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Return to St. John: Not such a bad villa we picked

Our first time staying in a villa on our favorite island of St. John

sunny 86 °F

A little background:
My husband and I have been traveling to the Virgin Islands since ‘03 but we have never stayed at a villa on St. John. Being it was our 7th time staying on St. John, we figured we would finally give it a try. After going back and forth (since the beginnig of the year) we decided to go with Island Stones Villa in Catherinberg.

First Day:
Our flight from EWR to SJU was uneventful. We only had about 38 min. to spare before heading to Cape Air, but they never leave on time so we were able to make the connection without any worry. Unfortunately one of our bags didn’t fit since the flight was full so we had to wait for our luggage until the next flight from SJU.


My friend who lives on STT picked us up from the airport and drove us to Red Hook to catch the ferry. It was nice to see a familiar face and also have a few drinks along the way.


We were able to catch the 3pm ferry. Before we knew it we arrived in Cruz Bay and the weather was just perfect. I immediately ran to shore to “scribe” my name. I had my sister and a coworker on stand by and they were able to capture it for me:


We were greeted by our villa managers and took us to High Tide for a refreshment. From there, we headed to Courtesy Car Rental to get our 4-door bright taxi cab yellow jeep wrangler.


By the time we were on our way to the villa I was feeling quite happy and ignored the fact our one missing piece of luggage contained ALL of our toiletries. No worries, it was time to see this villa once and for all.


I don’t think there are any words do describe the villa and the views besides “jaw-dropping”. We were blown away by it. It was a challenge to get to, but it was worth it once we were there. Unfortunately our cell service was out of service when we got up to the villa. After the tour we were left with this entire villa to ourselves. Our friends would not be coming in until the following day so we were able to pick the bedroom we wanted. The main house contained all the bedrooms besides the master bedroom, which was located steps away in another unit which was actually part of the original house. We also had the villa provisioned with St. John Catering and had everything there waiting for us. I also order a few grill packs so that we had a few things ready to grill.





Since we had no cell service and were waiting on our luggage, we decided to shower (with small bars of soap that were already in the villa) and head back into town. We first stopped at the Beach Bar, but it was hard to find a spot so we went back to High Tide. After ordering a round of drinks, I called Cape Air to ask them the status of our luggage and they said it should make the next ferry, which by now it was around 6:30pm. So we wound up ordering a few appetizers while we waiting until the next ferry. I ran over to the ferry dock when the 7pm ferry arrived and still no luggage. I called back Cape Air and they said that if its not on the 8pm ferry, they will not bring it over until the following day. After the 8pm ferry and still no luggage we headed over to the convenience shop right outside of Rhumb Lines to grab a couple of toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash. Then we headed back to our villa in the dark. I quite impressed that my husband was able to remember they way back without really any signs. Once we got back, we saw the pool glowing at night and just listened to the frogs at night. It was just beautiful (except for the mosquitoes and no see sums).


Being that we were asleep by 9:30pm we woke up around 7:30 and the sun was shining.


Day 2:
We woke up and saw that view and wanted to just stay put, but we had no cell service and had to check on the status of our luggage. We headed to town and about 5 min. from Cruz Bay we got service on our cell phones. Immediately following the signal, I had received several messages. All of them were from Cape Air saying how they were going to be on the 9am ferry with our luggage. Perfect! We’ll grab a bite to eat at JJ’s and wait for our luggage. After a long wait, we were finally served our breakfast. It was good but a bit pricey I thought. $30 (including tip) for breakfast for 2 people?

They do make good huevos rancheros though:


After our breakfast it was about time to walk over to the ferry. At around 9:15 the ferry pulled in and we finally got our missing piece of luggage. We decided to head back to the villa and relax a bit and maybe hit a beach before picking up our friends in the afternoon. My husband started the jeep and noticed it seemed a bit slow to start up. We didn’t think too much about it at that point and went back to the villa. I unpacked all of our toiletries and put everything away when we got back. My husband went around to the outside refrigerator and grabbed a beer and asked if I wanted one. Without a lot of convincing I agreed to one (yes it was 10:30am). We finished our beers and looked at each other - “why don’t we just stay here until its time to meet them at the ferry?” I was thinking the same thing! We just enjoyed the pool and some refreshments. Since my husband is an auto mechanic, he was still uneasy about how the jeep sounded. So about an hour before we had to head to town, he started up the jeep and just had it run for a while. Plenty of time to enjoy the pool!


