Proper packing for Paradise

Snoopy7982 raises this interesting question at the Virgin-Islands-On-Line forum for St. John.

"What clothes do I need other than bathing suits, cover-ups and sundresses? Can my husband wear shorts in all restaurants or should he bring some slacks?"

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Seems like a lot of people have the same answer.  "Each time we go, we vow to bring less and less," is the way FourStreams put it.  "From 3 golf shirts to 1 … from 3 pairs of nice shorts to 1 … 4 tee shirts to 2." And, since many villas have a washer and dryer (ask your management company), that helps reduce what you need to bring."

Read moreProper packing for Paradise

Two guys walk into a St. John bar …

 Brewers
Kevin Chipman
and Chirag Vyas, the founders of St. John Brewers at Mongoose Junction, didn't exactly just walk in to a bar.  They got there the old fashioned way.  They earned it.

Their story began soon after they graduated from the University of Vermont and decided to move to St. John.  The first year, they lived on a sailboat with no electricity while they figured out what they would do with the rest of their lives.  "You don't worry about what might go wrong in life when you're snorkeling, hiking or sailing," they told Islands magazine.  "Very quickly, we fell in love with the lifestyle here on St. John," and decided to stay.

But doing what? Well, they loved craft beers, and Paradise had no craft beer.  So they made some.

The key to their 'overnight' success, which has taken several years: hard work that began with their idea, and then their explaining – and selling – it to restaurants and bar owners.  "When our first 40-foot container arrived (with 1,300 cases of Virgin Islands Tropical Mango Ale), we warehoused it ourselves.  Half on St. Thomas, half in our apartment."

For all those people who think they'd like to c move to the island, the Brewers story is pure gold.  They found the harder they worked and the more they cared about the comm,unity, the greater their success and acceptance and support.  "Part of knowing everyone is supporting everyone," they said.

It also helps that St. John's a happy place. "If St. John  has a reason to party, it definitely will," they told Islands.

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?

The return of Thankspigging

Thankspig

St. John's Ken Yolman is at it again, for the 11th time, hosting a community holiday feast at Skinny Legs. The blowout draws several hundred people, many bringing along a little something to share, in the spirit of the day: turkeys, yams, stuffing and other holiday foods – as well as beer, punch, sodas and whatever.

He tried to call it a decade last year. He's been doing the dinner since 2000, and tried to tell everybody that last year's would be the last.  Didn't turn out that way.  Lots of people pitched in to help him put it together this tear and so, he says, it'll go on. "It looks like Skinny Legs has nine more years, so I guess Thankspigging will, too," he said.

The event grew out of Yolman's 15 years on the island, attending his first Thankspigging but he had nothing to share. Now, he repays the generosity of others to him by organizing the event for everyone.

"This is a perfect opportunity to showcase our small island’s very giving and sharing nature on a day for giving thanks. Your country cousins in Coral Bay wish to extend an invitation to our city cousins in Cruz Bay to attend. Also our cousins in Fish Bay, Maho, Concordia, East End and even Peter Bay ( Aunts and Uncles ). To those who raft up or get together for an annual feast, do something different this year."

Bob Schlesinger was on hand at Skinny's for Thankspigging last year. There were about 400 people in the joint at 7 p.m. Looks like a good time was had by all.

Test 2

Test 1

Bob Schlesinger and his wife Karin own Tropical Focus Photography, specializing in weddings and family portraits.

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

Dream jobs on St. John

Rising Stars Some people would even take a boring job on the island if it meant they could wake each morning to beautiful sunsets, go to world class beaches, and roll into Woody's each happy hour.

But that life would be a fantasy. How about imagining the best job possible?

That's what some people have been talking about at Virgin-Islands-On-Line.com.

BigCheeze started off the thread, writing "I think there may a few people that consider how to spend more time on STJ."  His dream jobs?

  • Charter Captain 
  • Villa Video production 
  • Bartender 
  • Villa agent 
  • Tour Guide 
  • Drink mixologist
  • Island Gigolo 

Xislangirl suggested bartender, villa manager and real estate agent.

SOonthebeach's ideas included photographer, event planner, and volunteer at the Animal Care Center.

"Funny you should ask. I told my husband just recently I think I could be happy pumping gas at Domino's in Coral Bay," said Joppa.

Hugo offered some realism in his comment. "Most of those jobs do have a pretty high burn-out rate here–fine for a couple of years, but then you have to start something like No-See-Um's blog to stay sane."

Other suggestions:

  • Beach raker
  • Rum taster
  • Sunscreen applier
  • Head of quality control at the Beach Bar
  • Personal assistant to Kenny Chesney

Mickey threw in this nugget of realism:

"I am doing my 'dream job' of maintaining villas for a very classy villa management company. Today (Saturday) my wife and I went to a villa of angry guests to work on their 'list'. We decided they don't 'get it' … (don't)l understand STJ. That is sad but we like what we do. "

Dream on.  What's YOUR idea? How would you make a living on the island? Comment here.

St. John guidebook available online

St-john-guidebook copyThere are two indispensable tools for tourists on the island, the St. John Map and the St. John Guidebook.

Both are published by Arne and Barbara Jakobsen and their company, Great Dane Inc. 

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The Internet version looks just like the one published on paper, four colors, cute cartoons and a bit of information about the island and its history.

Clicks on the pages take you to advertiser's pages with more information. It's just the thing for getting a head start on a vacation, even while you're still on the mainland.

A mobile-friendly version is also said to be available, but the Inquiring Iguana's iPhone found nothing when he clicked on the Web link via Google.  Nothing but this blank screen >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
A phone version would be ever so useful, with live maps and easy telephone calling.  There may be a version for Android phones, but the Iguana doesn't have one of them.

In the meantime, use the old fashioned Internet site: http://www.stjohnguidebook.com/st-john-guidebook/index.html. It's very helpful.

To Do: Paddleboarding at Cinnamon

The latest and greatest is Stand up Paddleboarding, according to Debbie Hime, writing in the St. John Sun Times magazine.

It's as simple as, well, standing up and paddling.  What makes it a terrific workout in just an hour is your reaching down into the water with the paddle and stroking. "Your core (abs and back) (are) doing much of the work," Hime wrote.

The place to rent paddleboards, at $20 an hour, is Wind Surfing Adventures at Cinnamon Bay Watersports Center.  They've got about two dozen different boards … big and fat for novices, slim and slick for the pros.

The variable for the degree of exercise, of course, is the water.  Waves or no, wind or no.

Hime quoted Watersports' Rich Metcalf saying, "Paddleboarding is growing so fast because it's something every age can do.  Plus, it's a killer workout and as you get better it becomes easier."

  • Read Debbie Himes' story here.