St. John 2016 – 10 days in my happy place.

img_6390This marked our 13th time back on St. John (14th time to the Virgin Islands) and couldn’t have been more excited to go since NJ was experience a cold spell right before we left. We were also staying at a new villa called Caribbean Palm Villa located in Point Rendezvous. https://www.vrbo.com/633622

Thursday, October 27th – Travel Day

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We woke up to 36 degrees and made our way to Newark Airport. Check in was easy and no issues with the flights.  img_6243

When we landed in Puerto Rico, however, the Cape Air terminal is all the way on the other side of the airport in the basement part in Terminal D. You have to walk through the newly renovated airport which almost seems like you are walking through a mall and it is quite nice. However, when you finally get to Terminal D, it is located in the basement of the airport and there is no AC. So it is the perfect place to change into your island wear – which we did. (which is always the best feeling trading your socks and shoes for flip flops) Luckily there was a small Margaritaville bar where we had a quick beverage before boarding onto the plane for our flight to St. Thomas (we had about an hour and a half layover). img_6245

Once they called our flight we walked out to the plane.img_6250

Unfortunately the pilot wasn’t there yet so we had to wait for her. Thankfully it wasn’t too long and before we knew it we were off and I could see all the Virgin Islands come into view from the plane. It is always such a sight to see. img_6253

We landed just about a quarter after 3 and didn’t think we would make the 4 o’clock ferry. I contacted our villa rep who was meeting us at the ferry dock and told her I would let her know. Surprisingly the taxi driver made great time and we made it to Red Hook with about 5 min. to spare! It was the earliest we had ever made the ferry and were so excited that we would see our villa during the day.

I texted our villa rep and she was ready to meet us at the dock. Once we got to the dock she had a sign that had our name on it so it was easy to spot her. img_6256We had to first pick up our jeep rental at Bougainvillea http://stjohnjeeps.com so she dropped us off at the rental. Even the owner at Bougainvillea said that he was expecting us a lot later to pick up the jeep but our 4 door jeep rental was ready. It was a nice gray/blue color which is a big change from the normal neon colored jeeps we have gotten in the past.img_6457

We got into our jeep and our villa rep went in front of us to follow her to our villa rental for 10 days Caribbean Palm Villa. The ride wasn’t too bad since we were familiar with the area and I thought the villa was right after Ditleff Point, but it was just before it. We took a left hand turn onto Point Rendevous and the villa was the 2nd one from the road. IMG_6456.jpg

We aren’t used to having a villa so close to the road but it’s location is very convenient to town. The villa has 3 large bedrooms with king size beds and a large great room with Italian style decor and also outdoor showers in every bedroom with a balcony. I didn’t realize that the great room didn’t have AC, but with the doors open there is a nice breeze. The bedrooms do have AC which I personally was really happy about since I like it nice and cool to sleep.img_6258img_6257

After our villa rep showed us around we thanked her and we opened a bottle of wine that we had provisioned from St. John Provisions and the welcoming platter I ordered. http://villafoodvi.com (I highly recommended St. John Provisions if you would like to have your villa stocked before you get there – Meredith was so easy to work with especially when I found out the bottles of Corona Light were not available. It turns out they have not been available on island for months now – not sure if it is a distribution thing or Corona has been doing very good marketing lately.) http://tinyurl.com/zzbdcg3img_6268

It was a perfect ending to a long travel day. We just sat for a while taking in the sights and listened to the coqui frogs come alive. It was so great to be back to one of our favorite islands, St. John.

Friday, October 28th – First Full Day

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I remember seeing the pictures of Caribbean Palm Villa on the website showing a beautiful sunrise so when I woke up around 6:15 I knew I had to look outside and take a picture. I wasn’t ready to get up yet so went back to sleep for a bit. We both woke up about an hour and a half later. It was a beautiful morning and enjoyed breakfast on the covered veranda.img_6281img_6288

We realized we needed a few things for the week (like laundry detergent) so we wanted to go to the market and grab a few things. Meanwhile back in July, one of our friends we met in Key West, Dave recently moved to St. Thomas. He was off for the day so we wanted to meet up with them.

We stopped at the Star Fish Market and got the items we needed, including additional bug spray. While we normally stay closer to the water, Caribbean Palm Villa is located further up in the hills so unfortunately more mosquitos and noseeums (which love me).img_6295

We then stopped at High Tide for a much needed rum punch. We always enjoy stopping at High Tide first since the views cannot be beat.http://www.hightidevi.com/ I then got a message from Dave saying he was at the Dog House Pub. We finished our rum punches and walked over. It was great to see him again but not in Key West, but St. John! We met his other half, Jacalyn who originally is from a small town in NJ not too far from where we live. Small world!

