Maho Bay’s future: nobody knows nothin’

Maho
Even Stanley Selengut, who founded the eco-tourism business nearly 40 years ago, is in the dark.

Four months after the $13.95 million deal was announced to sell Maho Bay Campground the identity of the buyer is still unknown.  So are his/her plans for the 13.8 acre waterfront property.

Selengut has just three weeks left to keep the tents and campsites open. His lease expires at the end of June. He spoke with Lynda Lohr of the St. John Source last week, telling her the new owner is “an environmentally-oriented billionaire who’s supposedly going to use it as a family estate.” 

The buyer has not contacted Selengut, either.  Which some people might consider rude, given that there’s a heck of a lot of work to be done between now and June 30 to clean up the campground.

A few weeks ago,  Selengut said he could stage the world’s largest garage sale to sweep the site of millions of dollars of beds, silverware, glasses, blankets and so on – anything that’s not attached to the ground.  That means the tents and the buildings will stay.

VI National Park – there’s a fragrance for that

Airwick_vi

The makers of Air Wick have gone into business with the National Park Foundation.

 St. John may benefit. 

"Our national parks provide us with the purest scents of nature," said Jerome Lemaire, marketing director for Reckitt Benckiser, the parent company of the air freshener product.  "We are thrilled to be partnering with the National Park Foundation to help our customers bring the outdoors in."

Air Wick has released  a line of sprays, aerosols, oils and scented candles inspired by four parks including the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Yellowstone and Glacier Bay.  

The VI aroma is described as … "Paradise flowers evoke delightful notes of native Mimosa, Jasmine and White Rose, transporting you to the idyllic tranquility of the Park."

A portion of sales from the products will be donated to the foundation to "directly aid, support and enrich America's nearly 400 national parks and their programs."

The latest on Maho Bay’s future

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Closing day may be drawing nigh but first-timers are still discovering Maho Bay Campgrounds.

The Blog of Maho says that despite plans to shut down and pack up after May 15th, “It’s been a very typical kind of season here at Maho, with plenty of happy guests,” both ‘veterans’ and ‘newbies’.

“The general mood and attitude around camp has been very upbeat and positive as all our guests seem to be visiting, enjoying, and making the most of their last vacation to Maho.”

The new owner of the the Maho site has still not been identified, nor have his/her/its plans for the land been made public.

Maho Bay Camps is not accepting reservations after the middle of May.

How to avoid the tourists

Beach 8578The dreaded daytrippers.  Folks who arrive on St. Thomas by cruise ship at 9 in the morning and pursue a whirlwind itinerary to St. John, a beach, lunch, and another beach. 

How to avoid them?  That’s what folks on TripAdvisor's St. John forum want to know.

“From what I’ve read, said MartinSpartan, “the best way to avoid the cruise ship crowds (at the north shore beaches) is to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon.”  What, he wanted to know, is ‘early' and ‘late’?

STJ4ME said forget about timing the sunbathers’ movements.  Forget the popular beaches and head to Maho, Francis, Dennis Bay, and Gibney. “Since you're (staying) in Coral Bay,” they added, “go to Vie’s and Lil Lameshur.”

Mindehankins said it is a matter of timing: avoid the beaches the days the cruisers are in. And she pointed to VINow.com’s schedule for ships.

NCsyracuse said one visit to Trunk and Cinnamon was all it took for them to swear off those spots. “Our favorite beaches are Maho, Francis, Salt Pond, and Lameshur

“By 2 p.m., when we consider the beach ‘crowded, we head back to the villa.”

St. John’s ‘secret beach’

Map
OK, folks.  The Inquiring Iguana is about to give away the location of the island’s Best Secret Beach, according to Travel + Lesiure magazine. 

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that it is so far off the beaten path that even if everybody does know where it is, they’re not likely to be there.

Lameshur Bay Beach, “on the secluded southeast coast … a short, but bumpy drive from the luxuries of Caneel Bay.”

Snorkelers love the beach also, says the magazine, because it leads you to Beehive Cove which features caves and tunnels filled with marine life like sponges and corals.

Actually, Lameshur is not much of a secret.  Gerald Singer’s excellent St. John Beach Guide has a section about Lameshur.

The beach is on the south shore of St. John, and you get there by going through ‘downtown Coral Bay’, past Salt Pond, and just keep driving west.

Why do tourists love Trunk Bay?

image from www.travelandleisure.com

Image linked from TravelandLeisure.com



Travel + Leisure
magazine surveyed its readers online to find the Best Beaches in the World

Trunk Bay is 16th on the list.  Bahia Gardner in the Galapagos was ranked in first place.

