The Current State of the Island – Part 3

coral bay sign

Hello and happy Monday! Time for part 3 today, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write this!

Ok, so we left off over in the Francis/Annaberg area. Today, we’re going to head up the hill and over toward the Coral Bay side of the island.

So when you leave Francis and Annaberg, the area really does not look too bad. One thing that is noticeable to people who live here and to those of you who’ve visited here frequently is the fact that the wooded area on each side of the roadway isn’t as lush as it used to be. The trees in this area, and even more so as you get closer to Coral Bay, look scraggly in some spots. I’ve taken a lot of first-time visitors on island tours lately, and they’ve all said that this area looks great. So it’s really in the eye of the beholder.

So now we’re at the intersection where you can take a right and go down the one way to Maho or take a left and go up the hill toward Centerline Road. We’re taking a left.

As soon as you drive up the first switchback, you will see a large area on your left where there was a considerable mudslide several months back. It was so bad at times that it blocked the roadway. Fortunately this area is now under control. If you look behind you in this area, you can see big views of the Sir Francis Drake channel, Tortola and Little Thatch Island. These views were all opened up by Irma. As you continue up the hill toward Centerline, you will still see some downed wires that need to be removed. To your right, the trees are extremely scraggly looking in the Mamey Peak area. This area has been affected greatly; even my first time guests can see the storms’ impact here.

Now we’ve made it to Centerline Road, and what’s directly across the street – Colombo’s! We’re thrilled that the smoothie shack has reopened. (We wrote about it recently. Click here to check out that story.) I also love the hand-painted sign out front which gives some love to the BBC linemen. (For now, Colombo’s is closed on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so please plan accordingly.)

bbc coral bay sign

So we’re going to take a left and head toward Coral Bay. Now, the closer you get to Coral Bay, the more damage you can see. Some scenes are truly heartbreaking, but then you look at the views of the East End and Norman Island and they are simply stunning. It’s an interesting juxtaposition in this part of the island.

Ajax Peak is the first landmark we pass on our left, and while the area has been mostly cleaned out, there is still some remnants of trash on the side of the road.

As you drive east toward Coral Bay, the views on your right are vast. Many of the trees and shrubs fell during the storms, opening up very large views along the roadway. Speaking of views, there’s a new sugar mill in Coral Bay that can be seen off to your right. Clearly it is not new, but prior to Irma it was covered with foliage and was not visible from Centerline. You can see it pretty well from the Coral Bay overlook too. Walk up to the big rock and look down toward the roadway. The sugar mill is to the right of that.

Coral Bay overlook
Coral Bay overlook

From the overlook, you can see the full effects of the storm. Remember, Coral Bay saw winds of 200 miles per hour and stronger. There were also tornados scattered about the island and many in Coral Bay. You can see snapped trees, twisted trees, blue roofs, homes without roofs, and completely destroyed homes. There’s a home that appears to be in danger of falling down a hillside (we’ve been told its cistern is holding it in place), and another home that literally slid a bit downhill. To the right, you can see debris scattered about the hillsides, covered a bit these days by the brush that has grown in over the past six months. To the left, there are numerous areas where there were major rockslides after the storms. Again, it’s all extremely sad.

But looking at the glass half full, the views of Coral Bay, the East End and beyond are still beautiful. The boats are back in the harbor and nearly all have been removed from the rocks. And when you speak to the people living and working in Coral Bay, they are happy, smiling, resilient and optimistic. I make it a point to have lunch in Coral Bay several times a week and have truly enjoyed watching the progress on that side of the island. They all thank you for visiting. And they truly mean it. Coral Bay is just as special today as it was before the storms. They may be bent, but they are not broken.

So now we are down in Coral Bay. The famous Coral Bay sign was heavily damaged, but there are plans to rebuild it. (I’ll have more on that this week.) Not many of the advertisements on the sign survived the storms, but News of St. John’s did. That definitely made me smile when I saw that just a few days after Irma hit. You can check it out in the pic at the top of this story. It’s the little things in life, folks. 🙂

Next up is the ball field. It’s been temporarily converted into a dump. Sure, it’s unsightly but it’s serving a purpose and is very orderly. I’ve been told that it will be restored to a ball field once all of the debris is removed. I’m sure all of the donkey, goat and sheep will be happy when that happens. Speaking of our islands critters, all are doing very well since the storms. I easily see at least 15 donkeys daily while cruising around on my island tours. (Side note: I recently read in one of the real newspapers that the Army Corps is currently deciding what to do with all of the debris. We will keep you all posted on that.)

