In March 2021, I traveled to Saint Thomas for a little spring break with my friend. It was my first time vacationing since Covid started a year ago! Here is a list of my tips, tricks, and favorite places and activities!
Where to stay:
We chose to stay in an AirBnB which was fine but the pictures and description differed from where we actually were staying. To start off, we chose a place with a kitchen and washer and dryer. Therefore we could save money on cooking our own meals and being able to pack less and using a washer to wash our clothes. So we disappointed when the kitchen didn’t have all the appliances advertised and no washer and dryer. The location of our AirBnB was also attached to a local’s home, which was fine but they frequently spent time on the shared porch and weren’t the friendliest or made personal decisions, I don’t agree with. It also meant we had to drive up very steep, poorly maintained roads to get there and the car we rented made it even more questionable (more about that later).
Little to say, we learned the hard way, staying in a a condo on a resort, would have been the better choice. At a resort, you gain access to exclusive beaches, restaurants, amenities and more. If I was to do it over again, I would stay at a resort condo, it’s worth the extra cost.
Our AirBnB did have a great view though! And grew on us as the week went on.
Renting a Car:
So we thought too late about renting a car and experienced difficult in booking a car and went with what was available. To our surprise, when walking into the airport, every rental place mentioned available cars…
We were given a little Older Sedan with bad breaks and every time we went up or down a hill we’d fear for our lives. And eventually it got so bad we had no choice but to exchange it for an SUV.
My recommendation, rent a Jeep Wrangler or SUV with 4-wheel drive, you’ll thank me later.
All beaches on the island open at 9am and close at 4pm so plan accordingly, especially when beach hopping.
The first beach we visited was Mermaid’s Chair. It started with a 1.5 mile down a gated community (Botany Bay) to this little, very rocky beach. The water was clear and the walk worthwhile. The beach was very quiet with only a few other tourists around and the snorkeling was alright but we didn’t see much more than fish. I do recommend this beach, just make sure to wear sunscreen on your walk and bring either sneakers to hiking sandals (I love chacos).
Hull Bay was definitely a locals beach and was pretty but there’s better beaches out there! The water here was colder than expected but felt refreshing.
Brewer’s Bay was another local’s beach on the University of the US Virgin Islands campus. It was a bit crowded but the views were nice and we found a sweet place to hammock. Kate said the snorkeling wasn’t great here, I didn’t want to go.
At Secret Harbor, we rented paddle boards from Aqua Action Dive Center and spent an hour out on the water. It was fun until we thought it was a good idea to a random “beach” and snorkel. Little did we know the beach as covered in sharp rocks and sea urchins. So when we stepped off our paddle boards, I cut up my feet and stepped on multiple sea urchins, leaving my feat with 30+ prickles in my feet.
Side note: vinegar is used to dissolve the protein from the sea urchins and they will eventually work themselves out.
However that significantly impacted the rest of the trip, as now my walking became subpar due to pain in the bottom of my feet!
Magen’s Bay costs $5 per person + $2 for parking. But I highly recommend driving all the way to the left end of the parking lot. There is significantly less crowds and room to hammock and relax without feeling like people were all around you! Worth a day of relaxing here! There is a bar & grill down at the other end but we didn’t visit.
We actually struggled a lot finding things to do other than beach-hop. But here are a few places we did visit.
Mountain Top – is the largest souvenir shop on the island and home of the “best “banana daiquiri. The prices on souvenirs actually wasn’t bad as you’d expect and the views from the look out to Magens Bay were perfect to enjoying your Banana Daiquiri! The drinks were actually pretty good!
99-Steps – Honestly don’t know why this famous or a tourist location but it’s only accessible by walking and wasn’t anything special except a 5 minute work out hiking up the stairs. Apparently there are actually 103 steps…
So we ate every breakfast at our AirBnB and backed a sandwich for lunch but took time each night to try a new restaurant and/or bar. Here’s where we went:
Udder Delite had great ice cream!
Lilika Juice Bar has great Acai bowls and great views of the yachts at Yacht Haven Port. Recommend this place! (pictured to the left)
Tickles Bar & Grill – Service was fine, food was alright but nothing special. The location on the harbor was the best part!
