St. Thomas / St John USVI Dining
Posted 12 July 2002 - 07:45 AM
Posted 12 July 2002 - 08:10 AM
Be careful driving...there are practically no traffic laws, and the streets are crowded and in terrible repair. If you have any questions, stop in the dive shop near the port...they're super friendly and helpful.
Posted 12 July 2002 - 08:33 AM
See if you can find a good map of the island on the internet to get familiar with the lay of the land, so to speak. It's a pretty big island and there are beaches on the Atlantic and Caribbean sides. It's a pretty densely populated island, too, so the traffic can be heavy at times.
The area around Phillipsburg is pretty touristy and it's the major port for all of the cruise lines so there's an emphasis on shopping. The French side has two main towns, Marigot and Grand Case. Marigot is bustling yet charming and has lots of great boutiques. Very chic in that oh-so-French way. Fabulous baguettes and pastries -- the chocolate almond croissants are to die for. There used to be a little restaurant, Bistro Nu, and if it's still around you should try it. It's like it was transplanted from Paris. Marigot is also where you can catch a ferry to Anguilla, which I highly recommend if you feel like exploring miles of sandy beaches with virtually no one else around. I think the ferry takes about 20 minutes.
Grand Case is known for its "restaurant row". I haven't eaten in any of the places, but you could check the Fodor's bulletin board or the French West Indies Travel log, Phorum West Indies, which is a friendly site. There's also a strip of barbecue joints near the beach that are unbelievable. The women cook up ribs, chicken, and lobster in big drum grills. Served with rice n'peas and scotch bonnet hot sauce, it is finger lickin' steet food. All you need is an ice cold Red Stripe to go with it. Beaches around Grand Case and the Meridian resort are bay-like and calm. The beaches on the Atlantic side tend to be more rugged and have surf.
Posted 12 July 2002 - 09:27 AM
Somehow, I doubt Jason'll want to go to the nude beach. He usually sits under a tree or umbrella with a T-shirt on, sun sensitive, among other reasons.
Posted 19 July 2002 - 11:38 AM
Renting a car/jeep is the way to go--you'll want to explore the island at your own pace and without the hassle of cabs.
Generally speaking, the Dutch side is much busier than the French side. As I recall, Philipsburg is the St. Maarten/St. Martin port for the cruise ships, and I think there are two primary streets in Philipsburg--Front Street and one other--where shopping is plentiful. Many of the main shops have sister locations in Marigot, the main town on the French side. There is gambling at the hotels in and near Philipsburg, but none on the French side.
There are numerous beaches on the island--all open to the public, and most are easily accessible. Orient Beach (referred to above as the "nude beach") has tons of water activities--parasailing, windsurfing, etc. N.B. I believe women are permitted to go topless at all the beaches on the French side (as are, of course, men).
I really liked Baie Longue, where a mile and a half of white sand almost guarantees you to have lots of space to yourself and great walks along the water. No facilities, however. Other beaches are better for snorkeling, kid-friendly water, reading a book under a shady tree, eating/drinking/restroom facilities, etc., but I can't recall their names.
There are numerous small markets on the island, and there is a large supermarket called Match on the French side, I think it's near Marigot. I remember the prices being reasonable but not cheap. We stocked up on baguettes, cheese, wine, beer, water and would bring snacks/lunch with us to the beaches.
Grand Case is well-stocked with restaurants, some better than others, but unfortunately I can't remember any names at the moment. At the time we visited, the value of the franc against the dollar was so low that all of these restaurants were comparatively cheap to NY. I assume now, however, that the adoption of the Euro has eliminated that advantage. (You used to be able to pay with American dollars all over the island but would receive change in francs or guilders, and I assume you'd now receive Euros.)
The row of barbeque in Grand Case referred to above is definitely worth going to.
Shopping--I have no idea if this holds any interest for you, but one used to be able to get great deals in Marigot on products manufactured or originating in France. For example, we stocked up on Christofle silver, and ended up paying about 50% of what we would have paid in the US. Various brands of Limoges china were also cheaper than at home, but not as good a bargain. I think the lower prices had something to do with St. Martin being a French territory so that various import/export taxes did not exist and were not passed on to the consumer. I could be wrong about that, though, and can't speak to whether such discounts still exist.
The locals are very friendly and will be eager to help make your trip a good one. One caveat--theft has reportedly increased over the years. We never had a problem, but I would advise not leaving any valuables in your car--even in the trunk--while at the beach. A number of beaches require a decent walk from car to sand, which leaves your car out of your sight, and we were told that such circumstances lend themselves to theft of items left in the car.
