The Island is Open! Come and Visit Us!

Hansen Bay, Friday afternoon

Hansen Bay, Friday afternoon

Hello everyone and happy Monday! I’ve been noticing that the weather is getting pretty chilly up there for many of you. I even saw – gasp – some snow pics late last week! So you know what that means… Time to start planning your next vacation to St. John.

But before we try to convince you to come by telling you about the low airfares we’ve found, there are a few topics we’d like to address. (We get asked these questions a lot.)

For starters, the entire Virgin Islands National Park is open. That means that every beach and every trail is open, and waiting for you to visit.

Our ferries are running. Currently the Red Hook to Cruz Bay ferry is running hourly beginning at 6 a.m. The last ferry from Cruz Bay is at 11 p.m. and the last ferry from Red Hook is at midnight. The downtown Charlotte Amalie ferry is not running at this time. Regarding the car barges, we only have two running at the moment, so I highly suggest renting your vehicle on St. John and avoiding the barge completely.

We have a ton of places for you all to stay. Just because Caneel and the Westin are closed (the Westin reopens in January), doesn’t mean that there is a lack of great places to stay. In fact, we have hundreds of hotel rooms, condos, villas and AirBnBs. And as we told you Saturday, camping will soon resume at Cinnamon adding a super affordable option. Take a look at the advertisers in the sidebars of this website. (If you’re viewing on a mobile device, you can see these underneath the stories and by clicking the three bars in the top left portion of your screen.) You’ll find lots of great places to stay right here on News of St. John.

And you will also have plenty of places to eat! Our restaurants are slowly reopening after being closed for low season, so there are a bunch of great dining options for you to choose from.

Now on to the airfares… As we have mentioned previously, American will resume direct flights out of New York right before Christmas and JetBlue resumes its direct flight out of Boston on Valentine’s Day. It’s taking a bit longer than we hoped, but it’s progress nonetheless.

We did a few quick searches for airfare and here is what we found.

New York: Delta is offering an amazing deal for those of you who are able to travel out of New York in November or December! You can fly direct, roundtrip for just $365 … Unbelievable!! (Connecticut friends, come and visit me!!)

Boston: Unfortunately there aren’t any direct flights until February for you guys, but you can fly for just $394 roundtrip on American during the month of December.

Orlando: How does $160 roundtrip sound? And direct!! It’s flying on Spirit, which is not our favorite airline, but you can’t beat that price!

Dallas: Flights are bit pricier for you all, but we were able to find some fares in the $400 range on Spirit and American. Not too shabby!

There’s just a sampling of current airfares, but it looks like there are a lot of deals to be had! As always, I prefer to use Google ITA Matrix when shopping for airfare. Now ahead ahead and book that trip!

And when you’re here, let us show you around! Take an island tour with us! Or even a land and sea tour with us and our friends at Flyaway Charters! Click here for more information, and click here to read out five-star TripAdvisor reviews!!

And if you need anymore coaxing, it’s a beautiful 81 degrees right now. Come visit us!! :)

Caribbean Life Features St. John Again!

cruz bay overlook oct 19 2018

Hello everyone and happy Sunday! We wanted to quickly let you all know that St. John will be featured, once again, on HGTV’s Caribbean Life program. The show airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST. It will replay Monday morning at 1 a.m. EST.

Here is the description straight from HGTV:

A couple is relocating from Texas to the beautiful island of St. John with their two young daughters. They’re looking forward to slowing down and spending more time together as a family in a property with views of the ocean and plenty of outdoor play space for the girls.

This episode was filmed after last year’s hurricanes, so it should be interesting to watch.

Have a great Sunday everyone!!

Cinnamon Bay: Campground to Open Soon!!

cinnamon cones oct 19 2018

Cones blocked the entrance to Cinnamon Bay Friday as crews worked to clear the campground area.

Well folks, this is some of the best news I have written in while. A campground at Cinnamon Bay is going to reopen soon! How wonderful is that!!

