Freediving classes St John US Virgin Islands

St John snorkel gearSt John is home to some of the best shallow water snorkeling in the Caribbean. Each year visitors of all experience levels take home memories and photos of sea turtles, rays, corals and tropical fish. Much of what they see and photograph is in as little as 4′ to 8′ of water! But there’s a world beyond 8′ or 10′. Down below 10′ you’ll experience the undersea as never before. The surface becomes your sky. The fish swim past like birds and butterflies. And the rocky reefs become islands and mountains with forests of sea fans and gorgonians waving in the current.

With over 2/3rds of St John island protected by the Virgin Islands National Park – the overall health of the reefs and marine ecosystems has faired much better than most other locations in the Caribbean. And it’s this quality that draws in avid snorkelers and active tourists.

Looking for a unique experience during your St John vacation?
Adventure tourism is the current rage! Skydiving, hangliding, rock climbing are awesome ways to see and connect with a place while you make memories! While St John may not offer any of the above adventures – it’s not without some unique experiences. One such experience is found on St John’s remote East End.

There’s confusion about WHY divers enjoy freediving.  It is not about how long you can hold your breath or how deep you can go, it is about being and feeling close to the universe that exists below the to the waves.  This is what freedivers around the world are discovering and why it is growing so quickly.”

Rob Tutton, founder of VITAL Freediving, teaches the sport of freediving to everyone from beginners to experienced divers. Rob’s spent a lifetime in and around the water as a commercial treasure hunter and naval architect. In 2015 he became an AIDA Certified Freediving Instructor.  When recreating his life after 20 years working for the US Navy, he wanted to help people to experience the beauty of tropical reefs with peace and harmony.  He was freediving while searching for treasure ships in the early 1990’s, but back then the formal education taught in freediving was still relatively new.  But freediving is now growing at a minimum of 25% per year globally.

VITAL Freediving Courses adhere to the highest standards of the AIDA International Freediving. For more information about AIDA please visit: www.aidainternational.org.  He will soon be teaching PADI Freediving courses as well.  So if you’re already a PADI SCUBA diver, you can easily take a PADI Freediver course.  More information on those courses can be found at https://www.padi.com/padi-courses/freediver.

What makes freediving different from snorkeling?

VITAL Freediving St John static breath holdIf you’ve held your breath in the water then technically you’ve been freediving.  Snorkelers typically stay on the surface to view the underwater world, but freedivers focus on taking a deep breath and staying underwater.  Recreational freediving focuses around ways to safely maximize the time and depth for fun and relaxation.  Unlike other sports, freediving has many variations which confuses many newcomers.  Static breath holds focus on maximizing your breath hold and involves simply floating face down in shallow water (PICTURE OF STATIC from website?).  Dynamic freediving also occurs in shallow water but is about how far you can swim horizontally.  If you swam laps in a pool as a child, you swam a dynamic freedive.  There are also freediving disciplines that are about diving as deep as you can safely go, such as Free Immersion and Constant Weight freediving.  True purists perform Dynamic and Constant Weight dives without fins.

Do I need any previous experience to take a course from you?

The only experience required for freediving is the ability to swim a few hundred yards on the surface.  Since it is so different from SCUBA diving, some of the best students are those totally new to diving.

How dangerous is freediving?

Recreational freediving, performed with a trained buddy, is very safe.  The core of freediving training is to stay comfortable and pushing limits is discouraged.  This is the difference between recreational freediving and competitive freediving.  You may have watched videos of world record attempts.  Competitive freediving techniques are not taught by VITAL Freediving.  The safety standards required by AIDA has kept the organization relatively injury free and there has never been a student death.

I’m interested in taking a class. How do I register or signup?

Check out their website for information and class details:
http://vitalfreediving.com/

Call  “Rob” at 340-690-5803
or email me at robtutton@vitalfreediving.com

Irie Pops, St John

Our pages are dedicated to bringing you information on things that are uniquely St John. Today’s post is about two young creative entrepreneurs that are bringing something pretty SAH-WEET to travelers, tourists and St John locals! Read on for the story of Irie Pops!


