Driftwood David’s is For Sale

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Well folks, we know how much you all love knowing what’s for sale here on St. John. Today we have another one for you.

It’s been quite some time that we’ve seen a “Cruz Bay Restaurant For Sale” listing on Craigslist. We always had an inkling that it was Driftwood David’s and now the listing states that as fact. Here it is in its entirety:

“A successful six year old restaurant for sale with water view of harbor. Newly remodeled with three bars and seating for 50. Just awarded Trip Advisor Excellence Award.” 

Driftwood David’s got a pretty nice little makeover last summer. Dave updated the bar area and added more seating. It’s a pretty relaxed little spot in the lower part of the Lumberyard, next to the gym and underneath Barefoot Cowboy. Driftwood David’s has very good food, especially the burgers, and a great happy hour.

We wrote about its makeover last June. Click here to check that out and to see more pics.

Driftwood David’s is listed for $235,000. Click here to email them for more information.

 

On the Market: Four Bedroom Home in Fish Bay

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Hello everyone and happy Sunday! Today we’d like to tell you about a really good deal out in Fish Bay. Check it out:

This four bedroom, three bath home is a gardener’s dream out in Fish Bay. Situated on just over an acre, the property is beautifully wooded and located just about 10 minutes from town. It is set up separately, so you could live in one unit while renting out the other, so there is great income potential.

There are two bedrooms plus an office on the upper floor, as well as a full kitchen and dining area. The lower level has two bedrooms and two baths, as well as a full kitchen with dining area, a living area and a screened-in porch.

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This property is being sold as is, but is a must see. It is listed for $695,000.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Tammy Donnelly at 340 Real Estate Co. at 340realestateco@gmail.com.

Business Spotlight: Love City Excursions

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Back before I was fortunate enough to live on St. John, one of my favorite days while vacationing here was spent out on the water. I would spend hours looking for the perfect boat charter, researching destinations, reading reviews, etc. Well today I’d like to take away some of the legwork for all of you and tell you about our friends over at Love City Excursions.

Love City Excursions is owned and operated by Joe and Katie Zachary. Joe and Katie are no strangers to the island, as they have lived here for more than 10 and 11 years, respectively.

Love City Excursions features a 33-foot World Cat power catamaran – “Catzilla” as they call it – which features high quality snorkeling gear for adults, pool noodles, fresh water shower, two large coolers, plenty of dry storage and can seat up to 12 people. It’s definitely one of the larger, private day charters. They even provide Painkillers, water and ice for each charter. The boat is built to handle the winds that sometimes breeze through here during the winter months, which makes it a very comfortable ride. It also has several comfy bean bag chairs to lounge on and is very spacious and comfortable throughout.

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Love City Excursions offers full day trips in both the US and British Virgin Islands. They also offer half day trips in USVI waters only, sunset cruises, a water taxi service, as well as all inclusive private charters.

Not on St. John but want to keep in touch with the happenings of Love City Excursions? Well you can check out their blog in which they highlight stuff like rainy day activities and the top Virgin Islands cocktails. Click here to check out their blog. 

You can also bring a bit of Love City Excursions home with you. They have dry fit shirts, tanks and even drink tumblers. Click here to check out their online store. 

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For more information on Love City Excursions, visit their website at www.lovecityexcursions.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lovecityexcursions or follow them on Instagram at www.instagram.com/lovecityexcursions

St. John Featured in New York Times Article

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Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

When you live somewhere special like St. John, it’s no surprise when national and international publications take note. Oftentimes, however, stories posted or published miss the beat in a way and portray St. John as something it’s not. (That’s totally my opinion of course, but I know there’s a large group of people here who tend to feel the same way.)

The most recent article on St. John that was just posted to the New York Times website yesterday is certainly an exception. I personally think it is very good, true to St. John and of course, very well written. Check it out and let me know what you think…

Slowing Down, Finding Hidden Paradise on St. John

Rush, and you’ll miss hidden beaches, food trucks and one of the most elegant resorts in the Caribbean. Here’s how to find them.

