St. John Tips: The Baths at Virgin Gorda

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Crystal Clear water and rock formations at the Baths

A day trip to the British Virgin Islands is a must-do while vacationing on St. John, and the Island Abodes team recently visited one of our favorite spots in all the BVIs, The Baths on Virgin Gorda. The Baths are home to huge granite rock formations, crystal clear secret pools, and exquisite white sand beaches. Along with St. John’s North Shore, The Baths are known for being one of the best beach destinations in the world.

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A look through a rock formation.

We booked our excursion with Cruz Bay Watersports and met at the Westin Resort dock for an early start. After about an hour boat ride, with snacks provided enroute, we reached Virgin Gorda and took a taxi to the entry of The Baths National Park. From there, we hiked to Devil’s Bay, a glorious white sand beach, for swimming, snorkeling. and low key rock climbing. Our tour guide, Megan, told us about a “secret spot” located on a trail away from the beach; so naturally, our team took the opportunity to find seclusion and came across a beautiful and completely deserted rock beach.

Next, we headed to the actual Baths. What an adventure as we climbed over rocks and through caves to find hidden grottos with crystal clear water! The Baths are an otherworldly beautiful place. After the exploring ended, we retired for a frozen pina colada at Mad Dog (one of our favorite bars in the world) followed by lunch at the Top of the Baths restaurant, which featured a fresh water pool, great food, yummy drink specials, and stunning views.

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Unbelievable water clarity at the Baths.

At Island Abodes, we love St. John and all of the wonderful things to do here, but if you’re here for a full week and want to explore the Virgin Islands as a whole, this excursion should definitely be on your list. Check out our Facebook photo album to see more photos form Virgin Gorda and stay tuned for a blog on the Norman Island part of our BVI tour!

St. John Experiences: Mermaid Swim VI

 

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Island Abodes Mermaid Twins!

Girls of all ages dream of being mermaids, and what better place to pretend than on St. John. Thanks to Mermaid Swim VI, the Island Abodes girls got to live that dream this week. Owner, Crystal D’Abbraccio, met us at Maho Bay Beach with her amazing mermaid gear. Crystal, a dance instructor and ocean enthusiast, created the vision of Mermaid Swim VI, providing visitors from all over the world with the opportunity to become a mermaid for the day. Crystal can let you be a mermaid just for fun or show you how to get your mermaid workout on!

Our experience with Mermaid Swim VI was nothing short of magical. Crystal, friendly and inviting, asked us to pick a tail from her large and varied collection (available for all sizes), and off we went to the shore for pictures. She helped us get on the tail, which is realistic; it truly turns you into a mermaid! We placed our feet in a flipper (the tail end), rolled the tail fabric up to our waistlines, and voila…we transformed into a mermaids! The photos taken by Crystal that day were incredible, and since the tails are fully functional, we got to do some swimming too.

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What a great day to be a mermaid!

Later that evening, the mermaid play continued with a sunset mermaid workout class in Maho. This is a new addition to Mermaid Swim VI, and what a unique way to exercise! Crystal continued to work with us, but this time with a weighted mermaid workout fin. Crystal showed us some toning moves, and let us play on our own as well. It was a complete full body workout that we were able to enjoy while still being a mermaid in one of the best bays in St. John.

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The awesome “Merobics” tail!

Mermaid Swim VI can create mermaid themed birthday parties, bachelorette parties, individual shoots, or family shoots. Being able to become a mermaid in St. John is truly a once in a lifetime experience. When staying with Island Abodes for your next vacation, be sure to check out Mermaid Swim and book your fantasy photo shoot, workout, or day of play. Check out our photo album from the day here to get an idea of exactly what Mermaid Swim VI is all about.

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!

 

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.