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Sunday, March 22, 2020 Coronavirus update
wow this has been a whirlwind week. We are doing ok, so far 6 cases in the territory with about 40 results pending. Of course due to low testing the actual rate is believed to be much higher.
Most restaurants and bars as well as shops have announced their closure to protect their staff and following the 10 person rule.
The devastating category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria have changed St. John forever and a St. John guide would not complete without some images and video of the devastation. Below video was shot from Grande Bay Resort.
Mermaids chair is a beautifully private tiny bay. Calling it a beach would be an overstatement, but depending on swell and tide level there can be a tiny pocket of sand just big enough for a towel.
There are 3 different kinds of Sea Turtles on St. John or the Virgin Islands in general: Leatherback, Green Turtle and Hawksbill.
Another interesting creature you might see swimming or snorkeling on St. John is a Stingray. Close to shore you are most likely to see the Caribbean Whiptail Stingray as in the photos, but if you venture further out or snorkel from a boat, you might also see a beautiful spotted eagle ray.
The Catherinenberg ruins are ruins of a 18th-century sugar and rum factory. The consist of a circular horse mill and a very well preserved wind mill. They were part of the Hammer Plantation and are one of the oldest plantations on St. John
With their hardened surfaces, corals are sometimes mistaken as being rocks. And, because they are attached, “taking root” to the seafloor, they are often mistaken for plants. However, unlike rocks, corals are alive. And unlike plants, corals do not make their own food. Corals are in fact animals.
Frank Bay St. John is a lesser known beach that is only a few steps from town. It is a great beach if you have to kill some time before flying out or if you don’t have a car. It only has a few parking spaces so it is never crowded.
The Turks Head Cactus is a small rounded Cactus with a big read head. It can be found at St. John’s East End where the climate is much hotter and drier vs. the Cruz Bay area.
Another must do while on St. John is the Ram’s Head Trail. It is a beautiful hike which starts at the very remote East End of St. John at Salt Pond Beach. There is always a nice breeze so it is also good on hot summer days.
It is a beautiful, long, white, sandy beach with plenty of space where you will always find some privacy, especially if you walk to the very far left end. It’s a beach for action: You can swim, snorkel, surf (when there is a decent Northern Swell), windsurf, sail, kayak, paddleboard and observe the site of a recent architectorial dig. There also is a loop trail through the ruins.
Another interesting creature you will most likely see on St. John is a Herbit crab. These crawly little creatures live in shells that they haul around on their backs. They are also known as “soldier crabs” or “purple pinchers”.
Jumbie Bay Beach is a great beach during the busy season. It only has 5 parking spots so it never gets crowded. It basically gives you the beauty of Trunk Bay (which you can see in full if you swim or paddle out) without the crowds.
Maho Bay Beach is another great St. John beach. The water is usually calm and it is nicely protected from the wind. It is usually the calmest spot on the North Shore and a great spot for beginner snorkeling and paddleboarding and families with kids. When you stay close to shore, inside the bay, you will be safe even if the wind is howling.
Trunk Bay is St. Johns most famous and most photographed beach. It regularly makes it into the world’s top beach rankings. It also is one of the busiest beaches on St. John especially during the high season (winter months). And it is the only beach that actually charges an admission fee, unless you get there before 8:30AM or close to sunset (4 PM).
Even after a few years on St. John I am still amazed by the beauty of the nature and the trails. Today’s story is about the Johnny Horn Trail, just half an hour outside Cruz Bay you can find yourself in total wilderness and enjoy tranquil, stunning views.
This is not an easy trail. It is a steep and steady incline, gaining gaining 719 feet of elevation in less than one mile. But the breathtaking view you will have from the top (pictured above) will totally be worth it.
Looking for a great book to read on St. John? Something written by a local author?
Sunsets on St. John are amazing. One of our favourite places to watch the sunset on St. John is on North Shore Road. Drive past Mongoose Junction, up the hill and you will see a small parking bay to the left. You will see a great sunset from there.
