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Monkeys in St. John?

One of the most common questions I’m asked about during my island tours is what kind of animals live here on St. John. Specifically, many want to know if we have any monkeys. We do not have any monkeys on the island, but we do have a couple of interesting monkey connections. Curious? Read on!

For those of you who have visited the Annaberg plantation and used the stairs to walk up or down from the parking lot, you may have noticed a very interesting tree that’s covered in spikes. This tree, a sandbox or Hura crepitans, is native to the US Virgin Islands. It is easily identifiable by its bark, which is covered by very sharp little spikes. This tree is commonly called Monkey No Climb despite the fact that St. John does not, and has never had any monkeys.

A sandbox, or Monkey No Climb, tree at Annaberg.
Monkey No Climb up close

According to the National Park Service, its “miniature pumpkin-shaped seed pods were once used as receptacles for sand used to blot ink on a writing quill, hence the nickname Sandbox tree.” The tree’s sap is also caustic, and it is believed that the Carib Indians used it to make poison for their arrow tips.

How many of you are HGTV fans? Well if you’ve been watching House Hunters International or Caribbean Life over the years, you may have seen numerous familiar faces featured over the years, including the owners of St. John Car Rental, Garden By the Sea, Cruz Bay Waterports and more.

There was an episode that aired back in 2012 that featured John and Stacey Alvarado. John was an owner of Dog House Pub and Umami. (I really miss Umami!) Well in some B-roll footage from that episode, they featured monkeys as if they lived here on St. John! It totally cracked me up at the time. I went digging into the internet archives last night, and found the footage for you. Check it out:

Pretty funny, right? Footage of the man riding the horse in the water wasn’t filmed here either. Hey HGTV, call me. I can help.

Well there you have it, folks. Is this news? Nope. Is it interesting? Hopefully. 🙂

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  1. David B

    What was even funnier was when one of John Alvarado’s choices was a place in Grande Bay and he was asking questions and saying things like”very nice.” Well it was never mentioned that he actually worked there at the time. He even told us it was shameless. Pretty funny.

  2. Karen

    That was funny to watch. There have been other shows on HGTV saying it was STJ, when clearly they took footage from somewhere else, like here!

  3. Cathy O'Gara

    In fact, monkeys are NOT funny. Several Caribbean islands are plagued with then. Barbados and St. Martin have major problems. It was against the law to bring monkeys into the VI and I believe it still is.

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