A Little Southern Comfort in Coral Bay

Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis
Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new restaurants popping up around the island, rightfully so, of course, But there’s also a lesser known gem located in the heart of Coral Bay that we thought you should all know about. It’s called Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis and it brings something special to the island – down home, Southern cooking.

Karen Granitz opened Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis January 1 and it’s popularity has been growing ever since. A lot of that has to do with the quality of food served. Everything is homemade from scratch and prepared daily by Karen herself. And it gets better – all of Karen’s dishes are affordable, and the portions are more than generous, making them easy to share.

Karen was born in North Carolina and raised in Texas, but has lived in St. John for the past 11 years. She worked over at Maho Bay Camps before opening the Oasis where her goal was to bring some Southern flavor to the island in a nice, relaxed atmosphere. And based on what we’ve seen, Karen is accomplishing just that.

Karen’s menu is relatively simple. Each day she has four main dishes – a beef or pork, a poultry, a seafood and a vegetarian dish. Each changes daily and only costs $9. Some recent ones have included pulled pork, chicken fried chicken, veggie lasagne, and baked mahi. Karen also offers 20 sides daily, which only cost $3 each.

Here is a copy of Sunday’s menu:

Oasis Menu

Karen is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. until the food sells out, which happens nightly.

Want to know what’s on Karen’s menu? Click here to check out her Facebook page and see images of her menus, which are posted daily (except Mondays of course).

In addition to serving great food, Karen also strove to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Well she did such a good job that some of the locals now refer to her as “Mama Bear.”

“People feel comfortable here,” Karen said. “It’s people feeling like they’re part of the Oasis. It’s like family. They feel part of our home.”

And here’s a fun fact: Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis is the only place on the island with a drive-through window. How cool is that?! So if you’re feeling a bit lazy after a long day at the beach, you can simple call Karen at (340) 774-1030, place your order and pick it up at the drive through. Pretty neat in our opinion.

Coral Bay Oasis is currently a cash-only business, so please plan ahead when visiting. Karen said she plans to begin accepting credit cards later this month.


Ocean 362 Menu Released

Gallows sign

Gallows Point released some information today about their new restaurant – Ocean 362. The restaurant is scheduled to open November 15. Here’s a sneak peek of their menu:


Garnished with pancetta and truffle oil: $14

Fresh local fish, lobster, shrimps in garlic, tamarind & tomato broth: $16

With raspberry mango vinaigrette: $10

With citrus segments; creamy French boursin dressing: $12


Shallots, cilantro, chives, green chillies & coconut oil: $15

Spicy lime yogurt aioli melba toast: $17

Over turmeric yuca mash: $14

Over creamed spinach: $17

On herb toast & creamy garlic cheese: $14

Micro greens & five spice cilantro chimichurri: $14

Wasabi smoked honey BBQ sauce: $14


Cashew tamarind basmati rice with tequila, lemon, yogurt, cilantro dressing and grilled organic veggies: $34

Parmigiano-reggiano, pancetta and asparagus: $42

Lemon pilaf, coconut lobster curry cream and veggies: $44

Served over white bean, chickpeas and vegetable ragu: $46

Cumin pilaf, veggies and lentil crisp: $36

In fuille de brick pouch on mushroom risotto and grilled asparagus: $38

Mint chutney, garlic boursin demi, veggies and gratin dauphinois: $46

Milk fed veal shank slow braised in marsala demi with creamy polenta: $37

Grilled asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, veggies and gratin dauphinois: $96

With Asiago chicken sausage, veggies and grain dauphinois: $44

With three cheese & ham on a bed of spinach crackles, garlic yuca mash and port shallots confit: $32

Want to know more about the new restaurant? Check out our past story on it here.


Curious About the Cruise Ship Seen in Cruz Bay Harbor?

Image captured from the St. John Spice Cam
Image captured from the St. John Spice Cam

For those of you on-island or those of you checking out the Spice Cam yesterday, you may have noticed a descent-sized cruise ship anchored just off of Cruz Bay harbor. We received a few emails about it, so we thought we’d share the details:

The ship is called Seabourn Sojourn and it’s a luxury cruise ship that can accommodate up to 450 guests. It arrived around 7 a.m. Sunday and only stayed until about 3 p.m. – just long enough for its guests to enjoy some of the great shops and restaurants in Cruz Bay or perhaps catch a taxi to one of the (soggy) North Shore beaches. Cruise ships of this size at times anchor offshore and dinghy their guests onshore.

