At first blush you are going to say, “This isn’t a category. It’s an item.” And, you are partially right. But it follows a natural, no pun intended, progression from roughing-it on Cinnamon Bay to the comparably luxurious camping that was introduced by Stanley Selengut 38 years ago. Stanley’s eco-resorts have had such a vital role in the history of tourism on St. John that we thought we would give it its’ own special posting. The original Maho Bay Camps introduced so many people and young families to the island and those people continue to return year after year that we wanted to give special recognition to that vision of Stanley’s a model eco-resort, a self-sufficient hotel integrated seamlessly into the surrounding natural vegetation. And it was a huge success. According to yourtravelchoice.com, “…Stanley Selengut of Maho Bay Camps in the US Virgin Islands was already proselytizing around the world about his low-tech, low-impact green model for hotels. Stanley …never shy about discussing the “amazing profits” his firm was earning from simple tents on platforms by a sugary sand beach on St. John. And, he was the first to point out that travelers frequently care more about simplicity than they do about luxury, which as far as he was concerned, only improved the profit margins.”
We have sequenced our posts to follow the sequence of events as they happen on your first trip. This is, of course, not your preferred timeline for making reservations. Your first or second reservation choice will be your accommodation. This is a massive topic and we won’t be able to handle it in one post. We will make each category of our accommodation posts separate. In general your choices range from:
3. Condo, Guest House
4. Time Share
6. Villa Rental
These are basic categories. Each of them might have several subcategories but it is a good list for us to start from. Now it is here that our knowledge of traveling to St. John might not be as acute in some categories as others. Since we are timeshare people or fraction/interval owner people, our experience in finding other accommodations is not as broad. Hopefully we can point you in the right direction. In many cases while we may not be your cup of tea, our property managers Cimmaron St. John may have the answers you are seeking. You will find them amiable and competent and they will be sure to make your first visit to St. John a memorable one. And we mean that in a very good way.
Really, do you think we’d abandon you here? We have now reached another, “it depends” situations. It will depend on what choices you’ve made for your accommodations, another topic that we will get back to. Suffice it to say you will be met at the ferry dock or not depending on what choice you made. Then you will be escorted to your car rental agency (or not) and given the opportunity to sign your rental paper work. There are variations on this sequence of events. Some agencies will pick you up at the ferry dock; some agencies are a short walk from the dock. Here is an idea. If there are several of you, quickly retire to a near by bar/restaurant in the area, hydrate and go to the necessary. Then the assigned drivers can walk to the car agency, complete the paperwork and return to pick up the rest of the party.
We now come to the second of your travel choices. After you chose your airline. You will not choose your cab; it will choose you depending on the decision you will make here. You will need to decide which of two ferries you must take to get you to the island of St. John. The Red Hook or Downtown ferries. Here are the ferry schedules and how your choices stack up:
Downtown Ferry in Charlotte Amalie (A-molly)
As you enter the cabstand be prepared to say one of two things. “Red Hook Ferry” or “Downtown Ferry,” we will explain the differences in the next post. But after you utter those words, you will be in the capable hands of the Virgin Islands Taxi Association, Inc., the cabbie union. Trust that they know what they are doing. Be aware that you may not go directly to your destination. All of the cabs here are 12 person vans and the cab union wants to fill each van up maximizing profits. When sorting out fares at the cabstand the dispatcher will try to consolidate fares but you may share a cab with people who have different destinations than you. This is another of your many future encounters with the Caribbean concept of ISLAND TIME. Relax, you probably should have had a second sample at the tourist bureau booth at the airport. Rates etc. There are other transportation options that you can research for your next trip. Private cabs and car rentals at the airport etc. But for the first time visitor this is the easiest and most dependable solution.
photo courtesy of VI Now.com