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Why You Should Move to the Virgin Islands

It’s a dream of virtually all yet few actually do it.  Moving to the Caribbean  may seem like an unrealistic fantasy however it can be done.  Working at Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club I get asked my story daily: “Why did you move here?” or “How did you move here?”.  How is a longer story but why is much easier to answer.  Here you have a short list of reasons from Huffington Post on why you should move to the Virgin Islands.  While this may not be realistic for everyone we can all come stay a short while!

 

 

 

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July 27, 2012
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July 20, 2012
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July 20, 2012
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July 20, 2012
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Off the Beaten Path Snorkel Spots: Beehive Cove

If you’ve been to St. John before and haven’t heard of Beehive Cove don’t be surprised.  The moderate level of difficulty involved in getting to Beehive Cove prevents many people from going and thereby has allowed the spot remain relatively unharmed from masses of boats, swimmers and snorkelers.  Being on the south side of the island has also assisted in keeping Beehive Cove off of most tourist’s agendas.

Getting to Beehive Cove:

Follow the trail to Donkey Cove aka Donkey Bight

A rental car is a necessity to get to this area of the island.  Head out to Coral Bay and proceed towards Great Lameshur Bay.  You will pass Salt Pond and soon come across a few sections of paved then unpaved road before arriving at Great Lameshur Bay. There you will see a large Tamarind tree to your left.  Park here.

From the car walk to the east end of the bay and you will see a trail that takes you around the edge of Great Lameshur out towards Beehive Cove.  Although not particularly challenging, you will be navigating your way over and around large rocks for about 15-20 minutes.

Your entry point into the water will be at Donkey Cove.  You will know you are at Donkey Cove when you come to a very small sand beach.  This leaves a decent length snorkel to get out to the point but this is the last good entry point into the water.  Beehive Cove is just around the rocky point that you will see ahead of you.

Between Donkey Bight and Beehive Cove, you will find only scattered coral heads and small reefs, but there is usually an abundance of other interesting sea life such as tarpon, small reef fish, squid and sea cucumbers in this area.

At Beehive Cove:

Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer

As you approach Beehive Cove, the snorkeling becomes more exciting and more colorful. On the north side of the point, there is a small cave with an exit to the surface. The walls and ceiling of the cave are covered with beautiful cup corals and sponges. As you snorkel around the point, or headland, which defines Beehive Bay, you will see a line of large rocks, which seems to attract a good share of fish.

On the Beehive Cove side of the point, the water gets deeper. There are two rooms or chambers with rock walls on three sides. The second room is the most interesting, although both are beautiful. The eastern wall of the second room is encrusted with sponges and cup coral. Because there is low light within the room, some of the coral animals may have their tentacles extended as if it were night on the reef. The thin yellow tentacles protruding from the small bright orange cups make the corals look like flowers.

Further along, there is a narrow channel in the rocks. On the eastern side is a cave with an outlet to the other side. There is at least one large dog snapper that likes to frequent this cave, and he is quite an impressive fellow. At the far end of the narrow channel is an exit to the other side over shallow coral. It is possible to snorkel over it, but great care must be taken, as there is usually a surge, which complicates things. Depending on the roughness of the sea, it may be better to explore the channel and then turn around and go back the way you came.

Around the next set of rocks is a wall encrusted with fire coral, sponges, and cup corals that descends to a depth of about twenty feet. Many small colorful fish can be seen along this wall, so take the time to look closely. On top of this rock, above the surface of the water, are concrete footings, which are all that remains of the Tektite project.

Beehive Cove is fun to get to and easily one of the best snorkels on the island and is well worth the half a day it takes to snorkel it.  If you have any additional questions don’t hesitate to comment or ask on our Facebook or Twitter page.

 

 

 

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Five Local Dishes You Have To Try

Food on St. John bears the mark of all the peoples who’ve passed through over the centuries. 

“The colonization of the Caribbean brought new ingredients and culinary techniques from Europe, India and Africa,” says Cindy Hutson, chef at one of Miami’s best Caribbean restaurants, Ortanique on the Mile. “I call it ‘Cuisine of the Sun.’”

Even familiar dishes take on new qualities when tweaked with the unique combination of exotic spices that have become the markers of St. John’s cuisine, but there are a handful of local favorites that simply can’t be missed.

1. Callaloo Soup

A local dish that doesn’t fail to impress tourists willing to give it a whirl. This rich soup is made from a local, spinach-like root vegetable called dasheen and then mixed up with a bit of everything. The ingredients you might find mixed in are yams, green bananas, okra, salted pork, shrimp, crabmeat, coconut milk and of course lots of spices. A version can be found at almost any restaurant around the island but Miss Lucy’s, located on the water’s edge in Coral Bay, has a reputation for some of the best.

