Stayed at the Marriott Cove (with one night at the hotel upon our arrival - could only get six days at the Cove for some reason).
Got a good building - Tortola, but the 1st floor. Lots of foot traffic past our deck/porch. Decent beach and pool. Nice infinity edge with a great view of Amalie.
Snorkeling off the beach is not the best but not the worst either. Saw a turtle that I followed/chased with my GoPro for a bit.
Our room keys all went dead of the day before we left and we had to go up nine flights and through 2 buildings to the front desk to get them reactivated. Did not even get an apology.
We found dinner dining to be rather limited on the island. Once the ships left, shops and restaurants mostly closed shop. We even found that some places that serve dinner stopped early (yes Mojo's - I am talking about you - who shut down their grill at 7:00 on a Saturday night).
Some construction going on downtown seems to have closed a number of the bar/dining locations. We did not see Coconuts or Parrots open at all while we were there.
We ate dinner at Fish Tails, Pie Whole, Hooters (thanks to Mojo's), Hook Line and Sinker, and Shipwrecks.
1st night was Shipwrecks – just a place to grab something easy after our flight. Had a burger – was not impressed. Watched some basketball.
Next night out was Hook Line and Sinker. Nice little place. Food was good. I had the stuffed lobster (medium size). One of our party had the surf and turf and said it was outstanding (took and ate some of the steak two days later). Decent view of the wharf.
FishTails was up next after a day trip to St. John (more on that trip later). Great view. Food was really good but the portion sizes were a bit anemic. My wife had a shrimp poboy. I had the fish and chips. I estimate that there was 6-8 oz of fish in three 2-3 oz bites. Parking was a challenge.
Pie Whole was next up. Tiny little place. We called ahead to get a reservation but they don’t really take reservations – though they offer some call-ahead seating (best effort). The place was packed. We knew before we got there that we would have to sit at the bar – which was fine.
The beer selection was outstanding. I generally consider myself fairly knowledgeable about beers of the world but they had some really obscure selections of which I had never heard. What made it even better; there was a detailed description of each beer, including the alcohol content. This made it really easy to be adventurous in our selection, without taking a stab in the dark. We built our own pizza – primarily because none of their selections include one that included any spicy peppers (Pie Whole – you should add one). Pep, banana peppers, jalapeno, and sausage – great oven fired pizza. We also had the Chip pasta – which was outstanding. Oh, and we had some of the cheap garlic bread while we waited. Two beers for each of us (at 15+ proof each) and we were feeling no pain. I recommend you find a night to include this stop (not that you really have a huge number of alternatives).
Lastly was Mojo’s/Hooters. We showed up at Mojo’s around 7:00 to get drinks, dinner and watch the NCAA Finals. It has a lovely, small, outdoor setup with the swings. At night, there is not much vehicle traffic so it also fairly quiet. Unfortunately, they stopped serving food just before we got there so we had our one drink and left. We did not want to go through the hassle of finding some place new on short notice so we simply went across the street to Hooters.
Only other dining event worth note was Bumpa’s for lunch when we were leaving. We were the only one’s there (no ship in port) but the food was great. I recommend it.
For activities, we dove with Admiral and his “Really Cool” boat. For those that have been with this crew, you know what I mean. For those that have not, I will not spoil the surprise. Diving was not bad. Not the best I have ever seen but this crew did a good job and the price was very reasonable. If you are staying in C.A., they are also very conveniently located next to Hook, Line and Sinker and around the corner from the Pie Hole.
We also spent a day at Coki Beach. We set up camp at the west end under the shade of the trees. We got there around 10:30 and it was not crowded at all at that time and we had our pick of chairs (for $5). By 11:30, it was packed. Snorkeling was outstanding. You can rent gear but I always bring my own. We also packed out own food and drinks to keep it cheap – though we did opt for a few beers and one round of the frozen drinks. Occasionally, the waiters will come by with free samples so after our third free sample of this lovely frozen concoction, I figured I owed him a purchase ($9).
We took a day trip to St. John and Trunks Bay. We went over on the car ferry which was uneventful. Once there, it was fairly easy to get to Trunks Bay. One word of caution if you are going by car, parking is very limited at Trunks Bay and we were rather lucky that someone was leaving around 11:00 when we got there so we found a spot. Also, the roads are exceptionally steep once you go past Trunks Bay so I would not advise trying to find a spot off site and further East of Trunks Bay. We drove past it initially when we could find no parking and as much as a daredevil I tend to be, the grade of the climb even started to worry me a bit. You would be better off settling for a spot to the west of Trunks if you cannot find parking. There are a few lovely sites that we passed on our way there.
Trunks is nice in that it is a National Park. Showers, restrooms, covered grilling/gathering areas are all available. Like on Coki Beach, we went down to the very west end. There are a number of spots where the vegetation provides some shade and privacy but you would need to get there early to claim them. At the very end of the beach is a sand “alcove” that provided us some shade and it was somewhat private except when some snuba group was headed out and back in. Snorkeling there was good, but not as good as Coki in my opinion. My wife and I did the snorkel tour which would be interesting for a novice but not really for anyone else. Once my wife reached her limit and headed back in, I went right around the back of the island and then across the front side of the beach parallel to the front (backside?) of the small island. Saw the biggest two puffer fish I have ever seen. I had no idea they could get that big but one was close to three feet long and the other was just shy of two feet. Neither was “puffed” at the time so I can only imagine just how big they could get when agitated. Got some nice video of them on my GoPro as well with other fish for contrast (so my wife would not doubt my fish tale).
We rented our car through Dependable for $302 Sunday to Sunday. They picked us up at the airport. Note: the phones at baggage claim did not work when we were there. I had to backtrack a bit to find some phones we passed on the way that did work. Have a quarter in your pocket. The car was pretty beat up but the AC worked so that is all that mattered. We did get have a flat tire two days after getting the car and the rental agreement states that we must change it ourselves or pay $50 for them to come do it. We put the donut on it and drove it to them. They then took us to a shop (behind McDonalds, and very near Hook Line and Sinker), where they fixed our old tire and replaced it at no cost to us. Took about 45 minutes in total from hotel and back. No biggy.
We enjoyed St. Thomas – not sure if it will be on our “must go back list.” Didn’t really care for the idea that everything seemed to close once the ships left port and I would like to avoid the need for car rental if possible. We tend to do too much off site for all-inclusive to be cost effective for us (and we like to have a kitchen to keep it cheap(er)) so we generally prefer timeshare locations. I was pleasantly surprised how much we liked St. John so perhaps we will try it instead in the future - though we likely face the same issues.