Since I've gotten so much information from browsing these forums I thought I'd give a quick trip report on our trip to STJ and talk about some of the things I learned.
Our group was four women with varying interests and we had a great time! The beaches were all nice enough to accommodate the snorkelers and the people who wanted to swim. We couldn't do it all but we had fun!
Some things I learned:
Buy St. John Feet, Fins and Four-wheel drive if you like having detailed information about beaches and trails before you go. Because we had people of varying abilities it helped us choose beaches to make everyone happy.
Don't worry so much about the water. I drank it at restaurants and our villa and was fine, but we also bought gallon jugs for a lot of our drinking water at home. Jugs are cheap and can go in the freezer to use as ice in your cooler at the beach. Bring a water bottle and just refill it from your jug.
Worry more about using bug spray. I was eaten alive and I should have been applying bug spray as diligently as I applied suntan lotion.
We loved our villa, Villa Catalina. Even though it was on the south side of the island it was an easy drive to town and to beaches. Easy being relative-any pics you see just do not truly express how steep everything is, but we didn't have any crazy traffic so that was good. They supplied coolers and beach chairs which was great, and the villa itself was charming. I loved the views and the nature sounds. Birds during the day and ??? during the night. Broken by the occasional squeal of tires when someone slipped going up a turn by us!
Eat dinner before 9pm. Most kitchens in the restaurants in Cruz Bay close at 9pm and were always running later than that to eat. I'm still craving the brisket from the Barefoot Cowboy, we also liked High Tide. Tons of great places to eat in Cruz Bay if you go early enough.
We took the Bad Kitty excursion to BVI and had a blast! It was only an hour at each stop which was a drag but it was a good way to see a lot in a day. The crew is fun and accommodating and each spot we stopped at was great. We saw The Baths, ate lunch at a restaurant in the BVI, snorkeled the caves, and stopped at the Soggy Dollar. Next time I would probably do a snorkel focused excursion because I would have been just as happy with a sandwich if I could have had more time in the water.
There is a manta ray that hangs out in a few different bays. Ask around if anybody has seen it and where if you are interested. Or ask at the National Parks Center. We were in the right bay at the wrong time and just missed it.
If you go to Salt Pond Bay take the trail to Drunk Bay. It's a whole different experience. Crashing waves, rock and coral beach. Way cool.
We rented our jeep from Discount on STT and took the car ferry over. The jeep was cheaper there and we shopped on STT for the groceries. With four women, luggage, and groceries the car ferry was the way to go.
We got back to STT way early for our flight home and had lunch at Emerald Beach Resort which is right by the airport and Discount Car. They have a great restaurant on the beach which is great way to spend a little extra time before you go. We thought it was better to take an early ferry and spend the extra time there than to rush it.
Plan extra time to return the car and at the airport. If you use Discount they are for sure on island time. The airport didn't have much staff when we were there so everything took longer.
Hope this helped-most of all just remember to look around every once in a while and enjoy paradise!