This was our 11th time vacationing on St. John and probably one of the most memorable ones. We were able to rent the villa Kaleidoscope where we spent our 10 year anniversary. https://www.kaleidoscopeusvi.com
Plus we had friends of ours make it down for a week during our stay and could not have asked for better weather.
Thursday, October 23rd – Arrival Day
Woke up at 4am and waited for our car service to take us for our 8am flight. It was raining and in the mid 40s. Unfortunately our driver wasn’t at our house by 4:45 so immediately I started to panic and called to see what was going on. It turned out the driver never made it in, so luckily they had a backup to come get us. At around 5:25am the backup driver came to pick us up.
It turned out he was the owner’s husband and apologized. He made great time and we checked in and made it through security at the airport all by 6:30am. It was a rough start but the anticipation of arriving on St. John later on in the day started to sink in.
Our flight left on time around 8:00am. For some reason our flight was quite turbulent and they even asked the flight crew to fasten their seatbelts for a portion of the flight. We landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico just after 12:00pm. We walked down to where we would normally check-in at the Cape Air counter and noticed the entire section of the airport was blocked and closed. We had to take an elevator down one level and wait for someone to escort us to the doorway. Once he arrived we were taken outside into a van. They took us to the other part of the terminal where they had a temporary set up for Cape Air. Our flight was not until 3:15 and hoped to be moved up to the 12:40pm flight. Unfortunately the flight was full and we had to wait.
We walked down the terminal and eventually found a crowded restaurant/bar called Mangoes. It was the only place to have a drink while we waited. We had a couple of beers and then walked back towards the Cape Air waiting area. After about a half hour they announced that our flight would be delayed a few minutes. Disappointed we just sat there. It turned out the flight was over a half hour late. I then contacted Justin (who was picking us up at the ferry dock in Cruz Bay) that we wouldn’t make the 5pm ferry but were hoping. They eventually called our flight and left San Juan around 3:30. We wound up landing around 4:15pm and were hoping that we would grab a cab that had a quick taxi cab driver. That wasn’t the case. The couple that shared the taxi with us were staying at Blue Beard’s Castle so we had to take a detour to drop them off. I didn’t mind that much since this is where my parents spent part of their honeymoon years ago and always remember the picture of the castle with blue shutters.
Once we dropped them off we were on our way to Red Hook. Traffic was bustling and there was no way we were going to make the 5. I texted Justin and told him we would be on the 6pm ferry.
We got to Red Hook and it was close to 5:30pm. We went to the bar in the terminal and had a couple of rum punches. St. John was getting closer! Once we got the tickets in hand I sent another message to Justin reconfirming our later arrival and assured me that our rental car company were aware. By the time we got on the ferry the sun was setting. This was the first time we were arriving in St. John this late.
We finally got to the dock and were greeted by Justin’s friend Piper. He drove us up to Bougainvillea to get our rental jeep. We have used them for several years now and always get nice jeeps. I also like the fact they don’t have the rental name all over the jeep. http://stjohnjeeps.com
We followed Piper towards Ditleff Point. When we pulled into the gates of Kaleidoscope, the beauty of the villa came back to me. It was just as impressive as the first time. Justin greeted us at the villa and showed us around and that we did get our provisions from Blue Sky http://blueskyconcierge.com (highly recommend – Shanna is great to work with) He also mentioned that he would be starting a new rental business as well. http://newsofstjohn.com/2014/11/03/popular-business-new-owners/
It was a long day and we were exhausted. We just sat outside at the bar area taking it all in that we finally were back for 10 days. We had a few snacks and couple of beers before calling it a night.
Friday, October 24th – Hawksnest Beach and La Tapa
We noticed that the landscaping was fuller and the palms near the pool a little bigger. I walked around taking so many pictures trying to capture how beautiful it is. It is one of those places you just have to see in person.
We then headed out for our first beach Hawksnest. Just gorgeous! We did some snorkeling and visibility was terrific. We saw a lot of different fish. It was great beach to spend our first full day on.
