Rum Drinks

Here on St John island ( US Virgin Islands ) tropical rum drinks are the adult beverage of choice. So we decided to sit down with an expert, Tom Westerhof of Beach Bar Bums , to find out what makes these drinks so popular. He also shares some rum drink recipes so you can make them once the vacation has ended.

“For me, a great tropical island drink has to be refreshingly cold, not overly sweet and it should look the part.”

rum bottles and brands like Pussers, Blue Chair Bay Rum and Cruzan

SJVR: You’ve probably “sampled” just about every island cocktail on the planet. What makes a great tropical island drink? And which ones are your favorites?

TOM: For me, a great tropical island drink has to be refreshingly cold, not overly sweet and it should look the part. It has to be able to cool you down without giving you an “ice headache,” not be too sweet to hide the flavor of the spirit(s) and look like it belongs on a beach. My favorite tropical drink (and my favorite cocktail) is a daiquiri – the real one, not the frozen version. I’ll also suck down a BBC, a bushwhacker and a painkiller if someone puts them in front of me.

SJVR: Can you run us through how to mix a Painkiller drink?

TOM: Mixing a painkiller is pretty easy and if you can, use Pusser’s rum. They did trademark the “Painkiller” name so it seems like it would be downright rude to use another rum, don’t you think? Add 2, 3 or 4 oz. of Pusser’s rum (depending on how much pain you need to kill), 4 oz. of pineapple juice, 1 oz. of orange juice and 1 oz. of cream of coconut to a shaker and sufficiently shake. Pour the ingredients into a goblet full of ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add a pineapple wedge to it. For a frozen version, pour the liquids and ice from the goblet into a mixer, blend until desired consistency is reached and pour back into goblet. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and embellish away with your favorite fruits.

“Always use top shelf if you can – you’ll be a better person for it.”

SJVR: A definite favorite – can you lead us through how to mix a Bushwacker?

TOM: I love bushwackers but hardly every make them myself. There are so many variations of it but the best ones I’ve had were at the Beach Bar on St. John. I scoured the internet for their recipe and found this one from 2007: Take 1 oz, Bailey’s, 1 oz. Frangelico, 1 oz. Kahlua, 1 oz. Dark Creme de Cacao, 1 oz. Vodka, 1 oz. Light Rum and 1 oz. Coco Lopez and put in blender. Add a glass of ice and blend until smooth. Pour into glass and garnish with fresh ground nutmeg and maraschino cherry. Add chocolate syrup to sweeten or decorate glass.

SJVR: OK, so here on St John you can’t talk rum without including Kenney Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay Rum ( He owns a home on St John )

TOM: Blue Chair Bay Rum just came out with their newest flavor, Key Lime Rum Cream, and seeing as how Key Lime pie is my favorite dessert, I’m really excited to try it. They posted a recipe on their website for a cocktail they call the “My My My Key Lime Pie” and it’s pretty easy to make. Take 3 oz. of Key Lime Rum Cream, .5 oz. of Blue Chair Bay Vanilla Rum and 2 oz. of coconut water. Combine all of the ingredients into a shaker, strain into a martini glass, hit play and get ready for a virtual escape to the islands: “Tortola, a full moon, shining down on a blue lagoon.” Does it get much better than that? Now I just need Kenny’s peeps to send me a bottle of Key Lime Rum Cream!

Mutiny Rhum St John US Virgin IslandsSJVR: Did you realize there’s a rum distilled right here? Yup, it’s called Mutiny Rhum St John. They make a Virgin Light Rum, Mutiny Rhum Lemongrass, Coconut Liqueur and Mutiny Rhum Spiced Rum.

TOM: Local is awesome! I never miss a chance to savor the flavors of a place!

SJVR: How about the Island favorite, Larry’s Tourist Trap Drink Right Keep Left?

TOM: Who doesn’t enjoy a drink with six rums in it?! The Tourist Trap may be closed; but this refreshing rum drink lives on!

Larry’s Drink Right, Keep Left Drink Recipe:Drink Right Keep Left drink recipe
•    A short pour of each – Cruzan raspberry, mango, pineapple, banana, coconut and vanilla rums – 1.5 oz total
•    2 oz. of mango juice, lime juice, strawberry puree and cream of coconut
•    1 cup of ice
•    Pour ingredients into a blender and serve with a slice of fruit. Makes 1 BIG drink ; )

SJVR: I get asked a lot – “Why put top-shelf booze in sweet island rum drinks? You can’t taste the difference! I’ve got my standard answer. What’s your response …?

