When Pizza Meets Island Life

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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!

The Virgin Islands’ Signature Drink

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There’s nothing quite like a tropical drink to put you into vacation mode. The Virgin Islands are known for a signature drink called the Painkiller. No, it’s no a prescription or medication, but it is the remedy to your worries and will put you on “island time” right away!

You can find this drink at most beach bars in St. John, as well as throughout the Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. It was really made famous by Soggy Dollar Bar in Jost Van Dyke, that claims credit for “The Original Painkiller.” The Longboard on St. John also has Frozen Painkillers on tap!

We wanted to share the recipe with you, so you can get the ingredients while you’re here on island and mix up a batch in your villa during your stay, or make them at home to prolong the euphoria of vacation!

RECIPE:

  • 1 part cream of coconut (Coco Lopez is the most common and cans should be available at the grocery store)
  • 1 part orange juice (no pulp is preferred)
  • 4 parts pineapple juice
  • Rum to taste (careful here!!)
  • Fresh nutmeg

We like to use local Virgin Islands Cruzan Rum, but in the BVI, Pusser’s Rum is the standard! Shake first four ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice, pour into a glass and top with fresh grated nutmeg. St. John Spice in Cruz Bay sells jars of nutmeg pods with little graters – a great essential for vacation and wonderful gifts to take home!

Did you enjoy a painkiller while in St. John? Have you made them at home or in your villa? Share photos with us by tagging #DestinationSTJ!

Happy Vacationing,

Bring Home St. John Art

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Rather than bringing home knick knacks that will collect dust, why not purchase a piece of beautiful art created by a local St. John artist? For such a tiny island, we have a LOT of talent. Maybe it’s the draw of living on a spot of land in the middle of the ocean and the creative, wanderlust-ing types that are attracted to this lifestyle, but St. John has a slew of incredibly talented artists ranging from painters, jewelers and photographers to wood carvers, writers and potters. 

Last year, a young island couple bought Bajo el Sol, a local art gallery, and has since stepped up the local draw and now features St. John artists, as well as those from St. Croix and St. Thomas.  The gallery features only local artists, spotlighting both fledgling and well-established creatives, and hosts a number of exhibits and events to celebrate the culture and arts of the Virgin Islands. You can learn more about their upcoming exhibits and featured artists on their Facebook page

Bajo el Sol is a gem – this little spot is a must see on your vacation, and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with an artistic creation that will be a perfect way to bring home a piece of St. John culture. 

The gallery also participates in Mongoose Junction’s “First Fridays,” a fun event the first Friday of each month, where the beautiful Mongoose Junction shopping center comes alive with local flavor.  Expect live music, drink specials, moko jumbies, sales and special events throughout the evening from 6-9pm.

We also love to find art, pottery, jewelry and other locally made pieces at Donald Schnell Studio, Sloop Jones, Pottery in Paradise, Kimberly Boulon Fine Art Gallery, Coconut Coast Studios and Pink Papaya.

Local Brunch Spots

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Who doesn’t love a good brunch, especially when you’re on vacation and relaxation and lazy days are the daily plan?

On St. John, we have a few excellent brunch options that make for a perfect low-key start to your day. We’ve highlighted them below

Triple B (Babes Brunch Bay)

You don’t want to miss brunch at this super chill Coral Bay spot. Originally a food truck, Triple B is now located inside Oasis and cranks out some of the best brunch eats we’ve ever had. Enjoy delicious items like the Huevos Rancheros (Crispy Corn Tortillas, retired black beans, cheddar, 2 eggs your way, roasted red peppers and house-made jalapeño cilantro crema), The Veg Head (local Josephine’s organic greens with an asparagus and sweet pea salad, poached eggs and house made citrus aioli) or the amazing scone of the day! We also love the homies – yukon gold home fries. There’s also always a daily homie, like homies topic super garlic parmesan butter.

