Beach to Beach Swim Happening Sunday


The 14th annual Beach to Beach Power Swim is happening this Sunday. Here are the details straight from the Friends of the VI National Park:

Imagine the Caribbean sun, azure water, white sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs that await competitors as they swim through the pristine Virgin Islands National Park waters. Described by Swimming World Magazine as “the most beautiful open water swim in the world”, the Beach-to-Beach Power Swim has also recently been ranked in the top 20 on two reputable open water swimming websites Best 100 Open Water Swims in the World. This year’s event will be the largest ever, with 350 competitors! Hosted by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, the event raises money for preservation, conservation and education programs in Virgin Islands National Park.

The Beach-to-Beach Power Swim contains four simultaneous events:

  • Short course (solo) from Maho Beach to Cinnamon Beach (1 mile)
  • Intermediate course (solo) from Maho Beach to Trunk Beach (2 ¼ miles)
  • Long course (solo) from Maho Beach to Hawksnest Beach (3 ½ miles)
  • Long course (three-person relay teams) from Maho Beach to Hawksnest Beach. The relay team transition points will be at Cinnamon Beach and Trunk Beach.

Please visit for complete information on this event. There are reduced registration fees for swimmers 17 years and younger; as well as reduced registration fees for early registration (early registration ends May 5th).

Swimmers can also register:

  • By phone by calling 340-779-4940
  • Or in person by visiting: The Friends of the Park Stores: Mongoose Junction & National Park Service Visitor Center, Cruz Bay … Connections – Cruz Bay, St. John … Caribbean Surf Co. – Havensight and Red Hook, St. Thomas

News of St. John is Holding a Raffle!

aerial shot of St. John in US Virgin Islands

Earlier today, we told you all about the new Island Health and Wellness Center. Well now it’s time to raise some money for this much needed service, so we’re holding a raffle! And it’s a pretty darn good one!

In less than 24 hours, I was able to secure the prizes listed below. That shows just how amazing this small community is. So thank you to each of the businesses listed below. Please patronize them the next time you’re on island. :)

Ok, so here’s how the raffle is going to work. We will pick two winners – one for Package A and then a second for Package B. Tickets are only $10 each. You can buy as many as you’d like. (The goal is to raise a ton of money for the new health and wellness center, so we are not limiting the number of tickets sold.) The raffle will end at 11:59 p.m. on June 7, 2017. The winner will be announced on or about June 10, 2017.

Now on to the prizes…

Package A: 

  • A Five-Night Stay at The Penthouse at Sunset Serenade (Click here for details)
  • A $200 VISA Gift Card courtesy of St. John Car Rental (to be used toward a Jeep rental, airfare, etc.)
  • A Beautiful “Reef Bay” Bracelet courtesy of VIBE Collection (Click here to see a pic)
  • A Turtle Picnic Snorkel Sail for two on Island Spirit courtesy of Cruz Bay Watersports (Click here for more details)
  • A Sunset Sail for two on Island Spirit courtesy of Cruz Bay Watersports (Click here for more details)
  • Snorkel Gear Rental courtesy of Just Beach!
  • Two Personal Training Sessions courtesy of Love City Fit Club
  • A Pizza Party for 10 at Joe’s Rum Hut – Unlimited Pizza & Beer for One Hour!
  • A $100 Gift Certificate to UMAMI
  • A $75 Gift Certificate to The Terrace
  • A $50 Gift Certificate to Barefoot Cowboy
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to Cruz Bay Landing
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to The Longboard
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to Woody’s

Package B:

  • A Three-Night Stay at Gallows Point (Click here to check out their website)
  • A News of St. John Island Tour (Click here to check out our website)
  • A Scuba Trip (two tank for certified divers and one-tank for non-certified) OR a Full Day US Trip on Busy Bee Charters
  • A Sunset Sail on Born to Rhumb (with yours truly as your first mate!)
  • Snorkel Gear Rental courtesy of St. John Beach Bum
  • Two Personal Training Sessions courtesy of Love City Fit Club
  • A $100 Gift Certificate to Waterfront Bistro
  • A $50 Gift Certificate to Ocean Grill
  • A $50 Gift Certificate to Sun Dog Cafe
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to Cafe Roma
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to The Tap Room plus a case of beer! (your choice of flavors)
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to High Tide
  • A $25 Gift Certificate to The Beach Bar

Ready to purchase some raffle tickets? Just click the “Add to Cart” button below. If you would like to purchase more than one ticket, you can increase the number of tickets purchased in your Shopping Cart. The Shopping Cart will appear below once the “Add to Cart” button is clicked.