Around 2pm we got into the jeep and headed to Cruz Bay. Our friends were on schedule to take the 3pm ferry. We had a 1/2 hour to kill so ran over to the Rum Hut for a painkiller. Before we knew it, it was time to meet our friends! I am not sure if I was more excited to see them, or for them to see the villa. We met up with them and decided to be like our villa managers and take them to High Tide for a refreshment.

We headed back up to the villa and showed them around. They were taken back too when they saw the view. We wound up giving them the 2nd best bedroom in the villa. It was located just off the kitchen and dining area.



After settling in for a bit we decided to go to Rhumb Lines for dinner. Again when my husband started the jeep a look of worry came about, but we kind of shrugged it off.

Day 3:
ur first morning with all of us together was spent eating breakfast on the outside patio. I offered to make the first breakfast for the trip and our friends would do the same the next day. While Island Stones was a great villa, pots and pans were a bit lacking as far as having a good variety. There was a large griddle on the range, so maybe that is why there wasn’t any fry pans. So I made due and we enjoyed a nice breakfast.


We then decided to get ready to go to Cinnamon Bay for a little bit. Since it was our 3rd day on the island and haven’t been to a beach yet, we thought this would be a nice one to go to and plus it was the closest beach from our villa. Well we get into the jeep and my husband starts the jeep. Yup, NOTHING. It would not start - DEAD BATTERY. Okay no worries, we’ll just call Courtesy and have them give us a jump? Well we still did not have any cell service and tried every section of the property to get through and nothing worked. The phones in the villa were not set up yet so we couldn’t even use them. We felt stranded. All of a sudden my husband heard a nearby car leaving down the road and ran down screaming and he says that he thinks they saw him, but just sped up. I guess they didn’t want to get involved. I walked done the road a bit to see if I could get a signal further down the road but still nothing. All of a sudden I heard some kind of rustling down below and mentioned it to my husband. He then shouted “anyone there”?

Turns out it was one of our villa neighbors doing some gardening. THANK GOODNESS! We found some help! She was very nice and told us that we could get service further down the road (by the ruins). (On a side note, there was a beautiful ruin right on the road on the way to our villa).



We both looked at each other and thought we have to walk farther? Then she asked if we had AT&T and we told her we had Verizon. That’s why we were not getting any service. We explained to her our situation and how we had no way of contacting the rental company. We gave her the copy of the rental contract and she went in to her villa to make the call. It was nice because as we were waiting for Courtesy to arrive, she was telling us interesting history on the original owners of the Island Stones property. We also asked about getting to Cinnamon Bay. She told us if we continued on the road we can get to it, as long as we had 4 wheel drive - not a problem we have a jeep.

Around 15 minutes later we finally heard another jeep come up the road. Courtesy did find the place and jumped the jeep. However, they were just going to leave. My husband explained how he has been a mechanic for over 15 years and that he knows that the jeep will just die again and it needs a new battery. After a bit of convincing, they agreed and Courtesy went back into town to give us a new battery. Before he left, my husband showed him the view of the villa. Even he was impressed. Another half passed and he did come back with a new battery. Meanwhile, my friend and I just decided make due with the time and relax in the pool which wasn’t so bad.


Finally the new battery was successfully installed and we were back in business.


We all got back into the jeep and headed down to Cinnamon Bay. Well lets just say the not so great road turned into a nonexistent road. We did have the jeep in 4 wheel drive, but the road was so up ended with rocks and ditches. I am not sure if all the rain made the road worse, but we realized that we were not going back that way. I noticed along the way 2 other villas, Hakuna Matata and Jungle Stones. We couldn’t see them from the road, but I couldn’t imagine trying to get to these villas on a daily basis. After a lot of bumping up and down on the road, we finally made it to the North Shore road. Cinnamon Bay was just down the road. I was surprised as to how many people were there. We found a nice spot to relax. My husband and I did some snorkeling for a while. We did try and find our villa from the beach but unsuccessfully located it. The only thing we may have seen was a part of the roof from the villa sticking out of all the vegetation, but still not 100%.


