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St John vs Virgin Gorda

Weatherford, Texas
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246 posts
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St John vs Virgin Gorda

I have read….. researched and obsessed… but would still love input from the pros. We (husband and I) traveled to STJ last summer and loved it. We have a May trip planned with our children (11,8, and 6) and grandparents staying at Casa Bueno.

We would love one last hurrah before school starts back (probably end of July) and are debating between another trip to STJ or Virgin Gorda. Ideally, we would space it out, but schedules just don't allow for travel at other times during the year at this point.

So the question is… which one?… St John or Virgin Gorda. We would make this a more economical trip and have been looking at Coppermine Cottage on Virgin Gorda or Mango Villa on St John.

We love snorkeling and are not "foodies" . Our ideal day would be to get up early and grab a quick breakfast (granola bar), then hit the beach. Have snacks/lunch we pack for our day out at the beach. Hit a happy hour for a simple inexpensive meal, then head back to our home base for relaxing, board games or swimming. We would be traveling with our children, and here are some of the pros/cons I see at this point:

St john/Mango Villa-we know we love the island, all 3 bedrooms are air conditioned, we could explore new hiking trails, beautiful, we know we love the snorkeling, we have some favorite happy hour spots picked out, seems to be in a remote location

Virgin Gorda-something new, cottage has a pool, this cottage is a slightly less expensive than the St John Mango Villa (including ferries for each, car rentals), area seems really good, 1 of the 2 bedrooms has air conditioning

Thanks so much for your help on this!

North Carolina
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101 posts
9 reviews
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1. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

You can't go wrong with either. The beaches are more plentiful on STJ, the snorkeling is much better and VG does not have a town to compare to Cruz Bay, but the Baths are something everyone should experience and there is a great Friday night BBQ at Leverick Bay. You also have the option of taking the ferry over to Anegada or renting a dinghy at Leverick and cruising around the North Sound to some cool beach bars and likely deserted beaches. VG seems more laid back to me. I'm not familiar with the houses (we stay at Anniversary House in VG).

ACB
Rhode Island
Destination Expert
for Virgin Gorda
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2,790 posts
7 reviews
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2. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

You can't go wrong with either island. If you have not spent time on VG I believe you will enjoy it. It is a very bucolic, even less crowded, considerably smaller version of St John. A couple of things to consider about staying on VG:

- You can see the Baths area before 1030am or after 4pm and avoid the crowds. Your children will enjoy that experience!

- You have easy access to Anegada and the Dogs.

Your children will also really enjoy going to the Spring Bay area and climbing boulders and jumping off into the water.

Weatherford, Texas
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246 posts
1 review
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3. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

Thanks so much for the info. Does anyone have thoughts on this cottage and the area and how manageable the temp might be with no air conditioner in one of the bedrooms in July? I'm not sure of the elevation or breezes here.

Thanks!

http://www.vrbo.com/296208

Houston, Texas
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253 posts
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4. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

I have been to both and love them both

Virgin Gorda is favorite though.

being from Texas, like me, it would be very hot

would have to have ac in all bedrooms if not the whole house

weather in Virgin Gorda much like Houston in July- HOT

Jersey City, New...
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for Anguilla, St. Lucia
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80 reviews
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5. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

Since you've already done St. John, I'd absolutely opt for Virgin Gorda. That way you could treat your family to an incredible day trip to Anegada. You can get there and back using the public ferry for transportation. If you go to Anegada, you want to spend the first half of your day on Loblolly Beach having lunch at The Big Bamboo. If you keep walking until you round the bend at Loblolly, you'll walk right into another gorgeous beach, Flash of Beauty.

In the afternoon take your family to Cow Wreck Beach.

Happy Planning! ;~>

ACB
Rhode Island
Destination Expert
for Virgin Gorda
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2,790 posts
7 reviews
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6. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

With all due respect to caribwaters, I think the snorkeling on VG is vastly underrated. The reef snorkeling at Long Bay and Mountain Trunk is outstanding and is comparable to the best snorkeling on St John...and considerably easier to access, I might add. For that matter, the area between Spring Bay and the Baths has about as large a collection of fish as you will see anywhere in the VI. Rule of thumb on VG: if the villa is on the east side of the island then a/c is not really an issue. The breezes are strong and constant. If the villa is west facing then a/c in the bedroom should be strongly considered. Looks like this house is north/west facing, though it does have good elevation. The price is really good, but I am thinking you might wish you had the a/c.

