Power Restored to Parts of Coral Bay!

Several of the linemen in Coral Bay Friday. Photo courtesy of Flyaway Charters

Several of the linemen in Coral Bay Friday. Photo courtesy of Flyaway Charters

Such great news to share with you all! Power has been restored to parts of Coral Bay! Yahoo!

Indigo Grill and Pizzabar in Paradise were among the first to have power restored Thursday night – three months and one day after Hurricane Irma hit, knocking out power islandwide. (Power was first restored to parts of Cruz Bay back on October 27th.)

My friend Leah Randall owns Flyaway Charters with her husband Colin. She lives in Coral Bay and gave us the scoop on who has power. According to Leah, Skinny Legs, Love City Mini Mart and Calabash Market all have power. Great news! She said they were working earlier today on homes up Gerda Marsh and Constanza roads.

Another friend Lori Stevenson owns Alice By the Sea, a beautiful vacation rental across from Miss Lucy’s. She said that her neighbors were energized on Friday too. More great news!

According to WAPA, additional customers living in Grunwald, San Souci, Cruz Bay, Chocolate Hole, upper Fish Bay, Carolina and Ajax Peak all had power restored Friday. Amazing.

Things are getting better every day. And you know we’ll keep you posted on what happens next!

On the Market: Year-Round Sunset Views; Hurricane Damaged Home

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Hello everyone and happy Friday! Today we’d like to tell you about a home that was recently listed for sale. It did have some hurricane damage, but on the flip side, it has amazing, year-round sunset views. This home can easily be fixed to your liking with a little love and some TLC.

Enjoy panoramic views of Pillsbury Sound, St. Thomas and the surrounding cays from the Pillsbury Sound House and Blue Stone Grotto. The upper level of this home had three bedrooms, three baths and a plunge pool. There is beautiful stonework and a breezeway entrance that opens up to amazing views. The bones of this house are excellent. The damaged portions simply need to be redone. This home is a Bruce Robertson design, who is known for his Caribbean style architecture.

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The separate lower level apartment is well appointed with beautiful stonework, Mark Hansen windows and hardwood doors. The lower unit was a successful long term rental while the upstairs was a popular short term with owner occupancy. There is lots of potential to remodel the upstairs unit to the new owner’s taste. This home is located close to town, but at a quiet, end of the road location. And again, this property has beautiful year-round sunsets. This home is being sold as is, where is.

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This home is being offered for $575,000 by Tammy Donnelly of 340 Real Estate Co. For more information, please contact Tammy at at 340RealEstateCo@gmail.com

It’s Time for You All to Come Back…

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A double rainbow over Caneel Sunday

For the past three months, people have been asking whether or not it’s time to return to St. John. Well today I’d like to officially say that it’s time for you all to come back!

Like many others, I was nervous about having tourists back on island. It’s like when you have a flood at your house, you’re not going to invite your friends over for a party the following week. You need time to fix things. The same goes here in a way. We wanted to make sure our island was ready for all of you – our guests, our friends. And now I can say, wholeheartedly, that I believe we are ready for you. Here are my thoughts why…

For starters, St. John is beautiful. Even on our darkest days, we were still the most beautiful place in the world. And I don’t mean simply aesthetically. Our people are beautiful. Our community is beautiful. And yes, our beaches are obviously beautiful. :)

Speaking of beaches, in just three short months, the National Park Service was able to reopen four. That’s pretty amazing. As of today, Honeymoon, Hawksnest, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon are all open for your use. And you know what? They’re empty. How does having one of the world’s most beautiful beaches all to yourself sound to you? Pretty amazing if you ask me.

There were only four Jeeps at Trunk Bay Wednesday at noon.

There were only four Jeeps at Trunk Bay Wednesday at noon.

Trunk Bay last week = empty

Trunk Bay last week = empty

You can visit our other beaches too, but please know that the National Park Service has not yet deemed them open. And that may be because they haven’t been able to make certain all of the moorings are in place, or perhaps there is a structure that needs to be removed. But regardless, you can still enjoy their beauty. (The National Park Service hopes to reopen all beaches within the next month.)

Jumbie, while not officially open, has been stunning over the past few weeks.

Jumbie, while not officially open, has been stunning over the past few weeks.

Our restaurants are open! Looking to relax with a good breakfast while doing some people watching in the park? Well then walk on over to Cruz Bay Landing. They’re currently open for breakfast and lunch. Looking for some delicious appetizers and an amazing glass of wine? Then stop by La Tapa for dinner and see what Chef Alex has on the menu that night. We have more than 20 restaurants that are open both in Cruz Bay and over in Coral Bay, and they’re all super eager to serve you.

Our shops are open! Mongoose Junction is open and in full swing! Looking for a beautiful piece of jewelry? Then check out Caravan Gallery. Maybe you want a little homemade ice cream? Well Scoops is open too! There are more than a dozen shops open here in Cruz Bay, so please come out and support our retailers!

Well maybe Coral Bay is more your style… well they’re open too! Jolly Dog has been around for more than 20 years, and they’re open! Oasis is open. Wok on the Beach is open. Indigo is open. Skinny’s will be open very, very soon, but some of the shops at Skinny’s are open now … exciting stuff!

(Please know that there are many more shops and restaurants open than the ones we mentioned… We’re simply trying to give you a sampling of what’s open here on island.)

All of our markets on island are open. The Jeep rental companies are open. We have charter boats in the water, and they’re waiting to take you out. And News of St. John Tours is open! Woohoo!

I had my first post-hurricane island tour last week, and it was amazing. I spent five hours with two women who came on a cruise ship, and they said that the island was just as beautiful as it was before the storms. We hung out at some of the North Shore beaches, checked out a few ruins and had lunch in Coral Bay. It was a perfect day.

We’ve had a handful of tourists on island over the past several weeks, and they all have given us pretty much the same feedback – St. John is still beautiful. And all stated how welcomed they felt. We’re ready for you folks.

I know that some people are nervous about the impact you may have on our infrastructure. That is a very valid concern. Here’s my take on that… We lost a fair amount of accommodations. The Westin is closed through June 2018. Caneel is closed for the foreseeable future. Numerous vacation villas were damaged and are being repaired. We currently do not have the ability to accommodate as many tourists as we could in the past. Between that and the limited flights coming into St. Thomas, I do not think this will pose a problem. But again, this is my opinion.

Speaking of flights, for those of you who plan to come visit us sooner than later, here are the current flights coming into St. Thomas:

  • American Airlines (from Miami) Flights 943 & 1391
  • Delta (from Atlanta) Flight 571
  • Spirit only Wed. & Sat. (from Ft. Lauderdale) Flight 201
  • JetBlue (from San Juan) Flight 1036
  • Cape Air (from San Juan)

And here are the current flights out of St. Thomas:

  • American Airlines (to Miami) Flight 943 & 1391
  • Delta (to Atlanta) Flight 307
  • Spirit only Wed. & Sat. (to Ft. Lauderdale) Flight 212
  • JetBlue (to San Juan)
  • Cape Air (to San Juan)

The ferry schedule has been extended too – more great news! Ferries leave from Cruz Bay every hour on the hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ferries leave from Red Hook to Cruz Bay at 5:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and then every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is not a 7 p.m. ferry, but there is an 8 p.m. ferry.

The car barges are running too, although I strongly encourage you to rent your vehicle on St. John to avoid taking the car barge.

I haven’t seen too many taxis waiting at the ferry dock, but that could be because there isn’t too much of a demand right now. I suggest renting a Jeep for your stay or booking an island tour with me.

One thing that everyone says regarding tourism is that all of our guests should be well informed prior to visiting the island. Here are a few other things to take into consideration:

  1. Potholes: We have some and they’re no fun. Just drive slowly and you will be fine.
  2. Power: Last week, 47 percent of the island had been restored. That number should be more than 50 percent today, as several neighborhoods have been reenergized over the past several days. Coral Bay is also expected to get power this week – yahoo! And as I said the other day, the Governor remains confident that 90 percent of the US Virgin Islands will have power by Christmas. What a gift that would be!

Should you choose to vacation here soon (and I certainly hope you do!), please remember that there are still residents who are living without power. Most have generators, which is great, but it is not like having real electricity. Just something to think about…

And also, as I mentioned last week, communications are still on the mend. If you need constant access to internet and cable TV, you may want to wait a little longer to visit. If you don’t mind unplugging and enjoying the beauty that this island offers, then please book now!

I have heard from a handful of villa owners that they are getting cancellations for March, April, May and beyond. That is just silly in my opinion. I understand that vacations are costly and people want them to be perfect, but I can also tell you that there is no need to cancel a spring or summer vacation here on St. John. Honestly, I don’t even think you need to cancel January or February, but again, that’s my opinion.

I have received a ton of questions about the reefs, and I understand that’s a big reason why people visit St. John. Unfortunately I do not have many answers on this yet. I can say that, yes, the reefs are safe to snorkel. I have heard that they have had some damage particularly the elk horn coral and sea fans, but hopefully they too will come back just like the leaves on the trees and the turtles over at Maho. (We heard there were several turtles at Maho the other day – how exciting!!)

So again, we’re ready for you and we are eager to have you back. For those of you who are lucky enough to take last minute vacations, come see us for the holidays! And if you need a bit more time to plan, come visit us next year. I can’t wait to have you all back!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at jenn@newsofstjohn.com. I am a little backed up on email, but I promise to respond as soon as I can.

Thanks everyone, and I hope to see you soon!

PS: One thing I forgot, so I came back to edit… A lot of you have asked how you can help while you are here on island and if you can bring anything like bug spray, etc. In my opinion, the best thing that you can do is eat in our restaurants, shop in our shops, grab groceries in our markets, rent our Jeeps, take a cruise on our charter boats, etc. Our economy needs some extra love right now, so if you are able to make that happen, it would make a big impact. Thanks again!! :) 

Pictures: Three Months Later.

Well folks, today marks three months since Hurricane Irma made landfall on St. John. I took several pictures along North Shore Road just days after Irma hit. I took those same pictures 27 days later. And again today, I took the very same pics. Sometimes images are more powerful than words. I think that’s the case here. These pictures illustrate the remarkable strength this island has, as well as the progress that has been made over the past three months. St. John remains one of the most beautiful places in the world, even after two category five hurricanes, and even on a somewhat rainy day like today.

Please check out the pics…

Cruz Bay overlook

Cruz Bay overlook – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Cruz Bay looking inland

Cruz Bay looking inland – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Virgin Islands National Park sign - North Shore Road

Virgin Islands National Park sign – North Shore Road – September 10

vi park sign oct 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Just past the sign - you can now see Caneel Bay

Just past the sign – you can now see Caneel Bay – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Caneel Bay - Zozo's

Caneel Bay – Zozo’s – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Entrance to Caneel Bay

Entrance to Caneel Bay – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Beach sign in front of Caneel Bay entrance

Beach sign in front of Caneel Bay entrance – September 10

road at caneel oct 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Hawksnest

Hawksnest – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Gibney Cottages

Gibney Cottages – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Oppenheimer gate

Oppenheimer gate – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Entrance to Jumbie

Entrance to Jumbie – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Trunk Bay overlook

Trunk Bay overlook – September 10

trunk oct 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Just before entrance to Trunk Bay

Just before entrance to Trunk Bay – September 10

October 7

October 7

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

September 2017

September 2017

December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

What do you all think? I say it’s time to come back…

An Update on Power

BBC linemen work at Maho last month.

BBC linemen work at Maho last month.

Hello everyone and happy Monday! Today is the 90th day that some residents in the US Virgin Islands, and here on St. John, do not have power. Here are the latest details on power restoration…

As of last Thursday, 47 percent of customers on St. John have had their power restored, according to Government House. The neighborhoods that have been restored include, but are not limited to: Cruz Bay, Enighed, Contant, Chocolate Hole, Fish Bay, Gifft Hill, Pastory, Pocket Money Hill, Roman Hill Road, Grunwald and Peter Bay. There are areas within these neighborhoods, however, that have not been restored. Work is continuing this week in Coral Bay, Zootenvaal, Freeman Ground and Bordeaux. Poles are also being set along Centerline Road.

As of today, Coral Bay remains 100 percent without power.

Governor Mapp announced last week that an additional 100 linemen will come to the Territory this week. They will join the 760 who are currently working on St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. The Governor also reaffirmed his commitment that 90 percent of the Virgin Islands will be energized by Christmas. Currently only 43 percent of the Territory has power. He stated that a large number of new areas expected to be energized soon as repairs are completed to major transmission lines.

Here is a chart that details power restoration within the Territory:

power as of december 30

For residents and owners that have temporary roofs (blue roofs), power will not be restored until a licensed electrician has certified, in writing, that the structure is safe to energize.

If work needs to be done to repair a damaged meter base and/or weather head, customers must call the Emergency Call Center at (340) 774-1424. The call centers is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If your electric meter was removed by WAPA personnel to facilitate repairs to either a meter base and/or weather head, once repairs are completed and a licensed electrician certifies the work, in writing, customers are required to notify the Customer Service office. All fees usually associated with meter removal and reconnection have been waived during this restoration period.

Fingers crossed that Coral Bay gets some power this week. And again, a HUGE thank you to WAPA and the linemen from BBC in Joplin, Missouri for working tirelessly, seven days a week, from sun up to sun down, to help our island recover. You all are simply amazing.

An Update on Maho

maho water sailboat

Hello everyone and happy Sunday! Today I have an update on my absolute favorite beach in the world … Maho.

Well let’s start with the great news. 1. The National Park Service is moving west to east, so Maho is the next beach that they’ll be working to clean up. Yahoo! 2. Maho tested clean the other day, according to Darrell Echols, the acting superintendent for the Virgin Islands National Park. (Previously Maho was texting positive for bacteria.) Also great! 3. All of the beaches are expected to be reopened within the next month or so … fantastic news!

Now onto the not so great news…

The worst news coming out of Maho, in my opinion, is regarding the turtles. According to Darrell, all of the turtles that we loved seeing at Maho have left the area. That does not mean they will not be back, he stressed. It simply means they are currently displaced. :(

A turtle swims at Maho - August 2014

A turtle swims at Maho – August 2014

(12/6/17 update: People have seen turtles at Maho this week … yay!!)

Darrell told us that the pavilion and other structures that were severely damaged during Hurricane Irma will be removed soon. Plans to add new structures have not been completed at this time. They may add one pavilion, they made add two. They may move them to a different section of the beach. All of that is still being worked out. He also stated that the Park understands the popularity of Maho, and they plan to rebuild with that in mind. Thank you for that NPS!

Damaged structures at Maho

Damaged structures at Maho

Speaking of moving things, it’s a very good possibility, according to Darrell, that the road itself may be moved inward. The current proximity of the road to the bay is problematic, he said, because it can easily be damaged as we saw after Irma. He said moving the road would also lessen the need to do manmade manipulation of the beach, which would be a good thing. He also said it would be cheaper in the long run to move the road because it’s a very strong possibility that they will have to fix it again in the future should we get another strong storm.

The road at Maho - November 2017

The road at Maho – November 2017

For those of you who have driven past Maho, you may have noticed that a fair amount dead debris and vegetation has remained along the shore and roadway. That debris is now acting as a natural buffer which will stabilize the shoreline, Darrell said.

So all in all, we have some pretty good news about Maho. It will be open sooner than we expected, which is great. I’m sad that the turtles have found a new home temporarily, but I’m sure they’ll come back … Much like all of you will come back to Maho. Because honestly, who doesn’t want to be at Maho??!!

Have a great Sunday everyone!!