St. Thomas day 6 – Ladies Day Out

Thursday we ladies wanted to visit St. John.  The boys however, wanted to stay at Magen’s Bay.  We had heard that the beach at Trunk Bay was one of the most beautiful, most photographed beaches in the world, and had an underwater self-guided snorkel trail. We decided to split up for the day and we ladies headed for the ferry in Red Hook.

The ferry is easy to find and easy to navigate.  We expected some trouble getting to St. John but were pleasantly surprised when things went so smoothly.  After a short ferry ride, we debarked in St. John, and immediately found a cab driver ready to take us to Trunk Bay.  There are all sorts of horror stories about cabbies taking you off the beaten path and demanding large amounts of money to bring you back, but truth was, there were many reputable cab companies ready to take passengers for a pre-determined amount of money.

We gathered our cooler, and beach bags and headed for Trunk Bay.  The ranger gave us all the “talk” about not bringing in glass (a $500 fine PER container).

The beach did not disappoint. The sand was like walking on warm brown sugar.  With towering coconut trees, and plenty of sea grape trees for shade, we quickly rented some chairs and set up our camp for the day.

The water and beach were beyond beautiful.  Warm water, crystal clear, soft sandy bottom, beautiful views of the mountainous St. John.  The day was WINDY though and I mean windy.  Seems small wind tunnels came through periodically, taking chairs, hats, and umbrella with it.  The sand was constantly whipping up which gave the feeling of being sandblasted.  The water remained remarkably calm though, in spite of the wind.

We started out drinking some adult beverages. The food/drink shack had frozen drinks, mango, strawberry, peach, passion fruit, all mixed with rum.  However, don’t ask to mix two flavors!! It simply can’t be done! (Even though she just dumped mixers in).

We ordered lunch, after securing a second mortgage on our houses, LOL, and ordered the standard pedestrian fare of burgers, chicken tenders and chicken sandwiches.  After yet another $100 lunch bill, we were informed to cover ourselves because the sea gulls would attack, and did they ever! The man leaving the snack stand looked like Tippy Henren running from the attacking flock.  Since the birds were distracted by him, we managed to make it back to our blanket.  I was eating my mediocre burger when a seagull flew up and tried to grab it right out of my hand! Scared the begeebies out of me!

Parents were protecting small children from the birds hungry wrath. People screaming, lunch was chaos!

After a long day of sunny and swimming, we grabbed a cab, a nice open cabbed vehicle that literally puts benches in the back of a truck bed.  There was a nice netting though that kept us safe!! Haha.  WE wanted to explore St. JOhn, but as we were loaded down with coolers and beach bags we opted to just take the ferry back to St. Thomas which went without a hitch, grabbed our car and headed back to the villa.

The boys had an amazing time as boys do at Magens Bay, drinking, flirting, throwing a ball around, flexing their muscles, whatever boys do when their better halves are not there.  We heard (over and over) how nice a day they had sans bickering ladies.  We had a nice testosterone free day as well!!

The rest of the evening we just hung at the villa, swapping stories of the day, about all the lovely ladies drooling over our sexy men, and they amazing ability to beat them all off with a stick.  Hahaha

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St. Thomas Day 5 – Sapphire Beach

Ah Wednesday in Paradise.  Sipping coffee, looking out at Magen’s Bay planning the days events.  We decided to try a new beach, and settled on Sapphire Beach, close to Red Hook, where we had spent the last couple days.

Sapphire Beach is accessible via Sapphire Beach Resort, and it almost looks like you are intruding where you shouldn’t.  After being greeted by construction noises (we didn’t know the resort was under construction) we made our way in between the  buildings and made way to the white sandy beach.

This beach was a lot more commercialized.  They had vendor booths selling things like hats and jewelry. Locals playing with iguana for potential photo ops.  They had a lovely concierge which gave us a run down of the beach and amenities,  such as parasailing.

We sought out an area shaded by sea grape trees and settled in for the day.  There was a new bar/grill that opened on right on the beach, and a competing drink/food service that came around from the resort. Each had different menus and different options.  But always the usual island fare, chicken tenders, burgers, and mahi mahi wraps.

