Beach Music & St. John - Guest Review

Chocolate Hole Panoramic St. John USVI
Matt and Sheena Review

By: Matt and Sheena

Trip Date: 10/6/2012 - 10/13/2012

From: Columbus, OH

 

We arrived in St. John on Saturday, October 6th. That's right, we went to a tropical island smack dab in the middle of hurricane season and we will never do it any other way! However, we do recommend keeping up with the weather reports during the trip. The off-season provides great rates and less people and this was by far the best vacation we have ever had.

Beach Music St. John VillaWhen we arrived on St. Thomas, the sun was setting so we were able to catch just a glimpse of the island before everything went to dark. By the time we took the ferry over to St. John, it was pitch black. With the exception of the lights in town and the occasional twinkling light from homes spread around the hills, the headlights were the only source of light. We were picked up from the ferry station by Gail who drove us to Beach Music. What a blessing having her to guide our way, as we may have driven for an hour trying to learn the roads ourselves! Driving on the island is part of the adventure, but we recommend you have at least scouted the terrain during the day first! Gail was a total sweetheart and was more than helpful and resourceful throughout our stay.

The House

So let's talk about the house. It is B-E-A-utiful! Even the pictures we have taken can not begin to capture the full essence and magnificence of this villa. It has this open, airy layout that opens up to a wrap-around deck overlooking the harbor. Each bedroom has individual access to the deck, so guests can enjoy beautiful views morning and night. There is also a pool on the deck where we took daily morning swims before breakfast, and a BBQ area next to the pool with a path leading down to the harbor. The lower living area has a pool table. We spent our first 2 days just enjoying the house.

Mr. IguanaNow, when you are enjoying the house, you will not be enjoying it alone. There are approximately 18 zillion iguanas on the island... and apparently, iguanas love swimming pools. They will take dips, sunbathe on the side, and then retreat back into the foliage to watch you as you swim. It is important to remember... they do not want any more contact with you than you want from them. If one is swimming, politely ask it to leave... or take after them with the pool skimmer. Both eventually get the job done, but the pool skimmer is quicker :) Be forewarned, if you make them mad they may poop on the deck in retribution... usually right in front of you just out of spite! Not saying this happened to us... but not saying it didn't, either!

The Island

Our JeepSo, by day 3 we were finally ready to leave the comfort and relaxation of the house and do some exploring. We rented a Jeep, because, well... that's pretty much all you can rent. You cannot make it through the terrain without 4 wheel drive. We rented from Paris rental car. From my research, they are the only rental company on the island that offers any sort of discount. We were able to get 20% off, but that may be an offseason special.

Now, when you picture an island, you are probably thinking white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and a flat landscape dominated by hotels. St. John has two of the three. It has some of the prettiest beaches in the world, but development on the island is minimal. It is small, 9 miles long and 3 miles wide, and 60% of the island is a state park. While there are shops, bars and restaurants, this is not a place you would go for a wild nightlife. There are few hotels on the island, but the relative isolation is part of its charm.

The terrain is rugged, and very hilly. If you get off the beaten path (and even sometimes while you are still on it) you will encounter steep hairpin turns, one lane dirt roads, tourists who don't know how to drive on the left side of the road, most likely yourself who doesn't know how to drive on the left side of the road, and random livestock hanging out in the middle of the road. It truly is an adventure to drive around and see the island this way. This was one of our favorite parts of the trip. Or at least mine (Sheena's). I got to enjoy the ride from the passenger's seat!

When driving around the island, we tried to stop at every possible site we could. There were several historical sites, like an old homestead, and a sugar mill. They have done a great job of conserving these ruins and providing descriptions on location at each site. There are multiple hiking trails throughout the island and many pass by various ruins.

Trunk BayTrunk Bay

One of our favorite things to do was snorkel. The island has many beautiful snorkeling locations. One of them is actually Chocolate Hole Harbor, conveniently connected to Beach Music by a walking path from the deck. It was even listed in one of the tourism books as a must-see for snorkelers. Another beautiful place we snorkeled was Leinster Bay. We saw several large turtles, brilliantly colored fish, sting rays, star fish and many cool shells. My personal favorite spot to snorkel was Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay had everything. It was the prettiest beach we have ever seen. It had the pure white sand and crystal blue waters where you could see straight through to the bottom. Just off from the shore is a little bitty island, and around that island is coral and rock that teem with what seemed like hundreds of brightly colored fish. Embedded in the rock and sand around the little island are various plaques, describing the different fish and sea creatures that inhabit the area. To visit Trunk Bay, there is a $5 per person fee, but it is well worth the price. We have never seen a more beautiful, serene landscape in our lives!

Restaurants

Skinny LegsSt. John has many different restaurants to choose from. Our favorite was Skinny Legs, located on the other side of the island near Coral Bay. Skinny Legs had a nice healthy mix of both tourists and locals and everyone had a story to tell. The restaurant was reasonably priced, considering the other prices on the island, and the food was delicious. It is a simple, casual menu but what they do, they do well. We recommend their homemade hot sauce, which they bottle and sell. *Do yourself a favor and buy six of these!* Their burgers were delicious as well as the chicken sandwich. If you need a stiff cocktail, the Pain Killer was a great choice! There is a tourist shop attached, so you can pick up some items to make your family and friends jealous of your trip.

