Help Track the 2013 Hermit Crab Migration

Photos by Steve Simonsen
The 2013 hermit crab migration and a close up of the Caribbean hermit crab. Photos by Steve Simonsen.

It happens often, and it’s pretty cool. Thousands of hermit crabs migrate in the US Virgin Islands and on St. John. Researchers are looking for your help this year in their efforts to track the predicted 2013 migration.

Their request is pretty simple: If you happen to come across hermit crabs anywhere on the island, they would like to know about it. This could be in your backyard, at your villa, on a trail or even on a roadway or in a parking lot. Researchers are asking that you make note of the date, time, location, number seen, as well as the direction they are traveling (toward or away from the water). Once you jot down that information, please fill out their questionnaire which can be found here. You can help determine when and where the hermit crabs are migrating.

Last year’s hermit crab video taken by Steve Simonsen was so incredible, it went viral. To date, it’s received more than 476,000 views on Vimeo and YouTube.

Check out last year’s video here:

DPNR Issues Notice of Violation for Denis Bay Property

Photo Courtesy of John McQuillen
Photo courtesy of John McQuillen

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) issued a Notice of Violation to the Denis Bay property owner accused of altering the area’s landscape and VI National Park land.

DPNR found that property owner Tony Ingrao violated seven provisions of the VI Building Code including excavating and land clearing on National Park land; failure to secure an earth change permit; building without a permit; violating provisions of permits; and excavations affecting adjoining properties.

According to the Notice of Violation, the Division of Building Permits was notified on May 13 that a landslide occurred on a lower section of the roadway adjacent to plot 2B Denis Bay. Prior to the landslide report, the Division had met with the construction project manager to discuss concerns about possible environmental impacts and hazards created by the site. Mitigations efforts were discussed and it was indicated at the time that they would begin as quickly as possible.

Now that the Notice of Violation has been issued, Ingrao will be required to submit plans and a new building permit application for site stabilization, drainage and any associated structure needed to stabilize the affected area. Ingrao must submit any agreement or mitigation approved by the National Park with regard to the impacted areas. Ingrao is required to notify and receive approval for any work conducted on the recently reopened roadway leading to the property, and upon approval, Ingrao has 45 days to make repairs to that roadway.  DPNR also fined Ingrao $10,500 which must be paid within 30 days.

Jamal Nielsen, DPNR Media Relations Coordinator, stated Monday that Ingrao has already implemented corrective action measures, although he did not have specific details on what types of measures have been put into place thus far.

Ingrao is a world-renowned interior designer based in New York City. News of St. John reached out to him Monday, but was unsuccessful.

Below is a map of the property’s location:

Marked Denis Bay Map

Finding the Best Airfare, Part 2

As we mentioned last week, finding airfare to St. Thomas has proven to be quite the task in recent months. We have a few more tips that can help you in your quest to find the cheapest airfare.

1. Southwest releases its fares today through March 7, 2014. The catch with Southwest is that it only flies to San Juan, Puerto Rico. You would have to pick up a puddle jumper flight from there. But it may be worth the extra hassle – After performing a quick search for fares for next February, we were able to find roundtrip fares from New York for only $307 RT; from Los Angeles for only $388 and from Dallas for only $446.

2. For those of you traveling with a small group and don’t mind the extra hassle of San Juan, Cape Air has a pretty good deal out there. It’s called the Commuter Book. This, however, is only good for folks traveling with five or more in a group, or those in smaller groups who travel to St. John more frequently.

The way it works is simple: You purchase a Commuter Book of tickets on Cape Air. The booklet consists of 10 one-way tickets between San Juan and St. Thomas (or vice versa). The tickets must be used within one year of purchase. Cape Air states that fliers can save up to 30 percent by purchasing tickets this way. In our very unscientific study, we’ve found an average savings of around 13 percent. The regular price for February, for example, is $1,245 for five round trip tickets whereas the Commuter Book sells for only $1,099. That’s a savings of $146, not too shabby.

So yes, it has become increasingly more expensive to travel to St. John but there are ways to lower airfare costs for those willing to put up with small hassles and those committed to doing their diligent homework.