We wanted to show them where we were staying so we took a drive back to our villa. It was a nice afternoon just hanging out and taking in the views. They had to make the car barge back over to St. Thomas so we had to be back by 4pm.img_6301

We went back to Cruz Bay and said our goodbyes.  It was great to see them and hopefully would meet up with them again before we left. It was getting to be that time for happy hour so we walked down to Longboard for a drink. https://www.thelongboardstjohn.com/

I recently read how everyone seemed to love the Tuna Down Now at the Beach Bar and I was eager to try it. img_6309

Now usually we go to St. John the previous week in October but wanted to go the next week since more restaurants seem to open the first week in November. We noticed that when we walked down towards the Beach Bar how crowded it was. We have never experienced Cruz Bay that busy for happy hour. It was fun in a way to see. We were able to get a few seats at the Beach Bar. I ordered the Tuna Down Now and my husband ordered a cheeseburger. The food came out pretty quick and it was delicious. We were both quite hungry as well. http://beachbarstjohn.com/img_6306

After our meal we walked back down towards High Tide along the beach. img_6311

We were going to stop in for one more but knew we had a long day ahead of as we were going to Jost Van Dyke for the day.

We walked back to our jeep and drove back to the villa. We freshened up and relaxed for a bit before calling it a night.

Saturday, October 29th – Jost Van Dyke – Soggy Dollar Bar

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We woke up to another sun filled day. We had to be at the ferry by 8am to go to Jost. So we figured we would get to town early, around 7 or so and have a nice breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing. http://www.cruzbaylanding.com/ We drove into Cruz Bay and actually found a parking spot right near the ferry dock. We then walked on over to Cruz Bay Landing. We each had some coffee and a delicious breakfast. I had an omelette while my husband had the two egg special.

With our stomachs full we walked on over to the Inter Island Ferry. We checked in and waited for the ferry. More and more people were coming in to do the same and we realized it was definitely the start of the high season. My husband then saw a young gentlemen wearing a shirt that said High Point Lacrosse. He asked if it was High Point NJ and he said yes. It was funny because we live about a half hour from there. Small world again! img_6316

The ferry finally pulled up and we decided to sit up top and enjoy the views. Then we realized when we were going towards Jost Van Dyke that we would most likely be the last ones off the ferry and last going through customs. This happened to us once before and by the time we got off the ferry we couldn’t get a taxi.

As the ferry neared the dock we moved to a few seats where the stairs to exit to down below were located. Once we reached the dock they made an announcement that the customs agent missed the ferry from Tortolla and we would have to wait. The sun was beaming down and I think everyone realized the same thing – go down below into the shade. img_6317

So we made our way down below and just waited. It was only about 15 min. but it felt like an eternity since there was no air moving. The boat with the customs agent did finally arrive and we were the first ones off the ferry. There was a family of 4 that were on their way to Tortolla so they had to go through customs first to get back on the ferry. The rest of us were all staying on Jost for the day.

Once we were through customs we hoped in a taxi and turned out the gentlemen from High Point and his friends got on our taxi as well. They were actually staying at a beach bungalow type of place called Ivan’s for the night. So we stopped there first to drop them off. Now this place was definitely no four star type of place but it looked like they had a perfect spot on the beach since it was right on it. We said we would most likely seem them later as we were going to the Soggy Dollar Bar for the day. http://www.soggydollar.com/

The taxi took us back up the hill and you could see the gorgeous view of White Bay. We have been there so many times before but that view never gets old. The taxi driver dropped us off right at the Soggy Dollar Bar and asked us if he could pick us back up at 2pm to take us to Foxy’s later on and he said no problem.img_6319

We walked onto White Bay and it was so beautiful. You feel like you are just stepping into a world of bright colors with hues of blues and greens of the water, pinks and reds (from the bougainvillea), etc. We noticed that the tables were new and much more comfortable. We found the perfect table to camp out in for the day. We also noticed that the one ring toss game was no longer there. They still had the one closer to the gift shop though. img_6324img_6332

My husband went up to the bar and got us two Painkillers (which we both prefer made with Cruzan Rum vs. Pussers Rum). They were delicious and we were back on White Bay. We spent most of the day taking turns going into the water and kicking back with a few painkillers. img_6335img_6338The annual Cat Fight races were going on as well so we could see all the catamarans in the distance racing.img_6342

This time however, after a couple of painkillers I couldn’t drink them anymore – I think the OJ and pineapple juice was getting a bit too acidic – maybe I am getting too old but had to switch to a nice cold beer.img_6341

Later on we saw the guy from High Point and his friends. Turns out too one of them knew this bartender we met last year at Foxy’s Leon Miller. We talked a bit and before we knew it was nearing 2 o’clock. It’s amazing how much faster time goes when you are on vacation vs. spending a day at work.

