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.
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.)
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:
- Potholes: We have some and they’re no fun. Just drive slowly and you will be fine.
- 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 email@example.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!!