St John island is one of the HOTTEST DESTINATIONS in the Caribbean. This tiny island is almost 2/3rds National Park. With stunning beaches and protected forests, reefs and historic plantation ruins; it’s no wonder why St John is on just about every Top 10 Destinations List.
Effective 6/1/2016 VRBO is charging a 4%-9% Guest Service Fee ( capped at $499!)
Unlike other Caribbean travel destinations, St John island has just two resorts [ Caneel Bay Resort and The Weston St John ]; and neither is an all inclusive resort. Luckily St John has over 800 vacation rentals. They range in size from a 1 bedroom Caribbean cottage to 8, 9, and 10 bedroom luxury villas. Prices span from a few hundred dollars to over $7,500 dollars per night! So it should come as no surprise that the job of choosing a St John rental villa can be daunting. On top of that, the mega-rental sites often obscure communication with villa owners and managers, charge guest “service fees”, and ballooning booking fees are passed along to guests!
Well, the St John island rental community seems to have had enough of the bullying, guest service fees and pay-to-play inequities of those large online rental sites. In response they’ve developed www.StJohn-VillaRentals.com . The site officially launched on September 14. We suspect it will take a few months for the number of villa listings to grow. In the mean time … have a look. We think they’ve come up with an easy to use site, attractive listing pages and according to their site they offer the following advantages over the mega-rental sites:
- Exclusively St John Listings
- Communicate Directly with Owners / Managers
- No Web Site “Service Fees”
- Interactive Search Features/Map
- Villa Comparison Feature
- Mobile/Tablet-Friendly Web Site
- Custom Property Search Engine
Check out their new web site. We think you’ll agree it’s easy to use and delivers accurate results vs the featured/promotion laced search results too often found on other vacation rental sites!
There’s perhaps no more adventurous way to discover a tropical beach or hidden cove than from the water. I suppose it taps into the “Columbus” in all of us. First foot steps on a coconut palm lined sandy beach. The blues and aquas above and below your paddle board. It’s a truly unique experience. And so, after countless hikes out to Waterlemon Cay, I decided to do something different. I decided to paddleboard to Waterlemon Cay!
I called my friend Lucy, an avid paddleboarder and owner of SUP-St John to see if she wanted to join me. She said she hadn’t been out to Leinster Bay in a while – and agreed to come along. So we arranged a day; and met up in Cruz Bay. I loaded her SUP onto my Jeep. We took North Shore Road. It’s the most direct route and it passes along most of St John’s famous beaches like Caneel Bay, Trunk Bay, Hawksnest Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Maho Bay. Along the way we chatted about island life – and 20 minutes later we arrived.
We pulled into the lower parking area of Annaberg Plantation; along the edge of Leinster Bay, St John. This is the start of the Leinster Bay Trail out to Waterlemon Cay. It was late morning. Visitors were already unpacking snorkeling gear from rental Jeeps. It was the kind of day where the clouds are a crisp white. The ocean is a stunning cobalt blue. And the aquas of the shallow water shimmer with streaks of sunlight. A perfect day to be on the water. I pulled down a shiny new 11′ SUP ATX Adventure Premium board. And Lucy pulled down her 12′ Fanatic Falcon Air. The SUP ATX boards are perfect for getting started on SUP. They’re stable, wide and the deck pad covers the full length! For those with more experience … the Fanatic Falcon Air is a great choice.
We brought the boards down to the water’s edge; and gathered up our dry bags. I carry a Quicksilver backpack/dry bag. It’s super comfortable for hiking. And it’s small enough to bring on a paddle boarding adventure. I’ve owned it for several years; and trust it with my Nikon DSLR/iPhone/GoPro/etc. I’ve used it for flotation - never had it leak! Great for those 10 minute downpours that pop up in the tropics! And the mesh pockets on the sides are perfect for 2 frozen bottles of water.
An uneventful launch – and we’re making our way over the crystal clear waters of Leinster Bay.
