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Why St. John’s July 4th Celebration is So Important

The Freedom statue is located in the park in Cruz Bay across from the ferry dock.

We are in the midst of St. John’s annual Festival celebration. The timing coincides with the Fourth of July, but our festival isn’t celebrating the Declaration of Independence. It is honoring one of the most important days in St. John’s history – emancipation.

The Danes took control of St. John in 1718. At that time, they brought enslaved people to the island to work the sugar plantations. The enslaved people were finally freed on July 3, 1848. July 4th is celebrated so widely on St. John, because it was the first morning of freedom for the formerly-enslaved people. July 3rd is Emancipation Day and will be honored with a ceremony in the park tomorrow at 10 a.m.

How Word of Emancipation was Spread 

Captain Ingjald Mourier was the owner of the Lameshur plantation in 1848. He arrived in Cruz Bay from St. Thomas to alert everyone about the pronouncement of Emancipation. He quickly informed Police Master Carl Hanshell of the news, and the pair set off on horseback to inform people across the island. The enslaved population on Estate Adrian – which is about three miles up Centerline Road – were the first to learn of their newfound freedom. From there, word of emancipation was spread plantation to plantation.

J’ouvert

J’ouvert is a street party that celebrates the first sunrise of freedom. This celebration is typically held at daybreak on July 4th, but has been held a few days early the last couple of years. During j’ouvert, people dance through the streets while celebrating freedom. It’s a pretty incredible event.

July 4th Parade Details

The parade is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Think island time, my friends. Wear comfy shoes and loose fitting clothes, because this is a hot and long one. Rain is forecasted too, so keep an umbrella handy.

The parade starts behind the ball field in Cruz Bay. It continues in front of Mongoose Junction and toward Cap’s Place and the Post Office. It takes a right at the Post Office and goes toward the ferry dock. It then takes a left up the one-way past Connections. It will then continue up the hill past Woody’s and Extra Virgin until it reaches the roundabout.

July 4th Fireworks Information

The fireworks are usually set up from one of the barges in front of Cruz Bay harbor. Cruz Bay beach is a great spot to watch them. The Cruz Bay overlook is too. The fireworks are scheduled to start at 9 p.m.

Music

It’s a great time to be in St. John!

If you are unable to be on island, you can check out some of the island’s webcams to see the celebration. View them at www.ExploreSTJ.com/webcams. You may be able to catch some of the fireworks on St. John Spice’s Spice Cam.

Enjoy everyone! Happy Festival! And Happy Fourth of July! Stay safe!

On the Market: Purchase a Week at the Westin for $1,500!

Westin St. John

Hello everyone, and happy Monday! I know that vacation is on everyone’s mind with the Fourth of July happening later this week. Rather than think about summer vacation, let’s think about an early Spring vacation next year and every year for that matter!

Today I am super excited to let you know about my first real estate listing! You can purchase a week at the Westin St. John for just $1,500! This listing is for a one bedroom, 2 bathroom townhouse villa located up on the hillside. This listing is for week 17, which falls in late April. The annual fees for this unit are $3,183.26. This listing guarantees you a vacation at the Westin St. John every year. Don’t want to use it every year? No problem! You are free to rent it out too!

About the Unit

There is a very private shared pool beside unit 3322, which has amazing views. This unit is located in the highest point of the property where you can enjoy amazing sunset views from your private balcony or over on the pool deck. Looking for more amenities? Well it’s a quick walk or golf cart ride – simply pick up the yellow phone outside and a golf cart will be dispatched – over to the main resort where there is a large pool, poolside bar and restaurant, beach, water sports activities, and more.

The unit listed is similar to this unit.
The unit listed is similar to this unit.
Beautiful & quiet shared pool.
Such a gorgeous resort!

We priced this unit to sell! Please email me at jenn@explorestj.com or call/text me at 203-376-3786 for additional details or to make an offer!

Interested in a different week or unit at the Westin? Perhaps you’re looking to buy a condo, villa or land to build your dream home on? Please give me a call. I am happy to help!

 

 

Villa of the Week: Cay Syrah

Cay Syrah is a vacation rental villa in St. John.

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! There are so many great villas here in St. John, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorites with you. Remember last month’s power outages that were happening way too often? I hit my breaking point one day – let’s be honest, all of our nerves were completely frazzled by it – and I was lucky enough to receive an offer from a friend to spend the weekend at a beautiful villa that happened to have solar power and backup batteries. It look me all of five seconds to accept the offer, and I quickly started packing an overnight bag! So with that, I would like to formally introduce you to Cay Syrah villa. 

Cay Syrah is a stunning six-bedroom villa that can easily sleep 12 people comfortably. The vacation rental is set up perfectly for multi-generational family and multi-family vacations, or single-family vacations. Cay Syrah is quite large – the home has four levels – but it is also amazingly comfortable.

