Well folks, we made it to Friday. Although for many of you, like me, it doesn’t really feel like a Friday. All the days just seem to blend together, well for me at least. Fortunately this is only temporary, and we will all get through this together.
Many people have been emailing me, asking what it’s currently like on St. John. The answer in one word: quiet.
As you may have read, we are under a stay at home order here in the US Virgin Islands. This is not a curfew, nor is it a lockdown. We are able to leave our home to complete tasks that are essential for daily life. Fortunately that includes exercise. I’ve been doing a fair amount of hiking, swimming and snorkeling over the last few days. I have lots of videos to share with you all in the upcoming days.
I last drove through Cruz Bay yesterday afternoon, and it was a ghost town. The majority of businesses are closed. We have a handful of restaurants in Cruz Bay that are open for take-out only. Over in Coral Bay, there are just two that are open to my knowledge. I passed the ferry dock yesterday, and there was only one taxi parked at the dock. We have few tourists left on the island.
The beaches are very quiet, which, admittedly, is sort of nice for the time being. Earlier this month, I came home and announced that Maho was no longer my favorite beach. (It broke my heart to say that.) The beach was overly crowded, there were more taxis parked at Maho Crossroads than I could count, people were parked up and down the roadway, and I was concerned that the number of people at Maho would affect the turtle population at the far right side of the beach. When I was at Maho yesterday, there were no more than 25 people on the whole beach. It was quite the change.
Driving up North Shore, I only saw a handful of rental Jeeps at the beach. The majority of vehicles were residents, and even those vehicles were few.
When the storms happened, I was confident you would all return when the island was ready. Currently, I am apprehensive about the future of St. John’s tourism.
St. John has a “season” which typically runs from November/December (it really kicks in at Christmas time) and runs through Easter. We still get a fair amount of travelers into June and July, but then tourism slows dramatically due to hurricane season. August and September in particular, and a good part of October, are generally very quiet here on the island. I often tell my island tour guests that many of us are similar to teachers. We work really hard during high season and save our pennies, because our income really dwindles during hurricane season.
This pandemic essentially shuttered St. John during our high season. And by the looks of it, it will likely subside during our slower season. And then hurricane season arrives. I am afraid that many people living here on St. John will not be able to weather this storm. Many are finally getting their footing back following the 2017 hurricanes. This pandemic has the potential to really hurt this island and its people.
I know we are not alone in this. I simply want to let you know what many of us are facing here on St. John.
People are cancelling vacations that are scheduled for May, June and beyond. That are citing the pandemic. I simply don’t understand that logic. Once again, I implore you to take a wait and see approach rather than cancelling trips that far out. Unless there is a financial concern. In that case, I absolutely understand and respect your decision to cancel.
You can still support your favorite business during this time. Many small businesses here on St. John have websites that offer gift certificates, St. John souvenirs or swag. Consider purchasing an item now, or a gift certificate you can use later. You can go ahead and rebook that boat trip or an island tour with me now. Let us know you plan to return.
Bored at home? I created St. Johnopoly, which is just like the traditional Monopoly board game that’s been around for more than a century, but it has been completely customized for the island of St. John. Rather than start on Go, you will start at the ferry dock. Using tokens like a petroglyph or Jeep, you can land on your favorite spots like Woody’s, High Tide and more. Games are shipping daily, so order yours today at www.newsofstjohn.com/stjohnopoly
Lastly, I am curious… When do you plan to return to St. John (provided the island is open for tourism once again). Please let us know by voting in the poll below.
Thank you everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful day. 🙂