Good Morning, Good Morning! It’s the sleepiest time of year on St. John…But that doesn’t mean your vacation has to be. We all know that A TON of businesses are currently closed for the off-season and that you can definitely expect lighter crowds and less coordinated activities during this time of year. But, if you are lucky enough to be visiting during these sleepier months, you might happen upon some fun that you just didn’t expect. Aside from the emptier than normal beaches, hiking trails and parking areas that we should ALL be taking advantage of, there are many businesses that are remaining open during these slower months. And, today, I want to touch on those establishments AND some fun activities that you may have never tried before!
Ok, first things first. Although a lot of restaurants will be slowly starting to open their doors again towards the end of this month and the beginning of next, I wanted to quickly give a nod to those establishments that chose to remain open throughout the off season. For the complete listing of restaurant closings and current hours for each establishment, visit the updated Restaurant Report post.
- Greengo’s Caribbean Cantina
- The Tap Room
- Maho Crossroads
- High Tide
- Cruz Bay Landing
- Trunk Bay Concessions
- The Windmill Bar
- Heading East
- Delyvonne Breakfast Bistro
- 420 to Center
- CoCo Jim’s
- Amore Arowako Vegan Club
- Every Ting Kurry
- Ekaete Pink Corner
- Gwen’s Place
- The Inn at Tamarind Court (Breakfast only)
- Little Olive Food Truck (YUM!)
- Tap & Still
- Uncle Joe’s Barbeque
The moral of this particular story? Try some local food! A lot of the establishments that may be on your regular St. John to-do list might not be available to you during your fall travels. So, for some variety, and a great way to spend an entire day exploring St. John and trying new things, go on a self-guided local food tour!
- Start with breakfast at Delyvonne’s on Bordeaux Mountain (Open Sunday-Friday 6:30AM-Noon)
- Maybe hit up Salt Pond Beach for an hour or two, then head over to Ekaete Pink Corner at the triangle in Coral Bay (Open Sunday-Thursday 11AM-4PM)
- From there, head out on Centerline towards Cruz Bay. But first stop at Heading East in Susannaberg for some afternoon libations and snacks under the beautiful shade tents on the grassy hillside.
- Don’t miss a stop at Gwen’s Place on Gifft Hill. Her hours are limited (Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 11AM-4PM), but her incredible food is worth the short trek off of Centerline.
- Maybe hit up a little hike mid-day to work off some of that deliciousness before heading into town for a stop at Every Ting Kurry (Next to Dave & Jerry’s Island Steakhouse), Amore Arowako Vegan Club (near the basketball courts), Hercule’s and Uncle Joe’s (both right near the customs dock).
At each spot, be sure to strike up a conversation with the person doing the cooking or serving about which cuisines to try. Start your chat with Good Morning, Good Afternoon or Good Night (depending on the time of day) to ensure a more pleasant interaction. You never know what type of amazing stories (and samples!) you might get if you invest the time and interest in the conversation.
Looking for a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Head up to the Windmill Bar for some Bingo! Every Sunday throughout the off season this great little mountaintop bar with some of the best views on St. John hosts a very island-style Bingo from 3PM-5PM. Bring plenty of cash to play along through several regular rounds and the $10/card Blackout Bingo round at the end. Be prepared to be called out over the mic by sassy and hysterical host Matt Mooney (tip big to avoid it 🙂 ). And stick around for some snacks and the spectacular sunset afterwards.
Oh, speaking of Sundays during the fall…They were made for FOOTBALL, right? There are several places to kick back and watch the game of your choice on St. John during the slower times of year. Salty Mongoose, Shambles, 420 to Center and The Tap Room are all great places to cheer on your team on Sunday afternoons or Monday and Thursday nights! Careful…The residents of Love City get quite frisky about their football allegiances. You could make some new friends or some long standing rivals 🙂
If you’re more in the mood for getting in touch with Mother Nature than the team of your choice or Bingo winnings, pack up the car and the cooler and hit the road for a little exploration! Stop by Cruz Bay Landing or High Tide for a hearty breakfast and North Shore Deli or Little Olive Food Truck for lunch to go before you head out of town in search of adventure.
One of my favorite ways to spend a full day of exploring is to head out to Annaberg and Leinster Bay. Every inch of this area of St. John is teeming with history and natural beauty.
- Park at Annaberg and leave your beach things in the car while you head up the stairs for a walk through the historical sugar mill factory. If you love historical information like I do, take a look at the interactive tour on the National Park Service website before you visit! Oh, and don’t forget to pause to check out those breathtaking views from the top 🙂
- Then, head back to the car and grab your snorkel gear, reef safe sunscreen and cooler before heading out on the roughly one-mile flat traverse along the water’s edge at Leinster Bay. This particular trail is super easy. But, on the overall, I recommend a pair of hiking sandals or light tennis shoes for this day excursion.
- Set up camp on the sandy beach at the base of the Johnny Horn trail and take a nice long swim around Waterlemon Cay. Here you will see a multitude of underwater ecosystems, teeming with fish and other sea life. I caution you, the shallows surrounding the island (closest to the beach) are seemingly made up of dead coral. BUT, they are absolutely not. A few months ago, I was swimming in two feet of water and right underneath me, hidden under a piece of coral, was a beautiful Moray Eel! Never stand on rocks or coral, especially here, because you never know what sea creature might be calling that seemingly dead coral their home 🙂
- Afterward your long and rewarding swim, enjoy your lunch on the beach and then head out for a quick walk up the hill to the Leinster Bay Guard House and the Murphy Great House ruins.
- Enjoy some drinks and another swim on the beach after your uphill excursion and make your way back to the car with a beautiful day well spent the only thing left behind alongside your footprints in the sand.
Looking for a bit of an easier beach day? Skip packing up the car and cooler and simply head out to Maho Crossroads or Trunk Bay where food, drink, snorkel gear and other rentals all await your arrival. The hardest part of your beach day at either of these locations will be securing a parking spot. But, during this sleepy time of year, even those are pretty easy to come by. Ha!
If you are already well past sun kissed and are looking for a way to spend the day indoors in a cool dark space, head to St. Thomas for the day.
Chicken ‘N Bowling in Havensight is a great way to spend an afternoon indoors. Six bowling lanes, billiards, darts and a great restaurant and bar make this stop a favorite for Love City residents looking to get out of the sun and relax in a slightly more “stateside” kind of way.
Or take the Skyride to the top of Paradise Point. The tram operates on most cruise ship days but call ahead to make sure it is operating before taking the downtown ferry to Charlotte Amalie. From the top of the mountain, you can see forever, especially on a clear day. And lunch, drinks and duty-free shopping are readily available from this perch high above the bustling harbor of St. Thomas. If you play your cards, and your schedule, right, you could knock out both bowling and the Skyride from Havensight in one day; jam packed with fun activities!
I know, I know…it’s tough to fill your schedule during this sleepier time of year in the USVI. But, I can assure you that there are still fun ways to spend your days and nights, even during the quietest times of year here. Amidst the boats that are still in the water for charter and the breathtaking beaches that lie less densely with crowds than you will see them during any other time of year, there are a ton of fun off the beaten path activities to enjoy on St. John during the sleepier months of the year. And, hey, some of these excursions might be fun to add to your to-do list…Even if your next Love City vacation is during peak season!