Waterlemon & Leinster Bay

Waterlemon & Leinster Bay, St. John USVI

All I have to say is, “WOW.” I think Waterlemon Bay is the BEST beach in St. John. That’s a tough act to follow considering all the gorgeous beaches of my beloved island.

Now, it’s a bit of a hike. I would say about a 1/2 mile. It starts at Leinster Bay. There is limited parking and it fills up very quickly. The best time to come is first thing in the morning to avoid any crowd and to get yourself a nice little parking spot.

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Start of trail, overlooking Leinster Bay

The hike and views are just captivating. Numerous Cacti and native plants surround the trail with the gorgeous view of Tortola and the Sir Francis Drake Channel off on the horizon. It’s also an easy hike. There are not many inclines or declines. The distance walking here is definitely well worth it. You can trust me, my friends. I will NEVER steer you wrong.

Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes because the trail is a bit rocky, but maintained pretty well by the National Park.

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Beautiful cactus lining the hiking tail

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Another view of the water and the Sir Francis Drake Channel

As you continue along your journey, just take a deep breath and capture all the beauty that is around you. Leinster bay meeting Waterlemon, ahhhhhhhhh.

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Portion of the trail along your path

Eventually. You will end up at this gorgeous beauty of Waterlemon. Find yourself a nice little spot, sit down, mellow out, and take it all in. Hope you didn’t forget your snorkel gear. The snorkeling is
INCREDIBLE!

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View of beach

I love this beach because it has such a natural feel.
There is hardly anyone around (if you get here early enough) and it feels totally untouched by humans.

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Shot of the beach with Waterlemon Cay off to the right, the Cay offers the best snorkeling

The beach is a little rocky, however the water is turquoise, calm, and clear. It’s nestled around my favorite friends the mangroves.

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Leinster Bay

Look at how clear the water is here!

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Waterlemon wonderful!

It was the best snorkeling of our trip! With a few baby sea turtles in the mix and gorgeous fish.

If you are looking for an untouched natural beauty beach and don’t mind a bit of a walk, this is well worth it.

My favorite of all the beloved St. John beaches!

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A true gem of St. John

Crabby’s Coral Bay ~ St. John USVI

Crabby’s Watersports

Coral Bay, St. John USVI

If you want to snorkel around St. John and are looking for some equipment to rent…..

Crabby’s is the place to get your gear from. There is no need to look anywhere else.

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out front of Crabby’s in Coral Bay, St. John

For just $25 bucks for the week. You can rent yourself some snorkeling gear so you are able to snorkel to your heart’s content on all of the gorgeous beaches around the fabulous island. Including, Waterlemon Cay, which is my favorite. Hey, if you aren’t the adventurous type. Why not snorkel in your villa’s pool? Haha!

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One of the fabulous St. John beaches

Crabby’s also rents kayaks and other water-sporting gear. Did you forget to bring your underwater camera? Well… You can purchase one here! You will definitely want to take pictures of your snorkelicious journey with all the amazing water wildlife around you on your island adventure.

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Crabby sign

Also, you can book a charter boat to tour around the island, a sunset cruise, or go island hopping to the British Virgin Islands and see German men in their speedos. Yuck (I did see them in Jost Van Dyke though).

It was hot! Not!

Crabby’s has a lot of unique offerings. Definitely check it out of you are staying in St. John.

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Love Coral Bay’s sense of humor. It is all over the place!

As the sign says above, “Have a Crabby Day.”

There’s really nothing crabby about these folks. They are actually pretty nice. However, I appreciate the Coral Bay humor.

As you can see… They “maybe” will be open at these times, haha.

Sometimes Paradise… Is Just Not Paradise …When You’re In The Dark.

Sometimes Paradise… Is Just Not Paradise …When You’re In The Dark.

The Yummygal tends to get caught in a little snafu from time to time. Usually, it’s quite hilarious. I’m one of those nutbags who always over packs and does tremendous research prior to any engagement.

I recently ran into trouble here in the states on an adventure. I had to call 911 (in which I never called before). I will air the story in the future and explain the details.

However, I have been out almost every single day exploring our area. There are great posts to come on fantastic museums and unique places which are extremely economical, if not free. I know some of you folks are hurting from this tough economy and I’m trying to show you an exciting array of activities you can do without busting your wallet.