TOM: Always use top shelf if you can – you’ll be a better person for it. I don’t care how much they sweeten up your favorite island drink – you might be able to hide bad liquor to a point but you’ll never be able to hide a hangover. Plus, I’ll bet if you put people to a blind taste test and had them taste a sweet island cocktail made from cheap liquor vs. top shelf, they’d choose the top shelf version 9 times out of 10. And I’d be a willing participant, you know, for research.

SJVR: What are some of your favorite rums?

Plantation three stars rum bottleTOM: Favorite rum? Easiest answer yet – Plantation 3 Stars. If I see it listed as an ingredient on a menu, I’m ordering that cocktail. It has yet to disappoint and besides, it makes the best daiquiri. It’s a virtual vacation in a glass. If there’s no Plantation Rum available, I’ll go straight for one of Cruzan’s flavored rums. They make some great rums, served all over the USVI, and it’s hard to mess up a cocktail using great booze.

SJVR: Tom, thanks for taking the time to run through some island-favorite rum drink recipes!

TOM: Thanks for having me; and letting me geek out about rum and cocktails!

“Dream of owning your own beach bar?”

SJVR: For those of you with the money and the dream of owning your own beach bar – check out Beach Bar Bums “businesses for sale” pages [ link in Tom’s bio below ]. Who knows … you might end up finding the perfect spot to live a life in Paradise!

Tom is the owner and CEO of Good Times at Beach Bar Bums LLC and publishes the website, Started out as a blog to promote beach bars, it has morphed into a travel and lifestyle website offering stories about everything from rum to resorts. It also features a “Beach Bars for Sale” page where people can chase their dream of owning their own business in the tropics. He will never share a Plantation 3 Stars daiquiri; and yes, his plan is to eventually own a beach bar.

Private air charter service to US Virgin Islands, BVIs, Caribbean

Private Jet Charter | St John, USVI

America’s Paradise, the US Virgin Islands of St Thomas, St Croix and St John, attract luxury travelers from the US, Asia, Europe and across the globe! Some come for the world-class beaches, snorkeling, diving and saltwater fishing. Others have made these beautiful islands their second home! No matter whether it’s your first visit or you visit multiple times a year – there’s really only one way to get here. And that’s by air.

luxury villa Coco de Mer, St John, US Virgin IslandsSt John Island

The tiny island of St John doesn’t have an airport. Guests will arrive and depart from the neighboring island of St Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport (STT). The airport supports turbo prop, light jet, mid-sized jets or heavy jets. From there we can arrange for private shuttle service to Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook to meet your water transportation to Cruz Bay, St John. Many guests will be heading to the exclusive gated-community at Peter Bay. St John Villa Rentals lists some a select portfolio of truly amazing Peter Bay properties. Browse Peter Bay vacation villas.

“First class isn’t the highest level of luxury available.”

When First-Class isn’t enough!

Commercial airlines do offer first-class service to the USVIs and BVIs. But first class isn’t the highest level of luxury available. St John visitors or homeowners that want the extra comfort, convenience, privacy and security of flying by private charter – can now enjoy departure locations from almost any major metropolitan area like Boston, Miami, New York, Dallas, Houston, LA, and San Francisco, or upscale destination in the United States. And travelers can avoid the delays associated with large airports – since many jet operations leave from private aviation airfields!

“Fractional jet owners – Consider private jet charters and enjoy greater flexibility and access to a larger selection of aircraft – while lowering costs!”

Visitors wishing to arrange a private jet charter to the Virgin Islands and Caribbean should turn to Air Charter Advisors. This Florida-based boutique private jet charter brokerage caters to Fortune 500 firms, high-profile athletes and entertainers, and people just like you that want a higher level of service, privacy, security and transportation experience.

private air charter jetAir Charter Advisors hand selects air carriers that fit their stringent safety and maintenance requirements. They also do pre-flight checks to verify pilot worthiness and qualifications that meet or exceed the industry standards. They use FAR 135 air carriers, certified by the United States Federal Aviation Administration, or foreign equivalent. And, they’re a WYVERN Broker – an additional step that adds additional safety and security.

Advantages of Air Charter Advisors – Private Jet Charters

•    24/7 Customer Support and Aviation Consultation
•    On-Demand Availability to Private Aircraft *
•    Quick and Competitive Jet Charter Rates
•    VIP Concierge Services
•    Wyvern Certified Aircraft

Request a Virgin Islands Jet Charter Quote

Request a Quote or give us a call at 1-888-987-5387 to speak with one of our Virgin Islands Jet Charter service brokers for your next luxury vacation, business trip, or special event in the Virgin Islands or any destination around the world.

