news

Great Expectations and St John is braced for Hurricane Irma

Great Expectations should be okay; the Villa is constructed of 8-inch thick reinforced concrete and all our outdoor furniture, hammocks, pool floats, hot tub covers and 21 hurricane shutters have been secured, thanks to our great staff, for Irma's arrival tonight! [button title="Live Webcams" icon="" icon_position="" link="/webcam" target="" color="" font_color="" large="0" class="" download="" onclick=""]

building 3 closed

building 3 closed

closed room closed

closed room closed

pools closing up

pools closing up

pool closing up

pool closing up

Here are a few ways to help those on St John who will need assistance after the hurricane passes:

donate

donate

St John Rescue:An all-volunteer non-profit organization on the small island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands dedicated to providing emergency rescue and medical support services to the St. John's EMS, Police, Fire, National Park and Health Clinic personnel.

donate st john foundation

donate st john foundation

St John Community Foundation: Created in 1989 after the devastation of Hurricane Hugo, the St. John Community Foundation has successfully been carrying out the mission of providing services and supporting programs that positively engage people, build resources and strengthen the St. John community since 1989. They continuously look for ways to fill service gaps and cultivate community assets including people, organizations, programs, and resources to effectively respond to changing needs of the community now and for future generations.

donate animal care center

donate animal care center

St John Animal Care Center: The Animal Care Center (ACC) of St. John is located in Cruz Bay, near the library. The ACC addresses the problems of cruelty to, neglect and abuse of the island animals. The shelter provides kennels for homeless dogs and inside cages for a limited number of homeless cats. The ACC has volunteers across St John who establish and maintain feral cat feeding stations. At these locations, feral cats are trapped and taken to the local vet who tests for disease and if clear spays or neuters the cat.

Another perfect 'St John Day'

Our webcam overlooking St John's Rendezvous Bay shows another perfectly beautiful day. However, behind the camera our property manager and her staff are scurrying around the property bringing indoors all the hammocks (and we have plenty), outdoor furniture (again, ditto the previous comment!), sunshades and everything else that could end up on our neighbor's property if this upcoming storm (Hurricane Irma) does as she is forecasted to do and 'visits' St John sometime Tuesday or Wednesday.  Luckily, we have hurricane shutters on all openings (the bad news for our property manager is that we have a lot of shutters to close. So, it will be a busy day for them. You, though, can relax and enjoy the webcam.  We will keep posting pictures during the storm, as long as we have WiFi and electricity.  For any of you weather Gods out there, please put this storm way north of us! Here are some good websites we have found and use to keep tabs on the approaching storms.

 

The latest Caribbean storm information

Here are some great websites to keep up-to-date information about what is happening in the Caribbean, especially during hurricane season: The most accurate information comes from the National Hurricane Center. During active storms their site is updated every three hours:

national hurricane center

national hurricane center

Storm Carib is a great resource for those of us who have interests in the Caribbean. The authors live in the Caribbean, on St Thomas. Their site uses the raw data from the National Hurricane Center and then interprets it -- in layman's language -- with lots of specific information about the Caribbean:

storm carib

storm carib

Storm tracks of various models:

models showing storm track

models showing storm track

models determining storm track

models determining storm track

This chart shows the distance from the forecasted eye of the storm to a particular island (we, of course, chose St John):

storm distance from St John

storm distance from St John

Great Expectations webcam

Great Expectations webcam

Of course, I have saved The Best for last! Take a look at our HD Webcam positioned on the patio of our Great Room at Great Expectations (looking out over Rendezvous Bay, Ditleff Point, and the National Park:

United Airlines increases flights to St Thomas

For those wanting to fly to St. John this summer and fall, the trip just got easier

This week United Airlines announced they will start daily flights from both Houston (IAH) and Washington DC (IAD) to St Thomas (STT).

united direct flight from Washington DC Dulles (IAD) to St Thomas (STT)

united direct flight from Washington DC Dulles (IAD) to St Thomas (STT)

United flight direct from Houston (IAH) to St Thomas (STT)

United flight direct from Houston (IAH) to St Thomas (STT)

Both flights are a reasonable time in the morning and get you into St Thomas at 12:15p and 3:40p respectively. From DC, you could make the 2pm ferry out of Red Hook and be in your rental Jeep before 3. From Houston, you'd make the 5pm ferry and arrive in time to catch a happy hour or 2 on St. John!

