Finally Back to My ‘Other’ Happy Place – St. John 10.27.18 – 11.3.18

IMG_4431This would mark our 14th time to the St. John (15th to the Virgin Islands). We started going back in 2003 and fell in love with St. John right away. We were supposed to go back again last October but Hurricane Maria and Irma changed that. Thankfully the villa we we reserved was not damaged so we were able to keep our deposit with the owner and planned to return the following year. I wasn’t sure if it was too soon to return being that it was just over a year since the hurricanes hit and the island was still in recovery mode. After reading endless trip reports of people returning, I knew I couldn’t wait another year.

Saturday, October 27th – Arrival Day IMG_4231As our trip was approaching there was a storm system headed our way. It was remnants of a hurricane that crossed Mexico and was forecasted to go head to the mid-atlantic and create a N’oreaster. Instead of being excited for our vacation, I started to get a sense of doubt that we were not going to be able to go. Two days prior, I received a notice from United Airlines that it was recommended to change our flight being that we were flying out that morning the N’oreaster was supposed to be at its strongest. I thought about flying out a day earlier, but my husband had too many things he had to do before he was closing his business for a week. Then I was thinking about changing our flight to Sunday but the thought of losing a day of our vacation was unsettling. My husband convinced me that we should just wait it out and see what happens. So with fingers crossed we kept our original travel arrangements.IMG_4229We woke up early to a rainy and windy morning. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and our car service arrived on time. As we drove further east, the rain and winds started to pick up. I was beginning to question our decision. We did make it to Newark airport and passed quickly through security. We were flying directly into St. Thomas via United Airlines. I checked the schedule of flights and noticed not one delay. I couldn’t believe it. We had some time so we checked into the United Club Lounge for a snack and much needed coffee.IMG_4230It seemed like an eternity, but it was finally time to get to our gate. Once we got there we noticed there was no plane. My heart just sank. I checked the United App and noticed the plane that we were flying on was delayed. It was coming in from Jacksonville, Florida. I figured it was most likely due to the weather. Thankfully the plane was only delayed about 30 minutes and it did make it to our gate. Eventually we boarded the plane and were on our way. The flight was a bit bumpy during take off, but once we cleared the storm it was a calm flight. We wound up making up some time during the flight. Soon I could see St. Thomas and St. John through the window. I actually started to tear up a little because it looked so beautiful and I couldn’t believe that we were actually going to be there.IMG_4236Once we landed we quickly departed the plane. It is always so nice to have carry on so you don’t have to wait for your luggage. A few other planes also had arrived so when we went through the airport there was someone playing steel drums and people offering samples of Cruzan Rum. The airport was alive and busy. It was such a happy thing to both hear and see. After we grabbed a shot, we waited for a taxi. Once the driver had enough people to fill up the van, we were on our way to Red Hook to catch the ferry. It was around 2:15 and didn’t think we were going to make the 3pm ferry. Luckily there were no cruise ships in port so traffic was minimal. As we got closer to Red Hook, the driver assured everyone we would make the 3pm ferry. Surprisingly he was right. IMG_4237Once we were dropped off, my husband paid the driver and grabbed our luggage, while I went to get tickets. Within a few minutes it was time to get on the ferry. I always choose to sit up top so I can see St. John come in to view. I had to get in contact with our villa manager so that she knew we were on our way. Since the villa was located very close to Cruz Bay, she gave us driving directions to meet her there.
While we were waiting on the ferry there were a group of people sat down behind us. They started talking about places that sounded familiar and my husband turned around and asked them if they were referring to Key West. Ironically they were indeed from Key West and they had just left Fantasy Fest to come to St. John. We told them how we also love Key West and have being going there since 2006. We thought it was pretty funny to be in St. John and meet people from Key West. Soon we were on our way to Cruz Bay. It was a beautiful afternoon. Not before long I could see Cruz Bay come into view. I was just so happy. It looked gorgeous. IMG_4241Once we arrived at the dock we gathered our luggage and walked up to Bougainvillea Leasing to pick up our 4 door Jeep Wrangler. I wasn’t used to walking up the hill with our luggage that we had. Usually the villa manager drives us to pick up our jeep. It was a bit of a hike but we made it. Once we got our jeep we drove out to our villa. The villa was called Three Palms Villa located right next to Sea Shure Allure and Coconut Coast Villas. It was definitely a change for us. IMG_4243

