Weekend Holiday Happenings



Stop by Coral Bay tonight for its Christmas Tree and Carole Sing. Santa himself is even scheduled to make an appearance over at the basketball court! It’s all happening tonight from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The organizers are asking that you bring a present for a child. Please mark it as being for a girl or boy so Santa knows which child to give it to. And don’t forget to bring your caroling voices!

Happening Now: 

Head on over to Mongoose Junction and check out the beautifully-decorated holiday doors. From what we hear, the competition is fierce! Make sure to vote for your favorite one. You can vote as many times as you’d like. Ballots are available in all participating stores. The winner will be announced Monday, December 23.

And while you’re over there, be sure to browse all of the great shops or perhaps stop for a drink or a bite to eat in one of the great bars or restaurants.

Sights & Sounds: Coral Bay Time Lapse

We love a good time lapse video here at News of St. John. So we thought what a better way to close out the week than with a gorgeous time lapse video taken near Coral Bay. I don’t know about you, but I could watch the clouds pass through and the waves roll onshore forever. And the boats that cruise by – that’s just another bonus.

This time lapse video was taken by a News of St. John reader from the deck at Casa Tua. You can see Luduck Island to the right, and a bit of Tortola and the East End of St. John to the left. Enjoy.


Great News for Maho Bay Lovers

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Who doesn’t love Maho Bay? It’s definitely one of my favorites and I’m sure it tops many of your favorites lists as well. Well for those of you who would rather be at Maho than anywhere else in the world, we’ve got some great news for you.

The Trust for Public Land announced this week that Maho Bay has been protected from development. How fantastic is that!

Maho Bay is located on the north side of the island just past Cinnamon Bay. The 225-acre beach and the hillside above are the single largest land addition since Laurence Rockefeller’s generous land donation created the National Park back in 1956.

Gerald Singer, an expert on Caribbean beaches and author of St. John Beach Guide, told the Trust for Public Land, “This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. I’m happy to learn the delicate environmental balance of the lush Maho Bay valley and access to the beautiful beach and the calm, shallow bay with its abundant marine life will remain undisturbed by private development.”

Brion FitzGerald, Superintendent of V.I. National Park, said to the Trust, “This is one of the best beaches on St. John and is a significant piece of the island’s natural and cultural history. It is wonderful that it will be available for park visitors.”

The Trust for Public Land recently sold 74 acres to the National Park Service for $2.5 million, the last of a series of sales beginning in 2009, bringing the total land sold to 225 acres, a release stated. The federal money came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

I don’t know about you, but this makes me happy. Now let’s take a little trip over to Maho together. Here are a few of my favorite Maho Bay pictures. Feel free to send over some of yours to [email protected]

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Daily STJ October 17 2013

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Daily STJ October 14 2013

Coral Bay Marina One Step Closer to Fruition?

Coral Bay from water

Back in July, the Coral Bay Community Council released results to a survey that asked residents how they envisioned the future of Coral Bay. Near the top of that list was a marina. Well after at least seven years of possible marina talk, the project may be one step closer to fruition. Keyword: may.

The St. John Source reported Tuesday that the territory was awarded a $1.3 million boating infrastructure grant from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. The money, according to the Source, will be used toward construction of the planned 96-slip marina in Coral Bay.

So we did a bit of digging and here is what we found:

Apparently this grant was awarded back in August. (Yup, we missed the boat on this one.) Here are the details, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

The Government of the Virgin Islands’ Planning and Natural Resources Division will partner with private investment groups to establish the St. John Marina on the Island of St. John, in the U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands. This new facility—the first marina on the picturesque Caribbean island of St. John—will provide 96 slips and a boating activity center for eligible transient boaters. Other essential amenities include power and water for eligible traveling boaters. 

The exact grant award was $1,273,689. Another $1.4 million is needed to fund the project, according to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. That means the total project cost is estimated to be $2,673,689.