By JEREMY W. PETERS

Idleness is generally not something visitors to remote corners of the Caribbean need to seek out. It is forced on you.

Your rental car breaks down on a Saturday morning, stranding you at a beach parking lot, for instance, and you call the number on your key to find out that a) they are closed Saturdays, and b) the person answering the after-hours line says they might — just might — be able to get you a working car sometime.

Eventually, you realize that the reason your calamity is being treated as a mere inconvenience is that that is what it is. And, in my case, such inconveniences might be reminders to follow the advice of an acquaintance who has lived on St. John for more than 20 years: Slow down.

St. John unfurls itself in unexpected ways if you just give it time. Slowing down was how I found a little path near a lookout point called Peace Hill that led down to a deserted beach; most tourists walk right past it on the way to the main attraction, an old windmill ruin.

Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Slowing down was how I saw sea life dart in and out of mangroves when I went snorkeling on St. John’s East End; at first the crustaceans and tiny fish are invisible but if you move as little as possible and wait, they slowly come to life.

It was how I discovered a great Asian-inspired restaurant in town that was easy to miss unless you knew the way in: through a minimart, past the junk food aisle.

Unless you slow down, you might miss St. John itself. There is no airport or cruise ship dock, which keeps the tourist hordes down. Many people do not even realize that it is part of the United States, as one of the country’s three major Virgin Islands. It is a short ferry ride from St. Thomas, which is accessible by several direct flights a day from major mainland cities like New York, Atlanta and Miami.

What really keeps St. John feeling so remote and unhurried is the fact that it is largely off limits to developers. More than half the island is taken up by one of the lesser-known parks in the national park system, Virgin Islands National Park.

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Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

You won’t find the kind of garish development that chokes other parts of the Caribbean. There are no high-rise hotels, no strip malls filled with T-shirt and tchotchke shops, no barking beach vendors asking to braid your hair or sell you a drink in a coconut.

I was no stranger to St. John. What I always remembered about it — and what drew me back there after more than a decade since I moved back to the United States mainland from St. Thomas, where I was a reporter just out of college — was that it was the place Virgin Islanders went when they needed a little vacation.

I would visit every couple of months when I was living in St. Thomas, usually for a weekend getaway or to impress my family and friends when they came down for a visit. And every time I navigated the island’s steep, serpentine roads in my Jeep and stopped at the first overlook outside town, I would take in the 180 degrees of sparkling azure water and lush virgin mountainsides and catch myself: “I can’t believe this place is part of the United States.”

When I returned there last year, I realized I’d never really taken the time to get to know St. John as well as I thought. This time, with my partner, Brendan, I would take it slow.

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Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Over four days we took our rented Jeep Wrangler on as many of the passable roads on St. John as we could, stopping at all the beaches, bars, scenic lookouts and trails we had time for. Here is everything you might otherwise miss. I should know, because I did the first time.

Caneel Bay

Caneel has a reputation as one of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean. But it, too, is hidden from people in a rush. When passing it on a boat you have to look hard to notice its green and tan low-rise buildings, which disappear into the surrounding hillsides. There are few resorts in the Caribbean as suited to their surroundings.

Everything there, it seemed, was designed to be inoffensive to the eye. The taxis that run guests around the sprawling property are painted a pale green, as are the landscaping trucks and housekeeping golf carts. The beach chairs are a sandy brown. Locals tell a story about the time the former owner of the property, Laurance Rockefeller, went sailing by and saw that the staff had set out new turquoise chairs. Horrified, he ordered them banished. The resort auctioned them off, and soon many of the homes on the island had brand-new turquoise deck chairs of their own.

There is something almost intangible about how refined Caneel is, beyond those carefully color-coordinated golf carts, the astronomical thread counts and the sumptuous bath products. Being there feels like being a resident of an exclusive, self-contained republic. An army of staff members tends to the 166 rooms, seven beaches and 170 acres of meticulously maintained grounds.

Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

From the moment we set foot on the private dock that receives guests arriving from St. Thomas, we were free from worry. We were met by a smiling, waving welcoming committee of a half-dozen workers, who handed us cool towels and whisked us off to our room on a golf cart. One morning, as we headed to the beach on one of the resort taxis, I muttered to Brendan that I had forgotten our towels. All of a sudden our taxi came to a halt and the driver hustled away. Perplexed, we watched as he ran over to a housekeeping cart and grabbed two fresh towels for us.

The resort is so big that you may feel the need to be transported everywhere on one of its frequently running shuttles. But roaming on foot is far more rewarding. There are trails that run through the property, like Mary’s Trail, named for Mr. Rockefeller’s wife, which winds for a half mile over some cliffs along the water. It deposits you at my favorite of the resort’s seven beaches, Turtle Bay Beach. Tucked into a small cove book ended by rocks, the beach is a wide but fairly short strip of soft white sand with few people ever on it. There is also a swimming pool on the property. But its presence seemed purely ornamental. It is a hike from most of the rooms, and I never saw anyone in it.

Caneel may not come cheap, but it’s not off limits or unwelcoming for those who have other uses for $800 a night. Virgin Islands law provides for public access to almost all beaches. So have breakfast at Caneel’s Beach Terrace one day and bring your bathing suit and towel so you can hit a beach when you’re done. Just remember: You have to know what you’re looking for. Caneel’s entrance off North Shore Road is unmarked. Only a stone gatehouse alerts you to the fact that something special lies inside.

Cruz Bay

As St. John’s busiest harbor and a hub for ferries coming from St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands, Cruz Bay is the closest thing St. John has to a city. It is easy to think that you’ve covered Cruz Bay after walking its narrow grid of streets for 20 minutes or so. But the best thing to do is to ask the locals where to go.

Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Photo credit: Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Had we trusted our own instincts and not asked around, we never would have found lunch at the Little Olive food truck, which sells Greek dishes like chicken gyros, spanakopita and fiery feta fries — sweet potatoes dappled with Sriracha, feta and oregano. They are all generously portioned, if a bit messy. So ask for extra napkins. And make sure you get directions before you go. Little Olive can be a little difficult to find in its unassuming location — a parking lot next to the town tennis courts.

Two of our best finds for food and drinks were also off the grid, though easy enough to locate by asking around. The first was the Bowery, a little respite of a bar where we stopped for happy hour one evening. It is peacefully removed from the clamor of the beachfront bars along the water in Cruz Bay, sealed off by a glass door. “It keeps the drunks out,” our bartender said, sounding quite pleased. We ordered a crisp, dry rosé and a generously sized charcuterie-and-cheese plate that more than held us over until dinner. Another bonus our bartender took pride in: The Bowery has no blender for frozen drinks. If the Virgin Islands had an unofficial state song, it would be the rattling whir, buzz and chop of a bar blender — a bit of noise pollution that is inescapable in most bars.

Our other hidden-in-plain-sight find was a funky Asian-inspired restaurant and bar called Rhumb Lines, inside the Bayside Mini Mart. Just walk past a few aisles of potato chips, travel-size toiletries and soft drinks, step past the cash register — and a dinner of shrimp pad thai, grilled mahi-mahi or sesame-crusted Sichuan tuna is waiting for you.

Cruz Bay has become a little hub of culinary experimentation and innovation over the last few years. And we had great meals at other places like La Tapa, which has a nightly changing menu of seafood, meats and greens that were so fresh I asked the waiter if they were picked that day. He said they were indeed — by a woman named Josephine who provides her signature peppery arugula mixes to many of the restaurants in town.

