What It’s Currently Like on St. John…

What It's Currently Like on St. John... 1
March 26, 2020

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. 🙂

64 thoughts on “What It’s Currently Like on St. John…”

  1. We are scheduled May 17 through May 24 and will not be making a decision on this vacation until the last minute if the island is open we are coming. And we definitely will be back September 27 through October 11.

  2. I have a trip scheduled the first week of May, and still playing wait and see and hoping I can still come then. If I have to postpone, I’ll be back in November.

    • We are coming in June . We wont cancel unless we have too! We have friends who live on the island and it’s always great to see them

      • My heart is broken that our cruise was cancelled and I had to cancel my excursion to St. John. It is the 4th time that I won’t make it. But I will not give up! Good luck everybody❤️

    • Is that bum Steve Hendren still on St John? He left me hanging on St Croix with an unfinished home & bogied to St John. He still owes me $11,000 out of the $15,000 he promised to repay me more than 10 years ago.

      • Keith,

        So glad to finally hear from you. Although not in the format that I would expect. Hope you and Jeannette are safe and well. If you wish to contact me, my email is still henstjohn @ Yahoo.com. Looking forward to hearing from you. Stephen

  3. Hi Jenn, you are so welcoming, but other sites are downright hostile and turn people off on STJ, I am afraid. Too much harsh lecturing based on their perception of the situation. Glad for your kind voice in the midst of it all.

    • Hi Carla,
      Please know that most of the hostile voices you hear are a small but loud minority. The overwhelming majority are anxious to welcome you back! We appreciate our guests, not only for their financial contribution, but for our shared love of this most special place on earth! xo

    • I too have been turned off by the harsh comments about the tourists who are still coming and tourists still being on island, and it felt like tourist is a bad word. It gave me the same feeling I had when I first visited the VI and stayed on St Thomas 13 years ago. That feeling that the locals really don’t want you there but they know they need you there. That being said, we will most definitely be back. We have met so many friends on island and we know that most are appreciative and welcoming.

      • Hi Jody, I understand what you are saying. I have seen the online hate. I have been a target of it also. It’s not ok in my book. I want visitors here. My friends on island – both those born and raised and those of chose to make this their home – all want visitors here. What I read online and see and experience in real life are often vastly different. I, personally, do not read those sites.

    • Was planning a trip to Europe this Summer for our 30th anniversary That’s not happening until next year. Looking to plan a return to our island in November which is our actual anniversary. Been there twice in the last year and can’t wait to return. Jenn thanks so much for the updates. Stay safe.#USVISTRONG

  4. We will be back in May, June, late July, October, November and after Christmas. We have a home in Cruz Bay and will do everything we can to help the island. We are bringing guests (tourists ) as well.

    Thanks for keeping us up to date!

    • We will be there August 8-22 for our Anniversary. We were married at Cinnamon Bay in 2018. Will be my 23 yr on Island. Nothing is going to stop us from our yearly 2 weeks in paradise.

    • We ARE heading down June 23rd for 3.5 weeks, with my kids, my 2 year old grandson, and two good friends who have never been, but have lived vicariously through our stories & descriptions! I think an island tour might be in order!
      I hope & pray that this thing plateaus soon, and has minimal impact on the island.

      • We were there in October and felt the wrath of those not welcoming tourists. We stayed at The Westin and would never stay there again.
        Seems the people friendly to us were those who moved/migrated to the islands.

        • I have several trips booked this year that I won’t cancel unless I have to. It’s not the air travel at all that I’m afraid of. My husband and I actually suspect we had a mild version of CV these past couple weeks, and are hoping to be done with it. The only thing that could hold me back is flight availability and the mandatory 14 day quarantine that my husband and my work imposes on travel outside our state. We plan to return to St. John later this year or early next year if all goes well. I hope the good people of St. John can hold on and weather this storm. There is an end to this – we just can’t see it yet. 🙂

  5. Thanks for all of the great updates you provide! My husband and I have visited St John many times (and always recommend it to our friends)! We even honeymooned there…

    As a perspective of a NJ resident (we have the second highest coronavirus total in the country … right now it is hard to see an end to this current crisis here. Even when the shutdowns end, I can imagine there is still going to be a lingering fear to travel by air or be in close proximity to others. There is also quite an economic toll here in the States (3.2 million unemployment claims last week), so I imagine that is causing people to cancel as well. We have not canceled any plans yet in the summer, but I can certainly understand why some people are. I know it is hard because your whole economy depends on tourism, but we are realy hurting here, particularly NY, NJ, CA, LA and MI.

