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Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

Texas
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Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

After consolidating some of the most helpful comments I've found on TripAdvisor's wonderful Trip Reports by some of you... here's what I've come up with so far. Feel free to comment and provide more advise for me to add. Realize for my wife and I, we're mid-thirties - fairly active - but 4 young kids at home and mostly just wanting a week of total Caneel relaxation, with maybe 1-day sailing excursion and 1-2 morning/afternoons in town and nights in town for dinner). Everything else probably beaches and Caneel:

‘TINGS’ TO ORGANIZE WITH CANEEL AHEAD OF TIME

• Email the manager directly via website

o Anniversary: Chilled Wine or Champagne and Fruit Plate on arrival

o Private Anniversary Dinner: at the Ruins

o Oh, be sure to order breakfast delivered one morning-it arrives in a picnic basket for dining on your patio.

• Room 71-74 on Scott Beach??? (Room 83-84 has rocks in front), look at map.

• Jeep? Daysail?

• Schedule massages for the first day to get you into Island Relaxation mode

‘TINGS ‘ TO GET IN USA AND BRING

• Soft-sided cooler with the techno-ice worked great. Everything still frozen solid after 12 hours.

• The Keen hiking sandals were the best. They were so comfortable to hike in and gripped great on the rocks while hiking . . . also great to go right in the water with them, and then continue hiking.

• The neat sheet (which my husband kept calling the "techno blanket" . . . he couldn't keep all this new stuff straight!!!) worked great because it rolled up so small and fit into our backpack easily, so anytime we came upon a beach we could just roll it out and take a nap!!!! Never carried or used chairs the whole week.

• Otter Box. Never had to worry about anything being stolen while we snorkeled, because we had all our valuables with us in the Otter Box.

• Camelbacks we both had one filled with water, which worked great everywhere we went . . . . never had to carry a cooler.

• Neoprene shirts – a must for lot of snorkeling!! We would have fried without them.

• Off Towelettes

‘TINGS’ TO GET AT STJ ON ARRIVAL

• Go to Cruz Bay 1st Day and get stuff. No fridges in the room, so be ready for that.

• In the room for you??: Beach sandals, bug spray (we only noticed no-seeums at dusk), fresh ice everyday, island rum and cokes in the room at arrival, citronella candles, little flashlights for the nights, etc... everything you need is there for you- you will not miss the tv and phone.

• Every Ting – What an absolutely wonderful store/resource/ all around asset! Booked our Excursion to BDI (with Bad Kitty) and bought various things including great coffee all at Every Ting. We also were able to just run a tab with them which made it so amazingly convenient!

• We purchased gallons of water at the Dolphin Market, which is closer to Caneel . . . it was the Virgin Island brand and was much, much cheaper than the usual brand-name water they were selling at Starfish . . . and just as good.

‘TINGS’ TO KNOW

• Driving – yikes! It is very steep and hilly and narrow!! vacation was enormously enhanced by having a jeep. I agree with others who have said a jeep is a necessity.

• Always ask for daily ice in coolers, extra soaps and shampoos.

• Take a lot of money.

• Golden Rule applies on the island. Smile, greet everyone warmly, treat them as friends, and they will be good to you in return.

‘TINGS’ TO DO (OR NOT: MAY JUST LAY ON BEACHES ALL WEEK)

• Been to Caneel a Dozen times: I suggest renting a car to explore the island for a day. You can beach hop along the north shore and have lunch at Skinny Legs in Coral Bay.

• Caneel Beaches: The morning sun is great on hawksnest which is directly across the path from scott beach.We like to snorkle,swim sun and laze around on the hammock.We then go back over to scott for more afternoon beach and make our way over to turle bay for afternoon tea and scones{which is yummy and complimentary] Tea is served from 4-5 pm we then spend more beach time on turle and watch the day wind down.The sunset cruise is nice lots of rum punch,a steeldrum,and a beautiful sunset.

