The Latest on Flights & the Airlines

airplane

Well folks, it’s been a bit since we’ve told you the latest and greatest on the airline situation. Here is everything we currently know…

Direct service will commence between New York’s JFK airport and St. Thomas via Delta airlines this Saturday, April 7th. Thanks goodness! (And honestly, it’s about time!) But a big thank you to Delta for finally providing this service. This direct flight will initially operate on Saturdays only. On May 24th, Delta will resume daily nonstop service between JFK and STT. I just did a quick check of the prices and some days are as low as $163 one way. So what are you waiting for, go book your flights my fellow tri-state area friends!

United is also getting into the nonstop game! They plan to commence nonstop service between Washington Dulles (IAD) and St. Thomas on June 2nd. A quick search just showed great fares for this route too with prices as low as $214 one way on select days.

Here is who is currently flying into St. Thomas:

  • American has two daily flights via Miami.
  • Delta has one daily flight via Atlanta.
  • Spirit flies via Ft. Lauderdale on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays only.
  • JetBlue flies in daily via San Juan.
  • United has a daily flight from Newark that has a short stop in San Juan.
  • Cape Air and Seaborne airlines both have several flights daily via San Juan.

Many of you have expressed frustration over the limited flight schedules. I hear ya, and I am right there with you. One thing to look at it booking a ticket to San Juan and then booking a separate ticket from San Juan to St. Thomas. You may be able to find better prices and better schedule options this way. I would suggest to those of you who plan to do this to only travel with carry on luggage. If you do this and check luggage, you will have to recheck your luggage on the second airline and go through security again in San Juan. And we all know that’s no fun.

Curious what flights are flying in and out of St. Thomas or any airport on any given day? Well there is an easy way to check that out. Go to www.flightstats.com, and click on Advanced Search. Type in the airport you are curious about in either the Departure Airport or Arrival Airport box. Then pick the time of day you are curious about, and click Search. That will show you all of the flight information. Here is a sample search of some of the flights that are scheduled to arrive on April 3rd between noon and 6 p.m.:

airport arrivals screenshot

Pretty neat, right? I use this as a tool to find the best flights when flying into an airport that I am unfamiliar with.

Well that’s all we have for you today folks. I hope this information was helpful. And I hope that you are able to come and visit us soon.

And Yet Another Restaurant Reopens on Island!!

aqua bistro exterior

More great news out of St. John to start your week! Yet another restaurant has reopened! We now have more than three dozen restaurants open on island … how exciting is that!

Oh wait, you’re probably wondering who was the latest to reopen! Drum roll please…. The answer is Aqua Bistro! Woohoo!

I had Easter lunch there with my tour guests yesterday, and it was absolutely delicious! And the place looks great. It was spruced up a bit due to storm damage, but it’s kept it’s fun little vibe. I really enjoy Aqua Bistro. Not only is the food good, but there is a great view of the harbor and there is always a nice breeze.

Check out a few pics and the new menu:

aqua bistro tables

aqua bistro dining area

aqua bistro bar view

aqua bistro view

aqua bistro menu

Looks great, right! Even the donkeys stopped by to check it out during our visit.

doneky at aqua bistro

Aqua Bistro is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For a list of all of the island’s open restaurants and bars, please check out www.newsofstjohn.com/open

The Legend of Easter Rock

easter rock

Easter Rock – Picture taken in 2017

We originally printed this story last Easter. We thought it was good enough to share again. Enjoy!

How may of you have driven past the large boulder on North Shore Road between Gibney beach and Peace Hill and wondered what its backstory was? At least a few of you, I’m sure. Well this Easter weekend we’d like to share with you the legend of Easter Rock.

Legend has it that every year on the night before Easter – that’s tonight folks!! – Easter Rock makes its way down to Hawksnest Bay where it takes a drink of water and then rolls back up to its perch on North Shore Road. This all happens before the sun rises over the hill, according to the legend, so no one is around to actually witness it. So even during the driest of droughts, Easter Rock will still be wet on Easter morning.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it out to Easter Rock in the morning, but if one of you can on our behalf, I’d love to see some pics. :)

So legend aside, curious as to how Easter Rock came to be? Here’s its geological backstory straight from See St. John:

Although geologists have not yet succeeded in explaining Easter Rock’s propensity to go down to the sea on Easter Sunday for a drink of water, they can tell us about the origin of this massive boulder, which is the only one of its kind in the valley.

