According Kenneth Mapp, the US Virgin Islands Governor, St. John will soon be able to generate its own electricity. Generators are on their way to the island, which is still recovering from the devestation caused by Hurricane Irma.
After Hurricane Irma, Reef Bay offers hikers more view, less shade – for now. Experience new views of the water all the way down Reef Bay trail on St. John. Visitors can follow the clear path from Centerline Road down to Reef Bay and enjoy the history of the sugarmill and petroglyphs, as well as the stunning beauty of the bay. Perfect for cooling off, snorkeling, or exploring more on-foot, Reef Bay in the Virgin Islands National Park is a great half or full day excursion to take when you visit St. John. Until the forest brings back some shade, be sure to bring lots of water to stay hydrated (and a camera to catch the newly revealed views. Grab your stuff, Reef Bay trail is officially back on the hiking map!
Thanks to hardworking volunteers, the Lind Point trail to Soloman and Honeymoon beaches is now clear! Caneel’s Snack Shack and VI Ecotours are cleaning up for a reopening this December, although Caneel resort is expected to be closed until April 2018. The main entrance to Caneel is off limits, so get to Honeymoon beach from the water, or by hiking Lind Point trail. Begin at the National Park Visitor’s Center in Cruz Bay, or connect to the trail head atop the first hill on North Shore.
Electric Power Status
The VI Water & Power Authority (WAPA http://www.viwapa.vi) continues restoration work on St. John and hundreds of new lineman are expected to arrive this week. According to published updates, the areas of Estate Cruz Bay, Estate Enighed, Estate Grunwald (including the Westin Resort), and Estate Pastory have been energized. Crews continue to work on restoration in the Gifft Hill, Bellevue and Pastory areas. Primary circuits need to be rebuilt and crews are working from both the Coral Bay and Cruz Bay directions. WAPA remains committed to its goal of restoring 90% of all areas across the Virgin Islands by Christmas 2017.
Hotels in Recovery
Both Caneel and Westin resorts on St. John were heavily damaged by hurricane #Irma, although reconstruction efforts are already underway. Caneel still offers hotel rooms, while the Westin remodeled recently where all suites are time-shared. Both resorts have indicated at least a year before they will be prepared to re-open in parts.
Vacation Villas Available
Vacation villas remain the most popular option among those who visit St. John. Offering the luxury of a hotel, the comfort of a home, and the privacy every vacation deserves, villas to rent of all shapes are available. Want the best deal on your next vacation villa? Don’t waste your time weeding through all the different travel websites, go direct to a recommended villa management company on St. John:
More than 2 months later, the vast majority of St. John is still without electricity. Hopes are high, but progress continues to be slow. An injured BTE employee set back the schedule, but progress can be seen. Parts of Cruz Bay are up and running with electrical power and mail and packages are now flowing again from the post office to island mail centers, including: Connections, PostNet, and Keep Me Posted. Barges to and from St. Thomas are running, but on a limited schedule. Mister B, the largest barge, was damaged, but is floating and docked for repair at Enighed Pond. Gas is available at both E&C and the Race Track (near the Westin), although diesel is still in short supply. Food stores have non-perishable items. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood continue to be tough to come by.
The Virgin Islands National Park beaches are open, although select areas will be closed in the coming months as park repairs are scheduled. Trails will become open slowly, as crews of volunteers hack through the brush. One of the longest, and most destructed, trails (Reef Bay) should be fully cleared and fit for hikers before November ends!
Wondering what’s open for business and what places to rent on St. John after Hurricane Irma, checkout our of businesses as they recover and rebuild.
Nearly two full days after Hurricane Irma passed through St. John, Jerry was still hacking his way through the fallen debris around his home atop Bordeaux Mountain. He walked west from his home along Bordeaux Mountain Road, climbing over fallen trees and electrical lines, seeing views of Reef Bay and beyond that were now clearly visible through the slim sticks that remained. When Jerry finally made his way through the defeated rain forest to Centerline Road, what he saw was mind numbing.
