Spice it up St. John Style

where to stay st. john, st. john villa rental, vrbo st. john vi, virgin islands, st. john usvi, where to stay in cruz bay, st. john vacation rental, trunk bay, st. john

Caribbean cooking is known for it’s delicious use of spices – Jerk and blackened seasonings being the most common. The locally famous drink The Painkiller even uses fresh ground nutmeg on top.

Guests often ask us about how they can take home the flavor of the islands and our answer is: SPICES!

We are lucky to have an amazing shop on St. John, conveniently located in Cruz Bay by the St.Thomas/St.John Ferry Dock called St. John Spice. This great store has everything from homemade curated spice blends to cutely packaged nutmegs and grater sets.  Spice blends are mixed in house, meaning they are fresh and authentic! Their Cruz Bay Grill Rub is a best-seller and a great gift item, or something to cook with when you return home to remind you of your time in St. John.  We also love this shop’s curated locally made hot sauces, including Valley Doll and Blind Betty’s.

We also love locally made Kitchen Creole spice blends. The Bordeaux Mountain and Condado Adobo have become go-tos in our kitchen, but you truly can’t go wrong with any of them. Pick these up as a gift for someone at home, or to cook with at your Destination St. John rental villa!  News of St. John even shared a fun, easy recipe here. You can purchase them online or at Shipwreck Landing or Pickles in Paradise in Coral Bay or Pink Papaya or Sugarbirds in Cruz Bay. 

Do you love cooking with spices? What is your favorite local seasoning? Share photos with us by tagging #DestinationSTJ on Instagram!

The Lime Inn

st. john villa rental, where to stay st. john, best hotels st. john, villas cruz bay, rental house st. john, airbnb st. john, virgin islands, cruz bay hotel, best places to stay st. john, virgin islands

There are so many incredible restaurants on St. John, you could stay for a week and never hit them all. A local favorite, and long-time St. John establishment (for 33 years!) is The Lime Inn.

This wonderful restaurant is located right in Cruz Bay on the one way street loping around town across from da Livio’s Pizza. Walk into a garden oasis with beautiful plants, a front bar (called “The Ficus Bar”) and the old island charm that makes St. John so special. Run by a husband and wife team Richard and Chelsea (daughter of the original owners), this family restaurant is delicious, inviting and holds that personal touch that we just love!

The Lime Inn is open for lunch (11:30-3) and dinner (5:30-9:30) with happy hour specials all day (11:30-5:30). We love the Fresh Local Snapper Sandwich for lunch and the Cracked Conch (local conch pounded thin and tender, lightly battered and flash fried) is a favorite. For dinner this season, The Lime Inn started making fresh pasta in-house, as well as adding some new items to the menu. You can’t go wrong with their Fresh Grilled Local Tuna (in an amazing tamarind glaze) or the Fresh Grilled Caribbean Lobster, caught locally in our waters.

The drink menu doesn’t disappoint, either. We love “The Danger,” named after their first son, a delicious conception of house thai chile infused tequila, fresh watermelon juice, lime juice and pineapple simple syrup! The Limin the coconut is also a delightful frozen drink that will cool you down after a day in the sun!

Lastly, don’t miss their “All You Can Eat Shrimp” night every Wednesday and Oyster Night every Thursday! We know visitors that come back yearly and look forward to it each trip!

Have you eaten at Lime Inn? Enjoyed their happy hour? Share photos by tagging #DestinationSTJ.

The Spots + Specials

Happy Hour is a great way to celebrate vacation and slide onto island time! St. John has no shortage of fun bars and hangouts, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Cruz Bay Happy Hour locales to share with you:

Joe’s Rum Hut

Located on Cruz Bay beach looking at the ferry dock and entire bay and beyond, this Happy Hour is one that can get you in trouble. Their famous “$3 You-Call-It” means any drink is $3 from 4-6pm, be it a Frozen Bushwhacker or shot of Patron, Rum Punch or anything in between. You can’t beat the view either! Take your drink down to the charts on the beach and sip to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore.

The Longboard

If a frozen treat is what you’re looking for, Longboard is the spot, and you can enjoy surf videos and a coastal vibe while you cool down. Their frozen drinks are on special during the 3-6pm Happy Hour – the must-have Frozen Painkiller is $5 and the Passionfruit Frosй is $10. Craft specialty cocktails range from $6-7 during Happy Hour. 