Across the street is the Moravian Church. It, too, is in sad shape having lost its roof during Irma. I am not certain what its future holds, but I would like to see it restored as I am sure many of you would as well. Random fact: The Manse was constructed in 1750 and the church was originally built in 1782. Pretty amazing if you ask me. And more of a reason to restore it.

I think we will end right here. Our next installment will update you on Indigo and Skinny’s, and from there we will head out to the East End.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful Monday!

58 thoughts on “The Current State of the Island – Part 3”

    • We were at Waterlemon last Wednesday. The full moon and the remnants of the weekend storm left the water very churned up and snorkeling was not good. The beach at Waterlemon is very sad. Hardly any shade, lots of debris.

  1. Thanks for the honesty in reporting. It’s not all cherries and whip cream. There are many warts from the storm. I think now is the best time ever to visit because who wants to be surrounded by a bunch of tourists?

  2. Thanks so much for the continued updates of the island, Jenn! Coral Bay is my heart and I’ve been following a lot of businesses and groups since the storm. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.

    Thanks for making those of us who can’t be on-island feel like we are. Until October…

  3. Hi Jen,

    Any news about Concordia we loved to go to breakfast there on Sunday when we were down there. It was one of our favorite places so relaxing and such a wonderful view. We didn’t come down this year in January the house we always rented was damaged. I hope we can next year we have been coming for ten years. Thank you so much for all of your time spent updating everyone. I check it every day to see the progress and know what’s going on.

  4. Thanks for all these updates. As a person who has visited for over 30 years it’s bittersweet to read about my favorite place in the world. So many memories and I guess that some of them will remain just memories. Next year when I return I’m planning to take your tour. You do a great job giving a picture of what is happening post hurricanes.


  6. This information is great and I appreciate it very much! My wife and are thinking about visiting the island in May… please advise!

    Brian C.

  7. Thank you so much for keeping us updated.

    We love St. John and plan to visit again soon.

    The Moravian Church holds a special place in our hearts and we want to assist them financially. Could you possibly give me contact information for them?

    • There is a Facebook page — The Coral Bay Triangle Sign Project. They are working with the Moravian church to rebuild the triangle sign which belongs to the church. I heard they are also arranging some sort of donation to the church to help it rebuild. Perhaps the FB page administrator can provide some contact info for you.

  8. Thank you for the update!! We absolutely LOVE St. John besides Texas it is our other favorite place on earth! We plan to visit in June!! I hope our family has an opportunity to help clean or re-build something while we are there! Sending love and hugs!!

  9. Having just returned from St. John’s, our favorite place on earth, all we can say is GO! The water and sand are still beautiful, the people are wonderful and grateful. You need to go now more than ever! They need to get back on their feet now not in 2019! We stayed at a wonderful airbnb, House of Open Arms. Catherine took amazing care of us and introduced us to many friends who told us about surviving Irma. Our VBRO, Here Comes The Sun, was cancelled due to construction delays but the hosts, Sam and Emily, sent us two gift cards for dinner. We plan to rebook upon our return at both places if possible:) We even volunteered to help someone rebuild their deck one day. It was a wonderful opportunity to give back to such a special place. As my husband said when we were planning our trip, now is a better time than ever to go and St. John’s is still as beautiful as ever.

  10. We also just returned. The island is definitely not the same and tourism is obviously really low now, but that said we still made it back without contracting a contagious disease. It’s not like there’s piles of poop in the streets, folks.

    • We just got back from the Island on the 5th. Yes, there is some damage but as Jenn pointed out, the storms also opened up some views. Look beyond the trees that are down and you will still see the beauty of the water and beaches(which is why we visit each year). The Islands need everyone to go down this year if possible. VI STRONG AND BEAUTIFUL AS ALWAYS!!!!

  11. Island is still wonderful! Cousins just got back on Saturday from 10 days on St. John. Stayed at Gallows Point. Restaurants open, beaches quiet, hiking trails in good shape. Seeing Caneel, Cinnamon and Maho was hard. Volunteered with the National Park for 2 days clearing out mangroves in Hurricane Hole. Even made it over to Jost Van Dyke to see Foxy! He’s still as fiesty as ever. They had a great time!

