May 29 to June 3
Photo of where we stayed
Photos of us
We made reservations for six for fishing with Captain Al Petrosky for Monday. We board at 7:30 am at Cruz Bay at the area where freight boats/ customs/ national park area is located (not where the ferry docks). The Fish Hawk II, a 48' boat, has a cabin if you need to get out of the sun, and beer, soda, and water are provided. Monica, Bryan, Larry, Susan, and Greg are definites so one more can go.
Co-captain Larry's list of possible things to bring/ wear:
- Cooler for transporting catch back to home base
- Wear tennis shoes or sandals (don't mind getting wet)
- Clothes (you don't mind getting dirty - for those fishing)
- Sunscreen (strong as you need)
- Sunglasses (if you want to be able to see)
- Cap or hat (not necessarily required for those with lots of hair)
- Rain coat (ignore if you think it won't rain or don't want to fish in the rain, or don't care about getting wet.)
- Snacks (optional- may be too busy fishing to eat)
- Sea sickness medicine (for those who think they need it, take before you leave the dock)
Larry and I are getting up early (6 am) one morning to have breakfast at Gladys' Cafe. We'll have to take the ferry over to St. Thomas but the cafe should be within walking distance.
We are also bringing one good outfit (though still in flip flops) for dinner at Agave Terrace. It is also accessible by ferry but will require a taxi ride.
|Consider buying Cruzan Rum, voted second favorite rum in the entire Caribbean. Go for the top-of-the-line Cruzan Estate Diamond Rum. You can buy it at the distillery or at shops around the island at significant savings. One version of the rum sells for $16+ a liter online but is reportedly available for $13 a gallon at K-mart on the islands (roughly 4 liters to a gallon). I bet Captain Petrosky will know where to buy it cheap. We can bring back 5 or 6 liters (I think) and American said we could put them in our checked luggage but that luggage gets thrown around and the bottles could break.|
|There are two ferry routes. The shortest route is between Red Hook on St. Thomas and Cruz Bay on St. John. That trip costs only $3.00 each way, takes approximately 20 minutes and runs hourly between 6:00 am and Midnight. The longer ferry route runs from downtown Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas also to Cruz Bay on St. John. The earliest ride leaves Cruz Bay at 7:15 in the morning and the latest returns from Charlotte Amalie at 5:30 pm in the evening. That run costs $7.00 each way and takes approximately 40 minutes.|
Many people do not appreciate having their pictures taken without their permission.
Bathing suits are for the beach, the locals can be insulted if you do not cover up on the streets or in their business establishments.
Greet everyone with a " Hello, how are you?", Good Morning or "Good Evening. Do this before you talk business. Pleasantries are important to the locals.
Do not be rude, do not rush locals for answers.
To answer the "how much" question, we came up with a rough estimate
of $200 per person to cover the common expenses (2 rental cars, groceries, tip
for maid) for the week. This $200 will need to be available in cash form (cash/travelers
cheques) upon arrival that will form the house kitty we will live on. We factored
a fair amount for groceries. If there is additional money left over, we can
use it to eat out one of the nights. The groceries factor does include some
beer, but no alcohol/wine. We think the best way to control these costs (beverage
taxes can be hefty) is to ask each person to bring some wine with them. We'll
need to check the limits. For everything else, i.e. additional meals out, happy
hours out, scuba, sailing, fishing, or shopping, it's a pay as you go system.
The US dollar is the form of currency. Travelers cheques are fine. As for credit cards, if a business accepts credit cards (most do except local mom and pops/flea markets/road side vendors) it is usually MC and VISA. Amex and Discover are less prevalent.
Sample prices pulled from St. John info. to give you something to plan around (per person). St. Thomas and Tortola may vary.
- day sails (full day) including lunch cost an average of $90
- diving costs $65 for 1-tank and $80 for 2-tank dives (includes equip. rental and boat access)
- fishing is cheap from land (nominal costs for license, bait) and upward for boat trips. Rates TBD.
- horseback riding costs an average of $35-40 hour
- hiking is free except the awesome sneakers/treks/boots and blister ointment you will need
- kayaking costs approx. $30 $50
- tennis is available at public courts for free or at the Westin as a non-guest with pass for $15 an hour
- windsurfing costs 25 to 35 hour
- golf is available and green fees vary similar to the US rates - as much as $130 - yikes!
- parasailing costs approx. $60 for a 10 min ride
- mountain biking prices vary based on equipment rental if going solo and upwards to $50 for a guided ride
Like many places in the Caribbean, there are a number of dive sights to choose
from and plenty of tour operators.
I have requested an 8 page booklet from the Tourism board outlining the sites for you. Here are the sights that Fodor's listed(and we trust Fodor's).
