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Is Sargassum Seaweed Affecting St. John?

John’s Folly

People have been emailing me quite a bit lately asking about sargassum seaweed and whether or not it’s affecting St. John. While I have seen more and more piling up in the waters around St. John, I have not seen it affect any of the island’s best beaches as of late.

Sargassum is nothing new to the US Virgin Islands. The first time I recall really seeing it affect the island was back in 2014 when it covered Cruz Bay beach. Since then, it has come and gone. You may have noticed it when flying if you like to look outside the airplane window. It almost looks like an oil slick from above.

So what exactly is sargassum? Sargassum is a type of algae that floats in island-like masses and never attaches to the ocean floor, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This floating habitat can provide food, refuge, and breeding grounds for a variety of animals such as fish, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimp and more. Sargassum serves as a primary nursery area for a variety of commercially important fish such as mahi mahi, jacks and amberjacks.

A baby sea turtle hides out in the sargassum. (This pic was sent to me years ago. Forgive me for not recalling the photographer.)

There are a few downsides of sargassum, however. First, when it really pools on a beach, it is very difficult to swim through it. That means whichever beach it affects is somewhat closed off to swimming, etc. Also, when it dries on the beach and starts to decompose, it can be very stinky. It emits a smell that is similar to rotten eggs.

The good news? It’s really not affecting St. John at the moment. The better news: It rarely affects our North Shore beaches.

The winds here typically go from east to west. (That’s from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay.) This means that the sargassum, when we have a lot in the area, floats past our more popular beaches. I see it affecting Jumbie the most, as that beach faces a more northeasterly direction. But at the moment, there is a only a tiny bit of dried, and not stinky, sargassum on that beach.

St. Thomas, unfortunately, is a different story. The beaches at Margaritaville, Sapphire and the Ritz, for example, all face east. This means that sargassum often affects those resorts. The good news there is that the staff removes it regularly, so it will not affect your vacation if you are staying over there.

So as you know, I see a great deal of the island nearly every day for my Explore STJ island tours. I have not seen it on any of the island’s most popular beaches at all this year. This includes Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Maho Bay, etc. I have seen it in Fish Bay, Coral Bay and John’s Folly Bay.

Fish Bay
Drunk Bay near Ram Head & Concordia

So there you have it. Sargassum is not really a thing right now. If things change and become more problematic, I will absolutely let you all know. I will post regular updates at www.explorestj.com/sargassum.

In the meantime, start looking to book your next St. John vacation. The island is pretty quiet right now, so it’s a great time to book a last-minute trip!


Looking to take a St. John island tour?

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

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj


Tag: St. John sargassum seaweed

The End of an Era: Connections is Closing.

Connections has been the hub of the St. John community for more than 40 years.

It is with tremendous sadness that I share today’s story. Connections – the who, what, where and how of St. John – is closing after serving the St. John community for more than 40 years. This closing will undoubtedly affect those of us who live here and will change the dynamics of St. John life for years to come. Connections will officially close in May.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Connections, it’s the little pink building that sits on the corner near Cruz Bay Landing, the Lutheran Church, Longboard and Woody’s. It has provided mail services to countless residents over the years, business services like scanning, copying, a notary and Western Union, and a community bulletin board that has helped nearly every resident as some point during their time here. It was a place where you popped in to get advice, leads on a new place to live or work, or perhaps event a little island gossip by way of the Coconut Telegraph. And every time you walked through those glass doors, you were greeted by a smile.

Cid Hamling started connections in 1983 as a way for people to stay connected, hence the name Connections. The business started simply with a folding table and a working phone line, which was a pretty big deal in the early 80s. Back then you had to wait over six months to get a land line at home and it was next to impossible to secure a post office box on island. Cid provided a pretty simple, yet important, service – she enabled people to stay connected here on island and connected to their loved ones up in the States. She even brought St. John’s first fax machine to the island.

Cid Hamling

Cid continued to add services over the years, and in 1991, she opened a second location out in Coral Bay – Connections East. (She sold that location, which remains open, to Jennifer Robinson in 2015.)

As a newcomer to the island, the advice was always the same – check the wall at Connections, people would tell me. So that’s what I did. I would look at the community listings, which cost a mere $5 a month to post, to see if any new apartments listed for rent, to see who was hiring. It’s the place where I found my first island Jeep, the place where I printed my tax returns year after year, the place where I notarized my home’s closing documents. Take any big life event that happened here on St. John, and chances are that Connections was involved in some way.

