St. John - lodging/car advice needed

Old Jan 23, 17, 8:23 pm
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Question St. John - lodging/car advice needed

Would greatly appreciate advice from those in the know about traveling to this island. We will be spending a week in St. Thomas in very late October and would like to visit St. John for 4-5 nights before heading back to the west coast. Specifically:

1)We will probably rent a car on St. Thomas (I imagine we will need one - staying at the Marriott) - should we keep it and take it to St. John on the ferry? vs renting a new car on St. John?

2) We had thought about staying at the Concordia Eco lodge on the island but there restaurant will almost certainly be closed and it is a longer way from the beaches that I would like (I will be the driver trying to manage the opposite lane driving). Now considering just staying at Caneel Bay Resort (we have a good Virtuoso travel agent). Any opinions on that resort or other suggested options?

Thanks for any opinions/advice about these issues or anything else!
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Old Jan 24, 17, 8:09 pm
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1) Absolutely. Take the car ferry from Red Hook and just keep your car. No need to waste time and return the current car to rent again. Its $30/each way on the ferry for the car.

2) Caneel is great.
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Old Jan 24, 17, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by BostonFlyer1624 View Post
1) Absolutely. Take the car ferry from Red Hook and just keep your car. No need to waste time and return the current car to rent again. Its $30/each way on the ferry for the car.

2) Caneel is great.
Perfect BostonFlyer1624. Thanks. Caneel looks lovely - pricey but lovely!
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Old Jan 24, 17, 10:12 pm
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Do check with your car rental agency about taking the car on the ferry to St. John. When we did this a couple years back, Hertz would not let their cars go to St. John, while Budget would for example. Car rentals are a bit pricier on St. John, and you also have the advantage of loading up on supplies in St. Thomas and taking them with you in the car. So overall, including not having to take a taxi from the St. Thomas airport to the ferry terminal and to walk from the ferry terminal in St. John to the car rental agencies, it made sense to us to rent from Budget in St. Thomas and take the car to St. John.

However, I don't know that you absolutely need a car at the Marriott on St. Thomas. They have a water taxi into town, and it is a nice self-contained resort with everything you would need, but if you want to get around St. Thomas, taxi fares would quickly add up to the daily cost of a rental car.

St. John is small and doesn't take too long to go from one end of the island to the other. The east end where the Concordia resort is tends to be much quieter and there are beautiful beaches close by also. Fewer restaurants, but there are some. Concordia is an eco-resort and it is really a different category of resort than Caneel Bay. If you are staying at the Marriott on St. Thomas, that is closer in resort feel to Caneel Bay than the Concordia. There are plenty of vacation rentals by owner also all over St. John.
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Old Jan 25, 17, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by drseagrass View Post
Do check with your car rental agency about taking the car on the ferry to St. John. When we did this a couple years back, Hertz would not let their cars go to St. John, while Budget would for example.

St. John is small and doesn't take too long to go from one end of the island to the other.
Two comments on this:

1) This is true about Hertz, however, there is ZERO enforcement of this rule. I rent from Hertz and bring their cars to STJ often if needed.

2) St. John may be small in size, but it actually does take a long time to get from one side to the other. Cruz Bay to Coral Bay takes about 25/30 minutes up steep, winding hills where you are going 10-20 mph the whole time. I love going to Shipwreck Landing on STJ for lunch after the beach and make the drive often.
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Old Jan 25, 17, 9:36 am
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All good to know and thanks. We had planned to stay at the Concordia, but I learned that they close their restaurant completely for a couple of months (when we would be there) and re-open at Thanksgiving.

We will be in a condo and cooking at the Marriott and I really want to find something on St John with restaurants nearby - walking distance ideally! I do most of our cooking and will be doing all of the driving on STJ, which will be stressful because I am not used to driving on that side of the road. Trying not to make this too hard on myself! Does anyone know of a resort/inn that is lower key (and less expensive than Caneel Bay) that would be close to walkable (or short drive) restaurants etc.? Would like not to be spending $550/night even with the Virtuoso perks, but for the 4-5 nights we will be there if that is the best option that would be fine too.

Last edited by mstraveler; Jan 25, 17 at 11:26 am Reason: additional info
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Old Jan 26, 17, 3:31 pm
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In addition to Concordia, you might look at the VRBO and Airbnb websites if a condo or other self-catering accommodations will do. There are possibilities all over the island. We rented a nice two bedroom condo in Coral Bay for much less than the rate at Caneel Bay on our last stay, but of course some people want the services you get at a resort, so that was just a personal preference on our part. That property was within walking distance to at least a couple restaurants. You can use Google Earth to figure out how isolated or not you will be. There are also several additional casual eateries along the road from Coral Bay to Concordia, so I would not discount staying at Concordia---you are just a few minutes drive away from those restaurants and the challenges of driving on the left are minimal once you get out to the east end of St. John---there isn't much traffic. You have more options for hotel accommodations and many restaurants in Cruz Bay, but on the other hand, this is the only part of the island where driving and parking is at least a slight challenge. St. Thomas by comparison has more traffic problems, so you will be an expert by the time you get to St. John.
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Old Jan 27, 17, 9:27 am
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St. John

Originally Posted by mstraveler View Post
Would greatly appreciate advice from those in the know about traveling to this island. We will be spending a week in St. Thomas in very late October and would like to visit St. John for 4-5 nights before heading back to the west coast. Specifically:

1)We will probably rent a car on St. Thomas (I imagine we will need one - staying at the Marriott) - should we keep it and take it to St. John on the ferry? vs renting a new car on St. John?