News of St. John Raffle
Click the 'Add to Cart' button to purchase a raffle ticket.

The fine print: All prizes are subject to availability. All prizes are subject to the specific business’s terms and conditions.

More fine print: Once a ticket or tickets are purchased, I (Jenn, owner of News of St. John) will personally write all of your names on raffle tickets. I will then put them all in a hat, bucket, etc. and we will pull the winner live on video. That will be posted here on Raffle tickets will not be mailed to the purchaser. We ask for your address, so we know where to send the winning packages. 

The Best Thing That Has Happened to St. John… In My Opinion.

Sandy Colasacco

Sandy Colasacco is the founder and executive director of the Island Health and Wellness Center. (She is one of the most important members of the St. John community in my opinion.)

For the past four years, we’ve been telling you about the daily happenings on St. John. We’ve told you about the best bars and restaurants, businesses that have closed, businesses that have opened, island events, and much more. We tend to stick to things that appeal to the masses (beaches, restaurants and overall fun) while we tend to shy away from some of the deeper topics that affect the island. Well we’re changing things up a bit today. We’re going to talk about healthcare here on St. John. I hope you all read on…

St. John has the highest rate of uninsured people in the entire US Virgin Islands. The number of uninsured here is actually five times more than the national average. A recent survey found that 72 percent of people living here do not have insurance that covers primary care services and 56 percent of residents have no insurance at all.

You’re probably asking yourselves “why”. Well unless you’re working for a larger corporation like the Westin or Caneel Bay, for example, it’s pretty difficult to get health insurance here. It simply does not exist. So it’s not that we don’t want to pay for health insurance; many of us simply cannot get it.

So who exactly are the uninsured? Well many are active members of the community – your servers, bartenders, boat captains and crew, retail personnel and manual laborers who work hard to keep the tourism industry thriving and the community strong.

So what do people do when they’re in need of healthcare? Honestly, many put it off. That same survey we mentioned above showed that more than 70 percent of St. John residents have delayed or avoided healthcare when primarily due to high costs and inability to pay. Seventy percent. This, in turn, often makes for worsening conditions, higher rates of morbidities and mortalities, and a community not as healthy as it should be.

island health and wellnessWell all of this is about to change thanks to a new non-profit, primary health care practice here on island – the Island Health and Wellness Center. It’s honestly a godsend to our community.

The Island Health and Wellness Center welcomes everyone – both residents and visitors – and all visits cost just $50. If lab testing is needed, there may be an additional $50 to $100 cost; however no one will ever be turned away due to inability to pay. The Center offers everything from sick visits and physicals to women’s health exams and family planning to chronic health management. (The Center does not accept insurance of any kind.)

The Island Health and Wellness Center is the brainchild of Sandy Colasacco. Sandy is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. As a healthcare provider in the Territory, Sandy has seen, first-hand, the lack of affordable health care options. So she decided to do something about it. And what she has created is simply amazing. We cannot thank you enough Sandy.

As we mentioned, the Center is a non-profit which means it relies solely on donations and grants. One of the great things about running News of St. John is that we have the ability to raise money. So we’re holding a pretty amazing raffle to support the new Island Health and Wellness Center. Stay tuned for more info on that.

And for those of you who would like to donate to the Center, you can do so by clicking this link. (Scroll down to the Donate button.)

The Center is located in Palm Plaza, which is across from St. John Market near the Westin. It is open Monday through Friday with varying hours depending on the day. Call (340) 714-4270 to make an appointment. You can also visit its website to learn more at

Iron Bartender Happening June 4th

iron bartender pic

It’s that time of year folks … time for your favorite bartenders to show off their skills!

For the 5th year in a row, Drink St. John, along with Patron Tequila, is putting on the biggest and best all island mixology competition! It involves 24 contestants, three challenging rounds to make deliciously creative drinks using off-the-wall ingredients for hand-picked industry judges and a crowd of encouraging spectators. The best part is you don’t know what you’re making until you’re standing head to head with your competition, and you only have five minutes to make the cocktail! Some might call it the the “Chopped’ meets “Iron Chef” of mixology competitions.