Read below for the funny story about a lesson learned in St. John.

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Cinnamon Bay, St. John USVI= Paradise

 

It was our 2nd night in St. John. “Jane” (not her real name) and I had just gotten back from dinner and it was still light out. We decided it would be an excellent (stupid) opportunity to walk to Coral Bay (including the Skinny Legs area) to take pictures of the firehouse and police station.

We brought a flashlight from the villa with us.

You know just in case, right?

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It’s getting dark in paradise

By the time we got to the school near the restaurant, it was dark. No worries, there were street lights on so we walked to Skinny Legs than turned around to head back to the villa.

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Coral Bay Fire Truck

We were not prepared on what we would encounter. We got to the villa road and we literally couldn’t see inches in front of us. Most roads in St. John don’t have street lights since electricity is about 4 times the cost of the mainland. The lighting they have is horrible to begin with. Street lights are predominantly on the major roads. Most villas are not on the major roads.

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Police Station

We got out the flashlight, it didn’t help at all. The two of us were walking literally hand to hand at this point.

If anyone has ever encountered the back roads of St. John, they are deadly. They are not paved, rocky, go up and down very steep inclines, and there are massive crater potholes in some areas. I’m talking meteorites just landed sort of potholes.

We thought we were destined to:

A) break a bone,
B) fall, sprain an ankle,
C) get attacked by the wildlife,

or all of the above.

We actually discussed all of these possibilities in full detail.

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The literal walking nightmare

I have never been in such darkness in my life to where you can’t see ANYTHING in front of you.

We relied on a flash of a camera about every couple of feet. Slowly walking one step at a time.

I believe the road is about a half mile to a mile long. We heard lots of rustling in the woods. Perhaps, goats or donkeys? Bats were flying all around us (the only mammal that is native to St. John, btw).

The tree frogs were croaking away. It was scary and funny at the same time.

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The road using flash from my camera to see

I thought about calling our villa owners because I know they would have come and gathered us, but we were determined to do it alone. Jared our villa owner is awesome. He owns Starlit Escape Villa, but if starlit isn’t your cup of tea, he also manages other properties on the island and they are just as reasonable.

It’s best to work with folks on the island in case you ever run into situations such as this. Which is why I strongly suggest working with the Starlit folks.

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What the heck is in front of us?

We were literally shocked when we got to the villa unharmed. No sprained knee or fall.

Folks, if walking around St. John at night, make sure you have a strong bright flashlight. It’s exceptionally dark especially if not a full moon. You are surrounded by a jungle-like canopy because the island is mostly a National Park. This also applies to some areas of Cruz Bay.

It was a lot of fun in some ways. We learned our lesson and drove at night everywhere from there on out.

You can laugh at me, it’s okay.

Francis Bay is where I want to spend the day :)

Francis Bay

St. John USVI

I enjoy Francis Bay, in St. John because it is a little farther out of the way and off the main “beach road” of the National Park. Which means.. Ding! Ding! Ding! Less of a crowd.

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See no people….hear no people my friends

The best parking is at the beginning of the Francis Bay Trail entrance. It’s a short hike down to the beach and a definite to see. The trail is pretty shaded so it’s not too hot.

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Ruins at Francis Bay

Continue walking the trail, you’ll soon end up seeing these ruins to your right. Only look, don’t touch. They aren’t that stable to hold your skinny butt. It is awesome to see a bit of history amongst your short hike to Francis Bay.

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More ruins along the Francis Bay Trail with use of the native stone bluebitch. Yes, it is the true name of the stone my friends.

As you stroll down further to your left, you will notice an old salt pond that they used back in the day as a ways to dry the precious mineral. Salt was a huge commodity since it was used to preserve meat before refrigeration… Kind of crazy how far we’ve come along in such a short time, eh?

You are getting close my friends…

Eventually, you will come out along this clearing with a few picnic tables to sit at for your pleasure.

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My manly Mangroves.

These picnic tables are about the only facilities here. Make sure you pack accordingly. Snorkeling to the right is probably the best spot here. Near the rocks.

Francis Bay is a bit rockier than the others. However, it’s EXTREMELY calm and sheltered well on each side. Making this an AWESOME snorkel location. It’s a pretty long beach which makes it ideal because you can almost always find a great spot to sit at.

