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November Visit

London, United...
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November Visit

We are here on island , arrived Nov 11 and staying for a month.

Full disclosure, we are owners and have been visiting St John for 23 years, so we re not first timers.

The sight of Cruz Bay usually puts me in a good move. This time as the ferry pulled in and I looked at the boats upturned on the beach and the damage to the little park and surrounding buildings, you knew it was different.

We drove the North shore road yesterday. Climbed Peace Hill and looked about.

Drove on to all the Northe shore beaches , just looking.

Parked at Cinnamon, Walked the beach which was stunning. Not a soul in sight,

Enjoyed a perfect swim in a perfect sea.

No sugar coating here. The damage to the vegetation and tree line is staggering.

The land directly behind Gibney has been terribly damaged.

Crews are working hard at Trunk but it’s still a mess.

The walk down to the beach at Cinnamon was simply mind blowing. The trees have been mangled.

The area behind Maho has been badly damaged, probably the worst of them all.

Hawsnest was lovely, even saw a guy blowing leaves in the parking lot!

Centre line road is passable and pretty safe to drive. Assuming you re watching the road and not being awestruck by the devastation about you.

Now the good news.

The beaches themselves are gorgeous and now wider with most of the vegetation pushed back or down.

The water is perfect and the lack of boats just makes gazing out across the water so much more beautiful.

And there is widespread greenery emerging. Nature is in a race to restore itself and that is happening.

Ground flowers are everywhere , and plant life is thriving.

Restaurants are open ( had a great meal in busy Extra Virgin last night). Grocery stores are well stocked.

You can see the effort underway to clean up. Reinvestment is occurring, and whereas some people are either unable or not inclined to clean up, for the vast majority there is a positive can do effort.

There are debris piles, and some places look like the contents of the house have been spilled out and left.

Is it a sad sight? Yes. Is it dispiriting? Emphatically no.

There are some good people on St John and they re working hard to restore this little gem.

If you plan on coming, do so with the right attitude. It’s not perfect, but there are still a lot of positives.

And for those of us who come often you feel like it is important to see the island through these testing times. It’s hurting, but it’s part of our lives and we just need to do our bit.

17 replies to this topic
Portsmouth, New...
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1. Re: November Visit

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I hope more of those who do head down will do the same and post some pictures for all of us who love the island, plan to return, but cannot be there now. So many of us are hungry for honest appraisals of the current, and evolving, situation. Prayers for all who call St. John home and for Mother Nature to quickly work her magic while caring people work together to mend broken buildings and lives.

Cruz Bay, St. John
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2. Re: November Visit

Thank you Howard. Very well stated.

Pa.
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3. Re: November Visit

Thanks for sharing. Just ready to book for Feb and airfare went from 393 to almost 800, so we might not be able to make it down. Still checking daily and hope to get down there.

Massachusetts
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4. Re: November Visit

Thanks for your post. Like others, I try to imagine what the island is like now, what it would seem like if I was there now. I have my memories and it's hard to understand that they are no longer accurate.

What do you suppose it would seem like to someone who had never been to STJ before, who didn't have memories and attachments? Somebody who was just going there for a nice Caribbean vacation.

Warwick, New York
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5. Re: November Visit

Thanks for this. I'm toying with the idea of a trip down between Christmas and New Years. I'm back and forth with each bit of info I read. This perspective helps. Enjoy the next few weeks.

Smithfield, Rhode...
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6. Re: November Visit

Thanks for your very honest report.

We know we are going to witness “new normal” (for awhile) when we head down in February.

NC
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7. Re: November Visit

Thank you for your realness, heart and calm perspective - the honesty with out all the other, is appreciated! We too are long time visitors and heading down in December to assist friends and where ever else we can. We aided when Katrina hit so we are in full awareness of this type of devastation. No doubt that our sweet Island will rise again and the people of STJ always amaze me with their spirit & tenacity - Thank you for sharing!

Cruz Bay, St. John
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8. Re: November Visit

Very great post and perspective and much appreciated-

The key word he basically used is “right frame of mind”

If you are not a seasoned STJ visitor this is not the time to visit - in my opinion if I was paying for a villa and airfare I would wait till late February, or March.

We all have an idea what our perfect vacation is so there is no wrong or right time to visit - however please keep in mind some villa management companies could mislead you by saying we have power, STJ is almost back to normal -

Sadly were not close to normal. Have we taken many strides to return to the place we all love ? Yes we have ......

A STJ vacation is different to many families and couples.Some prefer the quiet side of Coral Bay and bring their own food down - Some want the closeness of walking to restaurants bars nightlife and the vibe of Cruz Bay

If Cruz Bay is your spot I will be upfront wait to February to visit - Fun places to eat drink and watch the sunset like The Beach Bar & Joes Rum Hut (Love their pizza) are looking like mid January to re-open. The world famous happy hour of Woodys been closed 10 days running no mention when the $2 Coors light will appear (Such a great place to meet new friends,locals and people watch)

Restaurants- indeed some are open but limited hours and Irmaria Hurricane limited menus.

If not for the lineman,outside volunteers and Government agencies the restaurants would sit empty.So keep in mind your going to see more “outsiders” than locals - If you want you fix of locals and sports Dog House Pub won’t disappoint..

At around 7 -7:30 Cruz Bay turns into almost a ghost town and a place where walking around is not recommend as the streets are still dark

Curfew is 11 pm / so keep all the above in mind if planning a trip soon - again this may be ok with you and it might not /

Realistically now most places can’t hire enough service staff or cooks,many left the island and if wanting to come back can’t find a rental place (was hard to find LTR before Irma now it’s near impossible)

Beaches still beautiful water but if Maho was your happy place it now will make you cry

If flying in and delayed the last ferry is 5:30pm

My office is near the airport some days going back to Red Hook Ferry it will take me now 30 minutes but some days up to 1.5 hours

If renting a Jeep on STT your in for a bumpy ride as potholes around STT especially Smith Bay Area are craters

Again we live we thrive on you spending money here

This is not to deter anyone just giving an honest response on what to expect

As I said depends on your frame of mind and what your ideal STJ vacation is .....

I did see yesterday Love For Love City on social media highly recommend not to visit soon

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9. Re: November Visit

Wow,I really appreciate your honesty,thank you!It's positive but realistic.You've addressed many of my concerns when trying to decide the right time to return.A refreshing change from the "Everything almost back to normal" crew on FB,comprised of owners and rental agents that are clearly motivated by greed.Some legitimate concerns have been raised and have been met with ridicule or disdain.Full disclosure is refreshing,thank you for your honest report.Very encouraging.

Long Valley, New...
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10. Re: November Visit

Howard and therealalbundy, thank you both! I so very much appreciate your really thoughtful and thorough insights and perspectives.

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