And managed to miss a very freak snowstorm in NJ!
10.27.2011 - 11.05.2011 88 °F
This was going to be our ninth trip back to the Virgin Islands and being it was our 10 year anniversary, I wanted to pick a beautiful villa and finish our last 3 nights at my favorite (happy) place, Caneel Bay. I remember last year when I was searching for villas, I came across a new one right on Ditleff Point called Kaleidoscope. I contacted the owner and the villa wound up being available right at the dates I was looking for.
We usually travel in mid October, but this time I planned us to meet up with our good friend Captain Joe aboard the Scubadu for the Foxy’s Cat Fight. Who would have thought that the timing couldn’t have been better by avoiding a very freak snowstorm headed to the northeast.
Day 1 (Arrival)
We left a soggy Newark airport and wound up in St. Thomas around just after 3 o’clock. I called up my friend and she met us at the airport to take us to Red Hook. We first stopped at Island Time Bar for a rum punch. It was great to see her again before heading to the ferry to Cruz Bay.
We grabbed the 5 o’clock ferry and made sure I scribed my virgin islands online avatar name on the beach.
As I was on the beach, my cell phone rang and it was the villa manager for Kaleidoscope. As I look up he was right at the end of the dock waiting for us. He was very friendly and even wound up picking up my shipped package at Connections so we were all set. Our first stop was Bougainvillea Leasing for our jeep rental. We hopped in our 4 door jeep wrangler and followed Justin, the villa manager to Ditleff Point. Once we pulled into the driveway we were immediately in disbelief.
This entire villa is just for the two of us? It was just beautiful. Justin showed us around the villa and how to work the sound system, which wound up being used quite a bit during our stay. The villa was equipped with everything you could want.
After Justin left we grabbed a few beers and just tried to take everything in. We also had our villa provisioned by St. John Catering/Mathayom so we didn’t need to head back to town that evening. I grabbed our mahi mahi grill pack and we had our first dinner in Kaleidoscope.
After a long travel day we headed to our master bedroom, which was beautiful.
Day 2 (Villa Day)
We woke up to a beautiful morning and had breakfast on our veranda.
The breeze was just wonderful since the day became a hot one. We spent most of the morning and afternoon relaxing by the pool and soaking in the sun.
Towards the later afternoon we headed to Cruz Bay to check out the Wharfside Shops and grab a drink or two. This was our first time staying on St. John during Halloween so it was interesting to see the Beach Bar all decked out.
After reading on-stjohn.com about the best rum punch, we walked down to High Tide. The rum punch was very good and I can see why it was voted the best rum punch.
Being we had to get up early to head to Jost Van Dyke, to meet up with Captain Joe for the cat fight, we went back to Kaleidoscope to have dinner. Before headed to bed, I did check to see on my phone that this potential snow storm was headed to NJ and couldn’t believe it. We just thought to ourselves how happy we were not be there right now.
After enjoying a great meal at the villa it was time to go to bed. We were going to be in for a long day.
Day 3 (Foxy’s Cat Fight)
Around 7 o’clock we woke up to get ready for our day and night planned aboard the Scubadu. I contacted our rental company and they said we could leave the jeep rental in their parking lot over night. We parked the jeep and walked on over to the Inter Island Ferry. We wound up taking the ferry from Cruz Bay to Great Harbor in Jost Van Dyke. It cost $45 per person, but the fee did include the customs fee. The ferry ride took about 45 minutes.
Once we arrived and got our passports stamped, I gave Joe a call and he picked us up in the dingy at the dock.
Once we dropped off our things on the Scubadu, we dingied back to Foxy’s to go over the rules of the race. Since we usually visit Jost a few weeks earlier, it was interesting to see Foxy’s open and filled with people. We found out that the Scubadu would be first in line and two races.
Going over the rules:
Once everyone was clear on the rules and regulations we headed back to the Scubadu. We were joined aboard the Scubadu with a few friends of Joe and several locals. Our job was basically just to sit back and enjoy the race. It was thrilling to be part of it.
The first race lasted about 2 hours.
