When selecting a vacation rental – ONLY work with established private owners or property management companies on St John. Here’s why …
May 2013 – Craigslist USVI – posted under apts/housing for rent is Posting ID: 3792287094. The description and pictures are too good to be true. Constructed of island stone and mahogany – this 720 sq’, 2BR/2BA, has a heated pool and views of Reef Bay and Rams Head. At just $1300 it would be an absolute steal …literally!
The problem is that the property is actually a 2800 sq’ luxury villa listed for sale by Seaglass Properties for $2,250,000. A call to Seaglass confirmed our suspicions – they don’t know anything about the posting on Craigslist! No doubt the staff at Seaglass will follow up to ask that the listing be pulled.
We were curious to see who might be behind the scam. Turns out it is someone calling themselves Soba C. Victor the same person attempting a similar scam in Panama under the name Victor C. Soba! He requests personal information and a $500 deposit before he sends a set of keys to your new place!
Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader that alerted us to the scam posting, this would-be “teef” probably won’t get anybody’s money. But let it be a lesson to anyone planning to vacation on St John – “too good to be true is probably just that …”
So who can I trust?
If you’re looking for a rental villa on St John we DO NOT suggest searching VRBO, FlipKey or HomeAway. They offer lots of listings – BUT, you’ll pay a 4% – 15% “guest service fee” and have to weed out listings that aren’t on St John ( because they’re featured listings from St Thomas!). We strongly suggest you contact one of St John’s respected property management companies to assist in your search. They’ll likely have just what you’re looking for – or can offer up a suggestion or two.
On-island villa rental and property management sites:
Everybody wants their wedding, honeymoon and anniversary to be special. No matter what stage of your relationship you wish to celebrate, St John is a top pick for couples to tie the knot, de-stress after the wedding or mark a milestone in your relationship.
Special days deserve special places, right! St John’s world-class beaches and luxury rental villas make it The Top Destination in the Caribbean.
So what makes St John such a great place to get married? Start with our staggering list of accolades and travel rankings. St John is a perennial list-topper on travel and tourism sites like TripAdvisor, Fodors and Frommer’s as well as international publications like Condé Nast Traveler and National Geographic. In fact St John is the 2013 Traveler’s Choice Winner for Top Caribbean Destination as well as earning the #2 Island on the planet ranking, Frommer’s Favorities Top 10 for 2012 and National Geographic’s 2013 Tours of a Lifetime!
Need more reasons? How about the fact that 2 of St John’s chefs made it into the book Best Chefs America. La Plancha’s chef Anderson Allen and La Tapa’s chef Alex Ewald were both nominated by their peers for inclusion! Nothing is more romantic than sharing a night out over a great meal, right?
How about Trunk Bay’s ranking as a TOP 10 Beach on the Planet by Condé Nast Traveler!
From celebrities to top-rated TV shows, the spotlight is on St John. And you can share some of that spotlight and create lasting memories by sharing your special times with us on the beautiful island of St john.
With 14 gold and platinum albums and 105 million fans world wide – Kenny Chesney has certainly established himself as a top country talent. But, what many fans may not know is that Kenny Chesney “discovered” St John over 15 years ago – and has been a regular visitor and homeowner ever since. Hell, his latest album “Life on a Rock” was inspired by St John and a portion of the profit from sales will go to the Virgin Islands National Park.
“Anyone who knows me knows I’ve drunk a lot of rum in a lot of places,” Chesney muses. “And the more you drink, the more you know what you wish you could have. I finally decided there was no reason not to…”
Also no secret is Chesney’s love for great rum. He sings about it and talks about it and now he’s created his own rum under the label “Blue Chair Bay Rum”. Blue Chair won’t be available until May – but rest assured after I’ve had a chance to sit down with a bottle – I’ll post my review. Until then, you’ll have to be satisfied with the rum’s lineage – a product of Chesney and master blender Mike Booth out of Barbados. The premium white rum has already received an impressive score of 90 points from The Ultimate Spirits Challenge!
CT, FL, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NY, RI, SC, TN, TX & WI
Visit www.bluechairbayrum.com for more information
Or to read the Story of Blue Chair Bay Rum from the man himself
BORN ON THE BEACH
Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay Rum is available in 3 rum styles – Premium White Rum, Coconut Rum and a Coconut Spiced Rum. But let the man tell you for himself …
Throughout its history St John’s many harbors and reefs have served to protect countless ships as well as shipwreck some 28 ships passing through its waters. Many of these wrecks are not recorded or have been reduced to ballast stones by time and erosion. But some have endured. The HMS Santa Monica is one such ship.
The Santa Monica was a 28 gun frigate commanded by Don Miguel de Nunes. But on September 14, 1779, just off the Azores, she came under attack by the HMS Pearl. The HMS Pearl being larger, faster and more heavily armed quickly brought the Santa Monica to the point of surrender. The ship was repaired by the British Royal Navy and was put into service defending British holdings in the Caribbean. She was 145 ft long with 36 guns and a crew of 202.
