St. John Strong

An Island in Recovery

11/18/17 – 4:00 pm – We have more good news coming from the island.  Our Office on St John has power!  We are located at Palm Plaza now, ground level!   The complex had some roof damage and we are doing the repairs so we can open our office!  We moved to this new location 6 days before Hurricane Irma.  We are very excited to be in this location as there is more room and much better parking!

Our first home got power yesterday!  Tennis Villa is now available for rentals!  We are very excited!

The National Park Service said Trunk Bay is officially open!  Hawksnest and Honeymoon beaches are also open. The concession at Honeymoon Beach is open.  Next to open will be Cinnamon Bay. The National Park service is cleaning debris on and around the beach as well as debris that could be in the water.

Ocean Grill Restaurant– located in Mongoose Junction is opening this coming Monday!  I have enjoyed many meals at this restaurant!  Be sure to add this restaurant to your list when you come back to St John!

11/14/17 – 10:00 am –  Each day brings something new to the island.  Our first guest arrived on November 10th!  Their photo is included in the rotating photo’s below!  We want to say ‘thank you’ to them for coming back to our beautiful island!  They mentioned everyone on the island has been welcoming and very happy they are there!!  They have been to Francis and Jumbie Bay beaches and have loved it!  They are doing some hiking and just relaxing and enjoying the island.  They knew the island would not be 100% yet, but they wanted to come to offer their support to the residents and businesses on St John.

Also included in the rotating photo’s below are additional pictures taken by Dolores while she is on St John.  There are photo’s of Hawksnest Beach, Mongoose Junction, a ‘yummy’ breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing….we want to show you what the island looks like now.

WAPA update:  On St John, crews are continuing to restore service to customers while reconstruction work is being done  on primary circuits  from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay.  Customers restored on Monday were: St John Concrete, Sirenusa, and George Simmonds Terrace.  Other crews planted poles for single phase electrical service in various residential areas and prepared circuits to be re-energized in Estate Bethany.

Another restaurant just opened – Cafe Roma!   Nothing better than a good Italian meal with a glass of wine!

  • Our first guests arrived
    on November 10th!
    They are having a great
    time!!

  • You could be having this delicious breakfast from Cruz Bay Landing! Make sure you dine here on your next trip to St John! Their coffee is FABULOUS!

  • One of your first looks
    at Hawksnest Beach!

  • It’s time to book your trip to St John – put your toes in the sand – and go for a swim in the warm Caribbean waters!

  • The greenery is starting to come back at the beaches – this is Hawksnest Beach!

  • Looking down at Caneel
    Bay from the overlook
    above. We heard Caneel
    Bay is talking about
    reopening in 2019.

  • Mongoose Junction is beginning to return to a busy shopping center now that more stores are opening!

  • The tropical flowers are
    coming back – aren’t
    they beautiful!!

11/13/17 – 9:00 am – The last ferry between Red Hook, St Thomas and Cruz Bay, St John is at 5:30 pm right now.  The Dolphin Shuttle is back up and operating.  If you need to get to St John after the 5:30 pm ferry, you can contact them.  Reservations are required.  You may call or text them – 340 774-2628.

11/10/17 – 1:00 pm – Diane, owner of Caribbean Villas of St John and Dolores, villa consultant for the company arrived on St John on November 6, 2017.  Below are some photo’s they have taken while on island.  The weather has been cloudy during their stay but we wanted to included these in our updates so you can see how the island is coming along.  These photo’s have been taken between the time period of November 6-10, 2017.   As we receive additional photo’s we will add them to the website.

  • The St Thomas Airport, taken on November 6, 2017

  • Outside the St Thomas Airport.
    You can see the palm
    trees are starting to come
    back.

  • Cruz Bay Beach looking down towards the ferry terminal. The Beach Bar in the foreground, minus their canopy roof.

  • The linemen from Missouri
    working along the North
    Shore between Maho Beach
    and Centerline Road

  • Another crew working on
    the North Shore

  • Linemen working on the
    South Shore- Gift Hill Road

  • Another crew on the
    South Shore Road

  • The linemen are working
    non-stop, 7 days a
    week to restore power
    on St John.

  • The interior of Cruz Bay
    Landing Restaurant

  • Locals are enjoying a drink
    at the outside deck of
    Cruz Bay Landing

  • A delicious meal awaits
    you at the Lime Inn

  • A view of Chocolate Hole
    Harbor

  • The view of Chocolate
    Hole Harbor from Ciellodonna.
    The flowers are blooming
    and are beautiful!

  • The view of Devers Bay
    – Sunset Beach and Dream
    Come True.

