Getting to the BVI
There is not a direct flight from Toronto to Beef Island (Tortola). The most direct travel would involve Toronto to St. Maarten, San Juan or Antigua. From those locations you would fly one of the local airlines to Beef Island. American Airlines had a great service from San Juan, but that is gone and your options are; Seaborne, LIAT and Cape Air. Liat has replaced their aging Dash 8 fleet with brand new ATR’s. Their customer service however pales in comparison to American!!! The last few years we flew to St. Thomas via Miami or Charlotte, stayed one night in hotel and took a ferry to Tortola. During the last couple of years the price of the overnight room in St. Thomas has been going up and the economy of this option is diminishing. It does simplify things a bit as your guests are already cleared into the U. S. so no added hassles for them yet.
When we get our boat to the Caribbean and the BVI area we will likely have guests and family come in to St. Thomas and we will pick them up directly at the airport. There are two options to anchor right at the airport both would be suitable for a one night stay for that purpose. Other options include; mooring in Charlotte Amalie and passengers come by cab or Mooring at Francis Bay or Maho Bay and have passengers taxi from airport to Red Hook and take the short Ferry ride to Cruz Bay another cab ride to the boat. This would likely add $50 or $60 per person to their trip…
If you choose options that involve ferry or taxi travel you are advised to ask what it is going to cost you before getting into the cab. You can successfully dicker with some and on St. Thomas you may be charged per bag as well so get your deal done before you get in.
At the St. Thomas airport there will be a taxi pimp at work. I am sure they have a different title, something like the Director of taxi Combinatorics and Optimization, but taxi pimps they be. Keep a weather eye on all your belongings at all times while on St. Thomas and stick to the main drag and the better looking shopping on the back street. When it starts to look sketchy it is and bail out. Further I would think twice about going out after dark (my opinion).
If you do stay at a hotel and wander around downtown be cautious. You will be accosted by numerous diamond pimps…these are normally tough looking (not big and strong tough but high mileage tough) who will try to direct you to some diamond shop. St. Thomas has multiple cruise ship visits per day and the shopping is directed at them. There may be bargains to be had but the sales people all look like the worst stereotypical car salesmen in the world… If you do see a bauble that you like you must negotiate until they are bleeding and start to walk away…they will call you back with their rock (pun intended) bottom price. You assume risk in the veracity and quality of the stones. But if you have your loupe and know what you are doing…
If you are like me, shopping for jewelry is not your cup of tea your job is to look bored and pissed off. They will likely offer you a drink (FREE) and free wireless to go with it. Most have nice lounge chairs for the non shopper.
Other shopping in the area is typical T-shirt, cap and trinkets. There is one interesting place to eat and that is Glady’s Cafe . They serve breakfast and lunch only. They have typical fare along with regional dishes. The servers are great and so is the food. I always have either the jerk chicken or the jerk chicken sandwich. Mary Lynn insists that I like it because it is named after me…
The Windward Passage hotel is near the downtown shopping and is across the street from the ferry terminal. This is not the ferry terminal previously mentioned at Red Hook but is the connection to Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The Windward Passages’ prices have gone up over last year but the food quality has improved. The hotel is ok for an overnight but I don’t recommend it for an extended or holiday stay.
The reality about hotels in St. Thomas is either feast or famine. They have two levels of accommodation; OK and High End. Both are over priced.
Tomorrow I will blog about St. John USVI.