Just a few short years later on April 1, 1782 the HMS Santa Monica struck a rock, now called Santa Monica Rock, south of Norman Island. Captain John Linzee put 5 pumps and 40 buckets to the task of keeping her afloat; but was forced to run the vessel ashore at the nearest harbor. The closest bay was “Crawl Bay” or Coral Bay on St John.
It is now known that the HMS Santa Monica went down in Round Bay just 100 yards off shore in about 40 feet of water. By the 1970s an archeological project recovered a host of artifacts including ceramics and glass as well as iron and copper objects. What remains is largely “cemented” together by sea and time. Yet the wreck remains a treasure trove of information on late 18th century warship construction and may, in coming years, provide greater insight into the history of the West Indies.
Visitors to St John have some wonderful choices when it comes to accommodations. In addition to our luxury resorts – St John has a wide variety of privately owned villas for rent. Whether you need a romantic Caribbean cottage for 2 or a luxury villa with pool and spa for 6, 7, 8 or more people – there is a perfect rental for you.
How do I find a St John rental villa? Here again the options are diverse. Many of the popular short term rentals are under property management companies. A search for St John Villas will return a slew of on-island resources. As well, web sites like VRBO, Flipkey and Homeaway provide searchable databases of available villas along with pictures, information and reviews to help you select just the right villa rental for your needs.
When choosing a vacation rental villa you’ll want to be close to your favorite destinations and activities. Visitors looking for a variety of restaurants, bars and shopping might prefer being on the western side of the island and close to Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay is also convenient to many of the most popular north shore beaches.
Looking for a quieter vacation? Coral Bay is the destination for those seeking a more relaxed stay. Located on the eastern side of St John, Coral Bay is known on-island as the “country” while Cruz Bay is the “city”. A search for villas in Coral Bay, Bordeaux Mountain, the East End, Mamey Peak and Ajax Peak produce a large assortment of rentals that sleep 1 to 14 people.
Located within the boundaries of the Virgin Islands National Park on St John are the ruins of the Annaberg Plantation. With a commanding view of Leinster Bay and Sir Francis Drake Channel – Annaberg was once the largest plantation on island and now is the best preserved of St John’s historic sugar and rum industries.
While the boundaries and ownership changed over the years – it is a Dutchman named Solomon Zeeger that gave the plantation it’s name. Having acquired the land in 1758, Zeegler named the property Annaberg or “Anna’s Hill” after his wife Anna deWindt. Between 1779 and 1870 the plantation thrived and adjacent properties where added to the plantation. By 1808 it comprised nearly 1,300 acres and covered Mary’s Point, Betty’s Hope, Munsbury, Leinster Bay and Brown Bay. But by 1871 the plantation went into decline and was eventually abandoned.
While all of the wooden structures are long since gone – those structures made of local stone and coral such as storage buildings, windmill, rum production and sugarcane processing have survived.
The VI National Park volunteer staff provide guided tours and offer insight into the details of life on the plantation and its history. You’ll also find handouts that lead you through the ruins and outline the history of many of the larger structures on the property. A recommended destination for it’s history, beauty and insight into St John’s past and present!
Take North Shore Road out of Cruz Bay. Follow the winding road past Maho Bay. Approximately 1.5 mi. from “split” you’ll come to a “Y” intersection. Left brings you to Francis Bay ..and right takes you to Leinster/Waterlemon Cay and the Annaberg Plantation Ruins. Parking is in the lower lot and there’s a wooden walkway that takes you to the foot of the ruins.
Panoramic image of Hansen Bay. Mouse over scroll – left and right.
Vie’s Beach at Hansen Bay
After 38 years, Vie has decide to CLOSE her popular beach access/parking and Snack Shack. We’d like to thank her for some wonderful food, Sugar Apple generosity and many wonderful days on Hansen Bay!
The East End of St John has several great destinations. Hansen Bay beach, also known as Vie’s Beach ( she owns the property between this beach and the road), is one of the top spots on St John for its beautiful beach, fantastic snorkeling and off-the-beaten-path location. Comprised of several beaches – “Vie’s beach” is located directly across the road from Vie’s Snack Shack. She chargse $2.50 pp. – which includes parking, a shady spot to enjoy some of her island cooking and access to the beach and beach chairs.
Looking for a little adventure?
Vie has several kayaks to rent. Inquire at the Snack Shack for pricing and availability.
This is one of my personal favorites. The crescent-shaped beach is soft white sand with a couple of places to find some shade among the sea grapes or a coconut palm. Entry to the water is shallow with a sand and pebble bottom. Just off the beach the sand transitions to sea grass beds. Hansen Bay faces south and is protected from large waves – making for some of the nicest swimming on St John. And when you need a break from the sun and fun – grab a bite at Vie’s Snack Shack. Enjoy home-cooking and a cold non-alcoholic drink in the shade of 2 very old and very large boxwood trees. She’s famous for her Garlic Chicken; but I like her conch fritters or Johnny Cakes dipped in honey.
Keep an eye out for Angel’s Rest – St John’s only floating bar!
