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  #21  
Old 05-02-2014
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

As far as checking into the USVI, does it have to be Cruz Bay or do you just have to check in at a customs office somewhere before setting foot on land or anchoring? For example, if your are sailing from Soper's Hole to St. Thomas and you are going to be sailing right by Cruz Bay, do you need to stop at Cruz Bay for customs or can you proceed directly to Charlotte Amalie and do customs there?

Also, similar question. Our last trip we sailed from the BVIs to Culebra with an overnight mooring at Christmas Cove - where we didn't get off the boat. Upon arriving in Culebra we called in to do customs and got a stiff warning that we were required to check in at the USVI. I now understand that in that particular case we made a mistake because we took a mooring ball. What if we hadn't stopped at all in the USVI at all though? Would we still have had to done customs there before proceeding to Culebra?

Thanks!
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

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Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post
As far as checking into the USVI, does it have to be Cruz Bay or do you just have to check in at a customs office somewhere before setting foot on land or anchoring? For example, if your are sailing from Soper's Hole to St. Thomas and you are going to be sailing right by Cruz Bay, do you need to stop at Cruz Bay for customs or can you proceed directly to Charlotte Amalie and do customs there?

Also, similar question. Our last trip we sailed from the BVIs to Culebra with an overnight mooring at Christmas Cove - where we didn't get off the boat. Upon arriving in Culebra we called in to do customs and got a stiff warning that we were required to check in at the USVI. I now understand that in that particular case we made a mistake because we took a mooring ball. What if we hadn't stopped at all in the USVI at all though? Would we still have had to done customs there before proceeding to Culebra?

Thanks!
I suspect that the only reason you got in trouble was grabbing an overnight mooring ball in US waters without checking in first.

Ferries from BVI to Charlotte Amalie bypass Cruz Bay all the time. Ferry riders (myself included) pass through customs/immigration in Charlotte Amalie, not Cruz Bay. So I expect you could take a sailboat all the way to Charlotte Amalie too. But I have not actually done that (aside from on the ferry).
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccriders View Post
Can you expand on that a bit?
Where did you sail?
Where did you anchor?
What shore activities did you have?
Did you snorkel, if so where and how did it compare with BVI?
Thanks,
John
We've been to St. John a number of times, picking up moorings in Caneel Bay (primarily to access Cruz Bay for Customs when coming back from the BVI), Hawksnest Bay, Leinster Bay--all along the north coast of St. John. Cruz Bay is also a restaurant and shopping stop. Leinster Bay has good snorkeling along the shore and at Waterlemon Cay, as well as extensive hiking trails (including one to the Annaberg sugar mill complex--a must see in this part of the world. We have also anchored in Cruz Bay, but don't recommend it because of the ferry traffic and tight quarters--best to take a mooring around the corner at Lind Pt towards Caneel bay and dinghy in.

Other favorites are the mooring fields at Salt Pond Bay and the Lameshur bays. All have good snorkeling along the shorelines and are quiet, relaxing areas. Salt Pond bay has a trail to Rams Head which is worth the time. A number of years ago we anchored in Coral Bay and dinghied in to check out the shops and restaurants. Note that most of the water side of St. John is off limits to anchoring and you must use the mooring in these areas. The good news is that the mooring fee is half that of the BVI moorings. If you have a Senior Pass, available from the park service, you get the moorings half price.

St. John is a lot more laid back than the more popular areas in the BVI and lacks the numerous beach bars that are readily available in the BVI. Our chartering has migrated towards the USVI, preferring to charter out of Red Hook on St. Thomas and work our way to the BVI or staying within US waters (including St. Croix and the Spanish Virgins.) There are a few anchorages on the south side of St. Thomas that are OK, but we have generally considered them only as a convenient overnite stop enroute to/from the SVI.

All that said, those new to chartering ought to explore the BVI and St. John before going farther afield to St. Croix or the SVI. Generally you'll find good snorkeling everywhere charter boats are likely to go, but there are more choices in the BVI. In our experience, the Indians is unique among all the Virgins and the caves at Norman Island are a "must do", especially if you have kids and can tolerate rougher water than is the case in protected mooring fields (e.g., the Bight at Norman Island).
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  #24  
Old 05-05-2014
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fallard View Post
We've been to St. John a number of times, picking up moorings in Caneel Bay (primarily to access Cruz Bay for Customs when coming back from the BVI), Hawksnest Bay, Leinster Bay--all along the north coast of St. John. Cruz Bay is also a restaurant and shopping stop. Leinster Bay has good snorkeling along the shore and at Waterlemon Cay, as well as extensive hiking trails (including one to the Annaberg sugar mill complex--a must see in this part of the world. We have also anchored in Cruz Bay, but don't recommend it because of the ferry traffic and tight quarters--best to take a mooring around the corner at Lind Pt towards Caneel bay and dinghy in.

Other favorites are the mooring fields at Salt Pond Bay and the Lameshur bays. All have good snorkeling along the shorelines and are quiet, relaxing areas. Salt Pond bay has a trail to Rams Head which is worth the time. A number of years ago we anchored in Coral Bay and dinghied in to check out the shops and restaurants. Note that most of the water side of St. John is off limits to anchoring and you must use the mooring in these areas. The good news is that the mooring fee is half that of the BVI moorings. If you have a Senior Pass, available from the park service, you get the moorings half price.

