Uniquely St John – Fine handcrafted Jewelry

Michael Banzhaf jewelry

Jewelry by Michael Banzhaf, Cruz Bay, St JohnWith a nod to the many wonderful memories and photos you’ll take …there’s nothing as wonderful as bringing home a treasure from the US Virgin Islands.

Among the many shops and galleries of Cruz Bay is a gem among gems, Michael Banzhaf Studio. While The Gallery does represent paintings and works of art by local artists – the real star here is Micheal’s work in gold, platinum and silver accented with Diamonds, Sapphires and other precious and semi-precious stones.

My more recent designs draw upon my fascination with plant life. I find inspiration in natural forms for the stylized interpretations that appear in my pieces. – Michael Banzhaf

His creations are an amalgam of styles that pull their inspiration from ancient designs, Art Nouveau and more earthly forms of leaves, animals and the geometry of nature. Each piece is handcrafted in his Studio with an attention to detail that is rarely seen today. The smallest detail has been conceived and created at the hand of a true master goldsmith. Michael’s designs create A stage for some of the most interesting stones and pearls imaginable.

Recent works showcases his most popular creations using rare green-blue Tourmaline, Sapphires, Aquamarines and Gem Chrysocola!

Treat yourself or someone you love to the gift that is an instant heirloom. The shop is open M, T, Th, F 12-6 or by appointment: 340-642-2047

A portfolio of his work can be seen by visiting http://michaelbanzhafstudio.com ; better yet, visit his gallery in Cruz Bay – conveniently located in the St John Properties building beside Mongoose Junction.

Spotlight on Jumbie Beach

Jumbie Beach on Saint John, US Virgin Islands

Jumbie Beach St John mapEvery beach on the planet has something special or unique about it. It could be majestic waves or long stretches of white sand or perhaps it’s secluded. For some, it’s the memory of a vacation or holiday or summers at the shore. And each of St John’s beaches are different and special and each has its fans and diehard visitors.

… a tiny crescent of sand rimmed by dark volcanic rocks and the cool shade of seagrapes.

Jumbie Beach, located on Saint John’s north shore, is a tiny crescent of sand rimmed by dark volcanic rocks and the cool shade of seagrapes. Fans of Jumbie will likely be up in arms because they treasure this “secret” gem. Jumbie Beach is located along North Shore Road, just west of world-famous Trunk Bay. For this reason most visitors pass right by the narrow path that marks the entrance to this tranquil beach. And Jumbie fans would just as soon have you drive past!

This beach was historically visited mostly by St John residents. It was a retreat from busier beaches like Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon and Maho. It enjoys a pleasant breeze and  doesn’t get the strong summer sun or hard afternoon light of some of the other North Shore beaches. Because of its orientation and reef structure just off shore, Jumbie gets larger surf than some other beaches. Larger waves and a steeper water entry make it less kid-friendly than Trunk or Maho. But don’t let that deter you from spending some time relaxing on this special little piece of paradise. Pack a cooler and head out along North Shore Road. Parking is limited to a handful of spots. At Jumbie you’ll discover a place that quietly hides in the shadow of Trunk – and thus remains one of the top beaches on the island.

St John rental JeepHow to get to Jumbie Beach: Take North Shore Road east out of Cruz Bay about 2 mi. or west out of Coral Bay. Just before you reach the Trunk Bay overlook you’ll encounter a set of speed bumps. Parking is just off the roadway – with the easy-to-miss path located just across the road. Follow the path about 150 yrds and you’ll emerge onto the south east end of the beach. There is more shade on this end of the beach. There are more stones and less sand as you enter the water on the far end of the beach. Early birds can grab a spot under a short palm located at the center of the beach. St John Beach Map

Snorkeling at Jumbie: Not known for its snorkeling, there are still some descent structures, corals and fish to the left and right of the beach. Depending on the size of the waves, head toward Trunk and you’ll pass over a Swiss-cheese type maze of corals and rocks. Out at the edge of the reef it drops to about 20′; with the leading edge of the wall having larger numbers of sea fans, corals and a wider variety of fish. Keep an eye out and you’ll likely see reef squid, parrotfish, Atlantic Blue Tangs and Surgeon Fish, wrasse, Yellowtail snapper and the occasional grouper and Spotted Hind.

