13 October 2011

St. John: Day 2

Sun rising over Cruz Bay, seen from our balcony
 We rise early on Friday morning: off the Gallows property by 7:30 and we go to the deli at Mongoose Junction to get breakfast and lunch for the day (turned out that our unit at GP didn't have a toaster as promised, nor any coffee filters, about which more anon).  We spent about $45 for breakfast and lunch combined (sandwiches were mostly in the $7-10 range, for example) to take with us to the beach in the coolers that Gallows Point provides.  They also provide backpack chairs to take to the beach, which were great.  They sit low to the ground with three angles/settings for the chair back, plus built-in pouches for your beverage and towel/snorkel gear.
Iconic Trunk Bay, seen from the overlook
We stopped first at Trunk Bay shortly before 8:00 and there were already some people on it.  We nab a spot in the shade under some sea grapes and eat breakfast.  Then Casey and I hit the snorkel trail, or at least what I thought was the snorkel trail.  We snorkel all the way around Trunk Cay, counter clockwise, which we found out later from the lifeguards we weren't supposed to do.  Oops.  But the good news is that if she can snorkel that, she can snorkel the Indians, so we decide to book the Bad Kitty trip for the following day. Turns out that the far side of Trunk Cay was the best snorkeling we saw on the entire trip, so I'm glad we did it. 
Trunk Cay, which we snorkeled around
Just settin' up shop among the sea grapes

Flying the All-Clear to Swim flag

Since this is a national park, they offer facilities here

This is the snack bar

Pretty path leading from snack bar to the beach

We stayed at Trunk Bay until 12:30 or so, then decided to try to find a less crowded spot, as there were probably around 100 people in total on the beach. I understand that by most people's standards that this isn't crowded and I accept that.  But I'm used to Anguilla in June, where we might see 25 other people at most on the busiest beach on the island. I know St. John is a popular island beloved by many, but nothing in my reading made me realize just how busy these beaches would feel in early October, a time when most beaches in the Caribbean are practically empty.  We stopped at the overpasses to make some photos and we pull into the parking lot at Cinnamon but decide to leave because it's too crowded.  Continuing on to Maho, we take a chance and get out there, settling under a little cave of sea grapes to relax & read some more.
Maho, seen from an overlook

DH on Maho
 Maho had far fewer people than Trunk, and even though it had much less shade, we were happy with our choice.  The little cove of sea grapes really gave us a sense of privacy, too, since the branches reach down to within a foot or so of the water's surface--a perfect little grotto for reading & relaxing! (NB: Casey is definitely more of a sun bunny than we are--she seeks out the sun as avidly as DH and I seek the shade.)

We took a walk along sunny Maho and observed that in the middle there's an area where there are lots of dark pebbles in the water, making the sand look black.  Looking ahead, it seems that the black pebbles continue all the way to the far side of Maho, but what we originally thought were black pebbles resolved itself into a school of millions of small fry.  They were so thick along the shore that the water looked black, and it was then that we noticed that there were swathes of white cutting through the fish--three sting rays and about a dozen barracuda!
These are the *actual* black pebbles in the water

DH sporting his lava-lava on Maho

Here's where we figured out that the blackness wasn't rocks, but small fry!

Sting ray cutting a swathe through the fish

Sting ray up close

Barracuda Tarpon cutting a swathe

I love the deep lagoon colors of Maho here!
 We took several photos here before we drove on to Coral Bay.  Feeling thirsty and a tiny bit peckish, we stopped at Skinny Legs for a drink and Casey was quite disappointed to learn that they had no blender.  We enjoyed some cocktails on the rocks instead but it just wasn't the same. I had their rum punch special of the day, which was pretty good, but tremendously sweet, which isn't my preferred rum punch style following the West Indian traditional proportions: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.  Case and I split  a hamburger, which was pretty good and headed back to Gallows, where  went to the pool & hottub for a while, then cleaned up for dinner.
Casey and me at Skinny Legs

At Skinny Legs

The small shop attached to Skinny Legs

DH at Skinny Legs
 We walked into town and chose Rhumb Lines for dinner, based largely on the input of several members on the various travel forums I follow--not a great choice for us that night, though.  No blender for one thing (it was broken) and there were hardly any menu items that could be prepared without that foul herb, cilantro.  The food we did get was mediocre, but the meal only came to $68, including several pupus and a child's plate of chicken tenders, two cocktails, one beer and two shirley temples.  Casey loved her chicken tenders and said they were among the best she'd ever had, but neither DH nor I was impressed with this place, other than enjoying the atmosphere.  (lots of tempura items on the menu but couldn't order any of them because the chef somehow thought it was a great idea to put cilantro in the tempura batter.  ugh!)  This place gets a rating of C for us. 
Gallows Point, seen from the overlook

Interior of Rhumb Lines

Evening shot in Cruz Bay

Two raised tombs in the cemetery next to Gallows
Rather than spend more money there and risk further disappointment, we walked back to Gallows  and Zozo's for drinks & dessert.  Creme Caramel, same chocolate torte from the night before, both of which were good.  Sadly the strawberry daiquiri that night was not up to snuff.  One painkiller and one bourbon on the rocks brought the total to $50, plus tip.

That day we saw quite the list of animals, without even having to go in the water: mongoose, deer, sheep, goats, barracuda (we later learned that what we thought were barracuda were actually tarpon), sting rays, and dolphins (playing in Cruz Bay harbour).

Overall, an extremely successful day for all of us. Casey loved it and kept telling us how amazing she thought everything was, which gladdened our hearts. 

One parting image of Trunk Bay

Self portrait of the three of us

Coming up next: early rise and a long day on the Bad Kitty: BVI, here we come!


  1. It's a rainy cold morning here in Albany, NY. Thanks for letting me travel with you to St. John!

  2. Love the soda can in a bag.

    I've never really been interested in venturing to that part of the world, but you're slowly getting me into it. ;)

  3. Please continue posting pictures of your travels to the Caribbean. I'm traveling vicariously through you. :)

  4. I LOVE reading you daily blog. Will be visiting St. John in 2012 with my family and their spouses, so am absorbing all this information. This picture is from your day 2 trip in St. John, Cruz Bay.

  5. Thanks for reading and commenting, y'all. I was surprised to learn what a tarpon actually looks like, because now I need to know what the fish I *thought* was a tarpon is.


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