However you could not beat the location. It was very convenient to Cruz Bay and it was located right on the beach. The beach was a bit rocky, but it was still nice to be able to walk to it and here the waves throughout our stay. IMG_4254We quickly settled in and unpacked our things. I had ordered provisions from St. John Provisioning ahead of time so we had plenty of refreshments and snacks. We were both pretty tired from the travel day so we just decided to stay in that evening and kick back on the patio outside. I was so happy to be back in St. John, my other happy place. IMG_4253

Sunday, October 28th – Hawksnest Beach and Rhumb Lines IMG_4268
We woke up to a picture perfect morning. It was so nice to sit outside and have a cup of coffee. You could hear the roosters that were hanging around nearby which reminded me of Key West. I made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon for us and then it was time to hit our first beach of the trip. IMG_4276

We decided to go to Hawksnest since it is an easy drive and the closest beach on the North Shore. It has always been one of my favorites. After breakfast we hopped in to the jeep and made our way up towards the North Shore Beaches. As we drove to town we could see how the building that used to have Jake’s and a few other businesses completely gone. IMG_4566We heard that supposedly a new small hotel will take its place. It will be a prime location with great views of Cruz Bay.

We drove past Mongoose Junction which looked completely the same. I also noticed that Morgan’s Mango appeared like they had never sustained any damage from the hurricanes. We came up on to the Virgin Islands National Park sign and the views started to come in to play. The island was so green and the water looked so blue. Even though it was only two years since we had been there, I always forget how beautiful everything is. IMG_4279

Then we came to the Caneel Bay overlook. We got out of the jeep and just a weight of sadness came over us. It was just so upsetting to see it in ruin and not one thing has been done to it. It just looked like something forgotten in time. There was just so much damage. The first time we came to St. John we stayed at Caneel and a few other times as well so it holds a special place in our hearts. IMG_4282We took a few moments before going back to the jeep and onto Hawksnest. We pulled into the parking lot and it was packed. We later found out that Hawksnest is a popular beach for locals especially on Sundays since it is very convenient for them to get to after church mass. IMG_4285Luckily we were able to find a spot and walked onto the beach. We noticed right away that the beach was much wider and a lot less shade. We found a nice spot to put our things and to relax for a while. It was hot and sunny. The water again looked amazing. IMG_4286We did notice though there wasn’t really any wind so it did make it a bit hot to sit out on the beach. We would take turns going into the water. I brought my snorkel gear and was eager to try it out, however the water was a bit too choppy that day and the visibility wasn’t great so I didn’t. It was still nice enough to go in and swim for a while. IMG_4288A few hours passed and we were getting pretty hot and needed a break from the sun. We walked back to the jeep and drove back towards Cruz Bay. We wanted to check out the new Tap Room so we made that our first stop. They did a really nice job and the bar is quite large and room. We ordered a couple of drinks and cooled off for a little while.IMG_4295Then we realized that it was getting close to football time. We are avid Giant fans and knew the game was on at 1pm. They have been having a terrible season once again, but we still wanted to catch the game. We drove to the Wharfside and parked the jeep at Slim Man’s Parking Lot. IMG_4297The entire area of the Wharfside was redone, even down to the cement walkway. It looked really nice. However the Beach Bar, Joe’s Rum Hut and the area that once housed the Waterfront Bistro were all still under repair. IMG_4738The only are that looked like there was any progress was the Beach Bar. IMG_4699We were hoping it was going to be open when we arrived on St. John, but it looked like they still have a while to go. IMG_4298We walked over to High Tide which looked like it always has. We found a couple of seats at the bar with a good view of the television screens. The game was just starting so we ordered a couple of drinks. IMG_4311We stayed until about halftime as the Giants looked terrible once again. At least they views of Cruz Bay put me in a better mood then watching the game. We wanted to catch the rest of the game back at our villa so we paid our tab and drove back to Three Palms Villa. IMG_4259Our day trip to Jost Van Dyke was the next day so we didn’t want to be out that late. We figured we would go somewhere that had some sort of happy hour specials. Once we freshen up we drove back to town. We parked again at Slimman’s and walked toward Longboard. The place was packed and figured that we should try somewhere else. IMG_4314Then I remember reading that Rhumb Lines recently started doing Happy Hour as well. We saw the sign that they were open and that from 4-6pm they have specials but you have to sit at the bar. We didn’t have a problem with that and thought it sounded right up our alley. We walked in and the place was empty besides just one other person at the bar. I noticed that the back area of the restaurant was a lot more open now. I assumed that a lot of the vegetation most have gotten destroyed in the hurricane. However the place itself looked mostly the same as I remembered it. IMG_4315