A crew from Puerto Rico was brought in to begin clearing the campground earlier this week, and the progress they have made in just a few days is incredible. We stopped by the campground yesterday, and honestly, the place looks great! We chatted with the VI National Park Service while we were there, and they confirmed that a small, primitive campground will open sooner than later. Such great news!

The first plan was to reopen the eco tent area, which sustained less damage during the storms. But upon inspection, it was determined that there was more damage than the Park initial thought. The cottages were pretty much destroyed, so reopening that area is not an option. The park decided the best way to proceed is to create some bare sites in the parking lot area near the road. It’s not the most ideal situation, but it allows camping to resume and that’s what everyone wants.

The sites will essentially consist of a wooden platform. Campers will have to bring everything, including cooking items. There is still an issue with running water on the property, so showers will not be available. Campers will use portable toilets, much like those that are already located near the beach.

The reception and restaurant areas have been cleared and look great. There is still some issue about how this will all happen. The Park does not have a reservations system or staff in place at the moment, but they are determined to make it work.

Take a peek at some pictures we took yesterday…

Brush has been cleared from the sides of the path to the beach.

Brush has been cleared from the sides of the path to the beach.

The paths to the eco tents have been cleared.

The paths to the eco tents have been cleared.

Trees and debris are being removed from the cottage area.

Trees and debris are being removed from the cottage area.

Crews were cutting down dead trees Friday afternoon.

Crews were cutting down dead trees Friday afternoon.

The reception area has been cleared.

The reception area has been cleared.

The restaurant area has been cleared.

The restaurant area has been cleared.

So much clearing!!

So much clearing!!

The former archeology lab

The former archeology lab

cinnamon bay water from arch lab oct 19 2018

cinnamon bay beach oct 19 2018

cinnamon bay beach 2 oct 19 2018
Doesn’t it look amazing??!!

According to a member of the crew, the campground is expected to open some time next month. And considering the amount of work that has happened just this week alone, we believe that can happen.

And lastly, there is no word on what Redwoods involvement is in this or whether or not they still hold the concession contract for the campground area. The National Park Service is solely responsible for all of the cleanup that has occurred thus far.

There is so much good happening on island lately. It’s truly amazing how far we’ve come over the past year. Now go ahead and book your ticket! Come and see the progress for yourselves!!

Have a wonderful Saturday everyone!!

Two New Webcams Alert!

More great news for those of you who love St. John!! Two additional webcams are now up and running here on island!

The first webcam is located at Mare Blu, a stunning six-bedroom home located on St. John’s South Shore. It has beautiful views of Rendezvous Bay and out to the Caribbean Sea. On a super clear day, you can even see St. Croix!

Below is a screenshot we took from their webcam. You can also click here to see it live or visit www.espritstjohn.com www.marebluvilla.com.

mare blu webcam

(Fun fact about Mare Blu: Target filmed a swimsuit commercial there back in 2014. Click here to read all about it.)

The second webcam is located at Esprit, a three bedroom villa which has beautiful views of Coral Bay and beyond. Its tucked away atop Bordeaux Mountain, so it’s super private yet still within close proximity to town and our beautiful beaches

Below is a screenshot we took from their webcam. You can also click here to see it live or visit www.espritstjohn.com.

esprit st john webcam

For those of you who need a little more St. John in your lives, you can check out all of our webcams at www.newsofstjohn.com/2018webcams

Enjoy and have a great Friday everyone!

Creativity Abounds in Eden…

Karen Samuel stands outside of Kareso Studio.

Karen Samuel stands outside of Kareso Studio.

Note from Jenn: This story was originally published last summer when I was taking maternity leave. It was written by Andrea Milam. When Andrea originally wrote the story, Karen was off island for vacation. We wanted to reprint the story today because Karen is back on island and her studio is open for business. Please check it out the next time you’re in Coral Bay. 