Trunk came in second in the category of Wildlife Viewing“Trunk Bay is famous both for its marine life—an underwater snorkeling trail has signs to identify coral, sea urchins, and other fish—and the surrounding 7,000 acres of protected jungle,” the article said.

The VI Tourism Department applauded the magazine coverage saying, in a news release, it “reconfirms true attraction of our beaches and its importance to the territory’s tourism.”

The Inquiring Iguana is a little baffled by the high ranking of Trunk, however. Locals avoid the place because it’s where so many tourists go when they visit St. John for the day.  Apparently, tourists like to see other tourists.

Wanna see a plane wreck?

(Click on the image to see a Google Map of Cinnamon Bay)

Gerald Singer, author of the best island trail and beach guide, posted on his blog that what’s left of  a small airplane rests just below the surface of Little Cinnamon Bay. It can easily be seen by snorkelers.  His photos show a decaying propeller and engine.

Until now, snorkelers have always considered the underwater trail at Trunk Bay a ‘must do.’  Now, Little Cinnamon may start get some snorkel love.

Where IS it, you ask?  Even locals might have a hard time locating it.  Singer’s directions:

When you get to the beach at Cinnamon Bay go left (west) and walk to the end of the sand where you will meet an iron gate …. Pass through the gate and pick up a narrow trail that leads through the bush along the shoreline and over a section of rocks, before emerging at the beach at Little Cinnamon.

Two St. John beaches to raise ‘Blue Flag’

Beaches
The Foundation for Environmental Education’s worldwide effort to identify the most eco-friendly beaches and marinas has awarded its Blue Flag designation to two beaches on the island.

In December, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay may fly the Blue Flag, according to Adrian Davis, general manager at Maho Bay CampgroundDavis also heads up the environmental committee of the Territory’s hotel and tourism association.

Davis told the St. John Source, “It means our beaches and marina facilities are safe and clean, the marine resources are preserved and protected and through signage and educational outreach.”

Three other VI beaches also won new designations for the Blue Flag: Emerald Beach and Great Bay on St. Thomas and Pelican Cove on St. Croix.

April in St. John better than in Paris

Iguana
St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix are better places for Spring Vacation than Bermuda, San Diego, or Amsterdam!  The islands even beat Paris.

So says a recent poll conducted by US News and World Report which ranked the Virgin Islands as the "Best Spring Destination for 2012".

The magazine evaluated "fun locations with plenty of things to do without breaking the bank."  St. John won compliments for Trunk Bay and the National Park's amenities, while St. Thomas had an advantage for shopping and St. Croix is distinguished by its culture and heritage.

The Virgin Islands were ranked #1 among the top 16 Spring vacation spots.  (Paris was 4th!)

"Lighter crowds and lower prices on airfare and hotel accomodations were also credited with making the VIs a good spring spot," the survey said.

The Islands were rated highly in several other categories including Best Relaxing Getaways in the US (#2), Best Beaches (#2), and Best Romantic Getaways (#5).

More than 200 destinations were ranked by travel experts and US News Web site visitors.  

Friends to handle Reef Bay hike signups

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According to Gerald Singer, author of the St. John Beach Guide, the Reef Bay hike is one of the 10 best in the Caribbean.  

If you want to go on the hike, there's been a change. You now sign up with the island's Friends of the Park, not the National Park Service. You go to the Friends of the Park's store on the first floor at Mongoose Shopping Center and make your reservation.  You pay $30.  The fee is for transportation from Cruz Bay, by taxi, out to the start of the hike's trail, and the boat ride back along the south shore of the island.

"The problem was that there were a large number of no-shows for the hike," said  Joe Kessler, president of the Friends.  "There were generally many empty places, depriving folks who wanted top go."  Furthermore, charging up front for transportation makes no-shows less likely, he said.  "Since the Park was not charging for the tyrip and didn't want the hassle of colecting the money, they asked us tp help. In the end we might make a few bucks in the process."

During the winter, the hike, led by a National Park Ranger, is offered Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays, with the taxi leaving Cruz Bay at 9:30 a.m..

The Reef Bay Hike is a 2.2 mile downhill walk through a shady and moist forest and past four sugar plantations.  It is best known for the petropglyphs (rock engravings) carved by Taino Indians.  For decades, it has been one of the most popular activities in the Virgin Islands National Park.

Previously reservations for the hike were handled by Park personnel.