The outer crust of the Earth consists of large masses of slowly moving rock called tectonic plates. About 100 million years ago, one of these plates, called the North American plate, which was moving towards the west, encountered another tectonic plate called the Caribbean plate, which was moving in the same direction.

Life in the Caribbean has long been classified as slower moving than in the fast-paced world of continental America. This phenomenon apparently has a historical and geological foundation because a significant factor in the creation of many of the Caribbean islands, including St. John, is the fact that the Caribbean plate happened to be moving at a slower pace than its continental counterpart.

Consequently, when the North American plate overtook the slower moving Caribbean plate, the American plate, being denser and heavier, slid under the Caribbean plate and pushed it up. The friction from the two giant masses of solid rock grinding against one another produced a heat so intense that it melted some of the rock between the two plates. The fiery, liquefied rock, called magma, built up in enclosed pockets, called magma chambers, and exerted an ever-increasing pressure on the surrounding rock. When that pressure became so great that it could not be contained any longer, the magma broke through its rocky chamber and spewed forth violently into the ocean. This event is called a volcano.

Normally, when super-hot magma comes in contact with cold ocean water, the magma explodes and is dispersed over a great area. In this case, however, the eruption occurred at a depth of 15,000 feet, or nearly three miles, below the surface of the ocean. At this great depth the water pressure is nearly 7,000 pounds per square inch, a pressure that was sufficient to keep the magma from exploding on contact with water and instead causing it to be deposited on the ocean floor in giant solid sheets.

Coinciding with this volcanic activity and the laying down of rock, the action of the American plate sliding under the Caribbean plate caused the latter to bulge at the edges. The combination of these events resulted in the beginnings of a mountain range that was to become the islands of the Greater Antilles. This process of volcanic activity and uplifting continued for millions of years and caused the newly formed mountains to move closer to the surface.

It was during the next period of St. John’s development that Easter Rock was born. A series of volcanoes erupted in the area of what is today called Pillsbury Sound. This time the water was relatively shallow and the volcanoes erupted explosively. The shower of rocks, solidified volcanic ash, and molten lava added substance and height to the older solid sheets of rock and, in conjunction with the continued uplifting of the area, eventually brought parts of the rocky underwater mass above sea level to form islands.

The awesome power of these violent eruptions also served to break off huge chunks of the older rock, heaving them into the air. One of these massive fragments ended up just above what was to become Hawksnest Bay. That majestic boulder, now known as Easter Rock, not only goes down to the sea every Easter for a drink of water, but also serves as an enduring reminder of the fiery beginnings of the island of St. John.

And there you have it. News you can use today, folks!

The Latest on Hurricane Hole

hurricane hole google mapsHello everyone and happy Friday! For those of you who have been on St.John recently and have ventured out east, you may have noticed that there are still several dozen damaged boats over in Hurricane Hole. The Virgin Islands National Park held a meeting at Skinny’s Thursday night, and gave the latest details with regard to the removal of these vessels. We were unable to personally attend the meeting, but Captain Colin Hanson, owner of Flyaway Charters, was there, and he gave us the scoop.

A little background… Hurricane Hole is located east of Coral Bay and is comprised of four different areas: Borck Creek, Otter Creek, Water Creek and Princess Bay. Historically, Hurricane Hole has been the safest place to store a vessel during a storm. Hurricane Hole has a storm refuge system, a large, submerged chain on the ocean floor designed for berthing by vessels up to 60 feet in length. As we all know by now, Hurricane Irma was so strong that many of the vessels in Hurricane Hole were damaged or destroyed. And unlike the beached and damaged boats in Cruz Bay, Great Cruz Bay and Coral Bay which were removed over the past few months, the damaged and destroyed vessels in Hurricane Hole remain there today.

