Saturday Happenings

Chester Miago
Chester Miago

Hi everyone, happy Saturday! There are a couple of things happening today that we wanted to share with all of you. Check it out:

Chester’s Getaway

By now you’ve all probably realized how much I adore this great new spot on Centerline Road. Well tonight they’re having something that sounds like it’s going to be lots of fun – a country and western dance party. Can’t wait!

So I am not a huge country western fan, but I know this will be good. They’re having a dj and we’ll all be dancing our flip flops off. It starts at 9 p.m. and I hope to see you all there.

Just a reminder, Chester’s is located around mile marker 2 on Centerline Road. It’s on your right if you’re heading east and it’s right next to Canines, Cats & Critters.

The New Gas Station

So yes, we admit that we made a bit of fun of the gas station and its inability to get its gas truck up the hill about a week or so back. Well we received an email from the owner. Nedal Salem, yesterday and he asked us to pass along some info to all of you. He was very kind, so I am happy to oblige.

They’re having a grand opening party today from noon to 2 p.m. It will feature bands and light bites. They are also raffling off a 32″ tv.

So I asked Nedal if he’d like me to relay a message to all of you and this is what he had to say:

“We and of most our family are born and raised in St. Thomas and this is our home. This infusion of our gas station will benefit the entire St John community and tourists in that it will offer better prices, open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday, and also means more fuel on the island thereby motorists will not be stranded without fuel if the other station had no gas.”

Grande Bay: In the Center of It All

Grande Bay Middle of it all


One of the most frequent questions we receive here at News of St. John is “where should I stay?” Our response is pretty standard: If you want to be where most of the action is, Cruz Bay is your best bet. If you want to be where it’s a bit quieter but you still want quick access to a few good restaurants and shops, Coral Bay may be the way to go. And if you want to be completely away from it all, East End is for you.

And for those who truly want to be in the center of it all, I typically suggest Grande Bay.

(Full disclosure: Yes, I am aware that there is a small group of people who will never like Grande Bay for one reason or another. As someone who has spent some time on the property, I have to admit that I found it to be quite nice. It’s convenient and has great views, on-site parking and super quick wifi. Grande Bay is also a big community supporter. That to me is huge. )

Grande Bay is truly at the center of it all. You really can’t get any closer to the action than when you’re staying at Grande Bay. For starters, it’s only 300 steps from the ferry dock when walking along the beach. Want to grab one of Motu’s delicious Bushwackers before heading to Frank Bay for the sunset? Well it’s a mere 10 steps to Motu and then only 311 steps down the road to Frank Bay. How’s that for convenient?

Looking to watch some live music? Then mosey on over to The Beach Bar, which happens to be only 38 steps away from Grande Bay.

How about some drinks and grub? If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere, you can walk a few blocks – 495 steps – to Woody’s. Looking for something a bit fancier? Walk another 20 steps up to La Tapa – which is only 515 steps from Grande Bay.

Waterfront Bistro is a great spot for a nice meal with a nice view. Again take the beach (such a nicer route) and after 311 steps you’ll be there.

You’ll probably want to do a little shopping after all of this eating and drinking. Mongoose Junction, home to an abundance of great restaurants, shops and bars is only 684 steps away.

Lastly, you’re probably going to want to explore the island a bit. After all, you’re in one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Take the beach over to the taxi stand, which is 310 steps away.

How about a nice boat ride, say over to the British Virgin Islands for the day? Simply walk across the street and hop aboard Residensea – Grande Bay’s exclusive 35 ft. Scout.

Grande Bay's 35 ft. Scout - ResidenSea
Grande Bay’s 35 ft. Scout – ResidenSea

Want to learn more about Grande Bay? Click here to visit their website.

Again, This is Why We Love the Island

If you love St. John, you’re going to love this video.

Delaney is a 17-year-old high school junior from the Chicago area. She made this video following her trip to the island in February. Delaney was on island to run 8 Tuff Miles for the second time along with her brother, mother and aunt … kudos to them for that!

Here’s what she created. It’s super fun. Make sure to turn your sound on…

Here is Delaney loving life at the Trunk Bay overlook…

Delaney is a 17-year-old from the Chicago area, She made the fantastic movie above.

7 Reasons You Should Make Time for the Sunset

Cruz Bay overlook
Cruz Bay overlook

I don’t know about all of you, but I think I could sit up at the Cruz Bay overlook with a bottle of Carib and watch the sun set nearly every night of my life. There is just something so beautiful, so still and so awe-inspiring about watching the sun slowly fall to the ground.

I recently came across this article from Huffington Post. It made me realize that we should all take the time to watch the sun set wherever we are – whether it be up at the Cruz Bay overlook, somewhere in the states or anywhere else in the world. Here’s what the Huffington Post had to say:

7 Reasons You Should Make Time for the Sunset

We all know just how romantic, inspiring and utterly Instagram-able they can be, but most of us only make time for sunsets when we’re on vacation, as if that calming, beautiful moment can only occur when we’re in an exotic place, free from everyday obligations.

