It’s Time for You All to Come Back…

A double rainbow over Caneel Sunday

For the past three months, people have been asking whether or not it’s time to return to St. John. Well today I’d like to officially say that it’s time for you all to come back!

Like many others, I was nervous about having tourists back on island. It’s like when you have a flood at your house, you’re not going to invite your friends over for a party the following week. You need time to fix things. The same goes here in a way. We wanted to make sure our island was ready for all of you – our guests, our friends. And now I can say, wholeheartedly, that I believe we are ready for you. Here are my thoughts why…

For starters, St. John is beautiful. Even on our darkest days, we were still the most beautiful place in the world. And I don’t mean simply aesthetically. Our people are beautiful. Our community is beautiful. And yes, our beaches are obviously beautiful. 🙂

Speaking of beaches, in just three short months, the National Park Service was able to reopen four. That’s pretty amazing. As of today, Honeymoon, Hawksnest, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon are all open for your use. And you know what? They’re empty. How does having one of the world’s most beautiful beaches all to yourself sound to you? Pretty amazing if you ask me.

There were only four Jeeps at Trunk Bay Wednesday at noon.
There were only four Jeeps at Trunk Bay Wednesday at noon.
Trunk Bay last week = empty
Trunk Bay last week = empty

You can visit our other beaches too, but please know that the National Park Service has not yet deemed them open. And that may be because they haven’t been able to make certain all of the moorings are in place, or perhaps there is a structure that needs to be removed. But regardless, you can still enjoy their beauty. (The National Park Service hopes to reopen all beaches within the next month.)

Jumbie, while not officially open, has been stunning over the past few weeks.
Jumbie, while not officially open, has been stunning over the past few weeks.

Our restaurants are open! Looking to relax with a good breakfast while doing some people watching in the park? Well then walk on over to Cruz Bay Landing. They’re currently open for breakfast and lunch. Looking for some delicious appetizers and an amazing glass of wine? Then stop by La Tapa for dinner and see what Chef Alex has on the menu that night. We have more than 20 restaurants that are open both in Cruz Bay and over in Coral Bay, and they’re all super eager to serve you.

Our shops are open! Mongoose Junction is open and in full swing! Looking for a beautiful piece of jewelry? Then check out Caravan Gallery. Maybe you want a little homemade ice cream? Well Scoops is open too! There are more than a dozen shops open here in Cruz Bay, so please come out and support our retailers!

Well maybe Coral Bay is more your style… well they’re open too! Jolly Dog has been around for more than 20 years, and they’re open! Oasis is open. Wok on the Beach is open. Indigo is open. Skinny’s will be open very, very soon, but some of the shops at Skinny’s are open now … exciting stuff!

(Please know that there are many more shops and restaurants open than the ones we mentioned… We’re simply trying to give you a sampling of what’s open here on island.)

All of our markets on island are open. The Jeep rental companies are open. We have charter boats in the water, and they’re waiting to take you out. And News of St. John Tours is open! Woohoo!

I had my first post-hurricane island tour last week, and it was amazing. I spent five hours with two women who came on a cruise ship, and they said that the island was just as beautiful as it was before the storms. We hung out at some of the North Shore beaches, checked out a few ruins and had lunch in Coral Bay. It was a perfect day.

We’ve had a handful of tourists on island over the past several weeks, and they all have given us pretty much the same feedback – St. John is still beautiful. And all stated how welcomed they felt. We’re ready for you folks.

I know that some people are nervous about the impact you may have on our infrastructure. That is a very valid concern. Here’s my take on that… We lost a fair amount of accommodations. The Westin is closed through June 2018. Caneel is closed for the foreseeable future. Numerous vacation villas were damaged and are being repaired. We currently do not have the ability to accommodate as many tourists as we could in the past. Between that and the limited flights coming into St. Thomas, I do not think this will pose a problem. But again, this is my opinion.

Speaking of flights, for those of you who plan to come visit us sooner than later, here are the current flights coming into St. Thomas:

  • American Airlines (from Miami) Flights 943 & 1391
  • Delta (from Atlanta) Flight 571
  • Spirit only Wed. & Sat. (from Ft. Lauderdale) Flight 201
  • JetBlue (from San Juan) Flight 1036
  • Cape Air (from San Juan)

And here are the current flights out of St. Thomas:

  • American Airlines (to Miami) Flight 943 & 1391
  • Delta (to Atlanta) Flight 307
  • Spirit only Wed. & Sat. (to Ft. Lauderdale) Flight 212
  • JetBlue (to San Juan)
  • Cape Air (to San Juan)

The ferry schedule has been extended too – more great news! Ferries leave from Cruz Bay every hour on the hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ferries leave from Red Hook to Cruz Bay at 5:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and then every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is not a 7 p.m. ferry, but there is an 8 p.m. ferry.