Sure enough at 2 o’clock the taxi driver was there. He took us back to Foxy’s where we wanted to see Leon again. As I mentioned before we met him last year bartending at Foxy’s and turned out he was into photography. Being that I myself am a graphic designer, we hit it off trading points about working in Photoshop, etc. Once we got dropped off my husband asked the taxi driver to pick us up in about an hour and take us to the ferry dock. It isn’t too far, but it was a hot day and we knew walking down that road can seem like forever in the sun and heat. img_6365

We walked into the bar and didn’t see Leon right away. We asked the bartender and he said he was around setting up for the Foxy’s Halloween Party later that evening. A few minutes passed and then we saw him. It was great to see him again. We also got a chance to see a tarantula he caught earlier and his recent photography he did. He really is a talented guy and has a great eye for photography. img_6364

We hung out for a bit before the taxi returned to take us back to the ferry dock. We also wanted to get back about a hour early to see if Joan was around from Sugar and Spice restaurant. Last year I had been working with her daughter with a few t-shirt designs. Joan decided on one she wanted but we ran into issues with trying to get them printed and shipping them from the states to the British Virgin Islands. So my husband suggested to get one shirt done for her. So I made sure I had it with us when we walked into Sugar and Spice.

As soon as we walked in, she recognized us. She gave us big hugs and we gave her the shirt. She was so appreciative that we did that for her. In fact she wound up making my husband and I a big plate of rice and pork. I wasn’t that hungry so I only had a taste. It was incredible. My husband wound up finishing the entire plate.IMG_6372.jpg

We thanked Joan and I told her we would try and work out something with the shirts. We also said that we would see her next year and we were soon back on the ferry to St. John. img_6374

I actually wound up falling asleep on the ferry so the ride seemed to go by in a flash. I woke up and it was time to exit the ferry. We went through customs without any issues and by that time I was starving.

Our usual tradition is that after a day spent at the Soggy Dollar Bar we walk on over to Margarita Phil’s for some Mexican food to go. We walked on over and it was just opening up. The bartendar working noticed my husband’s visor that it is from the Smokin’ Tuna in Key West. She said she was quite a fan and we told her we’ve been going there as well for a bunch of years (since 2006) sometimes twice a year! We placed our order and talked for a few. Once our food was ready we thanked her and made our way back towards the jeep.

Along the way a young local approached us about how he just finished his new CD. Being that I am a fan of music I didn’t hesitate when I asked him how much for the CD. He said whatever we felt was appropriate – so we gave him a $20. He was very grateful and he was on his way. We put the CD in the jeep and it was definitely different from what we were used to listen to. We both laughed and said regardless it would make a nice souvenir.

We got back to the villa and had a nice Mexican meal. It was long but fun day as usual on Jost. After dinner, we both went to bed. And I think it was just barely 8:45.

Sunday, October 30th – Hawksnest Beach

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Since we went to bed so early the previous night we were both awake early. It was another beautiful morning on St. John. We made some coffee and had a bite to eat. img_6385

We figured that we would go to one of the beaches on the North Shore that day and the fact that it was so early we’d probably be one of the first ones there.

We choose Hawksnest Beach since it is really convenient and you don’t have to walk far to access it. I did have our snorkel gear with us but didn’t pack our fins since they take up too much room in our carry on. We stopped at Mongoose Junction to see if the one shop was open to rent the fins but they weren’t yet (not until 10am). So we just went without them for the day. img_6387We headed back out onto the North Shore Road, but first stopped at the Caneel Bay overlook to take a picture.

We got to Hawksnest and there was just one other family there. We picked a nice quiet spot on the beach and took in the views. It didn’t take me long to jump in the water. The water was so warm and clear. I wanted to try and snorkel, but in previous situations if I snorkel without fins – it can be a bit more difficult. Plus there was a bit of current in the water so I didn’t want to chance it. Nevertheless it was still beautiful just to be in that water. img_6398img_6394

As the time passed, we noticed more and more people on the beach. It didn’t get too crowded but getting to the beach early is key. About 3 hours had passed and we were feeling the sun. It was time to head back to the villa for the afternoon.