So you may be wondering why? Well because Hurricane Hole is located within the Virgin Islands National Park, there are different rules for removal and the cost of the removal falls under a different budget. According to last night’s meeting, the VI National Park was unable to get funds to remove the vessels due to the Stafford Act. This prevented FEMA from giving any other agency money to remove the vessels.

The good news is the VI National Park recently received funding to finally remove these vessels. According to Captain Colin, the Navy will be in charge of removing all of the remaining vessels located within Hurricane Hole and the Virgin Islands National Park, although it is uncertain whether they will do it themselves or hire a contractor. Members of the Navy are expected to arrive on island the second week of April to assess the situation.

The VI National Park hopes that all of the vessels will be removed by the start of hurricane season, which is June 1st. Only time will tell…

The Park also stated that the underwater chain has been inspected and deemed safe.

If you are a boat owner who had a spot in Hurricane Hole but lost your boat during the hurricanes, you can retain the spot in the event that you purchase a new boat. You just need to inform the Park. Also, if you purchase a boat that has a spot in Hurricane Hole, that spot is transferrable. But once again, you need to notify the Park. Boat owners who’d like to be part of the lottery for open berths must register by June 2.

I’m happy to hear that there is finally a plan in place to remove these boats. We will keep you posted on the progress out there. And again, a HUGE thanks to Captain Colin of Flyaway Charters for sending us all of the details from the meeting!!

Another Restaurant Reopens On Island!

miss lucys sign

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday! We have more great news to share with you all today! Another restaurant has reopened following the hurricanes! Yahoo!

We’re a tad late to the party on this one, but we finally got over to Miss Lucy’s yesterday, and it was delish! The restaurant reopened a few weeks ago, and it really looks great!

Miss Lucy’s is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Here are several pictures of the menu and the new seating areas.

miss lucys menu

miss lucys drink menu

miss lucys view miss lucys seating outside miss lucys iside seating miss lucys inside seating 2

Looks great, right?! And I have to tell you all that the service yesterday was fantastic too! It was super fast!

We are so happy that Miss Lucy’s has reopened, and I hope that you all get a chance to visit it soon.

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!

miss lucys street sign

Westin Timeshare Board Sends Out Untruthful Email to Owners

westinHello all and happy Tuesday. As you all know, I absolutely love St. John. I am so proud to see the amazing progress that has happened here over the past six months. I am proud of the residents; I am proud of the community. And I am so very thankful to all of you who have stuck by us and supported us following last fall’s hurricanes.

On Monday, numerous readers and residents forwarded me an email that was sent out by the Virgin Grand Villas Condominium Association. This association is part of the Westin’s timeshare program. The email was sent to its timeshare owners. To say this email fired me up in an understatement.

The email was essentially a recap of their March 2018 board meeting. It gave an overview of the destruction caused by the storms, and provided details on the cleanup and reconstruction process.

The Westin was heavily damaged. There is no disputing that. And unlike Caneel Bay, I have seen workers there, and they have done a stellar job in keeping up the grounds. I commend them for that. The reason why I am a tad peeved at the moment, as are several people I have spoken to today both here on island and timeshare owners in the states, is due to the email’s “The Island” section. Here it is in its entirety below:

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 8.39.49 PMThat paragraph is untruthful. I’m not sure what the board’s motivation was in sending this, but I want to reassure those of you who received this, that the picture this email is painting is not our reality. Let’s go line by line.