We sat down and ordered a couple specialty cocktails. The bartender explained that we can order anything off their pupu menu for half price. There were so many things to choose from but we wound up picking out the chicken skewers, Thai spring rolls, Filipino pork lumpia, two kinds of shrimp and a a bowl of spicy szechuan noodles. It didn’t take very long for our food to come out. I thought it was going to come out in separate bowls but they put everything on one platter which made it very easy to eat. IMG_4316

Everything was delicious. I wasn’t sure which one was my favorite because it all tasted so good. We thought we would order another item, but after we finished eating everything we were pretty full. We ordered another drink a piece, the thai chili margarita. It probably wasn’t the best decision because it was very spicy. My husband asked for the check and once we got it we were shocked. Everything we had came to $28! It was such a nice surprise. We were still trying to get our drinks down but felt bad and didn’t want to leave them so our bartender gave us to go cups and then we were on our way. IMG_4317

Again we didn’t want to stay up too late so we decided to go back to the villa for an early night.

Monday – October 29th – A Great Day on White Bay IMG_4320
A couple months prior to our trip, I got in touch with a fellow forumite from the Virgin Islands Online Forum, Brenda. A few years ago we were supposed to meet up while we were both on St. John at the same time but we were unable to get together. However, this year we planned to meet up. Since the ferry from St. John to Jost Van Dyke was still not in operation, Brenda was able to find a very reasonable charter company called Second Chance to take us out on their catamaran over to Jost for the day. We needed at least five of us in order to go out and she was able to find another couple to join us. We wound up meeting Brenda at Cruz Bay Landing for breakfast. Shortly after we ordered, her friends Kelly and Rick joined us. We were all pretty excited to get over to Jost. Luckily Brenda asked everyone if we had our passports and Kelly and Rick forgot their passports. It was still early enough that they were able to go back to their condo and grab them. IMG_4324The catamaran picked us up over at the National Park Dock. It was nice and spacious. We all found spots on the boat where we could settle in to enjoy the sail over to Jost. It was another beautiful day. We noticed again there was no wind so it got quite hot on the boat. IMG_4322We passed by Caneel and again it was so sad to see. IMG_4327We eventually made it over to Jost. We had to check in to customs at Great Harbour first before going over to White Bay. We were able to take the dingy over so we stayed dry on our way over. Once we got the okay that we were all checked in we walked down to Foxy’s. IMG_4372I couldn’t get over how so much vegetation was gone. Most of the shops on the way were open but we just wanted to have a cold beverage at Foxy’s. When we walked down we noticed that Foxy himself was back on island. It was great to see him again. IMG_4381We enjoyed listening to him play a few songs while we had a drink. While we were sitting down a taxi came by and a lady asked us if we needed a ride. It turned out to be our friend Joan who runs Sugar and Spice, a little luncheonette place on Great Harbour. I was so happy to see her, because I wound up bringing a couple of t-shirts for her that I designed for Sugar and Spice. Unfortunately I left them on the boat, but I knew Leon Miller another friend of ours was now bartending at the Soggy Dollar Bar so I told her I would give them to Leon. She thanked us and told us to come by her shop, but we knew everyone wanted to head on over to White Bay so we said our goodbyes and told her we would see her again next year. IMG_4387

Soon it was time to sail towards White Bay. It didn’t take long to see that water and that beautiful beach. Once we were all set each one of us swam to shore. IMG_4390The water felt so good since it was so hot out. Not before long we all made it to the Soggy Dollar Bar and saw our friend Leon. It was nice to see him again. I asked him to give the t-shirts to Joan since we wouldn’t be back at Great Harbour. IMG_4386

We noticed the bar looked pretty close to the old one but the ceiling seemed a bit higher then the original structure. It was strange to see no hotel at all. They did plant a lot of palms and it still looked beautiful. IMG_4409We spent the afternoon talking and relaxing. It was a fun day. IMG_4389

I was getting a little concerned about swimming back to the catamaran. It looked a lot further out then it was earlier. Thankfully my husband swam back out to get the noodles to swim with. They help a lot especially after drinking all afternoon. It made it a lot easier to get back to the boat. Once we all made it back we headed back to St. John. Soon White Bay was in the distance. IMG_4412

