Getting Married on St. John

Introduction

This topic is near and dear to my heart, as Robert and I had our own magical St. John wedding in 2013. We, along with 75 family and friends, set sail on Kekoa and exchanged our vows just as the sun was dropping into the blue Caribbean Sea. Over the years that we’ve lived on St. John and hosted guests at our Island Abodes properties, we’ve had the privilege of being involved in one way or another with dozens of other couples who were either getting married on St. John, or here for a weddingmoon, honeymoon, babymoon, or vow renewal. All have been wonderful and special, but I’d have to say that other than my own St. John wedding, my favorite was when my brother and sister-in-law got married at Trunk Bay in 2016. All of the things that make St. John special as a tropical island getaway make it the perfect place to tie the knot. Here’s what you need to know.

St. John Wedding Planners

St. John has some wonderful wedding planners who can coordinate all the details for you, freeing you up to enjoy the special time with your betrothed and any friends and family. Most St. John wedding planners offer a reasonable flat fee for helping with your Virgin Islands marriage application, any required permits, an officiant, a photographer, and getting your marriage license. And they can help arrange a venue and caterer if you have a larger wedding party. We personally know and have worked with all of these St. John wedding planners and highly recommend each of them (listed in alphabetical order by last name):

Mary Bartolucci with Island Style Weddings

Michelle Fage Cawthron with Paradise Planning

Anne Marie Porter with St. John Weddings

Planning Your Own St. John Wedding

Our advice is to hire a wedding planner, but it’s certainly possible to coordinate things on your own. If you decide to go that route, you’ll need to take care of all the details, and especially the application, license and permits. Here’s some information you’ll need to know…

Getting a Virgin Islands Marriage License

You’ll need to apply for a marriage license at the Family Division of the VI Superior Court. Their website has all the information about applying for and obtaining a VI marriage license. Here’s the link.

Permits to Get Married on a Virgin Islands National Park Beach

St. John’s amazing North Shore beaches are the biggest draw for travelers, and the same holds true for couples getting married. But if you want to have a ceremony on Hawksnest, Cinnamon, Maho, Francis, or the most popular one, Trunk Bay, you’ll need a permit from the National Park Service. Here’s a link to their website with all the info you’ll need.

Virgin Islands Wedding Officiants

Aside from outsourcing all the details, working with either Mary Bartolucci or Anne Marie Porter means they can officiate at your ceremony. If you decide to go it alone, a great choice for officiant is Island Mike, a former trial attorney who has truly found his calling in a much happier business.

Hair and Make-Up

Cruz Salon

Grapevine Salon

St. John Photographers

We have used the services of all five of these awesome photographers (listed alphabetically by last name):

Anne Bequette, STJ Creative Photography

Sage Hammond, Crown Images

Savanah Loftus, Savanah Loftus Photography

Yelena Rogers, Yelena Rogers Photography

Lindsay Vann, Lindsay Vann Photography

St. John Caterers

To cater a reception or a private dinner or brunch, we highly recommend these wonderful folks:

St. John Catering / Mathayom Private Chefs

Oasis Private Chefs

Best St. John Restaurants for Large Groups

Lime Inn 

Morgan’s Mango

Ocean 362

1864 Restaurant 

High Tide 

Best St. John Restaurants for Intimate, Romantic Dinners

Extra Virgin

La Tapa

The Terrace

Annual Trunk Bay Vow Renewal

For many years on Valentine’s Day, Anne Marie Porter has conducted a free vow renewal ceremony on Trunk Bay. It’s a very special event where sometimes more than 100 couples renew their vows. If you’ve been thinking of renewing your vows, this is a wonderful time to be on St. John. For more information, visit here.

St. John Wedding Accommodations

One of the most important details about getting married on St. John is finding the right accommodations for the happy couple and wedding guests. At Island Abodes we specialize in hosting special occasions. Our Sunset Serenade Suites in the hills above Cruz Bay consists of four enchanting 1-bedroom vacation homes. It’s perfect for wedding groups, and we’ve hosted so many happy couples in the Penthouse, Honeymoon Suite, Hibiscus Suite, and Papaya Suite. Down Yonder Pool Villa consists of 2 King master suites and a 30 foot saltwater pool. It can be rented separately, or together with the Garden Suite to add another private 1BR/1BA home. All units come with our famous Island Abodes hospitality, of course! We allow events when you do a buy out of either Sunset Sereande Suites or Chocolate Hole Renals. Many wedding welcome parties have taken place at Sunset Serenade Suites as it is one of the best places to watch the sunset on island!