2) We had thought about staying at the Concordia Eco lodge on the island but there restaurant will almost certainly be closed and it is a longer way from the beaches that I would like (I will be the driver trying to manage the opposite lane driving). Now considering just staying at Caneel Bay Resort (we have a good Virtuoso travel agent). Any opinions on that resort or other suggested options?

Thanks for any opinions/advice about these issues or anything else!
My wife and I have had a 2nd home on St. John for 38 years--so we know the Island and St. Thomas. Rental Cars are cheaper from St. Thomas than St. John--but you must rent from a company that allows you to take it to St. John---for example Avis and Budget do allow this, Hertz does not.
You should also have an all wheel drive vehicle (SUV)--some of the hills and roads need that especially when it rains.
Caneel Bay is an excellent resort and ZoZo's on its grounds is the best restaurant on St. John--there are many other good restaurants in Cruz Bay.
Many people vacationing here rent a home--there are many companies with listings--but peak season (Thanksgiving to Easter) reservations are booked many months in advance---but sometimes cancellations are available.
The Westin hotel also has very nice villa rentals.
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Old Jan 28, 17, 8:31 am
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Many thanks drseagrass and sugarbird (and all). Extremely helpful. We decided to rent a house very near Coral Bay. Seems like the perfect solution and because we are going at the end of the summer season (early November), there is a lot of availability and prices are very good. I had also wondered about the type of car to get so an all wheel drive SUV it is, and we will rent it on St. Thomas.

Now on to figuring out getting there from San Francisco which should be fairly straightforward!
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Old Jan 28, 17, 8:52 am
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Both Delta and American fly to STT. St John is one of my favorite places in the world. Be sure to take a boat trip over to the BVI and visit Jost Van Dyke. Foxys and the Soggy Dollar Bar are not to be missed.
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Old Jan 28, 17, 1:52 pm
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Am increasingly impressed by how much people love this island! And even more interested in spending most of a week there! 🌴
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Old Feb 2, 17, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by mstraveler View Post
Am increasingly impressed by how much people love this island! And even more interested in spending most of a week there! 🌴
TBH I would say just skip STT and stay on STJ the whole time (especially if you are only there a week and want to go to STJ for 4-5 days?).

I'll echo others, airbnb/vrbo/various websites are great for owner rentals and it is generally how I stay each time I've gone.

Driving is also not that big of an issue, it may be daunting the first time you drive the switchbacks but just go slow, honk your horn and take it on
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Old Feb 3, 17, 4:58 am
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W have visited STJ once or twice a year for 22 years and it is one of my favorite places. If you like to snorkel, there are areas right off most of the beaches. The crowds shouldn't be too bad the beginning of November.
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Old Feb 6, 17, 8:55 pm
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Thanks for snorkel heads up Lovethecabin and el aya, we probably would just go to St. John, but we have a week of Four Seasons time that we are using and the Westin St. John is impossible to trade into. Even for a Four Seasons week. St. Thomas is difficult also and we were lucky to get the Marriott there. We mostly use Hawaii for these kinds of trades (a rather quick trip for us from SFO and easier to trade into) but really wanted to make the effort to get to the Caribbean.

So we will get to check out both islands! It is also a long slog from SFO to St. John
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Old Feb 10, 17, 10:27 pm
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Originally Posted by mstraveler View Post
Thanks for snorkel heads up Lovethecabin and el aya, we probably would just go to St. John, but we have a week of Four Seasons time that we are using and the Westin St. John is impossible to trade into. Even for a Four Seasons week. St. Thomas is difficult also and we were lucky to get the Marriott there. We mostly use Hawaii for these kinds of trades (a rather quick trip for us from SFO and easier to trade into) but really wanted to make the effort to get to the Caribbean.

So we will get to check out both islands! It is also a long slog from SFO to St. John
That certainly makes sense.

As Lovethecabin said, make sure you bring snorkel gear because it is easy to walk from pretty much every beach and get some good snorkeling in. Honeymoon beach tends to be pretty good, don't be deterred about the proxmity to Caneel bay resort, they offer public parking ($20, but if you spend $20 anywhere on the resort they will validate it) and it is just a short hike to the beach (and I think even recently I read that there is now a golf cart taxi offering rides there).
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