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Author: Jenn Manes

Island Roots Captures Leatherback Nesting!

Island Roots charter guests pose behind a leatherback turtle as a BVI turtle volunteer measures the nest.

This is absolutely incredible.

Ryan Granger, a boat captain for Island Roots Boat Charters – was cruising along the Northside of Tortola in an area that is usually free of beachgoers when he noticed two men standing in street clothes, rather than swimwear, Sunday. Realizing this was an unusual sight, Captain Ryan drove closer to shore to get a better look.

The two men appeared to be leaning over something quite large on the sand. As Ryan got even closer, he realized that it was a very large sea turtle.

“It was humungous,” Ryan told me yesterday with clear excitement in his voice.

The turtle turned out to be a female leatherback, which is the largest species of sea turtle. Leatherbacks are typically four to six feet long and can weigh up to 1,100 pounds. Ryan estimated this leatherback was approximately four-and-a-half feet long.

Leatherbacks are not a common sight here in the Virgin Islands, although they are one of three species that call our waters home. We tend to see Green and Hawksbill turtles more than leatherbacks in our waters here in St. John. It is even more uncommon to see one nesting on our beaches.

Ryan said the leatherback appeared to be burying eggs in the sand. It looked as if she’d been doing so in the hot sun for several hours.

“It was unusual because they usually lay their eggs at night,” he said Tuesday morning.

The men who Ryan saw in street clothes tagged and measured the turtle. They appeared to be working as part of a British Virgin Islands turtle patrol program much like what we have here in St. John, Ryan said.

Leatherbacks nest every two to three years, according to the Virgin Islands National Park. They can nest four to seven times a season, and lay an average of 80 eggs. Those eggs take just over two months to hatch.

The majority of sea turtle nests found on St. John are from Hawksbill turtles. While these turtles can nest year-round, the peak season is from August to November. The last time a leatherback nest was found on St. John was back in 2022. Prior to that, it was 2016.

“It was very special,” Ryan said of Sunday’s encounter. “That’s the first one I have ever seen. I haven’t seen one nesting. It was impressive.”

Check out the video:

Want to learn more about St. John? Looking to take an island tour?

Learn more here –> See the island of St. John with a resident. See the nooks and crannies that many visitors miss. Explore the beaches, historical sites, perhaps a tiki bar or two, and much more. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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The Most Affordable Homes For Sale in St. John

This view can be yours for only $445,000!

Hello everyone, and happy Tuesday! Today we’re talking real estate. 🙂

I never dreamed that I would have the ability to own a home here on St. John, so I was beyond ecstatic when I closed on my laid back little cottage – aptly named Snail’s Pace – last summer. I was able to do so due to two large factors: 1. It was affordable, and 2. The sellers were offering owner financing – music to my ears!

Now that I am a licensed realtor, I would like to help some of you achieve your dream of homeownership here on St. John. Today I’d like to show you a few of the most affordable homes that are currently listed for sale on St. John. The one that’s the least expensive even has three magical words attached to it – owner financing available. Amazing!

Carolina Cottage is a cute, Caribbean-style home that’s located minutes from the heart of Coral Bay. This large one bedroom, one bathroom home boasts 1,300 square-feet of living space. The grounds are lush, and there is plenty of space for gardening. Now here’s the best part – owner financing is available, and the owners are motivated! You can make this work, folks! Carolina Cottage is listed for $350,000. Contact me at to learn more.

Carolina cottage

Ok, now this second one that just listed is super cute. This tiny house is located on Bordeaux Mountain and has great views. This gem was extensive renovated, including a new septic system, bathroom, decking, plumbing, and more. It’s adorable, secluded and is located on a half-acre parcel, meaning there is plenty room to expand down the road. This cute cottage is listed for $445,000. Contact me at to learn more.

