Well folks, it’s been a crazy year to say the least. Many of you are probably dreaming of your next vacation and perhaps even the next one after that. I know I am! Well what if I told you that you could live here on St. John, for free, for up to six months. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well it’s not! Please read on!
The Virgin Islands National Park is currently seeking bay hosts, something they do annually. Bay hosts assist the VI National Park by providing boaters with information on how to use park waters, the mooring system and more. Bay hosts are needed from December 1, 2020 through June 1, 2020, and are asked to make a three to six month commitment. The hosts are expected to provide 40 hours of volunteer time per week with Sundays and Mondays off. Locations needed include Honeymoon, Maho, Francis, Leinster, Salt Pond and Lameshur bays.
A few requirements: You need to have your own vessel, and it must be non-commercial use while you are acting as a bay host. It also needs to be registered in the USVI and have a holding tank onboard.
In exchange for volunteering, you will be given a mooring ball for free during your agreed-upon stay. You will also receive free gas for your dinghy.
I don’t know about you, but if I had a boat, I would love to help out and live in one of these beautiful bays for a few months!
If you are interested and meet the qualifications listed above, please call (340) 776-6201, ext. 249 for more information.
If you love St. John (and we know you do!), we know that you’re going to love this… St. John is going to be featured on HGTV’s Caribbean Life yet again! How exciting is that??!
The episode is titled “Debating Home Vs. Condo on St. John” and it features Nancy Batten, a realtor with Cruz Bay Realty. Nancy said the episode was filmed in August 2019. Here is the official description straight from HGTV:
A couple from Texas wants to live a stress-free life on the quiet island of St. John. He’d prefer a stand-alone home so their dog Barley has room to run around, but she loves the idea of a condo where the maintenance is taken care of. No matter where they end up, they both agree that having an amazing view is a must.
The episode airs tonight, August 16th, at 10:30 p.m. EST on HGTV. It will re-air very early tomorrow morning at 2:30 a.m. So set those DVRs if you plan to go to sleep early this evening. 🙂
We know that many of you are either dreaming of or planning your next vacation to the island. Whether it be next week, next month or next year, we will be here waiting to greet you with the warmth that Love City is known for. We also know that Covid has changed things quite a bit, including how our retailers and restaurants are able to operate. Today we’d going to focus on Mongoose Junction, a popular shopping and dining destination located in Cruz Bay.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Mongoose Junction, it’s a beautiful complex located a few minutes from the ferry dock or car barge area by car or a quick five to 10 minute walk by foot. Its designer, Glen Speer, designed and built Mongoose Junction to resemble the Danish plantation ruins that are scattered about the island.
Like many businesses across the US, Mongoose Junction is also working to navigate this new Covid world. In an effort to stay safe and control the spread, the Virgin Islands has implemented a variety of measures to keep its residents and guests safe including social distancing rules, mask requirements and more.
Let’s first chat about masks. They are required when entering all businesses in the US Virgin Islands. In the event that you forgot a mask, the majority of businesses at Mongoose Junction have disposable ones for you to use. Looking for a keepsake to take home? Bamboula, Portico, Arawak Expeditions and Bajo el Sol Gallery and Art Bar all have beautiful handmade masks for sale. And many stores, including Just Beach, Lulee, Friends of the Park Store, Sugar Birds, St. John Brewer’s Brewtique, Island Fancy and Big Planet have Buffs for sale as well.
Now let’s talk about dining options. As you may know, Mongoose Junction is an open air complex. This means that there are plenty of areas where you can dine outside. The Tap Room, North Shore Deli, 18°64° The Restaurant, Scoops, Sun Dog Cafe, Bajo el Sol Gallery and Art Bar and Greengo’s Caribbean Cantina all have areas where you can sit and enjoy a meal, beverage or a treat outdoors. Looking for some air conditioning during these hot summer months? Well you can find that too over at The Tap Room, North Shore Deli and Greengo’s Caribbean Cantina.
Navigating these Covid-related requirements is new to all of us, so there may be longer wait times at some of the businesses. Reservations are recommended at most of our island restaurants, and you may find you have to wait before entering a business due to capacity limits. Caravan Gallery, for example, is a smaller space located on the second floor of Mongoose Junction. During late March and through April, Caravan Gallery was opening by appointment only after closing for Covid. Today, it often has patrons waiting outside to enter… which is a great problem to have!