Look at those beautiful solar panels!!!

Cay Syrah is located in Cruz Bay and has amazing views of Pillsbury Sound, the Caribbean Sea, St. Thomas and the surrounding cays. Entry to the house is off a wide driveway, which has ample space to park four cars and includes a turnaround spot for easy maneuvering. Two additional cars can park on the street directly in front of the house. The site has been beautifully landscaped and includes several fruit-beating trees like bananas, mangoes, papayas, limes, and starfruit. You are more than welcome to help yourself to any when they are ripe to pick. Yum!

Even the front door at Cay Syrah is cool. The beautiful stained-glass door was once the entry to a gallery on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, CA. How neat is that?!

The Space

The air conditioned top level of Cay Syrah includes an open floor plan with great room, dining room and chef’s kitchen. A full 12-foot wide pocketing sliding door system brings the indoor and outdoor living spaces together with separate comfortable seating and dining areas on the covered outdoor deck.

The chef’s kitchen features custom mahogany cabinets, granite counter tops, a separate full-sized refrigerator and full-sized freezer, a double oven, five burner gas cooktop, and two full-sized dishwashers. This house is designed as a space to have fun. It can also accommodate a small wedding or other such party if prior approval has been granted.

The upstairs master has a king bed, large under-bed safe, and en-suite bathroom with a large, no-curb shower and double sink vanity. The bathroom is wheelchair accessible and includes several well positioned grab bars and a full seat in the shower.

A uniquely designed interior stairway, covered exterior stairs from the deck, and a graciously sloped exterior ramp all lead to the mid-level which has three more en-suite bedrooms, pool, outdoor kitchen/café, and laundry room. Two of these bedrooms are set up with king-sized beds with the third set up with two twins which can be converted to a king as needed. Each bathroom has a no-curb shower, again for ease of entry should additional guests require handicap accessibility. The outdoor kitchen has an outdoor television for viewing – even while in the saltwater pool. The pool also has gates installed, so that the pool can be made off limits for younger guests.

You can watch TV from the pool!

​The lower level of the house, the garden apartment, is not handicap accessible. Access to this level is by exterior stairs either from the driveway or the pool deck. The garden level apartment has one king bedroom with a small bunk room, a great room, full kitchen, and one bathroom. One bedroom is set up with a king-sized bed and the other, smaller bedroom, has a twin bunk bed, which is great for children. This level also boasts a Tiki Hut bar with cover seating and a lawn for yard games.

I absolutely loved this space.
An entire tiki room! So fun!

Accessibility

Cay Syrah is perfect for a multi-generational vacation as it is a handicap accessible house with a grand, and gracious ramp connecting the top two levels. The villa was designed to accommodate the mobility challenged, and features accessible bathrooms with easy entry no-curb showers that also have seats, grab bars, and both a fixed head and hand-held shower, comfort height toilets, and 36” entry doors to all rooms. While not fully ADA compliant, very few villas (if any) on St. John can compare with Cay Syrah’s accessibility.

Available for use while renting:

  • Wheelchair
  • Walker
  • Stand-alone toilet safety rail

Rates & How to Book

Rates for Cay Syrah villa start at $749 a night and vary based on the time of year and number of guests. Please contact Caribbean Soul Vacations at www.caribbeansoulvacations.com to learn more.

Thank You!

I would like to thank Dave and Julie, owners of Caribbean Soul Vacations, for giving my family a little reprieve during last month’s outages. You two are the best!

Something to Keep an Eye On: Dengue

One of my favorite accessories – my mosquito zapper

So as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am a social media lurker. I may not comment, but I am always reading. I’ve been reading your posts, and I recognize the concern about dengue. It was even mentioned on Good Morning America this morning. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with dengue – pronounced deng·gay – it is a viral infection that is spread from mosquitos to people. Many people who get dengue show no symptoms at all. Others experience high fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and rash. Dengue is currently present in the US Virgin Islands and numerous islands throughout the Caribbean.

That being said, the majority of people who visit St. John are not going to go home with dengue. There have only been six confirmed cases in the US Virgin Islands this year, according to the USVI Epidemiology department (and, as always, lots of talk of unreported cases), but it’s better to be aware than uninformed.

(Click here to view the USVI’s current dengue stats.)

Outbreaks of dengue usually happen every 10 years or so, according to Esther M. Ellis, the USVI’s Epidemiologist. The last outbreak was back in 2012, so I guess we are due, unfortunately.

