Sunday, May 6, 2012

Winter Getaway 2012 - St. John The Sequel

I keep thinking that summer is right around the corner.  But alas, halfway through this week I had to go back to the pellet store and buy another bag for the stove.  Oh well.  Overall it was an exceptionally mild winter.  Luckily we didn't the lack of snow stop us from heading back to the most relaxing place we know...St. John!

After our February trip last year, we were already itching to go back.  So when we were able to make our frequent flier miles work for February 8-13 we booked our trip!  This time we decided to stay in Coral Bay, which is the quieter side of the island.  But since St. John is only the size of Manhattan, everything was still just a quick drive away.

Being familiar with St. Thomas and St. John made this trip more relaxing right from the get go.  We knew the drive from the airport to the car ferry on the other end of St. Thomas, we knew our way around St. John once we were there.  We actually made it to the beach on our very first afternoon!  After a quick stop at the Donkey Diner for pizza, of course.  They promise kick-a** food and they deliver.  They are THE place on St. John for breakfast too...we went twice.  The property manager at our house (our AMAZING house - see where we stayed here) mentioned that there was a great band playing at Skinny Leg's that night, so we ended our first day on the island with dinner there.  Perfect start to our vacation!

The next day we couldn't wait to continue exploring the Coral Bay side of the island.  We drove to the north side of the island and then hiked into Waterlemon Cay.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  A completely new beach for us to explore.  Because we hiked in, we didn't bring our fins, which was unfortunate since we realized there was an island off shore we could snorkel to.  We promised we'd be back the next day to swim out to the island.  After enjoying the morning there, we headed to Hawksnest Beach to end the day.  (By the way- we snuck in lunch at our favorite Beach Bar between beaches!)

We woke up Day 3 ready to snorkel out to the island!  And as it turns out, we could actually hike right to Waterlemon from our house.  Which we started to do, but turned around when it began to sprinkle since the trail was a bit steep.  Not a problem.  We got in the jeep, drove back to Waterlemon, and hiked in, this time with our fins.  The snorkeling was fantastic!  We walked up on the island to take our gear and take a breather before we swam back to shore.  We ended up talking to another couple who ended up being from Fairfield, CT.  Just one of many people from CT on the island!

After the snorkel, we hopped right on over to Francis Bay Beach.  It was a new beach for us, and right next to Waterlemon.  Perfect way to end the day.  Although technically, we ended the day at Aqua Bistro- famous for their Friday ponzu tuna appetizers.  It lived up to its reputation!

Saturday we decided to start the day with something we didn't have time to do last year- one of the hiking trails.  We took the Rams Head Trail from Salt Pond Beach all the way up to a cliff 200 feet above the Carribean Sea.  We took some great pics on the trail and at the cliff, but you have to look at this'll feel like you're actually there!

By the time we were back at Salt Pond Beach, it was HOT.  We ate our picnic lunch on the beach and took a swim to cool down.  Then instead of heading to a different beach for the afternoon like we usually do, we decided to head in early and go back to our amazing house with the fabulous deck and even more fabulous view.  It was the perfect afternoon.

One of the incredible views from the hike.

Did I mention all the wild donkeys?  They're only on the Coral Bay side of the island.   They are so cute!
View from our deck!

Last full day on the island (always comes too soon!) we went to Cinnamon Bay Beach.  It's actually the very first beach we tried last year.  We got there early and nabbed the perfect spot on the beach.  Cinnamon Bay has a campground and water sport rentals (sea kayaks, hobie cats, etc.) so we were able to rent snorkel fins (MUCH lighter than our scuba fins) from them.  There was an island slightly offshore here too (although closer than the one at Waterlemon).  Over the course of the day we snorkeled out to the island three different times!  There was just so much to see out there.  We saw an enormous barracuda, incredible schools of fish, the most beautiful (and BIG) angelfish either of us had ever seen.  It was great.  We spent the whole day at Cinnamon Bay, only leaving right before the sun went down.

I used to think it was crazy when people went to the same vacation spot more than once.  There are far too many other incredible places to visit!  But now I get it.  There is something wonderfully relaxing about the familiarity of a place you've been before.  I can see why people (especially from around here!) go back winter after winter.