On our way back we stopped back at the one shop and got our fin rentals for the week. Since we were right there, we decided to go to the Tap Room for drink. (which is still going under renovations from the fire so the new place is not open yet) http://www.stjohnbrewers.com/taproom.htmlimg_6399

We didn’t realize that they had tv’s in there and it was funny to see the Redskins vs. Bengals game in London on. We wound up watching the ending since we are Giants fans we were hoping to see the Bengals win. The game wound up finishing in a tie so that didn’t really help the Giants too much in the division. However a tie isn’t a win so not so bad.

Being that we were out for most of the day before, we wanted to spend some time at the villa and enjoy the views from there. We drove to the Starfish Market where we picked up a few things to grill up later on that evening. They had fresh mahi mahi that I got – along with a few other things to make the fish tacos. (the fish selection was quite abundant which I don’t remember it being that way – which was a nice surprise) We then walked across to the liquor store to pick some wine to make sangria.

At home we like to have sangria while watching football. We call it our Sangria Sunday’s, and why not have it on St. John. img_6411img_6409

We got back and we were able to find a football game on to watch. Our Giants were on a bi so we weren’t too glued to the tv. We spent the afternoon checking a few scores while taking a few dips in the pool. It was a nice afternoon.

For dinner we grilled up the mahi mahi. The grill at the villa was easy to start up and my husband grilled the fish perfectly. It was a nice way to end the day enjoying fish tacos at our villa. img_6422

Monday – October 31st, Halloween and Cinnamon Bay

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We woke up again early to a beautiful morning. We knew it was Halloween and wanted to be sure to be in Cruz Bay later that day to see all the locals dressed up in costumes. We were both hungry so I made us some breakfast. Over breakfast we decided on Cinnamon Bay.

On the way I made sure we stopped at the Trunk Bay overlook to get that shot I think I have taken every time we come down. This time though, St. John was so much greener then it usually is this time of year. Some locals mentioned to us that they have been experiencing more rain – which is evident since it looked beautiful. img_6428

We also had to wait at a “traffic light” on the way. Apparently they are doing some road work that blocks a portion of the road. It was funny to see on the way to the beach. img_6435

Once we got to Cinnamon the skies got darker. We walked onto the beach and we were the only ones there. We were a bit puzzled but figured that maybe everyone had a late start. We walked down and found a spot to camp out for the morning. Then however, it started to rain. We looked up and saw that it was only a small area of dark clouds so that it would most likely pass. While it was drizzling we walked down the beach and noticed at the far end you pass a few rocks and there is another small beach that is part of Cinnamon but it looked like your own private beach. img_6439

We then walked back and grabbed our stuff. The sun was coming back out and we camped out near the rocks. By then more people were starting to come on the beach but we didn’t care – we had our own “private” one. I did snorkel a bit while my husband read on his kindle. I didn’t see too much but it was nice to see some fish.img_6442img_6447img_6451

Unfortunately the dark clouds returned and this time it looked like it wasn’t going to be a brief shower. We packed up all our things and made the long walk back to the jeep. As we got closer to the jeep it started to pour. We were thankful that we didn’t have too far to go. We made it back but got a bit soaked. img_6454

We got back to our villa and the sun came back out. We were able to spend the rest of the afternoon at our villa. At one point we thought we heard the villa cat eating the food, but turned out it wasn’t the cat. img_6459

Since we wanted to return to town earlier to hit a few happy hours and see the Halloween festivities, we got ready around 3pm.

We drove back to town and parked our jeep at the Slimman’s Parking Lot – which is so convenient. We figured the first place we would hit was High Tide for their delicious rum punch. As I mentioned before, it is a great spot to enjoy a drink and watch the sun go down. img_6477img_6478

We were getting hungry and I wanted to check out the Lime Inn since they were open. (plus the owners of the restaurant used to own a restaurant back in NJ years ago in Long Valley – called Chesepeake that I used to go to with my family) http://www.thelimeinn.com/

Normally we go to St. John the week before but we waited an extra week so we would hit more restaurants that were open for the season. We walked in and found a couple of seats at the bar. We ordered a couple of cocktails and a few appetizers. I had the bacon wrapped scallops and my husband had the cracked conch which was lightly battered. It looked so good that I had to try it. (I have tried conch before and it has ended with bad results – several hours later I feel sick to my stomach and you can imagine the rest) I figured I would just try a little – it won’t affect me. I was wrong…img_6487