Lime Inn

With the slogan “Happy Hour Should Start in The Morning,” this long-time island restaurant offers up Happy Hour from 11:30am-5:30pm, making it the longest Happy Hour on island. It features $4 craft cocktails, $4 prosecco and $2 Presidente beers.  The cool garden atmosphere is an added bonus.

Woody’s

Everyday from 3-6pm, Woody’s rolls out their World Famous (it’s true, Woody’s Happy Hour is legendary) drink specials including $1 Coors Light, $3 Well Drinks, $1 Off Other Drinks. Get there early to grab one of the 3 outdoor tables and watch the Cruz Bay scene.

Umami 

Located across the street from Woody’s, this spot wins for the best food + drink deals during Happy Hour. Umami offers 2 for 1 house cocktails and 2 sushi rolls for $12 during their 3-6pm Happy Hour. There are a slew of other food options too, all complete with cool air conditioning for a late afternoon outing.

The Tap Room

This local brewery has amazing housemade beers, as well as a slew of other great beers on draft. Enjoy the A/C and draft beers at $1 off, and 1/2 price flat bread pizzas during their 4-6pm Happy Hour.

What was your favorite Happy Hour on St. John? Snap a shot and share it by tagging #DestinationSTJ

St. John from the Sea

One of the best parts about vacationing to a lovely island like St. John is that it’s just that – an island – and surrounded by water! The turquoise, sparking waters arounds St. John are absolutely stunning and a must see.  A great way to explore the island and take advantage of the beautiful surroundings is by renting a dinghy and and taking a self-navigated tour of the coast and beaches! It’s a beautiful new perspective and great way to view the island.

A dinghy rental day allows you to check out multiple beaches and snorkel stops at your own leisure, by boat, and experience an exciting adventure.  The rentals stay in the USVI, meaning no hassle of clearing customs and no need for a passport. It’s an affordable way to enjoy a private, fun boat day in the Virgin Islands.

There are a few options for dingy and boat rentals in St. John:

Cruz Bay Watersports (book online and save 10%!)

Bad Kitty / Calypso

Noah’s Little Arks

A few of our favorite spots to visit by boat in St. John include:

  • snorkeling the starfish beds at Waterlemon Cay
  • a snorkel and swim at Honeymoon Beach followed by a yummy smoothie at the concession stand ashore
  • a lounge on the beach at pristine Cinnamon Bay

We highly suggest renting snorkel gear at St. John Beach Bum or Arawak Expeditions to make the most of your day and explore the beauty below the waves as well! While we know it’s hard to leave your beautiful Destination St. John villa, you won’t want to miss this sunny activity!

Iconic Virgin Islands Jewelry

The Caribbean hook bracelet is an iconic piece of jewelry that is an amazing way to commemorate your vacation and time on St. John. Lots of locals wear the bracelets, and visitors love taking back a wearable and meaningful piece of St. John with them.

Both men and women wear these signature island bracelets and they come in a range of materials including gold and silver variations and even titanium. When worn with the hook facing in, the wearer is in a relationship, when worn with the hook facing out, the wearer is single. (They’re a great way to tell if someone is taken or not!).

There have been numerous times when we’ve traveled (ranging from New England to even Greece!) when a stranger has come up and commented on our hook bracelets and exclaimed, “Have you been to St. John?” because they recognized the bracelet and were donning one of their own. Such a fun way to always be tied back to the magical island of St. John.

There are a few versions of the hook bracelet, including the St. John “J” Hook, which is available at Caravan Gallery in Mongoose Junction. One of the most well-known hook bracelets comes from Freebird Creations located right next to the ferry dock (your first and last stop on St. John). Right down the road from the ferry dock in Wharfside Village is Bamboo Studio, another local jewelry company whose studio and workspace are right across from the shop, so you can even see the pieces being made! Lots of locations to find a Caribbean hook bracelet that fits your style and budget!

Do you have a hook bracelet or a story about your bracelet? Share your photos with us by tagging #destinationSTJ on Instagram.

