Tag Archives: St John

St Johns 2022

It seems that every 4 years we make an opportunity to vacation in St John Virgin Islands. This year we planned a trip as Eric said it was his favorite vacation. We were joined by Skip, and Eric’s friend James – making a party of five.

Just prior to our planned departure Virgin Islands tourism changed the testing requirements from having a positive COVID test 5 days prior to departure to 3 days prior.  Given the holidays and lack of personnel to conduct tests it was a stressful time for Kathryn as she tried to line up appointments and testing capabilities.  If you thought trying to schedule a covid vaccine was tough, wait until you try to get tested. It took a miracle, but we pulled it off.

  • NYS Thruway to Syracuse
  • Flight toAtlanta
  • ATL to St Thomas
  • Taxi from the St Thomas Airport to St John via ferry
  • Take a 10 mile taxi across St John Island to the house

On January 7 for his birthday, Eric went parasailing with his buddy James.

Eric had his birthday meal at his favorite restaurant, Skinny Legs

Our weather was typically 82 with blue sky and fluffy white clouds. Water temperature was mid- – to hi 70s. For a couple of days we were sidelined by short rain showers (which is a good thing in St. John -recharges the water cistern for the house) so we slow rolled the trip to the beach

The boys wanted a day out of the sun, so Skip, Jim and Kathryn went snorkeling. Lots of wind, making the north shore murky, so we decided to go to the less popular east end. We started at Hanson Beach (saw a turtle and some rays) then went to rocky Haulover Bay South which was very clear and had some nice coral. Now the guys are having a good after-dinner pitch game.

We went back to Hansen Beach and did some paddle boarding and snorkeling. Saw some rays and a large sea turtle. After seeing the turtle, James said “now we can go home” but I don’t think he meant it.

Our house had a nice balcony which encouraged sitting out during the night times.  We would hear absolutely no traffic or road noise. Island life is nice. ( just wish the neighbor would turn off all those d### outside lights!).  People leave their outside lights on all night. Especially here, on St. John. It’s not like anybody or anything is going to sneak up on them through this nasty underbrush or even on these crazy roads.

January 11  we went to Maho Bay which is usually not one of our favorites because there tends to be more people there. However we saw MANY turtles ( around 9), including a HAWKSBILL turtle (which is on the endangered list) so it was totally excellent.

Early dinner on the porch; we brought down a lot of food, including all our meats, which was a very good decision. We just paid >$2 for a single tomato for our tacos and $5.99 for a half gallon of milk. Rum is cheap, though.

We went to Leinster bay where we saw 5 turtles, several rays, lots of fish, a couple star fish, including a star fish with 6 points. Since then I have had some communication with the person reputed to be the “Island’s expert on sea stars” and she said ” You are very lucky. These are very rare.” She wanted details on where, I think she is going to go look. I am excited about my sighting.

Skip’s last day on the island and by tradition, he got to choose which beach. So at his request, we returned to Salt Pond Bay, where we started our vacation. Snorkeling was much better this time, the swells had calmed, the water was clearer, there were lots more fish visible and several turtles present

All week, Eric and James have been saying how much they are looking forward to going back to school. just now they got an email saying Hilbert College is going to remote classes for two weeks. We are happy to have Eric home for an extra fortnight, but sorry for their disappointment. But they are taking it well.

For our last day of vacation, we went shopping in Cruz Bay, had lunch at Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, then enjoyed the sunset at Hawks Nest Bay.

Our last sunrise from Coral Bay, St. John, USVI, at least for now. It seems Mother Nature is trying to make us regret leaving St. John. The weather forecast says it will be -2 when we land in Syracuse and there is a winter storm watch for Sunday/Monday with 8 or more inches of snow, gusty winds, and temperatures in the teens. Winter, here we come!

Since it is about -12 here this morning, and it was about 82 when we left St. John, we are dealing with a 94 degree difference in temperature. Since we are missing St. John, it might be of interest to note the changes we observed since our last visit.  

  • It rained every day we were there. That’s right, every day. Short intense showers that did not interfere with our plans, but relieved our anxiety about showers and toilet-flushing
  • Mosquitoes are present.
  • We saw many more turtles than we have ever seen. We saw more turtles this trip than we have in all our previous trips combined. In fact, we saw turtles at almost every beach we snorkeled
  • There seems to be significantly less coral and less fish overall
  • A lot of people are snorkeling without using fins
  • The goat population in Coral Bay has exploded
  • We were unable to get bananaquits to come feed; I saw one in the tree, but that was all
  • Food on St. John is even more expensive. $6 for half a gallon of milk, $8 for a small block of cheese, etc. I didn’t even look at the cost of meat
  • Skinny Legs is generally so busy you have to wait for for a table, at any time of the day
  • Love City Market is bigger
  • There are a couple new restaurants in Coral Bay including a pizza place which serves kick-a## drinks
  • Vi’s is not open; no conch fritters to be had
  • There is a new ferry that goes in and out of Crown Bay, which is only 10 minutes from the airport, and saves that drive through Charlotte Amalie to the Red Hook ferry
  • There is a new gas station just outside Cruz Bay on Center line Road
  • There is a lot of building happening in Cruz Bay
  • People who fly Delta get their own line through Customs. We were told “Delta paid a lot of money” to get special treatment for their customers