(Please note that this information is current at the time of this writing. The situation is fluid and can change.)
Covid struck St. John in the middle of high season, a time when stores have the most inventory on hand. It’s a time when we expect to be busy and businesses have some of the most profitable months of the year. So this really set so many people back. But you know what? That’s ok. Because St. John is resilient. We’ve made it through a lot in our long history, and we will make it through this too.
Michael Barry has owned and operated Sun Dog Cafe, which is located at Mongoose Junction, for the past 24 years. This year has been one of the toughest he’s faced yet.
“I can’t even describe how difficult this is on the restaurants,” Michael said. “We all know that it’s a challenging business, for many reasons, but with Covid it’s more so. Menu and operational changes, additional cleaning every minute of the day of everything a guest touches, staffing level changes, monitoring staff health, changes in business levels, wearing masks for 6+ hours a day in 95 degree weather, being asked to enforce the uneven governmental rules on people who question your authority to do so and that change with some irregularity, along with the various levels of enforcement by a variety of regulators. We’re a hardy lot, but the stress on staff and management has been significant and I applaud everyone working in the industry for what they are doing on a daily basis.”
Michael continued: “While we are not first level Covid responders like our amazing health care professionals, we’re doing our part to help everyone get through this challenge. We’re grateful that many people understand this and are tipping more than they usually do for the effort– it helps when guests show that kind of empathy.”
Again, thank you to those of you who have visited the island in recent months, and did so in a responsible manner while following the USVI’s current safety protocols. We thank you all for your patronage and patience, and we cannot wait to greet the rest of you on the island!
Hello everyone, and happy Friday! I just wanted to give you a quick update on St. John’s June 1 “reopening.” But before I do so, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who left such beautiful comments and those of you who emailed me the other day. You sure know how to make a gal feel good! I promise to respond to each and every one of you. Again, thank you. 🙂
The Governor held a press conference yesterday and provided some additional information regarding the Virgin Islands’ June 1 “reopening.” We’re using quotation marks because the Territory was never really closed. Accommodations, however, were unable to check in new guests. That ban ends Monday.
On Monday, June 1, the US Virgin Islands – St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix – will move to the blue Open Doors phase. This means that visitors are, once again, welcomed to visit St. John.
Our restaurants reopened for in-person dining this past Tuesday. The number of people permitted in bars and restaurants is limited to 50 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is less. You will not have to wear a facial covering when visiting a bar or restaurant. The staff, however, will all be wearing masks. Parties will be seated at least six feet apart to maintain social distancing, and no parties larger than six will be permitted to sit together. The majority of the island’s restaurants and bars have reopened or plan to reopen next week.
You will be required to wear facial coverings when entering all other commercial entities including shops, grocery stores, etc.
At this time, mass gatherings greater than 50 people are not permitted. The Governor stated yesterday that he expected that number to increase to 250 people this summer.
Regarding flights, the Governor stated that only 15 percents of the flights available prior to the pandemic are currently flying into the Territory. He does not anticipate seeing an increase in that number until next season (which is anytime between October and December).
The Governor stated that he does not expect cruise ships to return to the Territory until August at the earliest.
Temperature screenings are occurring at the airports, and heat sensing cameras are being installed as well.
Boat charters are operating, although all trips will take place in US waters. The British Virgin Islands is closed to visitors and will continue to be closed through September.
Taxis will be available and capacity will be restricted to 50 percent. Car rentals are open and available too.
As we mentioned Wednesday, the new News of St. John owner takes over the site June 1. We plan to chime in later next week to let you all know how the “reopening” is going. In the meantime, have a great day everyone!
Well folks, all good things must come to an end, right?
Nearly seven years ago to this day, I published my first post on News of St. John. At the time, I lived in Connecticut, had a full time job and recently completed a master’s program. When I mentioned the idea of buying a blog in the Caribbean, people told me I was crazy. And maybe I was – lol. But I didn’t care, and I did it anyway. 🙂
My trips to the island soon became more frequent. Every three months became every month, and before I knew it, I rented a small, one bedroom apartment in Cruz Bay. I bought a nice little island Jeep to go along with it.