After a morning of sunning and swimming, we opted to order from both locations.  I ordered the tuna wrap that was on the menu of the new grill.  Seemed like a simple sandwich. However they seemed confused when we ordered a tuna salad wrap.  They actually made me a salad with tuna on top. When I said my fiance ordered the wrap, they said “no he didn’t”. Well I can’t argue what Omar did or did not order, so my request to simply put the ingredients into a wrap seemed so confusing.  The sandwich, when all said and done was very good and fresh.

After a barrage of mediocre fried food and a $100 food tab, and a few more hours of the sun we decided we would grill and hang around the villa at night.

Omar and I headed back to Moe’s to stock up on Steak, sides and necessities.  We grilled an awesome dinner of steaks, homemade garlic bread, left over rice pilaf, mac and cheese for the kids and Ceasar salad. The meat from Moe’s was exceptional!!

Sapphire Beach was beautiful and lots to do there. I would definitely recommend a stop there on your journeys.  A but rockier than Magen’s Bay, it also offered to more to see when snorkeling.

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St. Thomas Day 4: Booze Cruise to British Virgin Islands

Tuesday was the day we had scheduled our cruise to the British Virgin Islands.  After my sister did an enormous amount of research, she decided on Pirates Penny (www.piratespenny.com). A private charter that allows you to plan the day your way.  The dock was conveniently located behind Fish Tails, the site of our Monday lunch, so we knew right where to go.  The boat itself was unassuming. I think maybe I was expecting something a bit more glamorous. That initial feeling went away quickly though, as we set sail and felt the wind in our hair, and the ocean salt kissing our faces.

The boat was fully stocked with full bar, cooler full of beverages, even a small loo. (That’s a bathroom for you folks not up to your British slang.)  The crew consisted of Captain “Jug”, a resident of St. John and Kevin, Marine Biologist student, part-time boat crew. Both gave us a wealth of information about the islands, from residents, to origins, to owners to folklore.  It was a fun and informative trip to our first stop, The Baths at Virgin Gorda.  First stop though, BVI immigration and customs.  We were allowed to stay on board as Kevin took all out passports into and got us cleared.  Unfortunately, there was a big event going on in Tortola, so this process took a while. I mean a looong while. Captain Jug kept us entertained with Rum Punch and stories of his journey to the islands.

We arrived in Virgin Gorda, and you have to drop anchor some distance from the beach and snorkel in. The boat was stocked with top quality snorkel gear, and no one was left without equipment. The crew accompanies you to shore in case anyone gets weak swimming or nervous.  They also came along to guide us through the baths, and tell tales and stories along the way. The Baths were beautiful, but difficult to get through.  There was a lot more rock climbing and crevasses to squeeze through than anticipated. I think when you can explore here more on your own it is an amazing place. When following a “tour” it is challenging just to keep up!

After about a 45 minute exploration, we swam back to the boat to head out to our next destination, The Coopers Island Beach Club, on, you guessed it, Coopers Island. This family owned resort (and brewery!) prides itself on supporting sustainable tourism and reducing their footprint.  They house and employee most of the islands inhabitants.  Our lunch order was called in advance, so it was ready almost when we got there.  The only snafu is when Nikos (only 12) ordered a virgin pina colada, and was served with what looked like an adult beverage.  I looked around and noticed all children had the same glass, as did the adults and his drink was definitely adult in nature. Whew! That could have been bad!

Sitting pseudo inside, and outside all at the same time, the restaurant offered beautiful views of the ocean and moored boats. The menu is rather limited and I decided to just stick with the cheeseburger and fries.  Both were very good, especially since you really work up an appetite snorkeling! Washed it down with a passion fruit colada and I was a happy girl!

Lunch was over, we re-boarded the boat (on a dock this time, no swimming required!) and headed to Norman Island to enjoy some coral reef snorkeling and water cave exploration.

Nikos, usually comfortable in the water was full of trepidation to get in. Captain Jug took so much time an patience to coax him into the water and help him feel comfortable until Nikos was snorkeling and even free diving! Captain Jug went far beyond what he needed to do, he was simply amazing!!

Back on the boat and we headed back, after a stop in St. John to check back into the US.  This time we all had to go in and show our pretty US resident faces.  For as many boats that were there trying to do the same thing, it was really well run and did not take too long.