Waterlemon Cay 360° Paddleboard Guide
We ran parallel with the Lameshur Bay Trail that runs along the shoreline. We stayed about 60 to 100 yrds out – in about 15′ of water. To the east you can see Waterlemon Cay approximately 3/4 of a mile away. As we traversed Leinster Bay, Lucy gave me some pointers. Proper position of your hands and paddle. Proper posture for balance and strength. If you’ve thought about SUP paddle boarding but were hesitant … don’t be … A little instruction and you’ll be up and paddling in no time!
Once we rounded the point I could see The Windy Hill Ruins sitting on a hilltop over Waterlemon Cay.
Conditions were perfect. A light steady breeze coming from the east. No significant waves. And not much marine traffic. As we came to the point that divides Leinster Bay from Waterlemon Bay – I looked back over my shoulder. From here I could just make out the windmill and rambling ruins of Annaberg Plantation. This is a big part of what being on the water is all about. It’s a unique vantage point. Just you surrounded by water with an unobstructed view of the islands! Once we rounded the point I could see The Windy Hill Ruins sitting on a hilltop over Waterlemon Cay.
We chose to follow the shoreline into Waterlemon Bay. It added about 1/2 mi to the trip. But I would suggest it to anyone making this same trek. It allows you to stop at the little sandy beach – where the Leinster Bay Trail turns into the Johnny Horn Trail. Behind the beach you’ll find some narrow donkey trails that lead to an amazing set of early ruins. You can also head up the trail ( bear right at the split ) and visit The Old Danish Guardhouse Ruins and The Windy Hill ruins.
After a short stop for some hydration and a quick bite – we headed for Waterlemon Cay. A short paddle and we put up on the sandy coral cobble “tail” that runs from the southern end of the Cay. I’ve snorkeled here dozens and dozens of times. But I wasn’t about to let this trip pass without snorkeling. We spent about 30 minutes rounding the far side of the Cay. The sometimes dangerous currents that surround Waterlemon – were still.
Snorkel gear stowed away – we began the trek back to the parking area. This time we made a b-line from the Cay to our launch point. The wind from the east – put the wind at our backs for the return. That shortened the time and effort required to make the approximately 3/4 mi return trip.
Back at the parking area – Lucy and I loaded the boards; and began the drive back to Cruz Bay. We both agreed, it really was a great day! A day that I would recommend to everybody looking for a St John adventure!
Thanks again to Lucy for the paddle boarding tips [ one of these days I'll get some paddle boarding lessons ] and a fantastic St John day on the water.
Looking to escape the cold of winter; and celebrate the Holidays on a tropical beach? We’ve got just the destination for you. St John, US Virgin Islands. No passport required ( for US citizens). Just a few short hours flight from the Continental US. And, our friends at Island Getaways have some Holiday / Winter specials – so you can enjoy a St John vacation rental at a discounted rate!
10% – 25% OFF Select St John Villas
Island Getaways is one of St John’s oldest Villa Management Companies. Their villas are located in St Johns most desirable locations. And most Villas have stunning ocean views, pools, spas, master bedrooms, A/C, wifi and more. You’ll find a good selection of them are kid-friendly! And the staff at Island Getaways can assist you with car rentals, charters, provisioning as well as beach and restaurant recommendations.
For a limited time, Island Getaways is offering 10% – 25% OFF select villas when you book a stay between November 26, 2016 and December 27th, 2016!
These winter specials are for 2 to 6 bedroom villa rentals. Discounts are calculated based on number of guests, available dates and the regular villa rate. So give Island Getaways a call to see how much you can save on that winter getaway to beautiful St John, US Virgin Islands.
Visit their website: www.IslandGetawaysInc.com
% Discount varies by villa, # of guests, and regular rate. Subject to availability.
Check out this amazing 360 degree view from the pool area at Villa Madeira
One of our top must-do’s on St John is a day at Honeymoon Beach enjoying their All Day Pass. Not only is it arguably the best deal on St John; it’s a great way to relax, enjoy the beach and water and dabble in some water sports activities.