After a few hours on the beach we were all getting a little thirsty. We wound up heading back on North Shore Road into Cruz Bay. We stopped at the old Surly Cantina for a few tacos and beers. Then had another drink at the Beach Bar.


On our way back to the villa we realized we were low on suppies (beer) so we stopped at the Dolphin Market. That night we figured we would have one of the dinners I had prepped by St. John Catering. I decided to go with the grill back “Ginger and Tamarind Glazed Pork Loin with Pineapple Chutney”. My husband grilled the pork on the outside grill and we enjoyed our first dinner at the villa.


Life was good. After dinner it was time for bed.

Day 4:
Woke up to another beautiful day.


Today we figured we would go to another beach. We noticed the other day when we drove past Trunk and Hawknest the other day, they were really busy. We figured a quiet beach and easy to get to would be Caneel.


After our friends cooked breakfast and cleaned up we headed towards town and up the North Shore Road. We decided to avoid the “short cut” to the North Shore Road. We parked just outside of the resort on the road and noticed the “$10 parking fee” sign. We grabbed all of our things and headed to the gate. The woman outside the gate approached us and we asked about the fee. She said that was only for it you parked in their lot and we thought that maybe we would do that instead of walking all the way down to the beach, but being they were closed, so was the parking lot. So we just proceeded through the gate with all of our gear in tow and headed to the beach.


Being that the resort was opening in less then two weeks, there was a lot of activity at the resort. Maintenance workers were clearing debris on the beach, putting the water sports back on the beach, etc. We found one area of the beach where we set up. No one else was there at the time (besides the Caneel staff) so we had the beach to ourselves. There were 2 Caneel beach chairs on the beach and we thought we would use them since no one else would be using them. Of course we got yelled at when we wanted to use them. I felt like asking them, “Who is going to use them?” They were probably out for the workers -


Anyway, we did some snorkeling and saw some fish and a turtle. The water was very clear and calm.


We enjoyed the beach for a couple hours and noticed a few more stragglers coming in. All and all it was a great beach to relax on without too many people. When we felt like we had enough R&R we headed back to the jeep. As we were walking closer to the main gate we saw a few deer just hanging out on the grounds.


We drove back towards town and stopped at Mongoose Junction for a refreshment at the Gecko Gazebo.


For dinner we thought that we would go to La Tapa since its always one of the restaurants we want to hit and they would be closed the next day (they close on Tuesdays). We sat outside and enjoyed the live jazz.

My friend and I split the paella, while my husband and our other friend had the rib eye and mahi mahi. All and all it was a great dinner as it usually is at La Tapa.



With our bellies full, we headed back to the villa and bed.

Day 5:
Another day and another great day of weather:


Today I was having my friend visit from STT so my husband and I went into down to meet here on the 10am ferry. Our friends figured they would stay in the villa and enjoy the morning to themselves. First thing was to grab our garbage and dump it one of the dumpsters along the way. Well the closest dumpster to our villa had some visitors hanging out 24/7 so we avoided that one:


We would also see other neighbors along the way:


Since JJ’s was really slow service the other day we figured we would head to the Wharfside shops and check out Mojo Cafe. Across the way, they now have paid parking. It can get a bit pricey if you use it everyday, but we found the convenience outweighed the cost. We ordered huevos rancheros and a couple cups of coffee. While we were waiting for our food, I gave Captain Joe from the Scubadu a call just to reconfirm our sail with him the next day. I got a hold of him and we were all set. Before we knew it our food was served. About 10 minutes total we waited for our food. Now that was quick!


