We are spending a week at Frenchman's Reef in mid-June. We have a number of questions for trip planning, as it's our first time in the USVI. We are a family of 3, and our daughter is 10. So here goes. Thanks in advance for any and all info.
1. Rent a car or rely on taxis? We would prefer not to eat all our meals on resort (see below), so we would probably want to go off resort for dinner most nights, in addition to excursions to Coral World and a snorkel excursion on two of the days, I have a UK driver's license, so driving on the left is not an issue for me. Key criteria for this decision are cost and convenience.
2. Restaurant recommendations? I assume the resort restaurants are good, but not memorable, and overpriced to boot. IF you know otherwise, please let me know. If I'm right about that, would love to hear recommendations, for one or two high-end splurges and a bunch of more casual places. Al fresco would be great in either category.
3. Coral World tips? My daughter is very interested in the sea lion encounter. Any other attractions there that we should either make a point of or sterr clear of?
4. Would love to take at least one day trip for snorkeling and visit(s) to other island(s). Ideally on this, (1) let's not break the bank, say a ceiling of $500 for the three of us for the day and (2) not a massive craft with a hundred people from a cruise ship. If you have destinations (St John's, Jost van ****) and/or particular boats/tour operators you can recommend, we'd appreciate it.
5. Sites of historical interest? I'm a history buff, so anything in that vein that you could recommend (either on St Thomas or in connection with an off island excursion) would be appreciated.
6. The resort itself -- any tips regarding the restaurants, the pools, etc. We booked at Morningstar, but could move it to the main resort, so please comment on the relative merits of the two.
Thank you so much for your help. I'll post a review when we get back.
I visited St Thomas back in 2012 and stayed at the Frenchman's Cove resort... My thoughts on your questions.
1) We opted to rent a car and am glad we did. A St Thomas "cab" is often an open deck flat bed with benches. They typically charge by the head ($10 per person usually). So a round trip "cab" ride anywhere is going to run your family $60 easily.
2) Eating was a little frustrating at times. While the cruise ships are in town, you can find plenty of restaurants. It seemed to us that when the cruise ships left town the place closed up. One night we went out to eat and ended up coming back to the hotel to eat. We even fixed dinner in our room a couple of nights. There was a really good Italian place downtown that we enjoyed. I'll see if I can find the name...
3) We did the Coral World visit. Our then 25 year-old daughter did the sea lion encounter and really enjoyed it. Coral World itself seemed like it may have been really nice at one time, but had probably not been maintained as well as it should have been. Still, it was worth the visit just try to keep your expectations in check. It's not like your going to Sea World...
4) The two things we thought were really great was visiting Megan's Bay Beach. Really great beach, probably as nice as any I've seen. The other thing we did was book a Catamaran excursion that took you over around St John's for snorkeling. That was pretty much an all day deal which included lunch and an open bar. I think the Catamaran maybe was $120 per person then.
5) Didn't really do any "historical" site seeing.
6) All three of the Marriot resorts are right there together and all are impressive. I think you'll enjoy your visit.
Hope that helps.
Hello taxlawyer . I've taken my family to St. Thomas for Christmas three time in the last six years. We always enjoy the Island. Here are my favorites......
Excursion : We heard about Rumbaba from friends and never miss the opportunity to sail with them . The maximum number of people they take out is six, so you never feel slighted. On two of our trips, my family of four were the only ones on the boat. They will take you out for a great day of snorkeling (ask to visit Christmas Cove) and the lunch prepared on the boat is awesome. Check out their website for more details..... Tell Melissa (captain!!) that Elliotte is ready for another Rumrunner or Painkiller!!
Dining: By far my favorite is Oceana. Easy drive from the Marriott and excellent food. If you go for dinner you will not be disappointed. Next choice would be Mafolie. It is a crazy drive up the mountain, but the best view of the city at night. Your family will love the food as well as the view. Third choice is Room With A View. It's a little pricey, but great food and view of the bay...... Last but not least, when you finish the day on Rumbaba , if you choose, stop by Iggies Beach Bar and Grill... Nothing fancy ,but a great way to end a perfect day on the water......