Bordeaux cottage

Hoping to be a bit closer to Cruz Bay? The most affordable home on that side of the island is a charming, two-bedroom cottage that’s located in the Glucksberg neighborhood, which is right near Gifft Hill. This sweet little island home is located at the end of the road, offering ultimate privacy. It’s in immaculate condition with new kitchen counters, cabinets, and flooring. It has vaulted ceilings, a covered deck and is surrounded by fruit trees. This FLAT lot (hard to come by in the islands!) is a gardener’s dream! This property is priced to sell at $650,000. Contact me at to learn more.

Glucksberg cottage

We currently have 68 homes for sale, ranging in price from $350,000 to $12 million. I would love to be your buying agent, so please email me at to learn more. I drive almost this whole island daily during my island tours, so I know it extremely well. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks all, and have a great day!

Want to learn more about St. John? Looking to take an island tour?

Learn more here –> See the island of St. John with a resident. See the nooks and crannies that many visitors miss. Explore the beaches, historical sites, perhaps a tiki bar or two, and much more. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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Meet St. John’s Newest Realtor… Me!

I recently joined 340 Real Estate Co.

I absolutely love St. John, and I love real estate. I’ve been writing about the amazing properties we are fortunate to have here on St. John for more than a decade. And for the past 7+ years, I’ve been discussing locations, villas, condos, and land areas with guests almost daily during my island tours. Well, today, I am excited to tell you all that my love of real estate is not simply a pastime anymore. I am now officially a licensed realtor in the US Virgin Islands.


I am excited to share that I am the newest realtor at 340 Real Estate Co. I have worked with 340 Real Estate Co. for nearly 10 years, and I adore its owner Tammy Donnelly.

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you know me pretty well. You know how much I love this island and how I love sharing that love with all of you. (That’s a lot of love! haha) So if you are interested in buying a home here on St. John, whether it be a permanent residence, vacation rental, condo or villa, please give me the opportunity to help you. If you are a current property owner and you are looking to sell, I would love to list your property and market it to potential buyers. If you dream of owning a business here in St. John or are looking to purchase land to build on, I would love to help you along that journey.

For those of you who aren’t as familiar with me, I am originally from Connecticut, and I have lived in St. John for over a decade. I have a five-year-old son who attends Gifft Hill School. (He’s basically five going on 15! lol) I love this community, and I do my best to support it as much as I can. I am a board member for the Animal Care Center and also the Estate Fish Bay Owners’ Association. I purchased a teeny tiny house in Fish Bay with my longtime partner last summer. I never thought I would be able to own a home on St. John, but 340 Real Estate Co. helped me attain that dream. Let me help you attain yours.

If you are interested in buying, selling or just learning some general information about St. John real estate, please feel free to email me at You can also call or text me at (203)-376-3786.

(Side note: I will continue offering island tours too! If you are interested in learning more about my island tours, please visit

Cheers to new beginnings!

Want to learn more about St. John? Looking to take an island tour?

Learn more here –> See the island of St. John with a resident. See the nooks and crannies that many visitors miss. Explore the beaches, historical sites, perhaps a tiki bar or two, and much more. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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Public Access to Caneel Bay Beach Via Resort Coming Soon!

Caneel Bay beach

Well friends, this is great news. Caneel Bay beach – the main beach that you can see from the Caneel Bay overlook – will soon be accessible by land. This is expected to happen within the next month or two, according to the Virgin Islands National Park.

The Virgin Islands National Park held a community meeting last night to update the public on the current happenings at Caneel Bay. I have to say, I am impressed with the progress that has been made this month. It is very clear that the National Park Service (NPS) is working hard and that their priority is public beach access. Cheers to that!

The main parking lot that used to be reserved for day trippers and those dining at ZoZo’s (when it was located in the sugar mill) has been cleared. That lot will soon open for public use. A path has also been cleared from that lot to Caneel Bay beach. The beach path will lead visitors to the north end of Caneel Bay beach, which is near building one and where the buffet used to be (for those of you who are familiar with the old resort). So for the first time in nearly seven years, we will be able to walk through the resort, once again, although we will be limited to that one beach while cleanup continues around the rest of the property. There will not be a charge to park and walk to Caneel Bay beach.