The Seabourn Sojourne is 650 feet long with a breadth of 84 feet, and was christened by Twiggy. (We thought you’d all enjoy that random fact.)

Here’s a quick video of the christening along with some comments by Twiggy herself:


The ship’s next stop is Isla Catalina in the Dominican Republic (which it will reach today). It will then spend two days at sea before arriving back in Ft. Lauderdale, its home port.

Here are a few more pictures from Sunday’s visit:

Seabourn Sojourn in harbor
Seabourn Sojourn as seen off Cruz Bay harbor – Image courtesy of Kellie Jo Barley, owner of Sail Safaris
Far away image
Seabourn Sojourn as seen in the distance – Image courtesy of Kellie Jo Barley, owner of Sail Safaris
Image courtesy of Seabourn Sojourn
Image courtesy of Seabourn Sojourn


Partial Eclipse is a Bust

Image courtesy of Cheryl Geller, co-owner of The Tourist Trap
Image courtesy of Cheryl Geller of The Tourist Trap

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, so we do not have any photos of the partial eclipse to share with you this morning.

We had asked our friend Cheryl Geller over at The Tourist Trap to capture this unique event for us, but the cloud cover made it impossible to even catch a glimpse of the sun. For those of you who are not familiar with Cheryl, she is the queen of St. John sunrise photos. She and her rooster Buster take them nearly every morning. (Click here to visit Buster’s Facebook page where you can view the images.)

Here’s a picture of Buster this morning looking pretty unhappy about the weather:

Buster Keaton Geller Rooster Extraordinaire
Buster Keaton-Geller, St. John Rooster Extraordinaire – Image courtesy of Cheryl Geller

Looks like he’s about ready to fly the coop and find a place with sunnier, drier weather:

Buster's ready to fly the coop!
Buster’s ready to fly the coop!

So what exactly do you do when it’s raining for a good stretch like it is now? Well, you can head on over to Mongoose Junction, Wharfside Village or Coral Bay and check out the great shops and restaurants. Or perhaps you can have a villa gravity day where you simply stay home and relax.

Here’s a mobile movie that our friend Captain John over at Palm Tree Charters made in September during another bout of wet weather.  It shows how the locals like to pass the time. Check it out:


Very Cool Event Happening Tomorrow Morning

Partial eclipse - Image courtesy of national Geographic
Partial eclipse – Image courtesy of national Geographic

For those of you on the island, something very cool is about to happen.

Tomorrow morning, folks living or staying in a home with a sunrise view will be treated to a partial eclipse of the sun. Here are the details courtesy of Kevin McCarthy, owner of Coconuts and Plumeria over on Gifft Hill.

The eclipse begins about twelve minutes before sunrise (6:20 a.m.), so the sun will rise with a bit of a nick already visible. It reaches its peak at 7:05 a.m., when the sun will be about ten degrees above the horizon. At that time, the sun will look like a crescent, with the moon blocking 70 percent of the sun. The sun’s heat should feel noticeably cooler. It’s all over at 8:11 a.m., when the sun is 24 degrees above the horizon, as the last bit of the moon slides off the solar disc. There is a narrow strip along the earth where the solar eclipse is total, but that track lies far above the Virgin Islands in the mid-Atlantic. The eclipse is mostly a no-show from the U.S. mainland, where the Eastern seaboard would see only a small nick out of the sun for a few minutes after it rises.

You really need to take the proper precautions to protect your eyes; trying to see the eclipse any time after the sunrise itself risks serious eye damage. If your villa lacks a telescope or binoculars, a simple set of cardboard eclipse glasses will offer complete protection. 

A really low-tech way to watch the progress of the eclipse is to simply take a sheet of cardboard and punch a hole in it with a pencil. Set it up ten feet or so from a wall, and the the sun will form an image in the shadow of the cardboard about an inch in diameter; setting it 20 feet away will double the size of the solar image to 2″.

