North Shore Tour

Happy Sunday Funday!  For those of you who are dreaming about those Caribbean Blues this morning, here’s your fix!  I took a drive out North Shore Road and stopped at some overlooks this weekend to get some fresh air and take in the post-Sahara dust views.

You’ll still see a little bit of haze in these pictures but, man, it’s so good to have the vivacious blues back in sight.  You’ll also notice there is still a WEE bit of brown on the hillsides but after the dust cleared this week, we got a ton of rain!  Things should hopefully be greening up nicely very soon!

Enjoy!

Cruz Bay from the overlook

 

Caneel Bay from the overlook on North Shore

 

Caneel Bay gate – Still no updates on the future of the property…

 

Hawksnest Beach from Peace Hill

 

Gibney Beach from Peace Hill

 

Jumbie Bay with Great Thatch and the BVI in the background – Also from Peace Hill

 

Jost, boats and blues

 

Trunk Bay looking magnificent as ever! Have you noticed recently, the shoreline resembles the shape of a heart? 🙂

That’s all for this morning, but I hope these sights of STJ help to kick your Sunday off right.

A Few Minutes with… Ash, Owner of Saltwell Bottom Beach

Ash & his family own Saltwell Bottom beach at Hansen Bay

There are so many amazing people who live here on St. John. Many were born and raised here, while others chose to relocate and make this island their home. For awhile now, I’ve wanted to share their stories with you. But truthfully, I’m a bit apprehensive about writing profiles. So I decided to try something different.

Today we’re introducing a new little thing here at News of St. John called “A Few Minutes with…” In these segments, we’re simply going to spend a few minutes with someone we find cool, interesting or unique. We’re starting with our friend Ash.

I introduced you all to Ash back in October when I mentioned how he was opening his family’s beach up to the public, so we can all enjoy the sand, the captivating views or even take a quick paddle out to Lime Out. His family owns a gorgeous stretch of land out on St. John’s East End known as Saltwell Bottom beach. Ash is welcoming, kind and has an infectious smile. Yesterday, I drove out to the East End to spend A Few Minutes with Ash…

Please click the play button below to listen to it.

He truly is a wonderful person. I hope you all take the drive out east one day, so you can see for yourselves.

Now I’m sure you heard the waves crashing in the background while Ash and I chatted. Here’s a video to show you how gorgeous his family’s beach is. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Bay Campground:What It Looks Like Now

Cinnamon Bay, Sunday afternoon

It’s been more than four months since we last updated you on the status of Cinnamon Bay. It’s one of the top questions we have here at News of St. John, so we figured we were due for an update.

For starters, the campground is not scheduled to reopen anytime soon. But there is work being done there, so that’s great. When it was announced in May that Tom Secunda, a part-time St. John resident, purchased the campground contract, we were told that it wasn’t expected to reopen until the 2020-2021 season. And it looks like that’s still the case.

As we saw Sunday, crews are still in the process of installing more than 10,000 feet of pipe for water and sewer. Once that is completed, the plan is to work on the bathhouses and the main building, and then the actual campsites. So there is still a lot to do, but there is also a lot of progress happening.

Rather than tell you about Cinnamon Bay, we prefer to show you. Here are several pictures we took Sunday plus a nice little video from the beach. Enjoy!

Walking in from the parking lot area
The main path to the beach
The main building is currently blocked off with fencing.
An area behind the main building
The campground areas are blocked off by fencing.
The area where the cottages once stood.
The main bath house
An area that led to the eco tents.
Preparing to install piping beside the main bath house
The former archeology lab
Looking toward the platform tent area
An alternate view of the main building

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Good News From the East End!

hansen 2

So lately we’ve had a lot of negative news about the East End – beaches being blocked, barbed wire being put up, trespassing signs, etc. Well we’re happy today to tell you about some good news coming out of the East End.

One group of property owners along Hansen Bay beach are opening up their land for public use. Most notably, they’ve invited Captain Peter of Angels Rest to anchor offshore. (Not sure what Angels Rest is? Click here to read about our Easter jaunt on the floating bar.) This stretch of beach along Hansen Bay will now be Angels Rest’s primary destination. Here’s what Captain Peter said about it on his Facebook page:

“(The owners of that stretch of beach) are so nice to me and are planning to make a fun beach to visit,” Captain Peter wrote. “They will be offering a lot of beach toys, such as paddleboards, kayaks, tri sailboats … There will also be a snack shop, cabanas and lots of free parking. And of course, Angels Rest bar (will be) a little closer to the beach.”

We reached out to the property owners Tuesday, and they are super excited to open their beach to the community.

“We want to enhance the community idea, to welcome businesses to a beautiful place,” one of the property owners said Tuesday. (She asked to keep her name out of today’s story, and we happily obliged.)” That is very difficult to do here on St. John, especially with the North Shore being mostly National Park. We’re opening up the shoreline as it should be opened, to those people who want to participate in that beach. We want to help the community. We are very community oriented.”

While they could not confirm Captain Peter’s statement about a possible snack shack, they did say they are welcoming Angels Rest with open arms. The owners are working on installing signs to let people know that Angels Rest is in the area and also to direct them where to park (across the street from the beach).

They did stress, however, that they do not want the beach to get overrun. They simply want people to come out, experience the beach and enjoy themselves while being respectful of the neighbors of course. They’ve also asked that all visitors pick up after themselves.

I’m not sure about you all, but I think this is amazing news! Kudos to these ladies!!


Cruising Over Caneel Bay

Happy Saturday everyone!