John and Michelle of Second Chance were both very friendly and professional. I would definitely recommend them for a private charter. usual tradition after spending a day out on Jost is to walk on over to Margarita Phil’s for a to go order. IMG_4417We weren’t sure if they were open, but when we walked on over I noticed a few people sitting outside. We walked in and ordered a couple of margaritas while we were waiting for our order. IMG_4419Once our order was ready we walked back to pick up our jeep and drove back to the villa. I was really hungry by the time we got back. We sat inside and had our dinner. It was tasty and hit the spot. I had shrimp enchiladas and my husband had a mix of a few tacos and enchiladas. A day out on the water always knocks me out. I think I was up only for about an hour after I had our dinner. Needless to say we went to sleep early.

Tuesday – October 30th – Trunk Bay and Lobster Night at Morgan’s Mango IMG_4425

Since we went to sleep early we both woke up around 7:00 – 7:30. It was another sunny day. We got up and had some coffee and another breakfast of some scrambled eggs and bacon. The one thing I noticed though each morning we woke up we had more bites then the previous day. IMG_4257I wasn’t sure if we were getting bit overnight or while we were outside in the evening, but they were quite bad during our stay. Plus with the lack of wind it didn’t help keep the noseeums or mosquitos away. I did find that if you use tea tree oil, it does help a lot with the itchiness. IMG_4432

We decided that we would go to Trunk Bay. I know it is such a popular beach, but it is just so beautiful. Once we finished our breakfast we made our way towards Trunk Bay. We made it to the overlook and course had to pull over to get a few shots. It looked as beauitful as ever. I kept picturing the image of Trunk Bay post Hurricane Irma/Maria and it looked like winter back here in NJ with no leaves on the trees. It was remarkable to see how much came back in such a short amount of time. IMG_4430

After taking too many pictures we hopped back in to the jeep and parked at Trunk Bay. We were one of the first people there so we were able to park close to the entrance. The admission building was closed so we did not have to pay anything to use the beach. There was a small consession stand that had some snorkel gear a few other things available for rent. IMG_4448

We picked a nice location on the beach and the water was gorgeous. Needless to say it did not take us long before we went in to the water. The sand was so soft. I noticed that a lot of the palm tress were gone, but the ones that survived still looked beautiful. IMG_4469I did try to snorkel around but didn’t see much besides a sting ray and a few fish. IMG_4445IMG_4441It was nice time relaxing and swimming in Trunk Bay. We noticed more people come on to the beach as the day went on.  IMG_4474

The sun was so strong that after a couple of hours we had enough. Again there was a lack of a breeze so it was hot. It was time for us to get back into town and having something cold to drink. Our first stop this time was the Sun Dog Cafe. I always liked this bar. It is small but it just is in a great location at Mongoose Junction. There was just one other person at the bar so we were able to find two seats without any problem. As we were drinking our beers I noticed that the old location for Virgin Fire is now Greengos. I saw the reviews on TripAdvisor were quite favorable and wanted to check it out. IMG_4475

After our beers we walked in and it was impressive. The bottles behind the bar went all the way up to the ceiling. The bartender actually used a ladder to access certain tequilas. We each ordered a margarita on the rocks and they were refreshing. We were starting to get a little hungry but I knew we had early dinner reservations at Morgan’s Mango for lobster night and I didn’t want to ruin my appetite. IMG_4478

We finished our margaritas and walked back to the jeep when all of a sudden we saw a pack of Donkeys walking around the parkling lot. One of the locals was giving them water too. I thought this was a great time for picture. IMG_4483IMG_4489

We made it back to the villa to freshen up for dinner. My husband drove us back to town and we parked again at Slim Man’s parking. On our way to Morgan’s Mango we noticed we still had some time before our 5:30 reservation so we stopped at Cruz Bay Landing for a drink. It wasn’t too crowded yet so we were able to find a couple seats at the bar. IMG_4491

We then walked on over to Morgan’s Mango. IMG_4495It was amazing to see how it came back so quickly. They did such a great job rebuilding the place. Normally when we would go on lobster night the place would be packed so that was the reason behind having the 5:30 reservation. IMG_4496When we walked in there just one other couple waiting. We were seated along the balcony which I always love watching the sunset. IMG_4497We both had the lobster special but to start I had the red snapper ceviche and my husband had the fried calamari. I was really hungry at this point so everything tasted so good. Then our 1 and 1/2 lb. lobsters came out. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish it, but I did. The lobster was really fresh. IMG_4508
We thanked our server for a great dinner and headed out. On our way out we were surprised by a few more donkeys again trying to walk up the stairs for dinner. I guess they wanted to see if they could get a seat too for lobster night. The owner quickly shooshed them away. She said that they have been having a problem with them coming up the stairs for food. IMG_4505

We walked back down to High Tide. We were going to go back to the villa but then I heard live music playing so I had to walk in. IMG_4528There was a guy playing guitar and it was a fun way to end the evening. IMG_4527We only stayed for one before going back to the villa. I think we were asleep by 8:30.

