Island Update:  More Openings, Air Quality, Road Work and Travel Tips

Island Update: More Openings, Air Quality, Road Work and Travel Tips

Good Morning Everyone!  Off season is winding down here on St. John as more and more of our favorite establishments re-open their doors and the perpetual hurricane season holding of the breath slowly starts to loosen its grasp.  But, the down time for residents and the peak time for storms isn’t over quite yet, even though business has started to pick up in spurts.  Restaurants have experienced some unexpected busy evenings due to last minute bookings and the boats are starting to refill the bays as many make their way back home, expectant and enthusiastic about another busy season.  But, there is still work to be done on St. John to get ready for this 2021-2022 season.

Island Update: More Openings, Air Quality, Road Work and Travel Tips 1
Who is ready for a drink on the beach?

If you have been on St. John this summer, you may have noticed that Mongoose Junction and the road leading to Frank Bay are bustling with the busy work of crews.  Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has been busy working on a project that will lay the power lines underground that will  replace the overhead lines with underground equipment.  The hopes are that this will ensure more efficient power restoration after a natural disaster.

A few tips for you as this ongoing project continues throughout the winter months.  The current phase extends from the Frank Bay Substation to Mongoose Junction, where work began mid-September.  A one lane road in front of Mongoose, paired with a traffic light and cones blocking the parking spots could prove, um, interesting, during the busier times of the year.  PLEASE keep the safety of the construction crews in mind when traveling through this area.  Take it SLOW 🙂

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Construction in front of Mongoose Junction

In the initial announcement from WAPA, the second phase of the project was to be from the Frank Bay substation to the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic on Centerline Road.  That project was halted in mid-August when human bones were discovered adjacent to Gallows Point Resort and across the street from the cemetery!  The discovery halted the excavation as archeologists work with FEMA, who funded 90% of the project, to uncover the historical evidence behind these discoveries in a trench along the roadside (1950) that cuts the through the cemetery.  A cemetery that pre-dates the roadway for hundreds of years.  How’s that for a spooky story?

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The Cemetery is located in Cruz Bay’s Historic District and has been there for hundreds of years. – Photo: Amy Roberts

We will continue to follow these findings as they are uncovered.  But, in the meantime, if you are visiting, please be aware of construction crews on the roads for many months to come and drive with caution as they move the project from town up Centerline Road and, eventually, to North Shore Road.  And, be aware that, as this project continues, regularly scheduled power outages will be ongoing.

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Released in May of 2021- The route of the underground WAPA project.

In other news, we have been seeing quite a haze on the horizon line over the past week!  We are all familiar with the Sahara Dust phenomenon that occurs regularly in the islands between the late months of spring and the early months of fall.  But, this haze is different…

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Hazy Days on St. John- Photo: Screenshot from Steve Simonsen Sunset Stream

I don’t know how  many of you have been following the Cumbre Vieja volcanic activity on La Palma in the Canary Islands, but geologists and climate specialists around the world have been eyeing the seismic activity coming out of the small island chain since long before the actual eruptions began on September 19.  The volcano’s eruption has been rumored to cause major Tsunamis that would impact the East Coast of the US…FALSE!  According to Reuters, “Experts and officials maintain that the ongoing activity in the Cumbre Vieja Volcano in La Palma does not currently pose a tsunami risk for the U.S. This claim can be traced back to a 2001 paper that presented an “extremely unlikely” scenario, according to experts.”

But, the isle of La Palma is experiencing a lot of devastation in its wake…Homes, banana plantations, vineyards and acres of farmland have been destroyed.  And, here in the Virgin Islands, we are seeing the remnants of Cumbre Vieja’s volcanic plume, riding on the Trade Winds from the small island off the coast of Africa.

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So, the air quality on St. John for the past little bit, with the combination of the volcanic plume AND Sahara Dust, has been not so fantastic.   But, with a dwindling Hurricane Season upon us (we are out of the thick of it but it doesn’t technically end until November 30), the dust and silt in the air can still prove to be a good omen!  So, if you have been experiencing the space like haze on St. John, try to keep in mind that it could be worse 🙂

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Well, I didn’t intend to tell you some spooky stories of gave discoveries and volcanic smoke today when I sat down to write this post, but I guess the upcoming arrival of my favorite holiday got the best of me.  In addition to giving “grown-ups” the opportunity to costume up and hit the town, on St. John, Halloween marks a time that is almost like an island homecoming.  Everyone is heading home after their off-season adventures, restaurants are rapidly re-opening their doors and there is an air of new beginnings and a fresh upcoming season on the horizon line.

