July 29, 2012 was the perfect day in every way possible. Or at least that's what you'd be told if you asked either Melody or Jonathan (better known as Jay). The entire day consisted of beautiful weather, family, friends, laughter, tears and most importantly: Our wedding. From that day on, it's been impossible to pick out a single thing that we would have changed. Our honeymoon however, was another story at first.
As beautiful as we wanted both our wedding day and honeymoon to be, at the ages of 19 and 22, we both still had school costs to think about on top of all the other expenses that come along with beginning a life together.
As a result of this we worked hard to cut back on costs and stay within our relatively small budget. We looked into multiple destination ideas for our honeymoon and finally settled on St. John. Everything we read about the island of St. John fit perfectly into the description of our dream honeymoon. We both knew we wanted somewhere quiet and private where we could just relax on the beach after all the craziness of planning our wedding. Another thing we found appealing about this location was that it's U.S. owned, so we wouldn't need a passport to go there or back.
Traveler's Joy made it possible to not only afford our trip, but also for our guests to get involved by reading about our chosen location and helping to decide some of our activities while there, which lead to some fun stories of what other people had experienced and wanted us to be able to enjoy as well. After spending lots of time looking into different honeymoon registries, there was no question in our minds that Traveler's Joy was by far the best. It was so easy to set up, personalize, and link to our wedding website.
On July 31, 2012 we left before sunrise and after a day of traveling, layovers, and being mistaken as a father and daughter instead of newlyweds, we arrived on the island of St. Thomas around 6 PM. The plan was to rent a car from the airport on St. Thomas and then ride a car barge over to St. John, or in other words: To dinner, a hot shower, and sleep. We quickly discovered it might not be that simple as we dealt with thin roads, limited road signs, trying to remember to drive on the left side of the road and a pretty vague map.
After finally making it to St. John, we met the man we were renting our cottage from and were given a quick run down on the steep, curvy roads, avoiding taxis, and watching out for the wild pigs, goats, donkeys and other animals that roamed the island. We were then lead to our cottage where we were a bit shocked by a whole other set of rules that included limited water use (it is an island after all, and it's expensive there).
At that point, I have to say we definitely weren't using the word “perfect” to describe what we had gotten ourselves into. It was dark, rainy and late by the time we were able to find our way to a run down mini mart and purchase the food we needed to make some dinner for ourselves. After practically falling asleep on our plates, we finally crawled into bed and slept. And slept. And slept.
The next day is when “adventure” began to meet “luxury." After getting ready the next morning we began to drive around exploring and realized what an absolutely stunning island we were staying on. The views were phenomenal, the town was filled with unique shops, interesting people, delicious restaurants and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the weather.
Our week ended up being perfect as we got more and more accustomed to the culture there, and learned our way around the winding roads a bit more. We had a blast exploring different beaches and learning what each one was known for. Some were best for surfing, others for snorkeling, and still others for how secluded they were. Our favorite beach was Honeymoon Bay, it was your classic white sand beach with water that seemed to be 20 different shades of blue. We spent almost every afternoon there relaxing and snorkeling with hardly anyone else in sight.
Other highlights included all the hiking trails around the island that lead to old ruins and stone carvings, playing board games in our cottage and seaside restaurants and bars with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. We had a blast talking to the people who lived on the island and they were all more than willing to tell us all sorts of history, tips on the best beaches and more.
In the end we couldn't have asked for anything more in a honeymoon and began to view the crazy beginning as part of what made our trip quirky and unforgettable. Both of us would highly recommend the island of St. John to anyone who is looking for relaxation and adventure all in one trip. We're hoping to go back someday and experience even more of what the island has to offer.
Overall we spent around $3,000 total for airfare, our private cottage, food, souvenirs, and other travel items. Which made it affordable for our collage student type of budget without really having to give up any experiences since a lot of things to do on the island were free or relatively cheap.