Wednesday, October 31st – Halloween on St. John IMG_4533

We woke up again early as the sun started shining in our villa. I didn’t mind though since we went to sleep so early the night before. I wound up getting in touch with our friend Brenda and found out that everyone was going to go to Francis Bay. I asked her if she needed a ride but she said that they were going a little later so we would just meet her there. We had some coffee and made a quick drive in to town to pick up a few things that we needed for our villa. After we dropped everything off and had a bite to eat we were back out and on our way to Francis. IMG_4582

As we were driving I remembered hearing on previous trip reports how you can see more damage from the hurricane near Maho Bay. Sure enough as we got closer you could see on the right hand side of the road all the trees that got destroyed. It was remarkable to see how so many trees came down and yet so much growth had come back. IMG_4597

We found a nice spot on the beach where we could relax for a while. The water was beautiful and calm. IMG_4535It was a little bit on the cooler side, but once I grabbed my snorkel gear I warmed up a bit. I didn’t go out too far but did see a nice variety of fish. Earlier we saw a shark swim by along the shore so I was a bit apprehensive to go all the way out and stayed near the shore. IMG_4607

A few hours had passed and we saw Brenda and the rest of the crew arrive. I was also excited to meet Rick G who has been on the forums for years. It was funny because I knew who he was but we never ran in to each other on St. John. We finally met and talked about St. John and our posts and what not. IMG_4544We had a nice time chatting for a bit before we had enough beach time for the day. We said our goodbyes and would meet up the next day at Maho for a Forum Beach Day. IMG_4562

I wanted to stop at Woody’s since we hadn’t been there yet and I wanted to get a couple of shirts. We drove back to town and parked the jeep once again at Slim Man’s. However before we walked up to Woody’s, I wanted to stop in St. John Spice and see Ruth and order some hot sauce to send back home. We walked up to the store and it was pretty crowded. I was able to find a few different hot sauces that I wanted, especially Jerome’s hot sauce. I really miss the green style. The young girl behind the counter was new so she had to call Ruth in the back to help us with our order. I thought perfect I get to see Ruth! She came out from the back and recognized me. It was nice to see her again. She even told us that the green Jerome’s hot sauce should be back in production soon which was good to hear. Once our order was set to ship back home we thanked her and headed to Woody’s. IMG_4549We walked up to Woody’s and found a couple of seats outside. They were right in the sun so it was hot but powered through it with a refreshing rum punch. IMG_4553

Then we noticed the new Tap & Still across the street. Once we finished our rum punches we walked on over to check it out. We walked in and noticed it was all decked out for a Halloween Party they were having later. We found a couple of seats at the bar and ordered a couple of drinks. It was a cute little place and we noticed that the food they brought out came in paper bags for carry out however you can eat it there too if you so choose. I thought it was kind of odd but I guess it saves them a lot of money if they don’t have to provide plates and eating utensils. IMG_4564

Since it was Halloween I wanted to go back to Mongoose Junction and have dinner at Greengos. I remember how Mongoose Junction seems to be the go to place for Halloween on St. John. We walked back to get our jeep and drove back to the villa. We freshened up and went back to town. The villa where we were staying was very convenient and close to town that it made it very easy to go back and forth even though I prefer further out towards the South Side. IMG_4569

We walked back to Mongoose Junction and once we walked inside it was packed with people. It is always so festive to see everyone dressed up. IMG_4568We managed to squeak our way past all everyone dressed up and into Greengos. We walked in and it looked like a lot of other people had the same idea. We were able to find a couple seats at the bar.

We ordered a couple of margaritas while we were looking over the menu. For an appetizer we shared the mango glazed shrimp which was addictively tasty. Then for dinner I went with the mahi mahi tacos and my husband had the beef tacos. The tacos were delicious but asked the bartender if they had any hot sauce. She then came out with a homemade hot sauce. I had no idea it was going to be so hot but it was. I probably should have not had it but I had to try it.

