We had never been to the Virgin Islands before, so We only know St. John post-hurricanes. We stayed for 7 nights at Surf Sound roughly 6 months post hurricanes, and we truly fell in love with St. John.
If you’re worried about visiting, don’t be!!! While there is still evidence of the hurricanes, the people are wonderful, the views are stunning, the beaches are virtually yours to explore alone, and lots of restaurants and businesses are open. It was humbling to see and hear about what happened down there, and to see all the crews continuing to work to rebuild.
Surf Sound Cottage was the perfect home base. It’s a beautiful home, and the owners have really made sure to make your stay as easy as possible - including snorkel gear and beach chairs. The house is cozy, comfortable, and inviting. The deck has a constant breeze and a fantastic view of the sunrise every morning. Also a perfect place to eat dinner at night. With the breeze coming off the ocean, we didn’t need the AC in the bedroom at all - just left the windows open. The outdoor shower is lovely. The driveway was a little intimidating the first time, but you actually get used to it really quickly and it’s not bad at all.
We rented a 2-door Jeep Wrangler from Courtesy Car Rental right in Cruz Bay, and spent the week exploring as much of the island as we could. We really loved South Haulover Beach, Maho Bay, Waterlemon Bay, and Trunk Bay. We did the Ram Head and Reef Bay hikes, both of which were fantastic. Just beware that a lot of the tree cover on those hikes is gone, so there’s not a ton of shade. But don’t let that deter you - just bring sunscreen! We took a sunset sail one night, on the Cimarron sailboat out of the National Park dock with Captain Rick, and had a really lovely and relaxing evening. We also loved just driving around soaking in the views.
There are great restaurants open on the Coral Bay side of the island - Wok on the Beach, Indigo Grill, Skinny Legs, and Pizza In Paradise were all favorites. We missed out on Miss Lucy’s due to poor planning on our part, but heard nothing but fantastic things about it and we’re bummed to miss it. Make sure to buy coffee at the grocery store (Dolphin Market was our choice), and use the coffee maker at the house. Very few places on the island had coffee, and the only good coffee we found was all the way in Cruz Bay at the North Shore Deli.
We HIGHLY recommend St. John and Surf Sound Cottage. You’re missing out on an incredible vacation if you don’t visit.
Denise and Sean - Dingmans Ferry, PA
You will be glad if you are driving a small 4WD vehicle because the roads are narrow, winding and steep every where on St. John and the access to the cottage is a bit intimidating the first time. That said, the reward upon arrival is worth it. Once one climbs up from the parking area through the lovely garden, the views of John's Folly, LeDuck Island, and beyond to Norman Island are spectacular at any time of day.
The Cottage is small but very comfortable for two people. We loved the firm king bed and the recliners in the living area were perfect for visiting and reading in the evening. We had strong north winds every day which made use of the porch limited. The rains early every morning, the breezes, and the sound of the surf are really all that you hear except for the occasional truck on the road below coming to clear hurricane debris. Evidence of the hurricanes is everywhere, especially in the Coral Bay area. However, the enthusiasm of the people with whom we spoke and the remarkable rate of cleanup were impressive.
Shopping on St. John is limited but who comes here to shop? This National Park is an amazing national treasure of forests and beaches. Many of the trails in the Park need maintenance but all were usable.
We loved our stay at Surf Sound Cottage in the Coral Bay quarter of St John. This was our third time on the island, but this is our favorite place we stayed and cannot wait to return. We loved the cottage, which is perfect for two, and stayed nine nights. The Cottage was very clean and everything was as pictured, actually better than the pictures. We spent most of our time on the covered porch, enjoying the view, the nice cool breezes, and of course sunrise every morning. The bedroom is air conditioned but we only used it 3 nights, the other nights had a nice breeze to keep us cool. We did not cook at the Cottage, but everything is there if we wanted to. We had breakfast on the porch, packed lunches to enjoy at the beach, and had dinner out every evening, mostly in the Coral Bay restaurants. We also loved the outdoor shower and never used the indoor one. Oh, and the washer and dryer was great too, very convenient.
About the driveway, we knew it was going to be steep and bumpy, but it was not a problem to navigate. 4WD is a must and once you drive up most of the way, backing up the last part to a flat parking space was not bad at all. As Denise, the owner says, in daylight the first time is best.
Denise was very helpful throughout the booking process and provided all the information we needed about the Cottage and the island. We spent our days snorkelling and enjoying many of the beaches. Salt Pond Bay and Lamshur are very close, but the 20 to 30 minute drive to the north shore beaches was not too far. We only went to Cruz Bay twice for dinner. The rest of our dinners were in Coral Bay. Our favorite is Indigo Grill and we went there three times. We also really liked Pizza Bar in Paradise and the Thirsty Donkey. In August, some of the restaurants were closed for off season, but there were still plenty of choices.
We plan to return in 2019 and Surf Sound will be our choice. Thank you Denise for providing such a wonderful place to stay on such an amazing island.
We stayed here for a week in July to celebrate an anniversary. It is an amazing deal given all of the amazing amenities that this place has to offer, plus the view, plus the complete privacy. You really cannot find a place that has all of that at this price on the island I don't think.
The island is an amazing place to visit with God's beautiful creation on full display around every corner. It is just gorgeous. This cottage is on the coral bay side of the island which was great for us because it was away from the (sometimes drunk) crowds that can be found on the Cruz Bay side of the island but if the party scene is your thing you're still only a half an hour or so from there and there are plenty of places to enjoy a drink or two on the Coral Bay side. Our only complaint about the Coral Bay side was the Mangrove smell but I think that it was nature doing it's thing so I guess that is okay. The cottage is a short drive to the famous north shore beaches and even closer to the less traveled but wonderful east end beaches as well. The roads are all very windy and steep at points so you learn to take your time driving. The driveway is a beast to get up but as long as you have a four wheel drive and follow the directions Denise gives you it really isn't a big deal and the cottage at the top is worth it.
The cottage itself is a destination. In our week there we never got tired of the view from the patio and the sundeck. Denise is super helpful if you need any advise or help, but also is not all up in your business or living on the property while you are there, as I think some other places could potentially have. The amenities were awesome with all the beach and snorkel stuff you could need and a fully ready to use kitchen. We even were able to use a vacuum to clean out our Jeep to avoid cleaning fees from the car rental place. With us visiting in July the living area did get a little warm at night, but the turning the AC on in the bedroom at night worked perfectly and the room was cool and restful.
We always love visiting new places and Saint John was one of our favorite places we have ever visited. If we never have the opportunity to visit the beautiful island again we will be glad that we chose to stay at Surf Sound Cottage for our one visit there!
The cottage was located near Coral Bay nestled in the hills overlooking the ocean. The location was very private and we felt secure there. The cottage had everything we needed and was clean. The wifi was a nice surprise. My husband and I cooked breakfast at the cottage each morning and ate all other meals at Skinny Legs, Oasis, Aqua Bistro, Joe's Rum Hut, and High Tide.
We loved the uncrowded, beautiful beaches and fantastic snorkeling. The water is so calm and clear. People are friendly and laid back. The vacation was relaxing. We would highly recommend Surf Sound Cottage and hope to return someday.