In case you missed last week’s post about other ways to get the lowest airfare, please click here to read the full article.

St. John Condo Named One of World’s Top-Rated Hotels

Grande Bay Exterior

A big congratulations goes out to Grande Bay, which was just named to Expedia.com’s Insiders’ Select 2013 list. The list ranks the world’s top hotels and is based predominantly on customer rankings.

According to Expedia’s website, hotels on the Insiders’ Select list are rated on a number of factors, including customer scores. Only 650 of 205,000 available properties are named to the list. Grande Bay is only one of four hotels to be honored throughout the Caribbean.

To see a bit more why Grande Bay was named to this list, please check out its website here. You can also read Grande Bay’s reviews on Expedia.com here.

Please click here to see a full list of the 2013 Insiders’ Select hotels.

Where is your favorite place to stay on St. John?

Residents Reveal Vision of Coral Bay’s Future

Coral Bay Likes
These are the top words used by residents to describe what they like most about Coral Bay.

Coral Bay residents would like to see a gas station return to their quiet community and the unsightly dumpsters relocated away from the mangroves. But most importantly, they want to make certain that environmental protections are put in place prior to any new development in the area.

The recently released Coral Bay Community Council visioning survey showed that the majority of respondents were on the same page in terms of what they envision for the future of Coral Bay. Two hundred and seventeen people answered the survey.

In a nutshell:

  • Residents would like to preserve the area’s stunning views and avoid having them blocked by future development
  • They would like to see a gas station return to the area
  • They would like the dumpsters moved away from the mangroves
  • Year-round residents would like to see more recreational facilities built, such as basketball courts
  • Some residents indicated that they would like to see greater job availability within the area
  • Respondents indicated that they enjoy being “different” and stated that they did not want the area to become “urban” like Cruz Bay or St. Thomas
  • They would like to see road improvements, specifically Centerline Road
  • They would like to see a small-scale marina built or other boat services added to the area

And what is it that Coral Bay residents firmly do not want? Well, they do not want to see any large-scale developments built, including marinas, hotels, resorts, condos or other large-scale living areas.

What is your vision for Coral Bay?

Dr. Cool Just Got Cooler

Dr. Cool Logo

Since 1999, Dr. Cool has been the island’s go-to air conditioning specialist. Dr. Cool can now add the island’s go-to high-end appliance retailer and servicer to their list of services.

Dr. Cool recently expanded their business to include high-end appliances. As the official USVI authorized dealer for the represented brands, Dr. Cool is pleased to be able to offer a full, two-year warranty on parts and labor across all products, with an additional 5 year warranty on compressors. An unparalleled benefit to the island community that no dealer has been able to provide…until now!

The business recently opened an expansive showroom, so customers now have the opportunity to browse Dr. Cool’s selection of fine appliances in person. Customers are welcomed and encouraged to test their cooking skills in one of Dr. Cool’s live kitchens. Sounds like fun to us!

Dr. Cool supports community building, which is why they plan to invite the public into their showroom for events that will include wine tastings and cooking demonstrations. It’s important to the folks over at Dr. Cool to share what they have with the community. (We’ll pass along dates and times as soon as they become available.)

Dr. Cool offers Energy Star rated appliances including Sub Zero, Wolf, Miele, Thermador, Gaggenau, Bosch and Electrolux.  Every Dr. Cool appliance comes with a full two-year warranty – the best appliance warranty in the islands.

Dr. Cool has been serving St. John residents since 1999. They plan to continue to service St. John’s air conditioning, refrigeration and appliances needs long after the sale and installation of these items, and for years to come.

Stop by the showroom and check it out for yourself. They’re located over in Palm Plaza just over Jacob’s Ladder. The showroom is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is also open Saturday by appointment.

You can also check them out on the web at www.DrCool.com.  You can even like them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com.DrCoolBuzz or follow them on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/DrCoolBuzz

Dr. Cool has been providing air conditioning service since 1999. Pictured here is Gary, General Manager of Dr. Cool with the Mitsubishi A/C display.
Dr. Cool has been providing air conditioning service since 1999. Pictured here is Gary, General Manager of Dr. Cool, with the Mitsubishi A/C display.
Gabrielle Dr. Cool
Gabrielle Nelson, Dr. Cool’s Kitchen Design Consultant, stands in front of a live Dr. Cool kitchen.
(Photo courtesy of Barbara Crites)

The Mystery of Witch Island

Witch Island Map
Image courtesy of DavidRumsey.com

A reader posed a question on our Facebook page the other day, and we were wondering if anyone could shed light on the topic.