After the storms, Connections continued to be the island’s lifeline by providing much-needed information to residents here on island and our loved ones up in the States. I will never forget the day that Bill Clinton visited St. John, five months after Hurricane Irma. Cid saw him outside of Connections, ran out and gave him the biggest hug I’ve ever seen. It was probably against former-President protocol (oops!), but it was a great moment to see.

Keeping the community updated on Sept. 22, 2017.
I think Cid’s hug threw the Secret Service for a loop!

As many of you know, I am a tour guide here on St. John, so it’s pretty common for people to ask me about the storms. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the easiest conversation to have. I remember asking Cid one day, maybe a year or two after Irma, when people would stop asking about the storms.

“When the next one happens,” she said to me with a smile.

Cid decided to retire in late 2020, but was certain to leave Connections in good hands when she did. She sold the business to Trista Sigler in November 2020, one of Connections’ Connectoritas!

Trista Sigler purchased Connections in November 2020.

Trista worked at Connections part-time, on and off, for many years and formed a great friendship with Cid along the way. When Trista lost her full-time job due to Covid in 2020, she returned to Connections, a position that soon evolved into a full-time gig. It was during this time that Cid asked her if she would be interested in buying the business. Trista was the perfect successor, a hard worker who loved Connections and understood its importance within the St. John community.

Sadly, Trista has only had the opportunity to carry on the business for a few years, as lease renewal issues have forced her to close. From what I have seen as a community member, Trista has done absolutely everything she could to keep the businesses open, but was unable to do so.

Connections is slowly ceasing services as it nears its closing date. Mail service will end on continue through the end of the month. And as I mentioned earlier, the business will close permanently in May.

If you love Connections as much as I do, or if you simply want to support a great business and a great businesswoman, you can purchase a tank, t-shirt or tote bag. You can purchase them online by clicking here. These items will be on sale online only through April 22nd.

I want to personally thank Cid, Trista and all of the Connectoritas who have helped me navigate island life over the years. Your contributions to this community have not gone unnoticed.

Not all change is good, folks. This closure will definitely leave a hole in our community.


Looking to take a St. John island tour?

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

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj

 

 

 

 

Visiting St. John for Just One Day? Here’s What to Do!

Numerous people are only able to spend one day visiting us here in St. John. Perhaps you’re visiting via a cruise ship or maybe you’re staying over in St. Thomas, and you only plan on taking the ferry to St. John once. Here is an itinerary that will help you get the most out of one day in St. John.

Let’s start with logistics – the ferry. I suggest taking the ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay early in the morning to fully enjoy everything St John has to offer. The first ferry leaves Red Hook at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and at 6:30 a.m. on the weekends. There is a 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. boat daily, and then the ferry leaves Red Hook every hour on the hour beginning at 9 a.m. Tickets cost $8.15 per person, per way. I suggest taking either the 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. ferry over to maximize your time in St John. You can save time by buying your tickets in advance at www.stjohnticketing.com

The St John ferry dock in Cruz Bay. (This is an older pic before construction began.)

Once you arrive at the ferry dock, numerous taxis will be waiting to whisk you away on your St John adventure. But before we do that, wander across the street and over to the park, and grab yourself a coffee from Cruz Bay Landing’s Coffee House & Creamery. Walk a block further and grab a latte or another type of specialty drink at Downtown Sips. Looking for a coffee or perhaps a mimosa on the water? Walk right next to the ferry and check out High Tide.

Downtown Sips is located about three minutes from the ferry dock.
The view from High Tide is pretty incredible!

Want to know where these restaurants are located? Check out Explore STJ’s searchable restaurant map at www.explorestj.com/restaurantmap

If you only have one day in St. John, it’s pretty hard to not choose Trunk Bay as the beach to visit. It’s consistently ranked one of the top beaches in the world, and with good reason. The cost of a taxi from Cruz Bay to Trunk Bay is $12 if you are traveling alone or $9 per person if you are traveling with two or more people. The majority of our taxis are open air safari trucks, so you can enjoy the views and a nice breeze as you travel along the north shore and out to the beaches.

The trip out to Trunk Bay is breathtaking. You will drive past three overlooks and a handful of beautiful beaches and bays along the way. Ask your driver in advance to stop at the Trunk Bay overlook, so you can snap a pic at one of the most beautiful spots on St John.

The view from the Trunk Bay overlook

The taxi ride from the ferry dock to Trunk Bay takes roughly 15 minutes. It costs $5 per person to visit Trunk Bay. (It is the only beach within the Virgin Islands National Park that has a fee to enter.) Children 15 and under are free, as are military card holders. You can also use a National Park pass to enter with the exception of the “red” annual pass.

Trunk Bay has food, beverage, showers and restrooms, as well as chair and snorkel rentals. It is home of the famous underwater snorkel trail, which is located to the left of the cays if you’re looking out toward the water. Once you arrive at Trunk Bay, you will quickly see why it is consistently ranked one of the top beaches in the world.

Does is get prettier than this?!
Happy Hour starts in the morning at Trunk Bay!
There are 32 rotating items on the menu at Trunk Bay.

Spend a few hours at Trunk, and then head back to the taxis. They are almost always waiting in the parking lot. And if a taxi isn’t there when you walk out, no need to worry. One usually arrives within minutes.

Trunk Bay taxi in parking lot

By now it is likely early afternoon, and many of you – like me – enjoy a good break from the sun. Hop in a taxi, and ask to be dropped off at the Cinnamon Bay Sugar Factory, a quick five-minute drive up the road.

Cinnamon Bay is one of the oldest plantations on St. John. The site includes a horse mill, bagasse shed (where crushed sugar cane stalks were dried before they were used for fuel in the boiling process), a factory building and two cemeteries among other items.  Walk along the boardwalk for a bit, discover the area’s rich history while enjoying the sounds of nature. And when you’re done, walk across the street to the beach and check out the remnants of the oldest Danish building on St. John.

The boiling house at Cinnamon Bay
The building that once stood here was built back in 1680.
I love Cinnamon Bay later in the day.

By now, it’s mid to late afternoon which means you’re probably looking to head back to Cruz Bay. Ask the taxi to drop you off at Mongoose Junction. There is shopping, dining and happy hour specials, so basically something for everyone. 🙂

Mongoose Junction is less than 10 minutes (by foot) from the ferry dock.

Now a trip to St John wouldn’t be complete without sampling one of the island’s most popular drinks – the Painkiller. It’s a refreshing concoction of orange juice, pineapple juice, a coconut mixer and a ton of rum. And I mean a TON of rum. You can grab one pretty much anywhere, but I think Painkillers taste better on the beach. Are you more of a wine drinker like me? Then wander back over to High Tide, home of the best wine pour on island. (I totally made that up, but it’s so true!!)

Toes in the sand, drink in my hand. Enjoy a seat in front of the Rum Hut.

By now, you’ve had a full day of fun, sun, history and some rum, so chances are, you’re ready to take the ferry back over to St Thomas. The ferry from St John to St Thomas leaves every hour on the hour during the afternoons and evenings until 11 p.m.

Still have a little left in you? Then check out one of Cruz Bay’s amazing restaurants for dinner. We have so many great options to choose from like the very casual Roti King food truck and Uncle Joe’s BBQ to fancier, fine dining spots like The Terrace and Extra Virgin Bistro. (I recommend making a reservation in advance for the St John’s fine dining restaurants.)

And lastly, for those of you who love a good sunset view like me, take one last taxi ride up to The Windmill Bar, which is just two miles outside of town. The cost is $12 if you are traveling alone and $9 per person, per way. The sunset tonight is at 6:33 p.m.

Sunset captured from The Windmill Bar’s webcam

So let’s recap: Ferry –> Coffee or a cocktail –> Trunk Bay –> Cinnamon Bay Sugar Factory & Cinnamon beach views –> Mongoose Junction –> Happy Hour –> Dinner and/or Sunset Views = A completely full day on St John!

Want someone to personally show you around the island? Then please consider booking an island tour with me! I offer full and half day tours. I am proud to say that Explore STJ continues to be rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor and Google. Together we can sightsee, check out the beaches, historical sites, perhaps you can indulge in a beverage at a tiki bar or two, but most importantly, we will have fun! It’s never too early to book! Learn more at www.explorestj.com/tour or email me at jenn@explorestj.com.


Looking to take a St. John island tour?

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

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj

An Amazing Peacock Video!

Frank Bay peacock

Hello everyone, and happy Wednesday! I love checking out the peacocks in Frank Bay. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the St. John peacocks, they are mostly found around Frank Bay; however I have seen them walk into Cruz Bay as far as the Lovango Rum Bar’s parking lot. From what I have seen, there are at least a dozen of them.