Also, if you are from the New Jersey/New York City area, United will be offering weekly flights from Newark (EWR) to St Thomas.

There is now no excuse not to pack your bags and spend time this summer on St John!  Come on -- you know you want to stick your toes in our waters!

St John tours: self-guided or guided so you can kick back

The New York Times article posted March 28, 2017 nails it about the beauty and wonder of St John! Entitled Slowing Down, Finding Hidden Paradise on St. John the author urges all those visiting St John to learn the lesson he did -- to slow down and soak in the beauty of our island.  The article gives great advise of how to explore St John to see all of its wonders but, also, how to relax and slow down to actually enjoy it.

News of St. John Tours

If exploring on your own is not for you, News Of St John's Jenn Manes just starting a touring company called (not surprisedly) News Of St John Tours.  She will pick you up at 10 AM and take you just about wherever you want to go on St John; returning you safely by 3 PM. Tours include a private guide (Jenn, of course), a cooler stocked with ice and water, beach chairs and noodles (for those of you who’d like to stop at the beach), gas and photos.  Have no idea? Let Jenn develop an itinerary for you -  all you have to do is sit back, relax, and take in the sights!

 

 

Music City Mashup on St John

If you are in the Virgin Islands in early April you will be in for a great treat!  Love City Music Festival kicks off at the Soggy Dollar on Friday April 7 (11 AM - 4 PM) on the British Virgin Island's Jost van Dyke.  Then on Friday night, April 7 starting at 7 PM Drink! is hosting the Music City Mashup; then on to a blow out Caribbean Country Music After-Party with Nashville's DJ KO.  Saturday April 8, starting at 4 PM, get down to Cruz Bay's Wharfside's beach for more great music. The Love City Country Music Festival is sponsored by the US Virgin Islands Tourism, Caneel Bay, Low Key Watersports, and Ocean Runner (among other great VI outfits).

love city country music

love city country music

Stepping out on St John -- Frist Fridays

first friday

first friday

It might seem like every night is a Friday night on St John since we are always celebrating something! However, starting the month on Fridays, Mongoose Junction is stepping it up and offering their First Friday series: Starting at 6:00 on the First Friday of every month, the 30 unique business of Mongoose Junction will be hosting a variety of artists, live music and special offers. Discover, dine and dance at St. John's premier shopping and dining destination. Face painting at St John Scoops, live music in the Courtyard, art just about everywhere you look, this is a great spot to spend an evening.

Fun things to do with kids on St John

shells

shells

Stand-up Paddle Boardingis a fun activity for kids as well as adults Shell and coral collecting -- St John has more than 30 beaches most of which are readily accessible and safe for children to explore the unlimited amount of sea creatures or sand crabs or lizards or make sand castles.

Trunk Bay underwater trail is a well marked which depicts several types of sea coral and shells

Reef Bay Trail, swim on the beach, and boat ride back to Cruz Bay and the good news is that the trail is downhill to the beach!

Drive to the East End  - and get up close to the goats, donkeys, and chickens that roam free.

Sloop Jones Art Class is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. Everyone has talent and can paint a shirt to remember St John by.

Friends of VI National Park Seminar Series -- offers guided kayak tours, hikes through the Virgin Islands National Park, bird watching tours, seashore walks with park rangers to learn about St John's wonderful sea creatures, eco-systems, reefs and more.

Day sail or power boat or rent a dinghy and explore the waters around St John and nearby cays.

Volunteer at the St John Animal Care Center -- The Animal Care Center is alway appreciative when people come in to volunteer to walk one of their dogs.

Take a taxi tour around St John.  Safari bus (taxi) drivers offer two-hour or three-hour guided tour of the Island, including the Park. These tours usually begin and end at the public ferry dock in Cruz Bay. They stop at overlooks for panoramic views of beaches and surrounding hillsides and at remnants of Annaberg and other sugar plantations.

bubbles on tennis court with kids

bubbles on tennis court with kids

Or, just hang out at our kid friendly St John villa, Great Expectations, which has multiple pools (3 and a wading pool for the littlest ones), 2 hot tubs, a basketball and tennis court (a great area for kids to play safely), lots & lots of hammocks, plenty of games and we are only a 5 minute walk to two different beaches (Chocolate Hole harbor with great snorkeling and paddle boarding) and Hart Bay beach which is known for great shell and coral collecting.

