8 Tuff Miles

The last Saturday in February might be the busiest time on St John! Why? Because every year, more than 1,000 runners come to the island to participate in 8 Tuff Miles. They race from the Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay to the Coral Bay ballpark. The Island Abodes team has run (well really walked) this race several times and it is always a blast! Organizations have water stations throughout the 8 miles. Volunteers dress up, play fun music, and some water stations have shots and beer for you to enjoy!

The challenge in this race is the hilly terrain. The event begins with an uphill climb from Cruz Bay, there are flat portions and hills in the middle, followed by a long, downhill finish to Coral Bay. The heat is also a factor that makes the eight miles along St. John’s Centerline Road so tough.

Participants have three hours to complete the course, and the time passes quickly, even for the slowest walkers.

History of the race from the 8 Tuff Website:

Upon returning to St. John in September 1996, I was trying to quit smoking, and I decided to punish myself by running and hopefully then realize that my body and lungs were beaten up because of all the chemicals in the cigarettes. On a December Sunday morning close to the end of the year, I woke up, put on my running shoes and started running towards Coral Bay from the downtown Cruz Bay area. Carrying a single bottle of water, and not at all sure how much time this would take, I now knew I’d be quitting smoking in the very near future. I reached the corner in Coral Bay known as the T intersection in about 1:20:00 and was both surprised and pleased.

Soon after that, I attended a meeting of the St. John Action Committee. They were looking for ways to entice St. Thomas folks to come over and spend the day on St. John on the last Saturday of each month with fairs and music and other ideas. My suggestion was to have a footrace, and the course would be from one end of the island to the other. Most of the people at the meeting seriously thought I was crazy to suggest the idea, but there were people there that saw the idea had potential. With a handful of new friends, the date for the first race would be the last Saturday of February. The last Saturday of January was coming up too quickly, and that is why we waited, planned accordingly and had the first race on the last Saturday of February, “February 22, 1997.”

The Future Business Leaders of America from Sprauve School volunteered to staff the 12 water stations along the way. Timing would be done by a couple of friends who were on the island that winter. We had 25 t-shirts printed, and 21 entries signed up that morning. Quite a few from St. Thomas, I might add. The plan was working! There was a Virgin Islands Policemen on a motorcycle leading the first place runner. Most of the entries ran, and there were some walkers. First place was 1:01:10. It was Charles Morton from St. Thomas, and now, the chase was on for future races. Brenda and Mark Wallace were smart enough to film the early morning gathering, the start, some of the middle and a good portion of the finish line. It’s always fun to go back and watch this piece of film with three people standing on the ball field in Coral Bay cheering on the runners as they finish what would soon become the largest attended road race in all of the Virgin Islands.

Book your place to stay now for the 2020 race! www.islandabodes.com

Island Abodes Secret Beach Breaks: Brown Bay

 

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Brown Bay beach

St. John is loaded with special “off the beaten path” spots, and the Island Abodes team is here help you find them! This week, our team got the opportunity to scope out a wonderful destination called Brown Bay.

Brown Bay is located past Coral Bay toward the East End of the island. To get to this private oasis, it would be wise to rent a Jeep and drive about a mile past Skinny Legs. When you get to the entrance, you can park in the gravel lot and begin your hike.

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Lots of conchs to find at Brown Bay!

The hike to Brown Bay is a 1.5 mile round-trip and we rate it as moderately difficult. Waterproof hiking shoes are recommended given the rocky trail surface, but if you’re careful and a bit daring it can be done in flip-flops. When we got to beach, we were rewarded by the shallow and calm water, so refreshing! We spotted dozens of conch, crabs and sea stars! Just off the shore on the east side there’s great snorkeling with lots to see. This beach is also home to sea turtle nesting sites, so you may see a turtle gliding up to say hello. When we visited the beach, we were the only ones there for two hours. It was so nice to be able to enjoy our Sam and Jack’s deli lunch while gazing into the crystal clear waters and sitting in the plentiful shade around the beach.

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The Brown Bay Trail reaches the beach

At Island Abodes, we love every St. John beach and want you to see them all. Brown Bay is a spot that not many know about, making it the perfect unexpected adventure while you stay

St. John Hiking Guide: America Ruin Trail

St. John is home to some of the best hiking in the world.

The gorgeous America Ruin Trail overlook of Maho Bay.

There are trails for every taste: short, long, sandy, rocky, mountainous, and even some that end at spectacular beaches. To kick off our trail series, we wanted to describe one of our favorites, the America Ruin Trail. We were lucky enough to have local professional photographer, Yelena Rogers, hike the trail with us to capture the beautiful views and moments on top of the world!

The trail starts 100 yards past Cinnamon Bay’s entrance on North Shore Road. The trailhead is marked by a sign for “Cinnamon Bay Trail” (there’s another sign along the way where the two trails diverge). It’s adjacent to the Cinnamon Bay Ruins and there is a place for one or two cars to park.This is a great hike to tack on to a day at Cinnamon Bay Beach.

Starting point of the hike on the Cinnamon Bay Trail.

The ruins were once home to the Danish Cinnamon Bay Estate (a/k/a America Hill) sugar cane plantations and bay rum distilleries, the most prosperous on island. Today, the remnants of the old rum factory are still prominent, and at the top of your hike, you’ll be able to perch on the ruins of the Estate boiler room and gaze over to Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Tortola. These unforgettable views, with the ruins and forests all around, make you feel completely lost in time.

We rate this hike as moderately difficult. The start is quite steep, then it’s about 30 minutes to the top with moderate incline, rocky points, and passable foliage. While hiking, you’ll see tons of bay leaf trees. Be sure to grab a leaf to sniff; the bay rum distilleries used these leaves in the early 20th century to make colognes and lotions. Be sure to bring plenty of water.

Our intern, Mary, overlooking the beautiful Maho Bay from the top of the America Ruin Trail.

All Island Abodes units come equipped with tons of island information, including trail guides, making it easy to explore during your stay on St. John. While having a car makes it easy to get to the trail, a taxi to Cinnamon Bay would work great too. Hiking is a must-do while on St. John, and this trail cannot be missed! If you loved the pictures in our blog, be sure to visit Yelena Rogers Photography’s blog and website to book your photo shoot during your next St. John vacation.