  • From the driveway of Virgin
    Seabreeze – looking out at
    the view.

  • Another view of Reef Bay
    taken from Virgin Seabreeze

  • A palm tree at Virgin
    Seabreeze

  • The view of Hart Bay from
    Le Lapin

  • Looking back across at St
    Thomas and Chocolate Hole.
    Photo taken from Le Lapin

  • Another view of Hart Bay
    the green hillsides are back!

  • Starfish Market –
    the dairy section

  • Starfish Market –
    the meat section

  • Satrfish Market –
    the produce section

  • Startish Market –
    the deli section

  • Starfish Market –
    Rotisserie Chicken
    they look delicious!

Follow our updates for local news of “Love City” 

11/10/17 – 10:00 am – WAPA update:  Power at Bellevue housing was restored yesterday!  Crews are working to prepare the Sirenusa Development for power.  Other crews planted composite poles in the area where both Feeders 7E and 9E come together on the road to Coral Bay.  Great News!

Boat Charters on St John are coming back! Next time you are on St John, take a day sail or power boat trip.  Some of these boat owners lost their homes, but their boats survived!  Please help support them by giving them your business and enjoy being out on the warm, Caribbean waters – if you haven’t done this before, there is nothing like it!!   Flyaway Charters 

11/9/17:  11:00 am – WAPA update:  Utility poles have landed in Coral Bay!  WAPA and the BBC contractors from the states are working to install telescoping fiberglass utility poles in this area.  They are beginning work in Calabash Boom and working back to the center of Coral Bay.  The crew from the North Shore Road will connect to the Centerline Road and then proceed down to Coral Bay where they will meet up.  The new fiberglass poles are supposed to be able withstand Cat 5 hurricane force winds!  This is all great news for the residents of Coral Bay!

Ronnie’s Pizza in Cruz Bay has power – next time you are on island – be sure to stop in for your fresh cooked pizza!!

Richard, owner of Caribbean Villas of St John just returned from the island this past Monday.  His comments are one of hope as he is seeing an island and community be reborn.  The sense of community, of neighbor helping neighbor is truly heartwarming.  Residents who did not know each other before have united, become friends and before the hurricanes, they could have passed each other in the street, concentrating on other things and never spoke.  Now when they see each other, there is a sense of warmth, a nod of the head, a smile and a hello.  A question asking – ‘how are you doing today?’, as they all know every day brings something new.  They know there are still challenges ahead but they know they will overcome them.  They will continue to rebuild until St John is once again, a beautiful ‘gem’ that shines in the sunlight, with its pristine, white sand beaches and lush green hillsides.

When I first started blogging right after Hurricane Irma, I had mentioned the damage depended on the location on the island.  This statement is also true in regards to the island recovery.  In speaking with Richard, there are some neighborhoods where you would not know a hurricane hit the island as the vegetation is green, the water is crystal clear blue and the flowers are in full bloom.  One example is Klein Bay on the south side of the island.  If you stood on the deck of Orchid Villa and looked around, you would think nothing had happened.  However, as you drive around the island you will fine a different experience depending on the area and the turn in the road.  Mermaid Falls, for example, this home is located in upper Peter Bay on the north side of the island.  At this moment, if you stand on its deck, and look down at lower Peter Bay, you will see elegant homes that came through the hurricane and are just waiting for guests to check-in.  However, the lush landscape that once was, is still brown.  The trees and vegetation are just starting to think about budding.  This area of the island does not get all day sun, which in turn slows down the regrowth of the vegetation.  Will this side of the island become green again, most certainly but it is just taking a little longer.

With all of this being said, the island is well on its way to recovery.  Does it still have a ways to go?  Definitely.  But do not discount the determination of the residents, do not discount the electrical crews from St John and the states who are working non-stop to restore power, do not discount Mother Nature.  She packed a wallop with Irma and Maria, but with her warmth, her tears and her smiles, the tropical weather, the rain and the sunshine will work quickly to bring the island back…so please be patient… the island, the residents and all the businesses are working tirelessly to welcome you once again.

11/8/17 – 10:00 am –  WAPA update – a portion of the primary circuit from Peter Bay to Cinnamon Bay was energized yesterday!  Crews are continuing work of Feeder 7E.  Crews are continuing work to build primary circuits from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay and another crew is working from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay!  All great signs that progress is being made!

Update on Barge Schedule – Capt. Vic has updated their schedule.  As of November 13th, the Capt. Vic’s first departure will be at 6:15 am and its last will be at 5:00 pm.

