Pressure Appears on Wendy Williams!!

The song that never gets old… Check out Pressure’s appearance on the Wendy Williams show.

Show Your Love for the USVI … So Nice!

VI Nice Campign pics

So back in March, we told you all how the Department of Tourism planned to use Pressure Buss Pipe’s awesome Virgin Islands Nice song in a new summer ad campaign. Well the campaign just launched and you’re all invited to be a part of it!

Here are the official details on the campaign:

The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Tourism has launched its new “Virgin Islands Nice” summer travel promotion. Visitors can save a minimum of $500 on a stay of five or more consecutive nights at participating properties on St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas by visiting VisitUSVI.com/usvinice.

Book now through July 31 for travel between May 15 and September 30, 2014, to receive the first night free, a $200 instant credit and $300 in certificates that can be redeemed at participating restaurants, boutiques, spas and attractions across the Territory. Sounds good to us!

For my St. John lovers out there, the three participating on-island properties are Coconut Coast Villas, Gallows Point Resort and the Westin.

Now here’s where you all come in…

Whether you’re discovering the islands, celebrating your hometown or sending back warm greetings, the Department of Tourism wants you to share your US Virgin Islands moments with #USVInice. It’s simple to do. Just post you pics or videos on Twitter, Instagram or Vine and include the hashtag #USVInice. While you’re at it, include @newsofstjohn too. We’d like to see what you’re posting.

We did it, so make sure you do too!

twitter usvinice

And here again is the incredible video that inspired this campaign. I don’t know about you, but I can’t watch it without smiling. Enjoy!


news palm treeYou have to admit, yesterday’s story was pretty funny. We wanted to do something to make you all laugh and we knew John Brandi would be game, so we concocted this silly story to trick all of you. Once Captain John got Winsome involved at the Soggy Dollar, we knew it was going to be great!

So we have to ask – How many of you believed us at least for a second?? Let us know below.

St. John: The Wildest and Most Pristine of the USVI

caneel bay donkey st john usvi
caneel bay donkey st john usvi
Image credit: Amy Laughinghouse, For The Philadelphia Inquirer

This article just appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer. We liked it so much, we thought we would share it with all of you. We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading it just as much as we did.

St. John, the Virgin Island’ Wild Child

By Amy Laughinghouse, For The Philadelphia Inquirer

ST. JOHN, U.S. Virgin Islands – I’m lying face down in a spa cabana at Caneel Bay resort, gazing absently into a bowl of fragrant blossoms. The door is open just enough to admit the serenade of the surf and the softly filtered sunlight of the sultry Caribbean morning.

Cheryl, a masseuse with startling blue eyes accentuated by a deep tan, is gently working out the knots I’ve accumulated through work and travel. In less than an hour, she transforms me from a bag of aching bones to a blissed-out beach bunny ready to relax and take on – well, as little as possible during my 10-day stay on St. John.

This is arguably the wildest and most pristine of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and that legacy of feral beauty began right here, at Caneel Bay, where philanthropist and conservationist Laurance Rockefeller originally built a house as a private retreat. He grew so fond of St. John’s tangled jungle of hills and white crescent beaches that he bought up huge swaths of land, which later formed the basis of the Virgin Islands National Park.

At the resort itself, which features just 166 rooms on 170 acres, you’re more likely to encounter herds of deer and donkeys than another human. Throw in a few mongooses and leaf-munching iguanas, and it’s practically a free-range zoo.

While it’s tempting to simply remain at Caneel Bay and play castaway, this is an island that’s made for exploration, as I’ve discovered over more than a half-dozen visits these last 12 years.

Cruz Bay, the main port, hardly qualifies as the big city, with free-range hens shepherding their chicks along a zigzag maze of roads. But it offers enough shops and bars and restaurants to put a dent in your wallet and add an inch to your waistline.

Pick a perch at the Beach Bar, where you can gaze out over the sailboats that fill the harbor while sipping a Painkiller – a potent combination of rum, fruit juice, and nutmeg that will certainly leave you feeling no pain, until the inevitable hangover the next morning. Woody’s is another well-known watering hole, with a couple of plastic tables on the sidewalk (to call it a “terrace” would be overstating it) that provide front-row seats for first-rate tourist-watching. For a splurge, head to the hilltop Asolare and try an aptly named Honey Badger martini, which packs a bite worthy of its name.

Of course, St. John’s best attraction is its 30-plus beaches. These range from the “Mermaid’s Chair,” a beach barely big enough for two that my friends and I visit on a catamaran trip one afternoon, to the sugary expanse of Cinnamon Bay. The quirkiest is Drunk Bay, a remote rocky beach where visitors – perhaps fueled by fruity umbrella drinks, lending the place its name – create whimsical sculptures of mermaids, pirates, and cowboys from coral and coconuts.