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Francis Bay

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A friend I met at Francis Bay

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My sailboat out there in the distance

This is a great kid friendly beach. A lot of fun and pure St. John tranquility at it’s best.

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My Francis Bay Artwork. It is worth a Million Dollars, fyi.

This is “Jane” and I putting our trademark on Francis Bay. I used rocks from the bay for this masterpiece.

It seems like a common artistic occurrence here. Leave your “mark” when you are here!

Definitely put it on your list for something off the beaten path for your exploration of the beloved island.

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A man swimming or twiddling his thumbs, not sure.

This is probably one of the lesser crowded beaches of all of St. John’s north shore, but just as beautiful.

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True Splendor

If you really take a look at my photos and other blogs I have posted. You can really see how unique each beach is in St. John. Every single beach you see, the more and more you will fall in love with the island. It’s pretty much how it goes.

There will also be many other beaches featured on my site in the next few weeks.

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See you again soon my little buddy!

St. John has my heart forever.

She will capture yours with love at first sight. I can bet you on that!

“BREATH” of St. John~ A ship that has captivated the soul of it’s people.

The sailing ship, “BREATH” of St. John USVI

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The beauty of St. John~ Breath

If anyone has ever seen this ship, it is one word. Breathtaking. “Breath is life. It is very important to us all. This boat was going to be our life.” As said by Dorothy Muilenberg. Captain Peter Muilenberg’s 1st mate and soul mate. Dorothy incorporated the yoga style of breathing which was an influence to where the ship received its name.

The sailing ship Breath has had a long colorful history. The ship has been in existence in St. John for over 30 years. At 50 feet, it is the longest ship ever made on the island. The Breath was completely handcrafted, by a local resident, Peter Muilenberg. And assisted by the dedicated people of St. John.

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The Captain hard at work on the ship.

In 1968 at only 23 years old, Captain Peter Muilenberg and his wife, Dorothy, arrived on St. John. Looking forward to starting their new life together-they chose St. John as their home, “Because it was beautiful. The snorkeling was great in many places. We both found teaching jobs in the public school,” said Dorothy. If they only knew what great things the future would hold and the profound impact they would bestow on their fellow St. Johnians!

Prior to building Breath, Peter had only built a dinghy. Dorothy says, “He loved to do wood work.”

His inspiration came from the design of the boat of a Venus designed ketch. “These boat standards were very high and shipyards would have cost too much. It was the only way we could get it.” Dorothy said. One influence was the ship named the Moon. It was built and owned by John and Gillene Frith of Bermuda. They sailed her for years with their three children. Also another inspiration, the designer, Paul Johnson, built and sailed Venus Ketches of several sizes. In the mid 1960’s, Paul created quite a ruckus in Bermuda and everywhere he went with his small ship. Dorothy says, “The Venus Ketches are inspired by Colin Archers, A Norwegian double ended rescue boat.”

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Picture of Breath construction.

Peter began to seek out his master plan. He mapped out how he was going to build the ship. He obtained the site at the East End of St. John and arranged for the transport of materials and the shipping of those materials. Captain Muilenberg received two masts of pine trees by navigating the St. John crew on an early barge which came from Jacksonville, Florida. The hull is made out of fiberglass. The boat is made out several different varieties of wood. Including; Yellow pine, teak, purple heart, angelique and lignum vitae.

It took over 3 and 1/2 years to complete this gorgeous vessel. Upon it’s completion, over 200 St. John volunteers assisted in placing the ship in the bay.

Breath has sailed all over the world with the whole family in tow. Including, two boys and a belgian dog called a Schipperke which is referred to as, “the Tasmanian black devil.”

Breath was instrumental in the shipment of antibiotics to Haiti during the 94′ embargo. To aid children suffering from serious hunger and death because of an extremist military rule on the island.

She has sailed to such places as the Mediterranean, Africa, and South America.

In 2001, she had a little accident on the north shore reef off the coast of the little island of Inagua, Bahamas. This area houses a large reef extending almost a mile in all directions of the island. Breath got caught in this reef and it nearly destroyed the ship. It was extremely expensive in trying to get the ship back home. Not only could the owners afford to transport the ship back to St. John. They had no idea how to rescue her. The folks of St. John all banded together to bring this girl home. Fundraising efforts were held and the money raised enabled the citizens to bring the ship back to its original condition again.