December is a great month to be on St John

Lots of fun - and delicious - things happening on St John this month.  If you are looking for a great holiday gift you are in luck since there are lots of St John local crafts available:  

Head over to Coral Bay's Bizarre Bazaar for local crafts and treats:

christmas coral bay

christmas coral bay

The Annual Mongoose Junction Holiday Party is always a fun event:

mongoose junction holiday party

mongoose junction holiday party

Great Thanksgiving Day Topic --- Plan your next St John vacation & we suggest you skip the politics!

Start the New Year on St John where green magically becomes red fireworks!

Hawksnest beach (above) captured by Yelena Rogers

st john fireworks

st john fireworks

Cruz Bay Fireworks captured by Steve Simonsen

We have another special:

Great Expectations is available for New Years Eve. The Villa is available from Saturday, December 31 through Sunday January 22nd for 20% off our standard weekly rates.

Let us know if you want to end the 'old year' and start the new one by enjoying the beauty of St John.

Contact us directly to start 2017 on St John

Get on Board with our newest Charter Boat Partner

island girl

island girl

The owners of Island Girl, a well equipped 35 foot power catamaran, are offering guests of Great Expectations a fabulous discount of 20% off their published rates. Island Girl has the capacity to comfortably accommodate up to 12 guests in shaded or sunning areas. They are stepping it up and adding in some nice extras that most of the other power boats in the area do not provide. This will include an Open bar, light breakfast, snacks and a gourmet lunch cooked onboard for local waters full day trips! St John Boat Tours offers sunset trips as well as either 1/2 or full day trips to the British Virgin Islands or locally around St John. You decide for you are 'the Captain' for your trip!

st john beach

st john beach

To mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, The Boston Globe is highlighting some of the most beautiful ones and recently published 'St John, where you'll want to park it'. The article is definitely worth the read. St John is fortunate to have 2/3's of its land mass and the waters around those areas earmarked as part of the National Park and, therefore, will be forever green and protected.

ZoZo's on 'Best Fine Dining in the Caribbean' list

zozos

zozos

Taking the second spot on the top 10 list is ZoZo’s Restaurant in Caneel Bay, St. John, U.S.V.I. the beautiful island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. This restaurant is just minutes from Cruz Bay and located within the ruins of a sugar mill built in the 1800’s. Among the stone walls and high-timbered ceilings, you will be able to watch the sun sink into the Caribbean as you enjoy some of the most highly rated food on the island. Chef Michael Fortino draws influences from recipes of his own Italian family and from the regions of Northern Italy, as well the Caribbean. Chef Michael offers fresh local fish and produce, and imports cheese, meat, spices and ingredients from around the globe to ensure all flavors are best expressed. The most popular dishes are the Fresh Pappardelle, Pistachio Crusted Local Mahi Mahi, or the Osso Buco.

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and hope that you will let us make memories for you this coming year by visiting St John and Great Expectations!

Warm Island Regards, Kristin & Chuck, owners Great Expectations

St John -- Always Something to Do?

Enjoy our September Newsletter: A lot of people ask us what there is to do on St John. If you are an active person and always need to be on the move well, fret not, there are lots of Things To Do on St John from boating to fishing to hiking to snorkeling to paddle boarding to kayaking to...well, you get the point. Most all of our 'activities' involve the great outdoors and why not, since St John is such a beautiful island to explore.

pool float with a book

pool float with a book

Or, you can spend your entire St John vacation right at Great Expectations floating in our pool watching the clouds float by or reading while floating around our pool, or enjoying one of our many hammocks and private patios giving you your own piece of paradise to enjoy:

Contact the Owners of Great Expectations to reserve your time on our pool float!

skippers brit pub

skippers brit pub

The Brits Have Invaded St John (and brought plenty da rum with them!)

We welcome the ‘Brits’ to Coral Bay with the opening of Skipper’s Brit Pub. They pride themselves in carrying more rums — 60 + different rums! — than any other St John restaurant or pub and great local beers (St John Brewers and Drunk Bay Brown). Located in the waterfront site of the former Sweet Plantains, get ready for a casual pub experience with great pub food.