  • The resort is likely to recover more rapidly than much of the rest of the island’s infrastructure. Reality: Only time will tell. 
  • Cruz Bay does not yet have electricity 24 hours a day. Reality: Not true. We have had a handful of blackouts over the past few months. We had a scheduled blackout over the weekend, which was due to upgrades happening at the power plant on St. Thomas. It occurred on a rolling basis and for only two hours per zone. We had an unexpected blackout back in February due to a fuel spill in St. Thomas. That lasted a few hours. For those of you who know St. John, you know that we’ve always had blackouts here and there. It’s nothing new. So again, to say that we do not have electricity 24 hours a day is a blatant lie. 
  • Internet service is very spotty and cell phone service is poor, as only AT&T has rebuilt cell phone towers. Reality: Not true. The Love City Community Network has worked diligently to provide wifi in many areas of the island, and has been doing so since September. As of today, it has roughly 400 end user sites, as well as 10 public access points. They are currently working to add three additional access points which will provide more coverage to the east side of the island. In addition, Viya has started to connect its customers to cable and internet. Dish network has been up and running on island. Hughesnet satellite internet is up and running as well. Regarding cell service, AT&T works fine in many areas of the island. In fact, I receive better service in Coral Bay now than I did before the storm. I am actually moving to a new place that abuts the Westin next month. My cell signal was better there yesterday than it is at my current place, which is right in the heart of Cruz Bay. I was able to stream video on my laptop while tethered from my phone. I can actually go live on Facebook at Maho these days. I was never able to do that before. So for them to say that internet and phone is spotty honestly makes me laugh. We’ve always had dead zones around the island. That’s nothing new. If you’re on the North Shore, for example, you’re going to connect to a British Virgin Islands tower in many spots. That happened before the storms and it’s happening now. Verizon has never worked well here because it uses different technology than the AT&T towers on island. It didn’t work well before the storms, and it doesn’t work well now. 
  • Some restaurants are open, but there are almost no tourists, so now that most of the FEMA workers have departed, many of those restaurants are open only a few days a week with limited menus. Reality: Wow, so untrue and, quite frankly, this statement is irritating. The majority of our restaurants are open, and they are open daily. Sure a handful close one day a week, but since when is that a bad thing? And we do have tourists on island right now. We’ve had tourists for months. Sure we’re not at the same level we were at last year, but we have lots of people here who love St. John and who are supporting this island. I am booked at least five days a week for tours. My friends who have charter boats are booked too. I couldn’t get a parking spot at Trunk or Hawksnest yesterday. Extra Virgin was hopping tonight. The Terrace was packed. People are here. And for those of you interested in which restaurants are open, here is list that shows more than three dozen restaurants that are open: www.newsofstjohn.com/open 
  • The public passenger ferry is running but the car ferry has very limited service. Reality: We lost two of our four barges in the storms. There is not limited service. The barges are running regularly. In fact, they are actually running later than scheduled because they refuse to leave drivers stranded. I commend them for that. The issue here is that there can be very long lines due to the fact that we are down two barges. 
  • Caneel Bay was severely damaged and it is unknown whether or not it will reopen. Reality: Yes, Caneel had a ton of damage. And yes, it will reopen. The issue here is when and under what terms. 
  • In all likelihood, neither ZoZo’s nor Asolare will reopen, but Skinny Legs is up and running. Reality: Neither restaurant has stated its future plans publicly. And yes, Skinny’s is open. I was there today. And it was hopping. 
  • The donkeys, deer and iguanas survived; in fact the donkeys seem to inhabit the shells of the beachfront cottages at Caneel, while for the present time, deer graze near our own Lemongrass Restaurant. Reality: The donkeys are thriving. I see about 15 daily while conducting my island tours. I haven’t seen as many deer lately, but I am happy to know that they are hiding out at the Westin. 
  • The north shore beaches have largely been cleaned of debris, but there has as of yet been no survey of damage to the reefs. Reality: The North Shore beaches are open and have been deemed safe. The reefs have been surveyed. Our shallow reefs took a hit. Our deeper reefs fared much better. 
  • We all hope that more of the island’s infrastructure will come back by the time our resort reopens, but the island’s recovery may be much slower than that of the Westin St. John. Reality: Again, only time will tell. And again, I take issue to this statement regarding our recovery. The progress that has happened over the past six months is truly remarkable. Do you have more work to do? Absolutely. And you know what? That’s ok. 

So for those of you who received this email, I hope I was able to clear up some of your concerns. And for the rest of you, please know that the progress here is absolutely incredible.

If you have any questions about St. John, our progress, the status of a beach, restaurants, etc., please feel free to email me at jenn@newsofstjohn.com. It may take me a bit to respond as I am a one-woman show here, but I promise I will answer you as soon as I am able to.

And if you’d like to share your thoughts with the writers of this email, you can send them to vistanamanagement@vistana.com I sent them an email myself Monday night. And while they opened the email, they have yet to respond. I’ll let you know if they do.

Thanks everyone for listening to my rant today. Have a great Tuesday!