Visitors will soon be able to park and walk to Caneel Bay beach. Photos shared by NPS last night.

Access to Honeymoon and Salomon continue via the Lind Point trail. There is still a taxi shuttle from the entrance of Caneel Bay to Honeymoon beach. There is a fee associated with this taxi shuttle. The shuttle is run by the Caneel Bay Beach Club.

The Caneel Bay Beach Club, located at Honeymoon Beach, and ZoZo’s, the restaurant that is operating on Caneel Bay beach beside the ferry dock, will be able to operate for the foreseeable future, according to NPS. They have been given a temporary commercial use authorization (CUA), which allows business to be conducted in the Park. ZoZo’s will close June 14th for the season, but plans to reopen in December. The Caneel Bay Beach Club will remain open.

Park Superintendent Penelope Del Bene said that she understood people’s livelihoods are involved with regard to ZoZo’s and Caneel Bay Beach Club, and that it’s important to keep them open.

“We will do everything we can, and we are working with them,” she told the crowd last night.

The Park Superintendent said the holdup with opening access to Caneel Bay beach via land is due to the lack of restroom facilities. She is hoping to get a bathroom trailer, but may need to instal port-o-johns initially, simply to get the beach open. She hopes this will occur within a month, but admitted it may take up to two months for this to happen.

As I mentioned earlier this week, a lot of clearing has occurred on the property, specifically the historical site near the old ZoZo’s restaurant. This area has been cleared and fenced off. Visitors can view the historical site, but will not be able to explore it up closely at this time. The destroyed buildings on Caneel Bay beach have also been fenced off, so they do not pose a safety issue for beachgoers.

The historical site at Caneel Bay has been cleared and fenced off. Photo shared by NPS last night.

Because of the hazards and storm debris scattered throughout the property, there will not be 24/7 access to Caneel Bay beach club. NPS hired a security company that is currently set up at the front gate. They are still working out logistics with regard to beach hours, etc. The beach will continue to be accessible by water 24/7, as this is Virgin Islands law.

I will let you all know when the beach officially opens via the resort. Have a great day everyone!

Caneel Bay beach in 2013

Want to learn more about St. John? Looking to take an island tour?

Learn more here –> See the island of St. John with a resident. See the nooks and crannies that many visitors miss. Explore the beaches, historical sites, perhaps a tiki bar or two, and much more. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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Cooling Off On the Island

Hawksnest around 5 p.m. yesterday

It has been H-O-T for the past several days. Saharan dust has been hanging over us, and that makes for much hotter days. I actually saw 98 degrees on the Jeep’s thermostat in Coral Bay yesterday. That’s pretty unusual for May, but fortunately the forecast shows that it will cool off a bit in the upcoming days as the dust passes through the area. Phew! All of that being said, I thought I’d share some info on where you can cool off during these hot island days.

The coldest place in St. John, in my opinion, is Dolphin Market. Maybe if they used a little less AC, the prices would be cheaper??? Kidding! (Kinda haha) But seriously, Dolphin Market in Cruz Bay and near the Westin are both freezing. Just wander the aisles and cool off.

The beaches do not close, so you can always opt to check one out to cool off. The sun is blazing throughout the day, but the beaches do cool off later in the afternoon. Dalton and I visited Hawksnest yesterday around 5 p.m., and it was absolutely perfect. There was plenty of shade, the sun itself wasn’t blazing hot, and the water was perfect. We built a few sandcastles, snorkeled for a while, and left nice and refreshed. One great thing about Hawksnest is that there aren’t too many no see ums, so you can actually stay there until sunset. Maho and Francis are two beaches where the no see ums will run you off later in the afternoon.

