What the Heck is in the Water?

francis tube

There’s been a lot of talk around the island about some odd stinging organism that’s been hanging out in the water, particularly along the North Shore, over the past few days, perhaps even weeks. I hadn’t paid much attention to it because I hadn’t experienced it myself. Then Sunday happened…

After having a delicious breakfast in Coral Bay (I’ll have more on that later this week), I cruised on over to Francis Bay for a relaxing afternoon on the beach. I popped open an adult beverage, grabbed my cute little orange float and headed out into the water.

I was floating around enjoying the breathtaking views for about five minutes when all of a sudden I started to itch. The itching quickly turned into stinging and before I knew it, I had a big welt on the back of my leg. And then it started to hurt, like really hurt.

According to Gerald Singer, author of SeeStJohn.com and one of the most knowledgeable island residents when it comes to sea life and such, I most likely had the fortune of running into some stinging plankton. Here’s what Gerald wrote about it on his website Saturday:

“I took two nice long swims; one yesterday at Hawksnest and another, the day before at Trunk. I kept feeling these little stings, but didn’t see anything and the pain only lasted for a second or two, so I just kept on swimming. But now I have all these little bumps and they ITCH!!!

The probable culprit, a stinging plankton with the disgusting name “sea lice.” These tiny plankton, some so small that you can’t even see them, have a microscopic little barb called a nematocyst that activates when the plankton makes contact with something, like another plankton or small fish or you, and releases an irritating protein, that can develop into a itchy, itchy, itch later on.

I can attest to their presence at Hawknest and Trunk Bays and I’ve heard reports from Caneel Bay and even out on the East End, so it looks like they’ll be around for a while, until that evil tide or current that brought then this way takes them somewhere else. The sooner the better!

Treatment is a really hot shower, like as hot as you can stand it and then vinegar or a meat tenderizer paste to break down the protein. Helps a bit, but you can count on the itch coming back after a while. The itching usually lasts a few days to as much as a week.

I’ve found that this stuff you can get a Chelsea, Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel, is effective, at least for a time.

These plankton, along with other possible itchy-stingy organisms like jellyfish, for example, exist in the sea at all times, but usually in such small concentrations that that they won’t ever be a nuisance. Now apparently, there are enough of them around our bays to virtually guarantee an encounter.”

Now obviously I didn’t have any vinegar or meat tenderizer handy at the beach to help with the pain and itching Sunday afternoon. Luckily I do have a pretty smart island BFF who told me to rub some sand on it. I did and voilà! The pain and itching soon subsided.

So, the moral of this story is… Well I’m not really sure there is one. :) The fact of the matter is that these little buggers are out there and they’re no fun. Should they stop you from going in the water? Probably not. But just be aware and maybe bring some vinegar with you the next time you head to the beach

Another Peak Season Passes…

daily stj december 9 2014

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of April, and another high season has come and gone. The weather’s starting to get a bit hotter, the beaches a little less crowded and the parking … well, we’ll always have parking issues. The great thing about this time of year is that the rates have dropped significantly for several vacation properties throughout the island and more rates will drop again on May 1. What’s that mean for all of you? Time to start thinking about your next trip to our little slice of heaven!

We’ve been perusing the internet to find the best deals for all of you. Here’s a small sampling of what we’ve found…

Stay directly on Peter Bay and have private beach access while staying at Suite on the Beach. Beginning on May 1, you can stay for $250 a night. Click here for more details.

Suite on the Beach

Suite on the Beach

How about an in town location for only $155 a night? Easily one of the best deals on the island … Stay at the Cruz Bay Hotel and enjoy air conditioning, free wifi and free continental breakfast. Click here for more details.

Exterior View

Cruz Bay Hotel

Our friends over at Island Abodes are offering a pretty amazing deal right now. They’ll take $100 night off of their already low low season rates for those of you who book now and stay at their two bedroom pool home in Chocolate Hole between May 1 and September 30. Click here for more details.

