Harvesting Salt Here on St. John

harvesting salt
Harvesting salt at a salt pond – May 11, 2022

Hi all, this is Jenn with Explore STJ Island Tours. I did something super cool yesterday, and Hillary has graciously allowed me to share it with all of you!

Ok, now let’s set the scene… I was having lunch at the Beach Bar Monday afternoon when Robin, one of the owners of The Terrace restaurant, came over to chat. He was holding a bag filled with small Tupperware containers. “Have you been down to Salt Pond to get some salt,” he asked me. “WHAT??!!!” I responded with excitement!

You see, it’s not often that any of our salt ponds here on St. John produce salt. The last time that this particular salt pond produced a large amount of salt was back in 2015. (Click here to read the story I wrote about this back then.) So when this happens, those of us living here on island tend to get very excited. 🙂

Now when I refer to a salt pond, I do not mean Salt Pond bay, which is the beautiful, blue bay beyond Coral Bay and Miss Lucy’s. I am referring to an actual salt pond, which is typically a brown or almost a coppery color. The salt pond that is currently producing salt is located right next to Salt Pond bay. Confusing, I know. 🙂

Harvesting Salt Here on St. John 1
Salt Pond bay is located on the southeastern part of St. John.
Harvesting Salt Here on St. John 2
The salt pond currently producing salt is located beside Salt Pond bay/beach.

Now you may be wondering what makes a salt pond. You may also be wondering what makes it produce salt every then and again. Admittedly, I am not a salt expert, so I am going to defer to Mr. Gerald Singer, author of St. John Off the Beaten Path:

Because of its location on this arid and windswept part of the island, Salt Pond is the most likely place to find 100% natural St. John sea salt – no fat, no carbs, no cholesterol, no preservatives.

How Does the Salt Get There?
Saltwater enters the pond from the sea by seepage at high tides and by waves breaking over the surface during storms. Salt Pond is one of the only places on St. John that is below sea level. This condition prevents significant amounts of pond water from flowing back out to sea. Constant, intense sunlight and ever-present trade winds encourage an exceptionally high rate of evaporation. When rain is scarce, the water becomes extremely salty. Water can only hold a certain amount of salt in solution and when the salinity of the pond reaches that point, the salt crystallizes.

As the water level continues to drop, and more and more water is evaporated, a layer of salt is left along the edges of the pond. The longer the dry period, the higher the temperature, and the stronger the winds, the more this salt layer will extend towards the center of the pond and the thicker the layer becomes.

You can collect salt during these times by scooping up the salt with your hands, if it is still wet and soft. If the salt layer is dry and hard, use a knife or other sharp tool. (If you’ve forgotten to bring a container, just walk over to nearby Drunk Bay where there is a great deal of flotsam, and you’ll probably find something you can use.)

After the salt is collected, drain off as much water as possible and put it in the sun to dry further. You may be left with fine powdery salt, which you can enjoy on your food immediately or, if the dried crystals are large, you will first need to grind them up or pound them out.

The salt obtained from salt ponds is particularly tasty and healthy, containing all the minerals that are present in the sea, which include all those essential to the human body. So during the next dry spell, take the trail to St. John’s best salt pond for collecting salt and bring some back home.

Pretty amazing stuff, isn’t it??!!

Here are a couple of pics I took Wednesday morning…

Harvesting Salt Here on St. John 3
Salt crystalizing on a dead branch
Harvesting Salt Here on St. John 4
I rinsed the salt I harvested the best I could, and then I placed it onto a baking sheet and am drying it in the sun.

I reached out to the Virgin Islands National Park just to be certain that harvesting salt is allowed. It is, as long as it’s for personal use only, the superintendent said. 🙂

Afternoon article addition: The salt is on the edge of the pond. You do not need to walk into the salt pond to harvest it.  

So if you are lucky enough to be on island, be sure to stop by salt pond to harvest some sea salt. It probably won’t be there long, so it’s best to go sooner than later.

Not on island but planning to visit soon? Please consider booking an island tour with me! See the island and learn lots of cool stuff along the way! Please visit www.ExploreSTJ.com for more information. You can also email me at [email protected] or follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorestj or over on Instagram at @explorestj. Please book early. The island continues to be busy, and things book up fast. 🙂

Happy harvesting!

Real Estate Spotlight: Gardener’s Oasis in Coral Bay

Real Estate Spotlight: Gardener's Oasis in Coral Bay 5

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! Jenn here… I’m filling in for Hillary today, who is feeling a tad under the weather. And you know what? I am excited to do so, because a super cute spot just listed for sale in Coral Bay, and I am eager to share the details with all of you! To be honest, I’d even love to have this spot for myself… It’s so cute!

Read moreReal Estate Spotlight: Gardener’s Oasis in Coral Bay

The 411 on the Weather

The 411 on the Weather 6
Rainy Cruz Bay Sunday…

Hello everyone and happy Monday! For those of you who are lucky enough to be on island, you know that it rained this weekend. It rained hard, and it rained for three days straight. Crazy! That isn’t the norm here on St. John, although it is very welcomed when it does occur. I don’t know the official amount, but I can safety say that we received a few inches of rain between Friday and Sunday. At this point, our plants are beyond happy and our cisterns are overflowing. 🙂

A hot topic of conversation for people, especially those planning their vacations, is the weather. Most people on island will tell you not to check the weather. Rain is often forecasted, but it may only be a quick sprinkle – nothing really to stress over. The majority of our days are warm and sunny, complete with beautiful blue skies. It is very unusual that we get an entire day of rain like we did this past weekend. It’s even more unusual to have three straight days of rain. Fortunately the sun is expected to return this week, so bring on those blue skies!

