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10 more days in paradise--the full report

Travel discussion for St. John

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10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby liamsaunt » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:36 pm

John and I are back from a lovely 10 day visit to St. John. We split our stay between Caneel Bay and Gallows Point. It was a quiet trip for us, with less exploring around the island, less snorkeling (the water feels too cold to me in the winter), less time on the North Shore thanks to swells that persisted for much of our visit, lots more quiet time relaxing and reading, and LOTS of eating out. Here are some highlights.

Thursday March 3

Arrival at Caneel Bay

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Dinner was something forgettable from the Beach Terrace. No pictures.

Friday March 4

The view from our room

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Scott Beach

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Our spot on the beach each day

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Donkeys on the way to dinner

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Dinner at Zozos

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Lobster carbonara

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Cured salmon pasta

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Striped bass

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Jumbo shrimp with fava bean puree

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Saturday March 5

Flowers at Caneel Bay

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We skipped the Caneel breakfast buffet and opted to split a turkey brie panino from the coffee shop at the resort. After I ordered the sandwich, the chef brought out gorgeous looking deep dish quiches. That’s what I am getting next time!

Breakfast on the deck of our room

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Our daily spot. You might notice that there are no other chairs nearby. That may or may not be because we were always the first ones on the beach and we moved all of the other chairs out of our spot :D

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Scott to Caneel snorkel

Southern stingray with jack

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Strange raft. Caneel offers free rafts for their guests, but one man had brought along this large inflatable raft. I have never seen anything like it!

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Flounder

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Stoplight parrotfish

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Trunkfish

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Purple anemone

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Juvenile yellowtail damselfish

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Coney with moray eel

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Turtle

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Corals

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We had lunch at the Caneel Sushi Bar

Yellowtail koi

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Tuna Island salad

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Caneel Crunch roll

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Sandy Beach roll

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Donkeys

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Sunset

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Dinner was at Turtle Bay Estate House. It was too dark to take pictures by the time most of our food came. There was a fantastic breeze coming through the restaurant that night.

Bread service

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Conch chowder

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Sunday March 6

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We checked out of Caneel and moved over to Gallows Point. I love Caneel but prefer more space after a few days. We had an ocean upper unit at Gallows, which gives you 1.5 baths, a galley kitchen, a living/dining room, and a lofted separate sleeping space. The units have central air but we never use it. I love the breeze through the louvers and the sound of the ocean (the sound of the ferry less so, but it’s not too bothersome).

The view from our Gallows unit

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It started pouring around 5, so no sunset. We borrowed an umbrella from the front desk and headed to dinner at Rhumblines

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Summer rolls

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Pupu shrimp

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Blackened scallops

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Tuna with puff daddy noodles

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Monday March 7

It was still raining off and on, but at least we had a rainbow. We spent the morning reading.

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Eventually there was a break in the rain, so we went to lunch at the Lime Inn

Cracked conch

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Snapper sandwich with pickled cauliflower salad

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And with Josephine’s greens salad

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More rain moved in that afternoon so we scrapped any beach plans and resumed our spots on the couches to read books until it was time for dinner at Extra Virgin Bistro

Drinks

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Housemade ricotta with truffled corn

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Crab cakes

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Shrimp and crab papparadelle

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Tuesday March 8

We drove over to Hansen Bay with the thought of snorkeling Pelican Rock

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Not happening! It was FREEZING over there. I was wrapped up in beach towels and still shivering. We packed it in after an hour or so, and headed to lunch at Shipwreck Landing

Blackened shrimp

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Fish reuben

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Tuna tacos

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It warmed up a bit in the afternoon so we snorkeled Gallows to Frank Bay

Orangespotted filefish

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Moray eel

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grouper

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Sort-of sunset

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Later that evening we went to dinner at Ocean’s 362

Drinks

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Bread service

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Local tomato salad

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Tuna tartare with plantain chips and whipped feta

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Vegetarian plate of farro with roasted root vegetables and feta

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Roasted mahi and Caribbean lobster tail. This came with a kale that was one of my favorite things that we ate the entire vacation!

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Wednesday March 9

We were feeling lazy, so we just spent the day reading books.

Eventually we rousted ourselves out of the condo and went for a drive. We stopped in for a snack at Aqua Bistro

Mahi mahi skewers

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Tempura shrimp with wasabi cream

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There was not much of a sunset due to the weather, but I thought the sky looked pretty

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Thursday March 10

We went to breakfast at High Tide. The classic breakfast

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Florentine benedict

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Rainbow on Cruz Bay from High Tide

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On the way back to Gallows we stopped to view the Club Med 2 anchored off of Cruz Bay

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We snorkeled off Gallows to Frank Bay again.

Baby jacks

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A well-hidden flounder

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Blue tang

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Angelfish

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Orangespotted filefish

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Needlefish

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We went over to Trunk in the late afternoon and swam for a couple of hours. This became a routine of sorts for us. I think we visited Trunk four times this trip, always in the later afternoon after the crowds had left.