The entry fee is only $20. Bartenders, go ahead and get your employer to sponsor you. :)

Need some incentive to compete? First prize includes $500, a trip to the Patron Hacienda, the trophy, the coveted green Patron jacket, the title of Iron Bartender, braggin rights and more Patron swag! Don’t worry 2nd place still takes home $250 plus goodies.

Not keen on competing but want to see what all the action is about? Join Drink’s VIP section to see AND taste the competition! $40 get’s you reserved seating, cocktail service, snacks, Patron swag, and yes, tastes of the competitors crafty cocktails.

Contestant and VIP spots are limited so PM, email, or call to reserve your spot or for more information: or 619-540-5557

Beware: The Manchineel Tree

Optimized-Manchineel Tree

This sign and tree is located on the road to Annaberg.

Hello everyone and happy Monday! So I’ve spent quite a bit of time out at Annaberg lately while conducting my News of St. John Tours, and each time I head out there, I always stop at one particular tree – the Manchineel tree. Have you ever noticed it? It’s a poisonous tree with a pretty serious warning. Here’s what its sign says:


Manchineel Tree

The leaves, bark and fruits of these trees contain a caustic sap which may be injurious if touched. Columbus described the small, green fruits as “death apples.” The trees are common along the Caribbean shores. Avoid contact with any part of this tree!

There are at least two such trees on island – the one pictured above that’s near Annaberg and there’s at least one more out at Haulover (pictured below).

The Manchineel at Haulover.

The Manchineel at Haulover.

The botanical name for the Manchineel tree is Hippomane mancinella. Hippomane is actually derived from two Greek words: Hippo for horse and mane, which is a derivative of the word mania. The way the story goes is that a Greek philosopher gave the name Hippomane to a plant after realizing that horses became crazy after eating it. The word Manchineel, on the other hand, was derived from the Spanish word manzanilla, which means little apples. (The manchineel tree bears small fruits that resemble small apples.) So in a roundabout way, Hippomane mancinella is an easier way to say little apples that make horses go crazy. And that my friends, is how the manchineel tree got its name. (Ok, we kind of embellished that last part!)

But seriously, the manchineel tree is not something you want to mess around with. The manchineel tree produces a form of sap that can ooze out of its bark, branches, leaves and fruit. This sap is especially dangerous as it can cause serious, burn-like blisters when it touches the skin. Ingesting any part of the tree, including its fruit, can cause serious inflammation. Every single bit of this tree is poisonous. If you touch or ingest any part of it, the results could be fatal.

Random fact: I see lizards on it all the time, so clearly they’re immune in some way.

The manchineel tree is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central American and parts of southern Florida. It typically grows along the coastline and among mangroves. When mature, the manchineel tree can grow up to 50 feet high.

Bottom line: Stay as far away from this tree as possible. And if you’d like to take a pic, do it from afar.

News you can use today, folks! Have a great one! :)

Wagapalooza Happening Today

wagapalooza (1)

Wagapalooza, the Animal Care Center’s zany and anything but typical dog show, will be held today, Saturday, May 20th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Winston Wells Ball Field in Cruz Bay. This very cool event is a fundraiser for the ACC, an organization near and dear to our hearts here at News of St. John.

As in past years, classes to be judged include Best Old Timer, Best Costume, Best Adult Handler,  Best Look Alike (to owner), Best Shelter Rescue, Babe Award, as well as Waga King and Queen.

There will be grilled burgers and hot dogs, as well as a full bar at the event (for purchase of course). There will also be face painting, a photo booth, an ice cream cart, as well as a great raffle that includes items like boat trips, jewelry, gift certificates from many of our island’s businesses, hotel and resort stays, and fabulous dinners at our fine island restaurants. You can purchase raffle tickets at the event or beforehand at the ACC and St. John Hardware.

Admission is free; however if you’d like to register your dog for the show, it’s $20 per class or three classes for $50 ($25 per class at the door). Children under 16 are half price, but must be accompanied by an adult.

As always, all proceeds from the event go directly to the ACC. Monies raised are used to keep the shelter open, medicate the cats and dogs, fund travel to send the animals to their “forever homes” and to purchase food for the ACC’s feeding stations which are located throughout the island and help St. John’s homeless kittens and cats.

Click here to visit the ACC’s website.