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A PSA From Our Friends Under the Caribbean Sea!

A PSA From Our Friends Under the Caribbean Sea! 1

A riveting short film popped up on my radar last weekend and, earlier this week, I took the time to watch this amazingly entertaining seven minute film about Caribbean Marine Ettiquette…Narrated by the sea life.  I was literally laughing out loud at the narration and perspectives as several very informative and oh so important messages were conveyed during the film.  Trust me when I say, you’ll want to take ten today in order to watch this Caribbean Marine Etiquette Public Service Announcement that features some of our favorite friends from under the sea!

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Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market!

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 2

Good Morning, Good Morning!  I had the opportunity this past weekend to take a walk through a captivating estate that is currently on the market with Tropical Properties.  Now, I don’t always do actual walk throughs with these write ups, but I jumped at the chance to see the interior of a home that I see almost daily and have often pondered what grandeur might exist within the walls.  Well, it did NOT disappoint and my breath was taken away from the moment I stepped through the ornate iron gate from the private parking lot into a pristine tropical oasis, only moments away from the heart of Cruz Bay.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 3

If you have visited St. John in the past five years, you know exactly the expansive villa I am about to show you.  And, trust me when I say, Casa Bella Luna is ALL that she appears to be.

Perched high atop a ridge above historic Cruz Bay stands a uniquely built 30,000 square foot estate with nine bedrooms, eleven and a half bathrooms, two kitchens, a pool with waterslide and fountain, a full gym, three laundry rooms, a multitude of outdoor and indoor living spaces, a nine car garage and two separate wings, one for sleeping and one for living.  Casa Bella Luna offers the feeling of a remote and pristine paradise, just steps from the action of downtown.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 4

This custom and meticulously built villa, rests behind beautiful, thirty foot tall native stone work walls and artistic iron gates on quaint and charming Frangiapani Lane to the south.  But to the north and to the west, there is nothing but views of enchanting Caribbean Blues as far as the eye can see.  Ascend the central staircase to the third floor of the home and from the rooftop deck, there, you will encounter panoramic views of the sea as to every horizon line.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 5

Below, within the courtyards, pool area and open air walkways, tropical green foliage surrounds you, mimicking the feeling of being in the great outdoors, rather than within the walls of an astute Caribbean Villa.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 6

Casa Bella Luna is somewhat divided into two wings and, because throughout my walk through this weekend, I got a little lost myself :), I want to give you the lay of the land for a moment.  The pool area and the sprawling courtyard that surrounds it is located in the middle of the two buildings surrounded by that luscious tropical landscaping on the second level in the photo below.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 7

The top two floors of the building to the left contain sleeping quarters, bathrooms and laundry rooms (YES.  There are THREE on the property!).  In the bottom left corner is the upper level of the two story caretakers’ quarters.  A beautiful grassy lawn and solar field, which combines forces with WAPA to power the home by day, is just to the right.  And, the upper right building contains a one bedroom “nanny suite” on the main level an immaculate kitchen, dining area and living area on the second level.  And, on the top floor, a sun deck, and additional entertaining space.  Got it?  Ok.

Let’s take a closer look at each section, starting with the pool deck…

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 8

Yes, this incredibly inviting pool that sits center stage in this amazing gated compound has BOTH a waterslide and a waterfall!  Oh, but that’s not all, the adjacent entertainment courtyard contains a sun deck with plenty of lounging space, a three seat wet bar, complete with wine chiller, a ping pong table and a beautiful table for eight with a built-in lazy Susan!

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 9

Adjacent to the “common” area, is a the most elegant and expansive “mother-in-law” suite I have ever laid eyes on.  A thoughtfully laid out one bedroom apartment with a king size bed, kitchenette with a full sized stainless refrigerator, a full bathroom, large living area and private patio is the only sleeping quarter on the west wing, and the main floor, of Casa Bella Luna.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 10

Up the open air stairwell from the pool area, you will find the main functional living space of the home.  Outdoors, plenty of covered areas for lounging or dining await you…

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And, indoors, an absolutely stunning open concept kitchen, dining area for ten and spacious living area reside.  Every single room in this home fully utilizes the outdoor landscape with floor to ceiling windows.  But, if you are in need of a bit of reprieve from the Caribbean sun, ALL of those windows have the ability to hide behind a system of shade blinds that are controllable with ease at the push of a button.  Additionally, ALL of the interior spaces on the property are kept nice and cool with a powerful central air system.  It was so refreshing to walk into each space for reprieve from the warm sunny day.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 12

I want to, for a moment, make note of the gentle interior and exterior designs of this modern villa. The blues, the greys, the whites, the light colored wood…They are all accentuated with thoughtful textures, whether man made or natural.  And throughout all of the interior spaces of the home, clean lines and unique modern lighting fixtures keep the neutral color scheme from being anything but dull!