One of our favorite places was by no means hidden. The Longboard, a bar and small-plates restaurant, announces itself as the new hot spot on the block with its fresh white paint job and slick signage. In this case, I was grateful for its conspicuousness, which drew us in and rewarded us with Hawaiian-influenced dishes like ahi tuna poke, panko-crusted mahi-mahi sliders and fish tacos, which we washed down with the restaurant’s signature lavender-and-lemongrass-infused gin and tonic.

The North Shore

St. John’s north shore beaches — Hawksnest Bay, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Maho Bay, among others — are its most stunning attractions, but they are often congested during high season. Some of the best, most deserted beaches require a hike. Those extra steps are an effective deterrent to large crowds. Closer to Cruz Bay are Honeymoon and Solomon beaches, which are adjacent to Caneel Bay but also accessible on the Lind Point Trail from the Virgin Islands National Park visitor center in Cruz Bay.

If you want even more isolation, try to find Denis Bay. The trailhead that leads down to Denis is a little farther up North Shore Road, just past the entrance to Caneel. You have to pass Hawksnest and then look for the signs for Peace Hill, where the main attraction is a sugar-mill ruin on a windswept perch overlooking the water. (The vista is definitely worth the short hike up before you start your trek down to the water.) Just as you start the trail that climbs up to the mill from a small parking lot, look right. A narrow, unmarked path leads to a steep descent that flattens out closer to the water. The beach has perfect white sand that is not so fine and soft that it sticks to you everywhere like wet flour. And it’s not so coarse that it scrubs your feet raw.

We hung our towels and bags on one of the trees that provide ample shade along the beach and waded in. As we were floating on our backs, we noticed a little commotion down the beach. A small crowd had gathered around a surprise visitor: a lone flamingo that had wandered onto the beach, most likely a deserter from the colony that Richard Branson maintains on his nearby private island. This bird certainly had good taste in beaches.

Maho Bay, at the eastern end of North Shore Road, was quite a different beach experience. Since it’s right off the road, it tends to get crowded. The strip of sand is narrower than those of other beaches on the north shore, like Cinnamon. But the bay is more protected and the water calmer. Many visitors flock to it for the sea turtles, which use the underwater grass beds as a feeding ground. Chances are you will see plenty of them if you strap on a snorkel and mask.

Click here to read more about the East End and to see what else The New York Times has to say about our little slice of paradise.

The full story will be printed in Sunday’s edition The New York Times.

Villa Spotlight: Mare Blu, a Stunning, Six-Bedroom South Shore Villa

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Looking to vacation on St. John anytime soon? Perhaps you’d live to visit with a group of friends or family, and are looking for a spacious villa with stunning views? Or maybe you’d simply like to check out one of St. John’s amazing homes? Well then look no further than Mare Blu…

Overlooking Rendezvous Bay, this colorful 10,000 square foot villa villa mirrors the dramatic hues of the Caribbean scenery. Mare Blu is considered to be one of the most luxurious, high-style, relaxing and private villas on the island of St. John.

After 30 years of island hopping, Mare Blu owners, Teri and Bernie Ackerman, found no match for the appeal of the friendly and culturally diverse community of St. John, nor for the beauty of our tropical forests, national parks and secluded sandy beaches. The vacation home of their dreams was built on a hill above the turquoise waters of Rendezvous Bay, looking south, with scenic views that stretch from the east end of St. John to St. Croix.

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Mare Blu’s great floor plan, superb design, lighting, and finishes distinguish this spectacular villa overlooking Rendezvous Bay. Built in four spacious pavilions linked together by generous outdoor living spaces, the sparking pool and tropical gardens, Mare Blue offers full air conditioning throughout the villa. Its excellent floor plan is designed so that all of the home’s living space and pool is on one level. Six large bedroom/bath suites, a stunning indoor gourmet kitchen flanked by an outdoor kitchen dining and sitting area, and a beautifully-decorated Great Room and loggia are just a start at Mare Blu.