I strongly agree with lucianmermaid - Anegada is well worth a visit and Loblolly/Flash of Beauty/Cows Wreck is a great way to spend your first visit.

Weatherford, Texas
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246 posts
1 review
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7. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

Thanks so much!... We also see what looks to be a very comparable rate at Virgin Gorda Village.... And every room is air conditioned in this unit.. Does anyone have thoughts/opinions on this property? We are heavily leaning towards VG for July. Thanks so much for the help!

ACB
Rhode Island
Destination Expert
for Virgin Gorda
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2,790 posts
7 reviews
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8. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda Village is on the north side of Spanish Town and is close (three to four minutes) to Savannah Bay, a very nice place to take your family. During the week days you will have Savannah mostly to yourself. The beach has drive up parking (kind of like Francis on St John) and is very long with very shallow sandy entry and a reef that is close to shore. Always a favorite with my children.

The facility has a nice pool in the middle of the complex, a café with solid fare, and clean, well maintained rooms for a reasonable price.

Something else I neglected to mention about Virgin Gorda. Because the island is so small you are never very far away from beaches. Depending on where you are staying on St John, that is not always the case. The Virgin Gorda Village location puts you about ten minutes or less from the Baths-Spring Bay area (six beaches) and about fifteen minutes or less from the Savannah-Pond-Mahoe-Mountain-Nail-Long Bay beaches.

Boston
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38 reviews
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9. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

I like Virgin Gorda Village. Although I have never stayed there, we go and have lunch and hang out by the pool. The only drawback is that it is not on the beach, but it does have a pool which the kids will like and the food is good on premises. As indicated above, it is in a great location and very centrally located. The other difference between the two islands is that STJ is very Americanized and VG is not, it has more of an island feel - at least to me. The people are really great on VG as well, if you take the time to be friendly to them.

The other thing you need to think about is how you will get to VG. It is a bit more difficult than getting to STJ. If you fly into STT try to plan it on a day there is a direct ferry to VG as it is much easier.

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for St. John, Cruz Bay
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25 reviews
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10. Re: St John vs Virgin Gorda

ACB hits some of the high points. We are 30+ time visitors to STJ with our kids for the last 20+ years. Two weeks ago we took my now 22yo college senior on a USVI/BVi sailing trip. I'll tell you that our favorite two islands on the planet are STJ and VG. STJ is beautiful national park. VG is like STJ was, outside the national park, 25 years ago. More local business, rather than transplants. I've visit six times and my family has visited four times.

We prefer VG over STJ for the busier months. We've given up on STJ during the spring break season. July is carnival on STJ, which is very busy in Cruz Bay and less so on the north shore and significantly less so in Cora l Bay.

We love staying right on Spring Bay at Guavaberry Spring Bay. In March 2012 (spring break) with my then 14yo we stayed up the hill in a non-a/c 2BR. Awesome, clean, great island/beach feel. They've since renovated. The units closer to the beach have a/c and are slighly more per night. No pool, but Spring Bay is right there. The commissary is honor-based, and you just jot down what you take. My daughter loved being able to pop in. Prices were equivalent to the markets. You can walk from Spring Bay al the way to Valley Trunk Bay, unlike STJ. Pearl and Soca (RIP), the owners' dogs adopted us. Most mornings, and many nights, Pearl slept on our deck and was the first one ready to get in the car. Soca is gone, but Roxy is the new pup.

ACB mentioned snorkeling at Long Bay, we love it. Mahoe Bay, Savannah Bay too. Consider a dinghy rental at Leverick Bay to explore North Sound and the water-access-only spots there. Glass Bottom boat, snorkel tours, etc. in North Sound are great.

P.S. I got into sailing to spend more time in more awesome spots in the virgins. A crewed charter is a great and memorable family vacation.

Have fun.

Cheers, RickG

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