The car barges are running too, although I strongly encourage you to rent your vehicle on St. John to avoid taking the car barge.

I haven’t seen too many taxis waiting at the ferry dock, but that could be because there isn’t too much of a demand right now. I suggest renting a Jeep for your stay or booking an island tour with me.

One thing that everyone says regarding tourism is that all of our guests should be well informed prior to visiting the island. Here are a few other things to take into consideration:

  1. Potholes: We have some and they’re no fun. Just drive slowly and you will be fine.
  2. Power: Last week, 47 percent of the island had been restored. That number should be more than 50 percent today, as several neighborhoods have been reenergized over the past several days. Coral Bay is also expected to get power this week – yahoo! And as I said the other day, the Governor remains confident that 90 percent of the US Virgin Islands will have power by Christmas. What a gift that would be!

Should you choose to vacation here soon (and I certainly hope you do!), please remember that there are still residents who are living without power. Most have generators, which is great, but it is not like having real electricity. Just something to think about…

And also, as I mentioned last week, communications are still on the mend. If you need constant access to internet and cable TV, you may want to wait a little longer to visit. If you don’t mind unplugging and enjoying the beauty that this island offers, then please book now!

I have heard from a handful of villa owners that they are getting cancellations for March, April, May and beyond. That is just silly in my opinion. I understand that vacations are costly and people want them to be perfect, but I can also tell you that there is no need to cancel a spring or summer vacation here on St. John. Honestly, I don’t even think you need to cancel January or February, but again, that’s my opinion.

I have received a ton of questions about the reefs, and I understand that’s a big reason why people visit St. John. Unfortunately I do not have many answers on this yet. I can say that, yes, the reefs are safe to snorkel. I have heard that they have had some damage particularly the elk horn coral and sea fans, but hopefully they too will come back just like the leaves on the trees and the turtles over at Maho. (We heard there were several turtles at Maho the other day – how exciting!!)

So again, we’re ready for you and we are eager to have you back. For those of you who are lucky enough to take last minute vacations, come see us for the holidays! And if you need a bit more time to plan, come visit us next year. I can’t wait to have you all back!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]. I am a little backed up on email, but I promise to respond as soon as I can.

Thanks everyone, and I hope to see you soon!

PS: One thing I forgot, so I came back to edit… A lot of you have asked how you can help while you are here on island and if you can bring anything like bug spray, etc. In my opinion, the best thing that you can do is eat in our restaurants, shop in our shops, grab groceries in our markets, rent our Jeeps, take a cruise on our charter boats, etc. Our economy needs some extra love right now, so if you are able to make that happen, it would make a big impact. Thanks again!! 🙂 

55 thoughts on “It’s Time for You All to Come Back…”

  1. Yahoo! Faith, prayers, and donations rewarded! A shout out… there are quite a few places to rent and available lodging. Time to celebrate a NEW YEAR and thank all those who have worked extremely hard to get SJ back on her feet. Winter is arriving in the north. See you in the sand soon!

  2. Oh how I would love to come back this season!! We really hoped to be there during our sons’ spring break in April, but the airline situation from the NYC area is ridiculous!! Still holding out hope something changes. 🙁

    Love your blog, love your island.

    • We got some good tickets from American out of Newark for about $500 RT leaving on a Sunday in February and returning 8 days later on a Mnday . The main thing I remember was that the cost was a lot higher with pure weekend travel schedule.

  3. We will be there next week on charter! Our group is convinced that spending money down there is the best way to support. We can’t wait to take a ton of pictures to show everyone that it’s still beautiful. Looking forward to being part of the solution.

  4. Yea!!!!! We’ll be there in February!!! 75 days and counting!!! Can’t wait to get my feet in the sand and a painkiller in my hand!!!

  5. What about Wharfside? Beach Bar, Joe’s, High Tide, etc. Haven’t seen any recent updates about them. Last update sounded like it was going to be a while. We’ll be down in early March, and will make do with what is open, but sure would love a painkiller and a sunset at one of the Waterfront establishments! See y’ll in March!

    • Hi Diane, there isn’t anything new since the last time I posted about Wharfside, although I do expect it to be open when you come here. Painkillers for everyone!

  6. I just got back from St John and I totally agree with Jenn’s Assessment.

    I would just add one bit of information on food in coral bay. The pizza bar (by shipwreck) had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had

  7. Jen, This is Awesome news! We always knew that this beautiful little island would be back, thanks to Mother Nature and the people of St.John❤️ We are booked for a week in May and our daughter and fiancé have just booked a wedding planner and are getting married on the island in May 2019 so we will be back with 60ish people then. There is no other place on this earth we would all rather be. Thank you for all your posts#LoveForLoveCity

  8. Such great news. So well written. Hoping that you might be able to use this as a press release to the Tourism Board and the Cruise Ship liaison folks on STT. Every little bit will help the season.