Unfortunately during the course of the race, the Scubadu ran into a snag with one of the sails so we did not finish too well. The second race started about a half hour to an hour later. We sailed all around, past Sandy Cay and beyond. The Scubadu wound up doing a lot better in the second half of the race.
When the second race was over we sailed to White Bay where we would dock for the night.
Everyone hopped back into the Dingy to head over to Foxy’s to see who won. We were going to head over to Foxy’s later for the Halloween party so my husband and I decided to take the time to freshen up and relax on the boat.
The sun began to set and the stars slowly came out. I have never seen such a display of stars like we did that night. It was a perfectly clear evening. We got ready for the party and waited for them to come back.
An hour or so passed and then we heard a dingy headed our way with a small light. It was Joe and the gang and they came back! The Scubadu wound up placing 5th in its category. Joe cooked us a great dinner. Everyone looked pretty tired so we decided to spend the evening on the Scubadu which was fine by us.
Day 4 (Soggy Dollar Bar)
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful day on White Bay. After some great eggs benedict for breakfast that Joe cooked for everyone we packed ourselves in to the dingy and made our way over to the Soggy Dollar Bar.
It was a nice surprise to spend the afternoon on White Bay. I didn’t think we were going to make it to the Soggy Dollar Bar this trip so I was pretty happy.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Scubadu since we had to be back for customs in Cruz Bay by 4:30. As we sailed back to Cruz Bay we all talked about what a great time it was. We said our goodbyes and told Joe we would see him again next year.
It was a great time!
Once we headed back towards our jeep, we grabbed two rum punches at Woody’s to go. I turned my phone back on and noticed a lot of text messages. It turned out the snow storm created a lot of damage with downed trees, power outages, etc. I called home and found out we did have power but my mom and sister did not. I told them to stay at our house since we were not there, which worked out very well for them.
Thanking our lucky stars we missed the storm, we drove back to Kaleidoscope. It was good to be “home” and have another great meal at our villa. It was a long 2 days and we were exhausted. We headed to bed.
Day 5 (Halloween)
We woke up to another beautiful morning and had breakfast once again at the villa.
I was starting to get used to where things were in the kitchen. Being that we hadn’t visited any of the beaches on St. John we thought that today was the day. I remember Justin, the villa manager, showing us on the lower level where the jacuzzi was, that there was a room filled with snorkel equipment.
We grabbed a set for each of us and headed out to the North Shore Beaches.
Made the usual stops along the way to take some pictures.
As we drove by Gibney, I noticed the area in front of the gate was open. For a quick second we thought about parking there, but I wasn’t so sure how easy it would have been to carry all of our stuff to the beach. We hesitated and decided to keep going to Cinnamon. As we drove past Trunk Bay, we noticed there were a lot of vehicles parked in the parking lot.
A few more turns and we made it to Cinnamon Bay. We grabbed our things and found a nice spot on the beach to soak in the sun.
I then headed out into the water for a snorkel. Unfortunately, the mask I chose did not fit too well. I could only snorkel for a short time before water started to fill my mask. Note to self, bring my own equipment next year, or at least the mask.
Our afternoon was spend relaxing in the sun and listening to the waves. We decided to head back to the villa and come back into town and have dinner at Morgan’s Mango.
We got ready for dinner and headed back into Cruz Bay. We parked the jeep in the paid parking lot near the Wharfside. It was funny to see kids walking around dressed up in their customs and headed into the shops for candy. We ran into a group of ladies from the St. John shelter walking their dressed up dogs. It was great photo opportunity:
We walked over to Mongoose Junction and up the stairs to Morgan’s Mango. It was only 6 o’clock so we were seated immediately. The staff was all dressed up in customs and made it very festive.
I enjoyed their ceviche for an appetizer
while my husband had their crispy fried calamari
For dinner I had their red snapper special which was in an amazing garlic and herb sauce
and my husband had the coconut shrimp
It had been a few years since we tried Morgan’s Mango and it was recommend by Justin. They had a new chef and it was definitely noticeable through the food. We had a very good meal.