After dinner we walked down to Longboard for a night cap. We walked in and since it was after happy hour it wasn’t crowded at all. We sat down at the bar and ordered another round of drinks. The staff was very nice and asked if we wanted anything to eat but we were quite full from dinner. IMG_4576We contemplated going to check out Tap & Still since they had the Halloween Party but we were tired at that point and just went back to the villa.

Thursday, November 1st – Forum Beach Day at Maho Bay IMG_4671
We woke again to another wonderful day. I noticed that there was a slight breeze that was wonderful. I also wanted to check out a new little breakfast spot. The past several times we have been going to St. John I have ordered provisions from St. John Provisioning. Meredith who is so sweet to deal with left us a postcard at our villa mentioning she just opened up a breakfast cafe place in town. IMG_4581

So we hopped in the jeep and drove down to her place. It is located right near the Marketplace on the one way road towards the Tamarind Inn. We found a spot and walked over. We grabbed a some coffee and a couple of breakfast sandwiches. Meredith was working in the back but got her attention. She was so nice and thanked us for stopping in. IMG_4585

When we finished our sandwiches we drove back up towards the North Shore and on to Maho Bay. I forgot to take a picture of the overlook the previous day on the way to Francis so I made sure my husband stopped this time. IMG_4584I always find the Maho Bay overlook so peaceful. It was so beautiful and green. It is amazing how there was something so tragic that happened in just over a year ago.
We parked at the new parking lot in Maho and grabbed our things. There was just a few people on the beach so we found a nice spot. It didn’t take long before I noticed donkeys were in the area. They started making sounds and then I walked down the beach to see where they were. One was actually rolling around in the sand.IMG_4610They crossed the road and then came down to the beach. Then we spotted Steve and Adrian who we met the previous day at Francis. IMG_4619We couldn’t believe how many donkeys were in the group. I think we counted at least 10 and even one of them was a darker brown color. IMG_4627I took a ton of pictures of them on the beach. Then I realized that some of them were drinking the salt water. I didn’t think that they did drink it but it was pretty amazing to see all of them at once. IMG_4621IMG_4628

We walked back to our spot on the beach and Steve and Adrian joined us. We enjoyed hanging out in the water. It was so calm and warm that day too. Eventually Rick and the others showed up with even more people. IMG_4629Usually when we go to a beach on St. John it is just the two of us, but this was so much fun. We had a great time meeting everyone and just hanging out.IMG_4635Kelly and Rick that we met on the charter to Jost also showed up with something I have never seen before. It was a raft that had a bull in it. It was hilarious watching everyone trying to get on the thing. I wasn’t about to but did think about it for only about a second. We had so much fun that afternoon. IMG_4631I think it was the longest amount of time we had ever been on the beach. Eventually we started to feel the sun and I felt like I was overheating a bit even in the water. So we wound packing up our things and thanking everyone for a great time.

When I originally booked Three Palms Villa two years ago, I read that the location where the villa is supposedly has wild peacocks that roam around. We did hear a few of them during our stay but never saw any. We found out that there are usually some near Coconut Coast Studios near Frank Bay, which is also the villa’s owner’s mother’s art studio. So on our way back to the villa we stopped to see the art studio and if there were any peacocks roaming around. We drove down past Gallows Point towards Frank Bay. IMG_4640We immediately saw a few peacocks walking around. It was so strange to see. Then we noticed that the studio was open so we walked in. I wanted to meet the owner’s mother but unfortunately she wasn’t there. We walked around and it was a cute little studio. I wound up buying a calendar and a beautiful set of coasters of hand painted sea turtles.

We then drove back around towards our villa to get ready for dinner. La Tapa was the restaurant of choice. We always like dining there and the last time we were on St. John we didn’t make it there for dinner. Usually we sit outside but this time we were going to try inside at the bar. Ironically when we got back to the villa we finally saw a few other peacocks walking the beach. My husband was even able to give one of them a snack. IMG_4648

After we got ready we made the usual quick drive back to town. Our reservations were at 6:00 so we had some time to have a pre dinner cocktail. IMG_4661We walked down to a restaurant I always was intrigued about trying, The Terrace Restaurant. We walked in and it had a nice atmosphere where you can see the sunset setting over Cruz Bay. We sat down at the bar and were welcomed by the friendly bartender. I ordered a beet martini which sounds very odd, but it was really good and not too sweet. My husband had their pepper olive martini. While we were enjoying our cocktails we agreed that we should come back for our last night and have dinner there. IMG_4659

Once we finished our drink, we made reservations for the following evening and pointed out which table along the terrace we preferred. IMG_4655We thanked the staff and walked down to La Tapa. They were just opening up so there were just a few people inside. IMG_4664We walked up and we were seated at the tiny bar. I picked out a nice bottle of red wine to go with our dinner.