If you are traveling to St John, or St Thomas ( with a day trip to St John), between now and November 15, 2016 you can enjoy saving 50% on the Honeymoon Beach All Day Pass! Already the best deal on St John … 1/2 price makes this even sweeter! Now you can enjoy a day at Honeymoon with access to SUP/paddle board, kayak, snorkel gear, chair, float and locker for 1/2 OFF their reg. $49/pp rate. 2 people … all this gear … all day …for under $50! Seriously, you’d be crazy not to sign up.
How to redeem your SAVE 20% promo code.
Simple enter the promo code, SAVE20, to save 20% when you book your pass(es) online.
Date(s) must be between May 15, 2017 and December 15, 2017.
Book asap – as the offer is subject to availability – and they do run out of passes!
How to redeem your SAVE 50% promo code.
Simple enter the promo code, SAVE50, to save 50% when you book your pass(es) online.
Date(s) must be between August 15, 2017 and November 15, 2017.
Book asap – as the offer is subject to availability – and they do run out of passes!
Click here to visit the reservations page:
Book Honeymoon Beach All Day Pass Online Now!
So, where is Honeymoon Beach?
Honeymoon Beach is part of the Caneel Bay Resort – and is inside the VI National Park boundaries. Visitors can access Honeymoon Beach via the Lind Point Trail that starts behind the VINP Visitors Center in Cruz Bay. Or take a taxi to Caneel Bay Resort and make the .5 mi walk to Honeymoon Beach. Renting a car on St John? You can also access Caneel Bay Resorts parking – and make the .5 mi walk to Honeymoon. Parking is “free” if you spend $20 at a Caneel concession – and bring your receipt to the gatehouse.
St John Festival 2016
Sponsored by BELLOWS INTERNATIONAL
“History and sights unseen for St John Festival 2016″
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Cool Sessions Brass
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
…sponsored by the V.I. Port Authority
Pumpa & Crew
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Friday, July 1, 2016
Saturday, July 2, 2016
…sponsored by Dept. of Tourism
Sunday.July 3, 2016
…sponsored by Caneel Bay Resort
Ah We Band
The Bachata Morena Band from Puerto Rico
JOUVERT, Monday, July 4, 2016
Monday, July 4, 2016
Cool Sessions Brass
…sponsored by West Indies Corporation
As anybody that’s been to St John knows, quirky is “normal” on this island. So it should come as no surprise that St John has its very own mobile floating bar!
It was the highlight of our trip! – Karen J. / PA
Angel’s Rest is a 40 ft pontoon boat owned and operated by Captain Peter Hoschl. With her bright yellow siding and aqua-blue roof Angel’s Rest stands out …even among the tropical colors. She’s usually moored in Coral Bay at night. During the day, you’ll most often find Angel’s Rest just off the beaches of St John’s East End. Favorite spots include Haulover South and Vie’s / Hansen Bay.
Swim, float, come by kayak or boat … all who make the journey will be greeted by Captain Pete; and welcomed aboard his unique island floating bar to enjoy a cold beverage and soak up the sun and island breeze. Just don’t ask him for the recipe for his famous Rum Punch. “It ain’t gonna happen!”
Featured in the St John Brewer’s TV ad and Youtube video.
So, next time you visit St John …come on out to the East End. Make the swim. It’s a fun and relaxing way to enjoy a day in Paradise! Just remember, the more you drink …the farther the swim back … ; )
Want to find out where Angel’s Rest will be during your visit to St John?
Reach out to Capt Pete at (340) 514-6270
and on the Angel’s Rest Facebook Page. https://www.facebook.com/angelsrestcoralbay
Angel’s Rest is also available for snorkeling charters and sunset cruises on the East End and Coral Bay.
St John is a tough place to own a restaurant. So we’re never surprised when even the most beloved spots sometimes make way for something new! Such is the case for what-was Joe’s Diner. One street up from the Cruz Bay ferry dock.
After extensive renovations The Longboard Cantina opened to rave reviews! Boasting an island-hipster-surfer vibe; and a menu that’s sophisticated, fresh and packed with flavors! We sat down to give it a try.
