This motto sums up our recent trip to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We stumbled across this island paradise due to our kids’ passports being expired. Traveling as a group of 6, including children and grandparents, we decided on our destination for the beaches and many activities it offered– while traveling to a place that did not require passports. We were not disappointed!
As always, we traveled on JetBlue as it is our preferred airline. JetBlue services the island of St. Thomas with twice daily flights, connecting through San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Upon arrival to St. Thomas, we rented a car for only $55.00 per day through Alamo. I would highly recommend securing your rental car in advance as they seemed to be limited in availability. We did have some difficulty getting our car and found ourselves having to wait at the airport for over an hour while the car was cleaned and gassed. We were given a Nissan Altima for our rental, which in hindsight I wished we would have upgraded to one of the numerous Jeeps that we saw on the islands. For those traveling from the US, be prepared for an adjustment period as in the US Virgin Islands, you drive on the left hand side of the street…and watch out for the speed bumps!
As we gracefully tackled the driving, we immediately set out for our destination – the beautiful Sugar Bay Resort Hotel http://www.sugarbayresortandspa.com as we were anxious to arrive and get settled. Upon check-in we were greeted by a very friendly and professional hotel staff at the resort. We unloaded our luggage where it was kept with the bellmen while we proceeded to park the car and shuttle from the parking lot back to the lobby and also check into our room(s). Much to our surprise, we were granted an early check-in to our rooms. We were then escorted by one of the bellmen with our luggage to our rooms with a spectacular ocean view! After settling into our rooms, we received a knock on the door and were surprised with a beautiful welcome tray of fruits, cheeses, and crackers from the hotel staff.
The Sugar Bay Resort and Spa has everything you can imagine to make your vacation truly enjoyable. For those who are looking to stay and relax at the resort, they do offer an all-inclusive plan which includes all food/drinks, hotel amenities, and recreation. We opted to forgo this option as we decided that with our rental car we had opportunity to experience the islands best foods first hand. Sugar Bay Resort is a great place for families of all ages with plenty of activities to do on the resort grounds. (In room Wi-Fi, mini golf, three inter-connecting swimming pools with underwater grotto and waterfalls, tennis, beach and pool volleyball, ping pong, billiards, and a secluded beach.) There is a short walk from the resorts rooms down to the beach and pool areas.
The grounds are well kept and the staff was extremely helpful throughout our stay. One of the highlights of our stay at the resort was the daily Iguana feeding each morning. This is a must for anyone staying at the resort! Side Notes: Parking at the resort is free, but there is an additional resort fee that is collected upon check-out.
Prior to arriving in St. Thomas, my wife and I had decided that we would like see as many of the surrounding islands as possible. The morning of day three, we drove toward Red Hook to board our car and ride the barge to St. John (approximately 45 minutes). The mountainous island of St. John is absolutely stunning! We immediately set our sights on the Visitor’s Center to get a feel for the “lay of the land.” We were able to collect maps and get recommendations from the informative staff there. Within a few blocks of the Visitor’s Center you will find Mongoose Junction, entitled “St. John’s Premier Shopping and Dining Destination.” This is a must when visiting St. John. You can’t miss the old, stone wall with hidden gems inside. You will find everything from souvenirs, clothing, luggage, jewelry and dining. We decided to gorge on delicious sandwiches from the Deli Grotto ($10-$20) before setting out on our St. John adventures.
On our drive from downtown St. John, we decided to head north on North Shore Rd. We stopped at several beaches along the way, including the infamous Trunk Bay for photos. We finally arrived to the “end of the road” where we started our journey on foot. After walking for more than a mile (or what seemed like it), we arrived to our destination…Watermelon Bay. We spent a few hours on this remote and virtually uninhabited beach enjoying the sun and snorkeling. While the snorkeling here was very good, those inexperienced in snorkeling may find it a bit difficult to navigate the waters. We concluded our time on St. John by taking the back road (Centerline Rd) back through some gorgeous scenery with mountain top views and into town to board our barge for our return to St. Thomas. Although we stayed on the main St. John roads, the sights, sounds and tastes of St. John we were able to experience will be a favorite for certain.
Back in St. Thomas we still felt as though there was so much more out there to be seen. I then referred to Trip Advisor to locate our next adventure. The words: “Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!” caught my attention. Little did I know that this would be our most amazing adventure of our vacation. St. Thomas Boat Rental (www.stthomasboatrental.com) and Captain John Bodnar were more than gracious with our request to “show us around.” We booked a private, full day trip on the “Twin Vee” for our entire family, and were greeted at 8:30 AM at the Sapphire Beach Marina. Captain Alex was our boat captain, but Captain John also came down to greet us and make sure that we were taken care of as we began our adventure. My mom had always dreamed of being able to swim with sea turtles and Captain Alex knew just the right place to take us. We began our memorable day swimming with adult and baby sea turtles, followed by diving at a ship wreck all at Buck Island. The Twin Vee came complete with all of the snorkeling gear we needed. One of the many benefits of chartering your private boat trip with St. Thomas Boat Rental is that you are able to request and select where you want to go. We were able to experience the beauty and tranquility that the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans have to offer during the 8 hours onboard. We visited several private and secluded beaches, sat on some of the softest sands we have ever felt, and swam in remote areas that people only dream about! We were also able to revisit the island of St. John to enjoy some of the private beaches there as well as an excellent lunch on the beach at a local burger joint, recommended by Captain Alex himself. If you ever get the chance to visit St. Thomas, USVI – St. Thomas Boat Rental is an absolute MUST!
Other highlights of our stay on St. Thomas included shopping the local vendors adjacent to the cruise ship terminal, visiting World Famous Mountain Top and sipping on their famous banana daiquiris (this is a must), walking the sands and overlooking the crystal clear waters of the one of the world’s top rated beaches at Magens Bay.
During our stay in St. Thomas we did a little research on recommended dining and found our favorites to be Duffy’s Love Shack ($10-$20), awarded the Trip Advisors Certificate of Excellence 2013 award features sandwiches and grilled items on its menu. Upon arrival you might think Duffy’s may be worth passing at first glance as it is situated in a parking lot in Red Hook. But the atmosphere and aroma are enough to bring any hungry person calling. Their food is excellent and their made from scratch coleslaw is a must! Dining tip: let them know you need a new attitude. They will make that happen!
Island Time Pub ($10-$20), also awarded the Trip Advisors Certificate of Excellence 2013 award, was another favorite. Found across the street from Duffy’s in Red Hook, the setting is much more customary of a restaurant. Overlooking the marina while enjoying some of the best pizza we have ever eaten (not to mention the delicious garlic bread), was definitely a highlight of our trip. Tip: top off your pizza with a bottled St. John’s Root Beer!
For those looking for an inexpensive trip, you have the multiple fast food options within a short drive of Sugar Bay Resort including Subway, KFC, McDonald’s and Wendy’s. We have had the privilege of traveling to Cancun, Hawaii, Grand Cayman, Cabo San Lucas, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Cozumel, Dubai, and the Seychelles Islands in Africa in the past couple of years. Our trip to St. Thomas would rank as one of our favorite vacations we have been on. Rest assured that the island of St. Thomas and surrounding islands provides enough scenery, entertainment, and dining and activity options for people of all ages, no matter your level or interests.