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The accident in Inagua, Bahamas.

It was estimated that it cost over $30,000 to repair Breath. The total interior of the ship was completely rehabilitated.

Once again, the citizens of St. John worked diligently together and were able to restore the Breath back to her original pristine condition.

A St. John resident and one of the captains of Breath, Jared Warren, has aided in the maintenance of the ship for the last decade. Jared started working for Peter in late 1999 just before New Year’s Eve. One day the ship got caught in a nasty squall which resulted in the breakage of the gaff boom. Thus, Captain Jared learned how to build spars. The technique is the same for all spars of wood.

The technique to rebuild and maintain “Breath” was passed onto Jared by Captain Muilenberg himself. He helped in the replacement of the gaff boom. The technique included first making a square, then octagonal, and ending with rounding it off and tapering it. “If you don’t do that, it will never be straight”, says Jared.

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The rebuilding of the ship.

“When it was time to rebuild the masts, I had a lot of experience repairing the masts on Breath. We used a combination of the classic techniques and I also adapted my own experience in the design. Getting the right material (wood) was part of what dictated my design. Once we knew what we were getting, I drew a plan and we built it. Peter oversaw the build”, says Jared. Using these particular techniques they have perfected the art of rebuilding the masts.

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Picture of Jared, left. The guy in the middle is current captain, Colin Hanson. The man in the back is Roy Proctor. Hard at work building the masts.

Jared had lived on Australia and his visa was about to expire. This is his story of what brought him to the beloved St. John. He says, “I went back to the states and did not want to be there any more. I went into a bookstore (before the internet was really kicking) and went to the travel section. I was young and impatient and felt I could move anywhere. So after about 2 minutes, I chose a Caribbean book. A minute later I found St John; National Park, sailing. No visa required. I was in St John 2 weeks later.”

Reminiscent of Peter and Dorothy, Jared and wife Angie moved here as a young couple fresh out of college. Jared had been living on the island and Angie came to St. John on vacation. They fell in love at first sight. They later married and have set out on a new adventurous journey with one another. They worked hard to survive on the tough expensive island of St. John.

Captain Jared is a man of many talents. Not only is he a pineapple farmer, real estate agent, captain and gardener. He is also a member of the famous St. John band, called, The “Ish.” His wife Angie works as part of a production company on the island. She is also owner of one of the best eateries called Sam and Jack’s Deli. Jared and Angie co-own a fabulous villa on the island called, Starlit Escape. They enjoy renting out this villa to their special guests.

Jared and Peter have been great coworkers over the years. They have also formed a special bond and relationship with one another.

“After our first long cruise to the States, we decided we wanted to live in East End. The first charters were out of there.” The Muilenbergs stated. It has continued as a charter since then. It is currently based out of the Coral Bay area.

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The folks that made Breath possible.

I asked Captain Jared Warren to share some interesting stories about when he chartered and worked on Breath. This is a summary on what had to say, “We had intellectuals, rednecks, accountants you name it. I remember some good and some bad things. The good, we did a trip for a bachelorette party. 14 or 15 girls. The dinghy broke in the middle of the trip so when we went to shore at Peter Island, which is pretty fancy, some of the girls did not want to swim. So my mate Fletch and I had to put on fins and push the dinghy with 10 girls in it to shore. Of course the high end resort did not like this arrival. They still took our cash. I guess that is good and bad, but it is a memory for sure. Also remember a few times with some seriously overweight folks who we had to physically get in and out of the boat and dinghy. You have to dig deep for humility when you have most of your upper body in someones lower half lifting them on the boat from below. We had some circus performers once who went up the ratlines and did acrobatics in the rig. That was cool.”

Jared and Angie Warren still continue their legacy on St. John today.

In 2011, the Muilenberg family bid a final farewell to their beloved beauty. Captain Muilenberg has been battling Parkinson’s disease and they decided it was time to say goodbye to Breath.

They sold the ship to a family that is set on preserving the integrity and history of this beautiful sailing vessel.