I ran out of vacation time a few months later. My initial thought was, if I can’t visit St. John so I can write this fun little blog that really doesn’t make much money at all, I should probably quit my fancy corporate world job and move to the island permanently. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest decision to make. But you know what? That’s exactly what I did!
The first four years were so much fun. Perhaps they were too much fun. 😉 I spent my days writing about island happenings, and I spent far too many nights over at The Beach Bar where I often posted pictures of cocktails at sunset. I did it for all of you, of course, and for the sake of independent journalism!! Haha … Cheers! Well apparently I posted too many boozy photos for one frequent reader’s liking, and he subsequently dubbed me the “Booze of St. John” back in the summer of ’16. It made me laugh, especially considering the majority of the drinks were borrowed from other patrons. But nevertheless, I’ve been the proud owner of BoozeofStJohn.com ever since.
Turning lemons into lemonade, folks!
So as I mentioned, there was a lot of fun and games at the beginning. I spent so many days lounging at the beach, soaking up the sun, swimming around with the turtles. There were boat trips and passport stamps. St. Thomas staycations and quick little jaunts to Puerto Rico. A friend often told me back then that we were living the good ol’ days, and boy was she right.
Then September 6, 2017 came and went, and our world changed forever.
Prior to the hurricanes, readership wasn’t too shabby for this little Caribbean blog. We hit 1.2 million page views in 2016, and I was thrilled. On September 6, 2017 alone, we had more than 126,000 page views. We received more than one-tenth of the previous year’s traffic in just one day. I was stunned. A few days later, a Facebook post I wrote was seen more than two million times. All eyes were on me, and I knew it.
When you have a website like this, you sort of invite the world in to experience life along with you. That’s something that I’ve truly loved over the years. You were with me when I adopted Charlie, my ACC rescue dog, back in 2014. You were with me in 2015 when I grieved over the loss of Captain John Brandi, my self-adopted island dad. You were with me through the storms and when I announced my pregnancy shortly thereafter. And most importantly, you were there when I introduced Dalton to the world in 2018. And now, during this unprecedented time, you continue to be by my side, reading every word I write. The majority of us have never met, yet I feel like I am friends with each and every one of you.
Not everyone liked what I wrote following the hurricanes, and I quickly became an online target for some. I even received death threats. Why? Because I told the truth.
I had a stint as a crime reporter in my past life in Connecticut, and I received death threats back then too. Truthfully, I was pretty shocked to receive such violent threats as the writer of News of St. John. But did I lose sleep over it? Not a wink.
They say all publicity is good publicity, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Every time News of St. John was slandered online, people viewed my website. And when they viewed my website, it increased the all-so-important page view number. That subsequently made my advertisers happy, which made me happy. So these people who sought to tarnish my name ultimately helped me transform this tiny little Caribbean blog into an actual business. I should probably send them all a fruit basket. 🙂
In 2017, NewsofStJohn.com had more than 2.7 million page views. In 2018 and 2019, we passed the two million mark yet again.
Back when I bought this blog in early 2013, I never, ever thought that this many people would read the site. I didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to say, nor did I expect anyone to rely so heavily on my words and advice when planning a trip to St. John. To say I am thankful and overwhelmed by your continued love and support is a gross understatement.
Together we’ve chatted about the beaches and bars, restaurants and regattas, openings, closings, events and more. And how can I forget our raffles… The raffles! Because of you, we donated more than half a million dollars to so many deserving charities! That’s so much money!! You have been with me every step of the way, and when I asked for support, you responded in such a big way. I truly cannot thank you all enough.
St. John was really starting to bounce back this season. We had strong seasons following the storms, but this past winter was different. The amount of people I saw milling about in Cruz Bay, dining at our restaurants, enjoying our beaches and trails, was, by far, greater than any other year in recent memory. Businesses were finally bouncing back following the dual 2017 storms. People seemed so happy again. And then the pandemic hit.