Accommodations: I don't think you can go wrong with any of the Marriott properties, but I prefer to stay at the Frenchman's Reef. Not having to drive to the main section from down at the cove is a plus to me. You can frequent your room more often than having to drive back and forth. View from the rooms at the Frenchman's Reef watching the cruise ships come in is wonderful and the restaurants on the property aren't bad at all. The infinity pool is wonderful and the place has a great staff.....
I hope you and your family enjoy your stay!!!!!
P.S - We always rent a car. I like the flexibility of leaving for downtown or driving to take ferry to St. Johns when I want and coming back when I want without the hastle of catching a cab.. Just my two cents!!!
I have have been there twice in the past 3 years and is one of our favorite places to go. But we did stay at the Cove both times during that time because you can find some great deals during certain months with AAA. We rented a car both times. The first day find out what days the cruise ships will be in town. 1-2 cruise ships you will be fine in time and actually need 1-2 in town or some shops will not be open. 3-4 will be a little crazy.
Find out what night the place to eat on top of the mountain is open (I think is usually Wednesdays) Go up there so you can see the city lights and the cruise boats start to leave and you can watch them go out in the ocean.
There was a small restaurant in the city that is in one of the walk ways between the buildings called gladys that was good for breakfast/lunch.
The location is between red hook and town and there is a couple good places in red hook and we ate at a pizza place that is on the 2nd floor in red hook at the back of a building and had a cool view of a marina.
Rent a car and take a day trip to the ferry to St Johns which has some of the nicest beaches and has a cool small town to walk and some good drink specials usually 3-6 pm. And go see Trunk bay at St Johns our favorite beach between the two islands. It has a little island right off the shore and has a reef around that little island that you can snorkel around if you have your own equipment.
IF you take the ferry early in the morning you will be will all the work trucks going over which we didn't mind because we want to be on the beach early. But go each lunch at St John at Chateau Bordeaux because it is on top of the island and has an amazing view. There used to be an ice cream store which would let you on the back patio to look out but you have to now eat there to be on the patio but it is worth it and the food wasn't bad either. I believe it is on centerline road.
Coral world I will agree it is alright to go to and does see a little aged but still worth a little time but you won't be spending all day there.
My wife and I have been to St. Thomas twice but we stayed at the Ritz Carlton. The first time we stayed we rented a car - took alot of concentration with driving on the left side of the road vs. the right!!!
My wife and I went to Coral World both times - the first time she did the sea turtle encounter. She loved it so much that she did it again the following year and talked me into doing it as well. I think these types of things depend upon the individual.
We also took the ferry over to St. John's to walk around the shops and sightsee. It was a good half day or so and then headed back to have dinner on St Thomas.
I hope you enjoy your time!!!
We own at Frenchman's Cove and have been to the island many, many times. I think renting a car is a must, but be aware that although they drive on the left side of the road, the cars come from the U.S. and have left-hand drive.
St. John's is a great one day trip, but bring the car on the ferry instead of just walking around once you arrive. Most of the island is occupied by Virgin Islands National Park and the scenery is spectacular, especially approaching Trunk Bay from the mountain road. I believe the car ferry costs $50/rt
Eating on the island is one of our favorite activities. As Dollard mentioned, Gladys is a great joint for breakfast. If you want Caribbean fare for lunch, head to Cuzzins. For dinner it's Room With a View, Oceana, Mims, Tavern on the Waterfront (with Friday evening live Jazz) or if you don't want to spend a lot, Pie Hole, which is in French Town. These are our regular joints but we do visit a new place during each trip.
Megan's Bay is the best beach and you can rent chairs, umbrella's and lounges. They also have a full service bar and a walk up restaurant.
Another beach worth the time is Secret Harbor, which is on the way to Red Hook.