7 Tips to Make Your St. John Honeymoon Truly Epic

Many publications, over many years, have named St. John as one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations. The reasons are obvious: perfect weather, uncrowded beaches with exquisite white sand, crystal clear waters, miles of hiking trails in the Virgin Islands National Park, and a laid back Caribbean vibe. It’s the perfect recipe for romance and relaxation. Some time spent planning before you check into your St. John honeymoon suite will really pay off. Here are 7 suggestions to help make the most of your St. John honeymoon.

  1. Make Travel Day Easy

Getting married can be a whirlwind – getting to your idyllic island honeymoon shouldn’t be. With no airport on St. John, you’ll need to fly to neighboring St. Thomas and then ferry over. While there are alternatives like going through San Juan, the best bet is to reach St. Thomas from one of the several mainland gateways including Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston or Dallas. Airport code STT.

Once you arrive on St. Thomas you have a choice between a 5-minute taxi ride to Crown Bay followed by a 30 minute ferry trip, or a longer taxi ride (around 45 minutes depending on traffic and stops) to Red Hook and then 15 minutes on the ferry. The Crown Bay ferry departs at 3:30 and 5:30, and the Red Hook ferry departs every hour on the hour. If it works for your flight schedule, the Crown Bay ferry is a more relaxed experience. If Red Hook works better, spring for a private taxi and arrive quicker and with more personal attention. Whichever ferry you take, there’s a bar where you can sip a cold beverage and stare into your sweetheart’s eyes.

  1. Rent a Jeep

While it’s possible to get around St. John via taxi, we highly recommend renting a Jeep. Having your own wheels will give you the freedom to come and go as you please, explore the island, find your own secret beach, or run up to the market for a bottle of bubbly.

  1. Hire a Private Chef

Hiring a private chef for a special meal at your vacation home is an amazing way to say I love you. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be staying at a St. John vacation rental with an extraordinary view, like Island Abodes’ Penthouse, Honeymoon Suite, Hibiscus Suite, or Papaya Suite; or our Chocolate Hole pool villa. St. John has some exceptional private chefs who can prepare and serve the perfect mouthwatering meal, often with local Virgin Islands fish and produce.

  1. Make a (Flexible) Plan

Having a plan before you arrive will help to maximize your adventure and relaxation time, and help ensure you don’t miss any “must do” activities. But it’s also smart to stay flexible. Maybe you and your betrothed will find the experience of swimming with sea turtles at Maho Bay so moving that it warrants another day? Or maybe you decide to push off this morning’s hike for a few more hours in your plush king size bed with this view. Whatever you decide, you’re on island time and flexibility is key.

  1. Take a Boat Trip

Many Island Abodes guests say that their one “must do” activity is a day on the water. There are some amazing private charter boats that can whisk you over to Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, or to the Caves and Indians at Norman Island, or stay in local St. John waters and visit Pizza Pi or Lime Out for an unforgettable lunch. There are also some awesome group charters that head over to the BVIs daily and offer sunset sails in domestic waters.

  1. Find Your Perfect Beach

There are so many world-class beaches on St. John, it’s really hard to believe. If it’s your first trip, we recommend spending part of a day beach hopping down the north shore. You can start close to town with a nice hike down to Salomon and Honeymoon, then hop back in your Jeep for a drive down to Hawksnest, where you can park just steps from the beach. The next two beaches, Dennis and Jumby, are each down a short trail, but well worth the effort. Then the iconic Trunk Bay (be sure to stop at the overlook for this not-to-be-missed photo op). Continuing down the coast you’ll reach Cinnamon (and Little Cinnamon if you head left when you reach the shore). Then the world-famous Maho Bay, which is the best place anywhere to swim with sea turtles. And finally, Francis Bay is the last beach on the north shore, with amazing views up St. John’s coast and over to St. Thomas in the distance. Remember, since the island is mostly national park, there are no St. John vacation rentals on the beach, so getting to the sand requires a short drive for everyone.

  1. Choose Accommodations Thoughtfully

If there’s ever a time to choose the right accommodations it’s on your honeymoon! Selecting a place with spectacular views, an oh so comfy king size bed, and all kinds of thoughtful touches and amenities, is the only way to go. It should be backed up with tons of stellar reviews from past guests, the kind of place where the owners and staff take your comfort and happiness very personally. You’ll find all this and more at Island Abodes. Whether you book our Honeymoon Suite, or any of our other St. John vacation apartments or villas, you will always find affordable luxury. Let us help make your St. John honeymoon truly epic!