Folks out towards Coral Bay have a real head start on this one. Our family once caught a total solar eclipse on the island of Aruba in February; in this case 100 percent of the sun was blocked, and the stars and planets came out. It was literally “Darkness at Noon”. Very cool.

We’d like to send out a big thank you to Kevin for bringing this very cool event to our attention.


Caneel, Kenny & More

Caneel, Kenny & More 1

There’s a lot happening around the island lately. Here’s a quick rundown of a few things we thought might be on interest to all of you:

Caneel and ZoZo’s  As many of you may know, Caneel reopened for the season today, and it did so as an independent boutique resort after deciding to part ways with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts earlier this year. Tonight also marks the relaunch of ZoZo’s Ristorante in its new space over at the Sugar Mill. ZoZo’s had a preview Wednesday night, and from what we’ve heard, it was pretty spectacular.

Here’s what Ceremonies of St. John had to say after Wednesday night’s dinner:

Ceremonies St. John ZoZos

And here’s a quick interior shot taken by Destination St. John:

Inside Zozos

Want to know more? Click here to see ZoZo’s new menu and for more info on Caneel’s new changes.

Kenny Chesney  Everyone loves a Kenny Chesney update, right? Well here’s a good one for you.

CBS’s Sunday Morning program will air a special on Kenny this Sunday, which follows him as he wraps up his No Shoes Nation Tour. Here’s what his website had to say about it:

Good things come to those who wait, and for everyone expecting to see Kenny Chesney on CBS’ award-winning “Sunday Morning” earlier this fall, the segment, pulled to save for sweeps, will air this Sunday, Nov. 3. Taking the CBS News crew with him for an emotional trip to Boston Medical Center to meet beneficiaries of his Spread the Love Fund, which supports ongoing care for amputee victims from the Boston Marathon bombing, as well as the end of his No Shoes Nation Tour, the piece was deemed too strong to waste.

“I knew when they decided to come back, they weren’t looking for a ride on the gator,” Chesney says of his second appearance on the Sunday morning news magazine. “I’ve grown a lot as an artist, as a person since that first one – and I think that maybe intrigued them. A lot of soul searching goes into what we do, and what we’re doing in Boston in terms of the city, the fans and the Fund, especially.”

Kenny Chesney did a lot in a very short year. He released the critically-acclaimed Life On A Rock, led by the gold-certified USA Today Song of the Week “Pirate Flag.” He launched Blue Chair Bay Rum, receiving awards and accolades in the spirits world. And he launched the Spread the Love Fund, as he wrapped his 2013 No Shoes Nation Tour, which rocked 19 NFL stadiums and over 1.25 million fans.

With a year like that, it made sense for “Sunday Morning” to profile Chesney 8 years after their first portrait of the 4-time Country Music Association and the 4 consecutive Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year.  That first piece follows up on a young man on the verge of superstardom as he tackled his first handful of NFL stadiums; this piece looks at a more reflective artist balancing the demands of enduring success at this level and his need to give back, make a difference and dig deeper into his creative process.

Allowing cameras into the normally reticent songwriter’s charity world is a first. But given the power of what happened, Chesney didn’t want people to forget that the amputees will be living with – and needing support – for the rest of their lives.

“Watching what happened on tv, as the entire nation did, really threw me,” Chesney says. “But meeting these amazing people who’re putting their lives together, hearing their stories and seeing how they approach getting their lives back… I was moved beyond words.”

Beyond the person rarely glimpsed, they capture road life, including the annual yearbook distribution, a tradition started in 2002 and how it feels when Chesney hits the stage from as close as anyone has ever been to the man The Wall Street Journal deemed, “King of the Road.”

With 2014 being spent working on his next album, this is a rare chance to see Chesney in action. Behind the scenes, onstage and in what is normally a private moment, “Sunday Morning” presents a superstar at his peak.

I don’t know about you all, but I’m pretty excited for this one. Check your local listings for air times.