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All bedroom suites are beautifully furnished, air conditioned hideaways that take full advantage of their picturesque location. All the suites have flat screen televisions with cable. Bathrooms have double vanities, showers, and are tiled in grey granite from floor to ceiling. The Orange suite features an alfresco shower, Yellow a semi-alfresco shower and the Pink suite also offers a bathtub.

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All of the villa’s living space is on the main level of the pavilion. The Great Room, with two seating areas, provides a 55′ HDTV, DVD, movies, games & game table. Adjacent, the gourmet kitchen leaves nothing to be desired, even by the most discerning of gourmet cooks. Well stocked with a large variety of glassware, stemware, dinnerware and cookware, the kitchen is equipped to feed the masses with its top of the line stainless steel appliances, including a three-door refrigerator/freezer, standard oven, microwave/convection oven and two dishwashers.

Sliding glass pocket doors lead from the indoor kitchen to its outdoor kitchen providing easy service to the alfresco dining room & includes a professional gas grill, second oven, icemaker & generous countertop space. The dining room joins the covered outdoor living room resulting in one expansive outdoor living space with awesome ocean views. With an abundance of outdoor seating and lounging furniture this space is the true heart of the villa!

Want to see more? Then check out this video of Mare Blu:

And here’s a fun fact about Mare Blu… Target filmed a commercial there back in 2014. Check it out:

Rates for Mare Blu start at $11,000 a week and vary depending on season and number of bedrooms used. All six bedrooms do not need to be rented.

Interested? Want to learn more? Then check out Mare Blu’s website at www.marebluvilla.com

News of St. John Launches New Tour Guide Business!

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I am so excited to share today’s news with all of you … I just received my tour guide license, so I can finally launch my new tour guide business here on St. John. How exciting is that??!!

For the past four years, I’ve been telling you all about St. John. Well now I’m going to personally show you.

News of St. John: Tours is a private, personalized day tour on the island of St. John. We will pick you up anywhere on island and you decide where we go!

Your tour vehicle will be a very clean and new four-door Jeep Wrangler. You can opt to take the t-tops off for a bit more sun and warmth, or keep them on and enjoy the ice cold air conditioning.

Not sure where you want to go? There are so many options! We can do a simple sightseeing tour, visit beautiful beaches, hike one of the island’s 22 trails (let’s stick to the easier ones though folks, this is supposed to be fun!), visit centuries-old ruins, perhaps do a little barhopping or even some shopping. It’s totally up to you!

We can accommodate up to four guests per tour (one up front in the passenger’s seat and three in the back), and groups are never combined.

Your tour includes a private guide (that’s me!), a cooler stocked with ice and water, beach chairs and noodles (for those of you who’d like to stop at the beach), gas and photos. We’ll take a bunch throughout the day and will text or email them to you after the tour.

For an additional cost, we can provide a gallon (or two – we don’t judge!) of Painkillers, rum punch, mimosas or any of your favorite island cocktails. We can also provide lunch, sodas and snacks, as well as snorkel gear, beach umbrellas and more.

The cost of News of St. John: Tours is $100 per person. (There is a minimum of two people per tour, and we never combine groups.) Tours generally start at 10 a.m. and end around 3 p.m. If you prefer a different start and/or end time, or an extended tour, just ask. We will pick you up and drop you off at the location of your choosing.

News of St. John: Tours is perfect for:

  • Those of you who are looking to explore the island through the eyes of a local – I can show my favorite spots!
  • Those of you looking to go off the beaten path and explore out of the way places
  • Those of you who want to see everything St. John has to offer, but you only have a limited amount of time to do so
  • Those of you who’d like to indulge a bit and not worry about driving
  • Those of you who simply love St. John and News of St. John!

Doesn’t this sound like fun? I’m so excited to show you the island! I love St. John. You love St. John. Let’s go out and explore it together, shall we? :)

Ready to book your tour? You can do so by emailing me at jenn@newsofstjohn.com

Want to learn more about our tours, the destinations we can visit and more? Then please check out our new website at www.newsofstjohntours.com.