For an appetizer we ordered the steam PEI mussels which were delicious and went well with the wine. Then our entrees came out shortly after. I had the fresh local yellowfin tuna and my husband had the squid ink papadelle that was served with shrimp and calamari. I tried his dish and was just as tasty as mine. During the course of our meal, I did see that more and more people were filling up the place. I was so glad that we were able to sit at the bar. IMG_4665It was definitely a different dining experience then sitting outside, but it felt cozy.

After dinner we were both tired from the long day out in the sun so we agreed to head back to the villa. Plus I wanted to start putting together all our clothes and do some laundry so I didn’t have that much when we got back home that Saturday. Once I got a few things done it was time to get some sleep.

Friday, November 2nd – Last Full Day IMG_4670
When we used to go to St. John we would go for 10 days instead of 8 and that does make a difference. The 8 days went by so fast. I couldn’t believe when I woke up it was our last full day. I felt like we just got there. We were woken up earlier then expected with several strong storms that rolled through early in the morning. Thankfully by the time we got up and had some coffee the skies were clearing. It felt like there was a steadier breeze as well. Since we spent a lot of time on Maho the previous day, we were not up for another beach day. My husband suggested that we would go in to town and have our snorkel gear shipped back home since it took up so much room in my carry-on and it was quite heavy. IMG_4674After a few cups of coffee drove to town and parked our jeep. We walked up to Connections and went inside. The nice lady at the counter told us to find a recyclable box that was stacked next to the back door. I couldn’t believe my husband found a box that fit everything perfectly. It took a few minutes but all and all it was very easy to do. She told us that it would ship out the following day and that I would get an email confirmation. Perfect! (and as a side note it only took two days for our snorkel gear to be delivered back home). IMG_4676

I was getting hungry since we didn’t have any breakfast and mentioned about grabbing something to eat. Cruz Bay was pretty crowded so we walked back down to Mongoose Junction. IMG_4677I checked my phone and saw that the Sun Dog Cafe serves brunch which is just what we needed. We walked to the bar and grabbed a few seats. No one was there for a while but weren’t in a rush. Eventually an older gentleman comes up to us and apologizes. IMG_4678Apparently there was a mix up with the staff and he was the owner. He started to set up the bar to get things ready. We ordered two screwdrivers which we later realized they have endless screwdrivers, bloody marys and mimosas. That could be dangerous. As we were drinking the screwdrivers we realized they were made with pineapple juice and not orange juice. It was still good but we told the bartender/owner because he was about to make a mimosa for another customer having breakfast. He apologized and wound up buying our drinks which was really nice. Then another guy showed up to relieve the owner until they could get someone else to show up for the day. It was definitely entertainment for us. IMG_4679For breakfast I had the huervos rancheros and my husband had the breakfast quesadillas which were huge. I couldn’t believe. We both enjoyed our breakfast – it was a nice surprise. Eventually a waitress that works at Sun Dog Cafe showed up to bar tend for the remainder of the morning/afternoon. She told us she never bar tended before, just waitressed so we actually helped her how to make some of the mixed drinks. It was pretty funny. We probably could have stayed longer but didn’t want to keep drinking so we wished her luck and were on our way. IMG_4682

We walked around Mongoose and did some shopping. Then we walked to the shops at Wharfside and found a few things to buy. It was another hot day and it was around that time to have a cold beverage so we walked over to High Tide and sat down. IMG_4683We ordered a couple beer and not before long we saw David and Becky that we met the previous day at Maho Bay. IMG_4688It was nice to talk to them and eventually Rick, Christine and Brenda arrived. What we originally thought was going to be a drink and go wound up being a fun afternoon. Everyone decided to skip the beach that day since we were all out at Maho for a while the day before. IMG_4694

We were having so much fun that we decided to move on over to Cruz Bay Landing for another drink before going back to freshen up for dinner. IMG_4696We could not have asked for a better last day on St. John spending it with new friends. It was getting close to the time we had dinner reservations so we said our goodbyes and drove back to the villa. IMG_4673