Open Friday-Tuesday, 6am-12pm

Extra Virgin Bistro

We’ve shared our love for this Cruz Bay restaurant before here, but now they do brunch! With some of the best Bloody Mary’s and coffee drinks around, as well as luxe menu items like Short Rib Hash (braised short rib & root vegetable hash, over easy eggs) or the Knuckle Sandwich “Lobster Roll” (home-made english muffin, hand-picked fresh Maine lobster, Old Bay lemon aioli, celery, served with choice of house-made chips or side of fruit). The laid back, breezy spot is totally different during the day and we find ourselves brunching for a solid 3 hours in this spot.

Open Saturday & Sunday 11am-2pm

Rhumblines

This quaint little garden eatery in the heart of Cruz Bay is a beautiful spot during the day, with sunshine, breeze and lush planting. The Caribbean-Thai fusion style is more subtle at lunch than on their dinner menu, but still offers great flavor and a fun twist to brunch.  We love the Tuna BLT – seared (or cooked to whatever temperature you prefer) Ahi tuna on a pita with all the BLT fixings served with a side of Rhumblines’ signature “Indo Fries,” french fries with a spicy, tropical sauce that can’t be beat! There is also a Bloody Mary bar, and you can order bottomless Mimosas (hello, vacation!).

This fun spot was also recently included in a fun NY Times article.

Open Sunday 10am-2pm

Did you visit any of these brunch spots on your vacation? Share them on social media by tagging #DestinationSTJ.

What Locals Love to Do

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Residents of St. John are privy to fun events and activities that are a bit under the radar and not as visible to our island visitors. Lucky for you, we are sharing some of our local knowledge, offering information on some of our favorite St. John happenings. A few of our top insider picks:

Mathayom Private Chefs Full Moon Dinners

Local chef Mathayom caters private events and weddings and creates culinary experiences that are top notch. About a year ago, he started hosting Full Moon dinners, a once a month dinner event that falls on or close to the full moon. The dinners take place at his quaint Windy Level spot just a short drive outside of Cruz Bay.

What to expect?
Each month, the dinners are themed – last month’s theme was “Raw Deal: Uncooked & Cured,” and featured an incredible menu with items like Beet-Cured Salmon, Duck Breast Bacon and more. February’s dinner was themed, “Keep the Romance Alive: Legendary Aphrodisiacs” and featured house-made burrata with local honey and a killer dish, Plantain-Stuffed Scottish Salmon with ginseng-coconut couscous, balsamic-grilled asparagus and a lobster sauce.

Bottom Line: You wont want to miss these fun dinners! Prices are generally $90 for food only, $125 for dinner with wine pairings.

The next dinner is Friday, May 12. You can view the schedule on Facebook.

Strong + Well with Jen Endicott

Surprisingly, St. John doesn’t have a dedicated wellness center or yoga studio, so sometimes finding yoga classes can be a bit of a challenge. We are fortunate to have local yogi Jen Endicott leading incredible classes at the St. John School of the Arts, Gallows Point, The Westin Resort and on the beautiful beach at Cinnamon Bay. You can view her full schedule and locations here. Classes are as challenging or relaxing as you want them to be, so no need to worry about the level of your practice.

What to Expect?
Jen creates not just classes, but beautiful, mindful sessions that are thoughtfully planned and often include a relaxing and uplifting musical playlist.

Bottom Line: Whether you’re at the high-ceiling, breezy School of the Arts location, or soaking up the stunning views at Cinnamon Bay, you’re sure to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being right where you are.

Women Who Wine

Sorry guys, this is for the ladies (though men are always found enjoying the event too)! Every month, DR!NK St. John does a fun evening event called “Women Who Wine.” It includes tastings for a series of highlighted wines – buy a tasting of 3 for $10 or 6 for $20 and sample the featured wines. Buying a tasting enters you in the raffle for fun gift certificates to local businesses. Every event features a product or craft from a local entrepreneur- sometimes jewelry, sometimes skincare or shoes, you name it!

What to Expect?

