Soggy Dollar Webcam is Back!

Hey everyone, happy Saturday!

We’re so happy you that after months of being down, the Soggy Dollar Bar’s webcam is back up and running, and we just added it to our webcam page so you can check it out everyday.

Click the image below to see it … PS: It gets better as the day goes on 😉

soggy dollar webcam

Click here to see all of our webcams. Enjoy!

Authentic Caribbean Cuisine in the Heart of Cruz Bay

Norma Coal Pot
Norma Herman, owner of De’ Coal Pot

People often email us here at News of St. John asking for recommendations on good, authentic local fare. Well there’s a new restaurant in town that fits the bill and we have to say, it’s pretty delish.

De’ Coal Pot has garnered quite a name for itself since it opened less than four weeks ago. Located in the heart of Cruz Bay – next to The Lime Inn and across from Sogo’s Restaurant and the Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel – De’ Coat Pot serves up authentic Caribbean cuisine that includes shrimp creole, garlic herb conch, herb crusted steak and more. It has a large, beautifully decorated dining room and a bar that seats six.

Coal Pot Inside

De’ Coal Pot is owned by Norma and Glycerius Herman – Norma grew up in St. Thomas while Glycerius is from St. Lucia. Together they are bringing the delicious flavors of the Caribbean to Cruz Bay. Here are a few dishes they serve:

Click to enlarge

You may have even had the opportunity to taste one of the Herman’s dishes in the past. The couple owned the Windy Level up on Centerline from 2009-2011. The location wasn’t ideal, according to Norma, so they decided to relocate into town.

“I wanted a spot in town because of the traffic,” Norma said. “It took four-and-a-half months to build. We did it one day at a time.”

So what exactly is the meaning behind the coal pot?

“The coal pot is what we grew up cooking on,” Norma said. “Conch, oxtail – it took a lot gas to cook them and get them soft, and gas was too expensive, so we had to use the coal pot.”

The coal pot is simply decorative at De’ Coal Pot but serves as a reminder of the past.

De’ Coal Pot is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. It currently accepts cash only; however they will begin accepting credit cards in the upcoming weeks.

You can contact De’ Coal Pot at (340) 714-2625. You can also find them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DeCoalPot

De Coal Pot Exterior

And the Best Hidden Beach Bar is…

Joes Rum Hut

So it’s looking like it’s going to be a drinking establishment kind of week here on News of St. John.

We all know how St. John has a bunch of fun little watering holes scattered across the island, but did you know that one was just named one of America’s best hidden best beach bars? Drum roll please…

Congrats Joe’s Rum Hut!

Men’s Journal just put out a list of the top 25 best hidden beach bars in America (we’re thinking they mean North America when they say America) and Joe’s Rum Hut was the only USVI bar to make the cut. How cool is that?! Here’s what Men’s Journal had to say about it:

“There are plenty more famous beach bars in the USVIs and BVIs, but for a chill time with a good some locals it’s hard to trump this Fruit Loops-hued tiki bar on Cruz Bay Beach about a minute’s walk from St. John’s ferry dock. Rock, country, and reggae music spill into the street, and patrons often space out their drinks with a swim. ‘I always recommend to go for the daily you-call-it happy hour,” says Mike Messeroff, who lived on St. John for a year, “Anything you can dream up – beer, liquor drinks, frozen cocktails – is three bucks, including top shelf. Incredible.'”

Here are a few quick facts from the article:

Feet from the water: 15 feet

The regulars: Off-duty dive instructors and just-arrived home renters

What to order: a simple Mojito made very quickly

Not only is Joe’s a fun little watering hole with killer views of Cruz Bay beach, but the food there is also pretty darn good. I really like their turkey wrap with guacamole … mmm.

Soggy Dollar over in Jost Van Dyke also made the cut. No surprise there. Soggy Dollar is always a blast, but perhaps not so hidden.

If you want to see who else made the cut, click this link.

Joes Rum Hut Sign

How to bring home a great shot from St. John

PHOTO St. John has lots of opportunities for snapshots.  But if you want more than a snap, you're going to have to do a little work.  Thankfully, an earlier issue of the St. John Sun Times has done some of that work for you, assisted by Bob Schlesinger of Tropical Focus.

In the article you'll learn when to shoot. Generally, the best time to take great photos is just before around sunset, between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  That's when the light has a soft and buttery feel.

Read moreHow to bring home a great shot from St. John

Virgin Islands business opportunities

There are some interesting businesses for sale on the island right now, but what if you're an entrepreneur and want to start your own? Forumites at the Virgin-Islands-On-Line.com site have been mulling this question.

Lsugolfer in Baton Rouge said "So, here's what I do when I sit in my cube and think about how crappy this is compared to STJ. Start a gas station or a 'Louisiana'-themed restaurant."

JMhouse said, "Ha ha. I'm in a cubicle, too, listening to someone else have a loud conversation on a speaker phone.  I'd much rather be the Park Ranger that leads the Reef Bay hikes."

Other suggestions people have for new island businesses.

  1. "A storage business where you could leave your snorkel gear/beach chairs, shoes and whatever you don't want to cart back and forth." (Diana2)
  2. "A wind turbine, maybe somewhere on Ajax peak." (Laurie)
  3. "An electric car rental company.  And a self-serve car wash and vacuum area." (Msgcolleen)
  4. "Chicken Removal Service." (StJohnRuth) Details 
  5. "Underwater camera rental. Would have to be a side business. (Not big enough to sustain itself.)" (Jmaq)

Why people bring food to St. John

Twenty years ago, our packing for St. John always included a cooler of food and salty snacks.  

Not because we wanted to save money but, back then, there weren't fully-stocked food stores.  You couldn't be sure you'd be able to buy bread and milk never mind good cuts of beef.  That's changed now, but many people still bring coolers.

In a thread on Trip Advisor, most people said they bring food for convenience, not to avoid restaurants.  

"We dine out, but we visit STJ for relaxing," said Toes_in_the_Sand.  "We find it more relaxing at the end of a day at the beach to sit at the villa, enjoy a couple of drinks while we fix dinner.  No hurry, no parking, no worries."

Poolmom_9 added, "We saved a lot of money (bringing food).  We still ate out plenty.  It was nice to grill (at home)." Cleobeach1 said, "We generally eat out every lunch and dinner, but we have taken a cooler more often than not. We are particular about our meals, especially meats and specialty snacks like cheeses."

What about you?

Historical Society’s book on sale

Book_cover_MEDYears in the making, years in the telling. That's the story behind the St. John Historical Society's new book, St John – Life in Five Quarters. (The Five Quarters refers to the original five administrative districts of the island: Cruz Bay, Maho Bay, Reef bay, Coral Bay, and East End).

The island history is available in the Society's online store for $29.95. The book is described as more than 200 pages of "local stories, pictures, and history … accounts of prominent people and notable places, firsthand descriptions of earlier ways of life on St John, fact-based histories of estate ‘ruins’ we have rambled, and an impressive collection of interesting and beautiful images and photos."

The Society does more than sell books.

Read moreHistorical Society’s book on sale

Beach Bar changing its tunes

Jazz Looks like jazz music at the Beach Bar has hit some sour notes.

The Facebook page for the uber-popular watering hole announced this week that it will host a "Sunday afternoon Beach Party with Live music beginning at 4:20 pm OCT 31st……………… THE ROSENCRANZ."

A Google search identifies The Rosencranz as an indie rock ban from Italy, currently on tour in the US, playing in New Orleans this week.

If the Beach Bar has 86ed jazz, it spells the end to a years-long tradition on the island.  Steve Simon, an award-winning clarinetist and composer, began the tradition when he gathered some of his friends to play live music as the weekend wrapped up. Hundreds of locals and visitors stopped by the bar to enjoy the fun.  Musicians on holiday from St. John as well as St. Thomas would drop in and jam with the group.

By going with indie rock or other music, it would appear the Beach Bar is trying to "young up" its demographics on Sunday afternoons and, of course, boost the bar business.  Another reason the jazz may be ending could be that Simon, who founded and produces the St. John Blues festival, is developing business interests off island which take him to the mainland more often.

  • More about the Blues Fest here:


La Plancha moving to Mongoose Junction

Jason The island's top-rated restaurant (according to TripAdvisor) is moving.

The owners of la Plancha del Mar closed a deal at the end of August to move their business to the space formerly occupied by Paradiso St. John.  The two couldn't be more different, but La Plancha's owners – Jason Howard (pictured above), Mike Prout and Jonathan Fritz – say the food and the quality and the fun will be the same.

At the Marketplace, La Plancha was in a windowless corner on the second floor with room for about six tables.  At Mongoose, there will be more than that spavce in the outdoor seating area alone, never mind the huge interior with a long bar and tables, all surrounded by wood and island stonework and windows, offering seating for as many as 75 people.

This is a big move for the trio who opened for business just about 18 months ago.

La Plancha's Facebook page announced "We are now accepting applications for all positions."  This prompted Steve Dean to ask, "Have you filled … regular and general bar fly?" Pat Gilbertson, wondering about her golden years, speculated, "Maybe that's what Gary and I should do in retirement ;-)."

While the guys get to work fixing up the Paradiso space the way they'll like it, La Plancha is open only for dinner, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday.  No word on when the new location will open for business.

What TripAdvisor has to say about La Plancha del Mar.

Westin If you have a reservation to stay at the Westin Resort this week, as Warner Wolf would say, 'You Lose.'

The resort's grounds were seriously damaged last week when Tropical Storm Otto gobsmacked the islands, St. John included.  The torrents began Tuesday, continued through Thursday and rain lingered through the weekend.

The resort has been calling people and telling them to stay home.  If you try to book a room on the Westin Web site odds are you'll be told there's no space at the inn.

A reader posted on the NoSeeUm blog, "My husband and I were scheduled to come to STJ on Sat. Oct. 9th. We were phoned last night and were told our reservations had to be cancelled due to flooding, lack of drinking water."

Rafe Boulon, the V.I. National Park’s chief of resources management, recorded a whopping 16.37 inches of rain at St. John’s Trunk Bay, according to Gretchen Labrenz at Cruz Bay Realty.

Photos of the damage at the Westin were posted by Gerald Singer on his blog, St. John Life.  The shot above of the Westin is from his site.  The resort's tennis courts, beachside restaurants, swimming pool were all affected.  Mounds of mud need to be removed.  Only one of the three restaurants is operating.

"At the Westin some rooms were flooded, as was the pool and the beach area" Singer said. "Large breaking waves caused a sailboat anchored in Great Cruz Bay to was up on the Westin beach adding it to the other unfortunate craft brought ashore by Hurricane Earl."

Elsewhere on the island, mudslides and flooding occurred.  Reports said Centerline Road, around Coral Bay, was down to one lane because of falling debris. CNN reported about a dozen boats were pushed ashore at Chocolate Hole.

Over the weekend as sun began to return, artist Sloop Jones put a good news/bad news spin on the situation. "Sunshine and mosquitoes today," he said.