We have another amazing video for all of you this weekend. It’s another cool one from IrixGuy – this time’s he’s flying high above Caneel Bay and Honeymoon Beach. Check it out:


Islands Magazine Highlights Caneel Bay

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

So I have to admit, I’ve always wanted to spend a few nights over at Caneel Bay but the accompanying price tag has always scared me off a bit. So instead, I’ve opted for day visits here and there where I’ve schlepped my cooler down to Honeymoon and Soloman before heading back up to the beach bar for a bite to eat and a delicious Bushwacker before making my way back home.

Well after reading the following article by Islands Magazine, I just may have to start saving a bit more. Here are their top 15 reasons to visit Caneel Bay.

15 Reasons to Vacation at Caneel Bay in the USVI

Caneel Bay is one-part luxury, one-part nature, one-part culinary heaven and all parts immersive. Here, life is simple, accented by to-die-for meals and the occasional roaming donkey. (Yes, donkeys.) Here are 15 more reasons to start packing your bags.

15. Nature Rules
As the yacht approached Caneel Bay Resort, I wasn’t sure we’d arrived at the right place. I squinted: No flashy entrance sign? Where are the rooms? Oh, there they are. Here, the natural beauty of the island takes precedence over pomp.

14. My Backyard
It’s no wonder nature takes top billing here … this is my “backyard” for the next few days.

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

13. Underwater Havens
Snorkeling gear is complimentary — and you’re going to need it. All seven (!!!) beaches of Caneel Bay boast their own underwater world, from sea-turtle meccas to fish-filled reefs. I even hovered over a spotted eagle ray. My advice? Book for a week to spend a day at each one.

12. Surprising Dinners
Here, sugar-mill ruins are as prolific as palm trees, so I wasn’t surprised to find one on site at Caneel Bay. What surprised me was what lurked inside: ZoZo’s at the Sugar Mill, the flagship fine-dining go-to on St. John. And I can fully attest to its reputation — ruins or not, there was nothing ruined about the pistachio-crusted mahimahi with grilled polenta and sweet bell-pepper chutney that had me almost licking my plate.

11. The Freshest Ingredients
I had to ask: Why does everything taste so fresh? Turns out the secret to Caneel’s distinctive dinners at all the restaurants — ZoZo’s, Caneel Beach Bar & Grill and Turtle Bay Estate House (chef Anthony has perfected the art of simple yet creative pairings) — gets delivered every morning. Locally owned Josphine’s Greens has been the prime source for farm-fresh, organic greens for nearly 20 years.

10. Days Spent Like This
Those hearty meals every night meant I had to paddle board every day (rough life, I know).

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

9. Discovering History
A hike on the Reef Bay Trail burns calories too — once I made it to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins, my mind had already drifted back to lunch at the resort. (The food really is that good, OK?)

8. Fuel for Foodies
Finally! Lunch time. Chef Kim’s killer sushi at the Beach Bar & Grill made me pause and question whether I was at a swanky sushi restaurant in Manhattan. The beach view in front of me quickly squashed that theory.

7. Empty Beaches
Stuffed with sushi, I was glad to have this private bay (my backyard) all to myself. Which I did — until I spotted a baby deer gingerly manuevering across the shifting sand. I suppose I can share this piece of paradise today.

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

6. The Cutest Neighbors Ever
I mean, how could I say no to this Disney-worthy face?

deer caneel
Image credit: Islands Magazine

5. Darling Donkeys
Or this face, for that matter. After some time in the sun, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw a long-eared shadow pass by my beach chair. But turns out, the famous donkeys of Caneel Bay are a common sight, along with the deer. They roam freely througout the resort and often pose alongside wedding ceremonies — or for selfies. (Might be guilty of that one.)

caneelbay_donkey 1_high-res
Image credit: Islands Magazine

4. Impeccable Service … And Rum
Deer, donkeys and now pina coladas? Caneel Bay Resort specializes in beach days that I’ll never forget — albeit they may be hard to remember after a few of these.

3. Killer Views
Most of the time, rain has me reaching for an umbrella. Here, I was just reaching for my camera.

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

2. Unique Touches
One of my favorite details was the hand-delivered breakfast … in a picnic basket. Being here is “glamping” at its finest.

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

1. Snorkeling
Not wanting to miss any time underwater, I forgo an extra hour of sleep in my beach bungalow for a before-breakfast swim with the sea turtles (a sighting is pretty much guaranteed). Even better? They’re not shy at all — I even scored an accidental high-five. Breakfast — picnic basket or not — can wait.

Image credit: Islands Magazine
Image credit: Islands Magazine

On the Road: Maho Bay to Mongoose Junction

Today we’re taking a little cruise on St. John from the Maho Bay beach parking lot up North Shore Road and over to Mongoose Junction. Oh and we brought our friend Kenny Chesney along the way.

We promise this one will make you smile. Turn up your sound. 🙂

Survey says St. John 5th most expensive

Cheap Hotels Cheaphotels.org says St. John  is the fifth most costly Caribbean destination.  Odds are, the island should rank a lot higher.

If you search the CheapHotels Web site for a place to lay your weary head (and assuming that was the sample for the report), it offers only four options on the island: St. John Inn, Hillcrest Guest House, Concordia Eco Tents, and the Westin Resort.

That’s hardly the St. John market. It ignores dozens of condominiums, timeshares, and hotels, many of which are much more expensive than CheapHotel.org’s St. John average of $224/night for a three star hotel.

Few people would consider St. John cheap by any measure.

Virgin Gorda took the top spot for the lowest-priced available Caribbean three-star hotel double room in high season at $321.

Asked for a reaction to the St. John ranking, the general manager at Caneel Bay Resort told the St. John Source, “It’s expensive all over the Caribbean. “ Nikolay Hotze gave no sign he’s ready to lower rates. “I don’t see it as a negative,” he added.