The place was just so nice. They did such a great job transforming this place. We were served two rum punches in mason jars. Nice touch! And the bartenders were so friendly. We could have stayed longer but wanted to go to Joe’s Rum Hut. http://tinyurl.com/pat8ds9
Joe’s Rum Hut was too packed so we went to the Beach Bar. http://tinyurl.com/paxs2be
Ordered myself a bushwhacker. It was so good. Then moved to the beach area to finish our drinks. It was time to get our jeep at the parking lot and get a few more provisions for the villa. Stopped at the Starfish Market. Really $8 for shredded cheese??? Grabbed the block of cheese instead for $4.50…. and few other things we needed. Made it back to Kaleidoscope for some afternoon relaxing by the pool.
Then made reservations for dinner at La Tapa. http://tinyurl.com/ox2notk This is one of our favorite places and I love sitting out near the road. We weren’t extremely hungry so we decided to go with the tapas menu. Our first course was the assortment of three fine cheeses. One of the servers came out and showed us what kinds of cheese were available and we selected 3.
The next course we choose was the braised pork belly with fennel apple slaw. It was really good. Our 3rd tapas plate was the tuna tartare. Everything hit the spot and we walked back towards our jeep. Being it was a Friday night we couldn’t find any parking spaces available, so we parked in front of our rental company. On the way to Bougainvillea, we walked right up to Fatty Crab. It wasn’t too crowded so we stopped in for a night cap. http://tinyurl.com/p24d932
My husband order a drink called the “Love City”. It consisted of vodka, cucumber, cardamom, basil and lemon. It was so delicious I had to have one for myself.
It was getting late so we finished our drinks and walked back up to our jeep. Once back at Kaleidoscope we went to bed.
Saturday, October 25th
Woke up to another gorgeous day. I whipped up another breakfast at Kaleidoscope and made the decision to drive to Francis Bay. It took us about 25-30 minutes to get there. And it was a beautiful day. We snorkeled up and down the beach and saw a pretty decent sized ray but no turtles. A few hours had gone by and we were ready to get out of the sun. On the road out of Francis Bay, we saw a buck run right across the road. It was the first time we ever saw a deer this size on St. John.
As we sat down and looked around, we realized it was the Annual Dingy Poker Run. The place was full of locals and the music was cranking. It was crazy but also a lot of fun. We even got in one of Yelena Roger’s photos.
Another reason we wanted to stop was because my husband (who runs a garage back home) customer’s nephew works at High Tide. Sure enough we saw him – not to hard to spot with his long dreads… he was so nice. After a few we headed back to the villa to unwind and wait for our friends to arrive on the ferry from St. Thomas.
Soon it was time to head back into town to grab a bite to eat. We noticed a lot more scooters and motorcycles on the island. I am not so sure I would really want to drive either of those on St. John… Since we hadn’t been to Mongoose Junction we parked our jeep in the parking lot. We first stopped at Ocean Grill to have a couple of cocktails. The bartender was really nice and we mentioned to him we would be back for our last night for dinner on Halloween.
I always wanted to check out Virgin Fire so we headed on over. Our dinner was really good. We sticked with the appetizers but they did not disappoint. http://www.virginfirevi.com We shared the crispy spring rolls, served with a house made mango chili sauce. Then we tried the coconut shrimp skewers. Another small plate we ordered was the gazpacho shrimp shooters. Our last plate we choose was the tempura tuna tacos. Everything was delicious and I would highly recommend this place. With are stomachs quite full we walked back to get to our jeep and find a spot in the Wharfside Village, but again, there was no parking available. So as an alternative we parked our jeep up at the Bougainvillea car rental. We walked on down to the ferry to meet our friends. It was great to see them again. Once we got everyone together we headed back to the rental jeep, but first we had to stop at Fatty Crab for their really tasty vodka drinks.
We came back to the villa and partied a bit too late but it was okay. We were with friends! It was finally around midnight when we realized we had to call it a night. It was a long day for friends traveling down from Florida.