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 13
Incredible lighting and thoughtful textures throughout this entire villa add to the allure

Up the stairs once again to the top level of the west wing….This place is where I would spend ALL of my time if I were lucky enough to be living at Casa Bella Luna.  Sweeping panoramic views all the way from St. Croix to Jost van Dyke surround you whether you are inside or out.  You are literally surrounded by light breezes and Caribbean Blues!  An air conditioned interior living space is surrounded on all sides by spacious decking with a sun deck and wet bar at the west facing end.

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 14
Facing Cruz Bay from the wrap around, third level veranda

 

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 15
View of the third level sundeck with the indoor, glass enclosed living area behind it.

 

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 16
Third Floor Interior

I had to tear myself away from the incredible views on that top deck in order to complete the tour 🙂  Cruz Bay seemed so quiet and serene from that vantage point…But, there was so much more to see.  So, we descended the stairwell to proceed to the east wing to take a peek at the majority of the sleeping accommodations.  But not before taking another look at that dreamy pool!

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 17

Oh, and this place just has surprises around every single corner.  For starters, there is a luggage elevator near the main entrance to save the owners or guests the trouble of lugging their bags up and down the sweeping staircases.  Also, we peeked into the FULL GYM in the corridor between the pool area and the “sleeping” wing of Casa Bella Luna!  And this is not just a workout room.  This compact space comes complete with treadmills, weights, cross-fit equipment, floor to ceiling mirrors and a flat screen TV to pass the time while you burn the calories!

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 18

Once ascending the stairs to the first level of the east wing, my breath was taken away once again at the eloquently simple spaces.  All whites, greys and neutral colors keep the tone, while photographs filled with the bright natural colors of our local landscape pop against the mellow backdrop.  This place is an interior designer’s DREAM!

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On the main level of this wing, you will find two queen suites and an amazing bunk room for the kiddos!  Two beautiful, full sized bunk beds with an absolutely adorable custom staircase built in the middle just beckon the word “fun”…Even at bedtime!

Real Estate Spotlight: Sprawling & Iconic Estate Overlooking Cruz Bay is On The Market! 20

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the eleven and a half bathrooms!!!  Every single one of them is breathtaking, yet functional, and very different all while keeping with the same neutral color scheme.  In all of the bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas throughout Casa Bella Luna, I don’t believe I saw the same type of ornate tiling even once.  And they were all uniquely GORGEOUS.

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Queen Suite Bathroom

Once we reached the top level of the east wing, we entered the Master Suite.  I could fit my entire existence into just this one area of the home.  Thirty foot ceilings rise over the four poster king size bed with towering windows on all sides.  And, the incredible textural accents of the wall behind the bed is just stunning!

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The clean lines of the staircase lead up from the sleeping and sitting areas into an amazing office space with a view that would be quite distracting in my opinion 🙂

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The ultimate “corner office”

Our energetic and informative tour guide, Katie Mink, the onsite caretaker and property manager, casually mentioned a his and hers bathroom.  So, I’m thinking a double sink, right?  Nope….There is an entire bathroom for her.  And an entire bathroom for him.  And a closet for each as well in this impressive master suite!

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I’m going to call this one “hers” – Because there is a massive walk-in closet just to the left of the edge of the frame!

Let me circle back to Katie for a moment here.  She works for an elite travel subscription company called Inspirata.  Katie is hired by the company and manages the calendar, the maintenance, the grounds, the guests…ALL of it.  Basically, as the owner of this home, you would simply let them know when you would like the house available to you and they book it for the rest of the year.  Katie told us that Casa Bella Luna was booked solid outside of the current owner’s requests for occupancy.  It is the only home on St. John managed by this service and the new owners can continue on with it, ensuring return on your investment in this luxurious home! (AND a super upbeat and knowledgeable property manager!)

