Gibney/Oppenheimer Beach www.stjohnbeachguide.com
You’ve sent out “Save the Dates” and fifty of your closest friends and family said, “Yes” to a weekend getaway in the Virgin Islands. And now you want to know what activities they can do before or after your celebration. So I spoke to my past clients to determine which activities they liked best, and here are their suggestions:
Scuba Diving: Everyone I talked to raved about Blue Island Divers in Crown Bay Marina. Blue Island Divers offers PADI instruction as well as day and night dives. Their motto is “arrive as a customer, leave as a friend” which speaks volumes about their customer service. My most recent client Ming and her Maid of Honor enjoyed two dives while in St. Thomas. They were impressed with the staff’s knowledge, and their caring attitude to insure that they had a good time. I personally am a big chicken when it comes to any type of diving, however I am also a strong proponent of protecting our coral reefs, sea life, and oceans. I am very impressed that Blue Island Divers is doing their part to by being involved in the local Reef and Ocean Conservation programs.
Hiking/Walking: Hands down, the most popular walking tour was the Reef Bay Trail on the island of St. John. The National Park Service offers daily hikes of the Reef Bay Trail that departs from the Visitor Center in Cruz Bay at 9:30am and returns between 2:30-3:00pm. The cost of the tour is currently $21, which covers the taxi transfers to the base of the trail and the boat ride back to Cruz Bay following the hike. On your walk the Ranger will point out local flora and fauna, sugar mill ruins, and petroglyphs. You will also have the opportunity to see wild donkeys, deer, and local birds. This hike is all down hill so flip flops are definitely not recommended! You can make reservations with the National Park Service by calling 1-340-776-6201 x 238.
Deep Sea Fishing: In January, Matt took all the guys in his wedding party deep sea fishing. After coming in from Fargo, North Dakota they were more than happy to spend a beautiful January day under a warm Caribbean sun! We recommended Double Header Deep Sea Fishing Company and they did not disappoint. After spending six hours at sea, Matt and his groomsmen caught several large Mahi Mahi which the crew later filleted for them. They were able to fry up their fish at a private villa rented by one of their guests, an it was an enjoyable day for all!
Sailing: Elegant Weddings and Events will often rent catamarans for sunset sails for our wedding parties. I would have to say that Dancing Dolphin has been a client pleaser. It’s important to us that our guests have a good experience and the crew of Dancing Dolphin provides wonderful service. Our past clients were also happy to know that cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were included in the price of the sunset sail! Dancing Dolphin also offers half and full day sailing trips to Buck Island and St. John. Rates start at $69 per person not including gratuities.
Which beach should we go to??? Well that really depends on what island you are on. In St. John, there are so many great beaches that it’s a bit mind boggling. Some of my clients loved Trunk Bay because it offered bathrooms, a simple beach restaurant, and a super cool self-guided underwater snorkeling trail for only $4 per person. Others liked the secluded Oppenheimer Beach (also known as Gibney Beach) which offered peace, quiet, and a breathtaking view. When you first arrive at Oppenheimer you might wonder why anyone would come here. But if you get past the iron gate and old deteriorating yellow house, you’ll see the most beautiful beach beyond the coconut trees. I think that just about any beach on the North Shore is really nice. As for St. Thomas, Magan’s Bay was the number one choice. It has a restaurant, lounge chairs, beach toys, gift shop, restroom and shower facilities. Plan on taking another shower when you get to your resort, the salt water shower won’t get you clean! Be prepared to pay $4 to enter the beach area. Coki Beach was the second pick among my clients. They raved about the snorkeling and all the tropical fish that came up to bite their toes (just kidding). I would not recommend staying at any of these beaches after dark as the beaches are not policed.
For anyone who wants lots of activity in one trip, try VI Eco Tours. They offer a combination kayak, hiking, and snorkel trip at the mangrooves on St. Thomas. While kayaking in the mangroves you might see an Eagle Sting Ray flying gracefully below you, brown pelicans diving in the nearby waters in search of fish, blue herons, and other wildlife. Take a break from the water and hike the 15 acre Cas Cay, a part of the National Park System. You will not be disappointed. This was rated the number one educational tour by everyone … I think you’ll love it!