Sunday, October 26th – Villa Gravity Day
The next morning we woke up to another picture perfect day. It was the first time our friends Nancy and Russell saw the villa in the daytime. And just like that they were totally amazed. And after I cooked us a yummy breakfast we decided on a ‘villa gravity’ day. (This is where you spend the day just relaxing at the villa.) Kaleidoscope villa is just the ideal place to stay all day. It is so beautiful that it makes it difficult to leave. My husband made some amazing rum punches and we were all set. After a few hours just relaxing and catching up, we thought that we would head to town for an early dinner. Our first stop was the beach bar for a few bushwhackers. Then we walked down to High Tide. Everyone was in the mood for (burgers besides me) but I had a pretty good warm spinach salad with fresh mozzarella and blackened shrimp. Our plan was to go to Jost Van Dyke the next day so walked back to get our jeep and on to Kaleidoscope and called it a night.
Monday, October 27th – Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke
Since we had to get up early and be at the Inter Island Ferry over to Jost by 8am, we went to Cruz Bay Landing for breakfast. The server was welcoming and we had a great breakfast. We finished our meals and walked on over to the ferry. We were the first ones there, but only had to wait a few minutes for the lady to open the counter to check us in. There was a bunch of us waiting, including a few ladies celebrating their friend’s birthday. We all just joked about how to fill out the custom forms. It was then 8:30 and the ferry pulled up. It was one of the older models but we were happy to find out it was going straight to Jost instead of heading to Tortola for customs. It was about a 25 minute ride over and we docked at Great Harbor on Jost. We went through customs and the ferry driver told us to be back by the dock around 3pm. We got a cab and we were on our way to Soggy Dollar Bar. The ride is quick but so pretty to see the White Bay Overlook. We got there and had the cab driver come back around 3pm.
It was a great day on Soggy Dollar. My husband and I played the Ring Toss. He got one from the original location and the other location I actually got one too. Since we were both 1-1 we decided to have a match. Unfortunately we never got the ring on the hook again and I wound up pulling my hamstring. Well how does that happen? I am not sure how but next time I will not be drinking a lot and playing that game! It was a fun time.
Before we knew it was 3pm and we grabbed a taxi to take us back to the ferry dock. When we got back to the dock, there were a bunch of people were waiting. It was taking a while a we later found out that the ferry headed to Tortola first before going to Jost. No worries… we walked on over to Sugar and Spice…. a tiny little food place with great roti’s and beer. Perfect! The owner actually remembered my husband from our visit last year.
She had a huge smile and was telling us how she needed a logo and t-shirts. I told her I would be sure to come up with some ideas and send them to her (after all I am a graphic designer). While we were waiting the school kids came off the ferry and her daughter came up to us. She gave us her email address and I thanked her. I now have a project to work on when I get home!
The ferry eventually showed up and we were on our way back to St. John. The views were just so pretty. We were back to St. John to face the customs agents. Its always a struggle to act coherent after spending the day at the Soggy Dollar Bar. Luckily we had a friendly agent and we were let right in. We wanted to go to Margarita Phil’s for take out, but it was closed. We then walked on over to Cruz Bay Landing. It was a great choice. My husband and I had the fish tacos, Russell had the jerk chicken which I tasted and it was soooo good. Probably THE best jerk chicken I have ever tasted. Our friend Nancy had the chopped salad with bacon and she thoroughly enjoyed it as well. With our bellies full and a long day, it was time to go ‘home’ to Kaleidoscope.
Tuesday, October 28th – Cinnamon Bay and Private Dinner
Woke up to another beautiful day. We had some breakfast at the villa and then headed out to the beach. Of course we had to stop at the Trunk Bay Overlook. One of our first stops was Jumbie. We had never been so we wanted to take the trail down to the beach. It was a nice beach but rather small. Then we drove up to Cinnamon Bay. The water was a little rough so we just swam in the water instead of snorkeling. A few hours had passed and we were all thirsty. We drove back to town and stopped at Joe’s Rum Hut. A nice mango mojito did the job.
