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!


  • 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,

Must Try: Stand Up Paddling

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Stand up paddling, also known as SUP, is a super cool, popular activity these days and St. John is the perfect spot to do it!

If you’re not familiar with stand-up paddling, the board is like an oversized surf board and you stand (or some beginners kneel). Balancing on the board in a standing position, you use a long paddle to propel the board over the water. It engages all your muscles, especially the core, and is a great activity on the water.  Our crystal clear waters make this fun sport all the more inviting, as you are not only getting a workout, but you’re able to see the bottom and often spot sea life such as turtles. A bit more information about SUP here and here.

There are so many amazing spots to paddle board, allowing you to explore and adventure on the water! We love to visit Hurricane Hole and paddle around the various bays, exploring the mangroves and amazing habitat, as well as paddling the calm bays of Maho Bay, Francis Bay, Salt Pond Bay and other spots. The New York Times shared a great piece about paddle boarding on St. John. 

There are a handful of great companies on island that will either rent boards or take you on a guided SUP tour:

Arawak Expeditions: The super experienced team at Arawak can take you on a guided SUP and snorkel tour in Hurricane Hole, a Virgin Islands National Monument. It’s a must see! They also offer Night SUP tours, as well as lessons and rentals. Arawak also does kayak tours, fly fishing and other excursions. Their office is located in Mongoose Junction.

Cinnamon Bay Watersports: With a cute watersports hut located steps from the pristine Cinnamon Bay beach, you can’t go wrong with renting a SUP here. Their knowledgable staff can help you find the right board and even give you some pointers. They also rent everything from Hobie Cats and windsurfing gear! 

SUP St. John: This company has a slew of information on their website, and offers board rentals, night paddling, GoPro rental and a handful of lessons and options.

VI Ecotours: With a shop location at Honeymoon Beach (accessible from the water or via Caneel Bay Resort or the Lind Point Trail), VI Ecotours rents paddleboards. The location at Honeymoon is ideal for paddling, with calm, turquoise waters and plenty to explore. The concession here also rents kayaks, snorkel gear and conducts kayak tours.  VI Ecotours also offers a SUP Yoga class, combining stand up paddle boarding and yoga to “bring you back to breath, movement and presence, not only on the mat but in your every day life.”

Have you ever stand-up paddled? We’d love to hear you experience, and don’t forget to share any pictures on social media by tagging #DestinationSTJ!

Local Fruits We Love

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There’s nothing that can make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean quite like taking a bite of a piece of delicious, sun-ripened tropical fruit! Exotic, tropical fruits are fun to find and enjoy during your visit! We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites here:

Genip – This summer fruit is a local favorite, and if you’re here in the summer months, you’ll see it for sale in Cruz Bay, and children running around with branches laden with the little fruits. The green fruits grow in clusters on branches, and have a rough, thick skin.  You’ll want to bite the skin/outer shell, cracking it open to get the fruit inside. The fruit itself has a tart, tangy taste and soft texture similar to it’s cousin the lychee. You don’t eat or chew it – it’s best to suck the creamy pulp off the hard seed. Discard the seed and go back for more!

Sugar Apple – This tropical fruit grows on small trees or shrubs and is round with a very lumpy skin. They’re greenish brown and the flesh inside is white. This lumpy, seedy fruit is tricky to eat but well worth it. The flesh around the seeds is sweet and delicious, resembling custard. Break the sugar apple in two and eat with a spoon, making sure not to eat the seeds – spit these out!

Passion Fruit – Yet another seedy fruit, this one is tart and tangy! The passionfruit vine produces gorgeous flowers that produce a round fruit about the size of a tennis ball that ranges in color from green to purple. Slice it open and you’ll find tons of black seeds and a vibrant orange pulp. The seeds are edible and crunchy. Enjoy the fruit spooned over yogurt, ice cream or other sweets, or try a local favorite where you add lots of sugar and water through a sieve to create delicious passionfruit juice that’s tart and sweet!

We have additional favorites like Mango, Key Lime, Coconut, Guava and more. Read about them here!

Did you enjoy any local fruits on your trip? If so, be sure to snap a photo and tag them #DestinationSTJ

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


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.

Visit One of the Top Beaches in the World

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St. John is home to LOTS of gorgeous white sand beaches. So many, in fact, that you can visit a different beach each day of your week-long vacation and still not hit every one.

One of the most popular beaches is Trunk Bay, voted Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World and often included in best beach stories by travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. It’s pretty unanimous that Trunk Bay is a must-visit beach on St. John, and that St. John is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Caribbean.

This little strip of heaven features a 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail and .3 miles of beach to walk on and accessible paths and beach ramps. Donated by Laurence Rockefeller over 50 years ago, Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, with the beach, coral reefs and waters preserved by the park. It’s pristine beach, warm water and silky sands make it one of the most sough-after beaches on St. John.