Once we got back I made sure most of our things were all packed and ready to go for the next day. I also threw our last load of laundry in the washer as well. Soon it was time to go back out to Cruz Bay. IMG_4658We had early reservations at the Terrace Restaurant so when we walked in there was just one other table. We were seated in the corner on the terrace. IMG_4707It was the perfect setting for our last dinner on St. John. IMG_4720For appetizers I decided to go with the oysters rockefeller and my husband choose the escargot. We each shared them and they were so good. Then for dinner I ordered the stuffed prawns served with risotto while my husband had their signature mac and cheese with truffle oil and wild mushrooms. I sampled his mac and cheese and it was so rich but so delicious. The prawns that I ordered were cooked perfectly.

We were too full for dessert so we asked for the check and walked down to Drink for one last nightcap. IMG_4732We were supposed to meet the rest of the group there but I knew we were on the earlier side. After we got through half of our cocktails I was just too tired to stay out any later. I wanted to see everyone last time but I just couldn’t do it. So we wound up leaving and going back to the villa.

Saturday, November 3rd – Going Home IMG_4260
I didn’t have a great night sleep which I never usually do before going home for some reason. I think I stress too much about everything going right as far as the flight home, making sure our car service is there when we get to the airport and so forth. When I did finally get up I noticed it was an overcast day which made it easier in a way to leave. It was actually the first day during our entire trip that the skies were that cloudy. IMG_4675

We were out of coffee so my husband drove down to St. John Provisions Cafe to pick some up. They have very good coffee there too. While he was out I began on breakfast for our last meal. After breakfast we made sure we cleaned up everything and left the villa as we found it. We grabbed the luggage and trash and we were on our way. IMG_4734

My husband dropped me off by the ferry with our luggage and I waited for him to return the jeep rental. We were taking the 11am ferry and it was just after 10 so we had some time before doing the walk of woe. I wanted to get tickets, but the ferry ticket window only opens up 10 minutes before the scheduled departure. IMG_4684

So we decided to go over to High Tide for one last drink if you will. We sat down and saw that Andrew was bartending. He is was so nice to us during each visit to Hight Tide. We ordered a couple of drinks and then Rick and Christine sat down. I didn’t think we were going to run into anyone before we left but we were all leaving that day so I guess it was inevitable. We just talked about what a great time we had and that we have to do it again next year.

Then it was time to grab our tickets for the ferry. We said goodbye to Andrew and we were on our way. I always get so sad leaving on the ferry that I don’t even turn around. I don’t like seeing St. John fading into the distance so I just look ahead. We had a very old ferry so it seemed like eternity to get to Red Hook, but we finally made it. Once we got off the ferry we said goodbye to Rick and Christine. We were able to get a taxi pretty quickly and make it to the airport in a decent amount of time. IMG_4746

Once we checked in and printed our boarding passes we walked over to the small restaurant near the baggage claim since I knew the restaurant inside the terminal wasn’t open yet. We had one more round of drinks and then it was time to go through customs which was so easy now that you don’t have to fill out a customs form. Once we got through security, which took a bit longer then expected since we were “randomly selected” to be checked even with TSA Pre, we found Brenda waiting for her flight. We made sure we said goodbye and wished her a safe flight home. IMG_4233

Luckily our flight was on time and before we knew it we were back in NJ around 6pm.

I honestly didn’t think we were going to be able to return to St. John just one year after the hurricane but I was so grateful that we were able to and to see how beautiful the island is. I didn’t think I missed the island so much as I did when I saw it again. It is really remarkable how both the island and the people of St. John have come back. It was so much fun going back to our favorite places, trying new restaurants and making new friends. For that I will always remember this trip in particular. If anyone has any doubts that the island of St. John isn’t ready for visitors, don’t have any, St. John is ready and waiting. I am so glad that we did. IMG_4715Thank you for taking the time to read my blog…. until next time!






3 thoughts on “Finally Back to My ‘Other’ Happy Place – St. John 10.27.18 – 11.3.18

  1. Margaret Garvin

    I read it all too and really enjoyed it.Now I am so hungry after looking at all of your wonderful meals. I loved seeing my son Rick and Christine in your blog.They really love it there. Margaret Garvin

  2. Linda M Detmers

    Thank you so much for posting this. It is very entertaining and useful. You helped us consider returning to St John’s after the hurricane.

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