Chef Ted Robinson from Ted’s Supper Club was cooking for us later that evening so we wanted to get back to the villa so we had some time to freshen up and enjoy the sunset. http://tinyurl.com/mzjw9e8
Chef Ted arrived on schedule and our dinner adventure was about to begin. He first served us pan fried tuna dumplings with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. He then brought out his infamous skillet roast focaccia bread. Everything was so good. I passed on a piece of the focaccia bread because I knew there was a lot more ahead. The next course was split in two. The ladies had the prosciutto wrapped shrimp with fennel, oranges and arugula. While the men had pan seared day boat scallops with smashed fingerling potatoes with truffle oil. After that, Ted brought out our salad course, which consisted of lightly wilted warm baby spinach with apple wood bacon. We were starting to get a bit full but next was the main course. He did a combination of potato wrapped mahi mahi and roasted rock lobster tail. It was paired with roasted veggies and lemon. It was outstanding. Then for our dessert and final course (thank goodness) was an apple tarte tatin that Ted presented it to us. He even made homemade vanilla ice cream to accompany it. When everything was done we could barely move. We were all so full and exhausted afterwards…. The only thing left to do was call it a night.
Wednesday, October 29th – Another Villa ‘Gravity’ Day and Rhumblines for Dinner
The next day we woke up to a picture perfect day. We were all a bit full from the night before but heated up some of the leftover focaccia bread for breakfast. Being that we were going to be out all day on the Scubadu the next day we decided to just hang out at the villa. With a villa like Kaleidoscope its very hard to leave. After a day of relaxing by the pool we figured that we would go to Rhumblines for dinner for their pad thai which they are know for. Once we got to town we stopped at High Tide for a few rum punches and introduce our friends to the one bartender Max, which in turn is the nephew of one my husband’s customers back home. Small world. We headed on over to Rhumblines and were seated in a nice table towards the back of the restaurant. The men had the ahi tuna for appetizers while I had the pork belly and Nancy had the chicken lettuce wraps. It was then on to the pad thai. Everyone ordered the ultimate pad thai, besides me I just ordered the tofu pad thai. The ultimate pad thai includes shrimp, steak and chicken. Everything was delicious. We didn’t want to stay out too late since we had all long day out on the scubadu.
We came back to the villa and had a night cap before heading to bed.
Thursday, October 30th – Scubadu Day Sail and Manta Ray
We woke up to another wonderful day of weather and had breakfast in the villa before going into town. Today was the day we were meeting Joe aboard the Scubadu http://www.sailvi.com We hadn’t gone out with him for a few years so I was really excited to do it again. Plus our friends Nancy and Russell lived on St. Thomas so they also know Joe quite well.
While we were getting ready, I noticed a bird flew into the villa. It was a banaquit. We were trying to get him out but he kept flying around too high. There wasn’t really anything for us to do. We wound up turning off the fans and AC And left a couple of doors open hoping he would find away out.
We cruised along the beaches of St. John, passing Caneel, Cinnamon, etc. before grabbing a mooring in Maho. The weather was just perfect. At first I wasn’t sure about going into the water, but when the sun came out there was no question. The water was so warm.
When we got back on the boat, all of a sudden Russell and my husband spotted a giant manta ray. He was actually doing back flips in the water. It was a great sight to see. We grabbed our snorkel gear and jumped back into the water. The visibility wasn’t the greatest, so it made it a bit hard to see him. Sure enough we saw him swim on by. It was amazing to see this large ray.
We spent the afternoon just relaxing and snorkeling from time to time with the huge manta. Everyone just talked and caught up with each other. Joe then cooked us delicious mahi mahi fish tacos with garlic ginger black beans. It was a great day. Then before we knew it, it was time to head back to Cruz Bay. Plus Joe had a dinner sail planned so we didn’t want to make him late. Once we passed through customs we said our good-bye’s to Joe. Until next year!