Guest wishing to visit other Caribbean islands like St Barths, St Maarten, Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis, Beef Island, Virgin Gorda, and Necker Island can arrange for additional flights and services.


Yacht Haven Grande, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Guests that have arranged a luxury yacht rental will be departing out of IGY MARINAS Yacht Haven Grande, Charlotte Amalie Harbor, or IGY MARINAS American Yacht Harbor, Red Hook, St Thomas.



Airports in the Virgin Islands for Private Charter Flights
St. Thomas Airport – Cyril E. King Airport (TIST, STT) via St Thomas Jet Charter Service
(Fly in a Turbo Prop, Light Jet, Mid-sized Jet or Heavy Jet)

St. Croix Airport – Henry E. Rholsen Airport (TISX, STC) via St Croix Jet Charter Service
(Fly in a Turbo Prop, Light Jet, Mid-sized Jet or Heavy Jet)

Tortola Airport – T.B. Lettsome International Airport (TUPJ, EIS) via Jet Charter Service
(Fly in a Turbo Prop, Light Jet, Mid-sized Jet or Heavy Jet)

Virgin Gorda Airport – Virgin Gorda International Airport (TUPW, VIJ) via Virgin Gorda Air Charters
(Fly in a Turbo Prop or Twin Engine )

Popular Private Airfields by Region


(KBED, BED) Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford – Massachusetts
Longest Runway: 7,011 feet

(KEWB, EWB) New Bedford Regional Airport, Bedford – Massachusetts
Longest Runway: 5,504 feet


(KOPF, OPF) Miami–Opa Locka Executive Airport, Opa-locka – Florida
Longest Runway: 8,002 feet

(KTMB, TMB) Miami Executive Airport, Miami – Florida
Longest Runway: 5,999 feet
Formerly known as Tamiami Executive

New York City

(KTEB, TEB) Teterboro Airport – Teterboro, NJ
Runway Length: 7,000 feet

(KHPN, HPN) Westchester County Airport | White Plains Airport – White Plains, NY
Runway Length: 6,549 feet


(KDAL, DAL) Dallas Love Field, Dallas – Texas
Longest Runway: 8,800 Feet | Distance to City Center: 8 miles

(KRBD, RBD) Dallas Executive Airport, Dallas – Texas
Longest Runway: 6,451 Feet | Distance: 10 miles

(KADS, ADS) Addison Airport, Addison – Texas
Longest Runway: 7,202 Feet | Distance: 14 miles

(KHQZ, HQZ) Mesquite Metro Airport, Mesquite – Texas
Longest Runway: 5,999 Feet | Distance: 19 Miles


(KHOU, HOU) William P. Hobby Airport, Houston – Texas
Longest Runway: 7,602 feet

(KTME, TME) Houston Executive Airport, Houston – Texas
Longest Runway: : 6,610 feet

(KDWH, DWH) David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport, Spring – Texas
Longest Runway: 7,009 feet

(KSGR, SGR) Sugar Land Regional Airport, Sugar Land – Texas
Longest Runway: 8,000 feet

Los Angeles

(KVNY, VNY) Van Nuys Airport – Van Nuys, California
Longest Runway | 8,001 feet

San Francisco

(KSFO, SFO) San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco – California
Longest Runway: 11,870 feet

(KOAK, OAK) Oakland International Airport, Oakland – California
Runway Length: 10,520 feet

(KSJC, SJC) Mineta San Jose International Airport, San Jose – California
Runway Length: 11,000 feet

Soggy Dollar Painkiller recipe

WHAT’S IN a Painkiller DRINK?

This iconic cocktail has become famous across the globe. It’s cool and refreshing. The warmth of the rum combines perfectly with the sweet cool flavors of pineapple and orange juice. Add a bit of coconut and nutmeg to round out the taste in this famous tropical drink. No wonder it’s arguably the most asked for cocktail in the Virgin Islands!

The ingredients were a closely held secret. But it didn’t take long for someone* [ read The Story of the Painkiller – below ] to reverse engineering the original. So, here’s how you make a Painkiller like they do at the Soggy Dollar Bar.

Ingredients in a Painkiller:Painkiller drink ingredients


Pour the Pusser’s Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut into a large cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to mix ingredients. Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the rum and juice mix. Top with fresh grated nutmeg. And get ready to make another one!

