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US and British Virgin Islands in 7 Days

Guest post by juliam10

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Day 1

Arrived at Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas. We rented a Jeep from the Budget car service. (Must rent a Jeep/ SUV to get up the hills). We made our reservation 7 months in advance, strongly recommended.  There are options to take the passenger ferry and rent directly at St. John, however keep in mind there are bag fees and cab fare to the passenger ferry.

Drove 45 minutes to the car ferry, important to know that the last car ferry ($50 USD round trip) leaves at 7:00 P.M. for St. John. PS. I hope you can back up a car into a boat with about 12” on each side!  Also, bring preprinted driving directions just in case your GPS does not work.

We rented a property and the representative met our jeep caravan at the docks and safely guided us up to our villa. We ordered dinner for delivery and a small group drove to the nearby grocery store to purchase essentials for breakfast.

Day 2: St. John

Relaxed by the infinity pool, explored the beaches near the villa. St. John is a small island, mostly a nature preserve and has 39 beaches. If you cannot find a place to park at one beach, you simply drive on to the next. The beaches have sparking sea green waters and not very commercial, there may be facilities, but be sure to bring your own beverages and food. Our villa had plenty of beach supplies: towels, chairs, coolers and even extra sunscreen.

Purchased food for the week and rum at the local grocery store, (Starfish Market and Starfish Liquors are right next to each other) must do– if you’re staying in a villa!  The local custom is to always greet the one another with a hearty “good morning” or “good afternoon” then ask for directions or a question to a store clerk, wait staff.

Day 3: St. Thomas

Took the passenger ferry over to St. Thomas for the day. (Ferry runs every hour, important to be on time or you’ll be waiting). You can barter at the local flea market here, shop for luxury and fake goods such as purses, sunglasses and hand crafted souvenirs. Ate lunch at the Big Kahuna Rum Shack, a Mexican restaurant on the Island. If you like diamonds, St. Thomas is for you.

Beachside dinner at one of the many restaurants near the passenger ferry dock in Cruz Bay, fresh seafood and terrific island barbecue. Shopping is nearby as well as the lively island night life. Headed back to St. John.

Day 4

  • Virgin Gorda
  • Jost Van Dyke
  • Marina Cay
  • Diamond Reef

Went on a day charter boat cruise with a lovely charter boat called “Breakaway” – they provided light breakfast and endless amounts of “Pain killers” and other tropical drinks and soda/water, this charter group only provides alcohol after snorkeling and hiking and their staff was not only attentive, but were all certified lifeguards.

-Visited the British Virgin Islands – Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Marina Cay and snorkeling at Diamond Reef.  (You must have a passport, immigration is smoothly handled by Breakaway staff) Returning, expect to go through US immigration, which is also quick.

-The hike to the Baths of Virgin Gorda was about 1.5 miles winding through the jungle and caves—dubbed the Stonehenge of the Caribbean.  Hikers emerge to see large rock formations and sparkling blue green waters.

-Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke is a fun experience where you jump off the boat and swim up the island, there are no docks!  Here you can relax, drink a pain killer (the signature drink was invented there) and simply the best waterproof bags are provided for souvenirs.

Day 5

  • Little Lameshur Bay
  • Chocolate Hole

Drove to Little Lameshur beach that was super secluded, seems like it was miles from civilization, we had the beach to ourselves.  Later a few more small groups found their way –had to go off-roading to get here. (Another reason to rent a Jeep). Driving in St. John is not for the faint hearted unless you’re used to driving on the left side on narrow roads.  I recommend a map of the island because your GPS may not work.  St. John is not very big with no shortage of winding roads, hills and hairpin turns plus having to stop suddenly for strolling wild donkeys and some flocks of chickens.

Plenty of roadside restaurants, we stopped and had a leisurely lunch at one of the many spots along the way.  Then back to the villa, aptly named “Great Expectations” for more poolside relaxation, overlooking the Chocolate Hole Bay area.

Day 6

Attended my brother’s casual wedding at Hawks Nest Bay beach.  Reception was at Ocean 362, overlooking Cruz Bay and near town. This restaurant was the perfect reception venue- starting with a private cocktail hour in their crow’s nest bar area followed by an elegant four course dinner and spectacular views of yachts quietly sailing by St. Croix, St. Thomas and beyond.

Day 7

  • Hawksnest Bay

Went back to Hawksnest Bay same beach where the wedding was held for fun swimming, snorkeling, and body surfing. (Rough waters but sting rays will swim up to you). Important to know there are no life guards at any of the beaches in St. John, be cautious. Next morning we flew back home. The car ferry ride plus the drive to the airport is about two hours so allow plenty of time.

Traveled in February 2016

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