St. John - what to do?

Mr. Pundit and I are traveling to St. John at the end of January to celebrate 20 years of marital bliss. I’ve never been to the Caribbean.

Aside from the obvious, snorkeling and hiking, anyone have some ideas of what to do or where to eat?

We’ll be staying at the Westin if it makes any difference.

It has been a good while since I was there, but I recall the snorkeling near Whistling Cay (in Francis Bay, just west of the northernmost peninsula) as being quite good. Among other things, we saw one very large (and friendly) barracuda.

There are several old sugar mills you can hike to. This seems to be popular; I found it okay but not especially engaging.

(Sorry, but all I got is snorkeling and hiking.)

FWIW, I experienced a very mild earthquake in Leinster Bay.

St. John is known for being really, really quiet and relaxing. Most of the island is conservation land. The whole place is gorgeous but don’t expect any hustle or bustle.You just hang out of the beach during the day. There are restaurants and bars to go to at night if you want but don’t expect a big social scene either.

My SO and I visited in May of '07 and this past June and had a wonderful time.

Good places to eat I can vouch for in Cruz Bay (close to the Westin by Taxi):

#1: The Lime Inn. For my money it’s the best eats on the island with the friendliest and best service and the most reasonable prices. Hard combination to beat :slight_smile: Also, Wednesday night is all-you-can-eat shrimp night, and they mean it! (plus, they prepare them maryland-style, steamed in Old Bay Seasoning…yumm…) If that’s not enough to entice you, the owner/host is an awesome guy with one arm who sometimes wears a hook on his stump for kicks.

#2: Morgan’s Mango. Reservations definitely recommended, but the food is exceptional. Pricier than the Lime Inn and less fun, but still.

#3: Rhumblines. Good food and atmosphere. They have fun swing seats at the bar and the seating is outside.

My favorite place to snorkel is Leinster Bay, just east of Maho Bay and Francis Bay. Leinster is the best place to see sea turtles (so sweet!) and stingrays, and it’s just a short swim from Waterlemon Cay, which has the most spectacular coral reefs anywhere on the island. Plus, wild donkeys hang out near the beach.

Have a great time!

Agreed, although Cruz Bay is one big bar at night, so if you’re looking for people, booz, food, and music it won’t be hard to find. The peacefulness and seclusion of the island, especially compared to St. Thomas which is a buzzing hive of touristy noise and congestion, is definitely its main attraction.

Another vote for snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay. This is where duels were held back in the day.

Another vote for the Lime Inn–truly awesome.

I would do a day trip (not on the weekend) to Jost van Dyke and go to the Soggy Dollar–this is, hands down, my favorite place on Planet Earth. Or hire a boat for the day and have him/her take you over there for a couple of hours and just explore the area–there are tiny little islands you can hang out on also.

Personally, I don’t think the beach at the Westin is all that great so I would probably rent a Jeep and go off to other beaches–enjoy the hair-raising driving by the way.

One last thing–I wouldn’t waste time going to Trunk Bay. I’m sure it was amazing back in the day but now it’s a tourist trap.

Thanks for all the advice. I’ll be sure to print it out and take it with me.

We have been to St. John many times and love it. Really, all the beaches are beautiful, so it’s just a question of what sort of atmosphere you’re looking for.

In terms of car rentals, most people recommend getting a 4-wheel drive, but from the Westin you can easily use taxis (or get a normal rental). If you plan to spend time on the south and southeast side of the island, where there are no paved roads, a 4-wheel drive is better.

Every morning, check the weather report and see where the winds are blowing. There’s always a lee side of the island, and that’s where you want to snorkel that day. If you’re looking for a calm snorkel, Salt Pond, on the southeast corner, is protected from almost all sides and is rarely crowded.

Trunk Bay is indeed really touristy, but it does have a neat underwater snorkel trail. If you want to go there, first thing in the morning is best, but be prepared for crowds to inundate you quickly.

As mentioned, Waterlemon Cay is a great spot. There’s a small island you can snorkel around, provided you are strong swimmers. The waves on the ocean side can be quite strong.

Little Maho Bay is fantastic. There’s no parking lot, just pull off on the side of the road.

If you like to kayak, there’s a good kayak/watersports outfitter in Coral Bay called Crabby’s. You can rent kayaks and paddle across Coral Bay to the east side, where you can snorkel on a completely empty beach.

A final point about snorkeling and beaches: Caneel Bay resort is private, but the beaches are open to the public. There are seven of them, several of which are very nice. Take advantage of these.

As for food, two of our favorites are Miss Lucy’s, which is south of Coral Bay, and has very good local food and a beautiful view (one of the very few places right on the beach), and Aunt Vie’s, a tiny roadside shack serving the best conch fritters on the island. As a bonus, it is located in the east end, a very fun ride and far from most tourists. You can get delicious, if overpriced, smoothies from a truck half-buried on the side of the road at the intersection of Rts. 10 & 20 on the way to Coral Bay. For a romantic night out, try Asolare, on the hill north of Cruz Bay.

Vix and SuaSponte

Sounds very cool. Thanks for the great advice!


Am I the only one who opened this thread expecting it to be about New Brunswick, Canada?