Two bedroom rental in Chocolate Hole

Two bedroom rental in Chocolate Hole

Looking for a bit more privacy? How about a three bedroom with panoramic views tucked away in the middle part of the island, giving it easy access to both Cruz Bay and Coral Bay? Low season rates for this home start at $2,900 a week through December. Click here for more information. 



Want to know how to find the best airfare? Click here and here to read two previous posts where we chatted about the best ways to find the lowest airfare. Happy vacation planning!

World’s Best Ferry Ride?

Daily STJ February 26 2014

I’ve always thought that the ferry ride from Red Hook to St. John was one of the best ferry rides in the world. Why? Because it meant you were on your way to paradise. Well now our fabulous little 10-15 minute journey across Pillsbury Sound is officially famous, as it was just named one of the world’s best. Here are the details from Travel and Leisure magazine…

“It’s fitting that the passenger ferry to tranquil St. John, a lush island that’s 60 percent national park, departs not from bustling St. Thomas Harbor, one of the busiest Caribbean cruise-ship ports, but from quieter Red Hook on the eastern end of the island. After passing a number of tiny tree-covered islands during a calm four-mile 20-minute trip, the ferry pulls into Cruz Bay, a quiet village of one- and two-story buildings painted in pastel yellows, pinks, and sea-foam green and built in traditional island style with railings, doors, and shutters in bright and contrasting yellows and royal blues.”

Now we know that many of you have taken a ferry pic or two over time. Feel free to send your very best over to jenn@newsofstjohn.com. We may publish a few of the great ones.

ferry rainbow

Get Trashed This Saturday…

cruz bay overlook

We have all noticed the massive amount of garbage that litters our beautiful island. It’s time to do something about it! Please join us in a community effort to pick up trash.

CLEAN UP: Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Cruz Bay town square gazebo. Bring water, gloves, a hat and sunscreen. Also, wear a bright colored shirt (much of the trash is along the roads). Mark Gierth from X on St John has generously donated all of the trash bags for the event. Thanks Mark!

DRINK UP: The Gecko Gazebo at Sun Dog Cafe in Mongoose Junction will be the meeting spot to talk trash. Buy one get one free drinks for everyone who participates in the clean up.

Invite friends. Bring kids. Spread the word.#gettrashedstj

What It’s Really Like to Live On An Island

february 2 2015 daily stj

Everyone dreams of living on a Caribbean island, right? I know I did, and I could not be happier than to be living my dream on St. John. I came across an article yesterday that was so spot on when it comes to living on a Caribbean island, I wanted to share it with all of you. It was written by Amanda Walkins, and it’s so very true. I think you’ll all enjoy it.

7 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned While Living on a Caribbean Island by Amanda Walkins

Lesson #1
Electricity is overrated. The thought of being without power for hours or days at a time probably would have shocked me before I lived here. Now that I’ve been through a few rainy seasons when power outages are fairly common, I can say from experience that living without power for extended periods of time is not going to kill you. Yes, I have all my electronics here: laptop, iPhone, Kindle, you name it. I’m not living off the grid. So when the power goes out and I have no internet and no means of “entertainment,” I suddenly remember what it is to just breathe. And relax. And hear nothing but the waves and the wind. And I remember that the world keeps spinning regardless of how much or little I do every hour. Power outages are excellent opportunities to disconnect and reflect. And you know what else happens when the power is off? You talk. You actually put the phone away and you talk to the person next to you. Without distractions. When is the last time you did that with any regularity? It’s a reality check.

(Note from Jenn: My Easter breakfast consisted of pancakes cooked on a grill because we had no power. And you know what… It was amazing in every way. :) )

Lesson #2
The Rolling Stones were right. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” Sometimes you go to the supermarket and there is no chicken, or bread, or milk, or tomatoes…or whatever it is that you wanted and intended to get. Sometimes you just can’t find that part to fix your kitchen appliance. Or that specific light bulb to fit into your favorite lamp. You can’t always find what you want on an island, but you can find the things you need. And you can get really creative in the process! New culinary concoctions are a favorite pastime here, or “kitchen-sink” meals. Buen provecho!

