Dining Experience: Extra Virgin Bistro

As we’ve shared before, St. John is home to a plethora of amazing restaurants. Many visitors are blown away by the fact that there are so many incredible culinary experiences in the small town of Cruz Bay (not to mention elsewhere on island). One of the newer arrivals to the restaurant scene is Extra Virgin Bistro, which opened in 2015 across from the ball park in Cruz Bay. The name comes as a tie of the Virgin Islands and extra virgin olive oils; the menu features olive oils from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. General manager/owner Ryan Costanzo and head chef/owner Tommy Garfield, have joined forces to put on an incredible dining experience. The atmosphere, wine list, cocktails, food, presentation and staff are all top notch and we can’t say enough great things.  The cheeses, pastas and bread are made fresh in house every day, and the wine list and cocktails are curated by a super knowledgeable staff.  Extra Virgin also works hard to utilize local ingredients as much as possible and grows many of the herbs featured in dishes on site at the restaurant.

Some of our favorite dishes include the Local Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio, which features pickled cantaloupe, orange citronette and chives, and the Shrimp and Lump Crab Meat Pappardelle with housemade hand cut pappardelle, lemon and white wine garlic butter, spinach, roasted roma tomatoes and fresh parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano. 

Extra Virgin is now also open for Brunch, Saturday and Sunday from 11am-2pm. Expect to find items like French Toast with Foie Gras Butter and Blueberry Compote, Short Rib Hash and Maine Lobster Tail Eggs Benedict. The cocktails don’t disappoint, either!

Check out this fun video that recent visitors to St. John made about Extra Virgin Bistro.

Let us know if you plan on dining here during your stay, or have in the past, and be sure to tag any photos you take with #destinationstj!

Must See: The Baths

One of our favorite must-visit spots is The Baths in Virgin Gorda. Here, you will find a stunning maze of massive, smooth boulders piled atop each other, all nestled on the white sand and in pristine Caribbean waters. This picturesque spot is a true natural wonder, with volcanic and granite boulders, some as large as 40 feet. Believed to be created by molten rock seeping up into existing volcanic rock layers and slowly cooling to form a hard granite layer, the rocks are unlike anything anywhere else. Secret cathedral rooms, rock pools and grottos are fun to explore and offer the perfect backdrop for photos. Adventure through the cave system and end up at Devil’s Bay beach, an idyllic spot with views of the ocean and rock formations. There is great snorkeling as well, with tons of vibrant parrot fish, triggerfish, angel fish and the occasional turtle!

Virgin Gorda is part of the British Virgin Islands and can be visited via ferry, or even better, on a day trip with a local charter company.  Cruz Bay Watersports and Bad Kitty both offer group day trips to this incredible spot, or book a private boat with companies like Ocean Runner, Island Roots, Palm Tree Charters, Love City Excursions, Rock Hoppin’ Adventures and more!

We suggest that you bring a sense of adventure, sunscreen, a waterproof camera, mask and snorkel and possibly water shoes for climbing rocks and exploring! Have fun and be sure to share your photos with us by tagging #destinationstj!

Must See: Annaberg Ruins

St. John is so full of rich, cultural history. The VI National Park and Friends of the VI National Park have done an incredible job preserving and protecting this history, as well as providing education and knowledge about our islands.  One of our favorite historical sites on St. John is Annaberg Plantation, the ruins of a plantation from 1780 that was one of 25 active sugar, rum and molasses producing factories on St. John. These ruins are the most intact sugar plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands, and also serve as a reminder of the difficult livelihood for the slaves who built and worked at the plantation. Today, the ruins are protected by the VI National Park and are open to the public to learn about, enjoy and explore.  Placards and signs are dotted throughout the property, allowing you to take a self-guided walking tour through the site, describing how sugar was produced, what plantation life involved and the history behind sugar plantations on St. John. 

The windmill, pictured here, is one of the focal points of the plantation ruins and was built sometime between 1810 and 1830. The ruins also include a fairly intact factory, horse mill, slave quarters, kettles and other structures associated with sugar production.  There are many cultural activities that take place at Annaberg, ranging from demonstrations of baking “dumb bread” to basketweaving. Often times you will also find a local selling coconut water or doing demonstrations with calabash carvings. There are also a range of special events that take place at the site, like this week’s Full Moon Yoga and Meditation.  Be sure to check the Virgin Islands National Park, The Visitor’s Center in Cruz Bay, or the Friends of the VI National Park event page for upcoming seminars, classes and special events. 

Make sure to take carve out time on your trip to do either a self-guided tour or book a tour with a park ranger to explore the Annaberg Plantation. Located near Leinster Bay, Waterlemon Cay and Francis Bay, you can combine a beach day with a fun, educational sightseeing option! 

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Visit: Jost Van Dyke

soggy dollar bar original painkiller hendo's hideout

With New Year’s Eve parties still in the forefront of our minds, it’s a perfect time for us to tell you about the gem of an island called Jost Van Dyke. Famous for it’s “Old Year’s Night” parties, the legend Foxy himself, Soggy Dollar Bar and a slew of other local celebrities and must-see spots, Jost Van Dyke is the perfect place to day trip from St. John.

Whether you take a daysail to Jost Van Dyke on boats like Kekoa or Cruz Bay Watersports, rent a boat for the day, and make this an item on your itinerary, or take the ferry, Jost Van Dyke shouldn’t be missed. Jost Van Dyke is four miles by three miles, with a population of around 300 people. The two main attraction spots are Great Harbour and White Bay, though Little Harbour and Foxy’s Taboo/the east end of the island are great spots to visit also. Great Harbor is where the ferry comes in, as well as where you would clear customs on a day trip. This sleep little beach is dotted with bars, the most famous being Foxy’s Bar. Foxy Callwood himself has been singing and playing music at his bar since the 60’s, and has become an iconic part of the island. New Year’s Eve/Old Year’s Night brings thousands of people to the beach to party, filling the harbor and creating quite the party scene.

Over the hill to the west lies White Bay, an idyllic white sand beach with hammocks, beach chairs and bar after bar. Most famous is The Soggy Dollar Bar, home of the original painkiller and a great spot for drinks and passing the time. Further down the beach are a few other local favorite spots including Jewel’s Snack Shack, Gertrude’s, Seddy’s One Love, Coco Loco and more. To the East of Soggy Dollar is a new spot, Hendo’s Hideout, a beautifully designed bar and restaurant that has great food, island cocktails and a fantastic vibe. A short hike to the far east part of the beach will take you to Ivan’s Stress Free Bar (the name says it all), a quintessential island beach bar that shouldn’t be missed!

Whether it’s the turquoise waters, painkillers or adventure that entices you, we encourage you to plan for a day trip to Jost while you visit. Our staff can help you determine the best options to ensure a great day for your group! We’re excited to hear about your experience!

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