Frozen Painkiller

Bump up the “cool” factor by doubling the ingredients above and dropping them in a blender! Hit blend/grind until it’s a thick icy consistency. Pour into two tall glass. Garnish with fresh ground nutmeg and serve!


The Story of the Painkiller

It all started at the Soggy Dollar Bar Web Cam on the island of Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands. There, Daphne Henderson created the first Painkiller and served them to the mostly boating crowd that came to White Bay. These same patrons would spread the word – making the Painkiller famous across the Caribbean.

One day Charles Tobias, founder of Pusser’s Rum paid a visit to the Soggy Dollar. He’d heard of the now famous Painkiller. And he was curious about its ingredients. He made fast friends with Daphne Henderson. But try as he might she wouldn’t divulge the ingredients to him!

Not to be deterred, Tobias pirated a Painkiller to his boat. Back at his home on Tortola, he began the trial-and-error process to uncover the ingredients and proportions. In the end he discovered it worked out to a 4-1-1-1 ratio of Pusser’s Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut. Though his version is reputed to be discernibly different from the Soggy Dollar’s Painkiller – these ingredients and proportions are widely accepted as “the” way to make a Painkiller drink.

St John travel with kids at Maho Bay Beach

St John plays host to thousands of visitors each year. And many guests choose the US Virgin Islands as their annual family vacation destination. St John, with it’s world renowned beaches and shallow-water snorkeling is listed among the TOP 100 Places to Take Your Kids (Frommer’s). So, here are our TOP PICKS for seeing and enjoying a St John vacation with your kids!

St John Outdoor Activities for Kids

The number one reason people visit St John is undoubtedly for the beautiful aqua blue waters and white sand beaches! Most of the beaches are located within, and protected by, the US Virgin Islands National Park. Protected from development – the beaches and reef systems that surround the beaches are some of the nicest in the Caribbean.

What beach day would be complete without ice cream? No worries, St John Scoops, located on the ground floor of Mongoose Junction, has just what you’re looking for. You’ll find amazing fresh-made ice cream in a myriad of tropical flavors. But, mom and dad can also enjoy one of Scoops adult flavors … like Stoli® Creamsicle, Boozeberry, Dark & Stormy or Painkiller ice cream.

Best St John Beaches for Kids

With so many beautiful St John beaches it’s tough to choose. But if you’ve got kids and strollers and cooler and chairs and snorkel gear and … well, you get the idea … then you want a beach that’s ..