St John

Friday 3/13/2015

I didn’t sleep prior to our departure. We had planned to play volleyball at Stittville on Thursday night, but a fan had dislodged from the ceiling and they wouldn’t let us play. So Kathryn and I went home for an early bedtime. We awoke at 2:15am, got dressed and Cindy/Bonnie picked us up a2:45 for our 6am Syracuse flight. We left on time for JFK. Eric was apprehensive about going through security and had divided the trip into stages:

  1. NYS Thruway to Syracuse
  2. Flight to JFK – especially getting through security
  3. JFK to St Thomas (where we picked up our rental SUV)
  4. St Thomas to St John via Red Hook ferry
  5. Drive to the house

Prior to the car ferry we stopped and picked up $353 of groceries. We met Fuscos at the Red Hook ferry ($50 roundtrip).  The house consisted of a main kitchen dining room, living room with several connected bedrooms/bathrooms with outside showers. There was a salt water pool that Harrison and Eric used every day during the start of vacation.

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The view from our bedroom was spectacular.

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The house had two driveways; the first was a rugged up and down with switchbacks. The second driveway, Ironwood Drive was off of Upper Carolina. It was all paved and much smoother.

Friday night we went to Skinny Legs for burgers. It was late, crowded, buggy and the food took forever. The waitress insisted on an 18% tip.

We went back to the house using driveway #2 and went to bed. We had a few mosquitos, but Eric, sleeping in the loft, had tons of bites. Harrison got up during the night and went to sleep with his parents. Eric slept through the night but paid the price in being bitten by mosquitoes. He looked like measles boy.

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Saturday 3/14

I got up at 7am. Most everyone was up early. We were packed and out of the house by 10am. We went to Salt Pond for Day 1. Everyone got two snorkels in. Although I wished we’d reached out to Wahine Charters for a premium snorkeling experience, this trip wasn’t that bad. It was a 1st for Dan, Margaret and Harrison. We got back to the house by 4:30.

Sunday 3/15

Dan made eggs, sausage and potatoes for a hearty breakfast. It took longer and we left the house at 10:45am to go to Francis Bay. We saw turtles and the boys played in the waves all afternoon; running and jumping in the waves. Kathryn, Bonnie and Margaret went into Cruz Bay to pick up skip coming in the Red Hook ferry at 6:15pm. We had a late roast pork dinner and turned in after one game of pitch.

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Monday 3/16

I got up at 5am to use the bathroom and saw Skip up and making coffee. I slept in until7am. We had problems with the gas stove which were solved by turning on the third tank in the series. We made sandwiches and headed out to Maho Bay; another sandy beach and grassy areas for turtles. We saw 6-8 turtles and one large sting ray.

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We had burgers for dinner and used the outside brick oven to cook a 20lb turkey for Tuesday night. I have evolved into the dishwasher loader person.

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Tuesday 3/17. St Patrick’s Day

We awoke early – 6am. Actually Eric was the 1st one up stating that his feet itched.  Fuscos stayed at the house while the rest of us (Skip, Bonnie, Cindy, Eric, Kathryn and I) went to Leinster / Water Lemon Cay. It was a walk of ¾ of a mile, but the trail was good (much improved since I remember it last (2011)). We had an early start and departure from the house and were at the beach by 10am.  The water was very clear and we saw many turtles and a couple of rays. Eric snorkeled all the way out to the island, but he and I returned while Kathryn and Skip continued on around the island. Eric spotted a ray and nurse shark in the deep water between the point and the island. In a place where we have seen spectacular groups of starfish we saw none.

Wednesday 3/18

We were up early and were at the dock by 8:30am to board the Kiote Sail boat (www.kiotesails.com) for a day of sailing and snorkeling. Eric got sea sick on the ride out but recovered enough to swim and enjoy the day at Flanigan Island. Captain Jimmy let Dan and me steer the sail boat during our trip.

