Good Morning, Good Morning! I hope that all of you had a spectacular weekend as the chilly fall temps begin to cast their shadows on some of the cooler areas of the country. As the fall and winter winds begin to blow, a lot of you are probably starting to set your sights on travel plans for a winter escape to bluer waters and warmer breezes here on St. John. So, I wanted to take a moment today to get you a few travel tips and guides for getting your Love City vacation planning knocked out as the days at home get shorter and cooler.
Last spring, as messages started to flow in about the lack of rental car and dining reservation availability, I wrote up a trip planning timeline as a guide for all of you in regard to the when-to-book-what conundrum. And a lot of that still holds true when it comes to planning your upcoming winter trip. But, today, I’m going to put all of the guides all in one neat little package so that you can simply click on the appropriate post and start making your calls to knock out your boating, dining and rental car reservations. A one stop vacation planning stop, if you will 🙂
But, first, the fun stuff!
I know that ALL of you really enjoy the restaurant stuff, so let’s start there. In this year’s updated Seasonal Closures Restaurant Report, I included a link to each establishment’s Facebook page. Many of the establishments on island post their updated hours, menu updates and daily specials direct to their social media. So, if you have questions day of, you can check there. But you’ll also find their website, where applicable, and the restaurant’s phone number (in most cases) so you can call to make reservations in advance.
Here are a few quick tips about restaurant reservations on St. John:
- During the busiest times of the year, many fine dining establishments even require reservations for the bar seating. So, if you are “bar people,” like we are, you’ll still want to make a reservation to dine between December and April. Sometimes you can absolutely happen upon a cancellation or open seat at the pine. But more often than not, we call ahead to reserve a spot at our favorite places before heading in.
- For larger parties, I would absolutely advise calling two to three months in advance to reserve a table. ESPECIALLY if your trip is happening during a holiday week.
- My recommendation is to book the ABSOLUTELY must do restaurants a few months in advance, regardless of your party size. And then fill in the blanks with casual/walk-in/wait list dining on the off nights. The point is you don’t have to PLAN your whole vacation around the availability of dining reservations. When we have friends or family visiting, I generally book one-three nights of reservations two months in advance and then we play it by ear for the other evenings.
Now, not all restaurants accept reservations. But these ones do! And you will want to make sure to book your reservation with them in advance:
- Dave & Jerry’s Island Steakhouse
- Lovango Resort & Beach Club Waterfront Dining
- Morgan’s Mango
- The Terrace Restaurant
- La Tapa
- ZoZo’s at the Sugar Mill
- Cafe Roma
- Banana Deck
- Extra Virgin Bistro
- 18.64 the Restaurant
- Rhumb Lines
- Aqua Bistro
However, months in advance reservations aren’t the only way to reserve a seat for dinner! Lovango Rum Bar and Distillery and The Longboard both use a waitlist app that allows you to book a table for a certain time that night via their websites. So, when you get back from a beautifully relaxing beach day, go online and book a table for later that evening!
Oh, and we all know that St. John isn’t short on casual dining experiences that require nothing more than showing up and having a bit of patience and flexibility while you wait for a table. So, put your name in at the door, grab a to go drink and enjoy the view and good company while you wait 🙂
Ok, now that dining is all set, let’s move on to rental cars!
I cannot stress enough that as soon as your accommodations are booked, you should lock down your car rental if you plan to go that route for transportation. I also always advise my peeps to book their rental car ON St. John. If there are any hiccups, it is much easier to sort it out the next day. No one wants to spend their first day on island going back to St. Thomas to pick-up a car! And, hey, supporting St. John businesses is always a bonus! The following is a list of St. John based rental car agencies.
Aqua Blue Car Rental – 340-776-2782
Aquarius Car Rental – 340-514-5262
Bougainvillea Leasing Ltd. – 800-253-7107
C & C Car Rental – 340-693-8164
Conrad Sutton Jeep and Car Rental – 340-776-6479
Cool Breeze Jeep and Car Rental – 340-776-658
Courtesy Car & Jeep Rental – 340-776-6650
Delbert Hill Car and Jeep Rental – 340-693-8819
Denzil Clyne Car Rental – 340-776-6715
Destiny Car Rental – 340-777-5337
Hospitality Rent A Car – 340-693-9160
Island Hopping Rentals – 340-228-2229
Just Sun Jeeps – 340-227-2235
L&L Jeep Rental – 340-776-1120
Lionel Jeep Rental – 340-693-8764
Mr. Piper’s Jeeps – 340-693-7580
O’Connor Car Rental – 340-776-6343
Penn’s Jeep Rentals – 340-776-6530
St. John Car Rental – 340-776-6103
Slim Man’s Jeep Rental – 508-932-2737
Spencer’s Jeep Rentals – 340-693-8784
Sunshine’s Jeep Rental – 340-690-1786
Varlack Ventures – 340-693-9933
And lastly, boat days are the best days, correct?
Well, if you have a charter of choice for this winter, you might want to get your calls in soon. And you can find all of the St. John based charter boat operators right here! If you haven’t been out on the water for a day while visiting St. John, I would highly advise booking the best day of your vacation today. I personally cannot wait to get back out there snorkeling with our awesome guests on Asante every day.
For a list of highlighted charters, please visit our Boat Charters page to review some more in-depth trip details from our advertisers.
I know, I know, the next question is “What about the BVI?” Well, I regret to inform you that MANY of our trusted charter companies will not be jumping through the financial hoops that the BVI is asking of them this year. Rob from Sunshine Daydream put out an ask a few months ago on Facebook, asking the following:
“Serious question here. How many people out there are willing to pay $1,500-$2,500 PLUS fuel/customs and food and drink money to spend 6hrs in the BVI’s? It is a serious question all of us as charter boat owners are wondering, because that is what it will take for us to jump through all the expensive hoops the BVI government is requiring of us all to operate our businesses over there again. Gone are the days of $750-$900 plus fuel and customs BVI trips. ”
And the overwhelming response was, “No.” As many of us have weighed the cost/benefit analysis of getting the licensing and work permits to run BVI trips, it simply doesn’t make sense with things as they are. Now, there are a very select few who have accomplished this and I’m happy to share those with any of you who want to shoot me a message to ask. But the Interisland Boat Services Jost van Dyke ferry is still the best bet cost wise unless you have a larger party to justify a private vessel.
But there is a crazy amount of awesomeness to explore around St. John and St. Thomas! So, don’t hesitate to book a day of on the water exploration while you are visiting this winter 🙂
So, after reading this, you should have a good handle on getting your dining, boating and car reservations all set! I am working on a similar guide for booking you accommodations. Oh, and I have noticed that flights this winter are pretty high right now! Don’t worry. I’m keeping an eye on that too and am researching flight trends and tips and will get back to you all later this week to update you on that as well.
Have an absolutely fantastic Monday everyone! Oh, and we are SO looking forward to seeing your faces on St. John again this season. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any travel questions or conundrums 🙂