St. John Journals

St. John at Sea

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A June 2004 trip to St. John by pepperpot

Colonial Ruins Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands More Photos
Quote: In June 2004, to celebrate college graduation, the Dude and I escaped to St. John for 10 days of good old-fashioned sun, sand, and sea. Here’s what we found. (For all you landlubbers, I’ve covered St. John’s offerings back onshore in a companion journal, St. John on Land.)

Maho Bay

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Attraction | "Night Snorkel on the Ocean Quest"

Quote:
Things I learned from my night-snorkeling experience: 1. Don’t get drunk in the tropics. 2. If you do, don’t go snorkeling right afterwards. All right, I’m kidding. I wasn’t really drunk, and the snorkeling was a ton of fun. But really, I don’t understand how tourists in the Caribbean manage to guzzle down so much booze—the unwonted heat and humidity multiplies the unpleasant side effects of alcohol by a factor of at least three. So although we’d only had one beer each, the Dude and I were feeling rather hazy and unsteady as we tottered down the long stairway towards Little Maho Beach to meet up for our night snorkel on the Ocean Quest, one of a handful of tour...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Maho Bay
Route 20 (North Shore Road)
Maho Bay, St. John 00831
+1 340 776 6201

Maho Bay

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Attraction | "Sunset Sail on the Allura"

Maho Bay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
I stood with my group on the beach at Cinnamon Bay, staring anxiously out to sea. We were supposed to get picked up here for a late-afternoon snorkel/sail excursion, but we’d arrived early, and there wasn’t a boat in sight. And then, suddenly, a dazzling white catamaran appeared as if from out of nowhere and sailed majestically towards the beach. It was like a beautiful woman sweeping down a staircase into a crowded ballroom. People stopped what they were doing to turn and stare at it. And we were staring along with everyone else—but our jaws dropped even further when we read the name emblazoned on it: Allura. That was our boat! After being rowed out by a friendly young c...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Maho Bay
Route 20 (North Shore Road)
Maho Bay, St. John 00831
+1 340 776 6201

Whistling Cay

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Attraction | "Kayaking to Whistling Cay"

Whistling Cay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
Temporary insanity, that’s what it was. What else could have possessed the Dude and me, a pair of soft city folk, to climb into a sea kayak, of all things, and make for the distant far end of Francis Bay? Chalk it up to the urge to conquer. Every morning, as we looked out over Francis Bay from the outdoor dining pavilion at Maho Bay Camps, our gaze would inevitably fall on a small cay at the bay’s outer edge. Squinting at it, we thought we could see a beach, and something else—could it be a building? We were tantalized. So when we hear...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Whistling Cay

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Whistling Cay

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Attraction

Whistling Cay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
Wearily, the Dude and I hauled our kayak up onto the beach at Whistling Cay and shared an expectant glance. We’d just been through the kayaking trip from hell to get here—though admittedly, that was our own fault for being out of shape—and now the sentiment written on the Dude’s face mirrored my own: This had better be good. The promise of great snorkeling was ostensibly what had brought us here, but in reality, it was sheer curiosity more than anything else. As we looked out at Francis Bay every morning from the outdoor dining pavilion at...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Whistling Cay

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay

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Attraction

Trunk Bay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
In a region chock-full of beaches that regularly inspire bouts of breathless hyperbole from travel writers (the phrases "powdery white" and "crystal-clear turquoise" spring to mind), Trunk Bay has to be among the most wildly hyped of them all. The most famous beach on St. John, it regularly makes top-10 lists of beaches in the Caribbean and even the world, and its underwater snorkeling trail is mentioned in every guidebook. A snorkeling trail—what a neat idea! I was intrigued. Trunk Bay is run by the Virgin Islands National Park Service, which charges a $4 entrance fee. As we rummaged for change in our beach bag, the Dude and I agreed that this was bogus—but we were soon forced to admit that the...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Trunk Bay
Route 20
Trunk Bay, St. John 00831
+1 340 776 6201

Trunk Bay

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Attraction | "Trunk Bay Snorkeling Trail"

Trunk Bay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
Trunk Bay is St. John’s most famous beach, and besides all the usual attractions of white sand, clear water, and palm trees, it also boasts a more unusual one: an underwater snorkeling trail. Trunk Bay is run by the Virgin Islands National Park Service, which hit upon the happy idea of installing a marine equivalent to the usual hiking path. When I read about this, I was immediately intrigued. What a neat idea! I had to see it for myself. And so the Dude and I made our way to Trunk Bay one afternoon to try out the trail (read about the rest of my Trunk Bay experience ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Trunk Bay
Route 20
Trunk Bay, St. John 00831
+1 340 776 6201

Francis Bay

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Attraction

Francis Bay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
It wasn’t until we’d been at Maho Bay Camps for a day or two that the Dude and I discovered that the gorgeous sweep of water we looked out on every day from Maho’s lofty outdoor dining pavilion was not, in fact, Maho Bay. We were more than a little chagrined—gazing at that tantalizing aquamarine water every morning over breakfast, you couldn’t help but long to swim in it. We thought we’d accomplished our goal with a dip in the waters of Little Maho, the camp’s private inlet. When we found that our breathtaking panorama was actually the bay just east of Maho,...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Francis Bay
Off Route 20
Francis Bay, St. John 00831
+1 340 776 6201

Maho Bay

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Attraction | "The Beaches of Maho Bay"

Maho Bay Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
The Dude and I woke up to our first full day on St. John in a state of childlike excitement. Here we were in the Caribbean—it was time to hit the beach! We set off from our secluded tent-cottage at Maho Bay Camps and headed for the nearest patch of sand: the camp’s private beach, which turned out to be at the bottom of a stairway that went on forever. OK, well, not quite forever, but we were beginning to think so when we finally passed an equipment-rental hut, a snack bar… and then finally, we were on the beach! Hallelujah! But as we looked around, it ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 23, 2004

Maho Bay
Route 20 (North Shore Road)
Maho Bay, St. John 00831
+1 340 776 6201

Colonial Ruins Photo, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Quote:
For the Dude and me, a trip to the beach at the ultra-deluxe Caneel Bay resort was a mere pretext. You see, a few days before, we’d been on a taxi-shuttle to Cruz Bay when it had happened to stop at the resort to let off a couple of passengers. To our surprise, we’d spotted some colonial ruins—very interesting-looking ones, too—nearby on the resort’s meticulously landscaped grounds. This struck us as awfully unfair. Undemocratic. Hell, almost un-American. Where did this… this… exclusive resort, this playground of the rich and famous, ...Read More