Duffy’s Love Shack – Drinks were very good! I recommend their bushwacker and fried mozzarella!
Agave – great Mexican food, service was great! Their chicken fajita and white sangria was very good!
Lattes in Paradise – Great & convent coffee & pastries! We went almost every morning. I tried the their cold brew and two of their lattes. Everything was great! (pictured to the right)
Resort Bars & Grills:
Shoreline Bar & Grill (Point Pleasant Resort) – was fine but nothing special. The waiter was also the hostess and the bartender so service was slow but the waiter was doing the best he could! The bar is right on the water so the views are great and fish swim right up to the bar.
Margaritaville – Food was very good, service was the best we had, drinks were amazing. We wished we had stayed here and enjoyed the food and drinks more! This resort is right next to Shoreline Bar & Grill so we had the same great views! (pictured to the left)
Caribbean Fusion (Emerald Beach Resort) – Food was good but service was very, very slow and took us about 2 hours to get food. Resort was right next to the airport, so the planes taking off/landing were very loud but pretty infrequent when we were there.
Day Trip to St John:
We spent one day at St. John. We took the Ferry from Redhook to Cruz Bay via the car ferry. It cost $50 round trip for the car and everyone in the car and was worth every penny to bring the Car. After missing the ferry on Tuesday due to too many cars (and a broken ferry), we aimed for the first ferry on Wednesday morning (6am) and made it on as the last car. However, when we arrived on St. John, nothing was yet open so we used this as time to explore the island and drove down the North Shore Road and saw some of the other bays on the other end of the island. The roads here were very hilly but in much better shape than St. Thomas!
Maho Bay – was our first beach stop of the car (after driving around). The beach here was pretty small but the snorkeling was awesome! We got to see a few sea turtles and fish, and stingray. Highly recommend this beach to see sea turtles! After snorkeling we traveled down to…
Cinnamon Bay – This beach was pretty quiet and room to spread out. We spent a few hours just relaxing here. There was a few surfers out at an off shore break (I’m assuming a reef) but the waves weren’t great and closed out pretty quickly.
Next we attempted to go to Trunk Bay but unfortunately the snorting course was closed and the parking lot full, so we contained our way back towards Cruz Bay and stopped at…
Honeymoon Beach – There we had to park and take the taxi over to the beach ($10 round trip) because the resort was closed. Honeymoon beach was as beautiful but definitely crowded. Another beach bar on site but we didn’t visit.
We then took the 3pm ferry back at fear of not making the 5pm (last) ferry. Overall St. John was worth the visit an wish I had more time (an ability to walk) so I could explore the island more. There were many hiking trails that we couldn’t explore due to my ongoing foot issues.
Here is a list of a few of the key items I brought with me that made my trip much better!
- Chaco Sandals were the best foot wear because they were versatile and allowed for long walks but also stayed on your feet when you wear them into the water!
- Quick-Dry Towels were perfect for the beach because they dry so fast and you can shake the sand out easily! I also take these on like any and every trip!
- These Compression Packing Cubes are perfect for keeping your clothes organized in your suitcase!
- These rubber rings are perfect for when you want to wear your engagement or wedding ring but don’t want to risk losing it at the beach! I wear theses on almost all my adventures!
- My Hammock & Straps were perfect for lounging under palm trees at the beach!
- A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated while beaching it up all day! We drank the tap water and it was fine!
- Full Face Snorkel was perfect because I struggle breathing with a normal snorkel. This is similar to the one I used!
- These are my favorite swimsuits! They stay up all day and support perfectly. Always flattering and cute! Also super affordable!
- I also brought my kindle with this book! It was perfect lightweight way to bring my book with me to the beach!
- Never be without a book: Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans
- This light weight power bank is perfect for charging your phone while adventuring all day!
- And can’t forget the sunscreen (face) and after sun location! Must haves for me!
To be admitted into the Virgin Islands, you need to complete an online admission form, including a PCR Covid-Test. We flew JetBlue and never once feared that we would catch Covid. While exploring the island, masks were always worn indoors and entering/exiting bars/restaurants. Most people were very good about wearing masks around the island. I was never fearful of catching covid!
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