For those of you who are interested in our current weather conditions, the best website and app (in my opinion) is Wunderground. Wunderground has realtime radar, so you can see if it’s currently raining in Cruz Bay, Coral Bay or even out on the East End, for example. It also gives you hourly information, and it’s usually spot on. It was very accurate this past weekend.

For those of you who are on Facebook and prefer more local knowledge, I think that St. John VI Weather is a great page to follow. It’s written by Dan Boyd, who lives over on Lovango Cay. Dan posts a report every morning that includes the weather, water conditions, aviation conditions and more. This is a public group that anyone can join. It, too, is very accurate.

Lastly, Windy is another great website and app to check out. This app is especially helpful when planning a day out on the water. It provides information on current and future winds for up to a week in advance.

While the rain was nice, I’m excited to get back to the beach today! Hawknest, Cinnamon, Maho… there are so many great ones to choose from! Maybe I’ll just stop by and see them all. 🙂 Have a great day everyone!

Explore STJ Island Tours: Go off the beaten path. Visit unspoiled beaches. Learn about St. John’s rich history. Explore STJ is rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor. Full & half day tours available. Visit www.ExploreSTJ.com or email Jenn at [email protected] to learn more.
The 411 on the Weather 7

Art Auction & Raffle Being Held to Benefit St. John School of the Arts

Art Auction & Raffle Being Held to Benefit St. John School of the Arts 8
This painting, created by Kimberly Boulon, is currently being raffled off.

Hello everyone and happy Friday! We know that a good swath of the country will be dealing with snow and ice this weekend, so we wanted to provide you all with a little St. John escape. How does an auction and raffle sound? Amazing, I know! If you are interesting in supporting a great nonprofit here on island, please read on!

Read moreArt Auction & Raffle Being Held to Benefit St. John School of the Arts

Island Update Including Exciting Ferry News!

Island Update Including Exciting Ferry News! 9
Snorkelers at Hawksnest Bay Friday morning

Hi all! This is Jenn. Today is Hillary’s birthday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY HILLARY!! – so I am filling in with the “news”. I’ve got a lot of random things to share in today’s island update, so let’s get right to it!

A BIG announcement was made earlier this week regarding ferry service to the British Virgin Islands. Inter Island Boat Services, the company that runs the Cruz Bay to Crown Bay ferry, announced that it plans to launch ferry service between St. John and Jost Van Dyke soon … how exciting is that??! They are still hammering out the details, so unfortunately that is the only news on that for the time being. What we do know is that all people visiting the British Virgin Islands must be fully vaccinated. That’s the BVI’s rule, not St. John’s, not the ferry service’s, etc. I’m assuming they’re still working on details regarding negative Covid tests (another BVI requirement), how to return to the US and satisfy those specific Covid requirements, etc. So please stay tuned for more info on this one!

Read moreIsland Update Including Exciting Ferry News!

Which Fancy Yacht or Cruise Ship is Currently Anchored Around St. John?

Which Fancy Yacht or Cruise Ship is Currently Anchored Around St. John? 10
The first cruise ship since March 2020 visited St. John on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

Hello everyone, ands happy Sunday! This is Jenn Manes, owner of Explore STJ island tours. High season is upon us, which means we have so many great boats visiting us here in the US Virgin Islands. I reached out to Hillary to see if I could share some fun info with you all about some of our current and recent visitors, and was thrilled when she said yes! 🙂

I was out and about on an island tour the other day when I noticed that our first cruise ship of the season was anchored just off of Cruz Bay. In fact, it was the first cruise ship that has visited us since March 2020. It was a strange, but welcomed sight. The cruise ship was much larger than the majority that have visited us in our pre-Covid world. I was curious, so I opened my Marine Traffic app to learn more.

Read moreWhich Fancy Yacht or Cruise Ship is Currently Anchored Around St. John?

Beach Break: Watching the Waves at Cinnamon Bay

Hello everyone, it’s Jenn! 🙂 I was out and about over the weekend with some island tour guests, and we stopped over at Cinnamon Bay. There was a bit of a swell on the north shore, which brought a lot of wave action to the beach. I took a quick video to share with all of you, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little beach break? Enjoy!

Read moreBeach Break: Watching the Waves at Cinnamon Bay

Real Estate Spotlight: Unbelievable Views from Impeccably Maintained, Turnkey Villa

Real Estate Spotlight: Unbelievable Views from Impeccably Maintained, Turnkey Villa 12
Villa Tiffany is listed for $1.29 million.

Every then and again we come across a home that simply makes us say “wow.” Today is one of those days. Please take a few minutes to check out Villa Tiffany, and see for yourself why this home is such a successful short-term vacation rental.

Read moreReal Estate Spotlight: Unbelievable Views from Impeccably Maintained, Turnkey Villa

A Moment at Maho Bay…

Hello all! It’s Jenn again. Hillary is still sailing back to St. John, so I’m overseeing the site again today. 🙂  So as I mentioned Monday, the island looks absolutely fantastic right now! The seas are so calm and clear, and the island is green and lush. But rather than you take my word for it, I wanted to show you so you all can see for yourselves.

Read moreA Moment at Maho Bay…