  9. Still coming in late February as planned and will be bringing $$ to spend while on STJ. But our jeep rental loyalty remains with the good people at Discount Car Rental on St. Thomas. We have been happily using them since our first trip in 2006 when Avis promised us a jeep but failed to deliver (a Ford Focus just does not cut it on Millvista Road). Discount is a small local biz, also, and needs our support. Same goes for the car barge operators.

    • I completely understand that. We lost two barges to the storms – Island Vic and Mister B. So currently, we only have the Captain Vic and General. If one of those comes out of service, it is a nightmare. Just something to think about…

  10. What a wonderful post to wake up to!! I am scheduled to go in early January with my group of 10. Unfortunately our rented villa is still without power so I am truly hoping that they restore it this month. If they do not, we really do not want to cancel our trip so I am hoping we can find a last-minute accommodation!

  11. Thank you for this enlightening update ! We had a wedding for my daughter planned for. This very weekend and made the decision to postpone not cancel! We will be there for a March 25 wedding. And can’t wait!!!! We love this beautiful island and looking so forward to getting there. Hopefully more flights will be available. We come through Atlanta from Little Rock ar.

  12. Thanks for the great news . We do have our villa booked for April and have not cancelled. The only concern is that in years past we have not payed over $600 per person to fly in to STT. Because of the limited amount of flights going into STT the flights are now 1200-1500 per person. Have you heard any news on when they plan on opening up more flights into Cyril? Hoping if they do, flights will come down a bit. Thanks!

    • I read this morning that Spirit is increasing its flights. Not the best airline, but it’s something…

      Have you looked into getting a ticket into San Juan and then purchasing a second ticket on Cape Air or Seaborne? That may be a cheaper way of getting here…

  13. Jenn,
    Hello! I totally agree with you. We were down for Thanksgiving and had so many special conversations and moments on St. John this visit. Watching the Dreamweaver get rigged back to sea in person was an amazing sight. Can’t wait to get back!
    Take care,

  14. Jenn, what is the status of credit/debit card availability given the state of communications based on one of your recent articles. Specifically relating to the internet. Should we be bring a wad of cash or are most places accepting plastic? We will be on island Dec. 23 thru Dec. 31!

    • I was down last week and credit card terminals in Cruz Bay were working. Bring some cash to be safe (never know if communications will go down with all the work going on) but I doubt you’ll need it. I agree with everything Jenn wrote. I can’t speak for Coral Bay but Cruz Bay is definitely ready for visitors. Go, spend and enjoy.

  15. We have decided to wait until power is restored until we come down. Airfare out of Washington Dulles Airport was $1,200 per person. We have usually paid $300 per person in the past. We planned a trip to Mexico instead and we’ll wait until St John is more ready which we really think is going to be more like a year or two from now.

    • We cancelled for March back in October. The villa we rented was destroyed, and I hadn’t booked airfare both ways yet. I think it’s unfair, Jen, to say it’s “silly” to cancel for Spring – everyone’s situation is different, and for some of us this is a once in a lifetime vacation. Roundtrip airfare for our family of five out of DC is not for the faint of heart, combined with villa rental, meals, transportation, etc. And I think it’s okay if this is your one shot to want it to be, well, what you wanted. Having said that, I continue to follow several FB pages on St. John and am convinced more and more that I made the right choice picking it – in looking at other places, nothing really compares spiritually or physically. We WILL get there someday, just not in 2018. Thanks so much for the update!

      • I understand what you’re saying. I meant that it is silly for people who already purchased airfare and have accommodations to cancel. Your situation is different and I understand your viewpoint.

  16. Jenn, thanks for your thorough and accurate assessment. It’s a great time to visit if you can find a flight. There is roadwork, you’ll hear the sound of generators and construction and it’s a bit buggier than usual for the time of year but the beaches are beautiful, restaurants, markets and shops are open and there are no crowds. I agree with your advice on car rental. Don’t take a chance on the barge (it’s not fun if you’ve ever gotten stuck) and leave barge space for equipment, supplies, workers and people traveling to and from St Thomas who are putting their homes and businesses back together.

  17. We are a family of 4 that have reservations to camp at Cinnamon in March. We are keeping our fingers crossed they reopen the campground by then. I have emailed them but haven’t heard anything back. We’re still want to come but I am afraid anything else is going to be out of our budget 🙁 Are there any resources anywhere to budget and family friendly accommodations that are open and ready for business? We love St. John and Cinnamon Bay! This will be our 4th visit!

    • Review Jenn’s blog post on December 1, 2017, an Update on Cinnamon Bay, gives some information about the campground at Cinnamon Bay. So sad, beautiful island but accomodations are expensive. Still love the Island and can’t wait to get back!