So again, plans to build a marina in Coral Bay have been talked about for years. We had to refresh our memories a bit, so we went back to the good ole News of St. John vault. Here’s what we found:

August 2006: A marina backed by Robert O’Connor is approved for the area near Island Blues, but with conditions. At the time, the project was expected to cost $5 million.

August 2006: A group called T-Rex St. John LLC entered the possible marina arena when it announced plans to build a marina, condominium and commercial development on Moravian Church-owned land that runs behind the Guy Benjamin School, firehouse and Skinny Legs.

June 2008: Frank Barnako reported that “The VI government hasn’t heard a ‘peep’ from the would-be developers of a marina in Coral Bay since they got a permit almost two years ago.”

We can see both the pros and cons of having a marina in Coral Bay. So we’re curious, what are your thoughts? Let us know here or over on our Facebook page.

Animal Care Center Open House Tonight

ACC Open HouseThe Animal Care Center is holding its annual open house tonight, December 18, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can stop by and hang out with the staff, volunteers, and of course the animals. Food and drinks will be provided, and the shelter will be decked out for the holidays. This is a very fun night for the shelter – its casual and laid-back. Donations will be accepted, and will go to providing the islands animals with love and care as we try to find homes for them.

Westin Pool Reopens; Construction Update

Artist’s Rendering

After being closed for more than six months, the newly renovated pool area over at the Westin is expected to reopen today. Snorkels poolside bar and grill is also expected to reopen.

The closing of the pool area was an inconvenience to many vacationers; however we really have to credit the Westin staff for going above and beyond to accommodate their guests during the renovations. (Click here to read our firsthand account of the renovations.)

Here are a few new pics:

westin pool 2westin pool 3

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Today’s reopening is just the first step in the Westin’s longterm renovation plan. Here’s a quick update on where the rest of the renovations stand:

Pool and Beachside Rooms: Renovations are currently underway. Some rooms in Building 10 opened earlier this month. All rooms are expected to be completed by January.

Beachside Cafe: Renovations will begin January 6. During renovations, the Beachside Cafe will be located to the old Cruz Bay Prime location. Renovations are expected to be completed by June 5.

Watersports Area: Renovations will begin January 6. During renovations, the Watersports Area will be located near the dock. Renovations are expected to be completed by May 6.

Westin Workout Fitness Studio: Renovations will begin February 15. During renovations, the fitness studio will be located at an alternative spot on the property. Renovations are expected to be completed by May 16.

Westin Spa: Renovations will begin February 15. Renovations are expected to be completed by June 5.

Westin Airport Lounge: Renovations will begin January 6. Renovations are expected to be completed by April 15.

Lower Hillside Room Conversion: This project is currently underway. It is expected to be completed by January 2015. Click here to learn more about this project.

When Snorkels Bar & Grill reopens today, it will do so with a few new menu items. Here’s a couple of pictures from the Westin’s Facebook page:

Smoked fish dip, plantain chips
Smoked fish dip, plantain chips
Hand breaded fried calamari, lemon caper aioli
Hand breaded fried calamari, lemon caper aioli

Local Man Receives Prestigious Award

Shamir Joseph
Shamir Joseph

As we all know, tourism is the lifeblood of St. John. And without the wonderful people who work in the tourism industry, the island would be a much different place. So today we’d like to recognize a man who is truly making a difference – Shamir Joseph.

For those of you who’ve spent time at the Westin, Shamir may be a familiar face. Since February 2012, Shamir has worked in guest relations – first as a guest relations agent and most recently as guest relations manager. Next time you see Shamir, give him a nice handshake or perhaps a pat on the back because he just received a pretty big award.

Shamir recently received the US Virgin Islands Hotel Associate of the Year Award. The award was given at the 12th Annual Tommy Star Awards & Gala and was presented by the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association. Shamir Joseph was awarded the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel Associate of the Year Award based on his demonstration of excellent customer service, pride in his work and knowledge of the USVI’s hospitality industry.

“Shamir Joseph embodies our entire team’s commitment to providing the best Caribbean experience for our guests in St. John,” said Mike Ryan, general manager at The Westin St. John Resort & Villas. “He is both an ambassador for our island and a delight for our guests.”