For dinner we wanted to see if Margarita Phil’s was open and get our dinner to-go and bring it back to Kaleidoscope. We walked on over and he was open. We all had a few margarita’s while we waited for our dinner. My husband and I played it safe and ordered the regular size ones. However our friends ordered the ‘grande’ ones. I had forgotten how big these margarita’s are.
While my we were waiting for our order, my husband walked back up to Bougainvillea to get our jeep since it was a bit of a walk from Mongoose. He managed to find a spot right in front. Once we got our order it was time to drive back. When we got back, we were so relieved to see that the banaquit had left!
It was a great evening to watch the lightening in the background and talk about what a fun day we had. Our dinner from Margarita Phil’s hit they spot and it was delicious.
After dinner we were all worn out from the day that we went to bed. We weren’t sure what we were going to do the next day. During the night, the storms that we watching in the distance must have made their way over to St. John. I don’t remember hearing such loud thunder like that. Even when we went to town the next day, islanders were talking about it as well.
Friday, October 31st – Halloween and Our Last Full Day
In the morning the weather was a bit overcast. The storm hadn’t passed through so we decided to have some breakfast at the villa. Our friends decided that they wanted to stay at the villa and relax. We thought it was a perfect time to drive back into town and do some shopping. It was our last full day so we really didn’t have any other time to go. Last year I saw this beautiful lamp I wanted for our house in a store in Mongoose Junction called Portico. http://www.mongoosejunctionstjohn.com/stores/portico.html
We parked in the lot and found the store. I found the green lamp that I saw last year and placed the order. It was great to find out that they drop ship your order free of charge. So now I have something to look forward to once we get back home.
The next stop we made was St. John Spice. I wanted to order a bunch of hot sauces for us, family and friends. We picked out a few local ones and this newer one called Valley Doll. There are two varieties and they were both in our fridge at our villa that I tried and thoroughly enjoyed. https://www.valleydollhotsauce.com https://www.valleydollhotsauce.com
We asked if we could have the hot sauces shipped back home as well so I didn’t have to worry about them breaking and if we weren’t going to check a bag in at the airport. http://www.stjohnspice.com
After our shopping was finished we went back to High Tide for one our last visit this trip. It was a bit depressing but we new we had an entire afternoon left. As we left High Tide, we noticed the sky was getting dark and gray. We headed back towards the Wharfside shops and stopped at the Waterfront Bistro. Just as we did, the skies opened up. It was good timing. We sat at the bar and ordered a couple of mojitos. The bartender was friendly and asked us where we were from. We told him we were from NJ and being such a small world he said he was originally from Toms River, NJ. We didn’t order lunch, but saw they had a nice variety of burgers – from your typical beef burger to a tuna burger and even a mahi mahi burger. If we would have known earlier we definitely would have gone there for lunch.
The rain finally stopped and it was time to go back to Kaleidoscope. The weather was breaking up and it was an ideal time to go back and relax by the pool. We even spotted a hawk that landed right on top of the “eagles nest”.
It was Halloween and I made reservations at Ocean Grill later that evening for dinner. The afternoon went by too fast as it was our last day. We all talked about what a great time we had. We would definitely do it again! Soon it was time to get ready for dinner and head back to town.
Our reservations weren’t until 6:15, but I figured we would try and get there early since Mongoose Junction gets very busy for Halloween. Luckily we got a parking space and went up to St. John Brewery/The Tap Room for a couple of beers. http://www.stjohnbrewers.com The inside was pretty crowded so we just sat out on the balcony. It was a nice place to have a drink before dinner.
Next it was time to walk down to Ocean Grill. We were seated in a nice table. Surprisingly it wasn’t that crowded, just a large group seated in the middle of the room. For appetizers my friend Nancy and I had the crab stuffed shrimp. Russell and my husband had the coconut shrimp. We all sampled our appetizers and everything was tasty. For our main courses, my husband and I had the tuna served rare, while our friends had mahi mahi and lobster ravioli. No one had any complaints and really enjoyed their meals. It was also nice to hear the steel drum player they had that night.
