set up far left – sun, shade, tidepools, does it get any better than this? Yes, the seas are calm and we snorkel Perkins Cay. Beautiful coral, a nurse shark, octopus, and some juvenile Sargent Majors no bigger than the nail on my pinkie finger. We spent the day here with lunch from Sam and Jacks.

We joined Kevin M and another couple at Coconuts for wine and the sunset and WOW – what a view! It was outstanding, and the sun cooperated beautifully, dipping behind a cloud, then popping out again just before the green flash! The views here are truly fabulous.

Dinner at Lime Inn (DS loves the all you can eat shrimp night on Wednesday).

January 5th – Up early and out to Waterlemon, where we spied 2 Spotted Eagle Rays within minutes of entering the water. A small black tip reef shark was patrolling the shoreline along with some small barracuda. Turtles, fish, another great snorkel. We ran into a family from home that we haven’t seen in a few years.

Off to Shipwreck for a late lunch. I love this place and their drinks! I think that on our next trip I want to stay out here…

January 6h - Off to Haulover North for a snorkel – a little rough and I was paralyzed trying to enter the water… is this a rock? Is it coral? Am I about to fall and land on an urchin? After what seemed like eternity I cautiously exited the water and re-entered on the right. It was an easier entry. This was the first time I noticed that barracuda camouflage themselves. I’d like to do this snorkel again on a calmer day. It wasn’t rough – but it was getting there.

Across the street to Haulover South where DS did a shore dive with Colette and we sunned, read, snorkeled and socialized with another couple. Another really late lunch at Skinny Legs, where we ran into the same family from home again.

January 7th: DH is not feeling well and is slightly sunburned but somehow he’s up for the Reef Bay Trail Hike which he did by himself on our 2015 trip. DS and I had done the Lap of St John that year (highly recommended) but there was only room for 2 more on the boat. DH opted for the hike that year, up and back. He sacrificed his favorite Tevas (not made since 2004, I believe) on that hike. This year he found some industrial strength marine glue and glued those babies back together and took them for another spin. They performed flawlessly.

Off we went – me in my Brooks sneakers with orthotics DH in his resurrected Tevas and DS in bare feet. Yes, bare feet – at least for all but the final ascent. Ah the resiliency (or stupidity?) of youth.

We took our time and spent most of the day – 11:15 until 3:45 doing this. This is the first day I’ve ever spent on St John that I did not snorkel.

We brought enough water but no food except a protein bar and an orange. We stopped at Starfish for steaks, potatoes and salad fixings, and had dinner at the condo.

January 8th – DS is off with Colette again so DH and I head to Jumbie. It’s calm for a bit, then the breeze picks up. We go for a quick snorkel and I see a nice school of large Stoplight Parrotfish. A large group descends on the beach and between the kids and the boom box we decide to pack it in and head to Sun Dog for lunch.

I love lunch at Sun Dog! I had a great salad (with some yummy chicken) and DH had the Chicken Philly. A painkiller later and we’re off to Hawksnest where we run into Kevin M. He tells us about Open Mic night at Sundog so we wind up there for dinner, as well. This was a really fun evening! There are locals and visitors alike – Ronnie (of Ronnie’s Pizza) played the harmonica, a gentleman from Brooklyn brought his flute.

I don’t know how they put out such good food in such a small space. I highly recommend the Sunday Night Open Mic Night at Sun Dog Café in Mongoose Junction.

Jan 10 – Last day – and my emotions are all over the place… We decide on Francis and I’m worried it will be buggy (it isn’t) the beach will be crowded (it is a bit crowded– by STJ standards). We snorkel to the left multiple times that day and it is beautiful. I’m still amazed by the thousands of little baitfish – schools of varying sizes, swimming in and around the coral, the 2 Octopuses and a Spotted Moray semi hidden between the rocks. Snorkeling with DS is like snorkeling might have been with Jacques Cousteau. He sees everything.

We stay until after 4:30 and make our way back to the condo. Time to clean out the Jeep (there is a charge for excessive sand) and start packing. One last dinner at Joe’s Rum Hut, a few drinks and off to bed.

Travel day is as usual – breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing and we’re on the 11:15 to CA. The airport is busy and our flight is delayed. We have a brief refueling stop in San Juan and are home by 10:00. Thankfully the East Coast has thawed out and the next day it’s in the 50’s. It does make reentry easier.

And now to get back to work, and work on our next trip.

Happy travels all!
I will drink no wine until it's in my glass.
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Re: Trip Report 12/31 - 1/10... or How We Rang in the New Ye

Postby philbetm » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:43 pm

:D Loved your report ....takes me back so some of our favorite places too !! I've got to get moving on a Villa choice for our trip in July ! :lol:

Sherry in SC
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Re: Trip Report 12/31 - 1/10... or How We Rang in the New Ye

Postby mfaughey » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:28 pm

Great report! And just realized that I was on the ferry to CA on the 11th also! (after breakfast at CBL too!)
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Re: Trip Report 12/31 - 1/10... or How We Rang in the New Ye

Postby liamsaunt » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:24 pm

Thanks for the great report! Sounds like you had a great time. Haulover North can be a tricky snorkel. I'd say that at least 50% of the time we drive over there we end up cancelling due to the conditions. When it is calm it is awesome though!

I just finished booking my March trip yesterday except for most of the dining reservations. I may have to add an evening at Sun Dog to my plans. I was really pleasantly surprised the one time we stopped in there for lunch.
It's like looking in your soup and finding a whole different alphabet.
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Re: Trip Report 12/31 - 1/10... or How We Rang in the New Ye

Postby hoosierdaddy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:24 pm

Thanks for the report. It is fun to read but a bit of a tease when we are only 8 weeks away. We have never been to The Sun Dog and I had not considered it until now. Thanks
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