As stunning as St. John’s coastline is above water, more surreal scenery lurks beneath the waves. Trunk Bay – which CNN.com recently ranked No. 48 on its list of the world’s 100 best beaches – features an underwater snorkel trail, where I spot eels, reef squid, and a stingray hovering like a spacecraft above the sandy bottom.

At Waterlemon Cay, while swimming in a spectral cloud of shiny silversides, I notice a 4-foot-long, missile-shaped fish just yards away. From my panicked reaction, anyone would have assumed I was an ill-fated extra from Jaws.

Fortunately, my friends, both experienced divers, assure me it’s only a harmless tarpon. (Well, harmless to humans, at least. The silversides it swallowed would probably beg to differ.)

Undeterred by echoes of “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” we sign up for a kayak tour (very small boats indeed) with Hidden Reef Eco-Tours. Our guide, Jennifer Russ, not only knows some of the best snorkeling spots around the island, but she’s also a bit of an expert on St. John’s flora and fauna as well.

“Oooh, that’s a Pseudosphinx caterpillar,” she coos, eyeing a plump yellow, black, and red critter suctioned to a piece of coral at Haulover Bay, where we meet. “He’s poisonous,” she notes cheerfully, pushing sunglasses atop a mass of long black curls.

Of course, this creepy-crawly sounds positively cuddly compared to the manchineel tree, which Russ points out next to her stand of kayaks. Eating the fruit can be fatal, earning it the nickname “Death Apple,” and its sap triggers terrible blisters.

Leaving caustic caterpillars and flesh-melting manchineels behind, we paddle for perhaps half an hour, slicing through blue waters before Russ directs us to beach the kayaks. As we slip into the water in masks, fins, and snorkels, a pair of butterfly fish engage in a courtly dance just below, and rainbow-colored parrot fish crunch loudly on the reef.

But the climax of our afternoon is the sea turtle that emerges like a shadow from the deep-blue fathoms. Gliding through the sea, he’s the Dalai Lama of the depths, the very essence of serenity.

I reckon he’s just had a massage.

Amy Laughinghouse is a London-based freelance travel writer. You can read more of her work at www.AmyLaughinghouse.com

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.

Digging Up the Old Domino

Something’s happening at the site of Coral Bay’s old Domino gas station. Workers were recently seen removing the old tanks from the site, as well as truck loads of soil. We do know that the soil was being transported over to St. Thomas, but its future remains unknown. One worker said he heard a new gas station and store was being built, while a local businessman simply stated the tanks needed to be removed due to abandonment.

What would you like to see happen here?

Gas Station Before

Gas Station After

The silver lining story about Silver Cloud

You can't miss her in the Coral Bay harbor.

Three masts, steel black hull, lots of rigging, looking like a pirate ship. 100 feet long and 110 years old. What stories she could tell.

Silver Cloud.

Like how during World War 1 …yes "1" … she did duty as a fire boat, according to a story in the latest issue of the St. John Sun Times.  Before that, a kind of ferry, taking captains to shore when storms threatened.

Over the years, the hulking vessel was in service up and down the east coast, as far south as the Bahamas. Some of the runs were doing the Lord's work, at least one involved smuggling, the Sun Times said.

Read moreThe silver lining story about Silver Cloud

Old Time Fish Fry Saturday

Cases_logo A long time ago in a land not so far away, Fish Frys were the focus of community gatherings on the island.

In an article on the St. John Source, one local describes a Fish Fry as "an event where Virgin Islanders (of all colors, old and new residents, born here, and naturalized) meet, discuss, debate the issues of the day, share ideas, while socializing and breaking bread."

They once were common, now they are few and far between – but one is scheduled for this weekend featuring St. John's reggae ambassadors to the world, Inner Visions.

The Fry is being staged by Owen's Cases by the Sea, the liquor store in Coral Bay that opened last fall.

The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m and goes until 11 p.m.  All are welcome, locals and visitors (who owe it to themselves to attend, too). A good time will be had by all who attend.

Talking dogs

The 11th annual island dog show, Wagapalooza, 'barks off' at 5 p.m. next Saturday evening, the 21st, at the ball field next to the Sprauve School in Cruz Bay.

Pets will be judged in many categories, including the newest … "Best Doggie Talk." Like Mishka, on YouTube.

With a Wild West theme this year, you can expect many contestants to be wearing hats, scarves, bolos, kerchiefs while perhaps dragging ropes and lassos and who knows what else.

Thanks to Jeff and Jen Donnelly of Jolly Dog and Moe Chabuz and the late Doug Sica of Skinny LegsWagapalooza has become the major fundraising event for the Animal Care Center.

NewsOfStJohn.com is proud to be a co-sponsor, for a third year, of the official Wagapalooza T-Shirt.