(Kenny Chesney image courtesy of Sony Music Nashville)

Paddle in the Park – This Sunday also marks the annual Paddle in the Park competition, a standup paddleboard race. This year’s race will have two courses. The Open Course will be a roughly three-mile race from Maho Beach to Whistling Cay and back. The Elite Course will also begin at Maho Beach and will head out to Whistling Cay, then to and around Cinnamon Cay, back behind Whistling Cay and then back to Maho Beach. The Elite Course is approximately 5.5 miles.

The cost to register is $60 for adults and $30 for those ages 18 years and under. The cutoff date for these prices is today. A late registration option will be available tomorrow at the Friends of the Park Store until 2 p.m. The cost tomorrow will be $80 for adults and $50 for people ages 18 and under. Do yourself a favor, register today and save some cash.

Click here to learn more about the race and for information on how to register.

UPDATE: The race was postponed due to weather. The new date is November 9.


Halloween Happenings

Image courtesy of Skinny Legs (Official Page, Seriously) Facebook page
Image courtesy of Skinny Legs (Official Page, Seriously) Facebook page

Happy Halloween everyone! Here are a few events happening tonight:

  • Motu: Their party titled Perfection has a Dark Side begins at 8 p.m. People are encouraged to come in costume and prizes will be announced around 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. The party will continue until midnight. There will be special Patron cocktails, Candy Corn shots, Blood Orange sangria and more. Prizes will include Motu gift certificates and bottles of Patron.
  • Parrot Club: The Parrot Club’s annual party starts at 9 p.m. and they’re giving away $2,000 in cash prizes. The top costume for each of teh following categories will win $500: sexy, comedy, group and couple.
  • Skinny Legs: Perhaps the most well-known party on the island will kick off at 8 p.m. and will continue until … well, we’re not too sure about that. But we are pretty certain it will a party to remember. Inner Visions will be on hand to entertain the crowd and the best costume winner will win a trip for two to St. Croix.
  • The Beach Bar: Just the crew in celebrating the ghouls and goblins of St. John. Sounds like a normal day at The Beach Bar. The Ish is slated to perform and costumes will be judged by the crowd at 10 p.m.

Westin Announces $35 million Expansion


Well it looks like construction will continue at the Westin a little bit longer than we expected, as it announced a new $35 million expansion Wednesday.

Beginning December 1, 79 guest rooms located in the lower hillside section of the resort will be converted into 54 luxury vacation ownership units. The 54 units, dubbed the Coral Vista buildings, will be comprised of 30 two-bedroom villas, six two-bedroom lofts, and 18 studio villas. Once completed, the Westin will have 200 villas and 96 guest rooms.

“The significant investment in the renovation of The Westin St. John Resort & Villas will raise the standard of this premier resort with stylish and contemporary accommodations, unique amenities and a world-class guest experience,” Governor John deJongh said in a release.  “These efforts will ensure that The Westin St. John Resort & Villas continues to be one of the top destinations of choice for business and leisure travelers.”

Construction is expected to begin December 1. The units are expected to be completed and ready for occupancy by January 2015.

In addition to the just-announced room renovations, the Westin also plans to renovate its meeting spaces. fitness area, dockside check-in, spa and dining facilities. It also plans to continue its commitment to sustainability with the installation of solar panels throughout the property. (We’re big fans of solar energy, so kudos to you Westin.)

Here are a few more pictures of what the property will look like upon completion (click to enlarge images):

Coral Vista Building Exterior Rendering
The new Coral Vista buildings – Model Unit photographs. Final product may vary.
Artist's rendering of the new pool area
Artist’s rendering of the new pool area
Artist's rendering of the beach cafe
Artist’s rendering of the beach cafe

The Westin is currently undergoing renovations to its beachfront and poolside guest rooms, as well as to its pool area. Click this link to more about the ongoing renovations and to view recent construction images.


How the “NO” Sign Got Removed

The "NO" sign as seen on the St. John Spice Cam. (Image captured September 26.)
The “NO” sign as seen on the St. John Spice Cam. (Image captured September 26.)