• Scott’s Beach Snorkeling: Snorkel on right-side but do NOT go around the point to Turtle Beach as some have advised. Current is strong and many light swimmers won't make it. Snorkeling in midddle will be over sea grass. 2 turtles and a tail-less ray are there all day, every day. Left-side of Scott is wonderful for snorkeling and there are 2 points you can swim around. Small Barracuda and millions of fish!

• Every day was spent hiking and snorkeling. Went to Trunk, Waterlemon, Jumbie, Cinnamon, Salt Pond, Rams Head, Drunken Bay, Salomon, Honeymoon, and Francis. We saw octopus, stingray, squid, sea cucumber, trumpetfish, blue tang, parrotfish, barracuda and a shark (the shark was on my last day thank God!!) We had very nice weather (Wednesday was mostly cloudy) Our favorite beach was Francis, only because it was the prettiest. Finally saw an iguana. We were the first people there, and not many more people came the whole day . . . it was great. My favorite for snorkeling was Honemoon/Salomon, Didn't remember ever reading much about this area, but I thought the coral was the best I had seen out of all of those beaches. We swam around the point between the two beaches and the fish were bigger and a lot of them. We saw a few huge angelfish, and I mean huge.

• Our favorite day was the day we hiked from the Salt Pond parking lot over to the tip of Rams Head. We took a break on the hike and swam in Rams Head Pond to cool off . . . nobody there!!! The hike was great, the view was unbelievable, and then spent the rest of the day at Salt Pond, where my husband came face to face with the barracuda. Loved that day . . . it was PERFECT!

• Snorkeling: We loved Salt Pond Bay, Hansen’s Bay, Little Lambshur Bay, Cinnamon bay, and Francis bay. At Hansen’s Bay and Little Lambshur we had the beach completely (or almost completely) to ourselves.

• All-day sailing Excursion with Bad Kitty to BDI and loved the Baths at Virgin Gorda – not to be missed. The Soggy Dollar was fun as well. We also had a reef snorkeling stop complete with optional tunnel that was lots of fun. There were some jelly fish at the Baths but no one had a problem.

• SEA TURTLES: I especially love Maho beach for its calm, calm waters and an abundance of sea turtles. Just sit on the shore and wait to see a little head poke up and swim out to the spot. Easy as pie.

• You should, however, rent a car or taxi/tour around the island for the beautiful scenery, get down to Cruz Bay for the local flavor, shopping, lunch or drinks, and Caneel also runs a daily ferry over to St. Thomas for shopping/sightseeing/lunch etc. which can add variety to the vacation if you're there for a longer period. (SIMILAR): Take the drive along the north shore beaches and over to coral bay to check out the famous skinny legs or miss lucy's.Cruz bay has cute little boutiques,and alot of places to eat.The star market is a full service super market and there is also a good drug store in the same complex.

• Trunk Bay Virgin Islands Natl Park snorkel trail. We left resort at 10:45 am and drove to Trunk Bay. Somewhat crowded with cruise folks, but we snorkeled the VINP trail for about 45 minutes, never feeling overcrowded on trail. Rinsed off and drove on to east side and then into Coral Bay for GREAT burger at Skinney Legs. I am sure it was mostly the atmosphere there, but the food and people were great.

WHERE TO CONSIDER EATING OUT

• At Caneel: Book the Sugar Mill for Anniversary Dinner.

• At Caneel: Turtle Bay Estate House very nice.

• At Caneel: Equator. Sunset view was extraordinary!!!! Menu was better and more varied than Turtle Bay Estate House. It was a little less stuffy than Turtle Bay, so more relaxing I think, though both are exceptional.

• At Caneel: Drinks at Terrace Bar balcony area in the evenings?

• Been to Caneel a Dozen times: Tage is a favorite. Also try Zozos, Tapas, and Stone Terrace (good reviews). For more casual Morgans Mango , Fish Trap and Lime Inn have good seafood, etc.

• Rhumb Lines for lunch one day and enjoyed that.

• We also went to Skinny Legs for a late lunch,

• and to the Donkey Diner.