After the cruise was over and we said our goodbyes to Captain Jug & Kevin, we decided we all needed to chill for the night.  We grabbed a pizza in town and headed back to the villa.  The pizza, from Senor Pizza, was ok. Not the best pizza I have ever had, but it was just what we needed after a long day!!

We chillaxed the rest of the evening, and again, an early night for all of us!!

 

 

St. Thomas Day 3: Swimming and SIBbing

Monday we decided to spend the day at glorious Magen’s Bay.  Located on the North (Atlantic) side of St. Thomas, is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island. With 3/4 of a mile of white sand beach and crystal clear blue water I can see why.

The girls donned their snorkel gear, with not a lot of hopes for fish sightings due to the sandy bottom and lack of coral. They were however, able to see a sea turtle which was cool.  Off to the left side of the beach along the coastline there were more rocks and coral with creatures such as sea urchins, which Andreas so much wanted to just pick off the rocks and eat. Gross.

As the beach is maintained by the Magens Bay Beach Authority, it is clean, well maintained, although is one of the only beach on the island with a charge, for car and per person. There is a snack bar, with gyros and other snacks that Andreas and Omar enjoyed.  The girls packed a picnic of snacks and sandwiches, which makes me ponder if that is where sandwiches got their name, eating bread, meat and cheese on a beach, with sandy hands? (Yeah, Yeah, I know, sandwiches got their name from the John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, blah blah blah.)

The best part of the day? The wonderful bartenders who waded out into the water to bring us our never ending stream of cocktails including rum punches, painkillers and Omar’s new favorite, the Bushwacker, which is similar to a hummer.

After a long, carefree day in the sun, we headed back to our villa for a little rest and get prettied up.  We decided to head out to a place called Mountaintop for some shopping and taste their world famous “banana daiquiri’s”. We were all pretty beat and did’t want anything too far for dinner.  We wanted to go to the restaurant Thirteen that we kept hearing great reviews about, but they were closed.  That is part of the problem traveling “off season” you get smaller crowds, but many establishments and tourist attractions may be closed.

We decided to try a place called Sib’s on the Mountain. The reviews online seemed great – local bar, nothing fancy, but great food.  When we arrived, the place was certainly a dive bar.  We took a look around and almost left. What kept us there was the fact that we thought we were being too judgmental and if the locals and tourists liked it we would too.

We sat outside on the patio (we made reservations and our table was ready which was funny because we were the only ones there – should have tipped us off.)  The next red flag should have been when he brough us all bottled water and said “I won’t drink the water here, I am not going to make any of you”. Ok that is considerate, but made us wonder if the ice was safe.

Omar, enjoying a few too many bushwackers that day, caused me to have to drive, so I just enjoyed a soda while the rest of my crew got cocktails.

We got a few appetizers, potato skins, jalapeno poppers and a garlic cheese bread.  All were your typical run of the mill greasy bar food, regurgitated from the bowels of a deep freezer, topped with some sub par cheese and heated through.

I ordered a ground beef wrap, which sounded like a beef burrito.  It came with fries, which when served were partially cooked and barely seasoned.  The beef burrito had meat that tasted like home made ground beef with too much taco seasoning, added extra unnecessary salt, and left to fester in the fridge for a few days (weeks) before carefully placing on a wrap with lettuce, washed with the water tho must not drink from, tomato and cheese.  Tasted worst than any burrito I have ever eaten as leftovers at home. After a few bits, and the greasy appetizers weighing heavy in my stomach, I was done.

Those culinarily challenged restaurant goers that enjoy this bar, more power to you.  For those who actually have taste buds. Run. Run fast.

To top off the night, the waiter (owner?) heard us talk about mountaintop and told us it closed at 5.  Ah well, another day.

We headed back to the villa, and in the keeping with the laid back island vibe, we swam and I think we were all asleep by 9 p.m.  On to tomorrow…

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St. Thomas Day 2: Sunday: Rasta Disasta

Day 2 St. Thomas:

Heard about this huge Rastafarian farmers market (Bordeaux Farmers Market) on the west side of the island.  I was told there were farmers booths, crafts, music, prepared food booths, face painting, lots to do! We were excited to buy some local produce to work meals around and get some cool Rasta stuff.  When we arrived, the place was nearly empty.  We rushed to get their early, but learned our first lesson about “island time”. It had been raining quite hard all morning, and most farmers weren’t there yet and when we inquired, we were told “they get here when they feel like it”.