Is Low Season the New High Season?

Trunk Bay beach on Saint John during low season

What to Expect

Low season on St John is typical of many tourist destinations. The summer heat and humidity move in and things slow down. The roads see fewer rental Jeeps. Villas have higher vacancies. A fair percentage of shops, bars and restaurants will close for a week or 2 or even for the month of September/October.

In general the pace slows to that hot tropical crawl that is the signature of island livin’.

So, is low season a good time to visit St John? The answer depends on your travel goals. For those wishing to avoid the crowds and the relative expense of the high season on St John – low season might be right for you! But before you head off to book your tickets – here are a few things to expect.

Saint John's top beachesSt John Low Season Travel: Beaches like Trunk, Maho, Cinnamon, Salt Pond and Hawksnest, that get the lion’s share of the visitors during high season, will be mostly uncrowded during low season. Some of the off the beaten path beaches like Denis, Little Cinnamon and Little Hawksnest will probably be deserted! Beaches like Little Lameshur, that require AWD and take some local knowledge will likely be visited only by St John residents. As an example: we have been to Hansen Bay/ Vie’s several times this month and each time we were the only souls on the beach the entire day! Gibney …just one other couple on 2 occasions! Lameshur … 1 other couple. Denis … 1 other couple! Even Trunk Bay Beach has had days when you felt like the entire beach was yours and yours alone!

Since it’s low season you’ll have your pick of villas …many at their lowest prices of the season! These villas are a great value – but you might also consider upgrading to some of the features that are more expensive during high season travel. Check out villas with expansive water views and pools – they may be well within your budget! Popular villas that are book for high season years in advance may be available! Some villas which are winter retreats for their owners are available during these summer months.

Restaurants, Bars and Activities: Low season typically sees reduced hours, reduced menu options or businesses will close for 1, 2, 3 weeks …or even the entire month. St John Spice has the most complete list of restaurants and bars with their summer schedules. Many charters take a few weeks off – but call and inquire. You may just find that they are willing to take you out for the day! Many of the busiest spots in Cruz Bay stay open – so you won’t starve and you won’t go thirsty, promise!

Saint John weather low seasonLow Season Weather: here’s where you will have to be a gambler! September has the highest number of hurricanes and tropical storms on St John. Even if you don’t get the big-blow you might get 3 days of rain for your 7 day vacation. September weather is hot and humid. The tradewinds that usually cool the island will be reduced to an intermittent light breeze. Humidity increases and nights take on an island tropical feel. And consider travel insurance – that way you’ll be covered if the weather does conspire to wreck your vacation!

So, should you visit St John during low season? It’s not for everybody and probably not recommended for the first time St John visitor. But for those of you that have experienced St John before and are looking for a travel bargain and the slower pace of the summer season – then low season might be the perfect time to plan a visit to St John.

Spotlight on Caneel Bay Resort

Caneel Bay Resort
Uniquely situated within the Virgin Islands National Park on St John’s world-renowned North Shore, lies Caneel Bay Resort. The Resort’s 170 tropical acres are the legacy of its founder, Laurance Rockefeller and share his desire to protect this wonderful natural environment. Guest enjoy 7 beautiful beaches surrounded by lush tropical plantings, plantation ruins and modern amenities like watersports, tennis, restaurants/bars, shopping and spa treatments.

Resort History
Laurance Rockefeller fell in love with Caneel Bay in 1952 while sailing in the Caribbean. It is his vision and ideals that created the Caneel Bay Resort along with the over 5,000 acres that forms the foundation of the VI National Park on St John.

MAP of CANEEL BAY RESORT [PDF]

Caneel’s Beaches
This lux-relaxed resort boasts 7 stunning beaches – each with it’s own character and detailed here in no particular order.

Caneel Bay Beach
Just a stones throw away from the Front Desk/Lobby, concierge desk and business center is the main beach, Caneel Beach. It boasts stunning sugar-soft white sand and crystal clear aqua water – with easy shallow water entry. You’ll also find the Caneel Bay Pier and Watersports Dive Shop on the east end of the beach. Chairs and towels are provided to Resort Guests.

