This was our fourth stay at Secret Harbour Resort over a span of thirteen years, it is one of our favorites. We had lived on the East End of St. John in Coral Bay and occasionally visited Secret Harbour, when we were doing shopping, to enjoy the snorkeling. On this trip we stayed for eleven days and made do nicely without a car. We visited old friends on St. John and were there for the first day of Hurricane Irene. When we lived on St. John we would sometimes stay here so we could catch the early flight out of St. Thomas airport without having to worry about catching the ferry from St. John..
Secret Harbour is very convenient to the ferry that goes to St. John if you are planning on going over for day trips. The resort is also far enough away from Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas's main city, that we felt safe at night. Our advise would be not to go to Charlotte Amalie at night (especially late at night), and if you do, to stay on the main streets.
There is a local paper that covers the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John (the three US Virgin Islands) called The Virgin Islands Daily News and it has an internet site: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/. It's a good resource to visit before your trip.
We flew Delta from Austin to Atlanta and then direct to St. Thomas and reversed the two legged trip on the way home. The flights were long but we enjoyed not having to go through Miami and switching to a prop plane between San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas.
Staying at the Resort:
This was our fourth time to stay as guests and they have a variety of rooms. Most of the rooms are in rectangular blocks that are either at the beach or up near the top of a small hill. Each room has a view of the bay. The ones on the hill are the most economical yet require a fairly long stairway walk (past the pool) down to the beach. Most of the beach front rooms (three stories) are right at the beach. There is also another building that is two stories tall with the restaurant and dive shop located on the first floor. The office/reception, gym/massage, and four ADA compliant rooms make up the second (ground level from the street) floor. On this trip we stayed in room 804; one of the rooms that are ADA compliant. It was to the right of the office with the gym in between. They were in the middle of remodeling the bar and restaurant when we stayed at the resort (August 11 - 22nd) and our stay was pleasant but noisy. If we had been told they were remodeling we would have stayed at another resort or with some of our friends that live on St. John as the sounds of hammers and electric saws were not what we were expecting. The construction project is supposed to be completed by the end of September.
Our room had a small refrigerator, a coffee machine (with coffee), a wall safe for valuables, a small utility sink, a balcony with two lounges a table and two chairs and a small dining table with two chairs inside. Our king size mattress was replaced while we stayed there and we also had two end tables with reading lamps and two alarm clocks. It is not a new resort but it is functional and well maintained.
I miss the old days before gasoline powered saws, weed eaters, and leaf blowers. I suppose it's just something we have to learn to put up with as the noise serves as proof that the folks keeping the landscape maintained are working. If you don't like continuous loud music you want to make certain that you don't stay in a room or on the beach by the beach bar. My idea of going to a beach resort is to enjoy the gentle sound of surf and the rustling of palm fronds. One Saturday morning around 8 AM a very thoughtful person brought a yapping dog to the beach. Don't expect to sleep late.
The gym had three treadmills, a stair stepper, a recumbent exercise bike, and several sets of dumbbells - all in good condition. In the gym there is a TV, bottled water, and towels along with a fully furnished bathroom. The massage room is located right next to the gym.
The resort's pool is about half way up a hill and was clean and large. There was also a large paved area around the pool and a shaded area with a view which would be a good place to enjoy the pool and watch kids. Not many people were using the pool as the beach was the place to be.
The beach has plenty of lounges and many sun umbrellas and palm trees. It is a very nice place to spend the day.
If you have never snorkeled I would say that this resort is probably an ideal place to learn. There is no surf or waves to speak of and there are two reefs right off the beach (easily within 150 feet of the beach with an average depth of about 8 feet). Some of the coral is dead but you have to expect that as there are lots of folks that don't know not to walk on the bottom (which kills the coral). There were parrot fish, blue tangs, rays, sergeant majors, and various other fish. It is a good place to snorkel and swim. There is no lifeguard on duty. The swim platform was absent on this visit and we assumed it was being refurbished for the upcoming high season. I like to swim and if you go out about 200 feet the water drops off to about 20 feet deep.
The resort's dive shop was right below us (on the far right end of the beach facing the water) and ours was the furthest room on the end of the building. They had boat dives and all the equipment necessary for diving, floating, and snorkeling. Everything dive related looked to be in good shape.
The office has a computer that can be used for $.70 per minute.
There are 43 TV channels when the signal is operational.
The WIFI code is changed every 5 days and my iPhone and Kindle lost WIFI contact every time I turned them off so I had to reconnect each and every time I wanted WIFI - I guess I'm spoiled but I found it inconvenient. The signal was strong in our room but was not adequate for beach use.
The water from the tap tastes pretty bad (especially after you've been there a while) - like chlorine - so we purchased distilled water from the Marina Market in Red Hook.
The shower and the bathroom fixtures worked well and we never ran out of hot water and the resort supplies shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.
Walking in the Secret Harbour / Redhook area:
Remember that traffic is on the left side of the street. Redhook is the closest town to Secret Harbour and it is possible to walk there in about ten minutes. The sidewalk is only on the main road and most of the walk is done either on the road or on the shoulder. It isn't a very safe place to walk as the road is narrow and traffic usually won't go around a person walking but seems to see how close they can get, even if the other lane is empty. The walking is also difficult in that the shoulder may be non-existent as vegetation is sometimes right up to the edge of the road and the shoulder drop off (downhill side) from the two lane road varies from flush to a couple feet. The road is fairly busy.
