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Summer Vacation With the Kids on St. John

Summer Vacation With the Kids on St. John

Happy Fri-YAY!  With Memorial Day behind us it is finally SUMMER VACATION TIME!  I get a ton of messages about activities for the kids while the family is vacationing on St. John.  I thought, in the spirit of family vacation season, now would be a great time to put that information out for you.

The Carolina Corral is located in Coral Bay, just past Skinny Legs.  Dana Bartlett runs the Corral that is home to donkeys, horses, goats and other furry friends.

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You can arrange for a horseback ride (starting back on July 5th), helping with the morning feedings, a public OR private tour that gets your kids up close and personal with the beautiful beasts that Dana cares for at the Corral or the Daily Donkey that gives you some time alone with St. John’s most notable fauna.

For the horseback rides, you will need to book ahead of time and be prepared for your ride with closed toed shoes and long pants.  Guided rides along the shoreline (not the beach) of Coral Bay will resume on Monday, July 5, and will be offered Monday thru Friday at 3:30 PM or 5PM.  The cost is $85 per adult and $75 per child between the ages of 8 and 12.

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The Corral is located just past Skinny Legs to the right

Public tours of the Corral cost $20 per participant and take place Monday-Friday at 11AM.  Private tours are also available Monday through Friday at 10AM for up to five people at a cost of $100 for the group.

The Daily Donkey is great fun for the whole family and takes place Monday-Friday at 1pm.  It consists of three fun events with the donkeys leading them in a sack race, obstacle course and pole bending!

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Baby Donkey! Photo from the Carolina Corral Facebook Page

If your kids are animal lovers, the Carolina Corral is a must stop!  For ALL of these activities, you need to book online ahead of time as space is limited.

Are the kids missing their pup while on vacation?  Then get in touch with the Animal Care Center (ACC) on St. John to volunteer to take the rescue pups for a walk while you’re visiting.

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The Animal Care Center is one of our most important organizations here on St. John (in my opinion). 🙂

The ACC has a staff of just a few employees, and we rely on the assistance of volunteers to help care for our cats and dogs. Whether you live on the island or are just here for vacation, we welcome any time you can devote to volunteering.

The no-kill, non-profit shelter is located right in Cruz Bay and is always looking for help with their twice daily dog walks (Monday: 4pm & Tuesday – Friday: 8:30 am and 3:00 pm).  If you and/or the kids aren’t comfortable with the responsibility of walking a potentially large dog, there are plenty of other ways to volunteer some time and help out with the animals.

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For the Felines:

  • Socializing and playing with cats & kittens
  • Cleaning and storing laundry & dishes
  • Cleaning and drying cat cages and play areas
  • Washing, drying, and refilling litter boxes
  • Brushing and grooming cats
  • Assisting staff with feedings

For the Canines:

  • Walking, socializing, and playing with dogs & puppies
  • Cleaning and storing laundry & dishes
  • Brushing and bathing dogs
  • Assisting staff with feedings

Contact the ACC ahead of your visit to find out what their specific needs may be during your stay at (340) 774-1625.

Once you’re done with all of our furry friends on land, it’s time to head to the beach in order to get up close and personal with some sea turtles!  Maho is an incredibly calm bay that is absolutely teeming with turtles.  If your kids are comfortable in the water, this is a great place to get them started with snorkeling.

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VINP Sign at Maho Bay – Photo by Friends VINP

If they aren’t there yet, head over to Maho Crossroads and rent a crystal kayak for the day.

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Crystal Kayaks are available to rent at the Love Maho Beach Boutique

These lightweight and easily maneuverable vessels are a great way to get up close with the turtles without getting your kid out of their comfort zone.  When you’re finished playing in the water, drop your kayak back at the property and grab a burger at the food truck.  There are a ton of beach games like corn hole and connect four to keep the kids busy after lunch while you relax in the shade with a cocktail from the Tiki Bar.

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Salt Deck is another GREAT way to get out on the water with kids in tow.  Salt Deck is a re-fitted pontoon boat with plenty of space for kids of all ages to safely play while the adults relax.  There is a water slide on board and they offer Irie Pops handmade popsicles, drinks for the kids and the grown ups, bubbles and reef safe sunscreen.  Salt Deck was redesigned by the owners who have two toddlers and were at a loss for a boat that was safe and fit all of their needs.  A day on board Salt Deck is truly a day of fun for the whole family.

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Getting hungry yet?  Well, maybe it’s time for a frozen treat!  Swing by St. John Scoops at Mongoose Junction for a variety of handmade ice creams or Irie Pops just down the street for fresh and flavorful popsicles.

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Irie Pops on Board Salt Deck or in town just across from the National Parks Dock.

If you’re in Coral Bay or headed back from the beach, swing by Colombo’s for a fresh fruit smoothie and some lunch.  There is plenty of outdoor space for the kids to play while you wait.  And, the smoothies are so good, you might just trick the kids into devouring a healthy treat!

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If you are interested in getting your kids a bit of cultural or natural education on your summer vacation, there are some options to explore.   Friends of Virgin Islands National Park has a Friday with Friends program that varies from guided kayak and snorkel tours, nature talks and sea turtle education.  Many of their programs end in the early summer months, but check out their website or give them a call for some guidance on upcoming events and activities.

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Get a jump start on giving the kids a little glimpse into the history of St. John by going to the Virgin Islands National Park website to explore some of the historically significant places you can visit within the park.  Explore the website and talk with them about the history of slavery and plantations in the Virgin Islands.  Then, when you get here, visit the Annaberg Plantation and take your virtual learning sessions into reality.

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The history and cultural significance of these iconic structures is often lost on visitors but the CyArk resources on Annaberg provide some information and insight into daily life on a plantation and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.  If your kids are into history, this is a great way to both educate them AND get them excited for your upcoming family getaway!

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The sugar mill at Annaberg

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