Afterschool fun!

In terms of fully air conditioned bars/restaurants where you can cool off, we have several. Here is a list of several businesses around St. John that are fully air conditioned:

  • Parrot Club – Wharfside Village
  • Wine Shop – Wharfside Village
  • Lovango Rum Bar – Across from Cruz Bay beach
  • Dave & Jerry’s Steakhouse – Below Cruz Bay Hotel & across from Lime Inn
  • Cafe Roma – Above The Longboard
  • The Downstairs at Upstairs Bar – Across from The Longboard
  • Cap’s Place – Across from the Post Office
  • Sam & Jack’s Deli – Marketplace
  • Giovanni’s Gelato – Marketplace
  • Ronnie’s Pizza – Near the Westin
  • North Shore Deli – Mongoose Junction
  • The Tap Room – Mongoose Junction
  • The Gift Shop at Cinnamon Bay – This is a great place to cool down when visiting Cinnamon.

You can also cool off by taking an island tour with me! (Shameless plug lol) Take a scenic ride around the island. Learn about St. John’s rich history and get some good island gossip along the way. We can even stop at a tiki bar or two along the way if you’d like. Learn more at or email me at It’s never too early to reserve your day. Click here to read my reviews on TripAdvisor. 

Curious where all of these restaurants are located? Click here to view Explore STJ’s searchable Restaurant Map. You can view it 24/7 at

Want to learn more about the Saharan Dust, which is partially to blame for this heat? Click here to read a story I wrote earlier this year. 

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Things are Happening at Caneel Bay!

The entrance to Caneel Bay

This is such great news everyone! Things are happening at Caneel Bay!

As you probably know, a judge recently ruled that Caneel Bay will be given to the National Park following a nearly two-year court battle over ownership rights. Well the Park hasn’t wasted any time getting inside of the 150-acre property, and cleanup work has begun! This is what I have seen and know…

A National Park ranger is now stationed inside the entry booth. Previously a security guard employed by EHI Acquisitions had been stationed here. I also see National Park vehicles at the entrance. It’s such a great sight!

For the first time in nearly seven years, I can finally see the remnants of the plantation buildings from the Caneel Bay overlook. The buildings, including the horse mill where ZoZo’s was located before the storms, had been obscured due to overgrowth. Not anymore!

Great job National Park!

I also saw a construction truck on the sand at Caneel Bay beach yesterday, so presumably some sort of cleanup is underway over there too.

Caneel Bay beach

A few dead trees look to have been removed at the main entrance, and I saw a ranger working on the front gate last week too.

The Virgin Islands National Park said in a release last week that they are working to reopen the property in a phased approach; however there isn’t a timetable for the public opening at this time.

“We thank our neighbors and visitors for their patience as we work towards re-establishing visitor services at Caneel Bay,” Virgin Islands National Park Superintendent Penny Del Bene said in the release. “Our goal is to invite Virgin Islanders and visitors back to Caneel Bay as soon as safely possible. The full reopening of the Caneel Bay Resort will take time, and we ask for your continued understanding.”

There is a public meeting regarding Caneel Bay tomorrow night (May 13th) at 5:30 p.m. at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center. Park staff will update the public about the current work happening on the property. There will also be an opportunity for the public to ask questions. There will also be two public taxi tours happening on Wednesday morning. The first will leave the Cruz Bay Visitor Center at 9 a.m. The second will leave at 10:15 a.m. Each tour will be approximately two-and-a-half hours. You are asked to bring water if you plan to attend.

I took a quick video from the overlook yesterday morning. Check it out:

I will keep you posted on all of this! Have a great day everyone!

Want to learn more about St. John? Looking to take an island tour?

Learn more here –> See the island of St. John with a resident. See the nooks and crannies that many visitors miss. Explore the beaches, historical sites, perhaps a tiki bar or two, and much more. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

Follow Explore STJ on Social Media