My wife and I had walked to Redhook one morning for some exercise, to mail some postcards, and to look at the salt pond past the ferry landing. On the way back to Secret Harbour, just past the Montessori School, while walking up the hill, my wife slipped out of her sandals and fell along the shoulder of the road, rolling back to the brush line. She cut her head just into her hair line and was bleeding quite a bit. She also scraped her arm and leg. We were lucky that it wasn't worse as there was a broken green beer bottle near where she had hit her head and some pointed stumps where roadside vegetation had been cut off. A pizza delivery guy was coming up the road and I waved him down. He drove us to the resort with me in the bed of his truck. We washed out the wound and got by without a trip to the hospital. No stitches were necessary and the cut healed in a couple days. I would not recommend the area around the resort for walking or bike riding. There are sidewalks in Redhook and the taxi fare between there and Secret Harbour is $5 per person one way. The front desk can call for a cab at the resort (it usually takes only a few minutes for one to show up) and there is a taxi pickup area (where cabs are usually available) in the parking lot next to the American Yacht Harbor Shopping Center, just to the east of Maggie Malones.
Cost of transportation:
Taxi fare between the Airport and Secret Harbour is between fifteen and twenty dollars per person with a bit more added on for extra luggage.
If you are traveling to or from the airport be prepared to be squeezed into a van like a sardine. The taxis charge per customer (not per trip) and when we left the resort we were so crowded that we were sitting on each others laps. All of the baggage is placed behind the rear seat so the bags on the bottom get flattened.
The taxi fare between Secret Harbour and Redhook is five dollars per person one way. These taxis are usually not crowded.
The ferry at Redhook which goes between St. Thomas and St. John is six dollars per person one way with a bit more charged for luggage. It leaves on the hour and takes about fifteen minutes to traverse to the other side. There is no eating, drinking, standing, or walking on the ferry so select a seat and prepare to sit. Some of the ferries have seating outside on the top deck. Check the weather first, before deciding to sit on top and if it is sunny take a tight fitting hat that won't blow off on the trip. If it looks like rain, or if you don't need the sun, I recommend sitting inside under cover. If the heat bothers you there is also an air conditioned cabin for passengers towards the front of the ferry. If you get easily sea sick then sitting near the center line of the boat rather than along the outside will give you a much smoother ride.
Eating at the resort:
Breakfast costs between $12 and $15 or you can order a la carte (two eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, each $4). Soft drinks were $2 but were made from the bar gun with island water so they don't taste all that good. The food was tasty.
There is a restaurant and beach bar on the property. Neither the restaurant or the beach bar are owned by the resort so you are required to carry a small card with your name and room number to charge food and drinks. The card destroys the security of leaving your stuff on the beach and it would be simpler if the restaurant and bar would use the anonymous plastic room key to charge. House wine is offered at six dollars a glass, soft drinks are two dollars, mixed drinks begin at six. If you are looking for appetizers there isn't a very good selection. The burgers were excellent (around $12).
Dinner: Hamburgers, fajitas, & etc. cost about $15.
Eating in Red Hook:
There are several places to eat and the prices average around $14 per person. It is a fun little town to visit and the additional cost of the taxi ride to and from the resort to eat an occasional meal in town was worth the additional expense.
We were planning on eating downstairs at Maggie Malones but the music was too loud to have a pleasant conversation so we opted to eat upstairs. The view was better than downstairs (we could see the marina and boats) and there was a nice breeze. Upstairs there are two small balconies, each with a table and in the afternoon they are in the shade. We had Mexican food and on weekdays from 4 to 6 they have four dollar margaritas, frozen or on the rocks, and individual tacos for three dollars. We had some chopped beef and pulled beef both soft and crispy taco shells and thought they were great but especially enjoyed the pulled beef soft tacos.
We also ate at Big Bambooz Bar & Burger Hut. We had a good meal of just appetizers.
Red Hook Shopping:
In Redhook there is a pharmacy, an Ace Hardware, a Marina Market (where you can get supplies for your room), several shops and eateries, and a mail place in the building behind Duffy's Love Shack. The mail place is on the second floor on the back side of the building and we purchased stamps for and sent postcards.
We had a good vacation and only lost the last day to Hurricane Irene.
John and Terri
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secret Harbour is currently closed due to hurricane Irma Secret Harbour is a boutique all-beachfront condominium resort on the Caribbean US Virgin Island of St. Thomas. The resort is situated on the island's Southeast shore on a palm-tree shaded swimming/snorkeling beach with pristine Caribbean blue water and sugary sand offering tranquil and water sport vacations with superb amenities. The all-beachfront property features 48 uniquely furnished condominiums on the ocean that are individually owned and resort managed. Each condominium is a spacious studio, 1- or 2-bedroom beachfront suite with fully equipped kitchen and private patio/balcony. Amenities include: 2 restaurants; PADI dive center with scuba diving, excursion boats, sailing and watersport rentals; freshwater pool; tennis courts; fitness center; gift shop; ATM & spa services. The intimate resort is ideal for families, couples, watersport & diving enthusiasts, visiting executives, and those seeking a tropical destination wedding, honeymoon or event. Bonus amenities include free Wi-Fi, onsite concierge, and wedding/event coordinator. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Secret Harbour Beach Hotel Benner
- Hotel Secret Harbour Beach