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One More Step Toward Normalcy…

CRUZ BAY BEACH 2
The 2018 Chaotic Kayak race will be held on Cruz Bay beach.

Hello everyone and happy Monday! So today’s story is an important one to me. Not only am I going to tell you about a great event that raises money for an amazing cause, but it also signals another step in a return to normalcy for many of us here on island. And as an added bonus… Should you choose to support this event (and I hope many of you do!), you may be able to stay for free here on St. John. I know you’re intrigued, so please read on!

So let’s start with the event… For those of you who are longtime readers of News of St. John, you may recall the Chaotic Kayak event which raises money to bring wounded veterans to the island for a week of healing and relaxation. The fundraising event typically happened in the summer, and the veterans visited the island in November.

Well hurricanes Irma and Maria changed all of that last year. The veterans were unable to visit in November and the event did not take place this past summer.

About a month or so back I received an email from Gary Clark, one of the coordinators for Team River Runner. (TRR is the organization that brings the wounded veterans to the island.) Gary, who has brought veterans to the island since 2007, said how they wanted to hold the event but instead of raising money for the veterans, they wanted to raise money for us.

My immediate reaction was no. I thought we should definitely hold the event, but that the money should continue to be used to bring veterans to our beautiful island. The island is fortunate in that a lot of money has been donated to or allocated to us. But more importantly, holding the event as normal, in my opinion, would make us feel normal. And every little thing that makes us feel normal is a way to help us all move forward. Fortunately several other business owners had the same opinion.

So I am excited to tell you that the 2018 Chaotic Kayak race will be held on Sunday, November 18th on Cruz Bay beach!

So the way this event works is that teams compete against one another in a zany kayak race. As teams of three paddle against one another, they get pelted by water guns and doused by buckets of water as they make their way to and around the Sadie Sea. There are several heats and the winner takes home the coveted paddle.

The Rum Hut won last year and we came in third. We’ve got our eye on the prize this year, and here’s how you can help!

For every $100 we raise for the event, Team News of St. John will receive a five second head start for the kayak race. Last year we raised $3,730, and this year, we’d like to surpass that number!

And for those of you who may need a tad more encouragement to donate to Team News of St. John, we’re going to give one lucky donor a free stay here on St. John!

Island Abodes has graciously donated a $1,120 credit to stay in any of their vacation rentals for five or more nights. That’s a free stay in their Papaya or Garden Suite during low or shoulder season, or a pretty sweet discount on any of their rentals during any season. The stay must be completed by December 31, 2019 and most be for a stay of at least five nights.

The Papaya Suite by Island Abodes
You can receive a five-night stay at the Papaya Suite by Island Abodes.
The Garden Suite by Island Abodes
You can receive a five-night stay at the Garden Suite by Island Abodes.
You can also choose to use your credit toward a 5-night or more stay at the Penthouse by Island Abodes.
You can also choose to use your credit toward a 5-night or more stay at the Penthouse by Island Abodes.

So the way this is going to work is pretty simple. You can donate as little or as much as you’d like to Team News of St. John. For those of you who donate $20 or more, we’re going to put your name in a hat as a thank you. And on November 18th, we will pull the winner live from the event. We will broadcast this live on our Facebook page and will post it immediately after here on newsofstjohn.com.

Some rules that we have to include: Only people who donate $20 or more will be entered into the courtesy drawing. Your name will only be entered once per donation no matter the amount donated (provided it is $20 or more). The winner will be announced on November 18, 2018. We will accept donations through 9 p.m. EST on November 17, 2018. This is a courtesy drawing; it is not a raffle.

Now doesn’t all of this sound great??!!

For those of you who would like to donate to Team News of St. John for the 2018 Chaotic Kayak race, you can do so securely on the Chaotic Kayak‘s official race website. Please click here to donate.

If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]. To learn more about Island Abodes and their beautiful vacation rentals that are close to Cruz Bay, please visit www.islandabodes.com

Soggy Dollar Launches Its Own Rum

soggy dollar rum

I’m pretty positive that a lot of you reading this will be very interested in the “news” we have to share with you all today … Soggy Dollar is now making and selling its own rum! Cheers to that!

Our friends over at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke announced earlier this week the release of its dark and spiced rums. And truth be told, I’m not much of a rum drinker (crazy, I know), but this stuff is pretty darn good!