11/7/17 – 1:00 pm – We are receiving more good news about power!  There are now 105 linemen working to get power back up and running on the island.  The 1st crew is working along the North Shore.  They had closed parts of the road so crews could work uninterrupted.  The linemen said they are hoping to “heat up Cinnamon Bay today”!  Power had already been restored out to Caneel Bay and the Peter Bay area this past weekend.  There are also crews along the corner by Maho beach heading up to the Centerline Road.  Getting power up and going on the North Shore is vital to being able to power up the Coral Bay and East End of the island!  Another crew is working from Cruz Bay along Route 104 on the south shore road and also along the Gift Hill Road out to Fish Bay.  Power is only as far as the Westin Resort on the south side but they are working to restore other areas along the south shore as this is where much of the population resides.  A 3rd crew is getting ready to start work in Coral Bay.  The Julius E. Sprauve School has power, the Gift Hill School lower campus had power restored on Monday and the St John School of the Arts has power.  Everything is moving forward!

Additional businesses are now open –  Extra Virgin Bistro,  The Tap Room – St John Brewery, Bamboola and North Shore Deli at Mongoose Junction are all open.  In Coral Bay – Dolphin Market is getting ready to open.  They are stocking their shelves and hope to be open by next week.  This will be the 3rd grocery store open in Coral Bay – Calabash Market, Love City Mini Mart and Dolphin Market!!  Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis is open and serving meals – reasonable prices and their food is GOOD!  I got my meal to go and brought it back to the villa but if you are with family or friends or both – you can dine there!  Definitely worth adding this restaurant as a place to go on your next trip to St John!

We have had guests ask about Salomon Beach recently.  The beach is still there but the storm surge from the hurricanes washed up pebbles, larger rocks and coral on to the shoreline.  There are still areas that are sandy and the beautiful sand is still underneath the pebbles, rocks and coral but when you see the beach, it is heartbreaking.  In speaking with the NPS, they said mother nature will take care of this, and with each passing tide that ebbs and flows, this beach will be return to its original beauty.  We have seen this happen before at one of our homes, the Beach Cottage that is located in Lime Tree Cove.  The beach for the most part is sandy but after one tropical storm it turned in to a completely pebble beach.   This took place in late September 2015 and by January 2016, nature had returned the beach to the same silky, white sand and crystal clear waters as it was before.

11/3/17 – 9:00 am – Good Morning Everyone!  We have heard some comments about our website saying “St John is Open for Business”.  We are saying this because we are looking ahead, letting guests know we are still here!  We have guests starting to inquire about rentals for next year and we have even taken new reservations! We want everyone to know we are ready and waiting for guests to arrive once again in to our beautiful vacation rentals.  We know the island is still working towards recovery and we are seeing the progress every day.  On St John there are businesses open and more are opening every day.  Every time a shop or restaurant opens is cause for celebration!  WAPA is working extremely hard! As you drive around the island you see linemen and utility trucks! We just heard that power has been restored out to the Westin Resort and power has also been restored to the Estate Pastory and Grunwald regions on the Centerline Road.  This is all great news!

11/2/17 – 3:00 pm – The Pink Papaya shop is open and having a “hurricane sale” – with these types of discounts things will ‘fly’ off their shelves!  If you don’t already know – the Pink Papaya is located in the Pink building next to the Lime Inn Restaurant in Cruz Bay.  The sale is from now until December 31st! 50% off Jewelry, 50% off ceramics & housewares, 50% off ornaments!  With a minimum purchase you will receive a free beach bag!  After you shop, have dinner and drinks at the Lime Inn!!  Two of our favorite places on St John are open!!

New update on the beaches – the majority of beaches are still safe to swim but additional tests were done at  Maho, Cruz Bay and Great Cruz Bay – they are recommending you do not swim at these beaches.  They are continuing to monitor them and we will post updates as more information comes in.

11/2/17 – 11:00 am – More restaurants continue to open in Cruz Bay!  We love hearing this news!!  La Tapa is opening – if you have not enjoyed one of their fabulous meals, next time you travel to St John, you will have to go!!  Here is a current list of restaurants now open – Cruz Bay Landing, Island Cork, Banana Deck, Extra Virgin Bistro, Rhumb Lines, Lime Inn, Dog House Pub, Uncle Joe’s BBQ, Hercules and Sun Dog Cafe.  Sam and Jack’s Deli is open!  The Quiet Mon is open!   The first cruise ship is scheduled to arrive in St Thomas as of November 10th – Royal Caribbean. The first tentative cruise ship to arrive in St John – a small 110 passenger ship arrives on November 22!  Such positive signs!!  WAPA updates – Power was restored to Caneel Bay Resort and more work is being done to restore additional primary circuits to both Feeders 7E and 9E.  Crews are working on the roadway leading to the Westin Resort.