  18. Thank you for the updates! Hubby and I will be there for two weeks in April. Cannot wait to spend my hard earned dollars on this lovely island that has stolen my heart!

  19. We’re heading there via cruise, Charlotte Amalie …. on Christmas day….. any recommendations on what would be open? We’d love to do an excursion, but with it being the holiday, not sure what we’d have open/available. I’m happy to hear that things are looking up!! Cant wait to visit, see the beautiful beaches and get some $ into the economy!

    • Check out secret harbor !!!! Gorgeous !!!
      It’s beautiful and easily accessible from your cruise ship, also has facilities and food a place to eat :oP
      Best bet if coming by cruise !!!
      Most other things to do may be challenging depending on your itinerary
      Can’t wait for you to be here 🙂

  20. We made our first trip to St John in 2001 and have been fortunate to get there every year since and fortunate to be there last May before the storms came in. I’d like to come down for a week the end of June beginning of July with my family. We usually stay at the Westin but they most likely won’t be open. Need a three bedroom villa near Cruz Bay. Any thoughts on a good , clean, safe, place that made it thru the storms? Thanks and glad to hear the island is getting back on it’s feet.

  21. We’re booked on United as we always travel from Newark, NJ, but I don’t see them on the list. Hopefully they are going to be starting soon wo that by April it won’t be an issue…

    • They have suspended all flights through April. You can take them to San Juan but then you would have to buy a second ticket to St. Thomas.

      • United is currently booking flights through San Juan just no nonstop flights to St Thomas at this time. Just FYI. They include the connection from San Juan to STT.

  22. Our family is heading there January 1st and staying at the St. John Inn. Our first trip there and we cannot wait.. So beautiful!

    Thank you so much for the updates and pics! I already feel like we’ve been there.

  23. This is wonderful news! Thank you so much for all of your postings and keeping us updated about our favorite place on Earth. I am thrilled to hear that the turtles have been spotted at Maho! I hope that Maho is on its way to recovery. Also thanks for the Coral Bay update. We love it there, it’s a special place in our hearts.

  24. As a Virgin Islander living in Atlanta, I am counting the days until I place my toes in the beautiful sand and waters of Trunk Bay! I am coming in on a cruise on 12/24 (planned since January) and I will visit St. John then do some shopping in St. Thomas. I was told that spending money is the best thing I can do to help my hometown.

  25. I’m so glad you’re ready for us!! I always book a year in advance to come during Feb. school vacation, so way back in March of this year I booked Delta Flight 571 going down and AA 943 coming home. Given how many people’s flights have been cancelled, I can’t believe my good fortune that I happened to book the 2 flights that are still operating. It must be fate, and it will be a party plane! I had to change my reservations from Cinnamon Bay to the Grande Bay condos, so it will be a totally different experience (AC & private toilet will spoil us!). But, the bottom line is that I’m so lucky to be going and I never doubted that STJ would rebound faster & better than any other island in the Caribbean. I can’t wait to come support the local economy. As much as I’ve always selfishly wanted the beaches to myself in year’s past, this year it will be a welcome sight to see as many people as possible 🙂

  26. We have not yet canceled our two week March vacation in an Eco-tent at CBC nor our Jet Blue flight. Other friends have. It would be our ninth annual and our second since CBC became CBR. I’m not sure the new concessionaire is ready for us but we’ll wait a bit longer before canceling and hope for the best. LOVED your upbeat, informative article, Jenn.

  27. Jenn, thank you so much for all your information. We are avid readers of your blog. Had reservations for Cinnamon in March but they will not be open. Booked through Airbnb for a week in April. Got a good price on airfare from NYC, Delta.
    Can’t wait. Have been visiting St John since 1965. Love the island. Will bring money!!!

  28. Oh my gosh..I have goosebumps! We’ll be down next November and are counting the days. I am SO happy for the amazing people of STJ that finally they can somewhat get their lives back together. YAY!!

  29. We cancelled our March trip because no power and extensive damage to villa we were going to stay. Puerto Vallarta here we come!

  30. Great to have my instincts confirmed and so glad we didn’t cancel our NYE plans. Luckily, our villa wasn’t damaged, although AA and DL did their best to make the trip difficult. Thanks for all your up-to-the-minute information and to all the other islanders who encouraged us not to cancel. As per your suggestion, I did some island shopping bought “hurricane” jewelry from Bamboo for Christmas presents. They arrived quickly and look beautiful! I’ll be wearing mine when I arrive!

  31. This is the most wonderful news ever! We can’t wait to come back and will be there sometime between April and June! We can’t wait! We have missed our beloved island and all the wonderful people who call it home! Thanks for keeping us informed, Jenn!

    Merry Christmas!

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