When I Went: September 10-16, 2010
Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? It was great because it was during the islands’ offseason. The weather was great, and the crowds were thin, but I think the peak season for travel there is in the winter months. There’s a bit of a risk traveling during the summer because of hurricane season, and we did get rained on some, but the weather was mostly ideal. And it’s hard to complain about the rain when you’re surrounded by the splendor of the tropics.
Why I Went There: My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, which I thought was a good enough excuse for a trip to the Caribbean. I actually started planning the trip as a surprise in January, but I’m not exactly Jason Bourne, so it took about three days for my wife to figure out what I was up to.
Who Went With Me? We travelled with another couple, two of our dearest friends, who were married a few weeks before us. St. John was actually their idea, so we let them plan most of the trip, and we went along for the ride.
We Stayed Here: We rented a house on Chocolate Hole, called Mampoo Hill. The house was secluded, with easy access to a private beach, and it was just a short drive from Great Cruz Bay. We rented a Jeep in town, but Mampoo Hill offers a Jeep rental as well.
You Won’t Want to Miss: The snorkeling is amazing all around the island, but some of the most impressive diving was in Chocolate Hole. About 20 steps from our house was a rocky beach where we spent the last day swimming with sea turtles, stingrays, and a host of exotic fish. The underwater cliffs were breathtaking.
Eat Here: Anywhere that serves conch fritters. The fare around the island is mostly beach-type food — burgers, fish, and fries — but the conch fritters are spectacular. I’m sure there are more sophisticated choices, but we generally just popped into whatever was close when we got hungry. Mampoo Hill has a full kitchen, so we also ate in a lot, which was nice.
Play Here: The Virgin Islands National Park is a quiet park that includes secluded beaches, historical sugar plantations, and ruins.
If I Went Again: If I did it again, I would spend even more time in the water.
How Did You Get There From Dallas? We flew from DFW Airport to the island of St. Thomas and took a 45-minute ferry ride to St. John. Pretty much an entire day of travel, but nothing overly grueling.
Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: The Virgin Islands are great, but if you go, plan on spending as much time as possible on St. John. It’s the most secluded and offers the most authentic island experience.