Loved, loved, loved it. Got off the tender, hopped in an open air cab with about 8 other passengers. Paid $6 each to Trunk Bay Beach, which is public with great facilities - showers, food, chair and umbrella rentals, snorkel and other fun swim accessories for rent too. The beach is a perfect crescent of white sand and the water was warm and like glass. There are also plenty of shade trees. Spent about 4 hours there and then returned via cab (waiting at the beach) to a cute lunch place in town (forgot the name). Had mahi mahi sliders and a delicious "painkiller" drink. St. John is gorgeous. Plan to go back and stay at Caneel Bay.
Got off the tender and got in van to Orient Beach. Very European - lots of restaurants, which rent chairs and umbrellas. We camped out at "La Playa." The beach is pretty nice with lots of action - water sports and lots of topless (a few naturists). The water was OK - not as nice as other beaches. The most annoying part was the vendors that constantly come by trying to sell you beads, hats, t-shirts, etc. Really annoying. Next time we go to St. Martin, we're going to Pinel Island - I hear it's much quieter. We ate in a french restaurant near the pier. It was OK.
Did the ship excursion on the Caribbean Railway and Brimstone Hill. The railway was fun - open air train, great views. A running commentary of what you are seeing. Lots of poverty, waving kids. We saw a lot of animals including the wild monkeys. There are accapella singers and they serve you drinks and a sweet coconut cookie. It lasts about 2 1/2 hours. Suggest you use the restroom midway through the ride because the line toward the end of the ride is really long. Brimstone Hill is interesting especially if you pay for the $5 audio guide. They didn't really give us enough time there, though. Overall, it was a decent trip but it's very expensive. We spent about an hour in the port area drinking and shopping.
Did a Cosol Tour, which we booked through the internet. Travelled with 10 passengers from Journey. It was a 6 hour tour and we saw most of the highlights - Anse Le Rey, the volcano, waterfall, gardens, banana plantation, views of Marigot Bay, etc. We were served local foods, which were good. We took a boat to Jalousie Beach between the Pitons. The boat was small and we had to wade through the water to get on it. All in all, it was quite enjoyable and well worth the $65 per person price.
After a little bit of a hassle (French lady trying to get us to take a tour), we shared a cab with a couple from the ship and went to Baie St. Jean. Similar to Orient Beach in St.Martin, but smaller. Rented chairs in front of a swanky boutique hotel, where they let us use their facilities. We also had lunch there. It was pretty nice. The water is beautiful. Unfortunately, it started to rain, so we got together with some other people from the ship and headed back. Got dressed and headed out again to Gustavia. It's picturesque with loads of designer shops and nice restaurants. We were kind of tired of eating heavy meals, so we had delicious sushi. Watched the sunset and meandered back through the town to the tender. It was nice being in a port in the evening for a change.
Loved it! This is a place for beach lovers! We did the ship excursion for $23 per person to Savannah Bay Beach. We knew that everyone was going to the Baths, so we opted for a less crowded and less strenuous beach. Savannah Beach is lovely. It's a crescent of white sand, with shade trees and stunning water and views. There are NO facilities, so it's a good idea to bring food and water. The water is really shallow and you can walk out really far and still stand up. It was a bit windy the day we were there, but that helped us keep cool. After 3 hours, we returned to the pier area where there are a handful of decent shops and a bar. It's very quiet, but really really nice. Would like to go back and stay at Little Dix Bay.