I planned a last minute Christmas holiday to the USVI and upon doing some hurried research, realized that staying in St. John was a must. In general, St. John is known to have pricer accommodations, but having only two days to find a place, there really was only one extremely overpriced choice that would have been too large for my needs and in the crowded area of Cruz Bay, Chocolate Hole. I was advised upon arrival, that Chocolate Hole had a reputation for being named such....for reasons you may guess if you had a dirty mind. In the literal sense, involving a body of water and why it may be dirty. So I was extra relieved to not have paid $700 per night to stay in a luxury villa in Chocolate Hole ;) Beyond the fact that I was excited to get one and ONLY one, last minute 'Yes' response to all the numerous privately operated villas I could find online....I was beyond lucky to arrive to a gracious host, a beautiful vacation home, and to find myself in what I considered the most ideal location on the island. About the host: Mary took the time to wait for our ferry to arrive from St. Thomas. We actually saw her waiting for us as our ferry was about to dock, as my friend and I were saying to amuse ourselves, "Wouldn't it be funny, if that was our host?". Because Mary looked just as I had imagined her on the phone; a beautiful kind spirited woman with long wavy cool blonde hair. And turns out, it was her! She let me ride in her car, while my friend followed, to point out sights along the ride to the cottage. We passed along many of her friends and neighbors, as everyone knows each other here, and it was a lovely thing to see. It's about a half hour or a bit longer of a ride that goes north and clockwise all along St. John until you get to the southeastern part of the island, where Google Maps labels it 'Mandal', near Kiddle Point. The property was beautiful and secluded; it reminded me of a one room cottage with a wrap around porch, and the bedroom felt like an extension of the cottage that felt at one with the porch, so although it was inside, it felt outdoorsy, because of the wrap around windows. When you wake in the mornings, light and nature fills the room. The couch was also very comfy to sleep on! It is very picturesque and quiet, with art from Mary's husband, who is an artist, and decorations that suit the cottage, along with well manicured plants, trees, and flowers enveloping the home. There is a tv with cable (if you're into that), along with wifi, and the porch overlooking the lake is the kind of thing I imagine when I think of growing old and having coffee in the morning :P Super ideal for a couple who doesn't mind doing the slow, quiet type thing. Great little local stores and restaurants within a few minutes drive and multiple bays that seem popular with locals and family friendly. Great AM hike to see sunrise along Ram's Head, per Mary's suggestion. There's also access to the back entry (so where most people would finish, not enter) to the hike to see the sugar plantation ruins and petroglyphs. It takes a little bit of sleuthing, but easy to find once you start driving west from the cottage and things start looking off-road. Also, if the weather is right, and if you're a diver you would find this out with a little googling, the ocean area near the cottage, the SE waters of St. John, apparently have amazing diving that many divers don't get to see, because the dive operators won't waste their time boating all the way to that part of the island (because they leave from Cruz Bay) unless they know it's the right season and waters aren't choppy. Last, but not least, Mary made an exception for my super well behaved little dog to stay with us in her home. All in all, such a great, lucky experience!
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