Adventures & Aesthetics wrote this on our wall:

“Hello readers, We were wondering if anyone knows why Flanagan Island was known as Witch Island on old charts? I did a quick web crawl and was unable to uncover the legend .. except that Pelican Island may have also had the same moniker … or maybe another witch!”

Flanagan Island is a small, unihabited island located between St. John’s East End and Norman Island. Check it out on a map here.

One of our readers responded and said, “The English language charts I have seen generally show ‘Flanagan’ Island to the early 1900s. Prior to that (and the US purchase of the islands), you can see Witch Island.

So that begs the question…when and why did the name change occur? And why was it initially named Witch Island?

Zozo’s Ristorante is On the Move

Photo courtesy of Zozos.net

One of St. John’s most popular fine dining spots will have a new home later this year.

ZoZo’s Ristorante announced Friday that it is leaving its current location at Gallows Point Resort after 13 years. ZoZo’s isn’t going too far, however, as it plans to move just down the road over at Caneel Bay.

ZoZo’s will move into the space currently occupied by the Sugar Mill restaurant. The old 18th century sugar mill will undergo renovations this summer led by ZoZo’s owner John Ferrigno. ZoZo’s will open in its new location on November 1 after Caneel’s annual seasonal closure.

We’re curious – Now that ZoZo’s is leaving Gallows, what would you like to see go into its old spot? 

What’s for dinner, and where?

St. John has a number of fine restaurants.  Some really talented people are working hard in those kitchens, trying to do their best with an unpredictable supply chain of meat, fish, vegetables, and so on.  And the high prices at those restaurants reflect both the challenge and the execution.

 Some first-time visitors were wondering on TripAdvisor, “Since groceries are so expensive … is it actually cheaper (to cook at the villa) or (is it) the same as eating out?”

Monkeynoclimb’s answer was fast and conclusive. “Still cheaper to eat in. (Besides,) many times we are too tired to leave the house after a day on the beach, too.”

For couples, going out can be economical, if you go to the right-priced places. “We always go to Candi’s BBQ one night, hit Banana Deck a couple times for a late lunch at the bar, and Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay open night for Tuna Ponzu,” said Bluewater43.

Brenda-2004 said, “Just as expensive to cook a meal in than to just go out, unless you are doing high-end dining.”

Virgin Islands veteran Rick G passed along that, “Groceries are more expensive (than home). Staples are 10-25 percent more. Prepackaged meals, frozen chicken tenders, bag cereal;? More expensive.”  His recommendation: get a whole chicken at Starfish Market, add Cruz Bay Grill Rub and hot sauce from St. John Spice, rice and peas, “and you have four to six meals.”

Coral Bay’s only road in and out, in danger

As if driving on the left side of the road isn't challenge enough for tourists, now they have to worry about there being no road.

So say worried residents in Coral Bay where heavy rains three years ago undermined portions of Centerline Road which still haven't been repaired.  The Public Works Department is still preparing "bid packages for the remediation work", the Virgin Islands Daily News was told.

Now, the problem is worse.  Heavy, heavy rains last weekend did more damage.  The Daily News quotes Denise Barbier saying there are at least five places along two miles of Centerline that could collapse beneath a car, taxi, school bus, or construction equipment.  "There is nothing under the road," she said.

The News reported Public Works has put up some barricades to keep drivers away from the dangerous sections. But, the newspaper said, a week ago, three of them fell over the side of the road.  Obviously, these are not the concrete Jersey barriers we're used to seeing in the States.

"If the road is closed or collapses, then there is no way in or out," said Coral Bay homeowner Franz Jaggar. On the other hand, he said if that happens, "Skinny Legs will do big business."  

As Hill Street's Sgt. Phil Esterhause might have said, "Drivers … Be safe out there."