• Easy access from parking to beach
• Shade or a place to escape from the sun
• Facilities, concessions … bathrooms, showers, food and drink rank high on this list
• Shallow, easy water entry with no strong currents or waves
• Snorkeling that falls within a child’s physical abilities and snorkeling experience

 ~~~ Check Out – Best Sunscreens for Kids 2016 ~~~

Maho Bay Beach Maho Bay Beach, St John US Virgin Islands

Parking is literally a stones throw from the beach. You won’t break a sweat making the trek with chairs and cooler and snorkel gear! And the beach … white sand lined with towering coconut palms and the shade of Seagrape trees. You’ll find bathrooms, picnic tables and grilling area / pavilion. But don’t expect a lifeguard or food/drink concessions.

Maho Bay’s north facing beach, and outlying cays, is protected from wind and waves. Water entry is shallow sandy bottom – ideal for younger kids. This shallow water extends 10-20 yards off the beach before transitioning to large seagrass beds. Feeding on these grasses are sea turtles, conch and rays. In fact, Maho Bay is one of our TOP PICKS for seeing sea turtles on St John. So get on your mask and fins and keep your eyes open for these amazing marine creatures!

Trunk Bay BeachTrunk Bay Beach, St John, US Virgin Islands

Jewel in the crown of the VI National Park is Trunk Bay. The most photographed beach in the Caribbean; and a perennial TOP 10 Caribbean Beach. And Trunk Bay deserves every bit of its fame!

Trunk Bay is perhaps the most family-friendly beach on St John. It is the only beach that charges an admission. It’s also the only beach with lifeguards. But you’ll also find showers, bathrooms, food and drink concessions and beach chair and snorkel gear rentals as well as picnic areas with grills and a covered pavilion.

Visitors will find nearly a 1/2 mile of white sand beach with palms and sea grapes as your backdrop. And only a few yards off the beach is Trunk Cay and the Virgin Islands National Park Underwater Snorkeling Trail. Follow the underwater markers which identify fish, corals and marine life that are common in these waters.

Honeymoon BeachHoneymoon Beach, St John, US Virgin Islands

While the name might imply it’s for newlyweds and honeymooners – Honeymoon Beach is a great beach for kids.

Located within the USVI National Park and The Caneel Bay Resort, Honeymoon Beach has plenty of reasons to make it a family-friendly choice for a day of fun and sun on St John. Chief among those reasons would have to be the watersports concession, Honeymoon Beach Hut, run by Virgin Islands ecoTours. Here guests can rent kayaks, SUP ( stand up paddle boards), snorkel gear, beach chairs, hammock, lockers and more. There’s also a food and drink concession, Canella, run by Caneel Bay. Forgot your sunglasses? No worries, the Honeymoon Beach Hut also has a wide variety of souvenirs, snorkeling rash guards, sunglasses, tee shirts and more! Get your Honeymoon Beach All Day Pass, incl. kayak, sup, snorkel gear, float, chair and locker for just $49/pp! Best deal on St John.

Hawksnest BeachHawksnest Beach, St John, US Virgin Islands

Ask anyone that’s been to St John for their favorite beach and Hawksnest Beach is frequently their answer. With convenient parking and a short walk to the beach – it’s an ideal location for families!

Unlike some other beaches, Hawksnest has ample parking just off North Shore Road. And just a short walk from your rental Jeep you’ll find bathrooms, covered pavilions, grills and picnic tables ideal for families. What you won’t find are any food or drink concessions or snorkel gear rentals. So pack your cooler and beach chairs and head off for a wonderful day of fun and sun.

Hawksnest Beach is on Hawksnest Bay. A long stretch of white sand fringed with coconut palms and sea grape trees slopes down to aqua blue waters. Hawksnest Bay has seven named beaches including Hawksnest Beach at Caneel Bay Resort, Little Hawksnest Beach, Gibney Beach, Oppenheimer Beach and Mermaid’s Chair ( a tiny pocket beach dirtily across the bay from Hawksnest Beach).

Kid Friendly St John Villas

With over 800 rental villas on St John there’s sure to be the perfect vacation rental for your family’s size, lifestyle, interests and budget. And we’ve made the search both easy and fun. Simple click on the Villa Search Page. Select the number of bedrooms, $/NT and dates. Then click Show More Search Options. Check the box next to Children. And hit SEARCH. The results will show you a selection of rental properties that match your search AND allow children! Browse using the map to see the location for each villa on St John. And click the thumbnail to view details about the property and what makes it special!


St John RESOURCES – Babysitters and stroller rental, crib rental, car seat rental, etc

Family vacations usually center around kids and their activities. But parents may want to enjoy time as a couple. And that’s where these St John companies can help parents enjoy their time on St John.

Kids Night In Babysitting Service
Providing babysitting service in your villa on St John. Cash or checks accepted. Reservations requested. Call (321)431-9113 or visit

Island Baby
Baby and toddler equipment rentals delivered to your villa. Call (340) 998-8327 or visit

Christy’s of St John
Providing baby equipment rentals, cribs, pack’n play, bouncers, strollers, video monitors, car seats and more! Call 340-776-6889 or visit



Chelsea Drug – Marketplace, Cruz Bay, 2nd floor. web site


E&C Service Station – Past Marketplace/Starfish Market

Race Track Service Station – Over the hill ( Jacob’s Ladder ) near the Westin / St John Market

Grocery Stores

Starfish Market, Marketplace, Cruz Bay