No Sign CloseupIt all started last Thursday. Steve Kosiba checked the St. John Spice Cam as he does nearly everyday when the “NO” sign simply got on his nerves. For those of you unfamiliar with the “NO” sign, it popped up about a month ago on Cruz Bay beach. The sign informed people that there was no littering, soliciting, smoking, vending, camping, sleeping, loitering or animals permitted on the beach. The worst part, however, is that it was in full view of the popular Spice Cam.

So what did Steve do last Thursday? He fired off the following email to the territory’s commissioner and assistant commissioner of tourism. (He also copied us on the email.)

We are frequent St. John visitors with our families. We love your island. We especially love the “NO” sign on the St. John Spice Cam. With almost 19,000,000 visitors on this free advertisement for your island, don’t you think the sign should be moved 5 feet back? Do you know how many fans of your island visit the site daily among other local St. John web cams?

My wife and I are planning a 20 year anniversary trip next year. I’m sure I can find a day on the trip to help move the sign for you. I can get a shovel and a bag or two of concrete to move it. More than happy to help.


Five days later, the sign was gone. Well done Steve. Well done.

No more no sign
No more “NO” sign on the Spice Cam Tuesday
No sign Monday
Tuesday’s beach view – no more “NO” sign.

So how did the sign disappear so quickly? Well it turns out that the USVI Department of Tourism agreed with Steve.

“We didn’t want residents and visitors to get off the ferry, to get to beautiful St. John – We didn’t want them to see no, no, no, no,” said Monique Sibilly, assistant commissioner of tourism. “We didn’t want that to be the focal point. We do appreciate that people do not have their dogs running on the beach and such, but we preferred the sign be a little more friendly.”

While Monique hesitated to take credit for the sign’s removal, it was pretty clear that the department of tourism had a pretty good amount of influence in its removal.

So what prompted Steve to take his complaint straight to the top?

“Indiana weather,” he said. “We had a cold spell last week and I always try to visit a few local sites including St. John Spice Cam and your blog. It’s my coffee and St. John start to my day. I tend to also dislike dumb things. I shy away from them or call them out. I also don’t like the word ‘No.’

“Do you know how many blurry-eyed people stare at these web cams?” Steve continued. “St John Spice Cam has had almost 9 million visitors and it also has a dumb ‘NO’ sign. If they were smart they would replace the ‘No’ signs with a big beautiful ‘YES’ sign. YES: Skinny dipping.YES: Dogs on no leash. YES: Cartwheels and things that cause temporary brain injuries.”

Ok maybe not the brain injury part.

So you would think Steve would be pretty ecstatic now that the sign is gone. Well, we’re wrong.

“I’m kinda upset,” he said. “Next year I was planning on going to Woody’s Happy Hour with my shovel in hand to remove the sign and now it’s a no go.”

Something tells us Steve will find something else to pass his time on the island next year.

Want to view the Spice Cam or another on-island webcam? Click here to see a full listing of St. John webcams.


Controversial Dolphin Exhibit One Step Closer to Construction

Dolphin Discovery
Image source: Dolphin Discovery Tortola

The controversial dolphin encounter program proposed for St. Thomas’ Coral World Ocean Park got one step closer to construction last week.

According to the Virgin Islands Daily News, the Senate granted Coral World an amended lease that would enable it to use a portion of its facility for a dolphin encounter program. Coral World’s next step is to obtain the governor’s approval. If that occurs, the future of the exhibit would then be in the hands of government agencies that reside outside of the territory such as the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Services.

Plans to create the 70,000-square-foot dolphin encounter exhibit garnered an intense reaction from island residents and visitors when it was announced last year. Many people claimed the attraction was inhumane and that it would negatively impact the dolphins living in captivity, while proponents described it as having the potential to give a “much needed boost” to the territory’s economy.

If approved, six dolphins or less are expected to call the attraction home in the first year, although that number may increase to 10 during subsequent years. The dolphins used in the attraction will be purchased from those already living in captivity, according to Coral World, and will not be taken from the wild.

The attraction is expected to draw an additional 25,000 to 35,000 visitors annually. It is also expected to bring more than $4 million of additional revenue into the territory each year.

Want to hear more from both sides? Check out this short news clip that aired in August 2012 when the park’s plans were first announced: