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2023 Thanksgiving Info, Eats & More

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away! Where did the time go??!! Here is everything you need to know about Thanksgiving on St. John.

Let’s start with logistics. The ferries will operate normally. The taxis will also be plentiful as usual for those of you looking for some beach time. The barges will operate on an abbreviated holiday schedule.

The majority of our restaurants will be open, although some might open a bit later than usual. The Beach Bar, for example, will not open until 3 p.m. The finer dining spots will likely require a reservation.

Here is a quick rundown of several spots that are offering Thanksgiving meals for pickup and spots that are serving Thanksgiving plates this Thursday. If you would like your restaurant added to this list, please send me an email at jenn@explorestj.com.

Sam & Jack’s is offering a full Thanksgiving dinner for $75 per person. You can pick it on Thanksgiving or the day before. Click here to learn more. 

Sam & Jack’s Thanksgiving pickup menu

North Shore Deli is also offering a pickup Thanksgiving meal this year. Dive into our mouthwatering Turkey Pot Pie for two for just $40! Thinking of seconds? Add an Apple or Pumpkin Pie and relish a fresh Garden Salad — all for a gobble-tastic $65! For those who believe in celebrating BIG, bundle up your feast with a bottle of white/red wine or a chilled 12-pack of VI Brewers Summer Ale for just $90!

North Shore Deli won’t be open for service on Thanksgiving Day, but Ron will be in-house, toasting to gratitude and packing orders. Ensure your feast by pre-ordering now! Have inquiries or ready to lock in your order? Give them a buzz at 340-777-3061 or drop an email to Ron@northshoredelistj.com.

1864 is offering a traditional sit-down meal from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. They will be serving a Thanksgiving plate that includes turkey and all of the classic fixings for just $48 per person. This is the only menu being served on Thanksgiving. Click here to make a reservation.

1864 is located at Mongoose Junction.

Cinnamon Bay Campground is serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Rain Tree Cafe, which is its main restaurant. Reservations are recommended for larger parties. Please call 340-714-7144  to do so.

Cruz Bay Landing is offering its regular menu, plus a special Thanksgiving plate. Reservations are recommended for parties of six or more.

Now how about some Thanksgiving events?

The founder of 8 Tuff Miles is holding a Turkey Trot at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. Runners should meet in the Annaberg parking lot. The entry fee is one can of cat or dog food, which will be donated to the Animal Care Center. There will also be a short course for the kids.

Mongoose Junction will hold its annual Evening in the Courtyard event this Friday from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Quelbe Resurrection Band and Bo & Charlie Duo will be performing, and there will be lots of holiday specials. This is a fun event that’s not to be missed.

And rounding out Thanksgiving week is the 42nd annual Thanksgiving Regatta, which will be held Saturday in Coral Bay. It’s just $40 to enter, and the race starts at noon. This is a great event to watch for those of you who are lucky enough to be in Coral Bay next weekend. All of the details are included in the flyer below.

The island is starting to fill up! I hope to see many of you soon!

Want to learn more about St. John? Take an island tour with us!

Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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More St. John Land Now Protected!

Haulover Bay

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! I have great news to share with you all today! A quarter-acre parcel was recently added to the St. John Land Conservancy, thanks to a generous donation. The land is located beside Haulover Bay.

The newly added parcel is outlined in yellow.

The land surrounding Haulover to the west and north is part of the Virgin Islands National Park. The newly-acquired land was donated by the Borden family, who worked with the St. John Land Conservancy to do so. It will be maintained for its scenic and wildlife value.

“My Father, Jack Borden brought his children to holiday at Estate Zootenvaal in 1972,” Doug Borden told the St. John Land Conservancy. “He had finally found a Caribbean Island where he could afford to buy land. East End was that special place he found. The paved road ended shortly after Zootenvaal and became rock & dirt. Closest provisions were at Fred’s (aka Redbeard’s, Skinny Legs), Arthur Davidson had just built his house, Warren Able was ‘the Mayor’ living down in the gut, Knaapland on the hill, and Peter & Dorothy Muilenburg building Breath down the way. The Borden family spent the following 20+ years building the Roundhouse and enjoying the natural & underdeveloped beauty of East End. Hopefully more land can be preserved, and with that the beauty of East End will be preserved.”

We are so fortunate to have so many great people who love this island. I appreciate each and every one of you!

Want to learn more about St. John? Take an island tour with us!

Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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The First Superyacht has Arrived

The Rising Sun could be seen off of Cruz Bay Tuesday afternoon. It looks tiny in this pic, but I promise you, it’s quite large.

🎶 It’s beginning to look a lot like season! …And Thanksgiving!

The first superyacht of the season has arrived, and it is right on schedule. The Rising Sun, the massive 453-foot yacht owned by David Geffen anchored just off of St. John Monday marking its first appearance of the 2023-2024 season. Just like clockwork, The Rising Sun arrives in the Territory the week before Thanksgiving and stays through the holidays.

The yacht – which reportedly cost $400 million to build – was still anchored in front of Grass and Mingo cays, which are northwest of Cruz Bay, on Tuesday afternoon. Mingo is the island beside Lovango for those of you who are familiar with that location. The Rising Sun usually spends time between its current location and Round Bay on St. John’s East End. Round Bay is the area where Hansen Bay and Saltwell Bottom beach are located. After visiting St. John, it often heads over to the British Virgin Islands.

I took this picture of The Rising Sun last winter.
Sloop Jones, an artist who lives on East End, captured this pic of The Rising Sun about a decade ago.

For those of you, like me, who enjoy learning more about the fancy boats that cruise through our waters, you should download the Marine Traffic app on your phone. You can pull up the location of the majority of larger boats in the world, including megayachts, cruise ships, and more.

Screen grabs from my Marine Traffic app

And lastly, if you are unfamiliar with David Geffen, he launched the careers of the Eagles, Aerosmith, and my personal favorite, Guns ‘n Roses. He owned MCA Records, and then co-founded Dreamworks.

Speaking of boats, if the online schedule is correct, it looks like St. John will receive its first cruise ship on Saturday, December 16th. The Azamara Onward will anchor off of Cruz Bay, and it’s expected to bring 670 guests to the island. It’s common for small cruise ships to anchor off of Cruz Bay during the winter months.

That’s all I have for you today, folks! If I see anything else cool on the water while I’m out and about with today’s Explore STJ’s Island Tour guests, I will be sure to let you know!

Have you booked your island tour yet? Looking for more information? Please feel free to email me at jenn@explorestj.com or visit www.explorestj.com/tour for more information. Have a fantastic day everyone!

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Fun & Interesting Things to Do on Your Next Vacation

Hello everyone, and happy Tuesday! So as many of you may know, my five-year-old son Dalton is a kindergartener at Gifft Hill here in St. John. He absolutely loves school and is so excited about his first field trip to Annaberg Gardens, which happens tomorrow. The gardens at Annaberg are lovingly tended to by my friend Charles, a man who has taught me so much about native plants over the years. Charles and Ital, another St. John treasure, will teach the children about a variety of native plants and will even give them the opportunity to sample a few.

Charles, the gardener at Annaberg, sent Dalton home with a soursop plant last winter. We planted this tree at our new home in Fish Bay.

This all got me thinking. The Virgin Islands National Park has so many great activities, seminars, and hikes that are available to the public, many of which are free of charge. So today, I thought I would share several of them with you. There is so much more to this island than simply sun and fun. Please check out some of St. John’s rich culture while you’re here.

Here are some of the current offerings happening in the Virgin Islands National Park.

Taste of the Virgin Islands

Ms. Oliva Christian also provides demonstrations at the Annaberg Cook House.

This is a brand new seminar that takes place in the Raintree Cafe at Cinnamon Bay Campground. Learn about local cuisine, food culture in the Virgin Islands, and traditional cooking techniques. Ms. Olivia Christian is a St. Johnian who grew up working summers in the Daylight Bakery in Charlotte Amalie which is owned by her family. She studied food service at college, raised four sons, and loves sharing her passion for VI cuisine. Ms. Olivia also oversees the cook house at Annaberg Plantation. This is a free event that happens on the last Friday of the month from November through June.

Annaberg Cultural Program

Please take the time to visit my friend Charles at Annaberg.

Annaberg was the largest plantation on St. John at one time. Visit the site and watch cultural demonstrations like bread making, and learn about local plants, fruits, and more. This is a free offering that happens every Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. November through June.

Traditional Uses of Plants

Ital is a wealth of knowledge here on St. John.

Local cultural ambassador, Ital Delroy Anthony shares his passion for the culture and history of St. John, especially focused on the relationship between plants and culture. These talks take place at Cinnamon Bay. This is a free offering that happens the first Friday of the month from November through June.

Reef Bay Hike

The waterfall is currently flowing at Reef Bay. Image credit: Steve Simonsen Photography

Unfortunately, the guided Reef Bay hike has yet to resume this season. It is expected to start up again in January. The trail is still open, but there will not be a boat waiting for you at the bottom of the 2+ mile trail, which means you should be prepared to complete the steep hike back up.

Want to know about all of the offerings in the Virgin Islands National Park? Click here to learn more.

Want to learn more about St. John? Take an island tour with us!

Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

Follow Explore STJ on Social Media

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Where to Stay in St. John

People ask me quite often where to stay when visiting St. John. There are so many places to choose from, which makes it very tough to narrow it down. Today I am going to tell you about several options that I can personally vouch for.

Ok, so the first decision that you need to make is which side of the island you’d like to stay on – either Cruz Bay or Coral Bay. Cruz Bay is better for people who want easier access to town, the shops, restaurants, etc. Coral Bay has a few great shops and restaurants too, but not as many as Cruz Bay. The views from some of the hills in Coral Bay are breathtaking, but so are some of the views in and around Cruz Bay. It’s a tough decision to make. I usually tell people that if they plan to go out to dinner every night, then they should pick Cruz Bay. If they want a little more peace and quiet and plan to spend more time at home, Coral Bay may be the better option. It’s truly a matter of preference. And regarding the logistics of it all, Coral Bay is about a 30-minute drive from Cruz Bay.

Ok, so now that you’ve decided which side of the island to stay on, you have to decide the type of accommodation to pick. St. John has only one true resort, and that’s the Westin which is a Marriot property. It’s located on Great Cruz Bay (although its address is Chocolate Hole) and is about five minutes from town. It is not walkable to town unless you want to walk up and down Jacob’s Ladder, which is a super steep hill.

St. John has an abundance of condos to choose from, and all are located in or around Cruz Bay. We have two bed and breakfasts – Garden By the Sea and Estate Lindholm, as well as numerous villas located throughout the island. You can rent a cute little one-bedroom house or a palatial six-bedroom estate and everything in between.

Prices change based on time of year. High season is typically December through April, so prices are the most expensive then. Prices are also dependent on the number of people traveling. Two people will be charged less than six, for example, when renting the same home. This is because you will not need as many bedrooms, nor will you use as much water, power, etc.

Now that we have gotten all of that out of the way, here are several properties that I recommend. Full disclosure here: They are all advertisers on this website. I am super picky about who I work with, so if they are on this website, I personally vouch for them. Quite frankly, if I like you, I will include you. If I don’t, I won’t. It’s not about the money with me. It’s about providing a high-quality product or experience. Basically, I just want y’all to have the best vacation possible. 🙂

Interested in adding your property to this list? Please email me at jenn@explorestj.com to chat.

Villas

Desert Rose is a private, two-bedroom, 2.5-bath Caribbean-style home. It has beautiful views of Coral Bay and a pool. Click here to learn more.


Fish Tales is a private, two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom Caribbean-style home. It’s cute, comfy, and has air conditioning and a view. Click here to learn more.


Mare Blu is a luxurious, six-bedroom oasis overlooking Rendezvous Bay. It has an infinity-edge pool with panoramic ocean views and generous outdoor living space. Click here to learn more.


Mystical Mermaid is an ultra-private, newly renovated two-bedroom villa located in Fish Bay. It has a large pool and spa and high-band wifi. Click here to learn more.


Sea Gate Villa is a beautiful and well-appointed five-bedroom villa located close to Cruz Bay. It has beach access, snorkeling onsite, and 24-hour concierge services. Click here to learn more. 


Southern Exposure is a spacious three-bedroom, three-bath villa with panoramic ocean views. This villa is great for couples and families. Click here to learn more.


Still Waters is a beautiful, quiet, and relaxing three-bedroom villa. It has a pool, gourmet kitchen, views and is just minutes from Cruz Bay. Click here to learn more.


Villa Bonita is a three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom villa located in the quiet Fish Bay neighborhood. This home has water views, a pool, and central air. Click here to learn more. 


Villa Circe is a stunning six-bedroom, four-bathroom home with panoramic BVI and Coral Bay views. It has a pool, hot tub, and even games for the kids. Click here to learn more. 


Waterfall is spectacular, tranquil, and private. It has three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and a large, heated infinity-edge pool. Click here to learn more.


Condos

Mermaid’s Tale at Lavender Hill is a one-bedroom suite located in the heart of Cruz Bay. Beautiful views, private deck, walk to everything. Click here to learn more.


Seagrape Vista has eight luxury suites with year-round sunset views. Pool, parking and located right in Cruz Bay. Click here to learn more. 


Serendip Vacation Condos offers studio and one-bedroom condos just minutes from Cruz Bay. Rates start at $249 a night. Click here to learn more.


Vacation Rental Companies

Bonvi Hospitality Group offers a variety of luxury vacation rentals. All are private and many are either waterfront or have ocean views. Click here to learn more.


Caribbean Soul Vacations is a family-run property management company that offers everything from one-bedroom condos to six-bedroom villas. They have 23 properties to choose from and even accept Marriot points. Click here to learn more.


Caribbean Villas offers a variety of two to seven-bedroom villas and condos from economical to high-end luxury. More than 80 homes to choose from. Click here to learn more.


Island Getaways offers elegant two to six-bedroom beachfront and oceanview villas. They’ve created unforgettable vacations since 1996. Click here to learn more.


James M. Miller Property Management offers more than 30 beautiful rental homes. On-island service. Not on island time. Click here to learn more.


St. John Rental Villas offers several great vacation rentals all in one place. Villas start at just $300 a night, and there are both affordable and luxury options. Click here to learn more. 


Nearby Resort

Lovango Resort + Beach Club offers stunning accomodations on an ultra-private island, just minutes from Cruz Bay. Choose to stay in a glamping-style luxury tent, cottage, treehouse or villa. Lovango reopens for the season on December 17th. Click here to learn more. 

Want to learn more about St. John? Take an island tour with us!

Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

Follow Explore STJ on Social Media

–> www.facebook.com/explorestj

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Brand New Panoramic Cruz Bay Webcam!

Webcam screen grab taken Saturday at 3:59 p.m.

Hello everyone! Is it getting chilly where you are? Well, I have a brand new way to warm you up!

Our friends over at The Beach Bar just upgraded their beach cam. It’s now a panoramic webcam that shows you a 180-degree view of Cruz Bay beach. Watch the palm trees sway while the waves roll in, or perhaps spot a familiar face or two enjoying some time at the world-famous beach bar. You can watch the boats and ferries come and go through the day, and then check out the sun going down at night. Tonight’s sunset time is 5:43 p.m. in case you want to check it out. And remember, we do not observe Daylight Saving Time, so we are currently one hour ahead of New York City.

You can see this new webcam, plus more than 20 others at www.ExploreSTJ.com/webcams. Check them out!

Catch some nice sunset views!