We also ate at a restaurant called Le Château de Bordeaux on Bordeaux Mountain. It is built into the side of one of the hills and you can see for miles. The lunch food was pretty decent and their dinner menu looked amazing, although a little bit pricey. We should note that we were not overly impressed with their signature monkey drink.. but to each their own!

Beach Music FrontThe only restaurant in town that we tried was called Captain Woody's. This restaurant is a seafood shack and is located right in the heart of Cruz Bay, with easy, fast access to shops and attractions. The food was ok, but the real appeal is that Kenny Chesney eats there when he is visiting the islands. The opportunity to have dinner with Kenny Chesney doesn't come along very often, so we thought we should give it a shot. Unfortunately he was not there, but if you go maybe you will have better luck.

Grilled Steak on St. JohnTruth be told, we ate many of our meals at the house. Somehow, eating at some of the various restaurants didn't appeal to us as much as grilling steaks by the pool while looking out over the ocean. We got the majority of our food from the market down the street, right off of 104 or at Starfish Market. Starfish Market was quite a bit more expensive, but they do have quite a bit more selection. If you can't find something you are looking for, check at Starfish Market or the wine store in the same center next door to Starfish.

Things You Must Do

  1. Rent a jeep
  2. Keep two maps in the car - the roads are a bit complex
  3. Visit Bordeaux Mountain
  4. Explore Trunk Bay
  5. Snorkel in Chocolate Hole harbor, Leinster Bay and outside of Trunk Bay
  6. Try the hot sauce at Skinny Legs
  7. See the Annabel Sugar Plantation site
  8. Write your experiences in the guest comment book!

Bucket List

There were some things that we really wanted to do, but did not have the opportunity.

  1. Visit the other islands. We did get the opportunity to see a little of St. Thomas, but we did not have time to see St. Croix or any of the British Virgin Islands. You can charter boats or sea planes to take you to any of the islands nearby. Just make sure you have your passport if you leave the US territories.
  2. We like to golf. There are two golf courses in USVI, Mahogany Run on St. Thomas, and the Buccaneer on St Croix. To play 18 holes at the Buccaneer, with club rental, will run you $90- $130, depending on the season. Mahogany Run will cost anywhere from $125-$165, depending on the season, plus an additional $70 for club rental. That wasn't in our budget for this trip, unless we wanted to cut out eating, so we did not splurge on the golf. But fingers crossed for next time...
  3. The local restaurants. There were a lot of places we wanted to try, but did not get the opportunity. We can't wait for our next trip so we can sample some more of the local cuisine.
  4. The next time we go, we want to stay for two weeks. This is such a relaxing place to visit, but there is also so much to see and do. Take our advice, plan two weeks so you can relax AND take in all of the activities.

Things We Learned

Based on our experience, we wanted to let you know of some things to watch out for.

  1. When you pay for the ferry ride, if you pay for luggage, make sure you get the luggage tickets. We had quite a disagreement with the ferry workers who did not want to let our bags on the ferry since we did not have tickets for our bags. Somehow, the girl who took our money and gave us the boarding passes was unwilling to really say one way or the other whether or not we paid. Which we did.
  2. Driving. Seriously. In case I did not make myself clear when describing above- Be careful! Don't speed, don't drink and drive, and buckle up!
  3. Food Prices. All food, whether eating in a restaurant or buying in the grocery store, is more expensive than you are used to. It's an island so they have to ship everything in. It is an unavoidable part of the vacation, so budget for it and don't let it irritate you.
  4. Bug bites. As much as we love the tropics, I think little biting insects like it more. And they are very protective of their environment. Bring lots of bug spray because you will need it.
  5. Ladies- I know we have a tendency to over pack. And we never know when we will need a cocktail dress and a nice pair of heels. And if you do need a cocktail dress, you need a couple to choose from. And they are different colors so you will need different heels. Well I am here to tell you. I brought 3 adorable cocktail dresses and a couple pairs of heels and didn't wear any of it. I wore my swimsuit and various articles of clothing to cover up my swimsuit. Leave it all at home and fill the extra room in your suitcase with bug spray.
  6. Weather- We liked hurricane season because the island wasn't very crowded. It felt like our own island and made the trip incredibly relaxing. But we did get stuck in the airport on the way home because of a tropical storm. Most flights were cancelled, ours was delayed. But we missed our connecting flight and everything went wrong from there. I will spare you the details, but take this into account when booking your trip. Other than that... it only rained once during the day while we were there. The weather was about as perfect as we could ask for until the flight delay.

No matter what time of the year you visit, this is guaranteed to be a vacation you will never forget. We hope you enjoy your visit to Beach Music as much as we enjoyed ours. Make sure to fill out the guest book so the next time we visit, we can read about your trip!

Photos From Our Trip

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