But — newsflash — the sun sets every single day, no matter where you are. And with the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, the sunset is becoming more and more accessible, and an easy, free way to infuse some wonder and awe into your regular routine.

Here’s why you should consider making time to watch the sun set:

1. It can slow down time.

Image courtesy of Copeland Boat Charters
Image courtesy of Copeland Boat Charters

Seriously. By witnessing the beauty and awe of the sunset, you can slow down your perception of time. According to 2012 research, participants who felt awe — defined as ‘the emotion that arises when one encounters something so strikingly vast that it provokes a need to update one’s mental schemas’ — felt like they had more time available and were less impatient. ‘Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment,’ researchers wrote in the paper, ‘which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.’

Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Amazingly, by taking the time to gaze out into the vast, color-soaked sky, we’re actually empowering ourselves to regain control of the clock.

2. & 3. It doesn’t take long and it forces you outside.

Image courtesy of Great Expectations villa
Image courtesy of Great Expectations villa

Even if you have to go back to the office after you watch that last sliver disappear below the skyline, taking a few minutes out of your day to experience some of the golden hour will be worth it. Just a 20-minute dose of fresh air promotes a sense of vitality, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

‘Nature is fuel for the soul,’ Richard Ryan, Ph.D., lead author of the studies, said in a statement. ‘Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.’

4. It allows you to multitask in a healthy way.

Image taken during Barefoot Cruz at Sundown sunset snorkel sail
Image taken during Barefoot Cruz at Sundown sunset snorkel sail

You can take in the sunset in a variety of ways: while running, walking, biking or simply observing. The mental benefits of the former three are well known — exercise, after all, has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress — but simply sitting and observing the sunset also gives you a health boost: the opportunity to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study, is “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment” and has been proven to have significant psychological and physical benefits, including stress reduction and improved cognitive functioning. What better way to practice being aware of the present moment than by watching the literal passing of time as the sun sinks below the horizon?

5. It will force you to put your phone down.

Image courtesy of Mare Blu villa
Image courtesy of Mare Blu villa

When we relegate the experience of sunsets to vacations and special occasions, we feel the urge to document, capture and save them — as if hoarding photos of their majesty will help us remember that wondrous feeling. But if you experience the sunset more regularly, you’ll no longer feel compelled to see it through a screen. (Besides, your Instagram followers would never stand for the repetition!)

In her new book, ‘Thrive,’ president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group Arianna Huffington warns that an over-reliance on technology can cause us to miss the moment. ‘Even the good moments that celebrate us, we are hardly there to enjoy it,’ she recently told Barbara Walters. By watching the sunset and not your screens, you’ll give your brain the chance to recharge and recover.

6. It will help you appreciate life’s gifts.

People around the world are drawn to sunsets, but a few special places have really embraced the sunset as a daily opportunity to give thanks. In places like Santorini, Greece, and Maui, Hawaii, the sunset is regarded as a nightly celebration. Crowds gather to cheer and applaud it, reinforcing the idea that we should celebrate and be thankful for each day.

Being mindful of all the things you have to be thankful for can boost your well-being, research suggests. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude is associated with a sense of overall gladness, improved sleep and even increased patience.

7. It will inspire you.

Image taken at Coconuts villa
Image taken at Coconuts villa

Inspire us. You all know how much we love to receive reader’s photos. Feel free to send us your best sunset photos to [email protected]

More Drama with New Gas Station

Gas Station March 2014

So I have to admit, this never even crossed my mind…

As you all know, the new South Shore gas station is very close to being completed. Despite the fact that the land it is being built on is the subject of an ongoing court case (Click here to read New Gas Station Prompts Land Dispute), work is continuing and it appears that the gas station will be open for business in the very near future. Well things might not work as as planned…

Call me oblivious, but I never saw this coming.

How many of you have either driven or walked up Jacob’s Ladder? For those of you unfamiliar with this section of roadway, it’s located on Southside Road just before the new gas station. It’s an extremely steep and pretty intense section of roadway to say the least. Well as it turns out, Jacob’s Ladder is so steep that trucks have trouble getting up it. Case in point: Last week’s gas delivery to the new gas station. Check out this picture taken by St. John Tradewinds:

Image credit: St. John Tradewinds
Image credit: St. John Tradewinds

According to the Tradewinds, “St. John emergency officials expressed concern after they responded twice to incidents involving a fuel truck trying to make the first delivery to the new gas station on South Shore Road on Wednesday, March 26. After the truck blocked traffic for more than hour when it couldn’t climb Jacob’s Ladder — and was escorted back to Cruz Bay. The driver made a second attempt to make the delivery by trying to go through Contant to the top of the hill, where it became stuck again, and St. John Rescue responded once again as a backhoe was brought in to turn the truck around.”

