Tuesday, November 8, 2016

U.S. Virgin Islands | Our Trip to St. Thomas & St. John

Warm sunny days, turquoise waters, fruity cocktails, windblown hair and salty skin - all things that I’m currently missing after our wonderful vacation a few weeks ago! The moment we departed the islands to head home, I was immediately ready to go back. We had such an amazing time and I wanted to share with you a glimpse of the first part of our trip!
Whit and I tend to lean toward tropical vacations spots, so this year for our anniversary we decided to head to St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands, both of which neither of us had ever visited.
We were promptly greeted with a cold glass of rum punch upon our arrival at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas and shuttled to our living quarters for the next few days. Our hotel room had a nice balcony with an ocean view, perfect for sipping on a morning cup of coffee.
This guy was spotted at the resort! I steered clear and let Whit go in for the close up. 

After a long day of travel all we really wanted to do was have a low-key casual dinner, so that’s exactly what we did. Red Hook is a small part of town with restaurants and bars along the water that was accessible via a ten-minute cab ride from the hotel. I had done a little bit of research prior to our trip and came across the mention of a place called Island Time Pub
Not only was this a good spot for pizza, but it was also where many of the locals hang out. We had a delicious first meal and met a few people while we were there. We ended the evening at a quaint little wine bar across the street called XO Bistro. I wanted to go back for a meal, but we didn’t get an opportunity.
Our first full day in St. Thomas was cloudy, but it was nothing that a few fruity cocktails couldn’t fix. We spent most of the day hanging around the resort and enjoying the private beach.
It also happened to be our anniversary that day and I had booked a special dinner for us at Havana Blue, a restaurant that had come highly recommended. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in an open air dining room overlooking the ocean. By the time we arrived it was dark. My only regret was not catching the beautiful view during the day.

The mojito skirt steak was so flavorful, but one of the best parts of this meal was the manchego potato air. This creamy, cheesy mashed potato dish was unlike any other I've ever had. 
The next morning we were up bright and early to catch the ferry to St. John. I was so excited to go explore this island. It’s been on my list of places I’ve always wanted to visit. As soon as we arrived, we immediately hopped on a shuttle headed for Trunk Bay Beach. Note to those of you going to visit this beach, there is nowhere to buy food or drinks, so be sure to pick something up in Cruz Bay before you head that way. That’s where we went wrong. I was so excited to get there, that I got a little ahead of myself. We arrived on empty stomachs, but thankfully had granola bars in our bag and also found a shack that sold potato chips (for $6 a bag) so that is what we had to settle for. Most everyone on the beach had packed a cooler for the day and we were pretty envious.  
Just before the entrance to the beach there is a hut where you can rent beach chairs and snorkel gear. I found a nice spot for my chair in the sand while Whit went swimming with the fish!
This pristine beach erased all thoughts of food (at least for a few hours) and was so relaxing. If we ever make this trip again, we will now know to pack lunch and cold beverages, and plan to stay for the day. A few things to note for those making this trip: The taxi ride from town to the beach is around $20 each, beach access is $5 per person and a beach chair and snorkel gear rental was about $20. While the prices aren't crazy, the day can add up fairly quickly. Also, one of the great things about this beach is that they have showers there so you can freshen up before you leave. We had packed a change of clothes in preparation for exploring the town after the beach so it was nice to leave and not be covered in sand. This was valuable information we learned the night before from some of the locals in St. Thomas. 
Our first stop once we got back into town was a small local hot spot called Woody’s Seafood. A cold beer never tasted so good. We decided to have drinks and small bites in a few different places. We ordered the blackened shrimp, which came with a small side of coleslaw. I was so hungry that these disappeared before I could even think about a photograph. But I do highly recommend them!
Next on our radar was a trendy spot across the street called Umami. I'm really kicking myself for not ordering sushi! However, our food was still really great. I had one of the best cocktails of the whole trip while we were there. It was a lemon grass-infused vodka cocktail, and I could have easily taken down a few of these. 
We filled our bellies with a selection of fried chicken sliders, dumplings and edamame. 
The last stop on our feeding frenzy was Cruz Bay Landing. This was on our way back to the ferry pickup, so it was the perfect spot to end the day.
St. Johns was such a beautiful island bustling with people and full of several bars and restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting. I think it's definitely an island worth spending more than a few hours on. We caught the ferry back to St. Thomas and headed back to pack up our stuff for our departure to Scrub Island the next morning. 

Stay tuned for a recap of the second half of our trip, which was also my favorite!

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