After dinner we headed towards the Wharfside Shops and had a nightcap at the Waterfront Bistro.
We walked back to pick up our jeep and headed back to Kaleidoscope.
Day 6 (Last Villa Day)
The day before I contacted my friend Ashley about maybe getting together for our last day at the villa. She was able to break away from her busy schedule and hop on the 10 am ferry. We woke up to another sunny morning and agreed to have breakfast in town. I always loved JJ’s huervos rancheros, so we went back and they were just as good as I remembered.
We also admired the completed stone work that was done in the center of town. Last year it was all under construction.
After breakfast we had some time to kill so we walked up to St. John Spice to grab some hot sauce and few other souvenirs. Soon it was time to head to the ferry dock. We met up with Ashley and took her back to Kaleidoscope.
We spent a good part of the day just relaxing and taking pictures at the villa. It was getting later in the afternoon and everyone was getting hungry. My husband offered to take us to Coral Bay and to the Aqua Bistro. I remember how they have an excellent crusty grouper sandwich.
We headed up and down the windy roads and eventually made it to Coral Bay. It was funny to hear Ashley comment on how windy the roads to Coral Bay were being she lives in St. Thomas!
Everyone ordered a grouper sandwich but I decided to take mine to go and have it for dinner later at the villa. It looked just as good as last year, if not better. We had a nice time and Ashley offered to grab some rum and cheese for later. We were all set to get back into the jeep when my husband noticed we had a flat tire! We must have run over something in the road that caused the flat. Thank goodness my husband is a mechanic so he was able to replace the tire with the spare without needing any assistance from the rental company. With the spare in place we headed back to Ditleff Point.
Soon the sun was setting and we headed up to the Crow’s Nest at the villa and watched the sunset. It was beautiful.
We had a late dinner and went to bed.
Day 7 (Caneel Bay)
We woke up for our last morning at Kaleidoscope. I had ordered the perfect amount of provisions so I finished the last of the eggs and made breakfast. I did notice that the clouds started to roll in. This was the day we were finally headed back to my happy place and I was starting to get concerned. Since Caneel is all about the beaches, I wouldn’t be too happy spending our time there indoors.
We cleaned up everything the best we could and said our goodbyes to Kaleidoscope. I let Justin know that we were out of there since they had another group of people coming in that afternoon.
We had a few hours so we walked around Cruz Bay for a bit and did some shopping. Our check-in time wasn’t until 3pm but I did request an early check-in. It was time to return our jeep so we dropped it off at the rental company. We asked if we could be taken to Caneel and they were able to, which was so much easier then transferring our luggage and finding a taxi.
The last time we were at Caneel was 3 years ago and our stay was cut short by Hurricane Omar. I was so excited to come back and spend our last 3 nights there. Unfortunately the clouds made their way in and it started to rain. We managed to have an early check-in and walked up to Cottage 7. I had requested my favorite room for our anniversary over a year ago, but it turned out someone else did as well. We still wound up getting a room on Cottage 7.
Our luggage was brought to our room shortly and we went onto our deck and checked the view out.
I really wanted to go over to Scott Beach but the weather wasn’t cooperating. We wound up having a few cocktails on our deck and enjoyed watching all the wildlife.
I had also made reservations at the Equator for that night but found out it was not going to open until mid November. I noticed when you walked by the restaurant, there was blue tarp over the roof - indicating work was being done to it. I was somewhat disappointed but made reservations at the Caneel Beach Terrace. Thankfully they offered an ala carte menu (probably since the Equator was closed).
We first stopped at the Caneel Bay Bar for their infamous bushwhackers:
We did enjoy a delicious meal and the rain had stopped. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the lights of St. Thomas.
For an appetizer I had the a nice tuna dish that was very similar to ceviche:
My husband had the steak tartare:
For dinner I had the lamb chops which were cooked perfectly
and my husband had the beef tenderloin
After dinner we wanted to walk up to Turtle Bay but as we got closer the rain started to pour. We had to run back to our room. We noticed that they had left a bottle of champagne in our room for anniversary. We had a few glasses and called it a night.