“Irie” (pronounced eye-ree) is a Jamaican term that is used to describe something nice, good or pleasing …

Like every small business it all began with ….?

Irie Pops Cruz Bay, St John cooler standA kooky, crazy idea and a big “why not?”
We moved to St. John from NYC with the sole intention of being successful small business owners.We lived our first year on St. John acclimating ourselves to island life, learning the island’s business industries and studying the needs and expectations of tourists. Having been tourists on St. John ourselves, we realized there was an opportunity for simple, fun, locally made refreshments that weren’t of the alcoholic nature 🙂

And so: who doesn’t love a refreshing ice pop on a hot summer day?

“Irie” (pronounced eye-ree) is a Jamaican term that is used to describe something nice, good or pleasing and is the perfect way to describe enjoying an artisanal ice pop on St. John.

 Irie Pops will cater to enhancing the Caribbean experience with a touch of nostalgia and whimsy by offering locally handmade artisanal ice pops from a vibrantly branded push cart throughout Cruz Bay, St. John.

 

What brought you both to St John?

Aside from the obvious reasons (hello, beautiful Caribbean island!), we loved what St. John cultivated: creativity, community, entrepreneurship, and opportunity. We felt we plateaued in our NYC careers and were looking for a new change of pace, new scenery and new challenges. Well, we found it!

 

Sweet Tea + Mint Irie PopsWho comes up with the interesting flavor pairings?

Laura is the flavor brainstormer/creator and William is the test subject. Tough job 😛

Where and when can St John visitors find you?

Right now, visitors can find us in Powell Park right across from the Cruz Bay Passenger ferry dock. We are currently operating 2 weeks of every month when Parks & Recreation hosts the vendor fairs. We post frequent updates on our location and operating hours on Facebook and Instagram (@iriepopsvi). We are working on securing a more permanent location in Cruz Bay; we hope to announce that exciting news soon!

Key Lime Irie PopsDo the flavors change – or do you have some pops that are always available? What flavors do you make?

Our flavor menu changes daily, but we always make sure to have a balance of coconut milk based creamy pops (i.e. chocolate sea salt) and fruity pops (strawberry mango swirl). We do have a couple signature flavors that we offer pretty consistently (i.e. cucumber coconut lime). All our pops are vegan and gluten free. Organic cane sugar is minimally added- most pops don’t even need the added sugar!

Strawberry Mango Pineapple Irie PopsWhat’s your background?

Laura Tawes is a Parsons the New School for Design Graduate with a BFA in Fashion Design as well as a Gold Thimble Award for design excellence. She is a concept-to-market fashion designer with a record of start-up success from her contemporary women’s clothing label DEULASS. Having achieved 10+ years of experience in the fashion industry, she has an acquired possession of a unique combination of creativity and analytical skill with the ability to assess both vantage points simultaneously for an effective balance of critical thinking, conceptual ability and compelling strategies for “client right” trends.

Laura Tawes will develop and plan the seasonal rotations of the ice pop menu and will assist in the production of ice pops. She will generate daily media content across all social platforms. Laura Tawes will communicate the brand’s vision and mission through media platforms, social engagement and push cart sales.

William Fernandez is a results-driven, customer-centered retail business graduate with 15+ years of experience in store management and supervisory positions, along with 3 years of fast-casual restaurant management experience. He is a verifiable talent for maintaining profitable retail operations, with success in capitalization on growth opportunities, implementing promotional and marketing strategies, and upholding fiscal integrity. William is an articulate communicator and effective trainer skilled in achieving employee organizational goals. He is a respected and trusted manager with an emphasis on sound business decisions.

William Fernandez will be responsible for daily operations by overseeing and managing vendor and distributor relations and order statuses. He will engage customers and grow customer loyalty with push cart sales. William Fernandez will also take part in brand development and marketing.

Having lived, worked and owned businesses in New York City, Laura & William bring a modern, metropolitan knowledge and sensibility to the Irie Pops brand. With their combined backgrounds, they will be able to successfully build Irie Pops with a creative blend of cool and casual with a nod to the island’s vibrant culture and heritage.