The dishes are wonderful combinations of fresh and zesty ingredients – available in small plates that are great for sharing.
On any given night this is one of the top destinations to grab a drink and a bite in Cruz Bay. And deservedly so. Our waitress was all smiles and brought a round of drinks including a Salt & Sea Margarita, an ice cold Corona and a Caipirinha ( Brazilian rum, sugar, lime and coconut water!).
Because the restaurant is open-air, you’ll find it’s not as noisy as some other spots. Certainly not loud enough to keep your table from some spirited conversation!
The dishes are wonderful combinations of fresh and zesty ingredients – available in small plates that are great for sharing. We started off with an appetizer special of cracked conch. It was lightly battered, crispy and tender. Hats off to the chef – as these simple ingredients rely on proper preparation.
For dinner we had a Caribbean Spice Bowl. Spicy jerk seasoned pork, avocado grilled corn and shredded red cabbage over quinoa and fresh greens. A Seared Ahi Tuna Bowl, with roasted tomato-caper chutney and pickled red onion. And a Crudo Plate of Ahi Poke, tuna, avocado, mango tossed in a spicy sesame soy and scallion sauce. The portions are perfect. And the fresh ingredients compliment the creative combinations of The Longboard’s chef. While this type of food and seasoning may not be for everybody – it certainly was a hot at our table.
The only con I can offer is … towards the end of our meal it started to rain. The Longboard is mostly open on 2 sides. Sitting at a table along the railing left us a bit wet. It would have been great to have the sort of ruling bamboo blinds common at other open air spots. Perhaps that’s something that will be added in the future.
Check out their online menu of food and drink …
Daily: 3pm >< 6pm. $1 OFF beers, $5 Frozen Painkiller & Dark + Stormy, $6 Island Cocktails.
Ital Delroy Anthony grew up on the island of St John. As a small child his mum began to teach him about the unique history of St John, the islands and their Afro-Caribbean heritage. Part of that teaching included handing down local knowledge of the importance of nature and plant medicines and their healing abilities.
Carved calabash gourds come to life with images of goats and lobsters and people and island life. Wind chimes sing in the wind. Jewelry of shells and seeds and stone and wood …
In school, Ital learned about native arts and crafts from the legendary and much loved, Mr. Herman Prince of Estate Zootanvahl. Mr. Prince is famous the world over for his traditional St John woven baskets – one of which is in the collection of The Smithsonian American Art Museum.
From there, Ital’s interests grew to include St John’s early history and Afro-Caribbean culture, music and spoken word. Any one who meets him will immediately feel his energy and connection with the greater World. His eyes see things beyond his sight … to that bigger “picture” of how we all fit into this world around us.
One way he connects with all of us is through the arts and crafts he makes and sells. You’ll find him set up past Concordia Eco Resort - near the entrance to Salt Pond Beach on St John’s rugged south east shore. In the shade of a tent you can browse his creations. Carved calabash gourds come to life with images of goats and lobsters and people and island life. Wind chimes sing in the wind. Jewelry of shells and seeds and stone and wood and glass of more colors than we can describe. It’s a great spot to connect with St John and bring home a special piece that will remind you of your time on the Island.
Want to know more about Ital Delroy Anthony?
Unlike the rest of the Caribbean, St John boasts just two resorts on the entire island! The venerable Caneel Bay Resort and the Westin St John. Each has it’s own special charms and repeat guests. However, unlike other islands in the Caribbean, neither resort is all-inclusive.
So, which St John Resort is right for me?
That depends on what type of vacation you have planned. Are you looking for a beautiful pool with drink service? Or perhaps you prefer a white sand beach and snorkeling? Or tennis lessons followed by a spa treatment? Watersports and family activities more your speed?
Caneel Bay Resort
This lux’-relaxed resort boasts 7 beautiful beaches and spans some 170 acres surrounded by the Virgin Islands National Park. Caneel Bay opened its doors to guests in 1956; quickly becoming “the” destination for upscale travelers to the US Virgin Islands.
Enjoy 7 beautiful white sand beaches!