One of the perks of living here on island is that we get to visit Jerry, Tish, Annie and the gang at Soggy quite often. So earlier this year, we were invited to do a little rum sampling. The consensus was that it was pretty delicious, and now you all can try it for yourselves!! (And the bottle itself is pretty cool too.)

Jerry, who owns Soggy Dollar along with his wife Tish, was involved in the entire process of creating these rums from the mixing to the tastings to the packaging. It’s not simply something that slapped their name on, so you know it’s going to be good.

And seeing that Soggy created the world famous Painkiller rum drink… I’d say they know a thing or two about rum!

Ok, now how do you get it?? Well you can cruise on over to Soggy Dollar and pick up a bottle or two to go, or perhaps enjoy one of their signature rum cocktails. If you’re lucky enough to be on St. John, you can pick up a small bottle at North Shore Deli. Or if you happen to be outside of the Virgin Islands, you can go to www.soggydollarrum.com and send them your email address, and they will add you to a list of first batch buyers.

That’s all we have for you today, folks. Happy Friday!

To Our East Coast Friends…

cruz bay st john sept 2018

To our friends in the path of Hurricane Florence, please stay safe. Heed the warnings. If you have been asked to evacuate, please do. Many of you may have been through a hurricane before. Please do not be complacent. The forecasters are calling this a “storm of the century.” They referred to Irma the same way.

If you are forced to leave your home, please bring your pets with you.

And most importantly, help your neighbors.

I look at this site’s analytics daily. North Carolina, I can see that you are huge supporters of St. John. Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina, you’re pretty high on the list too. You were all there for us after Irma and Maria, and we will be there for you after Florence.

Stay safe folks. Sending lots of love from the Virgin Islands.

North Shore Overlooks

Monday morning was another stunning day here on island. It was so pretty that we strapped Dalton in his car seat and grabbed the GoPro. We took some shots for you at all of the North Shore overlooks. If you can listen with the sound up, please do. If not, simply enjoy the views.

Have a great day everyone!

A Walk in the Woods… Caneel Hill

view of caneel from caneel trail september 2018
The view from the top of Caneel Hill

Yesterday was definitely a top 10 day here on island, so I decided to take a little walk in the woods. I set out to hike the Caneel Hill trail where I knew I would be able to see spectacular views all the way out to St. Croix and Puerto Rico. I wasn’t disappointed.

For those of you who aren’t super familiar with the island, we are two-thirds National Park. This means we have a plethora of hiking trails ranging from the easy tenth-of-a-mile hike up to Peace Hill to the grueling 2.6 mile trek down to Reef Bay. The Caneel Hill trail is only a half mile each way, that’s if you start on the Caneel Hill Spur Trail like I did. This section of the trail begins across the street from the Virgin islands National Park sign, which is just beyond the Cruz Bay overlook.

The spur trail begins at the stairs across North Shore Road.
The spur trail begins at the stairs across North Shore Road.
You can park in the lot on the left prior to the sign.
You can park in the lot on the left prior to the sign.

caneel hill trail september 2018

So as you can see in the picture above, the trail to the top is only a half-mile. But don’t be fooled, it’s not merely a stroll in the woods. The terrain is rocky in spots and steep in others. There are several switchbacks too. This is definitely not a flip flop hike. I suggest wearing sneakers and bringing along a bottle or two of water. And because we lost a fair amount of trees last year, it’s pretty sunny in some spots. So I also suggest wearing sunscreen and some bug spray too.

As you start off on the spur trail, you will come to some power lines which will cross your path. No need to worry. These are not live wires, so simply climb over and then duck under them.

powerlines across trail september 2018
Powelines cross the trail in one spot

After about five minutes on the trail, you will come to an intersection. The Margaret Hill trail, which goes down to Mongoose Junction, will be on your right. Continue straight to get to Caneel Hill.

This is the intersection of Margaret Hill.
This is the intersection of Margaret Hill.

trail sign september 2018

After you pass the intersection, you will walk through some areas of tall grass. We’ve received a lot of rain lately, so areas of the trail are a bit overgrown. You will also encounters a few switchbacks as you start to gain elevation.

The trail is a tad overgrown in some areas.
The trail is a tad overgrown in some areas.
One of the trail's switchbacks
One of the trail’s switchbacks

After walking about 20 minutes (more or less depending on your speed and how many times you stop to enjoy the views), you will come to the “almost there” bench. This is a great spot to take a break, have a few sips of water and enjoy the incredible views.