If you are going soon, spring/summer is a great time to visit. The temperature is only about 5 degrees warmer than winter and there are far fewer tourists--making many beaches almost your own!
Have a good trip!
Posted 23 July 2002 - 06:25 PM
DM Computer Center, 109 La Savane, Grand Case, $8.00 per hour
A list from winlink.org for St. Martin:
Caribbean Cyber Cafe, Simson Bay Yacht Club
Cyber Nation, Simson Bay Yacht Club
The Business Center, Simson Bay Yacht Club
The Mailbox (Palapa Marina Center), Simson Bay Lagoon
The Mailbox (Island Water World), Simson Bay Lagoon
Dockside Management, Bobby's Marina, Philipsburg
Romic Computer Systems, Cole Bay
Via email the people at megatropic.com gave me these locations:
On the Dutch Side there are two major ISPs.
NetworkIDL N.V has been providing Internet Access for over 5 years and offers visitor/roaming accounts for on a weekly basis. They also operate a Cyber-Cafe facility next to their office and are affiliated with 8 Cyber-Cafe locations elsewhere on the island including 3 in Philipsburg, 1 at FX Bowling, 1 In Airport Blvd, 1 in Maho, 1 in Marigot, 1 in the Soon to open BAY WATCH. Contact NetworkIDL at (599) 544 4815/ 3188, http://www.networkidl.net or
Telnet Internet Services is the other ISP which has been open for 2 years now and also offers dialup services. They are located in Philipsburg area and also have a cafe type service within their facility. Telnet can be contacted at (599) 543-7952, http://www.sintmaarten.net or email@example.com
CYBERNATIONS adjacent to our office - airport blvd 95 colebay
CYBERWORLD - maho shopping center - maho hotel complex
DOT COM CAFE - Philipsburg, Juancho Yrausquin Blvd (near tourism office, and RBTT Bank)
NetCafe - at the Royal Palm Beach Resort
Posted 01 August 2002 - 05:18 AM
Loterie Farms--an old plantation in a bowl shaped depression/valley, halfway up Pic Paradis is a cool (temp wise) retreat from the heat--and has--by local standards, pretty good food. Beautiful mix of good grub and location/view and very out of the way. Poulet d'Orleans, in a private home up a snaky hairpin turn in Orleans is kooky--with great chicken, fresh killed. If you care--the chef at the new place near Cupacoy Beach, Citrus, is a recent Trotter grad--haven't eaten there yet. You'll probably be the only customers just about everywhere. Let me stress again: AVOID Phillipsburg. There is nothing, nothing, nothing of interest--search for food--or anything good will be more fruitful in Marigot, Grand Case and French side. Other than Cupacoy, you can take a pass on the Dutch side beaches, too. The internet cafe in the Maho strip is pretty good....and don't forget bug repellent (applied by 4 PM when the mosquitos and no-see-ums come out). If you need a decent bloddy steak and a cold beer with burned out expats in an atmospheric environment--Uncle Harry's off the airport road in the back of the boatyard is pretty good--though filet only. They have good local lobsters--and Harry used to ride with the Angels so he has a lot of good stories. You are arriving in the heart of hurricane season, which should actually be pretty much fun--very romantic. Have fun. I am.
Posted 09 August 2002 - 05:21 AM
New to the forum and was needing info on very good, established restaurants and nightspots in the USVI. Will be heading there at the end of this month and want to broaden my culinary world to the Islands. Interested in local flavor(West Indian, Carribean) in particular, but would be happy with any fine dining in this area. ALso, any other info on local (off the beaten path) things to do and see would be great. Love to travel, but this is one area I am not familiar with. Thanks for all your help! See ya, mon!
Posted 09 August 2002 - 05:31 AM
Thanks for all your great suggestions!
Also, I've heard it is best to rent a cell phone locally as opposed to using the hotel phone or payphones (even for local calls). True? Anyone have a clue where to get one?
Posted 09 August 2002 - 07:58 AM
Asolare - As close to a "destination" restaurant as exists on St. John, high above Cruz Bay - go at sunset for beautiful views and good, often Japanese-inspired seafood preparations. Reserve, pricey.
Equator - This is the Caneel Bay Resort's restaurant and it is lovely, the food is well prepared, and it is resort-pricey. Another sunset favorite is to have drinks down by the water and then walk up to Equinox - you do not need to be a guest to enjoy. Reserve
I enjoy Morgan's Mango and the Lime Inn in Cruz Bay. Very relaxed West Indian seafooders with all the tropical drinks you can think of. Great atmosphere at both places. Reservations not necessary, but a good idea
Have been to Zoso's and enjoyed - Italian, mostly pasta and fish, stylish place and not as laid back as the Mango or the Lime Inn.
People enjoy Sogo's for West Indian fare, I've not been so can't comment.
Skip Paradiso and I have never been impressed by the Fish Trap.
Outside Cruz Bay on the way towards the Wyndham there is a gourmet store in a mini strip mall on the right - good for prepared foods, etc. to take to the beach.
Out on the island there isn't much except for Lucy's near Coral Bay - people laud it for authentic Caribbean cooking, but I've never been. The owner/chef (Lucy) is somewhat mercurial and it is not always predictable when she will feel like being open.
There is also Chateau Bordeaux on the Centerline Road which gets high marks - again, I've never been to this one-but probably worth some investigation.
For casual places & nightlife. (Realize that nightlife is not the name of the game in St. John, no nightclubs or anything close, and most bars close relatively early 12:30 or so, I've found).
Coral Bay - Shipwreck Landing and Skinny Legs are fun places to while away some time (lunch - casual dinner). There is also a little snack shack way out past Coral Bay where there are great conch fritters and the like.
Cruz Bay - Quiet Man Pub is a personal fave as is the bar at the Mango and
Lime Inn. Woody's is good for frozen drinks & will put your picture on the 'net if you like that sort of thing. I've seen pretty people hngning out inside Zoso at the bar. There is one nightclub-type place come to think of it right in the middle of town not far from the ferry dock - can't remember the name, but loud music is the giveaway.
Off the beaten path - my favorite snorkeling spots are Waterlemon Key (Need to go slightly off-road and then walk for about 1/2 mile). I also like Salt Pond Bay (off-path beach) and the hike out to Ram Head (fairly strenuous, but beautiful destination). Good snorkeling in Little Lameshur Bay also - can be hard to get to.
On the path - Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay are stunningly beautiful beaches even though can get a bit crowded. On the road from Cruz Bay to Trunk Bay there is a set of stairs leading down on the left a little while before Trunk Bay (I forget the name of this little beach, but it is usually quieter, and there is an interesting trench to snorkel).
We usually do at least one day of day sailing over to the BVI and stop to snorkel along the way. Foxy's and the Soggy Dollar Bar are fun spots. The Baths on Virgin Gorda are pretty spectacular, but a bit far and can be crowded on occasion.
Anyway, if you have more specific questions - I am happy to tell you whatever I know.
Posted 11 August 2002 - 03:20 AM
Posted 11 August 2002 - 06:14 PM
Jost is a funky little island, there isn't much to the little town except for Foxy's. Foxy's might actually get some decent nighlife, they've been known to have live reggae bands on occasion, in any event it is a very cool place to wind down from a day of snorkeling, and the food is half-decent. There is also the Soggy Dollar Bar, so named because you have to swim ashore to get there and they pin your currency up on a clothesline when you use it to let it dry. They are famous for the "painkiller" oft-imitated, seldom equalled. It is a much quieter place than Foxy's (you can't get from one to the other by land) and is attached to a small hotel.
In general, the only "must-do" in the BVI is to completely and utterly relax and get into the flow of a very quiet tropical life - this is not something you can really do on a day trip, but a week there will make St. Thomas seem like Chicago, and San Juan like New York.
I am starting to get jealous - if it wasn't for an impending week of relaxtion on the Chesapeake Bay, I'd be at wit's end. I truly love that part of the world.
Posted 11 August 2002 - 08:03 PM
We plan on scuba diving while there. We have a trip booked to do the MS Rhone and are really looking forward to that aspect of the trip as well as sipping some really good rum drinks and living a leisurely life for a week. Will be working on my tan as well.
If you would really like to know...I prefer my time in the mountains. The Rockies, to be exact and if you have clued into my forum name, you will know why. Spent much time in CO, UT, MT, Alberta, BC skiing, hiking, biking and rock climbing. The serenity and peace in the mountains that I feel is the best feeling in the world.
You are closer to skiing than I am if you leave in the Bal'more area, however...so I should be envious.
The Chesapeake Bay is very nice. Spent some time in Annapolis(really good restaurant O'Leary's springs to mind and a very nice bed and breakfast near Capitol hill) and Baltimore(wonderful meal in Little Italy and some great steamed crabs at a place called Snapper's, I believe) a couple of summer's ago and in wine country near Cumberland(I think that is the name), MD. You are lucky to be living in that area.
Posted 11 August 2002 - 08:32 PM
In addition, The food and wine were exceptional.
Posted 14 August 2002 - 10:32 AM
And Yeah..I've heard to expect light hurricane season. So far the weather's been great.
Posted 15 August 2002 - 08:17 AM
Posted 15 August 2002 - 12:51 PM
car as well. Want to explore the island. We might ferry the car over to St. John so we
can explore there as well. We are going to St. John, however, regardless. Would really
like to get a feel of some local culture and food. St. Thomas is supposed to have some
good dining choices, but we don't know anything about it, other than what we have
located on the net and through friends who have visited there before. Any info would
be appreciated. Anything off the beaten path and less touristy would be fantastic!
Thanks in advance!
Posted 15 August 2002 - 02:53 PM
Posted 17 August 2002 - 02:49 PM
Posted 19 August 2002 - 08:38 AM
Posted 19 August 2002 - 08:26 PM
Posted 26 August 2002 - 09:02 AM
Incidentally, just got back from my week on the Eastern Shore of Maryland -great crabs this time of year - spent much of the week getting around on a pair of mopeds, can certainly appreciate the appeal - especially there where things are flatter than flat!
Posted 27 August 2002 - 12:08 PM
We will give a full report of our trip..culinary included, when we return!
Posted 29 August 2002 - 07:29 PM
Marigot, that just opened in July. The chef Michel Royer is an old hand on the island , returned to France and came back recently, the food was quite good and I wondered if Tony Bourdain is familiar with it. I certainly second his view of the dutch side and Philipsburg, I go through the dutch side with blinders on, the architectural hodge podge is quite offensive and much too "Miami Beach" for my taste.The restaurant is Michel Royer and is located in a new mall on the waterfront in Marigot,
Posted 02 September 2002 - 08:07 AM
Posted 02 September 2002 - 07:14 PM
Switzerland, served with truffled mashed potatoes. Actually an interesting rendition of this often served dish, because the potatoes were still lumpy and the addition of truffle oil as opposed to truffle butter gave the dish an earthy quality. The beef was p;robably
the best tasting filet that I ever had due to the preparation of extremely flavorful filet with indonesian peppers. My friend had a dish that contained three fishes on e of which was
a fish from Lac Leman, as well as fresh water crayfish. 35 dollars. Her entree also included cola ( red snapper) a local fish. As you can see a good deal of the meal was flown in from France or Switzerland. The wine list was very expensive for St Martin and
began at 40 dollars. The desserts were 12 to 16 dollars and were the weakest part of the meal. Clearly this is not a restaurant serving local food but the setting and preparation made the experience worthwhile
Posted 09 September 2002 - 09:57 AM
St. Thomas is definitely busier than the BVI's and St. John but worth it for the shopping and diing.:) We had some tremendous meals at Cuzzin's(the johnny cakes, local veggie casserole and conch salad were worth the trip), Agave Terrace(splendid view of ZS. J and wonderful desserts..must try the coconut icecream and the lobster was sweet and delectable...best lobster I have had in a long time). My favorite meals thought were at the Sugar Mill(incredible rare ahi tuna with wasabe cream and the swordfish with mango salsa was to die for as well as there island mash and bruschette with portabello mushrooms and goat cheese). Everyone's meals were unbelievably deliscious and the presentation was eyepoppingly well done. The other must do and second best restaurant was Off the Hook(formerly Cafe Wahoo). It was again, worht every mouthful. Sumptious jerked mahi and the crabcakes with island papaya dip was outstanding as well as the calmari and tuna(again rare is the way to go). I have more to say.....about the snorkelling and island hopping, but must recommend Ramshead, Little Cinammon Bay and Lamshure and Waterlemon Keys off St. J as prime spots. Hawksnest Beach was our personal favorite and the Baths on Virgin Gorda, spectacular. As far as nightlife on St. T....The Greenhouse on Tues. and Th are the choice reccomendation and anytime at Duffy's for drinks. Try the Guavarry colada in the Parrot! Again, appreciate all the help for making our wedding, honeymoon, vacation all that it was!
Next stop...St. Marten for carribean destinations and we will definitely enlist egullet for info!!