7 Tips to Make Your St. John Honeymoon Truly Epic

 

Many publications, over many years, have named St. John as one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations. The reasons are obvious: perfect weather, uncrowded beaches with exquisite white sand, crystal clear waters, miles of hiking trails in the Virgin Islands National Park, and a laid back Caribbean vibe. It’s the perfect recipe for romance and relaxation. Some time spent planning before you check into your St. John honeymoon suite will really pay off. Here are 7 suggestions to help make the most of your St. John honeymoon.

  1. Make Travel Day Easy

Getting married can be a whirlwind – getting to your idyllic island honeymoon shouldn’t be. With no airport on St. John, you’ll need to fly to neighboring St. Thomas and then ferry over. While there are alternatives like going through San Juan, the best bet is to reach St. Thomas from one of the several mainland gateways including Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston or Dallas. Airport code STT.

Once you arrive on St. Thomas you have a choice between a 5-minute taxi ride to Crown Bay followed by a 30 minute ferry trip, or a longer taxi ride (around 45 minutes depending on traffic and stops) to Red Hook and then 15 minutes on the ferry. The Crown Bay ferry departs at 3:30 and 5:30, and the Red Hook ferry departs every hour on the hour. If it works for your flight schedule, the Crown Bay ferry is a more relaxed experience. If Red Hook works better, spring for a private taxi and arrive quicker and with more personal attention. Whichever ferry you take, there’s a bar where you can sip a cold beverage and stare into your sweetheart’s eyes.

  1. Rent a Jeep

While it’s possible to get around St. John via taxi, we highly recommend renting a Jeep. Having your own wheels will give you the freedom to come and go as you please, explore the island, find your own secret beach, or run up to the market for a bottle of bubbly.

  1. Hire a Private Chef

Hiring a private chef for a special meal at your vacation home is an amazing way to say I love you. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be staying at a St. John vacation rental with an extraordinary view, like Island Abodes’ Penthouse, Honeymoon Suite, Hibiscus Suite, or Papaya Suite; or our Chocolate Hole pool villa. St. John has some exceptional private chefs who can prepare and serve the perfect mouthwatering meal, often with local Virgin Islands fish and produce.

  1. Make a (Flexible) Plan

Having a plan before you arrive will help to maximize your adventure and relaxation time, and help ensure you don’t miss any “must do” activities. But it’s also smart to stay flexible. Maybe you and your betrothed will find the experience of swimming with sea turtles at Maho Bay so moving that it warrants another day? Or maybe you decide to push off this morning’s hike for a few more hours in your plush king size bed with this view. Whatever you decide, you’re on island time and flexibility is key.

  1. Take a Boat Trip

Many Island Abodes guests say that their one “must do” activity is a day on the water. There are some amazing private charter boats that can whisk you over to Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, or to the Caves and Indians at Norman Island, or stay in local St. John waters and visit Pizza Pi or Lime Out for an unforgettable lunch. There are also some awesome group charters that head over to the BVIs daily and offer sunset sails in domestic waters.

  1. Find Your Perfect Beach

There are so many world class beaches on St. John, it’s really hard to believe. If it’s your first trip, we recommend spending part of a day beach hopping down the north shore. You can start close to town with a nice hike down to Salomon and Honeymoon, then hop back in your Jeep for a drive down to Hawksnest, where you can park just steps from the beach. The next two beaches, Dennis and Jumby, are each down a short trail, but well worth the effort. Then the iconic Trunk Bay (be sure to stop at the overlook for this not-to-be-missed photo op). Continuing down the coast you’ll reach Cinnamon (and Little Cinnamon if you head left when you reach the shore). Then the world famous Maho Bay, which is the best place anywhere to swim with sea turtles. And finally, Francis Bay is the last beach on the north shore, with amazing views up St. John’s coast and over to St. Thomas in the distance. Remember, since the island is mostly national park, there are no St. John vacation rentals on the beach, so getting to the sand requires a short drive for everyone.

  1. Choose Accommodations Thoughtfully

If there’s ever a time to choose the right accommodations it’s on your honeymoon! Selecting a place with spectacular views, an oh so comfy king size bed, and all kinds of thoughtful touches and amenities, is the only way to go. It should be backed up with tons of stellar reviews from past guests, the kind of place where the owners and staff take your comfort and happiness very personally. You’ll find all this and more at Island Abodes. Whether you book our Honeymoon Suite, or any of our other St. John vacation apartments or villas, you will always find affordable luxury. Let us help make your St. John honeymoon truly epic!

 

8 Tuff Miles

The last Saturday in February might be the busiest time on St John! Why? Because every year, more than 1,000 runners come to the island to participate in 8 Tuff Miles. They race from the Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay to the Coral Bay ballpark. The Island Abodes team has run (well really walked) this race several times and it is always a blast! Organizations have water stations throughout the 8 miles. Volunteers dress up, play fun music, and some water stations have shots and beer for you to enjoy!

The challenge in this race is the hilly terrain. The event begins with an uphill climb from Cruz Bay, there are flat portions and hills in the middle, followed by a long, downhill finish to Coral Bay. The heat is also a factor that makes the eight miles along St. John’s Centerline Road so tough.

Participants have three hours to complete the course, and the time passes quickly, even for the slowest walkers.