After we were done with our breakfast we had some time to kill. We headed up to St. John Spice and saw Ruth. Now I always have gone to the store but felt funny introducing myself, but my husband persuaded me to do it. So I finally met Ruth after all these years in person. Hi Ruth! It was a pleasure meeting you! Realizing it was getting close for the 10am ferry to arrive, we said our goodbyes and headed to the dock.

My friend is a professional photographer and has numerous pictures of the USVIs, but she wanted to get more of St. John. Well I figured the views from our villa would be perfect. We headed back to our villa where our friends were already relaxing in the pool.


We spent most of our day at the pool and a great time.


I wound up taking out the other 2 grill packs I had ordered from the freezer to defrost. For dinner we had the “Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Passion Fruit Buerre Blanc” and the “Mustard-Grilled Chicken Breast with Honey-Jerk Glaze and
Mango-Avocado Salsa”.

As the sun went down the views took on a different look:


Pretty soon it was time for my friend to be back on the ferry, so my husband and I dropped her off. Until next year I told her! Headed back to the villa to get some sleep since we had to meet Joe at 9:30am at the National Park Dock.

Day 6:
We woke up a little earlier today since we were going out on the Scubadu. It was another beautiful morning and I joked to my husband that it is starting to get a little boring with the weather, being nice everyday! Obviously I was kidding, but it was so nice to continue to have such nice weather.


The time we had to meet Captain Joe was 9:30am so we drove into town to grab some breakfast. We headed to the paid parking lot once again to park our jeep since there wasn’t any other parking spaces available. Our friends hadn’t eaten breakfast out yet and they wanted to go to JJ’s. Well we got there around 8:30 and thought an hour would be plenty of time to eat. We all ordered our food and got our coffee and juice in a sufficient amount of time. Then over a half hour passed and it was getting closer to 9:30. I was getting a bit concerned to so I called CJ and let him know we may be running a few minutes late. I’m glad I did because we didn’t get our breakfast until 9:25! The food is good, but the service has definitely declined IMO.

Cruz Bay:

When we were done with breakfast we walked over to the National Park Ferry to meet up with CJ. We have been sailing with CJ since ‘04 and always make sure we sail with him every year. It is always good to see him with that smile! We said our hellos and were on our way to a great day of sailing.

My husband helping out:

As we sailed, we did hit a few on and off showers, but generally the weather was perfect. We made a few stops around St. John. I don’t know what it is, but the views you get on the water of the surrounding islands never gets old.


Before we knew we were headed back to the dock. It was another great sail with Captain Joe. We said our goodbyes and told him we would be back next year (fingers crossed) and would be in touch.

Thanks Joe!

After a full day out on the catamaran we were pretty hungry and thirsty. We walked over to the High Tide for a few rum punches and painkillers. Our friends wanted to grab food to cook back up at the villa, but I wanted to eat out. So we compromised and ordered a to-go order from High Tide. My husband and our friend AJ burgers, our friend Lori had the shrimp kabobs and I had the lobster tail. We headed back to our villa with our food in tow.

We sat at the outside bar and enjoyed our food. This was my 2nd time having the lobster tail at High Tide, and it is always very good and great value for the amount of food you get. Everyone else enjoyed their meal. It was a long day and the girls went to bed early while the boys stayed up and played - LOL.


Day 7:
Today was our 2nd to last full day on island. Another great day!

Wow its amazing how quickly the week flew by vs. a typical work week back at home. Well we got up and had breakfast at the villa. It was my turn to cook, so I made eggs benedict. I wound up packing the Knor packets of hollandaise sauce which made it very easy to make.

While we were eating we realized we were only to 2 beaches so far and we should probably hit at least one more. We decided to go to Maho since its an easy beach to get to. We took the jeep down Centerline Road towards Coral Bay and found a dumpster to throw our garbage away in - several bags worth and headed up the North Shore Road. We made it to Maho Bay in about 20 min. or so. We found a nice spot to set up and grabbed our snorkel gear. As soon as we were in the water, I saw a turtle peak up out of the water so I swam over to him. I thought the water was a bit murky but was still able to see some fish and a stingray.