    • So, when returning from JVD to St. John, so you have to check in at customs on STT, or can you just go straight back to St. John?

  12. Thanks for the update! Everyone who can get there should go! Had a terrific week there last month. Yes, the island is different (wild tomatoes blew in from somewhere), but the beaches are open, the restaurants are serving, and the party goes on!

  13. Thank you for your on-going updates Jenn. The only thing frustrating is it will be almost a year before we get back again………… (Also saw the winds blew in papaya and new flocks of parrots…..the mystery of nature).

  14. Any more new about the beach front bars/restaurants (Wharfside Village) in Cruz Bay….the Beach Bar, Joe’s Rum Hut etc? What is open for business?

    What about Rhumb Lines?

    • Rhumb Lines is open. High Tide is open. I heard from a reliable source that Joe’s Rum Hut wont’ open until next season. Don’t know about Beach Bar but they do have occasional beach parties.

  15. Thanks for the update on our favorite place in the World. We know it will keep getting better. Thank You so much for your spirit.

  16. I heard the ocean is contaminated with sewage and there is lots of trash in the water at the beaches. Is this true? I’m worried about bringing my family and keeping them safe from flesh eating bacteria and street crime.

  17. Looking forward to more info on the east end. We will be staying close to Hansen Bay in about 6 weeks. I did see a video on KEKOA recently showing where they are working on her and Hansen Beach looked pretty good when the zoomed out with the drone.

  18. I wish to nominate Minnesota Mike as official News of St. John jester… can I get a second? Just a great, (and appreciated) sense of humor.

    Joining in on the expressions of thanks to you Jenn for these updates. Our first post-hurriance(s) visit is booked for April 28. We’re staying in Coral Bay as usual and have a couple who have never been to St. John joining us . I am certain that the beauty in the landscape and the people will overwhelm any negatives still in need of a fix. Keep on keepin’ on.

  19. Thanks so much Jenn! I always look forward to reading every but of information about our beloved island! Even though I know my Coral Bay wont be the same as we knew it (for 17 years) we are so beyond excited to return April 24th! Again many thanks to you for all the informative real news you’ve given about the state of STJ. ❤️

  20. HI Jenn
    I hope you are feeling well.
    While on your next adventure can you please check out one of our eastside stops?
    Miss Lucy’s has an amazing Grouper Ruben sandwich, among other yummie local favs.


  21. Coming down in April with the family! it will be 9 years in a row. Usually stay at the westin in our timeshare but that won’t open unit 2019. We originally booked at Grand Cayman but the wife and I decided our money would be better spent in our favorite place in the world. Sooooo we rented a house for the first time. Can’t wait to be there.

    • MIkey likes it!!!

      (for those of you old enough to remember the “Mikey likes it commercials back in the day)

  22. Heading to the St John this Thursday — hoping Miss Lucy’s and Aqua Bistro are open — doing a snorkel trip on Fly Away Charters –and maybe a night dive with Low Keys– staying in Carolina area and will report in

    This will be our 4th trip to island — and we have 2 newbies with us– will be interesting to see what they think

    I will report back


    • Had lunch at Miss Lucy’s today. They are currently open Tuesday through Saturdays from 11am to 4pm. I was happy to see a surprising number of folks having lunch there today. Great to be here again for a couple of weeks… Cliff

  23. Jenn….do you know where we could rent a center console dingy on island for our trip there in May? I think it was Calypso? we rented from last time….. didn’t know if anyone had dingys now for rent?

  24. Our cottage, Tree Frog Cottage suffered damage, but not as bad as it could have been according to my son, friends, realtors, appraisers. I have not been back personally, due to lack of funds, timing and allergies. I was denied disaster relief from Fema, even after an appeal and dont think I qualify for an SBA loan for repairs at this time. Does anyone have any suggsetions as to what I can do? This was my life savings and designed, built, shipped materials from the mainland, decorated and maintained by me and my husband back in 2006 and on until the storms. My husband and I are in process of divorce but neither one of us want it to turn to rubble and be worthless. Too many good memories to list there with family and friends and vacationers who loveed it. Any and all help appreciated. Holly

  25. It’s now late Nov. 2018 — my wife and I may be coming for a visit in January/February 2019 — what is the state of the island now?

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