Cool Down with Irie Pops

Summer is for beach days and vacation. It’s for living outside at your Destination St. John villa and soaking up sunshine at the beach or at your St. John villa pool. It’s also hot, and popsicles and fun summer drinks are always a great way to cool down. Enter: Irie Pops. This fun popsicle company recently “popped” up in St. John and it’s the perfect way to unwind, cool down and feel the Irie summer island vibes.

The passion project of Laura + William, these once-tourists now-residents have created a fun island business selling fresh, homemade pops to tourists and locals alike. You can find their mobile cooler cart and colorful umbrella most often in the park across from the ferry dock in Cruz Bay, but they also like to make their way to beaches and other spots around the island.

Now to the popsicles – these gourmet treats feature fun tropical flavors like Cucumber/Coconut/Lime and Basil/Berry, Mango Creamsicle and Papaya Punch.  For adults, Irie Pops also has vacation-approved “boozy pops” like Rum Punch and of course, The Painkiller.

Other island treats that we love include TripAdvisor favorites Columbo and St. John Scoops or a Bushwhacker at Joe’s Rum Hut

What cool concoctions and treats did you enjoy on your trip? Post them and tag #DestinationSTJ and we’ll share them too!

Itinerary for an Idyllic Day in St. John

Destination St. John, where to stay in st. john, st. john villa rental, best villas in st. john virgin islands, where to stay virgin islands, rental house st. john, st. john villa rental

We’re sharing with you our third installment of an itinerary for a day in St. John. Our guests always ask us how they should spend their days and for our recommendations for a perfect day. 

1 – Wake up and enjoy the view at whatever fabulous Destination St. John villa you are staying at! Pack a bag with sunscreen, towels, water and whatever you need for the day.

2 – Head to Cruz Bay for breakfast at Northshore Deli.  We love their iced coffees and they make an amazing breakfast sandwich! Sit outside and enjoy the beautiful architecture and planting in Mongoose Junction, or enjoy the cold A/C inside.

3 – Load up in your jeep and head out to Cinnamon Bay. This is one of our favorite beaches – it’s got beautiful vistas, good snorkeling, watersports rentals and even a little food truck where you can grab snacks and St. John Brewer’s local beer on tap. Kayak around the little island, lounge in the super soft Caribbean white sand, and splash in the crystal clear water. 

4 – Cruise back into town and hit up Little Olive Food Truck for some Greek eats. We love the Sriracha fiery fries and Street Beet Salad, and be sure to grab a Turmeric Iced Tea. Get it to go and head back to your villa for a little shade and nourishment.

5 – Once you’ve dipped in your Destination St. John villa’s pool, read your book or maybe napped (this is vacation, isn’t it??), make your way back to Cruz Bay to enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese and charcuterie plate at Island Cork in Wharfside Village. The owner, Paul, will enthusiastically guide you through the best wines and make sure that you are taken care of. Wander the shops and buy locally made, hand-crafted jewelry at Bamboo Studio or great t-shirts and souvenirs at Pig + Rooster. 

6 – Enjoy an amazing, chef-driven meal at La Tapa, one of St. John’s best restaurants that has been around for years. Locally-caught fresh tuna or mahi is nearly always on the menu and a must, and we love the paella for two and the three housemade sauces with fresh french bread.. Chef and owner Alex is usually there, making the rounds and stopping into chat with tables when she’s not cooking up a storm in the kitchen! (PS – this recent NY Times article agrees that La Tapa and Little Olive are must-visits, along with a few of our other favorites like The Longboard and Angel’s Rest).

We hope you enjoy some of our favorite spots on island! Let us know if you visited them, and share any posts on social media by tagging #DestinationSTJ

It’s Carnival Time!

st. john carnival 2017, st. john virgin islands, usvi, where to stay st. john

St. John Carnival is currently in full swing and we’re enjoying every moment! A bit different from your usually Fourth of July celebration, carnival time is a once-a-year festival that celebrates the music and culture of the Virgin Islands and Caribbean. St. John’s carnival happens to coincide with America’s birthday, making it an even more exciting time!

Carnival village gets built in a parking area in Cruz Bay – booths serving food and drink surround a big stage for musicians from the Virgin Islands, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Trinidad and more. All this week, we’ve been enjoying local foods like conch and beef patй, chicken roti, johnny cakes, fresh ginger beer and other local specialties from the various vendors at the village. Music and dancing are the highlight, though, with favorite Caribbean performers like Destra, St. Thomas’ R. City and more.

