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St. John Favorites

9 Feb

Recently, I have been spending more time in the USVI. Mostly because, a) my parents have been spending more time there, b) its the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken, and c) it’s freaking freezing in NY this time of year. If you don’t have a house to stay in, there are only a couple major hotels on St. John, the largest being the Westin. There is also a very posh retreat hotel called Caneel Bay, however, if you go there to use the public beach you will have to pay for parking. For those of you who really enjoy roughing it in the tropics, I would suggest you stay at the Maho Bay Camp grounds. Lastly, for a truly local feel, I would suggest The Inn at Tamarind Court. Thanks to Laurence Rockefeller in 1956, 75% of the island is Virgin Islands National Park. Now on to my favorites:

Beaches:

  • Jumbie Beach – or little Trunk, used to be the most remote beach that tourists never went to. Now, there is a paved parking area and you no longer have to repel by rope down the side of the mountain to get to it. It also over looks Trunk Bay, which is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. You may have seen it used as ad for the Bahamas or Aruba. However, in recent years they got smart and started charging an entrance fee.
  • Hawksnest – Closest to downtown, I love how quick and easy it is to get here. They have changing rooms, toilet facilities, and grilling / picnic areas.
  • Francis Bay – This might be considered more remote than Jumbie now since the roads to get there is so rutted and treacherous.
  • Maho Bay – Calm waters, picnic areas, and of course who can forget the camping families!
  • Honeymoon Bay – Even closer than Hawksnest, but its a hike. Or, you can take the easy route but pay for parking.
  • Cinnamon Bay – Also has a camp site and therefore more modern facilities including a cafeteria, and less available parking.
  • Salt Pond – In Coral Bay.
  • Lameshur Bay – Also out in Coral Bay.

For Dinner:

  • The Lime Inn – This is my favorite! They have all-you-can-eat peal your own shrimp every Wednesdays. They have a fantastic Bermuda salad and Coquille St. John.
  • Cafe Roma – Italian restaurant with a great baked penne.
  • Morgan’s Mango – Juicy chicken and great appetizers.
  • The Inn at Tamarind Court – This is more of a local hang out, and their menu changes nightly with guest chefs. My dad is thoroughly obsessed with the prime rib night.
  • Uncle Joe’s BBQ – Again, a nice local place with great ribs and very reasonably priced.
  • Candi’s BBQ – Uncle Joe’s top competitor, is a really great place as well. Both have take out options. You’ll know where it is when you drive by.
  • Happy Fish – Yes! There is a sushi restaurant. They also have non-sushi Asian cuisine and great specials.
  • La Tapa – Has a great wine selection.
  • Skinny Legs – along with Miss. Lucy’s, and Shipwreck Landing which are out by Coral Bay, but definitely worth the drive.
  • Banana Deck – Great for a nice casual meal.
  • Chateau Bordeaux – Fancy and spendy.
  • ZoZo’s – Italian at Gallow’s Point. I have not been here since they moved, but I heard the quality is still top notch.
  • Woody’s Seafood Saloon – While I’ve never eaten there, they have an over active bar crowd and
  • Hercules Pate Delight – Great place to grab a pate to take to the beach for lunch. Get there early though because they’re so popular they run out!

Apparently, The Fish Trap is no longer any good. I honestly haven’t been there in a couple years myself. It’s a shame because it used to be one of my favorites. The same goes for High Tide. In 2011 this place was good, but supposedly they got a new chef and the food is not as good. I also left Asolare off the list because it’s a pretty snobby, and very expensive restaurant. While the food is good, the portions are extremely small considering the price you’re paying.  Sadly, there are often restaurants I love that change hands, or close down, but as of the holiday season, all of these restaurants were still in existence.

These are, of course, not nearly all the beaches and restaurants, however, they are almost all of my go-to’s whenever me or my family are on the island.

HawksnestHawksnest2Music at Banana Deck

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The Jolly Diversion

19 Feb

As many of you know, my family is fortunate enough to have a house on St. John in the US Virgin Islands. What many of you don’t know, is the history of how the house came to be. My fearless parents have always been avid travelers, especially in the 70’s when travel was becoming all the rage, (see ABC’s series Pan Am, and AMC’s Mad Men). Those were the days when you could smoke on planes (or pretty much anywhere for that matter), cruises included unlimited booze, and Motel 6  cost $6 a night. My parents frequented the cruising scene, and on one particular cruise of the Caribbean in the 1980’s, they fell in love with St. John. So they bought land, and built the house, coincidentally right when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989. My dad went down to check out the damage, and if you can believe it, many others were flying down with propane and other “dangerous goods” that would now get you arrested quicker than you can say TSA. The house survived virtually unscathed, and continues to sit today perched over Fish Bay. Spending a lot of my childhood here was not only exciting, but I like to think it gave me my appreciation for other cultures. (I once used asked my mom why I could never be as tan as my friend Aisha!)

Our loving house manager, along with my parents, continue to maintain the Jolly Diversion and rent it out so that others can enjoy the island just as much as we do. Of course, the island is now a lot more built up than it was in mid to late 80’s. Million dollar lots hold 7 bedroom houses with pools, gyms and tennis courts. And while our house is not what some people would call “state-of-the-art,” it has twenty first century essentials, including TV’s, DVD players, and Wifi.

For more information visit, http://www.vrbo.com/179128, http://caribehavens.com/, and http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p251134