It must have been extremely bittersweet to sell their baby, Breath. Many memories, adventures, and special moments in raising a family have occurred onboard of the Breath, the last few decades. It was the family’s entire livelihood.

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Construction of Breath

Also, Dorothy has spent two full-term pregnancies onboard Breath. As a woman who has been through a pregnancy myself, I can’t imagine how she got around on the ship. She put total trust in her husband to get her ashore safely when she was in labor. All I have to say is God bless them both. Peter tells of a great story about the birth of their son Diego. This is included in many excerpts he has written.

Breath is a ship that is sacred to St. John. It holds a unique place in it’s history. If you go to St. John you’ll have to see this magnificent sailing creature. Take her out on an exciting sailing charter adventure! You’ll be glad you did.

Also, check out their books called, Adrift On A Sea Of Blue Light which has been a top seller and his new release as of June 30th, A Sea Dog’s Tale. Captain Peter Muilenberg offers extremely witty and heartfelt stories about his adventures at sea on Breath. He is a captivating storyteller. Best of all, Peter and Dorothy brought much inspiration to all they’ve encountered in both their travels at sea and their life at home on the most magnificent island of St. John.

The Muilenbergs recently moved to Florida to be closer to their grandchildren and to have better access to healthcare for the Captain. St. John will ALWAYS remain part of their legacy.

How the story came to be:

I reached out to Jared Warren (former captain of Breath) as you read about him in the story. He was kind enough to reach out to author and Captain Peter Muilenberg (Creator and Captain of Breath) and his wife Dorothy. I wanted to provide the most accurate information as possible and write about Breath because it is so very special to St. John. I want to thank everyone for their kindest cooperation in bringing this story to life and for providing the beautiful pictures.

Hiking the Brown Bay Trail, St. John USVI

The Brown Bay Trail

St. John USVI
Starts on the East End of St. John

 

 

This trail was surprisingly a little tougher than we expected. Us girls are fairly fit and at times we were huffing and puffing. Due to the heat it makes it a bit more difficult.

 

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The Brown Bay Sign

It starts out on Route 10 past Coral Bay (after the Donkey Diner and Skinny Legs).

As you’re driving, look to your left for a place to park with the sign. There is also a National Park Rangers gun range on the premises of where you will park. Make sure you don’t walk left. Follow the trail to the right.

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shot of Brown Bay from the East End

Unless, you want to get shot..then by all means go left and …after you.

WEAR YOUR HIKING SHOES AND BRING WATER.

The trail almost immediately travels uphill.

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“Jane” on the trail

Eventually, you will come to a clearing such as this…..

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Brown Bay is a beauty, baby!

It will slowly begin to descend. Be very cautious. There are a lot of sticker bushes to the sides of the trail. Also, a lot of pointed slippery rocks sticking up through the path. It’s a sprained knee to be paradise. If you aren’t careful. This trail isn’t maintained too well by the National Park.

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Getting close to the mangroves

Follow the trail to the Brown Bay sign… Keep going. Walk straight through the mangroves until you hit the beach.

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We are almost there! Obviously!

The mangroves…you made it my tired friends…

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Brown Bay Mangroves

You’ll want to walk through these guys.

Eventually, you will come upon this natural beauty. Brown Bay. A Snorkeler lover’s paradise.

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She’s a treat!

There’s a lot of sea grass here. As well as conchs and lots and lots of fish.

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FYI, was very respectful to this living creature. Only had him out of the water for a few seconds so that he did not dry out

There were loads and loads of conchs on this beach! And tons of awesome fish in the water! Definitely bring your snorkel gear!

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Conchs at Brown Bay!

This beach is very private since it’s quite a ways to walk to and undisturbed in it’s natural setting.

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Took this on my Ipad

And another shot….

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Nice and private on St. John.

It was one of the better hikes on this trip and a lot of fun. We definitely had a nice workout!

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Brown Bay Beach a natural beauty

The only thing that sucks is the hike back! Hahahahahahaha

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Have fun!

And this is the better part of the trail. If you are not in shape. I do not recommend this trail.

As always, have fun on your exploration on the beautiful island of St. John!

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Another gorgeous shot

Sahara Dust Storms and the impact on the Caribbean

Sahara Dust Storms and the impact on the Caribbean

 

Have you ever noticed upon your travels to the Caribbean that it looks a bit “hazy” on certain days? Most people think it’s just the humidity. However, the haze is actually from dust that has come from the Sahara desert.