The next stop was Cruz Bay Landing. It was getting dark out but town was definitely more crowded. Mostly everyone was at Mongoose Junction because that is where they have the Halloween festivities but we didn’t feel like walking down that way. We found another couple of seats at the bar. I ordered their fried calamari salad special while my husband had a shrimp and pasta dinner. I tried a few of the shrimp and it was delicious and so was my calamari salad. img_6489

We were surprised to see entertainment as well. It was nice to hear some live music which isn’t very common on St. John especially the time of year we go. After our meals we were getting tired. It is funny how in St. John you tend to get up early and go to sleep early.img_6491

Once we got back to the villa we turned on the Eagles vs. Dallas game. About a half hour passed and I did not feel good AT ALL – I was sick to my stomach. Yes it must have been the conch appetizer from the Lime Inn. I ran to the bathroom and it was not pretty. (I don’t know what it is – I can eat every kind of seafood, etc. without issue – however conch is the only thing that I react to in that way every single time I try it).

At that point is was time to turn in for the night.

Tuesday, November 1st – St. Thomas and Morgan’s Mango

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During the night there were some pretty strong storms blew through that woke us both up from time to time. So when we woke up in the morning the skies were gray. We knew right away it wasn’t going to be a beach day.

I also remembered that our friend Dave was bartending at this place called the Smoking Rooster in St. Thomas in Havensight. We thought it would be the perfect time to take the ferry over and see him.IMG_6505.jpg

After a few cups of coffee and a quick bite to eat, we went to Cruz Bay to catch the ferry. We originally wanted to take the one to Charlotte Amalie but it wasn’t running that day. We had no choice but to go on the one to Red Hook. It wasn’t a bad option since there are taxi’s available all the time from Red Hook.

We got to Red Hook and got in a taxi with a few others that were on their way to the airport. We asked the taxi to drop us off at Havensight, which is a newer area located just outside of Charlotte Amalie catered to the cruise ships that come into port.

He dropped us off but wasn’t too sure where the restaurant Dave was working was located at. We walked around and it was so crowded with cruise ship people. There were 3 large ships in that day and it was a bit hectic. Walking around I realize how much I would NOT like to take a cruise. I just couldn’t handle the crowds and always looking at your watch to see what time it is since you have to be back on the boat, etc. (I don’t wear a watch while on vacation)img_6508

We asked around and finally found the Smoking Rooster. www.thesmokingrooster.com We walked in and there was Dave! It was good to see him again. We ordered a few beers and could smell the bbq. It made us both hungry. I ordered their smoked mahi fish dip and my husband ordered their beef brisket sandwich. The food was so good and you could taste that wonderful smoke.img_6509

While we were eating our lunch, more and more cruise ship people were coming in. So we couldn’t really talk to Dave too much. After lunch we said our goodbyes and began our quest to find a taxi that would take us back to Red Hook. IMG_6510.jpg

There were a lot of taxi cabs available but they wanted people to do a tour of the island. I guess they figure they can make more money taking the cruise ship people around for a tour vs. taking two people back to Red Hook. We did find one taxi driver that said we should go in front of the Wendy’s. We walked on over and sure enough there was a taxi driver that would take us back.

I thought about maybe having another drink in Red Hook before going back to St. John and see if our good friend Joe was around (we met him back in 2004 when we went out on a charter with him on the Scubadu www.sailvi.com).

Well things changed after that ride. We literally made the 40 minute ride in 15 minutes. I have never experienced that fast of a ride through the windy and hilly roads of St. Thomas. When we got to Red Hook we were both so nauseous. I couldn’t even think about drinking anything. We thanked him for his quickness but boy it was rough.

It was just before 2 and thought to just catch the 2 o’clock ferry. I sent Joe a text but didn’t hear anything back not knowing if he was even on island or not.IMG_6511.jpg

We took the ferry back to Cruz Bay and were happy to be back on St. John. It was just before 2:30 and I wanted to have a mango Mojito at Joe’s Rum Hut. www.joesrumhut.com We tried to go there the night before but when it is happy hour you can’t even get a seat. We sat down and had two mojitos. I checked my phone and saw a text message from Joe. He was back on island and we just missed him as we were in Red Hook (where his catamaran is docked). I told him that we were on St. John until Saturday and hopefully we can meet up at some point.

We were still very full from the lunch and were debating whether or not to keep our dinner reservations at Morgan’s Mango. It was their famous Lobster dinner night and if we cancelled then we would miss out on the lobsters.

img_6513The weather was still overcast and occasional showers so we just drove back to the villa. We relaxed for a bit and thought we could eat lobster. I kept the reservation and we got ready for dinner.