Club Med 2 leaving during sunset

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That night we stopped by Drink! St. John for a cocktail. This place was never crowded any time we went by. I hope they are still in business this summer, as we finally got enough punches in our years-old loyalty card to get a free drink.

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We had dinner at La Tapa

Langoustines

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Bacalao fritters

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Papparadelle with shrimp, langoustines and arugula in an albarino cream sauce

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Tuna with crispy polenta

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Friday March 10

Had another relaxing morning at Gallows and then went to lunch with friends at Cruz Bay Landing. No pictures this time, but everything was tasty. We swam at Trunk again in the afternoon.


That night we returned to Zozos for a second fantastic dinner.

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Scallops Rockefeller

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Tortellini in parmesean brodo

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Pistachio crusted mahi mahi

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Oven roasted fluke stuffed with crab

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Saturday March 11

We got to Maho around 9:30. Read for a while and when it warmed up a bit we went snorkeling. Maho Bay was turtle town! We counted 14 different turtles, including one that was bigger than me.

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Happy parrotfish!

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Southern stingray

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Peacock flounder

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Sand diver

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Lobster

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Porkfish

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Grouper

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Octopus. We swam with this guy for over 20 minutes. I have over 40 photos of him. Here are five.

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Needlefish

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We tried to go to Miss Lucy’s for lunch but they were closed as they had hosted their full moon party the night prior. I did not realize that the parties are not always on the actual full moon date. Hopefully they will be open when we return this summer because I sorely missed their grouper reuben! We ended up having lunch at Aqua Bistro. Calamari

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Fish tacos

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We spent the afternoon at Trunk again.

Sunset

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We went to the Terrace for dinner.

Drinks

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Tuna tartare (this was excellent)

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Roasted tomato tart

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Tuna

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Lobster
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Camembert fritters

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Sunday March 12

We decided to take an overlook tour since it had been some years since we stopped at the overlooks for photos. Caneel Bay

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Trunk Bay

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Maho and Francis Bays

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We then decided to do the Leinster drift snorkel. The coral looked good but there were not as many fish as we are used to seeing here.

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We returned to Shipwreck Landing for lunch

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conch fritters

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blackened shrimp quesadilla

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Grouper sandwich

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We went to Trunk…again

Sunday sunset

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Kekoa at sunset

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We were supposed to go to Asolare for dinner, as is tradition for our last night, but my stomach could not take another huge dinner, so we cancelled. Instead we went to the Beach Bar and split a couple of things

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Tuna down now

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Mahi tacos

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Monday March 13

We checked out of Gallows and headed back to Caneel for lunch and the ferry to the airport. View from the upper terrace

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Yellowtail koi

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Crab and tuna wontons

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Tuna tataki

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Tuna island salad

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And then it was time to go. Departure ferry

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The saddest sight

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We are booked for two weeks this summer, and have a much more adventurous trip planned, including two boat days. But for right now, this simple and unexciting trip was just what we wanted. Thanks for reading.

John and Becky

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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby Ed S » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:30 pm

Amazing trip report and pics, as always! You hit so many of our favorite restaurants - and how lucky that you pulled off Zozo's twice! It's always nice how surprisingly good the snorkeling is at Gallows, and all the way along the left of Frank Bay (we always just stay at Gallows). How great to be able to split the trip between Gallows and Caneel (we have never stayed at Caneel - may need to consider splitting in the future to be able to be right on a beautiful beach). And the octopus at Maho was fantastic - we have seen them elsewhere and mostly partially hidden, but never at Maho and out and about so much! I felt your relaxation just reading your report and savoring your pictures. At least you will be back soon, and can get Miss Lucy's amazing grouper reuben (which is my absolute favorite - I made the mistake last time of trying the one at Shipwreck and it wasn't nearly as good!).
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby SuefromMA » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:14 pm

Becky,
As always, LOVE your photos! That first photo of the Parrotfish was amazing! Love the swirl/tilt of its tail. As if it were "posing" for you! We have never seen an octopus...so fingers crossed for this upcoming trip....37 days, but, who's counting! So happy to have run into you and John a few years back at Zozo's. I am counting down the days til I can make our reservation for our night at Zozo's. Always one of the highlights of our trip.
Nice to read that you had a "chill" trip this time around. I often feel like we don't do nearly half as much as other folks. But, nothing wrong with enjoying the tranquility of reading a nice book with soft breezes and salty air!
Take care!
Sue (& Jim)
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby pswlrw » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:24 pm

Becky,

It's always great to read your reports and see your awesome food porn :)
Paula

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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby inuny » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:40 pm

Thank you for the trip report and the wonderful photos. We are staying at Caneel for the first time for 1 night next month (then on to Serendip Condos).
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby 54b » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:14 pm

Always enjoy your TRs. Your photography is 2nd to none. Not even sure what I'd do with two weeks on the Rock. So far 8 days is my longest, but would eventually love to get to two weeks. I love how you guys split time at 2 spots. It's like two vacations in one. If I were to do it, I think I'd spend one week near Coral Bay and one near Cruz.