  6. We are praying that we can make our May 21st arrival. We will do what we can as always to support STJ! Stay well!

  7. I have a trip booked for May 29th. I’m not thinking about cancelling or postponing yet. I can’t wait to get back! Stay strong!

  8. The owners of our rental were kind enough to let us reschedule. We were scheduled to arrive March 22. American Airlines wasn’t as understanding. So we’ll have to eat the cost of those tickets and purchase new tickets. This time it will be with United.

  9. Love you messages and video’s. We come to St John in February and stay for about 6 weeks. One pleasure I get is taking my walk 3 or 4 times a week for exercise walking from Sea Grape at Frank Bay and walking around downtown Cruz Bay and the National Parks building sometimes venturing to Starfish people watching. I have met some wonderful people doing this, many who live on St. John. Two come to mind. One lady now works at the Market place but told me she worked for thirty years at Caneel until the hurricanes. The other is the lady traffic officer who gives parking tickets and helps kids cross at the school. Both nice people who I enjoyed talking to on occasion. Also Wendall who works at the hardware store. Would like seeing what downtown looks like now. Very sad.

    Thank you for your posts.


  10. We are coming in December 2020, and also May 2021. I could not leave 2 answers! We won’t forget you all. Stay strong!

  11. We have a trip coming down June 12th with no discussions on canceling until we have to however I did reach out to our villa owner on a non-corona related question and got a message back that we should consider postponing and the details on how they are handling that. I can only hope that was b/c they are getting a lot of corona related requests to change and had a canned response but I was a bit sad to have them recommend postponing or canceling so early when none of us know what June will look like. If you guys want visitors, we will be there.

  12. We were suppose to visit the week of April 25th for our 1 year anniversary, we want to reschedule ASAP, depending how things unfold here in UPSTATE, NY. We will definitely be traveling to STJ soon tho. Life is short, enjoy and do what you can and want to do TODAY, SOMEDAY IS NOT A DAY OF THE WEEK!

  13. My wife and I have a trip planned from late June into the middle of July. We live in NYC and this quarantine has got us thinking about St. John more and more. We will be there and will be helping local businesses. Stay strong love city

  14. STJ has been a part of my life since 1992 when I have lived there or visited and I am always planning a trip to share time with my amazing friends who have managed to raise families and run successful businesses. Here in NC I have been furloughed from my 2 part time jobs. We are trying to at least support the restaurants who are only doing take out and find other ways to help those less fortunate in our own towns. As in NC, there will be some businesses that may not survive on STJ. It is a very difficult time. We cannot plan to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation during such uncertain times. Those whose heart and soul find so much peace, joy and love being on St. John will be back just as soon as it makes sense to do so. Thank you Jenn for reporting.

    • We had to cancel a return to Faith Full View, unfortunately. But John and Helen allowed us to rebook for March 2021. It’s the main reason we love St John so much….great people,worth supporting. See ya next year!

    • 2014 was the last time we made it to STT. We always day-tripped at least once per trip to STJ. Every single person we interacted with on-island was so welcoming and friendly!

      A favorite stop for me and my son was always the BBQ shack down by the Cruz Bay Post Office. We always enjoyed relaxing there with BBQ chicken and red bean rice, while my wife and mother-in-law hit the shops. Best BBQ chicken I have ever had!

      I don’t know the names of the kind ladies cooking and running the place, but hope they are in good health so we can visit again someday!

      God bless everyone on STJ. We will come through this together. Hang in there.

      Regards and fond memories from your friends here in Massachusetts! We’ll be back. Someday. As soon as we can save up enough to go…

  15. We just got back after 2 weeks on island. We live in NYS and the news is grim. We were happy to have our getaway before everything went south. We love STJ and will be back again.

  16. Hi Jenn. Our April trip was cancelled and our group cannot return until April 2021. I am home thinking that maybe my wife can go this June if everything improves.
    I have a hopeful prediction. After the hurricanes you lost low season and high season was very weak. We returned the April after the hurricanes and the island was very quiet. The beaches were pretty empty and we did not need reservations for some of our favorite restaurants like the Lime Inn and there were eight of us. Last April was crowded and we thought it was back to normal.
    So. Even though you lost some of the high season and maybe most of the low season people will be back in force by next year’s high season.
    I hope I am making sense and not being overly optimistic. We love St John. My wife and I started in 1983 when our kids were about your little guy’s age and now we come back with them and our grandkids.
    Your blog is great!