Cartanser Sr. - World War II cargo ship in 35 ft of water
General Rogers - 65 ft down with resident gigantic barracuda
Cow and Calf Rocks - hidden caves and archways
Frenchcap - coral-covered pinnacles
Between St. Thomas and St. John
Thatch Cay - tunnels
Grass Cay - tunnels
Congo Cay - ledge and tunnels
Stephens Cay - schools of fish
Dever's Bay - schools of fish
Alice in Wonderland - deep wall dive (15 to 100 ft) off Ginger Island side
Blonde Rock - ledges, coral, tunnels
Brewer's Bay Pinnacle - schools of fish (20 to 90 ft)
The Indians - schools of fish in/around canyons/grottos and 4 pinnacles that rise 50 ft out of the ocean floor
Painted Walls - shallow dive with kaleidoscope of colors on 4 walls (north of Dead Chest)
Chikuzen - 246 ft vessel in 75ft of water - home to thousands of fish and rays
RMS Rhone - 310 ft steamer split into 4 pieces (used as the underwater prop for the movie, The Deep). Also listed as good for snorkelers.
Drum Roll Please! We have lodging reservations with all of us in the same place
(as long as Murphy minds his own business anyway). I don't want to give out
the name of the place yet. I don't want anyone to get their sights set on one
particular place and then come to find out it ends up differently. Like the
flights, we want to max out the opportunity as much as we can. Patience, please
The place looks spectacular, has a pool (no hot tub, darn), has cooking/grilling access, and supposedly has great sunset views. Knowing the island as we do, it is on the South/Southwest side and should be prime for gorgeous happy hours as the sun goes down. It's in the Fish Bay area of the island (look for Cruz Bay on a map and then look right). This will be a great location for our base for the week. Beach,Restaurants/bars, and the ferry dock for excursions are all in the vicinity/nearby.
Good news on the airline ticket front also. Passengers who were on the 2:20pm flight home through San Juan then Miami are now upgraded to head home with the rest of the gang on the 4:12pm direct to Miami.
It's all coming together and I'm relieved. I love you guys, but juggling airline tickets and lodging for 9 has been a semi full-time job of late. And well, let's just say I have a been a joy to live with, right, Bri??? "Yes, Dear" :-)
Before you know it, we'll be "limin in da islands mon."
We need 2 vehicles. Driving restrictions require that we register a maximum
of 4 drivers. Drivers must be 25 (no problem there) and they must be husband
and wife combos (unless secured by AMEX reservation which will allow 2 related
drivers). So we need input from the group what to rent and who is willing to
St. John is hilly and requires 4WD. We can get an automatic, but they are not as common so we should expect that the car will be manual. Often the rentals are jeeps or suzuki type jeeps. These comfortably seat 4 adults. We can force fit a 5th person in one of the vehicles or we can rent a closed top type car for the second car. Do we want to rent jeeps and make the seating arrangements work? or 1jeep/1car? Keep in mind that we are likely to only go out together as a whole group once or twice and none of the rides will be very long since the island is only so big.
FYI, We included car costs in our estimate of $200 per person needed for the house fund. The savings of 2 smaller, open vehicles vs. 1 smaller, open and 1 midsize, closed vehicle is approx. $100. Nice savings to spend elsewhere, but in the grand scheme of things should not be a factor in our decision. We should factor how often we will go out as a whole group and who wants to be the designated driver (what are they comfortable driving).
Cathy, Greg, Larry and Susan are your drivers. If you are a driver, you will have to be ok with driving folks around. This could mean a quick trip down the road to drop people off at the docks or at a beach. It could mean running into town (also down the road) to buy provisions or to take one of us to the store.
It will require you to be the designated driver when we go out for happy hour, a meal, etc. Driving after hours takes extra precautions. Roads curve and people walk the sides of the road where there is no shoulder. So ... as Brian can tell you, it means no bad fish or pounding the Coronas ---- long story, but humorous story.
New rules prevent us from renting on 1 island and taking the vehicle to another island so day trips to St Thomas or Tortola will require us to take passenger ferries and then rent something for the day there or taxi around. Easy to arrange. If you are the driver you could be asked to drop off folks in the early am and pick them up at the docks later at set times.
Also, the vehicle could be a lefty (steering wheel on left like you're use to) or right handed (stick to the left, steering wheel on right, pedals on the right) and they drive on the LEFT. Are you flexible, comfortable with a righty while driving on the left in a hilly, requires 4WD scenario? Not difficult (even I can do it), but requires being alert.
Speed Limit is 20mph.
Fodor's (a GREAT resource. Anything with a star is a sure bet.):
PDF file on Virgin Islands