(Note from Jenn: It’s very common to shop at St. John Market, Starfish and Dolphin Market just to make one simple recipe. Inconvenient? Yes. Would I give up this life for anything in the world? Not a chance.)

Lesson #3
You don’t need it. While I just told you about getting what you need, the definition of need has changed for many people. We often say that we need things, when in reality they are superfluous. “Needs” and “Wants” are entirely different, but they’re often intermixed and confused. You don’t need new clothes. You might want some, but unless your current clothes are literally falling apart at the seams, you are not in need. Stains happen, holes happen, and wearing the same thing several times a week is not a sign of impending doom. When you’re not inundated with commercials telling you what you’re lacking, you tend not to notice what you or anybody is else wearing. You also don’t notice what type of phone they have. Or whether or not they own a vehicle. While I can only speak for the expat community in my adopted island, we just don’t give a damn. We’ve adjusted to know that we might not find what we want, but we don’t need it anyway. That knowledge is incredibly liberating.

Lesson #4
Seasonal eating is always best. I used to live in Washington, DC where farmers’ markets were the norm, but I still had every type of food at my fingertips. On an island where shipments don’t always arrive, it’s best to rely on what’s locally available as much as possible. Eating seasonally is healthier, it’s cheaper, and it’s so much more exciting. Flavors are more vibrant and fruits are juicier. Nothing beats picking fresh cashew fruits off a tree to suck on their sweet nectar. Nothing beats eating fresh lobster tails just caught that day by local fishermen. The anticipation is palpable as new fruit seasons approach and different fishing seasons come up. When you drive around the island in early spring, keep the windows down to fill your car with the flowery scent of mango. It will fill your lungs with joy. Feel free to stop on the side of the road and snag one off the tree, too. Nobody will sue you, I promise.

Lesson #5
Time is a concept, not a dictator. “Island Time” is a real thing, but it should not be solely for islands. We love watching tourists adjust to relaxation over the week or two they spend here. You can see a physical change in people as they take the watch off, leave the phone in the hotel room, and forget about where they “have to be” or are “supposed to be.” Scheduling every minute of a day makes you ask where the years went. When the sun rises, a new day begins. When it sets, a new night begins. It’s as simple as that. The sun doesn’t live by the clock and you don’t need to either. That realization can change your entire life.

Lesson #6
As writer Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) wrote,”I know the cure for everything: Salt water…in one form or another. Sweat, tears, or the salt sea.” There’s nothing that one or all of those can’t fix. Breathing in salt air daily is refreshing to the soul and reminds you that you’re alive. After breathing city air for several years, I think I’m gaining back time lost on my life by living on the beach now. The healing qualities of nature cannot be overrated.

(Note from Jenn: I’m writing this as I stare at the beautiful sea. I hope you all get to see it and smell the salty air very soon.)

Lesson #7
Nobody ever said, “I really regret that time I spent relaxing on the beach.” (Except for people who got really badly sunburned, but even that should be, “I really regret being lazy and not putting on sunscreen.” Just saying. It’s the tropics, people. If your pasty white skin hasn’t seen the light of day in a while, cover it up before we mistake you for a lobster…in which case, please refer back to eating seasonally and cross your fingers it isn’t lobster season.) Nobody regrets time they’ve spent enjoying life, time they’ve spent connecting with loved ones, or time they’ve spent unhurried and unburdened. Refer back to the lessons I’ve learned about island time, disconnecting to reconnect with people, and understanding needs versus wants. The world is going to keep spinning. What you do with your time on it will not change that fact. You can’t make it spin any faster or slower, so just enjoy the ride. I’m enjoying mine on a beach chair facing the endless sea. And I don’t regret any of it.

From Jenn: Now who’s ready to pack their things and join us in paradise?? :)

Have a wonderful day everyone!