Dolphin Market, at the rotary, Cruz Bay

Pine Peace Market, just after E&C Gas, Cruz Bay

St John Market, over the hill ( Jacob’s Ladder ) near the Westin


Wharfside Village, Cruz Bay, adjacent to the ferry dock

Mongoose Junction, Cruz Bay, across from the VI National Park Building, approx 3 blocks east of the ferry dock

Tripadvisor increases fees 2017

The ink wasn’t even dry on St John Villa Rentals post about increased fees and pay-to-play tactic being implemented by those mega-rental sites! Then Tripadvisor joins the frenzied feeding upon advertisers!

Effective January 1, 2017 you’ll see an increase in Pay Per Lead Rates

In a recent email notification to Tripadvisor property owners and managers they announce fee increases for phone leads, email leads and booking requests. Well, unless you book on their platform. This is a slight twist on the strategy being implemented by other mega-rental sites that we reported on earlier. But the goal is the same. Squeeze advertisers with more fees …unless they do what you want them to do.

We’re Guessing You Already Feel Like You Pay Enough!

Are you a Tripadvisor advertiser? If you are, we bet you’re shaking your head at these increased fees. You’re wondering if you should just give in to booking through Tripadvisor to avoid the fees. Ever see fish being caught in a net? The net encircles the fish. They’re slowly herded into a ball; and the net closes around them.

As advertisers you shouldn’t be penalized for booking off platform. But, as property owners and managers become more and more dependent on individual sites – those sites are emboldened to charge higher and higher fees. That cycle will continue until the owners and managers are given an alternative. was designed and built to give St John property owners and managers a way to wean themselves off the mega-rental sites, the ever increasing fees and the pay-to-play booking strategy. We’re a community site – built exclusively for the St John rental community with feedback from the St John Accommodations council, villa owners and St John management companies. We spent almost 6 months planning and developing a web site with the structure and functionality required to compete with the established mega rental sites.


Join us in building an independent online St John rental platform. Every property that joins helps us deliver the selection and price range that travelers are looking for. And you’ll be an important part of a St John movement to rely less on corporate travel sites! As they implement their strategy to control a larger and larger part of your rental property business – you’ll have fewer and fewer options. As you can see, fees will just continue to rise. And your ability to manage your business and bookings will be taken from you.


Check out our story, mission and browse the listings of other St John property owners and managers who’ve joined us.

St John vacation rentals guide

Effective 6/1/2016 VRBO/HomeAway is charging guests, that book on the site, a 4% to 9% “Service Fee”! According to VRBO the average is 6% on bookings – with a maximum service fee capped at $399 per booking.

Book on VRBO and pay a 4% – 9% “Service Fee”!

What they “need” the service fee for …

According to information published by VRBO to owners and property managers, they’ll use the service fees to pay for their online advertising, transaction/rental insurance and development of things like apps and web site speed.

From our perspective, those are things that a rental platform should be providing as part of their core business model! Those aren’t add-ons requiring special funding! But hey, we’re not accountants. We don’t manage a hedge fund. We don’t answer to stockholders!

How does this impact guests?

Vacationers are already facing increased fees from airlines and baggage fees, airport security fees, fuel surcharges, regional hotel taxes and now, it seems, a fee to book through VRBO! We’re pretty sure that nobody wants to add $200 to $400 to the cost of their vacation rental. Certainly, we know that visitors to St John won’t appreciate the additional fees! That’s why we built . So that guests and owners/managers would have a professionally built and promoted option to the service fees and forced online bookings of the mega rental sites!

How does this impact the Owner/Manager?

At first glance it might appear that this Service Fee only effects guests that book through VRBO. But we suspect that once guests realize they are paying a fee – that VRBO online bookings will begin to drop as those guests seek other ways to contact the owner/manager of the rental villa they are interested in.

You asked for it. We built it.

The St John rental community has been growing increasingly dissatisfied with VRBO over the past 2 to 3 years. VRBO’s growth and with it increased bookings has lead to a dangerous dependency by rental agents/owners/managers. We hear it over and over again … “They [VRBO] bring me bookings. I can’t afford to take my listing off the site!”. VRBO realizes the tremendous power they have over subscribers. So, they’ve begun to increase fees, implement a pay-to-play system that favors those that pay ever-increasing amounts to VRBO; and leaning on owners to process all of their bookings through VRBO.  wrote …

“If you reject the new online booking system, the renewal rate still falls to just $499 a year, half what some plans are now. But here’s the veiled threat in VRBO’s message to owners: Participating, or not participating, in online booking will determine the position of your listing in search results.
The way I read that? Let VRBO hit your guests with a big service fee (4%-10%), or VRBO will bury your listing.