Lime Out – St. John’s New Floating Taco Bar is a Winner

There’s a new floating taco bar, Lime Out VI, on the Coral Bay side of St. John and it’s not to be missed. The Island Abodes team loves the delicious tacos and amazing craft cocktails in the beautiful setting of Round Bay on the East End. We highly recommend that you check it out during your next St. John vacation.

First let’s talk about the food offerings. It’s all tacos! But these aren’t any ordinary tacos…they are downright scrumptious. From Ceviche to Tuna to Surf and Turf (shrimp and short rib) and even a Vegan Taco, we’ve devoured them all. They are made-to-order with fresh ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla. They are pretty big and we feel like you get a lot for $7-10 each.

You can’t eat tacos without a cold beverage, right? For libations Lime Out offers awesome craft cocktails, St. John Brewers beer on tap, and even bottles of bubbly if you really want to celebrate.

But the best thing about Lime Out is the location. You can either arrive by power boat, or swim/raft/kayak/paddleboard from Hansen Bay. If you’re going from shore there’s a swim up bar where you can comfortably hang out while enjoying the food, drinks and views.

Lime Out was started by the owners of the Lime Inn restaurant in Cruz Bay, which is one of our favorites. So they know good food. They are also a multi generational St. John family and have gone to great lengths to make Lime Out an environmentally responsible operation. Power comes from solar, they have only reusable cups, no straws, and they are very strict about collecting trash to make sure none ends up in the pristine surrounding waters.

How to get there? If you’re on a charter boat, just tell your captain it’s taco time! If driving, take Centerline Road to Coral Bay and turn left at the ball field. Go past Skinny Legs and keep on driving. Just past Haulover Bay is Hansen Bay where you can park. There’s a nice beach and other offerings for a small fee. Look out in the water and you can’t miss Lime Out!

Map Of Lime Out In St John USVI


Introducing Salty Daze Charters USVI

Salty Daze Charters USVI- Veteran owned and St. John’s newest Charter boat experience!

Offering Full and Half Day customizable cruising charters around the USVI and BVI.

Salty Daze USVI is a family run, Veteran owned business with 30 years of roots on St. John. Kate (our booking concierge) first came to the islands in 1993, while her uncle managed Cinnamon Bay campgrounds. Her whole family fell in love, bought their residence and they have been around here ever since. Justin (Captain extraordinaire) had his first taste of the islands during one of Kate’s family reunions, on the East End of St. John. After a cruise around the BVI and a couple jumps off the Willy T, Justin proposed to Kate and the rest is history. Justin served honorably in the US Navy for 8 years, while Kate represented our country in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Kate, Justin, their two daughters, Magnolia and Azalea, along with their English Bulldog, Hawser, reside in Coral Bay.

Justin and Kate have a beautiful and robust 31’ Mako Cuddy cabin boat, decked out to get 6 people to their destination of choice quickly and comfortably. They’ve got brand new E-Sea Rider bean bag chairs that you won’t want to leave, brand new upholstery done in 2018, a thumpin stereo system, top of the line snorkel gear, a cooler full of ice and bottled water, a convenient dry cabin to store your goods, tons of cooler space to store beverages and food, plus you get a free @saltydazeusvi cocktail cup or a koozie for your beer. Plus, for a limited time, they are partnering with Irie Pops by providing a cooler of pops for your day on the water!

Check out daily happenings on there Instagram and Facebook

Bookings can be made in real-time on there website, saltydazeusvi.com or by calling (340) 690-SALT. They always offer discounts to active service members, Veterans and Olympians/National Team Members and of course Island Abodes guests. Please inquire about other deals.


St. John Events: 8 Tuff Miles Road Race

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Our Island Abodes Team passed the finish line

One of the most popular events on St. John is the annual 8 Tuff Miles Race, which is a road race beginning on the west end of St. John at the National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay, and ending at the ball field in Coral Bay. The course is called “8 Tuff Miles” because it measures precisely 8.38 miles and has points ranging anywhere from 5 feet to 999 feet in elevation.

This race is no joke. Over a thousand local, stateside and global competitors participate each year. Some aim to finish, and many have the goal of beating last year’s time. Some go as far as mimicking exact conditions of race day in their gyms, and spending an entire year figuring out the best methods to conquer the course.