Apparently it’s mating season here on St. John, which is great for someone like me who enjoys checking them out, but not so great for my friends who live around Frank Bay. 🙂 Why, you ask? Because they are loud as heck!

I wanted to find more info on this, so I reached out to an expert – Martha Stewart – lol. Ok, so we didn’t chat, but I did find a blog of hers about this. Apparently peacock mating season is from March through early August. Here is what she had to say about it:

“From now until early August, the peacocks display their stunning and iridescent tail feathers, strut back and forth shaking their hindquarters to produce a rattling sound, and make loud calls to the females. The peahens tend to choose males with the longest, most colorful tails. It’s always very interesting to watch these mating rituals up close – the “tail show” can be quite amazing.”

I was lucky enough to stumble on this happening yesterday morning while I was out with island tour guests. Check it out. Turn your sound on if you want to hear the tail rattling. It’s actually pretty cool.

 


Take a St. John island tour with me!

Get to know St. John. Visit beautiful beaches & centuries-old plantations. Perhaps stop at a tiki bar or two. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor. 2023 & 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Winner. Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour  

Follow  Explore STJ on Social Media

–> www.facebook.com/explorestj

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj

Back from Spring Break!

We stayed at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, and it was incredible!

Hello everyone, and happy Tuesday! We just got back from our Spring Break vacation, and while it was so nice to get away, it’s nice to be home.

Numerous people ask me where my family vacations. It’s a pretty understandable question considering we already live in a prime vacation spot. Honestly, we head to Connecticut quite often to visit family, HomeGoods and Target – lol – but this past Spring Break, we actually took a real vacation. And it was amazing in every way!

I looked at flying into Connecticut for the Easter holiday, which coincided with Dalton’s Spring Break, but the tickets were outrageously expensive. I couldn’t justify spending nearly $3,000 on airfare alone, so we decided to look at alternatives. I used Google’s Explore function and looked to see where we could fly for the least amount of money for Easter, and Orlando won. Roundtrip tickets on Spirit were listed around $200 roundtrip direct, but that price nearly doubled after we chose seats, paid for a carry on bag, etc. It was my first time flying Spirit, and I was nervous as heck! But luckily it went smoothly both ways, and I was happy to only take one plane each time.

You’re probably thinking that we took Dalton to Disney… absolutely not! We knew that Dalton, a kid who lives on a tiny island in the Caribbean that doesn’t even have a stoplight, would not do well waiting in lines for rides. So instead, we found an amazing hotel that had a lazy river, three waterslides, a water ropes course and an Easter Egg hunt on Easter morning. Winning!

Who needs Disney when you have three waterslides!
At the hotel!
This was set up as part of a Spring Festival for the kids.

We caved one day and brought Dalton to SeaWorld, a place I haven’t visited in over 20 years. It was nice, although there seemed to be more shops and restaurants than animals. Dalton’s dad insisted we sit in the Splash Zone for the orca show, and I left absolutely drenched! But Dalton loved it, so that’s all that matters, right??

Moments before we all got drenched!

Dalton discovered that he loves mini golf, so much that I have already purchased mini golf clubs and a green, so I can build a small mini golf course in our yard out here in Fish Bay. We played twice, and also stopped at Disney Springs to give Dalton a little Disney fix.

Easy Rider
Someone loves to shop just like his mama!

Now a few random thought about my visit in Florida…

What the heck is up with these Stanley cups??! They were everywhere! I just don’t get it. Who needs a $100 cup to hold water? Also, the fake lashes. I don’t get that either. Some look nice, but not the glue on ones that look like plastic feathers floating above your eyes. Ladies, we need to spend our money on better stuff, like experiences. Just my two cents. 🙂

Lastly, vacations are important. Spending time with family is important. I took the photo below back in 2013, and I firmly believe in everything it says. Quit your job if you’re unhappy, folks. Buy a ticket (hopefully to visit us!). Get a tan, but don’t forget the sunscreen! Fall in love because that’s what life is all about. Never return. Well that’s up to you. 😉

Cruz Bay, 2013

Take a St. John island tour with me!

Get to know St. John. Visit beautiful beaches & centuries-old plantations. Perhaps stop at a tiki bar or two. Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor. 2023 & 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Winner. Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour  

Follow  Explore STJ on Social Media

–> www.facebook.com/explorestj

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj