A Unique Lens: Crystal Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Maho Beach

A Unique Lens: Crystal Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Maho Beach 1

Good morning! Peak season is upon us, and I know most visitors will be looking for some unique, outdoorsy activities to do on St. John. I went crystal kayaking at Maho a few days ago and highly recommend it!

A Unique Lens: Crystal Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Maho Beach 2

Having lived on St. John for two years, you would think I’ve done everything this beautiful, small island has to offer a million times over, and yet I am still pleasantly surprised by the amount of fun activities that I find on my days off. Recently, I spent the day at Maho, one of my favorite beaches, and tried the crystal kayaking and paddleboarding offered at Maho Crossroads.

Read moreA Unique Lens: Crystal Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Maho Beach

On the Market: Concordia


Now here’s a pretty interesting business opportunity for the right person. Check out this story by the St. John Tradewinds:

Eco-tourism Guru Selengut Seeks Buyer For Concordia With Eco-developer Vision

World renowned eco-developer Stanley Selengut is in retirement mode and has asked a long-time/part-time St. John resident to assist him in his search for the right person to carry on his pet project on St. John, the eco-resort Concordia in Estate Concordia on the southeast tip of the island.

The resort is in a pristine area with sixteen contiguous lots overlooking historic Ram’s Head, Salt Pond Bay, Drunk Bay and Nanny Point which Selengut previously deeded to the V.I. National Park.

“Stanley asked me about six months ago if I would help market the property,” said New Jersey Attorney Jack Zakim. “I am marketing it casually.”

“I put together a power point presentation of the property with photos, a few short videos and Stanley’s bio that will enable you to learn about the property and the man in a matter of minutes,” said Attorney Zakim.

Selengut Wants Eco-tourism To Continue
Selengut told St. John Tradewinds earlier this year that he would prefer to work with a buyer who wanted to continue his eco-tourism approach to Concordia and Zakim hopes to accomplish that as well.

Zakim, who said he met Selengut for the first time in an airport about ten years ago, has a long association with St. John, having first built a house on Ajax Peak in the early 1980s and subsequently becoming involved in the owners association of the Gallows Point Resort.

“Concordia is located on the pristine southeast corner of St. John overlooking Salt Pond Bay, Ram Head and the Caribbean with fabulous vistas,” according to Zakim’s promotional literature.

“The eco-resort caters to tourists who enjoy quiet relaxing vacations with close proximity to beautiful beaches, hiking trails and the splendor of the National Park which surrounds this magnificent property which has a mix of 17 cottages constructed with recycled material and 25 eco-tents,” it continues.

“The eco-resort is operated by a dedicated management team who love the property and enjoy their work as evidenced by a virtual 100 percent occupancy rate during the season and a healthy bottom line,” the promotional literature adds.

“This is a rare opportunity to acquire a special property with a profitable, green, sustainable, business in the U.S.A. that can be absentee operated by a great management team with room to grow the business and continue the mission of my good friend who has been an inspiration to many,” said Zakim.

Extensive Property Holdings for Sale
In addition to the resort which sits on an assemblage of approximately twenty acres zoned W-1 (waterfront pleasure use), Selengut owns fifteen vacant parcels, most with spectacular views that will be offered as an assemblage with the eco-resort to the right party, according to Zakim.

A description of the lots is available in the link http://www.digitaldudes.com/concordia-index.html under “Downloads”/”Land Parcels”.

Since two-thirds of St. John is owned by the U.S. National Park Service which surrounds the eco-resort, there is virtually no commercial development in the area where the few isolated parcels of private property that occasionally come to market are sold at a premium, according to Zakim.

Selengut also owns a nearby guest house in Estate Mandahl leased to resort employees for affordable housing and a contiguous five acre parcel within walking distance of the eco-resort, Zakim added.

For information and photos of the island and eco-resort, please click on http://www.digitaldudes.com/concordia-index.html and if you have questions call (201) 488-7211 or email [email protected].

On the Road: Maho Bay to Mongoose Junction

Today we’re taking a little cruise on St. John from the Maho Bay beach parking lot up North Shore Road and over to Mongoose Junction. Oh and we brought our friend Kenny Chesney along the way.

We promise this one will make you smile. Turn up your sound. 🙂

Friends of National Park Receives $15k Grant to Restore Beaches

Maho Bay Plantings
Restoration plantings at Maho Bay

The Friends of the National Park just received a $15,000 grant thanks to the island’s largest eco-friendly villa and spa.

Eco Serendib Villa and Spa awarded the grant for the continuation of the Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project. This highly impactful conservation effort protects St. John’s coastline from the damaging impact of erosion while reducing the carbon footprint. It does so by re-introducing indigenous trees and shrubs, such as sea grape, at beaches throughout the island. The project is funded solely by Eco Serendib.

For those of you who are not familiar with Eco Serendib, it’s actually a pretty neat villa and spa that gives guests the opportunity to become involved with the green project. They have the opportunity to get involved through tours, demonstrations and even hands-on planting, cultivating and irrigation. Funds are raised through dollars specifically set aside from reservations for this purpose. The program was created as a way to give back and expand conservation efforts throughout the island.

“Our beaches are a national treasure and critical to the sustainable economy of the USVI,” Harith Wickrema, Eco Serendib’s chief visionary officer, said in a release. “It is our hope that others in the hospitality community will be inspired to set aside funds too – even just a dollar for each reservation night would make a meaningful contribution toward conservation efforts.”

Maho Bay Beach was the first beach to receive funding from this project back in 2012. This year, Hawksnest, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Francis Bay will all benefit from the funds.

Restoration plantings include sea grape, nothing nut, orange manjack, black torch and barbasco – plants that are native to the Virgin Islands and better able to control erosion, while discouraging invasive exotics. The project will also create shaded areas and new walkways to make certain that foot traffic doesn’t damage dunes. Plantings of seedlings have begun and the project will continue throughout the year.

For more information on the Beach Restoration Project, please click here.

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

Plan for new gas station, quick-stop store

Plans are afoot to build a gas station on Centerline Road.  

Developer Guilderoy Sprauve is asking for a zoning change to allow him to build the station and a convenience store on land which used to be the home of a concrete plant and is now home to Love City Home and Garden Center. 

Sprauve was quoted by the St. John Source saying everything is in place to move ahead with the project. "We have the funding," he said.

There will be an attendant on duty at the station, even  though it will be self service.  You'll also be on your own at the C-store.  Sprauve apparently intends to install vending machines.  He said the store will be "robotic."

Of course a new gas station would be helpful on the island.  E&C Service in Cruz Bay is the only place to gas up now; the Dominio station in Coral Bay is still closed with no word when, or if it will reopen.

  • Read the Source story here

Blue Tang: #2 and proud of it!

Longtime readers know that News of St. John began as a not-so-subtle effort to encourage rentals of our home on the island.  There's a lot of competition for rentals and I thought the site would help.  It has. It is the oldest and largest Web site with news about St. John.

Ext_day_pool So it was with surprise and gratitude that, while mousing around TripAdvisor.com the other day, I found that Blue Tang was ranked as the #2 most popular rental on the island, with a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars ranking, too.  Shocked … thankful … happy.

Blue Tang ranked so well because of the reviews people who have stayed at the house were kind enough to post.  A few of their comments:

  • "A peaceful, relaxing, romantic honeymoon at Blue Tang."
  • "Blue Tang rocks."
  • "Best vacation we've ever taken."
  • "Awesome views and location."

I have to admit that each time we visit Blue Tang and read through the Guest Books, we are often moved to tears at the kind things people say about the house as they recount the wonderful time they had on the island and at our place.

If you're headed for St. John, I hope you'll consider our home, too.

Frank Barnako, aka The Inquiring Iguana