I was sitting at home in late March when I received an inquiry about St. Johnopoly. This casual conversation about the game’s next edition soon morphed into a serious discussion regarding a potential sale of St. Johnopoly and subsequently News of St. John.
This wasn’t the first time I was approached to sell News of St. John. But it was the first time I thought the timing may be right.
I’ve spent nearly every day since May 2013 working on News of St. John. Whether it’s posting stories, monitoring website comments and social media, or answering emails, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute of it. But the thought of taking a break did intrigue me.
I’m not really good at taking time off. I even wrote a story from my hospital bed when Dalton was just a few hours old. I had every intention of taking a two-week break last May when I traveled to Italy to enjoy a vacation that was postponed from September 2017. But then a big story about the Cinnamon Bay campground broke. I immediately grabbed my laptop, so I could share it with all of you. What can I say, I simply love sharing the news with you!
And now here we are, joined together amid this pandemic. I, like many people I love, have been forced to take a break. I’ve continued writing the News of St. John, of course, but my island tours have been temporarily placed on hold. Like many people, I’ve had the ability to spend so much time with family. I’ve cherished all of these extra moments, especially those spent with Dalton.
Here’s a quick update on Dalton: He swam by himself for the first time ever this past Saturday at Maho. Ok, he had a life jacket on, but it’s a big deal for us! 🙂 Within 48 hours, I officially deemed him a fish. He’s walking and talking, and keeps his daddy and I on our toes. Dalton turns two on July 1.
So as I mentioned, I’ve received a handful of offers to sell News of St. John over the years. I politely declined them all, as I simply was not ready. But after spending these past two months with Dalton and experiencing moments I would have otherwise missed, I’ve decided the time is right.
That being said, I recently accepted an offer to sell News of St. John and St. Johnopoly.
The new owner is a St. John resident who is excited to launch a company that combines News of St. John with a local radio station and St. John.Deals, a new website that will offer discounts on accommodations, boat charters, restaurants and more. They will officially take over News of St. John and St. Johnopoly on June 1. I plan to contribute from time to time, so definitely keep an eye out for me. The new owners plan to keep the same format, and I hope you all continue to read. I know I will.
But this is in no way a goodbye! You didn’t think I’d leave you all, did you??!
Yes, my time is ending here at News of St. John, but it is not ending on the island. I will continue to offer my island tours, which is now called ExploreSTJ.com. You can follow me over on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ExploreSTJ. Please click that link and give the page a like! (I will be going from 54,000 likes to 300, so please go and give me some love!) You can also email me at my new email address – [email protected]
Or even better, book an island tour with me! I’d love to catch up with you all, share some island tidbits and perhaps even a little gossip, all while exploring this beautiful community with you! And be on the lookout for my new hiking tours that will begin this fall!
But before I end this today, I need to say thank you. Thank you for reading this site. Thank you for stepping up and supporting the island when we needed it most. Thank you for coming back after the hurricanes. Thank you to those of you who are planning on returning, yet again, once it’s deemed safe. Thank you to those of you who have entered our raffles. I still cannot believe that we raised more than half a million dollar over the years … That is simply astonishing. And inspiring. Thank you for caring about me as a person, and thank you for caring about my family. And lastly, thank you to all of the St. John businesses who supported this site over the years.
Because of you, I’ve been able to live my dream. I encourage you all to go out and live yours.
Our latest News of St. John raffle wrapped up Sunday night, and I am happy to announce that the raffle raised more than $83,000 for the Animal Care Center on St. John. Unbelievable! This money will allow the ACC to complete a variety of projects including the completion of a new play area for the dogs, the implementation of a free spay and neuter program and much more!
We’re happy to report that the donation was sent to the ACC this morning. 🙂
“First off we are incredibly humbled by this,” Ryan Moore, the ACC shelter manager, told us this morning. “When the pandemic hit here and everything shut down, it put us in a challenging position. As a nonprofit that relies on daily donations to operate, many of which come from visitors to the island, it really put us in a tough spot. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing this is, and our staff and Board are overjoyed.