Snorkeling the waters of St. John, USVI is one of the most rewarding and fun things to do on St. John, it’s cheap and easily accessible for anyone, the water is warm and usually calm. You can see Angel Fish, Parrot Fish, Seargent Majors, Yellow Tail Snapper, Puffer Fish to name a few and of course Sea Turtles.
A simple definition of freediving is: “at least and inch underwater on a breath of air”.
Freediving is about exploring the underwater world holding your breath until resurfacing rather than using a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. You will get a feeling of true ease and relaxation under water, many people describe the feeling you get while free diving as soft, smooth, quiet, serene & peaceful.
General recreational fishing permits are presently not required for recreational fishers in Virgin Islands. This includes persons who engage in fishing for the sole purpose of providing food for themselves or their families and those who catch and release fish.
Iguanas are everywhere on St. John, you just sometimes have to stare at the same space for a while until you actually see them! The species found on St. John is called “Green Iguana” but that does not mean they are actually green (they are after birth but then change into various colors).
The Trail that leads to Drunk Bay on St. John begins at the very end of Salt Pond Beach and heads inland towards the salt pond. It is a relatively easy walk with no hills and takes about 20-30minutes. The trail then continues North on to the rocky, windswept Drunk Bay beach.
The donkeys on St. John were imported in the 16th century to work on the sugar plantations. The slaves were freed and the plantations went out of business then another few centuries later the first cars showed up on St. John and the donkey were let go free. And they still roam around on St. John.
One of the most popular destinations for day trips is Jost van Dyke. Named for an early Dutch settler and former pirate, rugged scenery and colorful folklore make up Jost Van Dyke. With fewer than 300 inhabitants, it measures just four miles by three.It retains the island culture that much of the Caribbean has lost. Jost Van Dyke is a little island with a big reputation.
The Peace Hill hike on St. John is a very easy one, but nonetheless very rewarding. It begins at a Parking off Northshore Road, about half a mile after Hawksnest.
Another great book for any boater, surfer or water lover:
This beach feels different and also attracts a different crowd, since it is a very long drive from Cruz Bay and a relatively long walk down from the parking (about 15 minutes). Salt Pond is a beautiful bay with amazingly clear water. Bring a picnic and sit on the tables in the shade, enjoying the view.
The secrets of St. John’s tropical forests, petroglyphs, freshwater pools and sugar mill ruins come alive on the three-mile Reef Bay Trail Hike. You will also see a 40ft waterfall, various plants and animals like deer, bats, land crabs, termite nests.
Ok, St. John is paradise. The only true nuisance are the mosquitos. They are not only a nuisance, they can actually infect you with bad diseases like Dengue and Chikungunya Fever. Both viruses are transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, which have black and white stripes markings. The National Park Service has actually just issued a warning about Chikungunya outbreak in the Caribbean. In Makonde (African language), chikungunya means “that which bends”, referring to stooped appearance of patients in severe pain.
You have been to most of the famous snorkeling spots and are looking for something different? How about a Mangrove Snorkel?
Easter Rock is a giant, majestic boulder right next to St. John’s North Shore Road (after Hawksnest and before Peace Hill). When driving East, it will be on the left hand side.
In 1717 the Danes started huge plantations growing mainly sugar cane for rum. Slaves were forced to work on the plantations, gruelling hours sometimes from 4.00 AM to 10.00 PM. Life was very rough for them and in 1733 the slaves organized a revolt which ultimately led to the abolishment of slavery.
The Virgin Islands are a stand up paddler’s paradise offering everything from calm bays for beginners to crossings and crazy downwinders for experienced paddlers and if you are lucky you might find some really good uncrowded waves, too!
One the best beaches on St. John is Hawksnest. It is not too long of a drive from Cruz Bay (little under 2 miles from Mongoose Junction), parking is close to the beach and the palm trees and watercolor is just amazing.
At Francis Bay there is a short loop trail with 2 entrances which is great for bird watching. You will also see deer and land crabs.
Lots of seagrass has been washed onto St. John’s shores overnight, so question that naturally pops up on this island where food is notoriously expensive, is it edible?
Many people toy with the idea of packing up their lives and moving to a remote island in the tropics. This book relates the hilarious tale of two middle-class New Englanders who succumbed to that dream.