When we decided we had enough we headed back towards Coral Bay. Our friends wanted to stop at Skinny’s to grab a few t-shirts and a beer. I wanted to go to Aqua Bistro since it is usually closed when we go to St. John and they were finally open. We figured we would grab a beer at Skinny’s and then head over to Aqua Bistro.

The no see um's there were relentless at Aqua Bistro


BUT their fried grouper sandwich was awesome:

And the Bushwacker was even better!

After a late lunch we headed back to the villa. Everyone relaxed and then got ready for dinner. Being that we were going to have Ted from Ted’s Supper Club cook us dinner for our last night we wanted to go into town. Our friends really like the Waterfront Bistro so that’s where we wound up at.

The service was very attentive, but for those prices, I thought the food should have been better. It was good, but not great.


Wahoo Fish special:

When we were done with dinner we stopped at the “casino” because the guys wanted to play a games of black jack. Shockingly no one won anything so we had a drink at the Rum Hut.

As it got later we were all getting tired. We headed back to the villa. When we got out of the jeep, our friend Lori nearly lost it. She’s deathly afraid of spiders and there was on the passenger side door where she was sitting. At least it was on the outside. Funny, it reminded me of our friend that was a stow-away in our jeep rental a few years back.


After that - it was time for bed.

Day 8:
Our last full day and it was another great sunny day.


After breakfast we figured out what we were going to do for our last day. I wanted to head to either Hawksnest or Trunk, but the majority ruled and we headed into town for some shopping. After a few hours of walking around town we stopped at the High Tide for a drink.


We ran into our villa managers and asked them if everything was set with Ted from Ted’s Supper Club for dinner that night. They said they gave him the directions and it was still on schedule. I hadn’t heard from him since before we left so I wasn’t sure -

With the afternoon sun still out, we headed back to the villa to enjoy the pool and view. We stopped at the one sugar mill ruin on our road to check it out. It was quite impressive and in good condition. Took a few pictures:



We had a great afternoon relaxing in the pool and got ready for dinner. Since the sun sets around 6:30pm I had Ted meet us at 5:30pm.


I also mentioned to him that the pots and pans we had in the villa were not the greatest. Around 5:30 Ted showed up with everything in tow (2 large coolers). I showed him the kitchen and area and he was on his way.

For our first course, my husband and our friend AJ had roasted chicken empanadas with roasted peppers and jack cheese. My friend Lori and I had the pan seared sea scallops with smashed red potatoes and white truffle oil.


While we were eating our appetizers, Ted served us a fresh baked skillet roasted focaccia.


Our next course was the roasted garlic caesar salad. At this point I was pretty full, since we haven’t been eating that much for dinner. For the main course, the boys had the oven roasted dry rub filet of beef and the girls had the potato wrapped mahi mahi. Everything was delicious.


By the time Ted brought out the chocolate molten cake with fresh fruit I was stuffed. I forced myself to eat because it was that good.


Every course was over the top and by far the best meal we had during our stay on St. John. And was a great way to spend our last night.


Day 9
In the morning we packed up all our things and were on our way. We said good bye to the villa and that view and headed to town. There was a flea market that day but luckily the roads were not too bad. We dropped our friends off at JJ’s for breakfast while we headed to Courtesy to return the jeep. As soon as we walked in, we recognized the guy behind the counter - it was the same guy that replaced the battery. Our jeep got the stamp of approval and we were all set. He wound up giving us a ride back into town by JJ’s since the walk was far.

We met our friends who ordered a head of time for us to avoid a long wait. Well it didn’t really matter because we still waiting about 45 minutes for breakfast. We wound up catching the 11am ferry back to Red Hook. Our flight was not until 2:30 so we had some time to have a drink outside near the baggage claim area.

Customs was pretty easy and we were all set for our flight. Our flight left on time, but for some reason it wound up being a half our late when we landed in Newark.

All and all it was a great trip with great weather. We could have not asked for a better villa as far as it being our first villa to stay in. It was so much better then staying at the Westin.


Until next time!

Posted by susannj 12:26 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged john beaches_usvi_st.

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