  17. Unfortunately I have to agree with your thoughts on Maho Bay, the storms didn’t ruin it. It is what the two leggeds did after that.

  18. My wife and I have a trip planned to St Croix, Tortola and St John June 13-July 3. We have no plans of canceling unless we are told to do so.

  19. Thursday March 12 we were literally booking flights and a villa for our first trip to St. John with our little family of 4. We halted it for fear we would get stuck with two under 5 years old. We really wanted to come and had planned it may 2-9 last minute, currently, my husband is practicing chiropractic in his clinic solo, running his small business solo. I am really hoping that we can possibly get there may 23-30 and am keeping the possibility open because we feel this will die down by then, if not before then. I have been keeping up with St. John thanks to this blog. We were hoping to find a fabulous island in st John to Keep returning to, and I know that once we get our first visit there, it won’t be our last. Praying you all are ok, and that we can scrub it together to come in May. Love and light from New Jersey.

  20. We just left on Tuesday, having to cut short our vacation, but we did our best to support local businesses until we left. Hope that everyone on STJ can make it through this difficult time.

  21. We had to cancel a return to Faith Full View, unfortunately. But John and Helen allowed us to rebook for March 2021. It’s the main reason we love St John so much….great people,worth supporting. See ya next year!

  22. Coming in June and holding off until the last minute if we have to cancel. Already in touch with the Property owner we are renting from so we can work together.

    Fingers crossed!!

  23. We will be there as scheduled end of june.unless something changes that.as when the hurricanes came we will come and do our small part,put money into the local economy and bring more puppies home for adoption. We will all get through this no matter where we are.We just wish we were there we love the Islands,but can seem to figure a way to live there!…Maybe Someday. GODS SPEED to all

  24. The thing that makes me the most sad in this post is the Maho situation. I was so afraid that would happen and I do fear for the turtles. We were supposed to be coming on Monday and had to reschedule. Unfortunately I choose my vacation time in November for the following year so rescheduling this year isn’t an option for me. We are coming back in January for two weeks. My prayers go out to everyone there. I am a healthcare worker. It is very scary here now and I pray that the virus does not reach any of you. I encourage anyone that does have to cancel or reschedule that you consider letting any excursions or jeep rentals keep the deposit. I couldn’t afford to give my cottage rental money up, but I did reschedule my trip instead of canceling. That way she did not owe me a refund. Something to consider.

    • Amen to what John said. Health care workers are our true heroes. We would all be up the creek without a paddle if it weren’t for them.

  25. We are on island experiencing the quiet and isolation as doing what we can to be able to secure a healthy future on St. John. Our home some of you may know as “Fishbone” in Fishbay is being rebuilt since Hurricane Irma. We look forward to having it available for our guests once again and enjoying all of the people that loved the life of listening to the crashing waves at the Bone!

    • So happy to hear this! We stayed at Fishbone a few years ago, and made canvas prints of shots from the deck. It was so disheartening to think that no one will get to appreciate that spectacular view again.

      We loved our time on the island, and quiet nights sitting on the deck chairs, looking out at the stars, or taking in the tranquil beauty in the morning eating breakfast or drinking coffee on the deck.

      I absolutely loved the outdoor shower off of the lower bedroom, what a sense of FREEDOM!

      We would love to come back at some point in our lives!

  26. We are scheduled for 2 separate weeks at the Westin – 5/2 – 5/9 (our ownership fixed week) and 5/9 – 5/16 (our float week). We have not yet canceled. If we cancel now, Vistana is only giving us Restricted Options with a reservation window of only 120 day out from booking. We’re not confident that we’d even find an opening by the end of the year. Owners who are trying to use their Home Resort are getting the short end of the deal here. We are a month out from our potential vacation, so I’m trying to remain positive, until the USVI government tells me otherwise.

  27. Love from CT, Jenn! We think about you every day and the fabulous time we had with you In March! Guess what Keith is getting for his birthday!? ST Johnopoly! His birthday is the end of May so we should get it in time….Shhhh…..
    Hang in there!

  28. We’ve been coming down annually (sometimes twice a year) since 2009 and sadly had to cancel our next trip set to begin on April 7th. As soon as we can get there we will rebook. We also purchased St. Johnopoly last week and LOVE it. Stay strong! ♥️

  29. I have family scheduled to visit the last week of May, and my husband and I have a two week vacation planed for late August/early September. Low season/hurricane season … I don’t care … we just want to be in our happy place this year.

