Top 5 Things that are New to St. John
This last year has been nothing short of interesting with the Hurricanes from last September, but one sliver of silver lining is that there are new things popping up all over the islands. It’s turning into a bit of a re-growth to some degree, and while there are many things that haven’t started their re-building process (cough, Caneel Bay, cough,) the ones that have are putting an emphasis on giving Saint John a new fresh look. With everything that is new to St. John, we thought we’d highlight our 5 top new things on island right now.
As you approach Saint John on that first ferry ride in, there is no denying that feeling of, “ahh, we’re finally here,” a feeling which is buoyed by the site of Wharfside Village filled with Happy Hour goers or the twinkling lights that greet those taking one of the later ferry rides. Well as of late, the action at Wharfisde has been limited heavily to construction work with the exception of High Tide, which is the only full restaurant open as of now. The wine shop, Island cork, is also open on the street side of the complex and has been since November so make sure you stop into these two spots while passing through and support their efforts. Island Cork is one of our favorite stops on the way to dinner, Paul has wines you can’t find anywhere else and delicious cheese and charcuterie boards as well.
That being said, we are so excited to see the facelift that Wharfside is getting from the current owner and are really looking forward to the final product. The upstairs is slated to become short term rentals, and there are a lot of businesses working towards securing a spot in the desired retail and restaurant spaces downstairs. The opening date is set for sometime in November so we are very much looking forward to this new to St. John upgrade that Wharfside is undergoing right now!
New Movie Theater on Saint Thomas!
Okay, this one is for the locals, but this is a big deal. The movie theater re-opened a few weeks ago and after our first visit, we were pretty impressed. It’s not a stateside movie theater by any means, but we also don’t pay stateside prices either. (Think $16 for three adult tickets at a matinee!) But now we have stadium seating, the ability to book your ticket and pick your seat out online, and the concession area is inexpensive and has great popcorn and most of the junk food you could desire when going to a movie in the states! Score one for St. Thomas and all the St. Johnians looking for a little break from our smaller island life!
New Restaurants and New Menus!
After the hurricanes, all the restaurants were scrambling to provide food to locals without power and also to provide meals for the excess of government workers who were here restoring power, and helping us out in the time of most need. Well that started evolving towards new restaurants opening up, old institutions revamping menus, and weekly popup events as well! One of the new restaurants is called Lucky Chops, which is in the old Fish Trap location. I’ve only eaten here once for a real estate meeting, but what we did have was delicious. The Lime Inn completely re-did their menu according to their new head chef’s background, and we love it. They also recently started doing a VERY much sought after Saturday Sushi Night, and we really hope they will start it up again next season (they close the end of August) because it’s so good and we don’t have any options for sushi on Saint John right now. Morgan’s Mango re-opened a few months ago and while their menu is the same, the decor inside is new and fresh and really really beautiful! The Tap Room recently opened in their new space that they’ve been working on for a few years, and with a fresh new pizza oven, it’s a great addition to Mongoose Junction.
We all know Caneel hasn’t begun rebuilding yet, so it’s a really positive and nice thing to see when you drive past The Westin and you see construction workers, landscape crews, and tons of work being done. There are new roofs on almost all of the buildings and with the constant work, we have heard that they are actually on Schedule to open on January 4th, which is their target date. I heard a rumor that the whole resort won’t be open right away, but honestly, we’re so impressed with their progress that its worth noting here. They have done a really great job of jumping to the task and working hard through it all to get the property moving back towards some semblance of normalcy.
The hurricanes last September did a number on our foliage and downed many many trees and ripped up palm trees from the beaches. Since Saint John is primarily National Park and the North Shore beaches are all National Park, any of the foliage that wasn’t native (palm trees especially,) aren’t being replaced and the botany experts have recommended to let nature take care of itself. This has led to everything looking just a tad different. The beaches are a bit wider and more open, and there is less shade from the lack of palm trees. While this seems like solely a bad thing, this does actually allow for native plants to re-grow, including sea grape trees which are a HUGE deterrent for erosion in the park, and beaches like Maho Bay desperately need the seagrapes to grow and help slow the beach erosion. These beaches are all also sea turtle nesting beaches, and more space for these gentle creatures to lay their eggs is definitely a bonus. So bring a tent with you to catch some shade and enjoy your beach day just as you have in the past, it might just look a little bit different on your next trip.