The culprit for this mess is the Aedes aegypti mosquito. You can easily spot this particular type of mosquito because it has striped black and white legs. I know that sounds crazy, but you can actually see the stripes when they are hovering around you. This type of mosquito typically bites around dawn and dusk. The CDC estimates that nearly half the world’s population lives in an area where this mosquito is found. This is not a St. John-specific issue.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito

I remember when everyone panicked about Zika back in 2016. I actually woke up with Zika the morning of my 37th birthday. Was it fun? No. Was I still able to have a good time with my friends that weekend? Yes. A dozen of us went up to Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda for the weekend and had an amazing time. One perk I got was free golf cart rides around the resort, because I was a little too weak to walk super far. It’s the little things in life. 🙂

A friend of mine, however, is on day 11 of having dengue and is rather miserable. The virus affects everyone differently.

So what can you do? Wear bug spray. You know that funny looking tennis racket in your villa? It’s a mosquito zapper, and should be your best friend. Use it. You will get a ridiculous amount of joy by hearing the zaps when you get those little buggers. If you see standing water near your villa or condo, empty is out. That’s a breeding ground for mosquitos.

But most importantly, do not panic. This, too, shall pass. St. John is still the best place in the world.


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

Learn more here –> www.explorestj.com/tour 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

–> www.facebook.com/explorestj

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj


St. John’s New Ferry Named; Pays Homage to Island’s History

The. new ferry will arrive later this year or in early 2025.

Earlier this year, I told you that a brand new ferry is currently being built to transport passengers between Cruz Bay and Red Hook. That ferry will hold 300 people, more than the current ferries, and it is expected to arrive later this year or in early 2025. It will even have a dedicated space for luggage, so no more stressing over your bags getting soaked during the island rains.

One cool aspect regarding this new ferry was the fact that the Port Authority was asking for our help to name it. Well, after receiving more than 300 suggestions, they finally settled on a name – Spirit of 1733.

Spirit of 1733 – The Historical Connection 

This plaque is located on Ram Head.

Denmark settled St. John in 1718 and brought enslaved people from Africa’s Guinea Coast for the purposes of working the sugar plantations. A large number of those enslaved people came from the Akwamu tribe, a tribe that ruled present-day Ghana for decades. The Akwamu often traded with the Danes, selling their fellow Africans into slavery. Eventually the Akwamu was defeated and was sold into slavery themselves. Many were subsequently brought to St. John.

The Akwamu was a tribe that had numerous strong warriors, and those warriors eventually planned a revolt here in St. John. Led by King Kanta, King Claes, King Juni and Queen Breffu, the Akwamu entered a fort in Coral Bay carrying bales of wood. (This occurred at Fortsberg, which is the area of land on the east side of Coral Bay harbor.) The warriors acted as if they were initiating a normal delivery of wood, but once they were inside the mostly-unmanned fort, they branded cane knives and killed the soldiers who were present. The tribe moved plantation to plantation, killing colonists until they held most of the island. The 1733 Slave Insurrection was the first time that enslaved people took control of a colony. This was a major historical event, and it is remarkable that it took place in St. John.

The insurrection lasted nearly six months. The Danes eventually made a deal with the French, and troops from Martinique arrived to quell the uprising. The Akwamu fought, but could not hold off the forces, so they were left with few options. Rather than be recaptured and tortured, many chose suicide. In April 1734, a number of freedom fighters ritualistically took their own lives on Ram Head. A plaque now sits there to honor this integral part of St. John’s rich history.

There is more to St. John than beautiful beaches. Our history is rich. Our culture is incredible.

If you would like to learn more about St. John, please consider taking a tour with me. You can learn more at www.explorestj.com/tour or feel free to email me at jenn@explorestj.com.


Follow Explore STJ on Social Media

–> www.facebook.com/explorestj

–> www.instagram.com/explorestj

 

 

An Update on the Power Situation

Hello everyone, and happy Monday! Let’s start the week with some positive news! The power issues we were having earlier this month have ceased. Woohoo!

I know that many of you read how we were experiencing major power issues in late May and early June. I’m not going to sugarcoat what happened – it was a complete nightmare. Those issues seem to have subsided, and the power has been on 100 percent for more than a week. In fact, we have lost power for less than an hour over the past two weeks. What a relief!

That being said, yes, it is very possible that we will have power outages again. But let’s hope that they will not be as severe as what we recently saw. That definitely was not the norm.

What can you do just in case we have an outage during your stay? Well it doesn’t hurt to bring along a small rechargeable fan and lamp just in case. There’s a pretty cool on one Amazon that you can even charge your phone off of. Click here to check it out. 

And as I mentioned a few weeks ago, we are currently in the process of getting solar at our house in Fish Bay. It was a very easy process, and we did not have to pay any upfront costs. If you are a property owner on St. John and would like to know more, please feel free to send me an email at jenn@explorestj.com. I am happy to share what I learned.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a great one!