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Thursday 3/19

Eric slept past 7am. Kathryn and I were up by 6:30 to enjoy the sunrise. We made a bit pot of oatmeal for breakfast. We left early for a snorkel that was recommended by Captain Jimmy’s crew help, Holly. We never found anyone at the campground to permit access. So we left for the bay – one of my favorites from our previous trips here. The road in is now paved whereas once it was a 4WD / Jeep Wrangler type trail. They were still doing the beach tour, which is nice because it was one of the cooler things to do here. All the vehicles are still parked and ready by the bay. All in all, the beach was nice, and one of the more pleasant days of the trip.

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We snorkeled the whole bay clock-wise. We were back to the house by 3pm and most of the crew went shopping in Cruz Bay. Eric got a t-shirt and headband while Kathryn got earrings. I cooked a roast beef in the outside oven. During the night I awoke and looked at the stars and clear skies.

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Friday 3/20

We arose at 6:30am and watched the sunrise. Dan made eggs, sausage for breakfast. We had roast beef sandwiches and went to Vie’s beach – $2.50 entry fee – but worth it. White sandy beach and lots of coral. Skip and I snorkeled way out where Holly said there were lots of turtles, but we saw nothing.  We camped under a large shade tree with iguanas in the branches; fighting and mating. I finished reading The Emerald Mile (about the Colorado River and Grand Canyon) and began reading Gone Girl. The boys found several coconuts and enjoyed smashing them open.

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Saturday 3/21

Kathryn and Skip ran to Love City market early to get ingredients for coconut crème pie. I opened a couple of coconuts; Skip shredded them and Kathryn made a pie.  It was delicious.

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We loaded up for the north shore / Jumbie Bay. It was rough with big rollers when we got there – too rough to snorkel – so we backtracked to Francis Bay. It was murky with sand. I didn’t go snorkeling but finished reading Gone Girl.   The group went out for dinner at Oasis after determining that Miss Lucy’s was too expensive and didn’t serve fresh fish. I wasn’t that hungry and stayed at the house and read.

Sunday 3/22

We spent the day at Salt Pond. Skip and I snorkeled the right side and saw lots of coral and a school of ~500 small fish accompanied by a large Barracuda. Later Kathryn and I snorkeled the left side and saw a snake/eel, founder, rock fish and a large Jack fish. We ate dinner at Skinny Legs.

Monday 3/23

We made the return trip: drive, ferry ride, turn in the rental car, fly to JFK, wait, flight to Syracuse, drive home, and crash (luckily before midnight).  Tuesday was back to work and trying to be positive about the about of snow that had melted away.

St John VI Vacation

We went to St John Virgin Islands 12-21 March with our friends Jim & Pam and Skip.  We rented a small house – The Treehouse. It felt really reinvigorating being there, as opposed to using a disposable N95 respirator mask every day back home. The Tree House was about the same. It’s for sale, which makes us wonder if it gets sold whether or not it will be available in the future. It is the least expensive, and if it is not available, it automatically ups the cost of the trip $30/night/person, which is a lot for 3 of us. The vacation homes people said that almost everyone wants the more upscale places with pools etc. apparently there are very few of us who do not. Anyway, the driveway was rockier and a challenge to get up.  They are asking 700,000 for the Tree House. We asked how much it brought in rentals, and were told “it’s not our hottest property.” apparently everyone wants hot tubs and pools. She said “I’m not sending her [the owner] any money, but she’s not sending me any either” in other words, it is bringing in just enough to make the maintenance costs. We were aware that there are certainly things that will need to be fixed at some point…the driveway, bathroom tile, painting etc. We figure you could low ball them with a $300,000 bid, expecting it will be rejected and perhaps they would counteroffer, and go from there. 🙂 Of course, it is a good investment! They are not making any more property on St. John! Get a consortium together!

Eric did really well, loved playing in the sand and surf. He saw a ray the second day and freaked out (it is the Crocodile Hunter’s final legacy) but by the end of the vacation he was fine and snorkeling like a pro in deep water.

We saw more turtles than ever seen (we saw 5 at one time in Maho Bay), lots of rays, scads of fishes and corals, of course. I had got my fishing line after finding the best reaction tackle braid review online, but as we were too much indulged having fun together, it didn’t seem right to let the fun stop just so that I could go fishing.

We went on Breath for a day (which by the way, is also for sale). It was the 1st time on the Breath there was sufficient wind to have all the sails out and get the boat really moving.

Skip did a lot of hiking, usually hiking home from wherever we had gone snorkeling! Helmers went hiking some too (although Pam drew the line at hiking up the hill to the Treehouse) as did Jim.

There is more and more development, and roads being paved in preparation for more development, so one wonders how long it will be before the beaches get crowded.