We heard the truck never made it to the new gas station and had to sell it off to E&C. We’re not really sure what the current status is, but we do know that the truck dropped off the gas container in Cruz Bay Tuesday night before hopping on the barge to St. Thomas.

gas tanker

All we have to say is, karma?

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

Face of St. John: The Images

Happy Friday everyone! Last week, we told you about a great event that was happening at Motu – Faces of St. John. For those of you who were unable to attend this wildly successful event, we wanted to share some of the featured images with you. Enjoy!

(All images courtesy of Sundial Experience Planning and Imran Stephen Photography)

faces of st john 1

faces of st john 5

faces of st john 4

faces 2faces 3

faces 6

Want to see more? Click here to view all of the Faces of St. John images.

Parking Problems at Cruz Bay Lot

police car at no parking sign

We know, we know – parking is always an issue in Cruz Bay. It’s bad enough that a ton of parking spaces are no longer available at the US Custom’s parking lot, but the police are now ticketing over at the Enighed Pond parking lot. Not cool.

At some point in recent days or even perhaps in recent weeks, a new sign popped up over at the Enighed Pond lot. It looks part official and part craft project. It says “No Parking” with what appears to be a spray painted arrow pointing to the left. Here’s a close up:

no parking close up

No parking Enighed

We’re not really sure why this sign was posted other than to give the police prime parking at the lot. But what we do know is that the police have been actively enforcing it all week.

A News of St. John reader received this lovely little ticket on Tuesday:

ticket up close

And they were back out enforcing the sign again Thursday afternoon:

jeep parking ticketA word to the wise folks – beware of handpainted government signs. Your wallet will thank you.

New Store Showcases Locally Made Products

Made Here Cruz Bay Sign

The name says it all. Everything for sale at Made Here is actually made right on the island.

Chances are you’ve passed this relatively new shop while wandering the streets of Cruz Bay over the past couple of months. It’s located at the top of a small hill between the area of Morgan’s Mango and Mongoose Junction. Owner Abi Kirby joked that she’d like to ask the government to install an escalator from the road up to her shop to make it a bit more accessible to customers, but we think the small climb is definitely worth making.

Made Here is a wonderful little shop that sells unique works of art from more than 25 local artists. Each artist gets his or her own box within the store to showcase their goods. The store has a plethora of items for sale from handmade jewelry and sarongs to handcrafted instruments, artwork and more.

Made Here Products 1

Made Here Sarongs

Originally from London, Abi’s been living on St. John since 1988. Prior to opening Made Here, she created fine jewelry and wholesaled from her home. Abi now sells her jewelry and her unique Virgin Islands license plates (seen above) at Made Here alongside her 14-year-old daughter Lexi, who also helps out at the shop. She too makes her own jewelry, which is also sold at the store.

Lexi Kirby
Lexi Kirby

Made Here is open Monday through Saturday. Be sure to check it out the next time you’re in town.

New Boutique Opens in Cruz Bay

Image credit: Leslie McKibben
Brenda Baxter Simpson, owner of Brenda’s Closet – Image credit: Leslie McKibben

Looking for a more affordable place to shop for clothes while on island? Well look no further than Brenda’s Closet.

Brenda’s Closet is a quaint little boutique located on the second floor in the Lumberyard. It sells a variety of womens shoes, clothing and accessories. Brenda Baxter Simpson opened the boutique back in January.

“Basically I just looked around and saw that there was a void in ladies clothing for all of the locals who work here that don’t want to pay tourist prices. And they want to be able to shop when they want something,,” Brenda said. “So I wanted to give them something cute and at the right price. I wanted to give them the opportunity to go somewhere where they could try on things and buy things.”

A resident of Maryland, Brenda commutes back and forth to St. John about every two weeks; therefore she is able to shop for the latest trends in the States and bring them, back to the island.

(You may be wondering how Brenda is able to commute to St. John every two weeks. She is a retired flight attendant and one of her retirement perks is being able to fly for free, she said.)

Brenda’s Closet isn’t just for locals, Brenda stressed. It’s also available for tourists who may have forgotten to pack something for their Caribbean vacation.

All clothing and accessories are reasonably priced and range from $4 and up. Shorts, for example, are about $15 to $20 while tops range in price from $17 to $20. Brenda also offers a small selection of gently used items at discounted price.

Brenda’s Closet is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from noon until 6 p.m. It’s open extra hours when Brenda is on island, and can also be opened any any time by appointment.

“Text me and I’ll be more than happy to open up at any time,” Brenda said, “day or night.”

Brenda, who happens to be dating Wayne Campbell, owner of Barefoot Cowboy Lounge, also said that women visiting the bar can also ask to visit the shop when it’s closed, and she’d be happy to walk upstairs and open it up.

Eat, drink and shop – does it get any better than that?

Want to know more about Brenda’s Closet or get alerts about the latest styles? You can follow Brenda’s Closet on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrendasCloset. You can also text Brenda at (410) 310-7771.