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St. John

Portland, Oregon
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4 posts
21 reviews
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St. John

We are currently staying at the Reef Bay View Villa overlooking Reef Bay. It is kind of the east side of the island. You can see the property by googling it. This side of the island is kind of remote, so if laid back and quiet is what your looking for, this is it. Still it is only about four miles from town. This seems to be the windward side of the island and the breezes are steady and refreshing. Which is good, because we assumed this villa had air conditioning. Even though this is Christmas day and most accomodations are sold out, there is hardly anyone on the beach. However, it is not that easy to get to the beach with few access points and probably somewhat of a climb down a trail through acatia trees. Most of the villas on this side as was told to me do not have wells or a public water system, so cisterns and rainwater are the only source. Oddly, based on the vegatation (cactus, aloe, acatias), it appears to be somewhat arrid so you must be very careful with your water useage. By the way, most of the places here are built on hilsides, so parking is a premium. Even though this villa sleeps 8, there is only parking for one car and fortunately we got a Jeep Liberty with high ground clearance and short wheelbase. Keep in mind if you rent a car in St. Thomas and take the ferry over, Hertz won't let you take the car to St. John. Budget and Avis OK. We are disappointed with this place as maintenance is poor, no A/C or dishwasher, not enough parking, a ridiculous "trail" (read hazardous steep climb) to the beach, and appliances and cooking utensils that look like they came from a garage sale. Believe me, this was not a cheap place! Still, the view is spectacular, the decks and pool are nice and while rustic, it is cozy and private. So far, we've found two markets for this side and not too far from here. I'm sure you have read other posts about the cost of food here. Figure 2-3 times what you are used to paying. Just saw top sirloin at the Star Markert for $21.00 a pound. Good news, Stoly Vodka for $9.00 but Grey Goose is still $38.00. Surprisingly, sea food is also expensive. Nine jumbo prawns, about 3/4 pound, $18+. Food prices are a real incentive to start a diet. Forget packing clothes, pack meat! There is the Star Market about halfway from town, but better prices pleasant staff are a little further at the Pine Peace Mini Mart. Pretty good selection of most foods, but no fresh meats or fish. We shop at both. I would ask a whole lot of questions, like how far to the beach, parking, etc. You get the picture. Hhendrix@aol.com

Des Moines, IA
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51 posts
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1. Re: St. John

Thanks for all your information. Me and my wife will be going there in March. I was considering renting a car either at the airport or in STJ. Is it easier to get a car on St. Thomas or STJ? I know it is cheaper on St. Thomas but I don't want a big hassle getting the car back to St. Thomas when I fly out. Please let me know what you think.

Thanks!

aldsh@mchsi.com

Portland, Oregon
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4 posts
21 reviews
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2. Re: St. John

Regarding the rental car. It is kind of a crap shoot. Keep in mind we arrived just before Christmas and selection was limited. Let me tell about Budget. We had a car reservation with Hertz and another with Budget since we need two cars for our group. Well, enroute we found out that Hertz would not let you take a car off St. Thomas. We called Avis and was able to get another car. In the interium, the rental company for our villa was able to get us a car on St. John. We cancelled Avis and just wanted to get here. Our Budget car (Dodge Durango) was scheduled for pickup on 12/26 when the rest of our group arrived. Turns out our reservation was worthless. No cars!! When asked why our car was not there with a reservation, the reply was reservations are for rates, not cars. Total crap and I intend to get a better answer from Budget. Regarding the return hassle from St. John to STT, I don't know yet as we have one to rerturn 1/6/07. Keep in mind, you have to get on the ferry plenty early to catch your flight. The ferries aren't that big and you could have to wait for the next one. While getting a taxi from the STT airport to the passenger ferry was easy, but I don't know yet how easy the return will be. If you google St. John rental cars, a lot of places come up. http://www.stjohnusvi.com/rentals.html is good. I don't know what it will be like in March, but I'm sure it can't be as difficult as now. I don't know how many are in your group, but the Jeep Liberty works well here. High ground clearance and short turning radius comes in handy for the roads and parking. Hal

Hartford, CT
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706 posts
17 reviews
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3. Re: St. John

F350OR: Sorry to read about the snags in your trip! IMO that is why these forums can be so helpful. Regarding high season car rentals, it can be completely nutty. While I have not had any issues with car reservations with Budget, your story points out the needed added precaution of calling the branch directly and making sure your reservations are solid. I think that these folks get harrassed and pressed into renting cars to people who show up at the counter last minute and you know the old adage... a bird in hand is more certain than the bird on the next flight... It doesn't make it fair, but if you don't have a real person on the other end who will be held accountable, it's just less certain you'll get what you expect. As for Hertz, I've used them before and they've known that I was going to St. John. Maybe the policy has been changed or maybe I was just lucky. Also, I'm curious about who you rented the villa through as it should have been clear that there was no AC. That is one bit of advice I always give to first time visitors is to make sure there is working AC at least in the bedrooms. Not every villa (and it sounds like yours is okay) needs AC, but islanders forget that other people find the winter temps in STJ quite hot! They start putting on long sleeves if the temps drop under 76. Re: the food stock, the Caribbean is much less plentiful in fish than the cold waters of the north. Their "bonefish" is also not the kind of nice, boneless fillets that we are used to up north. As for the shrimp, there is no local industry in shrimp so everything gets shipped in, hence the high prices. On this forum there is a lot on transporting frozen food etc. for staying in a villa. While you can get by for a week or so on the local provisions, craving that thick sirloin will definitely cost you down there. Re: your observations regarding the water supply. Actually, most of the Caribbean works on cisterns and even Bermuda. Only the larger resorts and hotels have their water pumped in. By the way, if you run low or out of water, the rental agency should be able to have a water run to the house. If you have any questions or concerns, you should definitely give them a call. It's a small island, and most rental agencies or representatives try to be very responsive because it is a competitive business down there. I hope you are still able to enjoy your vacation. Reef Bay is a beautiful if more remote area.

4. Re: St. John

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