SUP St John

SUP St John

Great Expectations Partners with Paddle Board & Power Boat Charter Companies

We are always looking for great new partners who will provide great service for guests of Great Expectations and this month we would like to introduce you, at least virtually, to an outfit -- SUP St John -- that offers Paddle Board rentals delivered directly to Great Expectations (lessons, if desired, including Paddle Board Yoga in our pool at Great Expectations!), and Power Boat Charters, Rockin Hoppin, on their pretty spiffy Regulator with Twin Yamaha 250s (yes, this is a fast boat!). It is 32 foot long and has forward-facing, cushioned seating and provides a comfortable, stable, usually dry ride from rock to rock. Their powerboat has plenty of space and extras like colored exterior lights, sound system with iphone connector, GPS, chart plotter etc. They offer great discounts for guests of Great Expectations which makes a great day on the water even sweeter.

rockin hoppin

rockin hoppin

We have had a wonderful summer on St John at Great Expectations celebrating marriages, 50th anniversaries, and significant birthdays. Let us make memories for you this coming year!

Warm Island Regards, Kristin & Chuck, owners Great Expectations

Here is the cure for the Dog Days of Summer on St John

Help the St John Animal Care Center (SJACC) cool its home for all their pooches and kitties.  Their Air Conditioner died and they have started a 'Go Fund Me' drive to raise the money for a new AC.  We, at Great Expectations, are so very thankful for what the SJAAC does day in and day out for the 4-legged animals (not only dogs and cats but sometimes goats and donkeys too) of our island.  Please join us in supporting this great organization.

Stunning scenes on St John beach this week!

trunk bay flamingo water

trunk bay flamingo water

The flamingos have arrived on St John and they are breathtakingly beautiful.  Here are a few photos of flamingos visiting Trunk Bay, Denis Bay, and Maho Bay beaches this week.  Rumor has it that they are visiting from either nearby Anegada or Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.  We are glad to see them visit.

trunk bay flamingo beach

trunk bay flamingo beach

St John photographer extraordinaire Yelena Rogers was able to capture some wonderful photos which she has titled 'Flamingo's Ballet'; it is worth a watch!

trunk bay flamingo yelena rogers

trunk bay flamingo yelena rogers

St John's Cinnamon Bay beach on exclusive New York Times list

beach chairs

beach chairs

St John's popular Cinnamon Bay beach  recently made the exclusive New York Times Travel list of one of '6 Caribbean beaches to Visit Before You Die'.  The wide silky white sandy beach is wide and long enough to walk, play games, or just place your chair under one of the sea grape plants that line the beach providing wonderful shade. The swimming is wonderful and its gentle entry and sandy bottom is the perfect place to introduce the little ones to swimming or snorkeling. And, the snorkeling is great, especially around the cay directly in front of the beach. If you would rather just hang out on your beach chair, there is a treat for you with wonderful vistas of the British Virgin Islands in the distance. If you are into hiking or checking out some of the old ruins on St John check out the very neat Cinnamon Bay ruins right across the road.

We know why and to really understand just how beautiful Cinnamon Bay beach is you need to visit it as well.

St John -- How to Lend a Helping Hand (Volunteer, Donate or Fundraise)

Over time, we have experienced that people who visit St John become passionate about St John. We have often been asked how people can help give back to an island they have grown to love. There are lots of ways to connect and help St John organizations (and people) whether you are on island or back home and just longing to be here.  Here are a few ways of helping either by contributing to one of the many St John organizations or by volunteering while you are on island:

St John Animal Care Center (SJACC)

The St John Animal Care Center has done a wonderful job of rescuing and caring for the island dogs and cats (and sundry other creatures).  They maintain feral cat feeding stations and manages a no-kill shelter with indoor kennels for dogs and a limited number of cages for cats.  They have developed a foster care program as well as programs to transition their charges to forever families both on island and stateside.  If you are coming to St John as you pack your suitcase tuck in some pet supplies (food items, leashes pet toys) which are always a welcome donation.  If you are already on island and want to help head on over to the Animal Care Center and volunteer to walk a dog or help with the feral cat feeding program.   And, if you are back home longing for St John, you can donate to some of the SJAAC fundraisers which happen every year.

Friends of the VI National Park

Our National Park is very fortunate to have the Friends of the VI National Park (FVINP) as their advocate whose mission is to: advance the protection and preservation of the natural and cultural resources of Virgin Islands National Park and promote the responsible enjoyment of this unique national treasure while educating and inspiring adults and children to be stewards of the environment. And, boy, do they do it well!

The Friends supports environmental education, natural resource protection, cultural preservation and scientific research. Their accomplishments and goals are clearly detailed on their website. Each initiative shows how much money was raised, or is needed to fund the initiative. So, find an initiative you are interested in and feel free to donate on-line.

Great Expectations is proud to be a Preferred Partner of the Friends.