Tomorrow, the excitement continues with J’ouvert and the Fourth of July parade. J’ouvert is a celebration that starts at 4am and includes dancing behind flatbed trucks with bands playing – until the sun rises!! The parade starts mid-day and features more music, dancing, moko jumbies and elaborate costumes. 

Carnival time is a celebration and an incredible time to visit St. John, when the island is alive with culture and happiness. Sound exciting? Book your villa for carnival next year!

Massage, Facials + More

where to stay st. john, villa rental st. john, st. john vacation, what to do in st. john, massage st. john, virgin islands, cruz bay, vrbo st. john

Vacation is all about relaxing… and pampering yourself! St. John spa services are like a lot of other things on island – a little harder to find but well worth it!

From talented massage therapists to facialists who seek out the best natural skincare, St. John has some great specialists to help you feel relaxed and pampered during your stay. We’ve rounded up some information on our favorites:

Lovely Skin VI: Jenny Patino of Lovely Skin offers facials, microdermabrasion and more. She is experienced, through kind and her space is beyond relaxing and rejuvenating with himalayan salt lamps, crystals and light essential oil diffusers creating a perfect environment. Lovely Skin has sourced top natural skincare products from Herbivore Botanicals and Tata Harper, among others. We LOVE this spot. Jenny offers services out of the St. John Physical Therapy office in the Amore Buidling, right off the Cruz Bay round-about across from O’Connor Jeep Rental. 

Serenity Massage: Krista Kremer, born and raised in the Virgin Islands, is an incredible massage therapist that does massage either on-site at your villa, or at her office at Lindholm Estates in Cruz Bay. Krista offers a range of services including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Aromatherapy, Thai, Hot Stone and more. 

Inner Waves Integrative Health: Massage plus a totally amazing wellness experience? Look no further than Sherri Theberge, massage therapist, yogi, RN and incredible wellness guru. A talented massage therapist, Sherri connects with her clients on “all aspects of your lifestyle are examined and adjusted to harmonize the mind, body and spirit.” Located at Cocoloba Mall in Coral Bay

Mango Bliss Spa: This spot offers a wide range of services including facials, massage therapy, body treatments and aromatherapy. Vanish Advance Skincare also operates out of the space, offering laser hair removal. Owner Laura is incredibly experienced and professional, and the space is clean and convenient! Using known brands like SkinCeuticals, Bryce Organic Skin Care, White Lotus Aromatics and Clarisonic Sonic Skin Care Cleansing System, the spa offers top quality products and services.

We hope you take some time to relax and have a little TLC while on island!

When Pizza Meets Island Life

pizza pi, tripadvisor, where to stay st. john, st. john virgin islands, vrbo st. john, best villas st. john

St. John and the Virgin Islands are full of fun, quirky spots (think floating bar and free rum shots in your smoothie). Another fun spot to visit that boasts your “only in the Virgin Islands” type activity is Pizza Pi, a brightly colored boat that sells…pizza! Anchored in Christmas Cove right off the East End of St. Thomas, Pizza Pi has created a lot of love and buzz and is a must-visit spot if you find yourself on a boat trip during your stay.

Self-proclaimed dreamers, owners Sasha and Tara had a vision of taking “the familiar food truck concept to the waters of the US Virgin Islands where we prepare & serve New York style pizza to hungry boaters in the bay.” They quit their jobs, built a boat and have never looked back. Serving over 7,000 pizzas to date and ranked #1 restaurant in the US Virgin Islands according to TripAdvisor for more than a year, Pizza Pi is a local success. Their custom-built boat cranks out some of the most delicious pizzas, and the setting couldn’t be better.

Including and beyond signature pizzas like Margherita and Cheese, Pizza Pi also offers some pretty incredible flavors like the Mango Mami featuring tangy mango chutney, red onions, fresh mango, goat cheese & bacon or the Rasta Mon, wit a red curry coconut sauce, flaked coconut, snap peas, red bell peppers, & fresh mango. Hello tropical toppings!

Call in your order ahead, and raft up next to this awesome boat, or have them deliver it to your boat via dinghy. It doesn’t get much more island style than this….

As always, we love to see highlights of your vacation! Did you make it to Pizza Pi? If so, share your pics by hash tagging #DestinationSTJ!