Honeymoon Beach
This is the only beach at Caneel that does not have guest rooms. Located west of Caneel Bay – and a short walk – Honeymoon is a wonderful spot to unwind, enjoy aqua blue waters and excellent snorkeling. There is also a watersports shack with SUP, kayaks, chairs, snorkeling gear and lockers for rent. For more info on VI Eco Tours Kayak, SUP and Snorkel Gear Rental

Hawksnest Beach
On the western edge of Hawksnest Bay is a magnificent white sand beach fringed with majestic palms. Hawksnest catches the early morning sun and provides welcomed afternoon shade. Snorkelers will enjoy the marine life surrounding the rocks and patch reefs that mark both ends of the beach.Snorkeling 101 mask and fins

Scott Beach
This beach enjoys the protection of Turtle Bay Point. A great beach to enjoy a lazy afternoon under the sea grapes  or floating on the aqua-blue water. Scott Beach is a wonderful spot to catch the sun set over St Thomas.

Paradise Beach
Located on the far side of Cottage Point. This tiny crescent of white sand offers a quiet spot for those seeking solitude.

Turtle Bay Beach
Located on the tip of the peninsula that divides Hawksnest Bay and Caneel Bay. Turtle Bay Beach is fine white sand with abundant sea grapes for shade and protection. Easy shallow water entry and sandy bottom make this a top choice to spend your beach days!

Little Caneel
Just west of the pier is a small stretch of beach – set apart from the main beach of Caneel.

Rooms at Caneel
From Court Side to Garden View, Beach Front Suite to Cottage – the range of accommodations at Caneel are tailored to couples, families and groups! For more information and pictures please visit: Caneel Bay Accomodations

Three Palms Villa – 4 Bdrm, 3 bath, oceanfront near Cruz Bay

St John rental villas - Three Palms Villa oceanfront

St. John is the Caribbean Island experience that will open your senses to nature. Feel the warm tropical breeze as it causes the palm trees to sway. Hear calypso music playing from beach side shacks painted in ultra vivid tropical colors. Taste Island food with spice that excites and flavors that tantalize. Cold tropical drinks will cool you down after spending the day in the sun. Swim off of white sand beaches in crystal clear water. Snorkel with fish that you have seen in a fish tank. Get off of the beaten track. Put the adventure back into your life. Contact us at Three Palms today and book a reservation!

Imagine You in the Caribbean. St. John is a tropical Island abundant with natural beauty and cultural diversity. Island warmth is a few hours away and no passport is required. Throw a few things in your bag, grab your shades and sunscreen and you will be on the beach in no time. Feel the soft Caribbean trade winds as the palms sway and the calypso plays. Hang out at a beach bar after playing in the sun all day. Swim in crystal clear turquoise water, take your shoes off and stay a while. Contact Three Palms St. John now for a quote for your group!

Villa details: 3500 sq’, wheelchair accessible ( ground floor bedroom and shower), children welcome, events allowed, A/C, linens/towels, washer/dryer, parking, TV/satellite/cable/DVD, internet, outdoor grill, hot tub …oceanfront view!

Call 340-514-8194
Visit: www.stjohnthreepalmsvilla.com
Email us: Three Palms Villa

Three Palms Villa - St John rental villa

Concordia Eco-Resort on St John

Concordia Eco-Resort on St John, USVI

Glamping is all the rage in tourism. Not familiar with the term? It’s simply ….the camping you remember as a child combined with the amenities and creature comforts that most modern travelers have come to expect.

US News lists Concordia as one of the top places
to Glamp on the planet!
Read the article

Long before this type of eco-tourism was “mainstream” Stanley Selengut, founder of Concordia, had a vision of low-impact tourism that was managed in harmony with the natural surroundings of the island of St John. His vision became the much-loved [ recently closed ] Maho and Concordia Eco-Resorts on the island of St John in the US Virgin Islands.

Concordia Eco-Resort’s 51 acres are located on St John’s rugged and beautiful south eastern coast. Built into the hillside the resort enjoys dramatic views of Drunk Bay, Ram’s Head and Salt Pond Bay; as well as wonderful trade wind breezes off the ocean. The resort’s architect, Glenn Speer, used green building techniques whenever and wherever possible to create a unique development that truly respects its place on this special island.

“It is now possible for green travelers to enjoy intimacy with nature while staying in dwellings constructed almost entirely of recycled materials …” – Selengut says

“It is now possible for green travelers to enjoy intimacy with nature while staying in dwellings constructed almost entirely of recycled materials, powered by the sun, and built with site-sensitive techniques that preserve and protect the fragile eco-system of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Selengut says. “In others words, creature comforts for all creatures.”

