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Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 1

Looking for a day on the water while you’re visiting St. John?  Well, Captain Jason Siska and his company, Island Roots Charters, is a great option if you really want to get to know St. John and her surrounding waters!

Captain Jason was born on St. John and has spent most of his life exploring our local waters and the BVI.  A VI Fire Fighter and First Responder, as well as a previous contestant on the hit reality TV show, Survivor, we’re confident he’ll make sure you have a safe, informative and exciting day in the VI!

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 2
Captain Jason on Survivor!

Now, let’s talk about this gorgeous vessel!  Island Roots is a 32 foot World Cat with ample, comfortable seating for up to 12 guests.  The extended Bimini is perfect for catching some shade on the rear seats while the wrap around bow seating is ideal for upping your daily dose of Vitamin D.

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 3
Comfortable seating in the sunshine on Island Roots.

A state of the art Bluetooth stereo system lets you customize your soundtrack for the day.  The swim platform and oversized boarding ladder in the back allow for easy re-entry after a perfect snorkel or float.

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 4

And as far as unique snorkeling experiences are concerned, Captain Jason and his team has you covered!  Island Roots is ONE OF SIX tour operators with permitted access to the Coral Reef National Monument waters.  That includes Hurricane Hole on St. John’s East End, voted into the top five places to snorkel in the Virgin Islands in 2020 by “Outside Pursuits.”

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 5
Underwater exploration – Photo by Steve Simonsen.

Much of the over 18,000 acres of protected, submerged lands within the National Park and Monument’s waters are only accessible by boat.  The Island Roots team and Captain Jason’s YEARS of experience in our waters will definitely help you discover some new favorites to explore!

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 6
Hurricane Hole.St. John.U.S. Virgin Islands

Looking for more than snorkeling?  They’ve got you covered there too!  Island Roots is home to an array of water toys!  If you want to try your hand at kitesurfing, the boat has training kites for the beginners and they know some of the best spots to take you to catch the breeze.  Looking to add to your underwater exploration?  They carry Subwings for a fast underwater ride and lion fish hunting spears and lobster snares if you want to return from the day with a fresh caught dinner.

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 7
Saving the underwater world, one Lionfish at a time!

Cliff jumping stops and numerous land based excursions further extend adventurous offerings you’ll enjoy on Island Roots.  If you’re a first timer at any of this, the crew, backed with years of in and on the water experience, will happily show you the ropes.

If you’re simply in search of a relaxing day of floating and sipping, you can do just that on one of Island Roots’ oversize pool floats.  Zip out to Christmas Cove and float the day away with a slice of pizza in your hand.  Or, cruise over to Coral Bay to do the same with some tacos and tequila from Lime Out.  Between those and MULTIPLE land based bars and restaurants accessible by water, you can experience the fun of a day spent bar hopping on Island Roots without ever leaving the USVI.

Business Spotlight: Island Roots Charters 8
Float away with Island Roots.

Take advantage of their current summer specials! Contact Captain Jason today to customize your perfect day on the water with Island Roots for an unforgettable experience in the USVI.

Check out their website for more information or to book directly online or contact Island Roots Charters directly at  340-643-5000 or [email protected].  Want to keep up on their adventures?  Follow them on Instagram and Trip Advisor to see the full guest experience!

 

Virtual St. John Carnival

Virtual St. John Carnival 9

The COVID-19 pandemic became a real thing in the Virgin Islands just before the St. Thomas Carnival this spring.  The annual celebrations on each island have always been a time for our communities to come together and the cancellation of both St. Thomas and St. John’s carnivals was a hard pill to swallow for everyone.

The St. John Festival always ends on the 4th of July with a 24 hour celebration of Emancipation Day on the third (We will be doing a piece on the history behind Carnival around the first of the month!).

To say that this gathering is needed this year is an understatement.  With 1 new travel related COVID case on St. John this week and the extension of the State of Emergency to July 12th, the St. John Festival has been cancelled.  But, the show must go on!

The USVI Department of Tourism and its Division of Festivals will host a virtual carnival, complete with local bands and DJ’s, virtual food fair and culture pop-ups!  Tune in between June 27 and July 4 for a little slice of St. John culture on the USVI Festivals website or Facebook page.  Here is the full schedule:

Virtual St. John Carnival 10

 

 

 

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 11

Good Morning! And Happy Wednesday to you all.

I’m here to tell you today about a beautiful four bedroom masonry home with family functionality AND a successful short term rental history!

Located in the quiet Virgin Grand Estates neighborhood with sweeping views of Great Cruz Bay, Seagrass Villa is the perfect home, or home away. This two-story 4600 square foot villa would be great for hosting friends in your St. John hideaway. Two master suites on each level with their own large en suite bathrooms ensure privacy and comfort between beach time and evenings spent by the pool.