I’m going to briefly run through the upcoming restaurant openings, but please view the full list here for a more comprehensive guide to what’s currently open and what is not!

  • 18.64 The Restaurant-  Re-opened October 5
  • Cafe Roma-  Re-opened October 8  (View Deals)
  • Dave & Jerry’s Island Steakhouse-  Re-opening October 15  (View Deals)
  • Drink St. John- Re-opening October 19
  • Extra Virgin Bistro- Re-opening October 15
  • Irie Pops- Re-opening October 13
  • Longboard- Re-opened October 5
  • Lime Inn- Re-opening October 18
  • Lime Out- Re-opened October 5
  • Morgan’s Mango- Re-opened October 7
  • Ocean 362- Re-opening mid-October
  • Skinny Legs-  Re-opening Halloween

In other restaurant news, I mentioned last week that Sam & Jack’s Deli will be re-opening!  I don’t have a ton of details yet, but I will be chatting with one of the owners later this week…She is, as expected, BUSY readying the deli to once again serve us delicious sandwiches, take and bake treats and sweet and savory snacks.  I do know that Sam & Jack’s will be offering the same great menu in the same location at the Marketplace!  And, I’ll have some more details soon.

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Photo taken February 2021. I’m very excited to see what’s next at Sam & Jack’s!

As I mentioned in the intro, restaurants have been experiencing some unexpected busy spurts so MAKE RESERVATIONS if you plan for an evening in a fine dining establishment or call or visit ahead if you are visiting a more casual spot with a larger party.  I think reservations may be the norm moving forward.  Always plan ahead if you are dead set on visiting a certain restaurant while on island.

Also, I have received a ton of requests about Thanksgiving options.  A lot of places are just re-opening and Thanksgiving is a long way off for them.  Staffing the restaurant (a huge problem on island due to an ongoing housing shortage!) and getting their doors open are at the front line right now.  Be patient…We are on island time 🙂  But, I know many of you are trying to plan, so I will get you that update as soon as I can!

I will be updating you on Halloween festivities on St. John when we get closer to the holiday.  I know that there is Trunk or Treat planning in the works and it is likely that Skinny Legs will be doing something fun…But, I’ll do some digging and get back to you with details in the coming weeks.

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A photo of a past Halloween Party at Skinny Legs

I want to again gently remind you to please, if at all possible, rent your car on St. John.   We are still currently operating with just two car ferries between Cruz Bay and Red Hook.  The Big Red Barge went to dry dock in late September and I cannot find any additional updates about it being back in service, nor has it been spotted 🙂  If one of the other barges goes down due to an inspection or otherwise scheduled (or unscheduled) service interruption, it could set traffic back significantly!  Local commuter traffic and cargo transport are essential to the daily needs of residents.  So, if we can cut back on the rental car traffic on the barge, it can help substantially with the flow of necessary traffic.

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Oh, and one last thing.  October is not only host to Halloween….Ocean Week commences on October 18!  Follow along later this week to find out what on-the ground, and on the net, activities are being planned to celebrate the beauty and promote the preservation of our beautiful waters.  Also, included in that post will be some info on how you can stay at Cinnamon Bay for FREE via the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park’s volunteer program.

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4 thoughts on “Island Update: More Openings, Air Quality, Road Work and Travel Tips”

  1. will be staying with the friends of VINP 12/5-12/12!!! sooooo excited for the experience! crossing my fingers the actual campground will be open 🙂 Rentals are goin quick for end of the year! I could only find a jeep renegade for 4 days!

  2. Do you have any additional information on when the travel portal will be allowing proof of vaccination not on island? We are returning home to Coral Bay at the end of the month and would love to not have to take the negative Covid test! Thank you for any info!

  3. Once again, may I tell you how happy reading your emails makes me? I can picture most of the places you mention and it gets me psyched for our annual March visit.
    Could you put me on to the best way to have a working cell phone during our stay in Cruz Bay? I have an Apple phone but use Tracfone who says they have no towers in the area. I only need it to make dinner reservations as our apartment has WiFi. Do I pick up an inexpensive phone on island for this purpose? Thanks for any help.

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