St Thomas 2022
The Planning stages....
We had several options I was considering this time around for spring break: Dominican Republic, Aruba and Cancun or Costa Rica, so that meant....we decided St Thomas for our Spring/Summer vacation. LOL
Ok, so here's why we decided on St Thomas. The last couple of vacations we've had, Sakari has become a different child. She's officially hit those awkward teenage years where she don't make friends easily because she is quiet and shy and I think hanging out with mom and dad is not as cool as it used to be. tear* She's not as active at the beach like she used to be and not as much snorkeling with her momma. We decided this time around we would take her girl friend with us so she'd have someone her age to hang out with and (fingers crossed) she would be happier and more active while wanting to do more things. What better way to get her motivated than to bring along someone that has never been out of the US or seen crystal clear water or swam with fishies and all the other goodies that come along with being in the Caribbean? Well, she does not have a passport. She has applied for one, but there is no assurance that it will arrive in time (we had less than 2 months before we leave) and St Thomas (or St Croix...which is where I really wanted to go but the air flight there compared to St Thomas was just crazy different and I decided against it) was the obvious choice.
Kendra would not be coming this time around because Kambriah has a cheerleading competition in Tennessee in the Smokey Mountains and they have already decided to stay there after the competition for the week. They always go down around this time for a huge car show they have every year. So no fun filled drama this time around. Sorry, I'll try to make the review good anyhow. I know how you all love it when she comes along. Never a dull moment! But look at it this way...2 teenagers filled with shrieks and squeals should do it right?
Our dates for travel will be leaving on a Tuesday, April 12th (which means the girls will miss 1 1/2 days of school before they are officially on Spring Break) and flying down to Ft Lauderdale for the night. No matter how hard I tried, using multiple airlines, there was just no way to make it down in one day.
Flying down to FLL, we would use our points with Southwest for a free flight. Go us!
We would stay overnight in FLL and then catch a plane the following morning to St Thomas. Like last time, Spirit was the cheapest way to go. We used Spirit the last time we came down and although the trays at the seats are miniature and they don't serve snacks or beverages...I'm pretty sure we would live through the 5 hour trip ahead of us (flying to Orlando for a short layover and then on to STT).
On the way home, we would have to do the same in reverse, but we would be trying out a new airline from STT to Orlando...Frontier. Yikes! I really wondered how this would go down. We would stay the night in Orlando and then head home the following day. (Shortly after we booked with Frontier, we heard they were merging with Spirit so I guess it will be the same type of service).
Now finding a place presented quite the challenge this time around. I asked the hubby what his thoughts were and, as much as we enjoyed staying at Sapphire last time, he wanted a different experience and to stay somewhere new. I checked into staying at Margaritaville. It looked really cool and I thought it would be neat to stay at a resort with a huge resort pool, huge hot tub, nice beach and the rooms were cute as well. However, the more I dug into it, the more I found people saying the beach was not so great and definitely didn't look as nice as the pictures show online. Some even said it was "unswimmable". I don't know the reason behind this and never got a clear answer as to why. So, I kept searching.
I found a few places for rent at Bolongo Beach. Now when we were staying in St Thomas last time, if you read that review, it was on my list of beaches to go to and we went there for my grandson's birthday dinner. I did not see anywhere that looked too great for swimming but thought I would at least check it out. I did find pictures online that showed it did in fact have a decent beach. So, maybe I was wrong or wasn't in the right area of the beach (which I wasn't according to the lay out and where we were at). But, looking a little more into it and the rooms, I wasn't too impressed. Moving on...
I considered Secret Harbor next, because we went there for diving and thought it was a very pretty beach, but the prices were outrageous and way more than I wanted to pay. I quickly shut that browser down.
Up next, I found a place called Limetree. Hmm, I checked out the condo's and found there were so many different versions and it became quite confusing (not to mention every single "renter" was using the exact same photo's for their listings...and a lot of the listings had 2 or 3 different layouts, so it was hard to tell which room you were really getting). I decided to look them up on facebook and found a group. I would quickly find out that you pretty much had to rent them by the "week", meaning Sunday to Saturday or something along that line, if you were renting from the owners on there. Well, that wasn't going to work for us since we are coming on a Wednesday. I started looking on vrbo, airbnb and trip advisor. I have to say we have booked A LOT off of all 3 of them but this time I didn't have a pleasant experience using any of them for this place. It seemed that there was one main person on there that had most of the rentals for this place and she was the hardest person to deal with. She wouldn't answer, she wasn't very positive, I would keep asking about her helping me find a place and get no response (but yet she was a "superhost").
She had good communication up until I started questioning about the different "kinds" of rooms. There were studio rooms, 1 bedroom rooms, 1 bedroom lofts and a bunch of others. However, I would find that her pictures did not reflect the "type" of room she had listed. The moment that I questioned her about the pictures not matching what she is telling me she stopped all communication. I approached her again about helping me find the kind of room I was searching for and which listing would it be. No response again. Then again I ask if she was willing to help me (this is after days went by with no response each time) and she said she would if she could. Again, I told her what I was looking for and never heard from her again. Welp, that was it! I don't plan on spending my hard earned money with someone that treats you like that. I only wish I could tell the actual owners what type of "service" she is providing for them and who knows how many people have missed out on booking their place because of her.