Check out their web site and be sure to LIKE them on Facebook!Irie Pops Cruz Bay, St John coconut pop

www.IriePops.com

https://www.facebook.com/iriepopsvi/

Salty Dog Singing Dog Charters St John USVI

Looking to add some adventure to your St John vacation? Then you’ll want to consider a sailing, snorkeling and sightseeing trip aboard one of the many charter boats based in St Thomas and St John. As you might expect, each boat, captain and crew have their own personalities. Some cater to adults – with stops at some of the famous beach bars and watering holes like Soggy Dollar, Willy T, and Foxy’s. Some boats are geared toward families and snorkeling/sightseeing. We’ll leave it to you to decide what type of day you’d like on the water.

“There’s nothing like discovering St John’s stunning beaches from the water!”

One of our favorite charters is Salty Dog Sailing. Captain Justin, Capt. Susan, Captain Stephen, Capt Kelly, crew Pepper, Cat and Admiral Jake and sailor Sandy have plenty of experience and time on the water! Guests can choose between a classic monohull, Selkie, or luxurious catamaran, Little Dog. Each boat offers guests a unique way to explore and discover the USVIs and BVIs.

Classic Monohull SloopSalty Dog Sailing Charter, Selkie, St John

If your idea of vacation memories includes the sounds of a classic sailing sloop under full sail – then Selkie is the perfect way to spend a full or half day. Selkie is a traditional classic monohull sloop that’s been painstakingly restored. Guests can see and visit snorkeling beaches and bays much as the earliest discoverers did – by sea.

 


Catamaran CharterSinging Dog Charter catamaran, St John

Looking for a full day or half day of snorkeling, sailing and sunbathing that includes luxury and comfort? Then their catamaran, Little Dog, delivers! Guests will enjoy the stability and comfort of a catamaran experience. From shaded seating and dining area for up to 12 guests to the 25′ swim platform and our new front trampoline netting for sunbathing – nothing compares to the comfort and space of Little Dog!

 


FULL DAY & HALF DAY CharterS1/2 day snorkeling charters, St John USVI

Salty Dog Charters offers half day St John snorkeling tours. Your Captain knows the waters surrounding St John and the Virgin Islands National Park. Depending on your experience, weather and conditions you might even explore some of the small cays that sit just of St John’s North Shore!

Full day charter adventures can be planned for the USVIs or BVIs. Your Captain will plan the perfect day depending on your interests, the conditions and weather on the day of your charter.

 


Sunset Sailing Charters

Celebrate the setting of the sun with Salty Dog aboard our traditional cutter S/V Selkie or sporty St. John sailing catamaran S/V Little Dog.  We offer an open bar of  beers, rum punch, sodas & water.  We also do a lovely spread of crudités/hors d’œuvres.  Trip times change seasonally.  Winter–normally 5:00PM-6:30PM. Summer: 5:30PM-7:00PM.  Think about adding a sunset to your day sail!

Give them a call and plan your day!

Call them at  (340) 244-7290

E-mail: saltydogdaysails@gmail.com

Check out their website: http://www.saltydogdaysails.com/

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, beachbarbums.com. 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.

 


AIRPORT SERVICE DIRECTORY

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

Boston

(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

Miami

(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

Dallas

(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

Houston

(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

Directions:

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  http://kidsnightin.com/

Island Baby
Baby and toddler equipment rentals delivered to your villa. Call (340) 998-8327 or visit https://www.islandbabyvi.com/

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 http://www.christysofstjohn.com/rentals.htm


ST JOHN – FIND IT FAST DIRECTORY

Pharmacy

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

Gas

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

Shopping

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.

www.StJohn-VilaRentals.com 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.

DO YOU OWN OR MANAGE A ST JOHN RENTAL?

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.

I’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS WEB SITE

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 www.StJohn-VillaRentals.com . 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.

www.On-Stjohn.com  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 http://www.on-stjohn.com/2016/05/01/villa-owners-vrbo-gets-cheaper-with-a-catch/

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

TRUNK BAY

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.


WATERLEMON CAY

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

MAHO BAY

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

HENLEY CAY

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

HANSEN BAY / VIE’S BEACH

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

HAULOVER NORTH

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

HAULOVER SOUTH

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

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 www.StJohn-BeachGuide.com .