Before dinner we stopped at the Ocean Grill for a glass of wine. We wound up talking to the bartender Elvin who was really nice. We would have stayed and have dinner there if we didn’t have the reservations at Morgan’s Mango. img_6518

We walked on over and as soon as we did – the skies opened up again. It started down pouring. We were lucky enough that we found a couple of seats at the bar. We noticed that parts of the roof were leaking and anyone seated near the balcony were getting wet. So unfortunately we were seated towards the middle part of the restaurant. At least our table was dry. The restaurant was filling up quickly since it was lobster night. Our reservations were for 6pm so we were one of the first to be seated.img_6530

At this point we were both ready for lobster. I started off with their white fish ceviche while my husband had their grilled shrimp. We both of course had the grilled Caribbean lobster which was accompanied with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, beans and rice. It was delicious. http://tinyurl.com/z25qbjaimg_6527

Once we were done with dinner, we walked back towards where we had the jeep parked. The Ocean Grill was still open and it was still quiet. We went back in to see Elvin and a nightcap. He said that the lobster night at Morgan’s Mango tends to hurt their business. We talked a bit for going back to the villa.

Wednesday, November 2nd – Salt Pond and Viva Cantina

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We woke up to partly sunny skies but it wasn’t raining. We had some coffee and the skies seemed to clear up a bit.

Our beach of choice was Salt Pond. We were up again early and we weren’t very hungry so grabbed our things and into the jeep.

We made our way towards Salt Pond not before stopping near Chateau Bordeaux to take a few pictures of Coral Bay.

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It is about an hour trip to Salt Pond but it is worth it. We find the snorkeling here really good and the beach is very calm. Not many people make all the way out to it either so it is generally quiet and safe. img_6563

We found a spot on the beach to put our things down. We had to be careful where we stepped because there were a bunch of small burrs in the sand. (a lot as as matter of fact) This side of the island is very dry and there are a lot of hermit crabs that run along the beach.img_6568

It started to drizzle a little but then it did clear up. I went in the water to snorkel right away. A couple told me that there was a turtle several yards out and I wanted to see it. I swam out and it wasn’t long before I spotted him. He was a huge turtle just hanging out down below eating the sea grass. It was neat to watch him as he would swim up for air from time to time. I didn’t see too many other fish but seeing that turtle was more then enough for me.img_6570

There were not too many people at the beach which made it nice and relaxing.

It was getting to be that time to grab something to eat, so we packed up our things and walked the trail back to the jeep.We drove back to Coral Bay and stopped at Aqua Bistro for a bite to eat. I had the buffalo shrimp and my husband had the fried calamari. I probably could have had more to eat but we wanted to have an earlier dinner. IMG_6573.jpg

We made the long ride back to the villa (which takes about an hour). The sun was back out and it was another beautiful afternoon relaxing by the pool. img_6580

It was then time to shower and head back into town for dinner. When I was closing the villa doors I heard a loud meow. All of a sudden there she was Oscar – the villa kitty! img_6588

It was the first time we saw her at the villa. She was so sweet and adorable. We instantly fell in love with this little cat, especially my husband. We gave her more food and hoped that she would still be there when we got back.

The other night when we were walking to Morgan’s Mango we noticed the new restaurant Viva Cantina that used to be Virgin Fire. So we decided to give it a try.img_6608

We were seated on the balcony and the sun was setting. I ordered their house made margarita and my husband had their sangria. img_6592

It was a beautiful evening to sit out on the balcony and watch the sun go down. For dinner, my husband had the beef brisket burritos and I had the viva Mahi Mahi fish tacos.

The food was delicious but also made us so full. We also were served their house made tortilla chips and salsa. http://tinyurl.com/hogm4og

We were debating whether or not to stop at another place but we just couldn’t do it. We drove back to the villa and Oscar was waiting for us. At that point on she just hung outside of the villa keeping us company. She would never go inside but just would rest by us. Again she was so sweet.