Congrats Shamir. Kudos to you!

Last Full Moon of 2013 Tonight

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Full Moon, November 2013

Wherever you are in the world, did you happen to catch the nearly full moon last night? We did here at News of St. John and it was quite the sight to see.

Well tonight marks the final full moon of 2013. Tonight’s full moon is the most distant and smallest full moon of the year, but that doesn’t mean it will be anything less than spectacular. Let’s hope the weather cooperates so everyone can enjoy it.

St. John offers a couple of cool ways to celebrate the full moon. First and probably the most popular is Miss Lucy’s Full Moon Party. Miss Lucy’s is a laid-back, waterfront restaurant past Coral Bay. Miss Lucy’s celebrates the full moon each month with a party. The parties have been known to get pretty rowdy in the past, but from what we’ve seen and heard, they’ve certainly calmed down in recent times.

Inner Visions is a pretty cool reggae band and they’ll be over at Miss Lucy’s tonight. They go on at 6 p.m., so if you’re in the area, be sure to check them out. (Edit: We’ve heard conflicting show dates. They may be playing Thursday. We’re working to confirm now. Sorry about that everyone.)

Another cool thing to do tonight is to hike out to Ram Head. This hike can be tricky in the daylight, so be extra careful if you plan to do it at night. You will definitely need to wear sturdy shoes and bring either a headlamp or flashlight. This hike is especially cool because you can watch the sun set to the west and moments later watch the moon rise to the east.

The sun sets tonight at 5:46 p.m. and the moon rises at 6:14 p.m.

Here is a list of next year’s full moon dates:

  • January 15
  • February 15
  • March 15
  • April 14
  • May 14
  • June 12
  • July 13
  • August 10
  • September 8
  • October 10
  • November 6
  • December 6

Here are a few more pictures taken during last month’s full moon:

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Full moon rising over St. John
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Full moon as seen from Upper Carolina
Clearly the wrong camera setting, but cool nonetheless
Clearly the wrong camera setting, but cool nonetheless

A Taste of Cruz Bay Landing’s Menu

We haven’t had the opportunity to try out Cruz Bay Landing yet, but from what we’ve heard, it sounds like they’ve hit gold over there. And from what we’ve seen on their Facebook page, it looks pretty delicious too.

Check out some of these pictures and descriptions recently posted on Cruz Bay Landing’s Facebook page:

“The Peppermint Patty Paradise” it’s our twist on the classic Mocha latte.
It comes with coconut and a shot of peppermint schnapps…
house bennie
Our “House Bennie” from our breakfast menu comes with two poached eggs on toasted English muffins, and is topped with smoked ham & hollandaise sauce – served with home fries.
philly omelette
Come on down and try our Philly omelette.
It’s loaded with shaved ribeye, grilled onions, peppers & swiss!
California omelette
This bad boy is our California omelette, it comes loaded with tomatoes, artichoke, mushroom, swiss & is topped with guacamole.
The St Louis ribs from our lunch menu come rubbed and slow roasted until perfectly tender before sauced up on the grill with our house BBQ sauce. They’re served with waffle fries & coleslaw!
The Landing Skillet from our breakfast menu comes with two eggs anyway way you want them, served over home fries with sauteed peppers, mushrooms, onions & Jack cheese – topped with guacamole!
fish tacos
Our Baha Fish Tacos from the lunch menu are prepared Blackened, or fried on grilled flour tortillas.
They’re served with shredded cabbage, pineapple salsa, chipolte vinaigrette & guacamole!
Chicken & sweet potato Roti

Want to know more about Cruz Bay Landing? Click here to read how this all got started.

Sights and Sounds: Amorosa

Today’s Sights and Sounds video brings us to the posh Upper Peter Bay section of the island known for its famed North Shore views. See for yourself. Here is Amorosa:

Click here to learn more about Amorosa including additional photos, rental rates and more, and for more information on Villa Vacations’ other rental properties.