History of the race from the 8 Tuff Website:

Upon returning to St. John in September 1996, I was trying to quit smoking, and I decided to punish myself by running and hopefully then realize that my body and lungs were beaten up because of all the chemicals in the cigarettes. On a December Sunday morning close to the end of the year, I woke up, put on my running shoes and started running towards Coral Bay from the downtown Cruz Bay area. Carrying a single bottle of water, and not at all sure how much time this would take, I now knew I’d be quitting smoking in the very near future. I reached the corner in Coral Bay known as the T intersection in about 1:20:00 and was both surprised and pleased.

Soon after that, I attended a meeting of the St. John Action Committee. They were looking for ways to entice St. Thomas folks to come over and spend the day on St. John on the last Saturday of each month with fairs and music and other ideas. My suggestion was to have a footrace, and the course would be from one end of the island to the other. Most of the people at the meeting seriously thought I was crazy to suggest the idea, but there were people there that saw the idea had potential. With a handful of new friends, the date for the first race would be the last Saturday of February. The last Saturday of January was coming up too quickly, and that is why we waited, planned accordingly and had the first race on the last Saturday of February, “February 22, 1997.”

The Future Business Leaders of America from Sprauve School volunteered to staff the 12 water stations along the way. Timing would be done by a couple of friends who were on the island that winter. We had 25 t-shirts printed, and 21 entries signed up that morning. Quite a few from St. Thomas, I might add. The plan was working! There was a Virgin Islands Policemen on a motorcycle leading the first place runner. Most of the entries ran, and there were some walkers. First place was 1:01:10. It was Charles Morton from St. Thomas, and now, the chase was on for future races. Brenda and Mark Wallace were smart enough to film the early morning gathering, the start, some of the middle and a good portion of the finish line. It’s always fun to go back and watch this piece of film with three people standing on the ball field in Coral Bay cheering on the runners as they finish what would soon become the largest attended road race in all of the Virgin Islands.

Book your place to stay now for the 2020 race! www.islandabodes.com

Island Abodes Secret Beach Breaks: Brown Bay

 

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Brown Bay beach

St. John is loaded with special “off the beaten path” spots, and the Island Abodes team is here help you find them! This week, our team got the opportunity to scope out a wonderful destination called Brown Bay.

Brown Bay is located past Coral Bay toward the East End of the island. To get to this private oasis, it would be wise to rent a Jeep and drive about a mile past Skinny Legs. When you get to the entrance, you can park in the gravel lot and begin your hike.

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Lots of conchs to find at Brown Bay!

The hike to Brown Bay is a 1.5 mile round-trip and we rate it as moderately difficult. Waterproof hiking shoes are recommended given the rocky trail surface, but if you’re careful and a bit daring it can be done in flip-flops. When we got to beach, we were rewarded by the shallow and calm water, so refreshing! We spotted dozens of conch, crabs and sea stars! Just off the shore on the east side there’s great snorkeling with lots to see. This beach is also home to sea turtle nesting sites, so you may see a turtle gliding up to say hello. When we visited the beach, we were the only ones there for two hours. It was so nice to be able to enjoy our Sam and Jack’s deli lunch while gazing into the crystal clear waters and sitting in the plentiful shade around the beach.

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The Brown Bay Trail reaches the beach

At Island Abodes, we love every St. John beach and want you to see them all. Brown Bay is a spot that not many know about, making it the perfect unexpected adventure while you stay

St. John Hiking Guide: America Ruin Trail

St. John is home to some of the best hiking in the world.

The gorgeous America Ruin Trail overlook of Maho Bay.

There are trails for every taste: short, long, sandy, rocky, mountainous, and even some that end at spectacular beaches. To kick off our trail series, we wanted to describe one of our favorites, the America Ruin Trail. We were lucky enough to have local professional photographer, Yelena Rogers, hike the trail with us to capture the beautiful views and moments on top of the world!

The trail starts 100 yards past Cinnamon Bay’s entrance on North Shore Road. The trailhead is marked by a sign for “Cinnamon Bay Trail” (there’s another sign along the way where the two trails diverge). It’s adjacent to the Cinnamon Bay Ruins and there is a place for one or two cars to park.This is a great hike to tack on to a day at Cinnamon Bay Beach.

Starting point of the hike on the Cinnamon Bay Trail.

The ruins were once home to the Danish Cinnamon Bay Estate (a/k/a America Hill) sugar cane plantations and bay rum distilleries, the most prosperous on island. Today, the remnants of the old rum factory are still prominent, and at the top of your hike, you’ll be able to perch on the ruins of the Estate boiler room and gaze over to Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Tortola. These unforgettable views, with the ruins and forests all around, make you feel completely lost in time.

We rate this hike as moderately difficult. The start is quite steep, then it’s about 30 minutes to the top with moderate incline, rocky points, and passable foliage. While hiking, you’ll see tons of bay leaf trees. Be sure to grab a leaf to sniff; the bay rum distilleries used these leaves in the early 20th century to make colognes and lotions. Be sure to bring plenty of water.

Our intern, Mary, overlooking the beautiful Maho Bay from the top of the America Ruin Trail.

All Island Abodes units come equipped with tons of island information, including trail guides, making it easy to explore during your stay on St. John. While having a car makes it easy to get to the trail, a taxi to Cinnamon Bay would work great too. Hiking is a must-do while on St. John, and this trail cannot be missed! If you loved the pictures in our blog, be sure to visit Yelena Rogers Photography’s blog and website to book your photo shoot during your next St. John vacation.