The open floor plan on the upper level keeps conversation going throughout meal preparation while the second living room on the lower level allows for a separate space for quiet time for adults or playtime for the kiddos.

Let’s talk about the kitchen- It’s both gorgeous and super functional. A pair of wall ovens, island bar with gas range, dish washer, granite counter tops and beautiful cabinetry make being in the kitchen a pleasure.

Out on either of the two generous western facing decks, you and your family and/or friends can take in the sunset with an island cocktail or soak up some Vitamin D. The outdoor dining area on the pool deck lends itself as a beautiful space for morning coffee or evening BBQ’s.

AND this place has a what I would consider a unicorn on St. John….There’s a pool table in the lower living area!

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 12

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 13

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 14

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 15

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 16

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 17

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 18

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 19

St. John Real Estate: Virgin Grand Estates Home with Sweeping Views 20

Want to take a closer look? You can take a virtual tour of Seagrass Villa which is currently listed at $1.999 million. Please contact Tammy Donnelly of 340 Real Estate Co. at [email protected] to find out more about securing your piece of paradise!

Oh, and don’t let me forget. When you buy real estate with 340, a piece of that purchase goes back to a local non-profit. Tammy donates a portion of the proceeds of every sale to the St. John Cancer Fund!

Island Hopping in the USVI

Island Hopping in the USVI 21

Just because the BVI are closed for the time being, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great day on the water!  The USVI has plenty to offer in the way of views, water sports and food and beverage options.  A lot of charter companies have started pushing local day trips in recent years due to continuously rising customs fees and the amount of amazing USVI experiences that have popped up.

This weekend I was lucky enough to go sailing with one of my favorite captains on one of my favorite boats (I’ll get into more detail on that next week!).  It was a picture perfect day rounded out with an incredible sunset.  Enjoy the views!

Island Hopping in the USVI 22

We went snorkeling just south of St. Thomas and saw some true underwater beauty.  On the back side of these rocks we explored remnants of a ship wreck and a sunken cannon!

After a few hours of floating with friends, we headed over to Water Island for lunch.  It’s a great alternative for a boat day now that the BVI is closed until at least September.  Dinghy’s is open and the staff was accommodating and excited to be back in business!

Island Hopping in the USVI 23

After a leisurely afternoon, we headed back towards St. John to soak in the golden hours and a magnificent sunset.

Island Hopping in the USVI 24

Island Hopping in the USVI 25

Island Hopping in the USVI 26

Island Hopping in the USVI 27

Island Hopping in the USVI 28

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve introduced you to my other half yet 🙂  This is Chewbacca (Chewy for short). He likes sailing and long walks on the beach.  I adopted him from the Animal Care Center 6 years ago and he is everyone’s favorite first mate!

Have a great Tuesday!

Local Livin’ – Stories from Love City – Doreen Callwood

Local Livin' - Stories from Love City - Doreen Callwood 29

While I was out and about this weekend I ran into a taxi driver who once did me a great kindness. We sat and chatted for a bit about what’s going on in the world and I questioned him about his opinions on the development of St. John and tourism today. The conversation led to a heartfelt story about his mother who came to St. John from Jost Van Dyke in the 60’s. He told me how she had experienced the generosity of a stranger that led to her eventually being a self-sustaining single mother of four on a tourism driven career path.

A few days later, after thinking about her story with a great deal of questions that remained unanswered, I called him and asked if I could interview her. He paused for a moment and said that it would mean a lot to him, and to her, if someone wrote down her story. So, I’m going to try to do it justice as best I can.

Read moreLocal Livin’ – Stories from Love City – Doreen Callwood

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open!

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 30

Lovango Rum Bar is finally open for business!  We highlighted this new venue back in December which was scheduled for a grand opening the weekend of March 21st.  For obvious reasons, this was pushed back.

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 31
The custom pizza oven and open air kitchen greet you as you walk in the door.

They have been open on and off for takeout throughout the pandemic and Stay-At-Home orders so I can say I’ve been lucky enough to try their amazing Neapolitan style pizza in the meantime.  But they are now open for full-service!

In addition to a great visual appeal on the delicious pizzas (with perfect crust in my opinion!) and GIANT charcuterie boards, Lovango Rum Bar offers nearly 200 different types of rum.  Including their own signature light and dark rums which are used in their rum-based cocktails on a menu designed by master mixologist, Will Forsythe.

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 32
Lovango’s signature light and dark rum blends.