“Donations tend to drop off in the summer anyway as the season slows, and with everything going on, I really cannot say what the next few month will look like,” Ryan continued. “These funds put us in an incredible position moving forward to cover medical care, basic day-to-day operations, community outreach programs, fixing up the shelter. We have a new outdoor run being completed as we speak, and most importantly finding homes for the dogs and cats that come into the shelter. I just want to thank everyone who participated and, of course, Aquamare and 340 Real Estate for making this possible”
I have to admit, I never expected to raise this much money, especially given the current state of the country. I am so thankful to each and every one of you who entered. I, too, am thankful to the owners of Aquamare at Grande Bay for donating such a great stay. And I am thankful to Tammy Donnelly of 340 Real Estate Co. for her $1,000 contribution to the raffle and for her continued support of News of St. John over the years.
Since we held our first raffle back in 2014, we have raised more than $550,000 which has been distributed to 12 well-deserving organizations. Together, we have supported:
Animal Care Center of St. John
Friends Helping Friends
Island Health and Wellness
Julius E. Sprauve School
Love City Pan Dragons
St. John Cancer Fund
St. John Christian Academy
St. John Historical Society
Team River Runner
Again, this is all thanks to you. When we asked for help over the years, you stepped up. When we asked you to return after the storms, you came. When we asked you to bear with us as we navigate this current pandemic, you did. You all are just as much a part of this community as those of us who live here are. It’s a symbiotic relation that would be not be possible without everyone’s continued love and support. Thank you.
Now I’m sure you want to know who the winner is, right??!! Check out the video below:
Again, thank you all so very much. This is the last raffle that I plan to hold, and I am so grateful for its success. The Animal Care Center was one of the first organizations that I chose to support with that first raffle back in 2014, and I am thrilled that we were able to bookend it with another great one.
Stay tuned folks… We have some pretty big news to announce tomorrow. 🙂
Who needs some good vibes today? Well you’re in luck because today we’re going to tell you all about a villa with that name! It’s a solid, beautifully-designed home in Fish Bay, and it’s looking for someone to come in and give it a little love and some finishing touches.
Villa Good Vibes is a two bedroom, three bathroom home complete with an outdoor shower. It’s a solid, masonry home that is partially built. The home features thoughtful landscaping, circular and winding stairways, Roman columns, beautiful stonework and artistic touches throughout. The upper area of the lot could be a perfect spot to add an addition bedroom, cottage or even a carport. There is also plenty of room to add a pool.
Villa Good Vibes is located in the quiet neighborhood of Fish Bay, located just 10 minutes from Cruz Bay on St. John’s South Shore. It has gorgeous views of the bay and of the Caribbean Sea. There is the potential to live on site in a small cottage with a kitchenette and solar while completing your dream house.
An added bonus: There is the potential for owner financing.
Villa Good Vibes is listed for $795,000. Interested? Want to learn more? For more information, please contact Tina Petitto of 340 Real Estate Co. at [email protected]
Hello everyone! We have some good news to share with you all today, and some not-so-good news. Let’s start with the good news…
St. John will “reopen” for tourism on June 1. The island was never really closed, as the Governor has reiterated several times, but accommodations have not been permitted to accept new guests since March 24th. Beginning June 1, hotels, villas, Airbnbs, etc. will once again be able to check in new guests. This applies to the entire US Virgin Islands – St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. So in a nutshell, you are allowed to visit again starting on June 1 per the Governor.
Restaurants will be permitted to reopen for in-house dining beginning this Tuesday, May 26th. (In-house dining ceased in late March. The restaurants who’ve remained open throughout the pandemic were permitted to offer take out and delivery only.) Beginning Tuesday, restaurants can operate at 50 percent capacity or 50 persons, whichever is less, per order of the Governor. Bars are also permitted to reopen.
Should you choose to visit after June 1, you will not be required to self quarantine per the Governor. There has never been a mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving to the US Virgin Islands per the Governor. It is unclear at this time whether masks will be required. When I asked the Governor directly about this, he stated that it is likely, but that a final decision has yet to be made.
Now on to the not-so good news…
St. John Festival, also referred to as Carnival, has been cancelled per order of the Governor.
American Airlines flies to St. Thomas via Miami daily. Delta has been flying sporadically via Atlanta. JetBlue and Cape Air (a small commuter airline) also offer service to St. Thomas.