As much as I wanted to stay at a place on the beach, I started researching other options. Several times I had come across listings at a place called Point Pleasant. The views were absolutely spectacular! For some reason, I just kept coming back to this place. These are also condo's and owned by different owners but the resort itself also helps rent them out. Everything I read seemed pretty good about the place. There are 3 pools, a small private snorkeling area and a small beach. I started doing all the research I could on this place and discovered they are next to Margaritaville on one side and the deserted Sugar Bay Beach resort on the other side. Also, I found people stating it was a fairly quick and easy walk to Coki Beach. Hmmm...ok, I went into serious research mode on each individual condo. I saved pictures of each, I looked up previous reviews, I consulted the family and after 2 full weeks of going back and forth, I picked a 1 bedroom condo and booked using the resorts website.
CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR PLACE WE ARE RENTING:
Now remember, I said the views are spectacular right? That meant we were going to be on the hillside, which if you think about this + my walking ability = sure to be a few stories to tell during our stay. But, I'm going to make the most of it and after my trip a few months ago to Vegas...I will continue with a lot of walking and just add a hill or two to it right? Eekkkkk! I got this! Even if I cry a few times.
Picking out a car to rent: I contacted several places, suggested on the St Thomas facebook, and also contacted the previous place we rented from.
I ended up booking with a place that wasn't even on my list and someone out of the blue mentioned them on the facebook group and boom! I booked it. Prices are outrageous for car rentals, but with as much as I always have planned for us to do, it's a must for us!
We ended up renting with a company called First Rent A Car. They do pick you up at the airport so at least we won't have to travel. It would cost $1059 for 9 days of rental for a mid-sized SUV. We wouldn't be able to go with a small car like we always do on vacation due to having that extra person with us, which includes an extra luggage and we wanted to be comfortable. (Although we did get a mini-van while in St Thomas last time due to Kendra's family being with us).
So what do you have to do in order to get into paradise this time around?
All domestic travelers 5 years of age or older who enter the U.S. Virgin Islands by air or sea are required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and get cleared to travel to the USVI. Domestic Travel (includes U.S. mainland and other U.S. Territories): Domestic travelers must submit a negative result from an antigen or nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) (e.g., RT- PCR) COVID-19 test taken within 5 days of travel.
You must be tested with a viral test to look for current infection – these include an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT).
Phrases indicating a test is an antigen test could include, but not are not limited to:
Rapid antigen test
Viral antigen test
You can use a self-test (sometimes referred to as home test) that meets the following criteria:
The test must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OR the relevant national authority where the test is administered.
The testing procedure must include a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection. Some FDA-authorized self-tests that include a telehealth service may require a prescription.
The telehealth provider must confirm your identity, observe the sample collection and testing procedures, confirm the test result, and issue a report that meets the requirements of CDC’s Order (see “What information must be included in the test result?” below).
Airlines and other aircraft operators must be able to review and confirm your identity and the test result details. You must also be able to present the documentation of test results to U.S. officials at the port of entry and local/state health departments, if requested.
We would need to sign up for the Travel Portal and get our green
Coming home, I would discover since we were flying from the USVI to the US, we would not be required to test again. Whew!! This will be a first for us since traveling during covid. But hey, I'm not complaining!
Then it was time to start planning things to do while we were there. I used the facebook group for a lot of idea's I hadn't heard of before, previous things we did before, some items I had on my list last time we didn't do and a whole lotta searching the web for ideas.
I came up with a tentative schedule started booking things while leaving other things to do and decide on once we arrived to see if we could fit it in.
Now it was time to let the clock count down until it was time to go.
WELL, WE ARE BACK....JUST GOT BACK TODAY AND TRYING TO DOWNLOAD MY PICTURES...AT LEAST THOSE THAT I HAVE. :( I HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS THIS TIME AROUND...LOST A CAMERA, BATTERIES WOULDN'T CHARGE IN THE ONE CAMERA I STILL HAD, GO PRO ISSUES....AND MOST OF ALL...LOST AN ENTIRE SD CARD TO THE SEA WATER THAT DESTROYED MY CAMERA. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! FUDGE!!!!!!!!!! I'M GOING TO SEE IF THERE'S ANYONE AROUND THAT CAN MAYBE PULL THE PICTURES FROM IT BECAUSE IT HAS SOME IMPORTANT PICTURES ON THERE. I'M SO DISTRAUGHT OVER THIS. EVERYONE KNOWS HOW MUCH I LOVE MY PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE PICTURES THAT I CAPTURE. LIKE SERIOUSLY I CRIED. SO HANG TIGHT AND AS SOON AS I SEE IF THE PICTURES CAN BE RECOVERED I WILL START THE REVIEW.
**UPDATE: REVIEW HAS STARTED**