Voted a Top Snorkeling Spot on St John: Hansen Bay offers a wonderful mix of sea grass and rocky patch reefs. Snorkeling to your right is the easiest – offering some interesting structure with lots of fish, corals, sea fans. Much of the reef is shallow – between 2″ and 8′ – sloping off to 10′ to 16′ as you head further out. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Staghorn coral. This threatened species of hard coral seems to like this spot. Snorkeling to the left …across the small bay brings you to a larger patch reef nicknamed Pelican Rock. Again, lots of underwater structure with plenty of corals and fish. Hansen Bay is a great place to spot turtles, rays and some larger Jacks and Pompano that come in to feed on bait fish. For the experienced and physically fit – snorkel west around the point and you’ll come to Limetree Cove. It’s a nice little sandy beach that’s only accessible from the water. Remember: no beach is private in the USVI. You are allowed to use the beach up to the high water line ( or where the plants/foliage begin).
From Cruz Bay – take Rte 20 ( North Shore Road) or Centerline towards Coral Bay. Continue on through Coral Bay, past the Moravian Church, Donkey Diner and Skinny Legs. You’ll drive a winding and sometimes hilly road out to the East End. You’ll come upon a large Tamarind tree that splits the center of the road …on your left ….under the shade of an ancient Boxwood tree is Vie’s Snack Shack.
Go ahead and share!
Snorkeling is one of the top activities on St John. Each year thousands of visitors step into our waters to discover the amazing variety and beauty of the reefs and marine eco systems that surround our island. And that’s where the trouble starts. With so much “traffic” it is imperative that each and every one of us tries to mitigate our impact on these sometimes fragile environments.
PROPER FIT OF MASK, FINS and SNORKEL. Struggling with ill-fitting gear probably causes more people to stand on or damage coral than any other factor. Not sure how it should fit? Ask for assistance at one of the many retail outlets on island or consider a snorkeling excursion where the boats guide will give you invaluable info on choosing and using snorkeling gear.
DO NOT TOUCH – as tempting as it may be there are lots of coral and marine life that can sting! And if that’s not reason enough to look-not-touch then consider the life of that creature. The coral reefs are teaming with bacteria and many creatures have developed a complex mucus that covers their skin for protection. When you touch them – you remove this layer of protection and could cause disease.
DO NOT STAND ON CORAL HEADS – sounds obvious but I’ve seen too many people stand on coral to adjust their mask or take a break from swimming! The damage this causes takes years to rebuild. If you’re an inexperienced snorkeler or poor swimmer – consider using some sort of floatation device so that you can enjoy the view safely. If you must stand – find a sandy spot and adjust equipment or rest.
DO NOT STIR UP SEDIMENT/SAND – it can settle on corals and sponges and literally suffocate and starve them to death. Always maintain a good distance between you and the bottom and remember – those fins extend well beyond your foot! Consider using the short fins – they’re easier to walk in and there’s less chance they’ll strike coral as you explore the shallow reefs.
Corals take years to grow under optimal conditions. With the world’s oceans warming and pollution and human activities putting pressure on our coral reef systems – it’s more important than ever to take a few basic steps to reduce our impact on St John’s coral reefs and marine life so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come!
DISCOVER ST JOHNs TOP SNORKELING and BEACHES
When people hear that you live on St John they invariably ask, with an almost timid embarrassment, “Where is St John?” “Isn’t it an island somewhere?”. And they’re right, it’s the smallest of the US Virgin Islands. A speck, really, when compared to big places. All are forgiven for not knowing where our tiny island is located. After all, how many of us can point on a map to Malawi, a country of over 15M people! Not many …I’m sure.
So, St John is in the US Virgin Islands, no doubt that begs the question “Where are the Virgin Islands?”. The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of the Caribbean islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas [ capital: Charlotte Amalie]. They are located approximately 40 mi east of Puerto Rico in the heart of the Caribbean Sea.
Google Map of St Thomas and St John [mobile-friendly]
View Where is St John in a larger map
Now that you know where St John is located – getting to St John should be a lot easier. In fact each year nearly 2.5M visitors discover the US Virgin Islands by sea and by air. Most arrive on the dozens of cruise ships that call on the popular port of Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas. Since St John doesn’t have an airport – everybody comes to St John via an inter-island ferry system. Visitors wanting to see St John can leave from Charlotte Amalie or take a taxi to Red Hook. From there you’ll board the St Thomas to St John ferry. It takes approximately 45 minutes from Charlotte Amalie and 20 minutes from Red Hook to Cruz Bay.
NOTE: Like many things on the islands – the ferry schedule can and does change depending on season, demand, weather and repairs. If you are planning your itinerary – allow for delays and call to confirm departure and arrival times when you are close to your dates.
Discover St John as you’ve never seen her before …in HD! This video captures what no single static image could convey and that is the rugged beauty and awesome tranquility of the island of St John. From stunning time lapse of clouds to the crashing of waves, the trickle of water across a shallow pool and the grace with which nature unfolds every day …as only it can in a place like this!
Special thanks to Jacob Schwarz for posting this wonderful “trip” around and across the island of St John.