Find out more about Concordia Eco-Resort

Top Spots to Snorkel – Yawzi Point, St John

Yawzi Point snorkeling

Yawzi Point St John mapYawzi Point is located in the Virgin Islands National Park on St John’s rugged south shore. While this is one of the more demanding spots to snorkel – requiring experience and a level of fitness – it is also one of the top spots to snorkel on St John.

Getting there:

The mostly dirt road to Lameshur Bay can be a challenge after heavy rains. You are advised that getting to Yawzi Point is best done in an AWD or 4X4 vehicle.

Coming from Cruz Bay you can take Centerline Road ( Rte 10) or North Shore Road (RTE 20) toward Coral Bay. At the bottom of the steep hill coming into Coral Bay you’ll come to a “T” intersection. Take a right and travel the twisting winding road about 5 mi., past Concordia and Salt Pond. At the end of the paved road you’ll find the entrance road to VIERS and the 2 Lameshur bays. Yawzi Point is the spit of land that divides the 2 Lameshur bays.

Yawzi Point

Just over 1.5 mi from the entrance, past Great Lameshur Bay ( a stone and pebble beach),  you’ll come to Lameshur Beach. With ample parkiSnorkeling 101 mask and finsng, a beautiful soft sand beach and some spots to grab shade – this is the perfect spot to call “base camp” on your snorkeling adventure.

You have a couple of options for getting to Yawzi Point. First, you can take the short hike down the path that runs along the eastern side of Little Lameshur Bay. DO NOT mistake the path for the narrow road that leads to the VIERS research building. About half way out you will see a narrow path that leads down to the water to your left. When you reach the bottom there is a convenient mini cobble “beach”. This is a great spot to hang your towel and shoes and to enter the water.

“Impressive deep water canyons provide for some really dramatic structure. Sea fans wave to and fro …as schools of Atlantic Blue Tangs pass below you!”

The other choice is to enter from Little Lameshur Bay beach and snorkel out along the eastern side until you reach the point. This is the athletic choice and requires about 30 minutes of snorkeling each way. However, it does offer some decent snorkeling on your way out and on your return. I regularly see  spiny lobster, rays, turtles, and Queen Angelfish on this route. So, depending on your level of fitness this is a great way to see lots of marine life.

As you approach Yawzi Point ( the very tip ) waves increase but so does the marine life. Impressive deep water canyons provide for some really dramatic structure. Sea fans wave to and fro with every wave. Schools of Atlantic Blue Tangs pass below you. Large elk horn and brain coral formations dot the reef. Pairs of parrotfish cruise the bottom turning coral to sand as they graze. Schools of French Grunts huddle in the shade of every overhang. And because of its “open water” location – you’ll likely see larger fish like Spanish Mackerel, Jacks and Permit.

One word of caution – Yawzi Point can be a fairly demanding spot to snorkel. Waves, current and no easy way to exit demand respect. Use common sense, don’t exceed your abilities and always snorkel with a buddy.

Points of Interest
Sugar Mill Ruins and Lameshure Bay Trail – At the western end of the bay you can explore some nicely preserved and renovated sugar mill ruins. This is also the start (or end) of several of St Johns best hiking trails. You can take the Lameshur Bay Trail to Europa Bay, The Par Force Great House ruins, petrogylphs and the Reef Bay ruins. This is also the bottom of the Bordeaux Mountain Trail. A somewhat controversial character has create a wonderful online resource  for hiking trails on St John is www.trailbandit.org

Kekoa – A Life Worth Living

Kekoa Sailing Expeditions on St John, USVI

Kekoa Charters St John USVISt John – Sail with Kekoa
Kekoa “The Brave One” is a 50′ hand-built catamaran. Brothers Ryan and Jamison Witbeck spent over 2 years building her at their small boat works in North Carolina. Captained by Jamison Witbeck, with her signature black sails and his experienced hand at the helm, Kekoa is a popular sailing excursion around St John and the BVIs.