Usually the events start around 5pm and include a few hours of social fun, shopping the featured trunk show or local business, and sampling fantastic wines.  The raffle is always a plus, with great prizes!

The next event is Friday, May 20th featuring MermaidSwimVI.

Bottom Line:

Mix and mingle with a fun group of local ladies, shop and support a local business and enjoy the stunning sunset views from this spot located overlooking Cruz Bay beach.

Hiking the Reef Bay Trail

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One of the most popular hiking trails on St. John is Reef Bay Trail. Boasting various terrains, archaeological ruins, petroglyphs, a waterfall and a beach, it’s no wonder that visitors and locals alike love this National Park gem.

The beautiful 3-mile (one way, 6 miles round trip) long trail starts just off Centerline Road and takes you down to the beach through a beautiful tropical forrest with lots of highlights along the way!  Descend into the valley, where you’ll see awe-inspiring ruins and some of the largest trees on St. John, including giant Kapok trees. The trail, which is maintained by the Virgin Islands National Park, features signage at various trees and plants to let you know what you’re looking at.

About 3/4 of the way down the trail, you’ll see signs for the petroglyphs and the trail has a spur to the right. You don’t want to miss the freshwater pools and petroglyphs – carvings in the rocks that are believed to be over 1000 year old sacred symbols carved by Taino Indians. If you’re here during rainy season, you may get to witness the 40-foot waterfall that spills into the pools here.

Continue back to the main trail and you’ll soon come across more ruins of a sugar plantation, part of the Reef Bay Estate that was established in the early 18th century. The factory building still includes a lot of original equipment and is one of the best preserved sugar plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands.

Right near the ruins, you’ll find a short sandy path that continues on to the beach where you might enjoy popping in the water to cool off!

Make sure to bring water and snacks, and wear running/hiking shoes. The hike back up can be rigorous! If you want to hike the trail but don’t want the more intense hike back up, you can also go on a guided tour with the VI National Park and take a boat, Sadie Sea, from the bottom back to Cruz Bay for $40. You can visit the Friends of the National Park and book this guided tour here. This is a fun option, and allows you to see a portion of the southside of the island from the water.

The Animal Care Center of St. John

One of the reasons that locals and visitors of St. John love this island so much is for its incredible caring and philanthropic community.  A prime example of this is the St. John Animal Care Center, a non-profit dedicated to the wellbeing and care of homeless, abandoned and abused animals on island. With no official animal control or humane society, the ACC was started with the intention of helping the animals on our little island. You can learn more about the history and evolution of the program here. With the help of a slew of volunteers, donors and much love, the shelter has been able to make great strides, keeping feral animals off the streets and making St. John a better place! The community that makes the ACC possible is to be commended and truly has done so much for the island.

Through programs such as feeding stations, spaying/neutering and an extremely successful adoption program, the ACC has touched the lives of so many animals (and people) with their dedication and efforts. 

While many pets find island homes, over half the adoptions go stateside to their forever homes.  Locals and tourists have donated funds and flown with shelter dogs in order to get them to their new stateside homes. You can read about the story of celebrity dog Moose, who after nearly 5 years at the shelter, found a home with a Boston family.

Right now, the ACC has an online auction that is part of their annual winter gala which is taking place at our lovely Villa Tesori on Saturday, February 4. Villa Tesori, which overlooks Fish, Reef and Monte Bay, is owned by Brian and Lisa Duelfer who do all they can to look out for the well-being of the St. John Animal Care Center. The Duelfers make annual donations to the ACC and donate a percentage of the annual revenue from their villa rentals to the St. John animal shelter and encourage other island vacation homeowners and visitors to join them.

The ACC also has an incredible “VolunTourism” program, where island visitors have the opportunity to lend a hand and walk dogs and visit the cats. Many a visitor can be seen walking the pups around Cruz Bay or helping with daily shelter activities.

We hope that if you are an animal lover, you stop into the ACC during your visit to lend a hand, or to simply give some love to the pups and cats.

Visit: Jost Van Dyke

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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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