10/31/17 – 2:00 pm – Curfew has been lifted!  The trail from town to Solomon and Honeymoon beaches is clear!  WAPA update – On St John, crews reconstructed primary circuits on Feeders 7E and 9E and customers in the Pine Peace area had electrical service restored.  Crews are also working to re-energize the Caneel Bay and Westin resorts by mid-week.  The bulk of restoration to residents and businesses will take place in the second phase of restoration.

10/30/17 – Cruz Bay has power!  As of Friday night the lights in town were on.  There are 150 linemen from the states with boom trucks on island plus the crews from WAPA!  They are working their way out of town now!  Thank you!  The National Park service is working on removing debris from the beaches and trails.  Reef Bay trail is cleared!  These are all positive signs!  We will keep posting updates as we get more information!!

10/25/17 – 12:30 pm – We have been getting calls from guests who were supposed to be flying in to the island with United Airlines.  United Airlines have canceled their flights in to St Thomas until April 8th.  United Airlines so far is flying in to San Juan and then a guest would connect with Cape Air in to St Thomas.  Depending on where you are flying from this could be a single or double connection.  There are other airlines flying in to St Thomas – American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Jet Blue, Spirit Air, Cape Air

10/24/17 – 12 noon – There is a new St John webcam – www.lovecitystj.com    Check it out!  The curfew is now 11:00 pm to 5:00 am.  And Skinny Leg’s in Coral Bay is getting a new roof, thanks in part to Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation!  They are working hard to rebuild and reopen!  I for one cannot wait to taste one of their yummy burgers and of course have a margarita!  St John is coming back and is calling your name!

10/23/17 – 10:30 am  Additional updates  – The North Shore Road is fully open to Annaberg.  The Centerline Road is open past Coral Bay to the East End.  Route 107 to Salt Pond and beyond has been cleared.  As reported on Friday, the water has been tested and deemed safe for swimming.  The Ferries to St Thomas are back to their regular hourly schedule from 6:00 am until curfew.  Two barges are operational on a “fill up and go” basis beginning at 6:15 am.  WAPA is continuing progress and locals are seeing new utility poles being planted and cables being strung.  Viya (phone company) is following about a week behind WAPA linemen to get phone cables back up.  Debris removal is proceeding at a very fast pace.

10/20/17 – 8:00 am – Reports came in last night –
The water test from the beaches have confirmed it is safe to swim in the majority of beaches! 

WAPA also confirmed the initial wave of power will be restored in Cruz Bay, public schools and some other areas of St John.  They did not specify what the “other areas” were but with the additional 100 linemen and trucks that arrived yesterday, the restoration of power will continue to move forward.

Oct. 19, 2017 – 1 pm – Diane, owner of Caribbean Villas of St John returned from the island yesterday.  She was on St John for 10 days.  While on island she went to our management homes to check on their condition.  Some homes only needed cleanup and will quickly be ready for visitors. For the homes that had damage, supplies are ordered for the repairs to be made. In a few instances demo has begun or will take place soon.  Owners, contractors and employees are already on island working diligently to have the homes ready for season.

While on island she attended the FEMA meetings which are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:30 am.  Updates below:

  1. Beaches are open though the National Park is recommending waiting to go swimming until after the water tests come back. (Rev. 10/23/2017 Beaches are safe for swimming.)
  2. 100 linemen and utility trucks were arriving today. These are in addition to the 35 linemen that are already on island.
  3. Food Distribution is stopping because grocery stores are open and supplies are arriving.
  4. More restaurants are opening.
  5. Priority is getting the internet up and working for all businesses.
  6. The shuttle is up and running.
  7. The curfew has been expanded to 8 pm.
  8. The National Park Service has brought in additional workers to help clean up the beaches
  9. Now that roads are open, extra workers have been brought in to help with debris removal. Debris will be picked up that is within 10 feet from the roads edge.
  10. The road by Maho Bay is now open.
  11. New Jersey police came in to replace the New York Police. They are on island until the 21st.
  12. Public Schools are schedule to open.
  13. The Red Cross has left the island

Businesses open:  Restaurants – Cruz Bay Landing, Lime Inn, Rhumb Lines, the Dugout to 420 Center, Sun Dog Café & Bar, Sam & Jack’s Deli, Chester’s, Dog House Pub, Hercules, Pizzabar in Paradise, Quiet Mon, Uncle Joe’s BBQ, Wok on the Beach.  Grocery Stores – St John Market, Starfish Market, Pine Peace Market, Dolphin Market, Calabash Market.  Both Gas Stations are open, Chelsea Drug, the Banks are open, the ATM by Starfish Market is operational, Post Office is open, Connections is open.