We were going to stop somewhere else for a nightcap but we were all pretty tired. We had a long travel day ahead of us so we wanted to get a good night sleep. We went back to the villa and decided to leave at 8am the next morning so we would have time to drop off the jeep rental and have a leisurely breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing.
Saturday, November 1st – Departure Day
We woke up to another beautiful day. Every time we come down to St. John, our departure day is always picture perfect. It was so sad to leave as it always is every time. We had a few cups of coffee before packing up everything and leaving Kaleidoscope behind. It is such a special villa. You can see how the owners put so much care into it. The decor, layout, etc. is so perfectly thought out.
My husband drove us to town and dropped us off with our bags near Cruz Bay Landing. He headed up to the rental to drop off the jeep. We sat down at Cruz Bay Landing and had a great breakfast of eggs benedict. My personal favorite is substituting the ham with smoked salmon. They easily made my request and it was delicious.
We then went back to the ferry dock to get our tickets for the 10am ferry. The ferry was pretty full but we were able to grab some seats up at top. It was also nice to finally be able to go on the new ferry. It was a beautiful calm ride on over.
The next leg of the trip was the taxi ride on over to the airport. The taxi driver made almost too good amount of time over. We wound up at the airport around 11am. Thankfully both of our airlines had people at the counters so we were able to check in. Both of our flights weren’t until 2:30 – 2:45 so we had time to find a place to have a farewell drink. Unfortunately right now the airport is still going through a lot of construction so the normal place to get a drink and buy duty free items, weren’t open. I did notice the new restrooms and welcome area. Once it is complete, it is going to look really nice – but sometimes I like the feel of an “island” airport. We did eventually find a spot near the Tropic Tours Check-in in the baggage claim terminal with a small bar set up. The guy running it was hilarious. He was so entertaining that we wound up sitting there for an hour and a half. He made some great tropical coolers that consisted of 4 types of rum, with a splash of orange juice and sprite. I would definitely like to replicate them at home for the summer.
Then it was time to head into customs and endure the painfully long customs/security process. Even though the lines were long we made it through in a decent amount of time. However going through security we had a gentlemen in front of us that decided to wear some sort of enclosed dress sandals without socks….. When he took off his shoes it was just awful. I have never smelled anything like it before. My husband almost lost it, and the couple behind us couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t quite sure that this guy didn’t realize it and/or didn’t wear any foot powder if he an issue. The TSA agents even were screaming for lysol. Luckily they had some and started spraying the area and even inside the security camera belt. In away it was quite humorous to see and hear them shoot “somebody get me some lysol” and covering their faces with their shirts. It definitely made a painful process of going through security a memorable one.
Once inside the place was packed. There were probably around 4 major airlines all leaving within an hour of each other. We walked on over to the duty free shop to get some rum and other liquor before heading home. If you are looking for tobacco they do not sell it in this indoor store (even though they told us otherwise outside).
Unfortunately our flight was a bit delayed leaving Newark into St. Thomas so we had to wait an extra half hour. When our flight finally landed and was ready for boarding, we said good bye to our friends. We had such a great time that it was sad to leave them. Until next time we promised!!
The flight was a lot less turbulent then the way down and the flight crew on this particular United flight were very friendly. We were lucky enough to get first class seats so maybe that helped, but were served a decent late lunch/early dinner and were back in Newark by 7:30pm.
It was a shock to come back to weather in the low 40s with blustery winds and rain. It was almost like the same weather we left behind 10 days ago. Its definitely not the type of weather you want to come back to after being in the islands. By the time we got our checked luggage and had our car service take us home, it was close to 9:30pm. It was a long travel day, but we were grateful for being able to spend another 10 wonderful days in our happy place. Fingers crossed we can do it again next year.
Until then….. thanks for reading!