This year, the 21st Annual 8 Tuff Miles road race will be held on Saturday, February 25th 2017 starting at 7:15am. Online registration begins October 1st. Prizes include $300 cash for the top female finisher and $300 in Tap Room Dollars for the fastest male. Registration fees cover the cost of entry and an official race t-shirt.

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Our team loves 8 Tuff Miles!

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year on St. John, so finding accommodations requires advance planning. Island Abodes is pleased to offer comfortable, well-equipped vacation rentals in both Cruz Bay and Chocolate Hole, perfect for resting up before and after the race and getting to the starting line on race day. Race fees are non-refundable, so it’s smart to secure your travel plans before reserving your spot in the race. Booking early is key to finding the perfect place to stay on St. John, so book with us today and get ready to race! Big thanks to Yelena Rogers Photography for the awesome photos of past year’s races.

 


Get Ready to Paddle the Park

Our Island Abodes owner and team member, Robert, participating in the 2015 Paddle the Park Race!
Our Island Abodes owner and team member, Robert, participating in the 2015 Paddle the Park Race! Go Robert!

It’s time for one of Island Abodes’ favorite St. John special events: Paddle the Park SUP race. This event is for all levels of paddleboard enthusiasts and celebrates the beauty of St. John. The race starts and ends in beautiful Maho Bay on St. John’s spectacular North Shore.

This year, the race will be held on Sunday, November 6, 2016 starting at 9am. Check-in for registered participants will begin at 7:30am, a pre-race briefing will start at 8:30am, and then the whistle blows at 9am, kicking off the race! Since this race is geared for all levels of participants, there are a variety of courses to choose from. The Short Course is beginner level going from Maho Beach to the National Park Service floating fee station and back (1 mile); the Open Course is moderate difficulty going from Maho Beach to Whistling Cay and back (3 miles); and the Elite Course is for the hardcore competitors going from Maho Beach to Whistling Cay, to and around Cinnamon Cay, and back (5.5 miles). There will also be a special category for children under the age of 12.

Reaching the finish line!
Reaching the finish line!

To register early for this awesome event, go online, call 340-779-4940, or visit Connections,

Caribbean Surf Co., or the Friends of the Park Store starting September 19th through October 28th. Early registration costs $60 for adults and $30 for children under 18. General registration begins October 29th through November 4th and costs $70 for adults and $35 for children under 18. Finally, late registration takes place at the Friends of the Park Store ONLY on November 5th from 9am to 2pm costing $80 for adults and $40 for children under 18. Entry registration fees include a race jersey, event goodie bag, and lunch during the awards ceremony. Awards for male, female, and children participants will be given.

If you’re vacationing with us on these dates or love SUP, this is great event to attend on St. John. Board rentals are available upon registration, but rentals are limited. Register today to take on the best SUP race in the Virgin Islands!

 


The St. John Brewers Beer Tour and Tasting

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St. John Brewers’ Unique Brew System

Our Island Abodes team had the pleasure of going on the brewery’s first official tour and tasting at Mongoose Junction, and it was AWESOME! Co-owner Cheech told us about the birth of the brewery, their brewing process, specialty brews, and the new location of the brewery.

The tour kicked off at a shipping container in the parking lot of Mongoose Junction that houses a complete brewing system, bathroom, and A/C. Cheech gave us, and our twelve other tour participants, a run down about the general brewing process of the beer and let us sniff some sample barley varieties and hops. Afterward, we were able to visit the exciting new location of the brewery and restaurant. As many of you may know, the Tap Room was destroyed by a fire last year and has been operating from a temporary home since then.

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Cheech and his assistant pouring up samples

During the tour, Cheech told us how St. John Brewers was born. After graduating from the University of Vermont, Cheech and his buddy Kevin decided to quit their mainland jobs and move to St. John with plans to be bartenders. They quickly noticed a complete lack of good craft beer on the island, so they decided to brew their own. After testing many recipes, they produced their first beer, the Mango Pale Ale. The idea was the first of its kind and quickly caught on. So, the brewers were able to open the Tap Room and bottle their creations, including some sodas.

The tour concluded with a scrumptious beer tasting, including their Island Summer Ale, Liquid Sunshine, Mango Pale Ale, Island Hoppin’ IPA, Amber Ale and Root Beer. All were fantastic, and perfect for drinking on the islands. All Island Abodes guests get a complimentary St. John Brewers beer in your fridge!.

Stay tuned for another blog, highlighting the great brews and tastes St. John Brewers has to offer. If you want to experience the new brewery tour, visit the Tap Room to sign up today! It’s definitely a new “must-do” activity on the island.