Thanks again and looking forward to another one this summer. We'll be in there in mid-June.

And count me on board with the new picnic tables at Beach Bar.
It’s not about yesterday or tomorrow...It’s about today, for come what may – Sun, rain, or hurricane – we've only time for a smile, and none for sorrow
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby hoosierdaddy » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:13 pm

Thanks for your report. I always love the photos.
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby Bigcheeze » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:00 am

Thanks for the great pics!! Amazing....now I'm hungry and want to go for a swim

Dave/Bigcheeze
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby Suziekue » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:42 am

Thank you so much for your fabulous trip report Becky, it was a pleasant surprise read this morning. I feel like I got a little STJ fix to help me make it until my trip in November. I love all of your pictures and restaurant adventures, they're awesome.
Soarin' with the eagles all week long, and this is all that we've learned about living - VACATION!

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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby jmq » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:33 pm

Nice! Some great rainbow and UW shots, and so many food shots LOL with fine use of ambient light -- you have pretty steady hands to shoot those low light shots...

Thanks for taking the time to post.
When we come to place where the sea and the sky collide
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby Pickle » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:46 pm

Happy to see and read your report, Becky!

What is your overall impression of Ocean 362 and Terrace? We usually pick a couple of fine dining spots per trip. Since ZoZo's is our favorite, it doesn't leave much room for other spots and we haven't gotten around to trying Ocean 362 or Terrace.

I don't know if it was because of your report that I first read late last night (and again this afternoon), but I dreamed about being on St. John last night. I hadn't done that in a while...

Wishing you all a very happy trip back to St. John this summer - assuming it will be a "whole crew" trip.
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby jmq » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:47 pm

In April, planning reserved dinner at Zozos, but beyond that, haven't made any plans or reservations.

Did you guys make reservations for any of the other places you went to? We normally also make sure to get to Rhumblines for dinner, and to Sun Dog and Shipwreck for lunch - although that cracked conch at Lime Inn looked really good.

Also considering La Tapa, Terrace, and Extra Virgin for dinner since we haven't been to those. We will have to check those menus to see what floats our boat, but what order of preference would you rank them?
Thanks
When we come to place where the sea and the sky collide
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby Wolfhound » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:30 pm

Thank you for the great trip report, Becky. I keep looking for the octopus, but have yet to find him. Love his/her picture. Also, lovely food pics.
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby liamsaunt » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:43 pm

jmq wrote:Nice! Some great rainbow and UW shots, and so many food shots LOL with fine use of ambient light -- you have pretty steady hands to shoot those low light shots...


More luck than anything else, I think. I have gotten OK at low light restaurant food photos, but still have trouble with anything moving unless I have a tripod. I tried to take pictures on both occasions that a cruise ship was coming into Cruz Bay all lit up at night to anchor offshore, but they all came out blurry. The lights of STT looked great but the ship was always a blur. Something to work on during a future visit.

Pickle wrote:What is your overall impression of Ocean 362 and Terrace? We usually pick a couple of fine dining spots per trip. Since ZoZo's is our favorite, it doesn't leave much room for other spots and we haven't gotten around to trying Ocean 362 or Terrace.


Taste in food is so subjective which is why I did not really add my opinions of what we ate (it's all in my journal though haha). Of the two, I prefer Oceans 362.

And yes, the whole crew is coming this summer :D

jmq wrote:Did you guys make reservations for any of the other places you went to?


We had reservations for dinner every night, and if we had not had them I don't know if we would have been seated. I saw the hostesses turning people away at Extra Virgin and La Tapa the nights we ate there. Zozos and Oceans 362 were completely full as well. The second time we went to Shipwreck for lunch, we were some of the only people when we arrived, but by the time we left there was not a seat to be had! That said, we were there during spring break week. The crowds might be lighter in April.

jmq wrote:La Tapa, Terrace, and Extra Virgin for dinner since we haven't been to those. We will have to check those menus to see what floats our boat, but what order of preference would you rank them?
Thanks


1. La Tapa
2. Extra Virgin Bistro


3. Terrace

54b wrote:I love how you guys split time at 2 spots. It's like two vacations in one. If I were to do it, I think I'd spend one week near Coral Bay and one near Cruz.


We have done that a couple of times. If I had it my way, we would always include Coral Bay on our split stay trips. I am not the CEO of our vacation planning though.

Thanks for the nice comments everyone! :D
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Re: 10 more days in paradise--the full report

Postby SusanNJ » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:35 pm

Thanks again for a wonderful trip report. Nothing wrong with just relaxing and enjoying fantastic looking food! Looking forward to your next installment this summer :)
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