Day 8 (Caneel Bay)
We wound up sleeping in since it looked like the front was still over St. John. We had to grab the umbrellas they leave in the room to walk to breakfast. When we sat down at the beach terrace we noticed that Caneel seemed a bit busier then we usually experience. We did find out the hotel was at 41% occupancy. The breakfast buffet was just like I remembered. So many different things to choose from. We both decided on the eggs benedict which were really good.
Since the weather was still not cooperating we headed to the gift shop to do some shopping. When we walked out we noticed the rain had stop and the sun was trying to come through. We headed back to our room, grabbed our snorkel gear, and headed to my favorite beach - Scott Beach.
The clouds still were out but at least the rain subsided. I wound up going out for a snorkel. The equipment we had from Caneel’s dive shop fit perfectly. Within minutes I went in the water I saw several stingrays and turtles. The water wasn’t too clear but as I started to swim further out and looked into the deeper part of the water, I noticed something I had never seen before snorkeling. It was a manta ray! I was a bit alarmed so I frantically began swimming towards the shore. I did pause a moment to turn around - he looked like he was headed in my direction. I was the only one snorkeling in the water at the time so I didn’t want to stay in any longer. I headed out and told my husband -
I gathered my composure and went back in thinking I would probably not see this kind of ray again. I went back to the spot where I saw him, but I never found him again.
A few hours passed and we headed back to our room. We wound up getting a complementary sunset sail which was leaving at 5pm. We showered and got ready. Thankfully the weather held up and we were able to go out on the water.
The darker clouds were over Cruz Bay, so we sailed along the north shore. It was nice with the steel drums playing.
They had complementary drinks and snacks for us to have.
The sail lasted about an hour and a half. We never saw the sunset but had a great time anyway.
We weren’t too hungry so we went to the Caneel Bay Bar and Grill for a light dinner.
For dinner I had the mahi mahi fish and chips. It was a bit overpriced (but that’s Caneel) but tasty.
My husband had a burger:
To walk off our dinner, we headed to Turtle Bay to look at the overlook. The stars started to come out so I was hoping it would be a sunny day for our last day at Caneel.
We did see a little guy hanging out near our room that night:
Day 9 (Last Full Day)
During the night we both woke up to torrential downpours. It rained quite heavily that night but in the morning the rain had stopped. There was still a cloud cover but the sky seemed a bit higher and brighter.
We had another great breakfast at the Caneel Beach Terrace.
After breakfast we figured that we would take a walk to Honeymoon Beach. Not realizing how far the beach was, we almost turned around. Just as we were going to, I started to see the beach. It was beautiful! If it wasn’t for the weather, it would definitely have been a great beach to relax on.
Being it was our last full day we wanted to go back to Scott Beach and enjoy a few more hours on it.
Both of us headed into the water. As we snorkeled, I noticed the water had very pour visibility. It was probably due to all the rain from the night before. We were able to see a few fish and turtles but not too much.
The sun did come through a little and we relaxed on the beach for a few hours.
Later on we freshened up and took a taxi into town. We walked to High Tide for one last rum punch.
For dinner I was thinking of going to La Tapa since we had not eaten there yet but I could not get a hold of them. We stopped at Castaways to have a beer and then grabbed a taxi to go back to Caneel.
For dinner we had another light dinner at the Caneel Beach Bar and Grill. It was nice evening for our last night.
Day 10 (Going Home)
Usually when we leave St. John the weather is perfect but this year the clouds still hung around. We woke up and had breakfast before grabbing the 8:30am ferry.
We made it to Red Hook where our taxi was waiting to take us to the airport.
And a perfect way to end our trip - we saw the Scubadu! Goodbye Joe!
Our flight was ontime and soon we were back in NJ at 5 o’clock. All the snow was melted but you could see the damage that the storm did. Thankfully we had nothing more then a lot of downed branches.
We truly enjoyed our trip for our 10 year anniversary and are hoping to be back again next year (maybe dodging another snowstorm).