Thursday, November 3 – Trunk Bay and returning to Caneel Bay

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We woke up to party sunny skies. The clouds would roll in and out but it was nice enough to enjoy breakfast on the veranda and decide on the next beach to go to. I felt like going to Trunk so that’s what it wound up being.img_6644

The water was a bit rough (for St. John standards) but it was fun to jump around in the waves. It wasn’t really conducive to snorkel, but we didn’t mind. It was a nice morning spent on the beach and taking the occasional dip in the water. Since the weather was a bit on the iffy side, it kept a lot of people a way which was nice. It never got too crowded and we just took it all in. Trunk is such a popular beach, but obviously because it is that beautiful. img_6651

The showers then came back so we grabbed our things and headed to town. We hadn’t been to Woody’s yet and stopped in for a few rum punches. The sun came back out and it was a nice afternoon. www.woodysseafood.comimg_6655

Later that evening we had reservations at Zozo’s, which is now at the old Equator Restaurant location at Caneel Bay. www.caneelbay.com Caneel Bay just opened up several days earlier so we were able to make a reservation for dinner.

Our very first trip we stayed at Caneel Bay back in 2003. We then started to switch up our stays by splitting it between Caneel and the Westin. Eventually we thought it made more sense to rent a villa where you can get an entire house, with a pool and all the amenities that you really don’t get at a resort. img_6680

However Caneel Bay always holds a special place in our hearts. So many memories there. We pulled into the parking lot and walked down to the beach bar for a few drinks. I had to have their bushwacker because I remember how good they were. img_6673And it tasted just like I remembered.img_6681img_6683img_6665

After our cocktails we walked up towards Zozo’s but not before seeing a few donkeys roaming the grounds. I was happy to take a few photos of them. We had seen some donkeys a few days before while driving but I wasn’t able to get their picture.img_6701img_6697

We were seated at a lovely table along the railing. The sun was setting and it was the perfect backdrop to a wonderful dinner. img_6724

We decided to split a bottle of red wine. For appetizers I had the pork bone marrow app and my husband had the pappardelle with truffle sauce. They were delicious. Then for our entrees I had the pistachio crusted mahi mahi and my husband had they 28 day aged beef tenderloin.

Their prices are not for the faint of heart, but this was our one “special dinner” planned for our vacation. And it was definitely worth it. The food was spot on and so was the service. It was probably the best meal we had on this trip. If you are looking for a special place for dinner, I would recommend Zozo’s without hesitation. http://tinyurl.com/jmbuxqf

It was also the night of Game 7 of the World Series. Unfortunately with the Dish network there we were not able to get the game. I would check my phone now and then at the villa for the score. It wound up going to extra innings and we just could not stay up.

After that dinner we were both ready for a good night sleep.

Friday – November 4th, Last Full Day on the Island – Villa Gravity Day and Meeting up with an old friend

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Since it was our last full day on the island I was a bit anxious to get everything ready for our departure the next day. After breakfast I spent the morning doing laundry and packing our things.

I finally heard back from our friend Joe, and he was going to meet us in town later that night around 6 or so. We did think about going to another beach in the morning but to us it made sense to relax and enjoy our villa one last time. We hadn’t had the “villa gravity” day (where you just spend the day at your villa) so it was a perfect decision. img_6745img_6741img_6735

I did have an odd occurrence while I was relaxing at the pool. I was just about to doze off for a moment, when I heard two ladies approach me with a friendly good morning. At first I thought maybe they were at the villa to clean or drop off things for the next guests that were arriving the next day. I was wrong – they were two jehovah’s witnesses – no joke. Now I know we are in a residential area in St. John, but that was the last thing I would expect! They asked me if I would like any information and I kindly said yes. They left me with a pamphlet and they were on their way. I guess it doesn’t matter if you are in the US or in the Virgin Islands – you have jehovah’s witnesses!

A few hours passed by and it was time to go into town to return our snorkel fins and fill up the tank in our jeep rental before returning it the following morning.

So we freshened up early and drove back to town around 3pm. There is a second gas station now on St. John so it makes it a lot easier to get gas. We filled up the jeep, returned the fins in Mongoose Junction. We saw that the Sun Dog Cafe was pretty empty and it looked like the perfect place to have an afternoon cocktail. http://sundogcafe.com/img_6746

We then parked our jeep at the Slimman’s Parking lot for the rest of the evening. While we were walking around we saw the same gentlemen who sold us his CD. He asked us how we liked his music and said we enjoyed it very much. He was so happy and thanked us again for listening to it (I didn’t have the heart to say we weren’t really into his music, but we’ll give it another try when we get back home). His website is www.yeahdehman.com and feel free to check out his music.

Another place we didn’t go to was Drink. It was after 4 so we new that they would be open. We walked along the beach in Cruz Bay and saw all the people coming out for happy hour.