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I did find out a few other fun tidbits about this premier Cruz Bay property during our tour.  First, it is the main hub for Love City Community Network’s island wide internet services.  Meaning that the wireless network on site is completely monitored and maintained by professional IT’s in order to ensure fluid connectivity throughout St. John!  Additionally, the solar field runs along with WAPA during daylight hours to cut down on the power costs but doesn’t run at night because there is currently no battery backup installed.  However, there is a diesel generator on site that kicks on the instant that power goes down.  Neither owners nor guests will even realize that an outage has happened if one occurs.

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Solar field in the interior garden terrace. Caretakers quarters to the right.

I hope that all of you have enjoyed getting the inside scoop on this incredible Cruz Bay Estate.  I know I have wondered at it for many years, wondering what the interior might be like.  For me, this tour was absolutely riveting and I’m very grateful for Dan Boudreau with Tropical Propertiesfor inviting me to come and walk through this incredible estate!!!  Oh, and speaking of Dan, he is the listing agent for Casa Bella Luna.  Take a look at the full listing for more details and contact Dan today to see with your own eyes the absolute splendor that is Casa Bella Luna.

St. John Business Ventures On the Market!

St. John Business Ventures On the Market! 28

Good Morning, Good Morning!  I hope that all of you had a spectacular weekend and that you are rested and rejuvenated with a three day weekend on the horizon!  I have noticed a TON of business opportunities available on St. John over the past week or so and I wanted to take a moment to share those with all of you who may have your sights set on entrepreneurship!

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The Sahara Dust Makes A 2022 Debut

The Sahara Dust Makes A 2022 Debut 29

Good Morning and a happy Fri-YAY to all of you out there!  If you are an avid follower of the blog, resident or regular visitor then you know ALL about the Sahara Dust phenomenon!  If you are currently looking at me like I have three heads for mentioning a desert on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in a post about St. John, read up on this annual occurrence here before digging into this week’s progression.  It doesn’t matter that it happens every year to me.  My mind is consistently in awe and wonder at the fact tiny little particles of African soil travel across the sea on the Tradewinds each spring and throughout the summer months to make our sunsets eerie and majestic….And clog up the pathways for a possible Tropical Disturbance!

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Cinnamon Bay Campground Cottages Are OPEN!

Cinnamon Bay Campground Cottages Are OPEN! 30

Good Morning, Good Morning!  A few weeks ago, I ventured out to beautiful Cinnamon Bay in order to meet up with the campground’s managing director, Adrian Davis, and take a little tour of the newly opened cottages.  The cottages were simply awesome and decked out with every single necessity you could possibly ask for in a “camping” trip.  And my conversation with Adrian about the past, present and future of the beloved campground was absolutely riveting.

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Real Estate Spotlight: Choose Your View From Three AMAZING St. John Properties

Real Estate Spotlight: Choose Your View From Three AMAZING St. John Properties 31

Good Morning, Good Morning!  To all of you out there who have been on the hunt for your perfect piece of paradise here on St. John, this is the article for you!  Three incredible properties in different shapes, sizes, locations and viewpoints are all ready for you to build your dream home!  You just need to take a look below and choose your perfect view…And then build your perfect home!

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Captivating Photo Reveals Soaring Heights and Depths of Our Islands

Captivating Photo Reveals Soaring Heights and Depths of Our Islands 32

There has been an absolutely incredible aerial photo of the Greater Antilles Islands and the Virgin Islands circulating around the internet for the past week or so.  It is absolutely amazing to see the perspective of our beloved islands from space and the depths of the waters surrounding us.  So, curiosity got the better of me as I dove down the research rabbit hole of exactly what I was looking at in this captivating imagery….

Read moreCaptivating Photo Reveals Soaring Heights and Depths of Our Islands

EARTHQUAKE!

EARTHQUAKE! 33

Sunday morning at around 9:30 AM, we were lying in bed as a low rumbling started lightly shaking room around us.  Teddy woke from a dead sleep and I dropped my phone from my hands as the quaking continued for around 30 seconds.  No damage was done, but that, my friends was the effects of an earthquake from under the sea on the other side of the British Virgin Islands….

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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. 🙂

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Salt Pond bay is located on the southeastern part of St. John.
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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…

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Salt crystalizing on a dead branch
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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!