Hello everyone, and happy New Year’s Eve! I cannot believe that today is the last day of 2023! So many great things happened in St. John this year. Here is a little recap of some of the highlights!
We announced the opening of two great new spots in January – The Upstairs Bar & Grill and VI Wine Shop. Both technically opened in December, but thanks to island time, I let you all know about them in January. 🙂 The Upstairs is a great sports bar and the Wine Shop quickly became one of my favorite spots on St. John. I love wine. What can I say?! Sadly, it hasn’t been able to reopen after closing for off-season last August due to ongoing construction at the Wharfside Hotel. Soon come… I hope!
The National Park Service also announced its two options for the future of Caneel Bay Resort. It basically came down to all or nothing – rebuild the hotel and create open spaces or leave it alone essentially. They asked the public for feedback and said they would consider that when making their decision.
We had a pretty amazing thing happen in February. We had a flamboyant of flamingos visit! This is a rare occurrence these days, but a very welcomed one! They stuck around for several months, which made this “bird nerd” super excited!
Sadly we lost a business in February when the Coral Bay Fresh Market abruptly closed its doors. Nothing has reopened in that space since.
Ferry service to St. Thomas got even easier in March when the Charlotte Amalie ferry resumed. There are now three ferries that run between St. John and St. Thomas – Red Hook, Crown Bay, and Charlotte Amalie. A couple of new retail shops opened too. The Little Things opened in Cruz Bay and Pirate’s Cove opened out in Coral Bay. And rounding out the month, Lime Out began a new shuttle service making the trip out for tacos on the water even easier.
Even more businesses opened in April here in St. John. In Cruz Bay, we gained a great new coffee shop – Downtown Sips – as well as Dolphin Grab & Go, which is a quick-serve breakfast and lunch spot. Coral Bay gained a new sweet spot when Dazey Drive-In opened. It’s a great dessert shop that specializes in Hawaiian ice.
There will come as no surprise, but Trunk Bay was named one of the world’s best beaches in May. The Saharan dust arrived for the first time in 2023 in May, and Aqua Bistro closed out in Coral Bay. We also learned that Little St. James and Great St. James, the islands owned by Jeffrey Epstein, had sold to a St. John resident, who plans to open a luxury resort on the smaller of the two islands.
June is such a great month in St. John as the annual Carnival celebration began. This is such an important time of year on St. John as it truly celebrates the island culture, and without that, St. John wouldn’t be the amazing place that it is. We even had an actual carnival in June complete with a ferris wheel and everything. It was absolutely incredible, and I hope it returns in 2024!
St. John honored Emancipation Day on July 4th with a parade, music, and fireworks. It was a beautiful day that featured colorful troupes, music and so much more.
The Oppenheimer movie sparked a new interest in St. John for many, as Robert Oppenheimer lived here after he lost his security clearance. It’s an interesting connection that many people were not aware of. And lastly, in July, the National Park Service announced that it plans to rebuild a hotel on the Caneel Bay property.
August was an amazing month for me because I bought a house! I never imagined I would ever be able to own a home in St. John, but I now own an adorable little property out in Fish Bay. And I could not be happier!
September is a bit of a fog for me, as I was busy playing construction foreman out in Fish Bay. I do know that many of you stepped up to help our teachers at Sprauve School in Cruz Bay clear their supply lists. A big thank you to all who helped!
We quickly learned on October 1st that Caneel Bay would not become part of the National Park as it should have due to a frivolous lawsuit filed by EHI Acquisitions, the former operators of the Caneel Bay Resort. That lawsuit is ongoing, and no progress has been made since.
The island started to fill up in November, but not without some unexpected changes. Quiet Mon Pub announced it was forced to close after 26 years due to an astronomical rent increase. Lime Inn announced some restaurant changes too, and Midway opened a new breakfast and lunch spot on Centerine Road.
And here we are in December. We had our first cruise visit and a lot of superyachts too. The island is extremely busy and parking has been crazy. I escaped the crowds for a bit, and will be celebrating New Year’s Eve in New England with some of my best friends. But don’t worry, I have friends who are planning to celebrate in Cruz Bay tonight, so I should have some pics and videos to share with all of you tomorrow.
I want to end this by saying that I truly appreciate every one of you. Thank you for taking the time to read what I write every day. ExploreSTJ.com has been viewed well over a million times this year, which is absolutely incredible. And to those of you who took an island tour with me in 2023, I appreciate you all too. You all are helping me live my dream, and I cannot thank you enough.
Happy New Year everyone. xoxo
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