2. Conch Fritters

These are a local favorite throughout the Caribbean and St. John’s is no exception. Head over to Vie’s Snack Shack in East End Coral Bay to try one of the best versions on the island. Theirs is made out of lump crab meat, bread stuffing and local seasonings that are rolled, deep fried and served with dipping sauce. Other local favorites at Vie’s are the johnny cakes and garlic chicken if you want to round out your meal.

3. Pate, Island Style

For breakfast, don’t pass up trying pate. And no, we’re not encouraging you to start your day with duck liver. In West Indian cooking, pate is a fried pastry similar to a turnover filled with savory options like beef, conch, chicken, shrimp, lobster, saltfish, and vegetables. Pick one up at Hercules Pate Delight, a breakfast spot in Cruz Bay that specializes in them, just five minutes from the ferry dock.

4. Saltfish Cakes 

An an old method of preserving leftover fish for future meals that lives on here in St. John. The fish is cured with salt and then dehydrated, traditionally by leaving the fish out in the sun for three days. Try it out at Indo-Caribbean restaurant Sweet Plantains in Coral Bay where they use cod. When it’s time to cook the dehydrated fish it gets soaked in cold water, then covered in herbs and spices before frying them into delicious mini cakes.

5. Roti

The Indian influence isn’t hard to spot in St. John’s, especially with curry on so many menus. But for a unique twist try roti, an adaptation of the flat South Asian bread of the same name. In St. John, the bread is wrapped around a curried stew containing just about anything — goat, lamb, port, vegetables, seafood, duck — just name the filling and roti can be found with it stuffed inside.  It was traditionally made by women for their husbands to take to work with them on the plantations. Head back to Lucy’s to try this one or ask for it at hole-in-the-wall restaurants when you’re looking for a hearty meal.

There’s plenty of international fare on St. John, but why settle for a burger when there’s a whole world of fusion flavors to explore?

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5 Great Day Trips from St. John

5 Great Day Trips from St. John

At Grande Bay Resort, we don’t think size matters. We love that St. John is only 19 square miles and has fewer than 4,000 year-round residents. Our guests are also fine with that. They say St. John is the best and prettiest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, and they love that it’s so easy to come here and get away from it all.

Our guests come to relax on Trunk Bay and the island’s many other pristine beaches, with their soft, white sand and breath-taking views of emerald cays and turquoise waters. Yes, we have incredible beaches, but there’s so much more to do here.

Start with Virgin Islands National Park, which covers about 60% of the island, thanks to Laurence J. Rockefeller, who bought as much land as he could and then donated it to the U.S. government. You can tour the 9,620-acre park by foot, kayak and boat.

The park’s half dozen or so trails pass through mangrove forests and past the remnants of sugar plantations and offer panoramic views of beaches, bays and tree-covered hills and cliffs. While you walk the shady trails, be on the lookout for deer or goats and wild donkeys, which wander wherever they please.

Another big draw on St. John is the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins, an 18th-century hillside plantation, where molasses and rum were also produced. Walk the trail that winds through what’s left of the factory, slave quarters and the Virgin Islands’ oldest windmill.

The hillsides, once cleared and terraced by slaves, are now covered with trees. When you get to the top of the hill, take in the incredible views, then follow the trail back down to the seashore and look out for blue herons and soldier and hermit crabs, among other wildlife.

Cruz Bay, called Love City by the locals, is St. John’s largest city and its unofficial capital. While there, you’ll find gift shops, grocery stores and plenty of places to rent everything from Jeeps to scuba gear.

Scuba divers and snorkelers love the clear waters around St. John.  Low Key Water Sports ( 800-835-7718) and Cruz Bay Scuba Diving (340-776-6234), both operating out of Cruz Bay, offer scuba and snorkeling tours for experienced divers and snorkelers as well as for beginners.

If you’re a diver, be sure to check out the well-known sunken Wreck of the Rhone, once a 310-foot-long twin-masted British steamer, now sitting about 80 feet below the surface, west of Salt Island, one of the British Virgin Islands.

For those of you who like to be above the water, Cruz Bay Sailing, the company that operates Cruz Bay Scuba Diving, offers rides on a 60-foot-long by 30-foot-wide catamaran with restrooms and food and beverage service. And Kekoa Sailing (340-244-SAIL) gives rides on the Kekoa, a 50-foot-long by 30-foot wide catamaran, with similar amenities.

After all of this walking, shopping, diving and sailing, you’ll want to return to the beaches or retire to an island spa. The best of the best is Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club (340-693-4668).

Call it heaven on Earth.

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