The best way to get to know him [ Jamison ] is to get to know his boat – Savannah Jane Buffet – Host of Ex-Pats

Available for full day, half day, sunset sail, Jost Van Dyke (BVI) and private charters. Whether you are looking for snorkeling, swimming or sailing to the BVIs -  you’re sure to find an adventure that’s right for groups of any size!

Located in Cruz Bay you can reach Kekoa Sailing Expeditions
by calling (340) 244- SAIL(7245)

Click for hundreds of Reviews of Kekoa Sailing Expeditions on Tripadvisor

Check out this episode of EX-PATS with host Svannah Jane Buffet. You’ll learn how the Kekoa was sold to an operation in the Virgin Islands – and how she was abandoned at sea during a huge storm on her way to St Thomas. But fate stepped in and the brothers found her adrift, brought her in for repairs and made the move to St John. Truly inspiring …

Discover St John’s History

St John - Life in Five Quarters

The history of St John, USVIEver wonder what life was like on St John in the 1950′s or 1900 or 1780 or earlier? If so, then you’ll likely find the St John Historical Society’s web site, www.stjohnhistoricalsociety.org , and publications a true treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment!

Life in Five Quarters is the St John Historical Society’s latest effort. The pages of the 200+ page book contain selected articles and historic images from the Society’s archives. From the Danish struggle to colonize the island through “modern day” St John ( 1950′s) you’ll discover, through text and pictures, some of the most important events to shape today’s island of St John.

“… 66 unique articles …as well as an impressive collection of images … many never before published.”

I encourage you to discover St John beyond the beautiful beaches, villas and watersports. There is a St John beneath the modern exterior that is brimming with fascinating history. Whether you are driving, walking, hiking or snorkeling – every corner of St John bears evidence of its past. Give context to the things you see and the places you visit on St John by learning a bit about life before cruise ships and Piña Coladas. I think you’ll find it enriches the experience!

Life in Five Quarters is available at many of the gift shops on St John or by visiting the St John Historical Society’s site Shop Now. The price is $29.99 for the printed book or $9.99 for an electronic download. Your support helps to protect and promote the island’s history and treasures.

Spotlight on Maho Bay Beach

Maho Bay beach and snorkeling

Maho Bay beach, St John mapAsk anyone who’s visited St John and they’ll likely tell you that Maho Bay is among their favorite beaches. And why not, with its easy to reach location, beautiful shallow water, soft sand beach, towering coconut palms, parking, facilities and excellent snorkeling.

Planning to spend the day on one of St John’s beaches?
Voted a “Visitors Favorite Beach”- Maho deserves it’s fame. Located on North Shore Road, the beach is just a few yards from parking. This makes it a top choice for anybody with kids and chairs and coolers and snorkeling gear and floatation.

The beach is narrow, but the water is usually calm – with only the lightest surf. The sand is as soft as sugar and extends a fair distance from the shoreline. The shoreline is rimmed with sea grapes and coconut palms that cast an inviting shade throughout the day. There are plenty of “pockets” along the beach so that you feel almost like you’ve got Maho to your self!

But, popularity comes at a price …and the beach can get crowded especially at high season and on holidays! The best times to avoid a crowd are early in the morning ( before 10:30am) or late in the day ( after 3:30pm). Because of its location, Maho is fairly shaded by late afternoon.

Snorkeling
Sea turtle at Maho Bay beachMaho is home to a large variety of marine species that live and feed on the extensive sea grass beds of the bay. Chief among them are sea turtles and rays that frequent the bay. You’re also likely to sea schools of young Tarpon hunting for small fish and crabs in the shallow waters. Looking for corals? The best spots are along the western edge of the bay. There you’ll find a mix of shallow water coral outcroppings and colorful fish.

America Hill Great House Ruins – Look high up on the ridge to the west and you can see the ruins of this 19th century Caribbean great house. If you’re looking for a wonderful hike – it can be reached via the Cinnamon Bay Trail > America Hill Trail.

Getting there:
From Cruz Bay – take Rte 20 ( North Shore Road) approximately 5 miles. There is a small parking area beach side or a larger parking area at the eastern end of the beach.

St John Island

Getting to know St John island is half the fun. Discover the best St John resorts, top St John snorkeling beaches, beach bars and restaurants and more!. Our pages are the #1 Virgin Islands resource for visitors - providing maps, guides, bar and restaurant reviews, St John villa rentals and news announcements.
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