Today, Caneel Bay Resort is made up of 166 accommodations – from ocean view and beach front rooms to suites and cottages. Each lovingly decorated in island-style furnishings and artwork. And outside your door …grassy open spaces give way to the shade of specimen trees and flower plants. Two things you won’t find in the rooms … a telephone or television! In the spirit of Caneel’s benefactor, Laurance Rockefeller, relax and enjoy St John’s natural beauty!
Amenities include – shopping, massage, water sports, tennis, basketball, Airport greetings, feature movies, nannies & babysitting services and more! Or at an additional charge – snorkeling tours, art lessons, fishing charters, tennis instruction, laundry, pilates, scuba diving and instruction.
Romantic wedding location and tailored guest services!
SPECIAL OFFERS: Save on a Caneel Bay Resort vacation.
- Phone: 340.776.6111
- Fax: 340.693.8280
- Toll Free: 855.CANEELUSVI (855.226.3358)
- General Information: Info@caneelbay.com
- Reservations: Reservations@caneelbay.com
- Weddings: Weddings@caneelbay.com
- Concierge: Concierge@caneelbay.com
The Westin St John
With 96 guest rooms, some with water views of Great Cruz Bay and poolside rooms as well as villas, it’s easy to see why so many visitors choose the Westin St John as their destination. Enjoy dining, tennis, watersports, pool, spa and more all on the tropical grounds of the Westin St John. And if you’re looking to discover more of St John – you’re just 10 minutes from Cruz Bay; and just 15 to 20 minutes to St John’s beautiful North Shore beaches like Trunk, Cinnamon Bay, Hawksnest and Honeymoon Beach.
Romantic wedding location and tailored guest services!
2016 U.S. News & World Report Rankings: Best Hotels in U.S. Virigin Islands: #5 in U.S. Virgin Islands
2016 Best of Virgin Islands: Health & Wellness Program
2016 Best of Virgin Islands: Banquet Hall
2016 Best of Virgin Islands: Spa/Health Club
SPECIAL DEALS: Westin St John SPECIAL OFFERS
Website: Westin St John Website
Uniquely St John highlights the people, places and things that make St John such a unique destination.
Nothing carves itself into our memories quite like tastes and smells. Here on St John our very own Chef Jim is handcrafting gourmet tropical spice blends sold on his website and at several locations across the island.
Inspired by “New American cooking”, Chef Jim, traveled extensively throughout South America, the Yucatan Peninsula as well as Nepal and Thailand before settling down on St John in 2001.
Fresh from his travels he began combining and testing his unique blends of spices and regional flavors. Those small batches of handcrafted blends became the foundation of the Kitchen Creole spices he sells today. Combining the smells, flavors and spices of culinary traditions, history, locations into his own “story” of spices!
Use it as a rub or marinade – just as the Taino Indians have done for thousands of years!
What makes them so special?
We’ve been fans of Chef Jim’s spice blends for years! Quick. Easy. Tasty. We flavor everything from soup stock to a meat and fish rub to dressings and sauces! They are that versatile!
A personal favorite is Bourdeaux Mountain – a gourmet blend of dried porcine mushrooms, herbs, spices and seasons from around the world. It’s our go-to for grilling fish or meats. Simply dust the meat with seasoning, grill and serve.
Want a bit of warmth?
Try Jamaican Irie – a mild blend of pimiento, smoked alder wood salt, black peppercorns, granulated molasses and orange peel. Use it as a rub or marinade – just as the Taino Indians have done for thousands of years!
Perhaps the best part of using Chef Jim’s spices while on St John is that they free you to enjoy a stress-free evening “in” while serving your family a tasty and island-inspired meal!
Take some home and let the sweet smell of Condado Adobo or Quintana Roo gently remind you of your time on St John.
Chef Jim’s spices can be ordered online by visiting www.kitchencreole.com .
They are also available in Coral Bay at Shipwreck Landing, Keep Me Posted, Pickles in Paradise and Sloop Jones.
In Cruz Bay at Pink Paypaya (next to The Lime Inn), Papaya Cafe (The Marketplace).