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Cruz Bay St. John Beckons Boaters

Cruz Bay is the center of St. John’s universe. While Cruz Bay Harbor can be a noisy anchorage, what with ferry boats coming and going and bands playing some nights till the wee hours, quieter locales sit just a short dinghy ride away.

V.I. National Park has installed about 20 moorings at Solomon, Honeymoon, and Caneel Bays that will put you about a 10- to15-minute dinghy ride from Cruz Bay Harbor. The park charges $15 a night to tie up to its moorings, with stays limited to seven consecutive nights in each bay. Pay at the payment station at the finger pier near the park’s Cruz Bay Visitor’s Center or Caneel Bay Resort’s watersports center.

"If you only need to stay for less than three hours, you can anchor in park waters near the Creek," Rafe Boulon, the park’s chief of resource management, said.

On the south side of St. John, Great Cruz Bay, home to the Westin Resort and Villas, is only about 15 minutes by dinghy.

If you’re visiting Monday through Friday, make the local government’s Tourism Department office your first stop for maps, brochures and information. It’s located about a block from the dock in the courtyard next to the post office.

Make the park’s Visitor’s Center your second stop for information on tying up to the more than 200 moorings at various bays around the island. The rangers on duty will answer your myriad questions and give you appropriate brochures. If you bring your dinghy into an area known as the Creek, the Visitor’s Center is right there. You’ll also find a small children’s playground adjacent to the Visitor’s Center.

The public VITRAN bus service departs from the Cruz Bay ferry dock at about 20 to 30 minutes past the hour. It usually waits for arriving ferries, but get there early to make sure this isn’t one of the days the bus leaves off schedule. The bus can take you all the way to Coral Bay via Centerline Road and makes a cheap way to sightsee.

The bus also takes you to Coral Bay Marine, the only place on the island with any selection when it comes to marine supplies. It’s located near the Coral Bay dinghy dock. A trip to St. Thomas is your other option. The bus stops at Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center in Susannaberg if you need medical care. Call 340-693-8900 to make an appointment. A few doctors and dentists also have private practices in Cruz Bay.

Need a bank? First Bank is just one-block walk inland from the ferry dock. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the Marketplace Shopping Center, where you’ll find a Scotia Bank, the island’s largest supermarket, Starfish. The Marketplace is also home to the island’s only drug store, Chelsea, and St. John Hardware. It also houses the island’s only book store and a handful of shops and restaurants.

About three blocks up from the ferry dock in Cruz Bay proper sits the Boulon Center, home to a small grocery store, Dolphin Market, and St. John Eyecare Center. It sells and repairs eyeglasses and provides optometrist examinations. Call 340-779-2020 for an appointment. You’ll also find Ronnie’s Pizza and Mo’ around the corner at the Boulon Center. Call 340-693-7700 to order your pizza to go.

As for nightlife, Cruz Bay has no boatie bars per se, but a youthful crowd gathers at Woody’s, located near a Subway, for happy hour beers and conversations. The Beach Bar located beachfront at Wharfside Mall, attracts a good crowd for its live music and camaraderie.

Cruz Bay is home to myriad restaurants that range from Mexican fare at Margarita Phil’s to very fine dining at ZoZo’s to the Lime Inn, always a good family bet.

If you’re heading to St. Thomas for major shopping or other purposes, it’s easy to hop the ferry from Cruz Bay for a short sail across Pillsbury Sound to Red Hook, St. Thomas where you’ll find taxis waiting to whisk you way.

Long time St. John resident Lynda Lohr lives in Coral Bay.  A reporter by trade, she has written for numerous international, national, regional, and local publications as well as travel and news websites.

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