We had a minor accident when someone was not paying strict attention to the yellow lines, and clipped the mirror of our Ford Escape, which admittedly is too big for the roads. The rental place says “It happens a lot. The roads are too narrow and the cars are too big.” True.

Although we ate 3 times at Skinny Legs we visited a couple new restaurants in Coral Bay.

The wild donkeys (including a baby) visited us quite a bit, and kept us up the first couple nights with their braying

We messed up on our flights thinking our flight out was at 2:30 so we shopped and took the 11:00am ferry and got to the airport about 12:10. Jim took Eric into the bathroom while Kathryn looked at the itinerary and realized the flight was at 12:50. We dragged Eric off the toilet (poor child), got our boarding passes, raced to Customs where there was a huge line. As we got up to the customs agent at 12:30 she could see Kathryn was distressed and asked about it (probably thought she was smuggling something) so we explained about the timing and she said “no no you’re good. don’t worry.” We raced to drop off our suitcases (waiting in line again) then to go through security. Jim as always got wanded. Kathryn grabbed Jim’s knapsack and sandals and ran to the gate, leaving Jim without shoes.  He ran through the airport, across the tarmac and onto the plane without his shoes on! The pilot greeted us with a “Don’t want to leave the island, huh?” Funny, in retrospect! Then our layover in Newark stretched from the expected 4 hours to 6 hours and we did not get out of there until after 11.

Jim went to work and Kathryn taught class on Tuesday. We  let Eric sleep in to 9am and took him to school late. But we did not have to change time zones.

Eric kept a journey of the trip which he read to his class upon his return.  Each night he would dictate his entry to Jim.

  • Saturday:  We flew down to St John.  We were a little worried because our luggage didn’t go on the same plane as us.  Someone told us where he thought it was.  He gave us the right directions and we went in and found it.  We had to take a taxi and a ferry to St. John.  We went to the Tree House so some people could change into shorts.  After that we went to Skinny Legs to eat. St John is beautiful.  There are trees and plants and flowers.  There are wild donkeys and wild goats. It is really warm.
  • Sunday: We just came home from snorkeling.  I saw lots of fish, a hermit Crab and some squid.  We saw a needle nose garfish.  We came back to our house I put out food for the birds.  Snorkeling is really fun and lets you see everything under water, and it was all thanks to this snorkeling full face guide.
  • Monday: We went snorkeling at Francis Bay.  I saw a Manta Ray!  I was really creeped out and amazed.
    We saw a fish blending in with the sand.  My Mom saw a fish 3-4 feet long.  My Dad and our friend Skip saw four turtles, one that was missing a leg.  We saw 4 hermit crabs living in conch shells.  While I was snorkeling I too close to the shore and the waves blew me in near the shore.
  • Tuesday: We went snorkeling again.  We went to three beaches: Jumbie Bay, Hawk’s Next and Maho Bay. At Maho Bay we saw a ray that was very close.  I took 20-30 pictures.  The ray buried in the sand.  I saw 4 pelicans.  They would dive into the water to catch fish.  I saw a green sea turtle.  He was eating grass.  I saw the turtle come up and take a breath of air. We went back to Maho Bay at 4 o’clock and we were skipping stones.  I missed the ocean and hit my Dad.  My Dad said “How could you miss the ocean?”
  • Friday: Our friends went para-sailing.  I rode on the boat and took pictures.  Para-sailing uses a boat, a rope, a harness and a sail.  They went about 200 feet in the air.  We played a card game called 31.
  • Saturday: There were four donkeys in the way of us getting out the driveway. I figured out how to use the under water Amcrest IP camera technology.  We saw 8 lizards today.  We went to a sugar plantation that was 211 years old.  It was really cool, and made out of rocks.  I was telling my Dad there was a bird splashing water on our deck. I saw two barracudas while I was snorkeling.  I also saw a sea turtle, a hermit crab in and empty conch shell, about one thousand minnows and some angle fish.  My Mom let me borrow her mask for snorkeling today.  My Dad and I played snorkel tag.
  • Sunday: Today is the day before we leave.  This morning it was really raining hard.  St John doesn’t get much water.  The rain filled up our water tank.  The rain goes off the roof, into the gutters, then into a pipe into the water tank.  We were careful not to waste water while we were here. We went shopping.  My Mom bought me a smoothie, a necklace, a bracelet, and a book about oceans. We saw an iguana.  We were going to visit a museum but they were closed.  This afternoon we want snorkeling.  When I saw three manta rays.  Me and my Dad dove under water to get conch shells.  We dropped them back down after we looked at them.  My Dad made them go sideways, but I dropped them the right way. I saw a turtle.  There were remora fish on the turtle.  When I dove down to get a closer look the remora hid under the turtle. Tonight we are going to watch the Syracuse game.