St. John is a lot more laid back than the more popular areas in the BVI and lacks the numerous beach bars that are readily available in the BVI. Our chartering has migrated towards the USVI, preferring to charter out of Red Hook on St. Thomas and work our way to the BVI or staying within US waters (including St. Croix and the Spanish Virgins.) There are a few anchorages on the south side of St. Thomas that are OK, but we have generally considered them only as a convenient overnite stop enroute to/from the SVI.

All that said, those new to chartering ought to explore the BVI and St. John before going farther afield to St. Croix or the SVI. Generally you'll find good snorkeling everywhere charter boats are likely to go, but there are more choices in the BVI. In our experience, the Indians is unique among all the Virgins and the caves at Norman Island are a "must do", especially if you have kids and can tolerate rougher water than is the case in protected mooring fields (e.g., the Bight at Norman Island).
Fallard's post is spot on and reflects the opinion of most that have actually "been there and done that". On the other hand, I'm not so unhappy with DR's negative comments about the USVI (which covers many islands that are many miles apart) based on a taxi ride from the St Thomas airport to the ferry terminal on St Thomas. The sailors that think St John is dirty and unappealing based on those statements will help keep that beautiful area from getting congested for me. The SVIs are ugly too!!!! Stay away!!!
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Yes, judging the entire USVIs on Charolette Amelie is pretty unfair. However, I agree that CA is a complete and unashamed, corrupt, dump. The infamous jewelry shopping can be a complete rip off too. Get as far away as possible and it becomes gorgeous. St. John's and St. Croix are totally different places.
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Charlotte Amalie during the day is an interesting place. Sure, the duty free shopping area is a cookie cutter version of the duty free shopping areas where the cruise ships stop--like Philipsburg, St. Maarten--but the architecture is very interesting, as is the fort downtown. There are some excellent restaurants in the vicinity, like Herve (near the 99 steps) and Oceana (by Frenchtown), but we haven't been back there for about 2-3 years and can't guarantee things haven't changed. The market area between the duty free shops and the fort is interesting, but a little goes a long way. As anyone will tell you, avoid walking downtown after dark--that's what taxis are for.

There are some nice areas of St. Thomas. When we charter out of Red Hook, we walked to the adjacent restaurants and the local grocery store by American Wharf (which is gated in the evening) and never felt ill at ease. The locals with the means tend to live in nice, non-touristy areas, including the north side of St. Thomas. In any case, we don't regard St. Thomas as a "destination", but a reasonable stopover before or after a charter.
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Old 05-07-2014
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fallard View Post
Charlotte Amalie during the day is an interesting place. Sure, the duty free shopping area is a cookie cutter version of the duty free shopping areas where the cruise ships stop--like Philipsburg, St. Maarten--but the architecture is very interesting, as is the fort downtown. There are some excellent restaurants in the vicinity, like Herve (near the 99 steps) and Oceana (by Frenchtown), but we haven't been back there for about 2-3 years and can't guarantee things haven't changed. The market area between the duty free shops and the fort is interesting, but a little goes a long way. As anyone will tell you, avoid walking downtown after dark--that's what taxis are for.

There are some nice areas of St. Thomas. When we charter out of Red Hook, we walked to the adjacent restaurants and the local grocery store by American Wharf (which is gated in the evening) and never felt ill at ease. The locals with the means tend to live in nice, non-touristy areas, including the north side of St. Thomas. In any case, we don't regard St. Thomas as a "destination", but a reasonable stopover before or after a charter.
There's been a few changes since you were here. Herve's has been closed for a few years. Oceana is still open and consistently very good. A few other places in Frenchtown have changed names.

Too many restaurants have changed in Red Hook to list. The grocery store you refer to in Red Hook, Marina Market, has been closed for quite a while. There no longer is a grocery store within walking distance of Red Hook.
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Don't forget that the USVI has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and is in the top 5 world wide.
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

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Don't forget that the USVI has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and is in the top 5 world wide.
You might want to break that down by the individual islands. Crime usually happens in pockets.
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Re: Island hopping between BVI and USVI?

Murder rates in the Caribbean fluctuate year-to-year. Recent data indicate that St.Kitts and Nevis (45.5 murders/100,000) had the highest rate for 2013, followed Jamaica (44.1), the Bahamas (34.1), and the USVI (32.9). Next were Trinidad and Tobago (30.5), followed by St Vincent and the Grenadines (27.6), St. Lucia (20.1), Dominica (16.8), Anguilla 14.8, Turks and Caicos (8.8), Barbados (8.7), Cayman Islands (7.0), and the BVI (3.5).

By comparison, New Orleans has a much higher rate than any of the Caribbean countries.

In any case, murders in the Caribbean rarely involve tourists. It certainly helps to acquire "street smarts" whenever you are in a new area. The tourism industry--particularly local hotels, charter bases, restaurants, etc., will provide advice, like taking a taxi after dark in certain areas. Muggings are more of a risk for tourists than murder.
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