Read the entire article here

10 best St John snorkeling spots

Best snorkeling spots in St John, USVI mapThe island of St John, 18°20′N 64°44′W, is just over 19 sq mi.; making it the smallest of the US Virgin Islands. But over 7,000 acres, or roughly 2/3rds of the island, is protected by the US Virgin Islands National Park. And that protection extends beyond the land to encompass the surrounding reefs, mangrove lagoons and outlying cays. As you might expect, the conservation of important marine habitats means St John has some incredible snorkeling spots. But what really sets it apart from other Caribbean destinations is the quality of the shallow water snorkeling available on St John. Easily accessed from most beaches, visitors can snorkel over seagrass beds – the main staple of sea turtles, conch, starfish and rays. Or cruise along a coral reef teaming with tropical fish and hard and soft corals. Here are our top picks for snorkeling on St John.

Trunk Bay, St John snorkeling


Arguably the most photographed beach in the Caribbean. Trunk Bay is home to the VI National Park Underwater Snorkeling Trail. Visitors will find markers that lead them along several hundred yards of coral reef surrounding Trunk Cay. Most of the trail is in 8′ to 15′ of water. And the Trail is located on the protected side of Trunk Cay and patrolled by a lifeguard.

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Blue Bell Tunicate corals thrive here; as well as a large variety of colorful tropical fish like Yellowtail Snapper, Queen Trigger Fish, Wrasses, Atlantic Blue Tangs, Surgeon Tangs and 6 types of Damsel Fish.


The #1 snorkeling destination on St John for several reasons. Visitors can walk through three sets of plantation era ruins. From the impressive Annaberg Plantation to The Old Danish Guard House and finally enjoy a 360 degree over Waterlemon Cay and Leinster Bay from the Windy Hill Ruins. Getting to Waterlemon requires a short, mostly flat hike of about 1 mi. Snorkel the small cay, Waterlemon Cay, just off the shoreline. The strong currents that pass the far side of the cay bring nourishment to a large number of corals and fish.

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Visitors may see sea turtles in the grass beds just to the west of Waterlemon. You’ll also see Cushion Starfish in a variety of colors. Snorkelers have had rare encounters with dolphins!

Maho Bay, St John snorkeling


At the top of many visitors beach list is Maho Bay Beach. With its sandy shoreline, shallow entry and vast beds of seagrasses, it’s one of our top spots to catch a glimpse of sea turtles and rays. But you’ll also find some good shallow water snorkeling along the reefs at the edge of the bay, both east and west sides. And most of the snorkeling is within 4′ to 12′ of water – and almost always little to no waves!

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Top spot to see sea turtles and rays.

Henley Cay St John snorkeling


Located just off Caneel Bay on St John’s beautiful north shore, is an 11 acre island called Henley Cay. Visitors will need a kayak or charter to get to Henley. But because of its remote location the reef system that runs along the western side of the cay is in wonderful condition. Strong currents outside the reef feed a literal forest of sea fans and gorgonians. And the protection they afford means large numbers of fish congregate in and around the coral heads. Not a beginner destination – but it is arguably the best snorkeling on St John.

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Every time I’ve snorkeled Henley Cay I’ve seen at least one Nurse Shark. These shy, slow moving sharks are not a threat. You’ll also see an incredible number of coral species – including a rare blue encrusting hard coral and beautiful black and white geometric tunicate coral.

Hansen Bay, Vie's Beach St John snorkeling


Looking for a remote snorkeling destination that will literally take you from one end of St John to the far East End. Hansen Bay, also known as Vie’s Beach, is just such a destination. Visitors can park at Vie’s island snack shop for a small fee. Then make your way across the road to enjoy the beautiful white sand beach, palm trees and fantastic shallow water snorkeling! Located just 30 to 40 yards off the western end of the beach is a patch reef. This rocky outcropping is visible as small waves break over the very top.

TOP THINGS TO SEE: With the bay’s sea grass beds, home to conch and sea turtles; and the patch reefs covered in hard and soft corals and a wide range of tropical fish, this is one of our TOP suggestions for St John snorkeling.

Haulover North St John snorkeling


Intermediate to advanced snorkelers will absolutely love Haulover North. Located just outside the eastern boundary of the US Virgin Islands National Park, Haulover North faces toward Tortola and the strong currents that pass between the 2 islands. A 100 yard walk along a narrow tropical wooded path leads snorkelers to a pebble beach. Enter at the center, where the sand comes closest to the beach. Then snorkel to your left as you face the water. Discover incredible underwater structures, corals, and fish in 4′ to 20′ of water. WARNING: conditions at Haulover depend on wind and waves. Wait for a day when the conditions match your comfort and skill level.

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Underwater reef structures covered in a wide variety of corals and colorful fish. Some deeper water species. Turtles, sharks and lobsters are not uncommon sights.

Haulover South St John snorkeling


