After another incredible breakfast at the B & B, we packed up our things into the Jeep and headed over to Red Hook to catch the car ferry to St. John.
The signs at the ferry stop in were poorly marked and in fact I think the sign actually just said "barge". It was a bit confusing and there was a $3 toll to cross into the barge area. However, that was not the actual fee to use the ferry. The ferry itself cost $30 or $50 round trip, which is collected on the ferry.. Supposedly, there are 3 different companies that run the ferries, and they only run once an hour. However, we did not see any evidence of more than one company running the ferry, but they do in fact run once an hour. It was also confusing because the vehicles had to backup onto the ferry. The barge is actually pretty small, and probably only fits about 60 normal size vehicles. But this number changes depending on the number of 18-wheelers that need to get on the barge as well. We were lucky that we arrived early in the morning, as several vehicles did not get on, and had to wait an hour for the next ferry.
The ride only takes about 20 minutes to Cruz Bay
, the main town in St. John. We immediately headed to the National Park Visitor Center to pick up park maps and learn about our hiking options. Parking at the Visitor Center was tight. But we got directions to Trunk Bay
, which is one of the premier snorkeling spots in the islands. Trunk Bay features an official NPS underwater snorkeling trail. Although the park itself doesn't charge an entry fee, Trunk Bay does charge a fee of about $4 per adult. At this beach, there are bathrooms, lockers, showers, a snack bar, and a concession stand that rents snorkeling equipment. We spent the early part of the afternoon there, snorkeling and hanging out on the beach. Around 3 pm, we decided to head over to the far side of the island to our hotel, Estate Concordia .
On our drive over, we encountered some of the island's residents, namely wild goats and donkeys that roam the roads freely. Actually, a lot of people also keep goats in fenced areas, but I would say that the majority of goats on the island are wild.
Concordia is not a traditional hotel by any means. It is an eco-resort, and is a sister to the Maho Bay camps on the north side of St. John. Whereas Maho Bay is a more traditional campground, Concordia provides a more private and secluded experience. We had our own individual eco-tent, which was a wooden structure with canvas walls and zipper windows. There was a bedroom with two twin beds, a living room with a futon, a loft with two more beds, and a kitchenette. They provide the kitchen utensils, as well as a dorm refrigerator. You also have your own composting toilet, which turns your waste into a fluffy, odorless compost. The shower is a hand pump with a spray nozzle, and the water is heated in a black barrel by the sun. So very eco-friendly, and you still get the feeling that you are camping. There were a lot of stairs to climb, and it was a bit of a hassle to load and unload our stuff, but the views were great, and the solitude was amazing.
Unfortunately, by virtue of being on the far side of the island, we didn't have very many dining options. Luckily, we had stocked up on provisions in St. Thomas, and enjoyed dinner in our room. The wind was really picking up that night, and at some points the whole tent shook. It wasn't scary as much as annoying. Tip of the Day:
If you need to take the car ferry to St. John (and back to St. Thomas), be sure to get there early in the morning. The ferry size is pretty limited, and it only runs once an hour. Also, make sure you have cash for the actual passage