What was once a vibrant mountaintop attraction for visitors, and a convenient meet-up spot for residents, now looked like a junkyard. A mangled SUV perched precariously atop a heap of debris, as if Mother Nature had carefully placed it there herself.
What remains of this tourist hot spot is a lone knee-high concrete wall. Across the street, the bright pink “Colorful Corner” gift shop now lives on only in memories. Where the store actually went is still a mystery, although the barren brown hills of St. John are spotted with homeless moldy mattresses and broken belongings. Tiny bits of shredded paper and torn fabric, terrorized from the trip, litter the landscape.
On the evening of Friday, October 27th, 50 long days after Hurricane Irma devastated St. John, a small section of Cruz Bay finally saw the light. Residents and businesses in Cruz Bay, in the section from Wharfside Village to the police station, began plugging in their fans, stuffing their refrigerators, and flicking on house lights for the first time in nearly two months. Rejoice!
While everyone else waits for the repair trucks to finally make it to their neck of the island, at least The Lime Inn, the Beach Bar, Joeâ€s Rum Hut, High Tide Bar & Grill, and other nearby businesses are now serving much needed hot food and cold drinks at lunch and dinner.
St. John’s roughly 4000 remaining residents will most likely not see their electric meter turn until early next year. Living without electricity, running water, fuel, and a means of communication has its challenges.
Island residents don’t evacuate before or after a hurricane because there’s nowhere to evacuate to. The local advice is to hunker down with plenty of canned food and water in the most protected concrete room in your home (or someone else’s concrete house if yours happens to be made of wood, or you live on a boat). Ideally you, your friends, and your pets, are strapped-in and wearing a helmet of some kind. Storms can last a few hours to a couple days. Hurricane Irma began to rear her ugly strength after dark on the evening of September 5th and continued through daylight of the 6th. Those who emerged from their bunkers before dark on that second day were not prepared for the depth of destruction they would see. Foliage, houses, and cars had been stripped, ripped, and flipped. The scene was surreal, with the grey skies shining gloom on what had been an idyllic little gem just a few hours earlier.
Jerry, a 20+ year resident of St. John with a local pool business, rode out the storm in his home atop Bordeaux Mountain. While his sturdy home and roof were spared, the rain forest that Bordeaux is known is no longer. Jerry opened his front door to a horrific scene. What was once dense green and thick with wildlife was now just piles of stripped trees piled like God was playing a wicked game of Pick-Up-Sticks.
Jerry knew from past experience that it would be weeks, if not months, before electricity would return to St. John after a hurricane of such magnitude, so he set to work on the unending task of cleaning up. Tamping down knee-high debris of leaves and sticks with his work boats, he didn’t have to go far from his front door before a downed tree would require a larger chainsaw. When the light of the day began to fade, Jerry would wash-up from a bucket of water he siphoned from the cistern and went to bed in what would be the first of many of the longest nights of his life. Without the glorious luxury of electric fans, rabid mosquitos freely ravage the sleepy and the sweaty.
It took Jerry two days to saw through the rubble and connect with other intelligent life, and another two days before his road was clear enough to walk to Centerline Road, where Chateaux Bordeaux stood, or rather used to stand.
Taking a Dive – Going beneath the turquoise waters around St. John to discover amazing scenes.
I admit it: I’m not typically comfortable scuba diving. The heavy equipment strapped to my back, the tight ankle-to-neck suit, the crowded rocking, dark water as far as I can see, the possibility of death – you know, the usual. But on St. John the dives are different. Sure, you still need the oxygen tank if you want to stay under for awhile, but everything else is optional. The warmer waters, especially during the summer months, make wearing skins optional. The awesome off-shore diving locations mean you can enjoy a good dive without a boat.
Dives on St. John are also transparent – literally. Before I go in, I see where I’m going. Crystal clear understanding of what’s down there because I can see it without getting wet. Go for a shallow dive of 10-20 feet around St. John and experience everything scuba diving has to offer without all those scary bits.