St. John Makes 10 Best Bucket List Beaches

Trunk pano

St. John recently made USA Today’s list for the 10 Best Bucket List Beaches. Any guesses which one made the cut???

All of them! (Well all of the ones in the National Park that is!) Here’s what they had to say about it:

“From tropical forests to an underwater snorkeling trail, this 19-square-mile park offers visitors a chance to explore one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved natural areas. The park covers more than half of the island, and includes the popular Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay beaches, which rent water sports gear, and have guest facilities. Elsewhere there’s kayaking, sailing, hiking and camping.

Bucket list tip: For a splurge, book a stay at the luxury Caneel Bay Resort, which is surrounded by the park. It was developed by Laurance Rockefeller, who donated land for the park in the 1950s.”

Click here to see a full list of the 10 Best Bucket List Beaches. 

Here are a few of our favorite Trunk Bay pics. Feel free to share some of your favorite beach pics at [email protected]

Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay


Saharan Dust Moves into Territory

Saharan Dust

If you’ve been on island within the last few days or so, you may have noticed a haze throughout the territory. Yup, you guessed it – the Saharan Dust has arrived.

For those of you not familiar with Saharan Dust, it happens nearly every spring/summer. It starts over in the North African desert when an increase of warm air causes sand particles to rise above the desert. Those particles are then transported over the Atlantic Ocean and across the Caribbean.

When the dust arrives in the territory, the islands’ typical bright blue skies are replaced by a haze. It looks like clouds, but in actuality, it’s dust. Visibility is reduced, and the air quality becomes poor. According to the National Weather Service, it looks like the dust is going to get a bit worse in the next week before getting better.

Here are a few pics we took the other day that show a dusty haze in the sky:

Trunk Bay Dust

Saharan Dust

cds saharan dustWant to know the status of the Saharan Dust? Click here to view current satellite conditions.


Throwback Thursday.

Island Resources Photo
Image credit: St. John Historical Society

Last Thursday we shared a pretty cool picture over on our Facebook page. The picture (above) showed the North Shore Road in 1948.

According to the St. John Historical Society, “the picture was taken by Ronald Morrisette, and the women on horseback are his wife, Sarah Morrisette, left, and Helen Auble (Ms. Auble, a St Thomas resident for many years, gave the picture to [Island Resources Foundation] before her death in the late 1990s). The road is near the bottom of Hawksnest hill, in the distance is the Oppenheimer end of Gibney beach, then called Hawksnest beach. They were passing through the eastern side of the Caneel Bay property, which then stretched from the Creek in Cruz Bay to include the present National Park Hawksnest Beach.”

We found the picture to be so interesting that we sought out to find a few more that we could share all of you. We’d like to extend our thanks to David Whitney Knight, Sr. and Eleanor Gibney for sharing the following pictures with us.

Courtesy of David Whitney Knight, Sr.: 

How many of you recognize the pristine beach shown in this picture? According to David Whitney Knight, Sr., it was taken c1949-1950. “The lady in the picture is my mother, Anna, with her dog Spooky; the photographer is my father, Dr. George H H Knight.”

Photograph taken by Dr. George H H Knight
Photograph taken by Dr. George H H Knight

The following images are courtesy of Eleanor Gibney. The descriptions are courtesy of the St. John Historical Society. 

“A locally-built cargo sloop lowers sail and prepares to come alongside the Cruz Bay dock, c 1959. Up until the 1970s Caribbean-built cargo vessels such as the “Baby Mac,” “Pride of Tortola” and “Miranda Stout,” were St. John’s primary link to the outside world, carrying everything from fuel oil and livestock to mail and passengers.”

Sloop 1959

“Caneel Bay, 1959.
One of the original cottages from the late1930s on what is still called “Cottage Point” They were replaced in the early 1960s.”

Caneel Bay Cottage

“The impact of modern development on St. John’s landscape becomes staggeringly apparent when you compare Chocolate Hole today with how it looked in the late 1950s (photographer unknown).”

Chocolate Hole 1950s

“The iconic Trunk Bay view–here in a slide by an unknown tourist in 1963. The main building of the former Boulon guesthouse is still very visible on the hill, where it was a popular lunch spot, run by Caneel Bay.”

Trunk Bay 1963

Interested in learning about more of St. John’s history? Click here to visit the St. John Historical Society’s website.


Daniel.

Daniel

It was sometime last fall when I first heard Daniel Pinto’s name. I was eating dinner at Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis, chatting it up with owner Karen Granitz, when she first mentioned a man who she considered to be one of the island’s most talented painters. Daniel, she said, lived on a boat in Coral Bay but often kept to himself. However, from time to time, he stopped into the Oasis for a bite to eat and, at times, to paint. Karen motioned up toward a surfboard with a stunning beach image emblazoned across it that hangs just outside of her kitchen.

“He did that while I watched,” she said, “in no time at all.”

From then on, I knew Daniel was something special.

Sometimes words just simply are not adequate when describing someone’s talent. Please check out some of Daniel’s work for yourself:

Daniel Painting Surfboard

Daniel Painting Conch

daniel painting

Daniel Ziggy
A digital work featuring Ziggy, the island’s most famous pig

I had the privilege of meeting Daniel myself just a few weeks back and found two things particularly interesting about him. First, he creates these remarkable pieces of art from a small, unassuming, one-room studio tucked deep in the woods, 44 steps down from Centerline Road if I recall correctly. For days on end, he holes up in that tiny little space and creates these incredible paintings alongside his fiercely loyal little dog, all while munching on Ramen noodles. And second, he doesn’t actively try to sell his art.