• Unfortunately never got to Vie's,

• but did go to Uncle Joe's BBQ our last night there. We stopped on the way home from the beach and took our chicken and ribs up to the deck . . . and it was PERFECT!!!!

• Rumliners (a favorite but all were good for both food and service),

• Zozo’s, for sunsets

• The Balcony,

• Lime Inn (also a fav),

• The Banana Deck,

• Shipwreck,

• JJ’s for a breakfast).

• (the Balcony was our best dinner by far).

Reading...
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11. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

GERaider . . . I'm flattered! Many of your comments listed above are from my trip report from June 2008, after our first visit to St. John. As you could tell, our trip was perfect. We can't wait to return, although we have no definite plans as of yet. Just want to clear two things up. Regarding the Neat Sheet . . . someone above stated you don't need it at Caneel because they have towels. A Neat Sheet is not a towel, it's more of a beach blanket, and because it's so thin and light, and repels water and sand, it was great to roll up real small, put in our backpack, and wherever we hiked we had something to lay on the ground to sit on. Also, in my excitement I mentioned that we snorkeled in Rams Head pond . . there is no such place on St. John! I meant Blue Cobblestone bay (I think that's what it's called). You park at Salt Pond Bay, hike around the bay and across a peninsula to Blue Cobblestone Bay and then up to Rams Head . . . it was great taking a break on the hike to snorkel in the two bays. Enjoy planning your trip to a very magical place!!!

Texas
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12. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

Thanks Bun, and everyone. I'll update my "offline" spreadsheet with your corrections. And thanks for that original Trip Report. I've learned the value of those things, and will definitely come back with one of my own post-trip.

Bakersfield
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13. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

We are going for our first time to Caneel in one week. Have a bed and breakfast packaged booked with vacation travel club. It says that this includes a "full breakfast" Not sure if this means a hot or cold breakfast buffet. Do the rooms have hair dryers? It's not on the accomodations list. Also, I have noticed someone noting additional daily room fees. What are these? Also, what are the daily charges if we ask for an additional refrigerator in the room?

Rocky Top
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14. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

Great info to keep alive.

Omaha
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15. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

6808 - Yes, the rooms have hair dryers.

Connecticut
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16. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

6808 - Full breakfast is awesome. It is buffet style. They have an omelet bar and every breakfast item you can think of.

Bakersfield
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17. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

Thank you so much for your help. Looking forward to this even more as we start packing.

Texas
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18. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

Thought I'd come back to this thread and post again, to remind myself of all the things to bring/do/see/do, and to ask a couple questions:

1. What time does the breakfast buffet close?

2. I now understand no Jeep Rental on site. Bummer. Any best ideas out there if I want to take a day or two offsite to explore STJ other than just going downtown to rent a car?

3. How big a deal is this "Otter Box" thing, to keep valuables in while snorkeling? Sounds like if I'm staying in Caneel its not as big a deal except for the 2 days we'll be offsite and may have some cash.

4. What a bout a good map of STJ. On the 2 days we rent a jeep I don't want to waste time searching for these restaurants if I can mark on a map in advance.

Thanks!

GE

Roslyn, New York
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19. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

GERaider:

1. I believe the breakfast buffet ends at 10 am.

2. For a rental, I called ahead to concierge to have them reserve a jeep for me. On the day in question I went to concierge about 9 am. They called into Cruz Bay and within 15 minutes a driver from Varlack picked me up in taxi lot. We drove back to town for the paperwork. I drove Jeep back to resort by 10 am. Very easy. Nice people to deal with at Varlack.

3. I highly suggest you get a small water proof container for cash, id, credit card, and Jeep keys when driving to other beaches. I just put it in my suit pocket while snorkeling.

4. Its very hard to get lost on StJ. Most restaurants that you will go to from Caneel are in Cruz Bay. Thats just a short drive from the resort. You can get a great map of the island at the National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay. Hope this helps! Enjoy.

Texas
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20. Re: Consolidated Research: 1st Time to Caneel (STJ)

Thanks 55. We'll hit the Trunk Bay park to get the map Day 1, and I'm ordering a small Otter Box now.