  30. Hi,
    Scheduled for Apr. 29 for 2 weeks.
    Postponed until we’re allowed to visit.
    Our favourite place.
    Maho, our favourite beach… swimming with the turtles, rays and the occasional shark 🙂
    Be well!
    Andrew, Nicola and Charlotte

  31. Unless the airlines aren’t flying to STT, we’ll be on St. John for two weeks – Oct 24 – 31 (10 of us) and Oct 31-7 (4 of us). CANNOT wait for time in paradise once again – definitely our happy place as well! Hang in there!

  32. Thank you for this update Jen- my heart is with all of you down there and we will do what we can for sure. And of COURSE we are coming back, but sadly even before this pandemic we could only plan for next 8 Tuff- Feb 2021. SO glad we were able to be there this past February (and hang out at Mile 8!). Hang in there!

  33. We were there March 11-18, had a wonderful stay, the beaches were still crowded (hard to find parking at Trunk and Maho). I worry about the ecological damage to Maho, etc… because St. John is clearly becoming more touristy – however, I’m a tourist, so that’s a bit hypocritical. If only all tourists would be respectful of the environment when they visit. As for cancellations, people’s finances/jobs are being hit just as bad as fear of catching the virus, and I think that might be a very large part of the cancellation issue. I will also say… the feeling we got from some of the residents/business workers was definitely not a welcoming vibe, and we go out of our way to be friendly and respectful when we visit, and we tip generously because we appreciate their efforts. It felt as if we were putting them out, there was no friendly banter or even looking us in the eye as we did need to communicate. I would imagine there are plenty of rude tourists and perhaps that wears them down – but we are not all like that, and our business is important to the island’s welfare as tourists, I’m assuming. So, that was sad to see this time around. We plan to visit again, hopefully next year. Wishing you all well – such a beautiful place, and some wonderful people we met along the way – including Dana at Carolina Corral, Lori D. of St. John Catering, Jared and Keri of Unique Island Properties, and more. Be well, all –

  34. We have a trip booked for early June. Waiting to see how this all turns out. Staying on St Thomas but always hop over to St John. We love it there.

  35. I utterly do not understand this “rude treatment” thing. We have been visiting St John annually since 2005, and twice annually since about 2010, and have NEVER been treated with anything but friendliness and accommodation. We’ve stayed in many different places and eaten in dozens of restaurants. I’m very curious who is putting out the bad vibes.

    We are all sad that we can’t visit. But I agree with the commenter who said, everyone’s pocketbooks (and portfolios, if you’re rich enough to have one) are taking a huge hit right now. A tropical vacation would be the first thing to cut, if one gets laid off or otherwise needs to save money. St John has always been a pricey trip.

    That said, we will be back just as soon as we can safely come. We are in a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 due to our age, and we are not about to seriously jeopardize that, or put a strain on your already-fragile health care system by unknowingly bringing more disease with us.

    I am so sorry that you are being tested again. But it’s the whole WORLD that is undergoing the ordeal this time. We are hoping for many kinds of recovery ASAP.

  36. Funny, I tried to book a timeshare stay in St John for the week July 19th but nothing seemed to be available. Will most definitely try again for that week!
    Will be in St Thomas the week prior

  37. We’ll be there in January 2021 but are now talking about coming down as soon as things open back up, both for our mental health and to spend some money at our favorite places. I’ve ordered some STJ swag from a few places in the last week to try and help.

  38. We live on St. Thomas. We wanted to go to St. John, but have heard the moorings at Maho and Francis are all taken. Is that what you have seen? Boats are apparently escaping other islands that have closed their borders. We had a major influx last week over here.

    • I am not sure if they are all taken, but that can certainly be the case. The bays both looked very full today.

  39. this will not be over by May.. if it isn’t over and you have people coming the island will be in danger. I am not just saying that to be difficult or negative. St John is unique in that you have basically 1 way to get there and one way to get out. Everyone gets on the same ferry and there is no social distancing at all. If one infected person gets on that ferry.. it is over. The President yesterday said he expects 100,000 people not to make it.. that is either 100,000 over the next month or this will go on much longer than people are planning for. June may seem further out.. it is two months away. Safety over everything. Treat St John like it was your grandmothers house

  40. Thank you very much for your reply. It might thin out when boaters move around for hurricane season; if there is somewhere to go.

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