Located just off East End Road as you leave the USVI National Park boundaries, this mostly pebble and sand beach has some decent snorkeling along both shorelines. The western side of the bay has submerged boulders and small underwater caves. The eastern side of the bay, all the way out to the point, is a sheer wall that extends in steps deeper toward the bay’s center.

TOP THINGS TO SEE: It’s not uncommon for deeper water species of fish, like large Permit and large Jacks to patrol into the Bay. You’ll also see large snapper, as well as conch, rays and hard corals.

Honeymoon Beach, St John snorkeling


Honeymoon Beach makes the list not just for some great snorkeling but for all the things you can do at this one beach. Virgin Islands Ecotours Honeymoon Beach Watersports Hut has an All Day Pass so you can enjoy a chair, snorkel gear, kayak, stand up paddle board, float and locker for just $49/pp/day. So, you can check out the snorkeling ( best along the rocky point towards Caneel Bay Resort) and some watersports activities! Hands down the best deal on St John!

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Great spot to see a sea turtle, rays, conch, tropical fish and corals. Kayak or hike over to Salomon Beach for that castaway feel!

Cinnamon Bay, St John USVI snorkeling

Cinnamon Bay

St John’s longest beach is also one of our TOP SPOTS to snorkel and enjoy water sports! Snorkelers will want to swim around the small cay that sits just off the beach. It’s dramatic rock crevices are home to a myriad of corals and fish. You’ll also want to walk to the far eastern end of Cinnamon Beach and snorkel to the rocky point that marks the edge of Maho Bay. Along the way you’ll discover a large table-like structure covered in colorful zoanthids ( button corals), sun anemonies, sea fans, gorgonians and more!

TOP THINGS TO SEE: Every time I snorkel Cinnamon I spot at least one pair of French Angel Fish, large Permit and a lone Queen Angel. You might also see sea turtles, rays and more! I once saw a Spotted Leopard Flatworm ( see below – about 3″>4″ long) that was absolutely incredible!

Leopard Flatworm St John snorkeling

Looking for more information on All of St John’s beautiful Beaches and snorkeling locations?

Check out .

St John Villa Rentals - over 300 listings

Frustrated with those large, complex, hard-to-use rental sites? Did you notice the additional 3% > 9% “service fees” they now charge? Tired of paying too much just to use their site? Well, we were too! So the developers of this site, in the spirit of cooperation and independence, created a site where guests and villa owners could connect. It’s dedicated strictly to rental villas, resorts, inns, B&B’s and timeshare listings for the island of St John, US Virgin Islands.


St John Rental Villas logo


So, dive in and discover why this site is not just the newest way to find a place to rent on St John … it’s also the best …!

Trust, in this Age of Internet Scams

We’ve worked hard to establish a platform where St John property owners / managers can list their properties and guests can browse those listings without the scams that some rental sites are famous for …

Easy to Use Search Feature

Our easy-to-use search feature allows you to search by # of bedrooms, location and price range!

Interactive Property Maps

With our handy interactive maps you can quickly see exactly where the  rental is located on St John.

Connect with Villa Owners & Managers

Unlike the other rentals sites – we don’t anonymize communication between guests and listings agents/owners/management. everybody is free to connect, communicate, ask questions and receive answers directly from the property owner / managers!

Book with Confidence

While we don’t verify every listing; we do monitor all listings for “irregularities” and complaints. If a particular property or Listing agent violates our Terms & Conditions – we can delist the property and may take further action against the property owner/agent – including banning them from the Site.

We encourage every guest to communicate with the listing agent. If you notice anything that just doesn’t seem right – don’t hesitate to contact us. Submit questions and concerns to

Trunk Bay, St John with view of Trunk Cay and the Underwater Snorkeling Trail

St John is perhaps best know for it’s world-renowned North Shore Beaches!St John snorkel gear

Trunk Bay (pictured here ) is not only St John’s most popular beach destination; but perhaps the most photographed beach in the entire Caribbean. Ranked in the Top 10 Beaches by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, National Geographic, NY Times and many others. It’s certainly the best known and most celebrated beach on St John.

“Ranked in the Top 10 Beaches by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine”

While Trunk Bay Beach is the crown jewel of the Virgin Islands National Park on St John; there are over 3 dozen beautiful beaches to discover and explore. Each has it’s own unique qualities. If your idea of a beautiful beach is powdery white sand and towering coconut palms then you’ll love Trunk Bay, Hawksnest Bay Beach and Gibney Beach.

If you love watersports and snorkeling then you’ll want to head to Honeymoon Beach or Cinnamon Bay Beach. Enjoy kayak, SUP, snorkel gear rentals along with lounge chairs and lockers at the Honeymoon Beach Watersports Hut. Or walk along St John’s longest beach, Cinnamon Bay Beach, before enjoying a windsurfer, kayak, SUP or kiteboard rental.

Want to discover the “undiscovered” beaches of St John? Denis Bay Beach requires a short hike – but beach goers will find a white sand beach lined by palm trees with a view to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.


You’ll find some great information among the pictures, maps and pages of this St John Beach Guide.