By Andrea Milam

Once you’ve passed Skinny Legs on your way out to the East End, you might notice a modest, brightly colored pink building with blue and yellow trim on your left. A small sign by the road reads “Kareso Studio: fine art, quilting, clothing, crafts.” What the sign doesn’t tell you is that the moment you step through the doors, you’re entering a world of stunning talent and creativity, all of which originates from the mind of one very gifted St. Johnian—Karen Samuel.

Karen’s Coral Bay studio is a treasure trove of her wide range of creations. On one end, selections from her clothing line, Artistry of Eden, are displayed. Against one wall, some of her handmade quilts are on display. And occupying a large portion of the studio’s wall and floor space are her paintings: bright, detailed island scenes, and portraits whose lifelike eyes and easy-to-recognize subjects highlight her true skill.

karen samuel exterior

Karen’s shop in Coral Bay

karen samuel sign

karen samuel paintings

A sampling of Karen’s paintings

karen samuel painting

Karen’s portraits are simply stunning.

If you’ve been searching for an authentic reminder of your time on St. John, this is it. Every single item in her clothing line is designed and made by Karen, on St. John, by hand. She describes Artistry of Eden—named for Estate Eden, where she grew up—as “classic pieces for working women.” She has everything from bohemian items made from ethnic fabrics, batiks, and African prints, to casual wear meant to go from the beach to dinner out, made largely out of natural fibers meant to keep the wearer cool in the island’s tropical climate. Karen makes men’s clothing as well, but her line focuses primarily on women’s wear.

On the painting side, Karen mostly works with oils though she does have some watercolor and watercolor pencil pieces as well. If you aren’t in the market for an original, framed painting, which are priced anywhere from $500 to $3,000, pick up some of Karen’s smaller prints, which range from $20-$30. A custom portrait would serve as a truly special gift or souvenir, and luckily, Karen works well from photographs, meaning you don’t have to spend precious vacation hours sitting for the painting.

In fact Karen takes commissions across all her mediums, which also include knitting and crochet. Perhaps the most captivating part of browsing the Kareso studio is Karen herself. A native St. Johnian whose childhood was as magical as you might expect considering she grew up here on island in the decades before it was truly discovered and developed, taking the time to get to know her can result in some charming stories of St. John’s bygone era. I’ve had the pleasure of writing about Karen several times, and each time we talk, I walk away with more insight into what life was like here several decades ago. On my most recent visit, I learned about how she and her nine siblings used to fingerpaint and do crafts at the Peace Corps center, located near her present-day studio in Guy Benjamin’s old home. She also spent hours in the Emmaus Moravian Church’s library, where she would read all the Greek mythology books she could get her hands on.

Though Karen is currently in the states for a much-needed break, she will resume regular hours of Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. in October. You can also meet her at her studio by appointment once she’s back on island. Just give her a call at 340-514-8897 to set it up. Find Kareso Studio on Facebook, and make sure you set aside some time on your next trip to visit Karen’s studio. Island souvenirs don’t get more authentic than handmade clothing, quilts, paintings, and more, created right here by one of St. John’s own.

karen samuel

Karen shows off one of her handmade dresses.

karen samuel quilt

Karen also makes beautiful quilts.

It’s Time to Save the Coconuts!

woodys

Everyone loves coconuts, right??!! Well today we’re not talking about the ones up in the trees … it’s time to help save another type of coconuts. 😉

Woody’s is gearing up for its annual Save the Coconuts block party, and it’s going to be great. The block party is a benefit for the St. John Cancer Fund, which coincides with breast caner awareness month. The St. John Cancer Fund is a registered nonprofit that raises money for residents who are battling cancer. One hundred percent of the monies raised will stay here on island.

The event is scheduled for Friday, October 26th from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. It will feature DJ Adonis and live music. There will be a 50/50 raffle, drink specials and more.

I know many of you are planning on being here for Halloween, so this is a great excuse to visit a few days early! I hope to see you all there!

That’s all we have for you today, folks! Have a great one!