We wanted to go to St. John and Trunk Bay from the reviews I read. Wanted something my son could snorkel at and not be so crowded. They had the underwater guide I thought would be a great start. LOVED THIS PLACE. It took about an hour to get there. It was first a $10 per person taxi to Red Hook then we took the ferry over which was $6 per person. Then we got off and took another taxi to Trunk Bay which was $6 per person and then a $4 park entrance (it's a national park so if you have a membership you get that discounted entrance). Then same prices back. So $46 per person. On the way back someone from the ship said they had booked this as an excursion through Carnival and it was $75 a person! Same exact thing we did. The beach was beautiful with shade. We spent most of the time bobbing in the clear water. Minimal waves, snorkeling was great. My son was hesitant and didn't want to do it and as soon as he started seeing the fish he was hooked. We took summer sausage cut up and the fish love it. Careful they get a bit frenzied with it! It was not very crowded and we had a lovely time. There was a place to rent snorkel equipment and buy drinks and food. Restaurant did not take credit cards but the snorkel place did. Bring lots of cash.
We did the Black Pearl pirate cruise. They pick you up at 10:00 and take you down to their pier -- not very far. Then you cruise out to a sunken ship to snorkel. Water was beautiful , fish were okay -- a bit far down and not any pretty coral or anything to see. After that we got back up and went to another area and there were the turtles. We saw about 3 different ones. They were feeding the turtles so they were coming around. It was beautiful! Got to touch them as they swam by. Lunch was pretty good of steak or chicken or tuna. Then side accompaniments. They had beer and rum punch as well which was available immediately on getting on the boat. Crew friendly and helpful. After all that they pulled out the plank and the rope swing which was a big hit. The ladies floated in the water while the men were jumping from the rope. My husband would swing out first and then swing back and pick up our 8 year old and then swing back out over the water. Everyone had a lot of fun with that. After that we slowly cruised back to port with the music playing and everyone dancing in the sun enjoying the weather and cocktails. We got back about 3:00. GREAT excursion and everyone had a fabulous time and we had a group from age 8 to 66. We booked this on our own -- not through carnival. I believe it was $80 for an adult and $40 for the kids.
We booked a tour through Simon Says. It was a tour through the island first. Beautiful curvy island. We stopped along the road and had fresh off the tree bananas. Fantastic! My son who never eats bananas ate three of them! Then we stopped in one of the towns and Simon -- our tour guide (and owner) bought us some home made fresh bread. Hot from the oven and delicious. We made our way around to the waterfall -- a bit small and underwhelming and crowded with everyone getting in. The kids all jumped in and swam. Not clear but cold fresh water. Then we went to the volcano -- you just stand in front and smell the sulfur. Then on to the mud bath. It's really more of hot natural spring water and then bars of mud that they go up onto the volcano and bring back down. You lather yourself up with this mud bar and then stand in the sun to dry off. Kind of neat. The spring pool is sooooo hot! It says its 100 degrees but the water was so scalding you can't stand in it. They would take buckets and pour over you to get the mud off. HOOOOT! There were cold showers to rinse off in as well. Then on to Simons house for home cooked chicken lunch -- very good! After that a speedboat tour around the island to the base of the pitons and snorkeling. That part wasn't so great with a miscommunication and the boat leaving us there with no snorkeling equipment. So can't tell you how good it was. That was the only down part of the trip. Over all I would recommend it. Full day but you get to see a bunch of the island. $85 for adults and $40 for kids I believe it was.
We opted for our own tour out to the beach. After getting through the port gate we were accosted by lots of guys with baby monkeys and offers to take you somewhere. It was a bit overwhelming. The local police are there to make sure the drivers don't cross the line and are treating the tourists okay. We had one policeman question a driver named Scooby and said he is legit and if hes not, come tell me after. So off we went with Scooby to the beach. We negotiated first and I want to say it was like $6/person to get there and back with our group of 8. We went to the black sand beach and I'm sorry I can't remember the name of this one. It's been three weeks and I did so much research it's all fading. The beach area was very small on the end we were at. We rented to sets of chairs and umbrellas for $10 (two chairs and an umbrella). There were lots of shells on the beach and out in the water for the kids to hunt for. It was a good beach for that. I read about the amazing array of aqua life here and I believe they all enjoyed it but I didn't go out. There were several little bar and grills on this stretch of beach some nicer than others. We ate at the one down on our end and it was actually really good food. There were wild monkeys and mongoose also there but they were in a different area and were used to the people and we didn't interact. I've never seen a wild mongoose! There were people offering massages and they are a bit aggressive and don't know when to accept no. They use fresh aloe limbs for the massage oil which was pretty neat. I got my feed and bottom legs rubbed for $10 for about 5 minutes. We told Scooby what time to come get us and he was back promptly waiting on us. We didn't pay him until we got back to port. We all loved the downtime of the beach and hanging out. The people trying to shove monkeys on you is a little annoying at the port. All to make a buck with your picture being taken.
We spent a week here a couple years ago and the island is pretty small so we knew it pretty well. We rented a car for $100 for the day right there at the port and drove around showing our family. Went to Orient beach just for a quick walk around -- rougher waters but very pretty still. It's on the French side so yes there were topless bathers. We then drove over to a grocery store so we could pick up some goodies for my 8 year old son to take back to his class. He's in a French emersion program so he can speak the language. He got a kick being able to interpret the groceries for us. We drove through La Grand the French town and headed towards Maho beach for the airplanes. I had researched the departures and arrivals so we can hit the right times. I had no intention on staying here so long but we stayed here for hours! The airport was very busy and the waves were big and the kids loved them. The beach is small and there is a bar/grill there. When the planes took up everyone would run up to the wall and get sand blasted. Stupid but we all laughed and ran down to the water running from the wind. It's amazing. My 66 year old step dad got right up there every time trying to not get knocked down from the jet breeze. We ended up ordering food there at the bar and again, not my intention but it was a fantastic lunch. Before we knew it the day was over and had to head back to the ship. Dropped off the car and got on board.