St John Rescue

One of the most wonderful, all volunteer, organizations on St John is St John Rescue.  It is a bit like insurance, you hope you never need to use it but, if you do, you want it easily accessible. St John Rescue's mission is: dedicated to providing emergency rescue and medical support services to the St. John's EMS, Police, Fire, National Park and Health Clinic personnel.  They have the capability to help out both with land and water based emergencies and over the course of a year respond to over 150 emergency situations. If you live on island consider volunteering and if you are an occasional St John visitor, please consider donating to this very important life-saving organization.

St John Community Foundation

The St. John Community Foundation is committed to collaboratively identifying and addressing community needs to enhance St. John; A True Paradise in which to live, work and visit!  This is an 'umbrella' not-for-profit organization that supports all sorts of good causes that benefit St John residents such as supporting St John's recycling program, Dial-A-Ride which helps St John seniors, disabled residents & visitors, St John Film Society, and Using Sport for Social Change. We (Great Expectations) were privileged to support a wonderful initiative, through the St John Community Foundation, to teach St John school children with disabilities (or in their case -- super-abilities) tennis. They are currently organizing fundraising initiatives to buy: supplies for the homeless, home repair supplies, shredder/chipper for our community parks, a vehicle for the St John Animal Care Center, and equipment for our recycling program. If you are interested in donating to a specific project or just to support this amazing organization, you can do donate online.

St John Cancer Fund

Unfortunately, many St John residents do not have health insurance and, even if they do, they often need to go 'off island' to get health care.  Many times their travel expenses, or even basic health care expenses, are not covered by insurance.  The St John Cancer Fund is often a lifesaving organization since their support of individuals can make the difference for people to receive necessary medical care.

Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station

VIERS camp

VIERS camp

Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station (VIERS) was established to, as its name indicates, promote environmental educational activities and scientific research. VIERS is a biology field station, an eco-camp, located on the remote southern shore of St. John at Lameshur Bay. They operate a wonderful summer eco-camp and science camp for young residents of St John. Kids experience hands-on activities which give the campers a better understanding of the wonderful environment of St John.  As an adult, if you have the time of spending a couple of weeks (or even a couple of months) volunteering might consider helping with the youth camps during the summer or helping out to provide staff support.  Donations are, of course, always welcomed and appreciated. Or, if you are interested in volunteering with an organized group consider the trips to St John that are planned through REI Adventures to the VIERS Campground.

Giving back to St John, the island we love, will help ensure it thrives for decades to come.

Islands.com puts St John on list of '7 Most Remote Beaches in the Caribbean'

We are never surprised when St John beaches make the 'top' lists concerning their beauty but, we are always pleased that others recognize what we already know.  Islands.com just named St John's Salomon beach one of their '7 Most Remote Beaches in the Caribbean'. Here is what they said:

Salomon Bay :

Hiking-only access tends to discourage crowds. Start at the National Park Visitors Center near Cruz bay; from there, it's an easy walk down Lind Point Trail, stopping to admire the view along the way.

We think it is worth the trek.  Here are some other wonderful St John hiking trails including our favorite, the Reef Bay Trail.

A Revolution is coming to St John & it will be mighty tasty

Mongoose Junction's Virgin Fire is about to be transformed in more ways than just the food and atmosphere. Owners of Sun Dog Cafe & Virgin Fire, Barbara & Michael Barry, are creating a revolution, one that this writer applauds.  This coming Saturday (June 11) will be the last evening for Virgin Fire and they intend to make it a great night entitled  VIRGIN FIRE GRILL WRAP PARTY featuring live music and a $20 buffet (can't beat that on St John these days).  And, just eight days later on Sunday, June 19 they will open Viva La Revolution Cantina.

Fresh ideas & fresh menu

viva la revolution cantina

viva la revolution cantina

According to their Facebook post, the owners are distributing 25% of the value of their new restaurant to their employees in the form of profit sharing, with the option for staff to reinvest into ownership shares.

And, the menu will be loaded with fresh with local greens and fish caught by St John fishermen. Everything is made in house: made to order corn and flour tortillas, inventive truck stand tacos, Mexican favorites (enchiladas, chile rellenos, fajitas, tamales) plus the traditional combination platters. The menu is accented by a wide array of tequilas, served in flights, as margaritas or in pitchers for the table that can be paired with the extensive taco menu.

And, additional good news is you should find their prices pretty reasonable so give them a try when you are next on St John.

viva cantina sample menu

viva cantina sample menu