Can’t decide on a rum?  No problem!  They offer flights of rum on an attractive hand-crafted board.  It’s a great presentation and experience that allows you to start sampling the large selection they have to offer behind the bar.

Now, let me tell you about this bar….It is absolutely stunning.

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 33
Comfy seats and ornate light fixtures add to the comfortable ambiance at Lovango Rum Bar.

Locally carpentered wooden shelves frame the bottles of rum with a backsplash reminiscent of aqua mermaid scales with a shimmery finish.  A stunning contrast to the otherwise dark grey interior.  The bar top itself stretches the length of most of the dining area and is made out of distressed copper that resembles an aerial satellite picture of the Caribbean Sea.

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 34
A massive charcuterie board on the copper bar top.

The inside of Lovango Rum Bar has a great ambiance with Steve Simonsen’s videos of mermaids, fire dancers and Mocko Jumbies on the large screens and a beautiful copper still behind glass in the corner.  A stage setup near the patio doors with full concert lighting and sound equipment promise a good time now that we are able to have live music again!

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 35
The copper still to the right with the stage in the background

 

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 36If you’re looking for some Caribbean blues and sunshine, head out to the patio that overlooks the Cruz Bay waterfront.  Take in the view and the boats slowly moving in and out of the harbor with a rum drink or a glass of wine in your hand and enjoy a sunset serenade.  The venue hopes to have live music scheduled for the evenings inside and during sunset on the patio outside Tuesday through Saturday.

Check out Lovango Rum Bar, located above Dr!nk St. John and Low Key Watersports, next time you are on island!  They are open Tuesday through Saturday with dinner service from 4-9PM and bar service from 4-11PM.  Due to capacity restrictions, reservations are HIGHLY recommended.  Reserve your table today!

If you have been to Lovango Rum Bar, we encourage you to scroll down and leave a review.

Business Spotlight: Lovango Rum Bar is Open! 37

 

Lovango Rum Bar
5 / 5 Reviewer
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 Users (3 votes)
Pros
  • Delicious Neapolitan style pizza
  • Very large rum selection and carft cocktails
  • Cruz bay view and outdoor patio
  • Beautiful interior design
  • Live music with full concert lighting and sound equipment
Cons
  • Smaller venue so reservations are highly encouraged
  • Hours currently limited, restaurant opens at 4:30 pm
Summary
The new Lovango Rum Bar in Cruz Bay is a must-visit. They specialize in Neapolitan style pizzas and feature a selection of almost 200 types of rum as well as craft cocktails and other beverages. Lovango's friendly and knowledgeable staff will make a recommendation if you need help deciding. The interior of the restaurant and bar area are beautifully designed. Their outdoor patio has great sunset views, which could make for the perfect date night. Lovango regularly features live music on its stage which has full concert lighting and sound equipment.
Food5
Drinks5
Ambiance5
Service5
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New Ferry Schedule – June 10, 2020

New Ferry Schedule - June 10, 2020 39

The passenger ferry has expanded their service as of today!

New Ferry Schedule - June 10, 2020 40

 

Notice the weekday service is a bit more “back to normal” than the weekends, but they are still making their last trip to Red Hook from Cruz Bay at 8PM instead of Midnight.   If you’re coming in on a later flight, make sure to make other arrangements!  We posted some guidance about private transportation as well as the Crown Bay ferry schedule last week.

We will keep you up to date about the schedules as they evolve!

 

Live Music is Back!

Live Music is Back! 41

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Live Music is Back!  And here’s who is doing what this week>>>>

We are slowly rolling our way back into a regular momentum here on St. John.  I went out for take-out last night and it was great seeing one of my favorite restaurants as full as they could be by current capacity restrictions.  Employees busy and smiling behind their masks.  Unfamiliar faces at tables and the bar.  Tourism has trickled back in.  And, as scary as moving forward may seem, it was good to see my friends behind a busy bar again!

Live music was one of the very first things to be restricted.  And that’s reasonable.  People tend to gather and stay in places longer when there is live entertainment.  Just prior to the stay at home orders, we had VI Jam Fest, several nationally touring acts at different venues around St. John, St. Thomas Carnival around the corner.  Bars and restaurants were testing the live music game for the first time.  Most of the long-standing ones were doing seven days a week with a lot of really fun things on the horizon.  And then, just like everything else, it stopped dead in its tracks.