The "almost there" bench
The “almost there” bench
Incredible views from this bench
Incredible views from this bench

Once you pass the “almost there” bench, it’s only 100 more yards until you are at the top. Once at the top, you will see another bench to rest on, as well as a lookout tower.

The bench at the top of the Caneel Hill trail
The bench at the top of the Caneel Hill trail
The lookout tower at the top of the Caneel Hill trail
The lookout tower at the top of the Caneel Hill trail

So again, depending how fast or slow you hike, it should take about 25-30 minutes to get to the lookout tower from the parking lot. You will also be covered with a fair amount of sweat. 🙂 But the views at the top are totally worth it, I promise. Check out this quick video we took yesterday.

Gorgeous, isn’t it??!!

Once at the top, you can either turn around or continue straight. You can opt to take the trail down to the entrance of Caneel Bay or over to the Water Catchment trail, which leads to Centerline Road. I simply turned around yesterday and went back down.

If hiking from the parking lot beside the National Park sign up to the lookout tower and back, it’s about a mile round trip. My Apple Watch clocked it at just over 1,000 steps each way.

In terms of difficulty, 10 being “I can run 8 Tuff Miles” and one being “I struggle to lift the rum bottle when making my Painkiller,” I give this trail a solid five. I say that because it’s steep in some sections, hot from lack of shade, and the terrain has loose rock in some areas.

So if you like a nice little hike with stellar views, add the Caneel Hill trail to your list on your next visit. And in the meantime, have a great Monday everyone!!

On the Market: Parcel with Expansive South & Possible North Shore Views

pastory land 1

Hello everyone and happy Saturday! Today we’d like to tell you about a piece of land that recently listed for sale. It’s located close to town and borders the Virgin Islands National Park. It has expansive views of the South Shore, Cruz Bay, St. Thomas, Pillsbury Sound and out to the Caribbean Sea.

This property offers privacy and is located in a quiet neighborhood. It has underground utilities and paved roads, making it a must-see. There are also possible second story views of the North Shore.

Check out a view pics and a video taken recently at sunset:

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0159.JPG

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0153.JPG

pastory land map

This parcel is being offered for $325,000 by Tammy Donnelly of 340 Real Estate Co. For more information, please contact Tammy at at [email protected]

Pictures: One Year Later

Hello everyone and happy Friday! Thank you all for the kind messages posted yesterday. You’re all certainly keeping the love in Love City!!

Dalton and I, plus my good friend Lindsay, took a cruise around the island Thursday to take some pics for all of you. As always, none of the images have been edited in any way. It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come in a year. I think you’re really going to enjoy them. 🙂

cruz bay overlook september 2018
Cruz Bay overlook
national park sign september 2018
North Shore Road
caneel overlook september 2018
Caneel Bay overlook
hawksnest september 2018
Hawksnest
trunk bay overlook september 2018
Trunk Bay overlook
cinnamon bay house september 2018
Cinnamon Bay
Maho Bay overlook
Maho Bay overlook
maho francis bays september 2018
Maho and Francis bays
leinster bay september 2018
Leinster Bay
coral bay overlook september 2018
Coral Bay overlook
coral bay sign september 2018
The new Coral Bay sign
coral bay harbor september 2018
Coral Bay harbor
salt pond september 2018
Salt Pond
ram head september 2018
Ram Head
Cruz Bay overlook sunset
Cruz Bay overlook sunset
Great Cruz Bay sunset
Great Cruz Bay sunset

One Year Later.

salomon rock structure
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I should post today. It’s 11:05 p.m. on September 5th, and I am still at a loss.

I’ve spent the last hour or so rereading posts from last year. Posts I made leading up to Hurricane Irma and posts I made in the days after. I’ve also read hundreds of comments left by all of you.

What I’m seeing and reading is pretty amazing. The love and support you showed us in those days leading up to Irma, during the hurricane itself and the days, weeks, and months after is palpable.

I really don’t know what to say today. So if I start to rant, please forgive me.

On September 8, 2017 I asked you all for help on my Facebook page. At that time, many of us on St. John felt forgotten. I asked you all to reach out to any media contacts you had, to call your congresspeople, to contact anyone you thought could help our situation. And you did. You did more than I ever could have imagined.

That single post was shared 23,000 times. Twenty-three thousand times. It was seen by 2,437,133 people just on Facebook alone. That’s pretty incredible. And you know what? It worked. It alerted people to our plight, and it helped get additional help to the islands. And that’s a credit to all of you. Thank you.

The day before Irma, I posted that our world was about to change and despite the inevitable destruction that was on the horizon, we would show you the best of humanity. And this island did. It was, and continues to be, awe-inspiring to witness.

In my final post before we ultimately lost power and internet on September 6, 2017, I asked you all to come back. And you did that too. Overwhelmingly. Thank you.

You know, those first few months before you all starting trickling back onto the island were strange. Sure it was strange because we were adjusting to our new post-hurricane world, but it was also weird to not have you all here. I’m not sure if you all realize this, but many of us here on island feed off of the energy of the constant influx of visitors. I know I certainly do. And I missed that. So thank you for coming back. I wish I could happy hour with each and every one of you! Cheers to that!

So what’s the state of the island today? Well it’s pretty darn good. All of our beaches and trails are open, and have been since late last year. We have countless villas and condos available to rent, and many of those damaged during the storms are currently undergoing repairs. The Westin is working hard on its rebuild and is on schedule to reopen in January 2019. The future of Caneel Bay, however, remains in limbo, so there is no telling when it will reopen. And while many of our restaurants and bars are currently closed for low season, dozens will be open for you to enjoy this winter. And yes, Joe’s Rum Hut and The Beach Bar will reopen this year … I promise you that! Lastly, the airlines are expanding their flight schedules making it easier for you to visit us. Things are happening here.

It’s now 12:27 a.m. and I should totally be snoozing. Dalton is sleeping peacefully beside me. Can we chat about him for a moment?

I’ve always said that I thought St. John was a great place to raise a child. I just never knew that I would be fortunate enough to have that experience. And little Dalton’s story is a good one. Well it is in my opinion. 🙂

My boyfriend and I evacuated six days after Irma. His restaurant was destroyed, and I had no way of communicating with all of you. We figured it’d be best to evacuate so not to take up the island’s limited resources.

We returned to St. John on one of Kenny Chesney’s relief planes on October 3, 2017. A little over a month later, we learned we would be first-time parents.

Being pregnant in a disaster zone certainly wasn’t the easiest, but it also gave me purpose. And that’s something I really needed back then. There were so many days when I would have preferred to daydrink at the Landing all day, or sip wine until the wee hours of the morning. There were days where I, and many others, simply struggled to get out of bed. But I couldn’t succumb to any of that because I had this precious little life to take care of. I can honesty say that Dalton, coupled with the love and support from all of you, is what got me though the last year. Again, thank you.

They say that not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path. Hurricane Irma led me to Dalton. So that’s my silver lining to this storm.

It’s now 12:43 a.m. and I’m getting weary. So I think I am going to end this post here. Again, I cannot adequately say how much your love has touched my life. I have read the comments. I have read the emails. I apologize if I have not yet responded to them all, but I assure you I have read them. If you are reading this site, it means you love St. John, and I love you for that.

So in true St. John fashion, let’s raise a glass and toast us all today. It’s been one hell of a year, but we all made it through it together. Much love to you all.

-Jenn

Another Webcam Is Up & Running!

sunset ridge webcam

Wow, what a week to get your St. John fix! We have yet another webcam that is up and running!

Sunset Ridge is located in Cruz Bay and is comprised of six, two-building units. They have great views of Cruz Bay, Turner Bay, Pillsbury Sound and beyond. And just like their name says, they have amazing sunset views too!

Click here to check out their webcam.

Click here to check out the new News of St. John webcam. 

And click here to see all of our webcams.

Our Webcam is Back Up & Running!

news of st john tours webcam

Hello everyone and happy Labor Day! We’re back!

I just wanted to quickly let you all know that our webcam is back up and running. So if you’re bored today or just need a little St. John in your life, please check it out at www.newsofstjohn.com/webcam

Our view overlooks the Westin and Great Cruz Bay. So for all of you Westin lovers out there, you can actually see the rebuilding process in real time. And for those of you looking for a great sunset, keep an eye on our webcam between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and you will see some great sky color shows. The sun is slowly shifting to the left of our view, so soon you may even catch the green flash in the next few months!

We initially launched our webcam last night, but then it went down due to some internet issues. Those seem to be fixed, so we are good to go!

Want to see all of webcams? Check them out at www.newsofstjohn.com/2018webcams

Have a great holiday everyone! Be safe and have fun!