We packed up the cars and headed east.  We decided to take a trip into Red Hook, check out where our Tuesday cruise would leave, and do a little shopping. We ended up at a cute place called “Fish Tails”. It was noon, but our second experience of island time, we were told lunch wasn’t ready to be served for maybe 45 minutes.  That was fine with us. It was pouring rain, nothing but time on our hands, and they had booze ready. They even brought us some delicious parmesean grits to tide us over.

They had two really neat parrots that Jamie and Allison loved.  Chloe, not so much as the talons hurt her arm as you can see in her wincing picture.

Fish Tails food was really not worth waiting an hour or more for.  It was OK, not great.  We ordered a smoked tuna app, with fresh tortilla chips.  The dip was fresh and spicy. I ordered a cod sandwich with cole slaw and fresh cut fries.  The fish was crispy, but in hindsight I felt the greasiness of the sandwich and fries was not what I was craving!

The restaurant had a great view, right on the docks. Had a fun atmosphere with friendly waitstaff. However, the food is mediocre.  Caters to the masses of families and tourists.  Don’t think this is really a locals kind of hangout.

We headed out, and meandered around Red Hook, visiting gift shops and did some grocery shopping for supplies at Moe’s – highly recommended for groceries on the island.  Lots of selection and prices not nearly as scary as they have you believe. Now don’t get me wrong. A regular pack of bacon was $12.99. But meat and lots of other stuff very comparable to here.

As Beth had assigned Omar and I the daunting (kidding we love it) task of chief chef’s, we picked up supplies for lunches, and dinner that evening as we all decided a night by the pool with some cocktails was in order.

Omar and I made steak and chicken kabobs, rice pilaf, ceasar salad, grilled zuchinni and plantains.  It was may I say, the first good meal we had so far!!
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Virgin Islands: Paradise, but not for foodies

My blog on the Virgin Islands will be rather extensive I feel it is our responsibility, as your trusted reviewers to give you a full, in depth review of food, places and beaches.

IMG_2573My sister and her family, my kids and Omar, my fiance (that’s right – we got engaged!! I posted a pic cause we are too darn cute) all went to the Virgin Islands last week. Beth (my sister) had rented the most awesome Villa. A big shout out to Blue Skies Villa, Magen’s Bay, Rashel and Jim, the villa concierges. The accommodations were amazing. Fully stocked with anything you could possibly imagine, and Rashel and Jim were great, picked us up from airport and even stocked the kitchen for us. Nothing like an iced cold beer waiting for you upon check in!

The trip there was long a grueling. With a 3 hour layover in Atlanta, and an early start to the day (3:30 a.m.) we were exhausted! We arrived about dinner time, and as the island is rather scary to drive, with driving on the left side of the road, twists and turns, and ups and downs over the mountains, it was a experience we didn’t want to do that first night. We picked a restaurant that was close, Three Sheets. Now this restaurant was charming. As it was also a resort, we had pool side seating, with great views of Magen’s Bay. The menu was eclectic and we were optimistic.

Jamie, still thinking about cheese trays from Europe, ordered the cheese and charcuterie tray. Included very stinky cheeses, dates, figs, walnuts, foccacia bread and olives. It was interesting, but not what I think she hoped for. Some ordered salads, my sister, mahi tacos. Omar and I both ordered a burger. Mine was good, not outstanding. The fries were tasty, and served with a spicy ketchup. Omar however, ordered a peanut butter burger. That’s right PEANUT BUTTER! It had peanut butter and fig jam, bacon and a Parmesan crisp. It was actually pretty tasty.

We split a mojito pitcher, which seemed to be endless, but got a wee bit weaker with every pour. I think our bartender kept extending it with soda. The views and dinner were great and a perfect start to day one.

We returned back to the amazing villa. Those thinking about going to the VI, I highly recommend Blue Skies. Beth and Andreas had their own master suite, Omar and I our own, and the girls shared their own private suite. Nikos got his own room with bunk beds. Plenty of room for all. 2 kitchens, private pool, and breathtaking views. As I said, stocked with bath products, paper products, cleaning products, washer/dryer, spices, condiments, dishes, utensils, you name it. They even had a garlic press!!
Click HERE to visit their website.

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