But let’s end on a positive note, because we’re all about positivity here at News of St. John! Today is the very last day to enter our raffle. Tickets are just $20, and all proceeds will support the Animal Care Center. You can enter to win a five-night stay at Aquamare at Grande Bay plus $1,000 courtesy of 340 Real Estate Company. Learn more and buy your tickets at www.newsofstjohn.com/raffle
By far, one of my favorite spots on island is Peace Hill. There is something about this spot – a beautiful grassy knoll located between Hawksnest and Denis bays – that just makes me feel at ease, or at peace like the name implies. It’s a place I like to visit early in the morning, when I can enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. It’s also a place I love to bring my island tour guests.
Peace Hill is located on St. John’s North Shore and is roughly a 10 minute ride from Cruz Bay. There is a small parking lot on your left hand side (if coming from Cruz Bay), which is located past the Oppenheimer gate. If you’ve reached Jumbie, you’ve gone too far.
The hike to Peace Hill isn’t actually much of a hike. The trail is just one-tenth of a mile, but it does have a moderate grade. It’s definitely doable in flip flops, but I suggest wearing sneakers due to the loose rock along the trail (particulalry if you feel uneasy on your feet). From the parking lot to the top, it is just a short, five-minute walk.
When you reach the top of Peace Hill, you will see one of the island’s remaining sugar mill ruins. The sugar mill was actually a windmill which was used during sugar production for the nearby Denis Bay Plantation. Denis Bay beach is to the east of Peace Hill (right if you are looking toward the ocean). There is a small trail that leads down to the beach off of the trail taken up to Peace Hill.
Tip: You can take a beautiful photo of Trunk Bay through the window of the sugar mill.
You will notice a tree toward the center of Peace Hill. If you give it a closer look, you can see the remnants of the Christ of the Caribbean statue that once stood there.
Julius and Cleome Wadsworth purchased Denis Bay in 1939 and used it as a vacation getaway. They subsequently donated a large parcel to the National Park Service with the deed of gift stating, “The grantors have for some year’s maintained the Wadsworth’s Peace Hill as a place where the public is invited to enjoy great beauty and quiet. It is their wish that Wadsworth’s Peace Hill be perpetually dedicated as a place where people might meditate and find inner peace, in the hope that someday this might contribute to world peace.”
Colonel Wadsworth raised the Christ of the Caribbean statue in 1953. The statue stood tall and helped aid passing ships until 1995 when it fell during Hurricane Marilyn. It was never rebuilt.
Now check out the view!
So as you can see, it’s a beautiful spot. Be sure to check it out on your next trip to the island. Or better yet, let us take you there! Learn more about our island tours at www.ExploreSTJ.com
In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend everyone! And please don’t forget to enter our raffle! It ends tomorrow night at 11:59 p.m. EST. Learn more and enter at www.newsofstjohn.com/raffle
I love looking at real estate, and I know many of you do too. Many of us may not be in the position to buy a home on St. John, but it’s still super fun to look! And to those of you who are able to buy, kudos to you! Today, I’d like to tell you about a home that listed for sale earlier this year – Six Palms.
Six Palms is an extensively updated and fully air conditioned, masonry villa. It has five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, which is split between a three-bedroom main house and a two-bedroom guest house. Six Palms’ private and secluded location off of Pocket Money Lane, high above Cruz Bay, offers panoramic water and sunset views from Vieques (on a clear day) to Lovango (every day).
The main house and guest house each have separate parking areas and separate entryways. This allows them to be rented together or separately. Six Palms also features a dipping pool and sundeck. It features windstorm-resistant windows and sliding glass doors. The home also features tropical hardwood floors and vaulted teak ceilings.
This property is located within walking distance to Cruz Bay, although there is a decent sized hill leading down to town. This is a great opportunity to rent one home and live in the other. Or you could live in both or rent both! Check out a few more pics…
Six Palms is being offered for $1.195 million. For more information, please contact John McCann of 340 Real Estate Co. at [email protected] Owner financing may be available to a qualified buyer with a minimum of 50 percent down.
Want to see all of 340 Real Estate Co.’s offerings? Please click this link to see all of their land, condo and home listings.