Well, the first to stop and the last to get started.  Thank you Governor Bryan for bringing live music back!  Beginning on Monday June 8, 2020, in the Virgin Islands, the show can go on!  With restrictions…

From the Office of the Governor – Issued and Effective on June 1, 2020:

Live Music is Back! 42
Pam and Broheem at Cruz Bay Landing
  • No live bands or DJ’s in open public areas
  • Event centers and banquet halls must comply with mass gathering mandates of less than 50 people or 50% of their occupancy capacity (Whatever is less)
  • No live music or DJ’s permitted after 12 midnight
  • Live band shall be set up with space of ten (10) feet between the band and patrons using social distancing principles.
  • A clear barrier between live music and patrons may be considered but is not required.

Now that we all know the expectations and regulations, who is doing what?

A few of the staples for live music are taking their time on figuring out how to manage performances with the current regulations.  Once again, I want to remind you that the government will shut down and/or fine these businesses if they are caught being non-compliant so, let’s bear with ALL of small businesses while we get through the beginnings of this blue phase.

But, a couple of our favorite venues are jumping right back in!  The following restaurants have scheduled performances, but be sure to check their Facebook pages and websites for additional updates.

  • Miss Lucy’s – Thursday night open mic starts again on June 25th.  Every Thursday at 5:30-?
  • Lovango Rum Bar –  Evening and Sunset music regularly beginning this weekend.
  • Cruz Bay Landing – Starting up this week 6-9PM
    Live Music is Back! 43
    Live music is back at Maho Crossroads starting this weekend
    • Fridays – IslandGirlMusic- Erin Hart
    • Saturdays –  Artist TBA
    • Sundays – Pam and Broheem (Start date on the Sunday shows TBD)
  • Maho Crossroads – Starting Sunday
    • Ital and Echo People – Sunday 2-3PM
    • Mermaid Monday – 2-4PM – IslandGirlMusic- Erin Hart
    • Regular afternoon music beginning next week.

If you are not here to check out the tunes this week, Lauren and Bo Magnie will host one more virtual open mic live from St. John this Thursday at 5:30!

Monday Blues

Got a case of the Mondays?  Take a minute to enjoy some pics and video from the weekend~I’ve included a little info to ease your minds about the dry hillsides as well!

It was an INCREDIBLY windy day at Cinnamon Bay; which you can definitely hear in this video!  But the sun was shining in between light showers and the beach was practically empty until noon!

Read moreMonday Blues

VI National Park Opens Additional Facilities

VI National Park Opens Additional Facilities 44

The Virgin Islands National Park Service issued a release on June 3 that gets us a bit closer to that new normal we are all dreaming of.

Today, June 6, the NPS reopens the park-maintained facilities at the following locations:

  • Trunk Bay – Restrooms and Showers – Entry fees remain waived for the meantime
  • Hawksnest Bay- Restrooms and Changing Rooms
  • Restrooms and/or Porta Johns at Cinnamon Bay, Maho Bay, Francis Bay, Salt Pond Bay, Lameshur and Annaberg.

Although, the concessions at Trunk and Cinnamon remain closed, all park waters, beaches and trails are OPEN.  The park resumes trash pick-up today as well and replaced the garbage receptacles on the beaches earlier this week.  As always, however, pack-in, pack-out is highly encouraged as the collection areas are not designed for high volume use.

On April 6, the VI government closed the territory owned beaches and the NPS followed their lead almost immediately.  The beaches and trails were re-opened on April 20, but the above facilities, as well as the picnic pavilions, remained closed.  The picnic areas are not mentioned in the NPS release from June 3.

A little factoid for those of you who don’t know (I know, many do, but bear with me):  The majority of the St. John beaches are operated and maintained by the National Park Service.  BUT, the majority of the beaches and trails on the other Virgin Islands are owned by the territory.  A lot of people were confused when the Department of Parks and Natural Resources (DPNR) released their beach water testing results and none of the popular STJ beaches were listed (They tested Oppenheimer, Cruz Bay, Frank Bay, Great Cruz Bay and Johnson Bay).  Follow Friends of the VI National Park and Virgin Islands National Park to stay up to date on St. John specific beach info and water testing results!

VI National Park Opens Additional Facilities 45

The Cruz Bay Visitor center also closed its doors in April and will remain closed for the time being with “public and employee health in mind.”

Social distancing and face coverings are still highly encouraged and hand sanitizer in your beach bag is never a bad idea!

“We have felt the love from local residents who have kept park beaches, trails and public spaces safe and clean over the past two months,” says Nigel Fields, park superintendent. “Now as the USVI begins to open the doors to broader tourism, we want everyone to remain safe while enjoying the park’s many resources.”

VI National Park Opens Additional Facilities 46

I hope you all have a GREAT weekend!  Thank you for all of the positive feedback and support this week.  Jenn’s are definitely a big pair of flip-flops to fill and there’s a lot to learn in the process. —Speaking of Jenn, you’ll be hearing from her tomorrow!