To help preserve the beach and snorkel trail, there is a $5 per person day-use fee to enter the beach. Life guards are on duty daily. Amenities include snack shack, bar, snorkel gear rentals, a beach shop, restrooms, and showers.

Enjoy a day at Trunk Bay, or some of our other favorite beaches including Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay! What beach was your favorite?  We’d love for you to share your experience in the comments, or tag beach photos with #DestinationSTJ and we’ll repost and share!

Local Dining: Fresh Fish

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We’re often asked about where to eat fresh fish on island and we love the island-inspired fish dishes that are offered at The Longboard. With a healthy menu focused on seafood, you can’t go wrong dining at this bright, upbeat Cruz Bay restaurant.

The Longboard, which opened in March 2015, celebrates the adventurous yet laid back ocean lifestyle of the islands and draws inspiration from coastal cuisines around the globe. Head Chef Kenny Claxton and owners Clint Gaskins and Tyler Beckstead bring a fresh approach to dining on St. John with incredible flavors and offerings. Located on the stretch of road between Connections and the Post Office (across from Rhumblines), The Longboard has certainly brightened Cruz Bay with a cheery, surf-themed spot that is sure to draw you in for a drink and some memorable eats.

Some of our favorite dishes include Ahi Poke, with fresh chunks of ruby red Ahi tuna, avocado, mango, in a spicy sesame soy sauce topped with scallions.  Not to be missed are the tacos or bowls – your choice of a house made corn tortilla, local Josephine’s greens or a quinoa and rice blend. The choices make it hard to pick, but we always go for the Grilled Pescado – it’s the fresh grilled daily catch with pickled red onion, jalapeño, baby arugula, mango and guacamole! We love it on a corn taco, but you can’t go wrong. There are also a lot of great gluten free and vegetarian options. Check out their Instagram for nightly menu specials that feature fresh catches, local and exotic vegetables and more!

AND, don’t miss the DRINKS. Make sure to try the Frozen Painkillers on tap (yes – Frozen. Painkiller. and it’s $5 at Happy Hour!) and the Passion Fruit Frosé, a delightful concoction of rosé wine and passion fruit, frozen and perfect. We also love their inspired cocktail list with house made sodas like ginger beer, grapefruit and lemonade.  Our go to: The Heart & Sol, a tropical blend of grilled pineapple and jalapeño infused reposed tequila, Grand Marnier, lime, Thai basil, pineapple. honey syrup with a smoked sea salt rim!

Grab a table (arrive early, the place opens at 3pm and fills up fast!), enjoy the tropical music and surf videos playing behind the bar, and watch the Cruz Bay scene as you sip a frozen Painkiller.

Dining at the Longboard during your stay? Share a photo of your favorite drink or dish by tagging #destinationSTJ on Instagram!

Coral Bay Itinerary

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While Cruz Bay often gets all the glory, we LOVE Coral Bay. We have a few amazing homes in Coral Bay with stunning views, including the delightful Coconut Breeze villa, that has perfect views of the harbor and beyond!

We love the laid back vibe and island atmosphere in Coral Bay. Whether you’re staying at one of our villas at that end of the island, or closer to Cruz Bay, we highly recommend a “Coral Bay Day.” We’ve put together a fun little itinerary for you as a guide to some of the best spots to be sure to visit:

1- Head over to Triple B (standing for Babes, Brunch, Bay) for one of the best breakfasts on island (or anywhere for that matter). These ladies really know how to do brunch, with amazing Benedict, homemade sausage, incredible homemade scones and the best huevos rancheros we’ve ever had. AND they use Josephine’s local organic greens. Sit at a picnic table and enjoy the ocean breeze.

2- Give yourself some time to digest, then from there, drive out to Salt Pond Bay. You’ll park at the top and take a short walk down to the beach. It’s a gorgeous white sand beach, with great snorkeling off the point. 

3- If you’re feeling ambitious, we recommend the Ram’s Head hike (we’ve talked about it before here). It’s not too rigorous, and it boasts beautiful views and some great exercise.

4- When you’re hungry again, head back to Coral Bay and stop at the famous Skinny Leg’s for a burger (their specialty) or Indigo Grill for fish tacos pizza or “Island Zing” jerk seasoned tater tots to name a few. 

5- Enjoy great, eclectic shopping while you’re in Coral Bay, including stopping at the new Mermaid Cove next to Pickles, Sloop Jones and Island Muse across from Skinny Legs. There are a number of shops at the Coccoloba Plaza and next to Shipwreck Landing.

Did you visit Coral Bay and any of these spots on your vacation? Share pictures with us by tagging #DestinationSTJ on Instagram.