Well I’m happy to say that beginning today, Daniel’s art will be sold at Caribbean Oasis in Coral Bay along with a handful of other artists. (We’ll have more on the other artists later this week.) And the best part is that 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly the artists themselves.

Available now are 11 x 14 inch prints of Daniel’s conch shell painting (pictured above while in progress). The prints sell for $40 each and are available at the Oasis only. The original is also for sale.

And coming soon will be 20 x 30 inch prints of an amazing painting Daniel created of Trunk Bay. Those prints will sell for $60. We’ll alert you when they are available.

So if you happen to be in Coral Bay, stop by Oasis and check out some of the great artwork on display there. And while you’re there, be sure to grab a bite to eat. Karen has some of the best food on island and at only $9 an entree, it’s one of the best deals on St. John.

New tax on airfare to the Virgin Islands?

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The company responsible for providing cargo, baggage and technical services at the St. Thomas airport is not happy. 

Faced with the continuing poor baggage belts and an "unreliable infrastructure", a spokeswoman for Worldwide Flight Services raises an interesting issue on behalf of her co-workers. (Photo via William Hartz' Flickr account.)

"Many in the airlines and airport community would like to see an accounting of what the Passenger Facilities Charge (PFC) has been used for," Joanne Bohr said to the St. John Source.  She reacted to word the Port Authority wants to increase the PFC from $3 to $4.50 per passenger.

Those funds, she said, are supposed to be used for projects approved by the airlines to improve the experience of using the airport. "The PFCs are not intended for overhead or salary," she said, implying the Authority may have been tapping the fund for operations rather than repairs and improvements.

"As difficult as it may be for the passenger," she continued, "it is a much bigger hardship for those that work in the airport … without … bag belts, (and) without any air conditioning."

Before the Authority can increase the fee, which would apply to both inbound and outbound tickets the Federal Aviation Administration must give its approval.  And presumably the FAA won't do that unless the airlines agree, and believe, the money will be used to pay for improving the St. Thomas and St. Croix airport.

Some people have a good, good time waiting at STT.

One place you don’t want to be: Virgin Islands airport

CanceledNotice on Spirit's Web site 

Pilots at Spirit Airlines went on strike Saturday morning.  The airline canceled all its flights for the day, potentially stranding hundreds of people at the St. Thomas airport. News reports indicated the airline told customers they were on their own to find alternate flights.
Spirit  

When the Inquiring Iguana tried to book a flight for Sunday, Spirit's Web site said there were no seats available, perhaps indicating more flights will not operate this weekend.

Spirit is a low-cost airline, offering occasional specials of $9 a ticket.  Pilots  say they are paid well below market salaries.  The airline reportedly offered the pilots raises of 30% which, Spirit said would allow it "to continue offering you the ultra low fares you have come to know and love."

The Iguana can only imagine the holy heck that the STT airport is today.

Surly’s old space for sale

Cantina A few hours after the Surly Cantina's owners announced they were leaving the island, it became known the operator of the Mexican food spot that replaced them at Wharfside Village has put the business up for sale.

"Resturant-Mexican Cantina – $65000 (St.John, USVI)" is the headline.  The ad reads, "Here is your opportunity to get away and own your own buisiness (sic) in St.John. This is a turn=key (sic) operation with minimal experience needed. A perfect chance for 2 people to own their own buisness (sic) on a tropical island."

So, even if you can't spell business, you can buy one.

Saga of the Surly Cantina: The End

Surly Cantina is leaving St. John. 

On the popular Mexican restaurant's Facebook page, this message appeared over the weekend.

"The Surly Cantina is no longer. We are moving to Charlotte NC on Wednesday. We will miss all of our incredibly loyal fans. Who knows, maybe a Surly in NC. Best to all."

Suzanne_craig Comments made it clear that many folks will be sorry to see the cantina owners, Suzanne Schlessinger and Craig Sullivan, leave the US Virgin Islands.

Some posted saying they hoped the news was a late April Fools joke.

  • Rosanne Perkins said, "That is a bummer!!! I was hoping to see you over the summer!!" 
  • Cici Davis said she was "Sad to hear" the news.
  • Tiffany Gilbert Thomas sounded melancholy, writing, "The island of broken dreams."

History of the Surly Cantina

For Virgin Islands roundabout fans


If you sometimes think life has you going in circles.

Roundabout

Anthony Finta of Virgin Islands On Line shot a one-minute video of St. John's traffic roundabout in Cruz Bay. One person commented, "I must be bored.  I watched this video five times."

Cafe Bordeaux back in business

Bordeaux Chateau Bordeaux has been reopened.  Once again, it is possible to have a meal and look down on Coral Bay and across the Sir Francis Drake Channel, one of the loveliest views on the island.

Lorelei Monsanto, the daughter of the woman who launched the restaurant 30 years ago, is overseeing the venture.  She's also reported to be the landlord.  For many years, Bordeaux was managed by the same people who operated high end restaurants in Cruz Bay including Paradiso and Asolare.  But times got tough, the economy got soft, and Bordeaux closed.

Monsanto's reopened the spot for lunch and has plans to add dinner service.  But food isn't the only reason to make the drive to Bordeaux.  She told the St John Sun Times, "Enjoy the moon as it's rising, the shimmering lights in the distance – it makes you feel like you're on a tropical island, naturally."

Perhaps it's best that food isn't the only draw.  One lone review, via TripAdvisor, was quite negative. "The view remains exceptional but the food is now by many accounts INEDIBLE." wrote EvergreenOhio. "Prices are inflated and there is no wine list."