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The Virgin Islands–which one is best?

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The Virgin Islands–which one is best?

St. John.

No question, St. John is stunningly beautiful, easy to get to, uncrowded, unspoiled and all around perfect.  The first time Keith and I went there was on our honeymoon in 2003.  At the time, we were fancy free with no kids and a lot younger.  We were amazingly lucky to have two sets of parents who were able to help us out with our honeymoon costs and fortunate enough to stay at Caneel Bay, a consistently high-rated luxury hotel. It is, simply put, amaze balls.  5 different restaurants (including a breakfast buffet like I have never seen–seriously there were whole lobster tails in this thing), a bar, 5 beaches (two where no kids are allowed), tons of activities, amazing service and pools and tennis courts.  And massage services of course.  One of my favorite things about this resort is no TVs or phones in the rooms.  Relaxing isn’t even optional, it’s required.  St. John is definitely the best virgin island.

Caneel-Bay-Resort-Header  caneel_bay_a_rosewood_resort-view

Nice.

But first, St. John.  St. John is two-thirds national park, one third developed land.  Even with the huge national park, there is plenty of other stuff to see and do in St. John if you are not inclined to go hiking (although I do recommend it).  We spent some time off resort and visited Asolare Restaurant, which had insane views and even better food, Skinny Legs burger joint, Woody’s Seafood Saloon (which was owned by a recent college grad who came to visit St. John and just up and bought a bar and never left….I can’t even tell you how jealous we were of that guy), and Island Blues Seaside Bar.  We enjoyed Cinnamon Bay beach and Maho bay beach.  We loved just walking around Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay, an area full of dining, galleries, shopping and more.  Obviously snorkeling and SCUBA diving are very popular in St. John and here are some local companies who can help you out.  Arawak Adventures, Calypso Charters and Cruz Bay Watersports.  All of these tour companies can help you with other various water sports, such as sunset sailing, paddle boarding, speedboating and visiting The Baths on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands (warning: bring your passport).  Lastly, renting a jeep and driving around the island is great fun!  We used Mr. Piper’s Jeeps.

Mongoose Junction

Mongoose Junction

St. John from above

St. John from above

Woody's Seafood Saloon

Woody’s Seafood Saloon

As for places to stay, we stayed at Caneel Bay. Caneel is 170 acres, set on an entirely private peninsula.  It’s accessible only by boat or ferry.  Laurence Rockafeller discovered it while on a family cruise and set out to create a destination that would live in harmony with it’s natural environment.  It has won awards for various things from such publications as Conde Nast, U.S News and World Report, Travel and Leisure and Wine Spectator.

As I mentioned, when we went ten years ago, we did not have children yet.  We’ll be going again in June with our children to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary and I will have another blog post slanted towards children.  But for now, here is what we found at Caneel.

The resort has rooms varying from basic courtyard rooms facing the tennis courts to beach front suites.   The top end room is “Cottage 7”, located in what was Laurence Rockafeller’s private estate.  All rooms are clean and comfortable and, as I mentioned, no TVs or phones, which I loved.  Each contain both ceiling fans and air conditioning and a variety of anemities including shampoos/conditioners, bathrobes, minibars, in room coffee makers and beach towels.  Another thing I loved about the rooms is the transportation to and from restaurants, pools, beaches, etc…..golf carts.  Because the resort is so large, it’s almost impossible to walk everywhere so there are golf cart stations set around the the resort where you can catch a ride.  One of my favorite memories of our time there was taking a golf cart over to dinner and seeing wild donkeys run past us–yes there are wild donkeys all over St. John, many of which live on the Caneel property.

Donkey on the beach

Donkey on the beach

An electronic "green living" golf cart

An electronic “green living” golf cart

Restaurants are spectacular.  The Beach Bar and Grill has some of the best cheeseburgers ever.  We gorged ourselves on these things, bringing new meaning to the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.  Also, try to BBC.  It’s a drink and we couldn’t get enough….Keith even loved the teeny drink umbrellas!  I mentioned the Caneel Beach Terrace and it’s spectacular buffet.  Lobsters people.  I think Keith had 4 tails for breakfast one morning.  Get ready for a hefty bill though.  Our newly married selves almost fainted when we got that check.  The Turtle Bay Estate House is spectacular dining and very chic-chic.  I definitely wouldn’t bring children.  But for a couple, it’s a great, romantic restaurant.  Zozos at the Sugar Mill is another romantic restaurant and children under 5 are not permitted.  It overlooks the sugar mill ruins and has beautiful views and wonderful ocean breezes.  Caneel also offers private dining on the beach or in the sugar mill ruins and room service and picnic lunches.  They have everything covered.

Activities abound at Caneel.  They have everything from sunset cocktail cruises to snorkeling and sailing to SCUBA diving and day trips to the British Virgin Islands.  They also have movies nights, art classes, yoga, pilates, massage services, tennis and, most important, a free bottle of rum…haha.

Caneel also has a kid’s club called Turtle Town.  Stay tuned for reviews on Turtle Town and any other kid-centric activities when we go in June! 🙂

Melissa

 

 

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