Cruz Bay Landing

Having breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing, Oct. 17, 2017

The entrance to Starfish Market, taken on Oct. 13, 2017

Even the deli at Starfish Market is stocked!

Plan to open – opening dates TBD – The Terrace, Morgan’s Mango, Skinny Legs, Miss Lucy’s, Margarita Phil’s, The Tap Room, The Bowery, St John Scoops, Longboard’s will reopen after taking a break, Low Key Watersports,  The Thirsty Donkey, The Banana Deck, Ronnie’s Pizza, Ocean Grill, Ocean 362, North Shore Deli, Extra Virgin Bistro, Joe’s Rum Hut, Indigo, La Tapa, Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis.  Some of these restaurants and bars are waiting for power and others are doing repairs but plan to open when completed.

During the 10 days Diane was on island she saw steady improvements being made.  The island is working towards recovery.  The beaches are still beautiful, the water is still a clear turquoise blue and just as inviting as ever.  Because of the hurricanes, several of the beaches are wider now because some of the vegetation was lost.  When you drive along the North Shore Road, you still have the scenic overlooks waiting to be photographed but as you drive along you can now see the blue water through some of the vegetation.  The canopy of ‘green’ that enveloped the drive has changed and though this change is rather bittersweet, it does not make this picturesque drive any less beautiful.  The sunsets are still breathtaking and the warmth of the island figuratively and literally are still there, just waiting for you to visit.

10/11/17 – 3:00 pm – We have more news coming in from St John. The ferry has added additional runs between Red Hook, St Thomas and Cruz Bay, St John. Currently the new ferry times from Red Hook to Cruz Bay are: 7:30a, 8:30a, 9:30a, 11:30a, 1:30p, 4:00p and 5:30p. The ferry times from Cruz Bay to Red Hook are: 7:00a, 8:00a, 9:00a, 10:00a, 12:00n, 3:00p and 5:00p.

If you follow Facebook, Steve Simonsen, a professional photographer has been posting pictures of the island. He has also done some swimming and snorkeling in the BVI’s and the waters were clear and the sea life is returning. His photos are beautiful! Once the water is tested in the National Park, I am sure we will see more underwater pictures.  Follow us on Facebook for more island updates as well!

We have more and more guests wanting to know how to help but there is some confusion on what sites can be trusted.  Here is a link to a central source to find out information and make contributions for St John recovery.   https://www.whattodo-vi.com/hurricane-irma-relief-in-the-virgin-islands-how-you-can-help/

10/10/17 – 3:00 pm – We have more good news coming in from St John

Low Key Watersports is opening as of December 1st this year. Morgan’s Mango had damage from the hurricane but they are rebuilding and hope to be open for this coming season. Miss Lucy’s in Coral Bay had damage but the concrete building is still there. They are doing cleanup and hope to be open for season. Skinny Leg’s in Coral Bay is rebuilding. Woody’s, in Cruz Bay and Sam & Jack’s Deli is open.

When you drive around the locals are seeing the donkeys and pigs out and about. If you have driven around St John, you know this is a common site as you go exploring.

Wapa is predicting there will be power in Cruz Bay within the next two weeks. They are working on the poles and lines now. Wapa has also notified all villa owners to have an electrician check the meter boxes to their villa. An electrician will have to sign off on the box and if the box is damage, the home owner needs to have it repaired/replaced by an electrician. They are having this done so when power is restored area by area, the villa will be ready.  Diane, owner of Caribbean Villas of St John is on island now and will be going around to our villas this weekend with an electrician.

The National Park Service is asking everyone to stay out of the park so their crews can continue to work on clearing and doing cleanup and repairs. They do not want to have a lot of foot traffic around while they do this. They are requesting people do not go swimming yet as the water has not been tested and there could still be run off from the hillsides.

The hillsides are beginning to turn more green every day and the flowers are continuing to bloom. As with everything in life, changes are inevitable and each day can bring something new. One learns to adapt and overcome. You can see this happening every day on St John. Some people will leave and others will return. Others will look for an island adventure and move to this wonderful community, as they will want to experience first hand the life of living in the Caribbean. The restaurants and shops might change but the one thing I know will never change, is the feeling you get when you step off the ferry for the first, second or fiftieth time……it is a feeling of coming home, a feeling of being welcomed no matter who you are. Not every island has this atmosphere – St John is a place that will always be there, waiting for you to return, with its arms wide open, welcoming you in to its embrace.