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The haze in Coral Bay Valley, St. John

Tons of this dust moves westward on a yearly basis into the Atlantic and Caribbean in response to summer storms and the warmer air.

The dust can travel as high as 15,000 feet above the desert and then it is pushed towards the Atlantic. With the westward winds.

They can actually keep track of these “storms” via satellite. It’s pretty neat seeing the images.

It’s impact on the Caribbean and Atlantic isn’t only haze, but the dust contains pathogens which are invading into the water and killing off coral reefs.

Coral reefs are the home of millions of aquatic life. Not sure if you’ve ever snorkeled and have seen that the coral reefs may look somewhat “bleached.” You can actually see this at the underwater snorkel trail at Trunk Bay.

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Picture of Trunk Cay where the underwater snorkel trail resides

The bleaching is from environmental stress. Due to the pathogens in the Saharan dust and other environmental factors like pollution.

There are pluses and minuses to the dust. In terms of the Amazon, it provides essential nutrients to the tree canopy in the rainforest.

This dust hits the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean pretty badly. To where they are actually sweeping tons of this sediment off of their boats or using vacuums to suck it up on certain days.

So when it’s a pretty hazy day in the Caribbean you know it’s a cause of the African desert coming in for a visit. It will still be beautiful my friends and does not linger very long.

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A picture of more haze

Island Blues Coral Bay, St. John

 

 

Island Blues Restaurant & Bar Coral Bay, St. John USVI

Island Blues sits directly on the water at Coral Bay. This is a great little spot. Kat, the bartender ROCKS she’s what makes this place truly special.

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Island Blues at sunset on Coral Bay, ahhhhh.

A young workaholic. She works 6 days a week. Her quirky bubbly personality sets you at ease and she helps to get the fun out of ya. She also is well-versed on the drinks and concoctions she can make. A very energetic, full of life lady, LOVE HER.

We ventured here twice on our trip. One night for drinks. The other for dinner and sat by the bay.

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Dining al fresco on Coral Bay what can be better? Leave all your worries behind.

 

 

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“Jane” and I enjoying an after dinner drink at Island Blues. Yes, I am pale and chunky. I had my son and was around 6 months after birth, okay?

Dinner was pretty good. I ordered a Philly Cheesesteak, since I am always curious how people make it around the country. I’ve actually gone to a place where they actually served a steak with cheese on it.

They did a decent job (born and raised in the Philly area). They made it with a tropical twist.

If you don’t want to eat here. It’s well worth the trip for an after dinner cocktail and to meet Kat. She’s totally cool in my book.

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Kat with her turtle making cigarette tray out of aluminum foil)

 

I don’t smoke, but I definitely admire her artistic abilities.

A great spot to unwind and enjoy your vacation.

Cheers!

Shipwreck Landing, St. John USVI just Coral Bay DeLicious!

Shipwreck Landing is Coral Bay Banging!

St. John USVI
Route 107

I love Shipwreck Landing. Just the drive getting here is just gorgeous along the south shores of St. John. It’s pristine untouched beauty. Absolutely stunning!

Well, I love this restaurant. This was probably the BEST meal I had on the island.

A great casual place with top-notch ingredients and a gorgeous view. Who could ask for anything more?

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The view at Shipwreck, gorgeous!

There’s also a house kitty cat. Don’t be frightened she’s been here since the 90s and is a sweetie. She may brush up on your leg as you are eating, but is harmless.

The gazpacho is to die for. Just enough spice and so refreshing after a nice long beach hopping day!

There are always specials from chef Jim. Like him on Facebook my friends for the daily offerings.

I had this pasta dish with elbow macaroni with cheddar cheese and beef. Holy cow. Was something different then what we even have back at home.

Huge portions, great atmosphere. Well priced food and a great selection of drinks. This is a definite place I will be going to for years to come.

This was my BEST meal on the island. Which is pretty tough considering the food is good!

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Another gorgeous shot of the Shipwreck Landing view

Thanks Chef Jim. For your hard work.

The service is friendly and excellent.

Folks, put this on your list for restaurants to eat at in St. John. You won’t be disappointed!