I was getting a little sad knowing it was our last night but I was excited to see our friend Joe later that evening. We walked down to Drink and they were setting up for a wedding reception. We were able to order a couple Titos Cocumber mojitos which were on the strong side but delicious. img_6755

While we were sitting there, my husband recognized Max from last year. It turned out that one of his customer’s (my husband owns his own car repair garage back home) nephew works on St. John. Last year he was bartending at High Tide but we knew he got a new job at a dive shop. Turns out he works at the Low Key Dive Shop located right next to Drink. We talked to him for a bit before walking back to High Tide to wait for Joe on the 6 o’clock ferry.img_6764img_6766

We were both feeling the cocktails so went ahead and ordered the coconut shrimp at High Tide. It was tasty but we were still hungry. We had a feeling we would go out to dinner with Joe so we waited until he came over.

I looked down on my phone and he said he was there. I told him we were at High Tide. Not before long I saw Joe with his wavy long hair. It was great to see him! We missed him last year because he was off island for the low season.

I remember years ago he first took us to Rhumb Lines for dinner so we thought it would be fun to go back. http://www.rhumblinesstjohn.com/ We walked in and were seated towards the back at a very nice table. We ordered their pad thai and some wine and just talked about what we were up to. He told us he was selling his Scubadu Charter business to a few girls that works with him and that he was going to travel for a bit. It was kind of sad to hear but it was good to see he was doing well. img_6770img_6771

After dinner he suggested that we go up to Extra Virgin Restaurant for a night cap. Unfortunately the place was packed so we walked up further to the Quiet Mon Pub for a drink. img_6772It was quiet so it wound up being a good call.

We were having a lot of fun but knew it was getting late and we had a long day of travel ahead of us. We walked Joe back to the ferry and wished him well with his future endeavors. I told him no matter where he winds up to stay in touch. It was good to see an old friend.

Saturday, November 5 – Travel Day

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We woke up early so we had time to have a cup of coffee and say goodbye to Oscar. We freshened up and gathered our things. I cleaned out what I could in the fridge and took our last bag of garbage out. img_6783

We said goodbye to Oscar and Caribbean Palm Villa and made the last drive towards town. The funny thing along the way, there was a young man walking along the south shore road. We had no idea where he was going but he looked like he was struggling. We asked him if he needed a lift and sure enough he did. He was on his way to work at the Starfish Market and had to be there by 8am. If we hadn’t picked him up he would have been late. He thanked us for the lift and wished us a safe flight back home.

My husband then dropped me off near the ferry dock while he returned the jeep back at Bougainvillea. I then had that feeling of sadness again but realized we have been going to St. John every year for the past 13 years and thought how lucky we were to do so.

My husband came down to meet me and we walked over to the ferry terminal. Unfortunately there was no 8:45 ferry to Charlotte Amalie so we had to take 9am ferry to Red Hook. img_6782

Since we were so early and hadn’t had breakfast yet, we decided once we were in Red Hook, we would have the taxi driver drop us off at Charlotte Amalie where we could have breakfast.

Once we got to Charlotte Amalie we noticed there were no cruise ships in so it was very quiet. We did see a breakfast place called Bumpa’s. You had to walk up the stairs and there was a tiny counter with two friendly ladies working. We placed our order and sat out on the sun covered terrace while we waited for our food. It turned out to be quite a delicious breakfast. My husband had an egg sandwich and I had a cheese and spinach omelet.img_6785

After breakfast we walked around for a bit. We were hoping the one bar was open from last year where we had fun talking to the bartender and the staff there. It wasn’t open so we just figured we would head to the airport. It took us a little bit to find a taxi, but eventually we found one to take us to the airport.

Once we got to the airport check-in was quick and effortless. And plus not having to fill out the customs form anymore, made it even easier. Soon it was time to go on the plane and say good bye to the Virgin Islands.img_6789

I made sure I took a picture of St. John in the distance before it quickly disappeared.

Our flight was around 4 hours to Newark and we had no issues. We landed around 6:30pm and before we knew it we were back home. It is always great to go away on vacation, but it is always great to be back home. img_6792img_6793

Once again we had a wonderful time on St. John and every year the island seems to bring more memories. I do hope we can continue to create more memories on St. John next year and maybe I will finally work up the courage to finally drive on the left side of the road! meUntil then… Thank you for talking the time to read my blog 🙂

One thought on “St. John 2016 – 10 days in my happy place.

  1. Sue Ayres

    Hi Susan – love reading your blogs – both St John and Key West. Can you tell me how you make your Sangria at your villa – what kind of red wine and other ingredients do you use? Thank you!!

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