Travelers’ Choice awards just published the 2013 list of Top 10 Islands in the World to visit, and St John clocks in at #2! That’s right folks, #2 in the WORLD. Apparently our island emphasis on ecotourism is trending right now. Below is the link so you can check out the whole list.
We’re huge believers in sunscreen here at Just BEach, and not just because we sell it.
The sun here in the Caribbean is characterized by some of the strongest UV radiation in the world, along with other tropical areas. Because we’re so close to the equator, the sun’s rays hit the earth more directly than they would further north (or south for the southern tropics) and are therefore less effectively absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere. On top of that, if you’re visiting us in the winter, you’re probably used to the weaker rays further up in the northern hemisphere, and the shorter days. Hop off a plane in our sunny climes and you’re in for a serious dose of long, sun-drenched days.
Exactly the point, you’re saying.
Current studies show that this type of intense, irregular sun exposure creates a higher risk of melanoma than your average sun exposure (don’t take our word for it, take this guy’s word for it – Dr Nick Sadick – he’s way smarter about this stuff than we are, read his article), because your skin is sort of caught off guard, unused to this intense sunshine, and therefore you’re more at risk for the severe, blistering burns that drastically raise melanoma risk. Think about it: you get on a plane in January in, say, Boston, wearing a coat, pants, maybe a hat… and get off the plane in St Thomas where you strip down to shorts and a t-shirt or a swimsuit as quickly as possible. Even with sunscreen, your skin is saying, “what the heck?”. Then you have a couple cocktails, take a well deserved nap on the beach… We all know the next chapter of this sad story: Day One Vacation Sunburn.
We would like to spare you this experience, so here are a few tips.
WEAR SUNSCREEN – Sounds familiar doesn’t it? That’s because this is seriously excellent, if commonplace, advice. It may seem self evident however, when you’re purchasing & using sunscreen, here are a few important points:
- Wear SPF 15 or higher. Anything lower than that really isn’t going to protect your skin much, especially if you’re fair, from our harsh rays
- The FDA is in the process of changing labeling regulations for sunscreen. The highest allowable “strength” will be 50+, because anything high than that shows a negligible increase in protection. So long, SPF 100.
- The FDA will also regulate the use of the “Broad Spectrum” label on sunscreen, to refer to sunscreen products that protect against all types of sun-induced skin damage, not just sunburn. Broad spectrum sunscreens will protect against both UVA and UVB rays – Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB, while both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging.
- For more information, check out the FDA’s Consumer Update here.
- REAPPLY. REAPPLY. REAPPLY. Can’t stress this enough. Even if your sunscreen is “waterproof” or “water resistant”… Reapply every 60-90 minutes depending on activity level.
Sun protective clothing has been around for a while, but every year (thank goodness) it gets less and less unattractive. At Just BEach we have awesome UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) shirt options for adults from Hook & Tackle and Under Armour, as well as UPF protective hats for adults from Ahead and for kids from Speedo. We also carry UPF protective rashguards for adults and children from several different brands.
Other available options on the market include SPF protective pants, and companies like Columbia, Patagonia & surf brands like O’Neill or Billabong often have great alternatives. Always look for hats & clothing with a UPF factor of at least 30+.
The other sensible thing to do while down here on vacation is seek out shade as much as possible during the peak sun hours – 10 am to 2 pm are the worst. Luckily a lot of our beaches have shade options, or it’s a lovely excuse to venture into town and find a cool little place to have lunch!
If the worst happens, and none of the above help you avoid a killer sunburn (or, knowing better than we do, you chose to ignore our wisdom, accrued over many years at the expense of our own skin), here’s what to do:
Step 1: Get out of the sun ASAP.
Step 2: Go back to your place, fill up a bowl with ice cubes and cold water, and soak a washcloth in it. Apply the washcloth as a compress onto your burn, leaving it on until the cloth is no longer cool to the touch. Resoak, reapply. Cycle 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off until your skin is no long warm to the touch. This will help prevent the burn from worsening after you’ve come out of the sun… your skin will actually continue to burn for hours (depending on the severity of the initial burn) , unless you cool it down.
Step 3: We recommend happy hour. In the shade.
Step 4: Make sure to keep your skin well moisturized as it heals – this will minimize peeling, and itchiness.
Step 5: In the future, reapply more effectively.
Well, that’s it… that’s all we’ve got in the “Avoiding Sunscreen” folder. Hopefully our tips will help a few people avoid discomfort this snowbird season, and in summers to come. Anyone have any tips that we missed, either preemptive or reparative? Please share with us in the comments section!
First settled around 700 AD by the Taino tribe, Trunk Bay supported a thriving village for about 2 centuries. Apparently at that point, circa 900 AD, there was a compelling and urgent reason to leave, as archaeological digs in the area have turned up cooking pots that were abandoned with food still in them (www.seestjohn.com). The bay was once again a bustling community in the colonial era, when it became a successful sugar estate. This prosperous period came to an end in the wake of the 1733 slave rebellion on St John, culminating over a century later with the emancipation of the colony’s slaves by the Danish Colonial Governor on July 3rd, 1848.
The next interesting era in Trunk Bay’s history began in the late 1920′s, when Paul Boulon Sr purchased Trunk Bay and the adjoining 100 acres for, get this… $2500. The Boulon family built a home on the eastern headland of the beach (now known as Windswept Peninsula), and ran a small guesthouse on the beach for the next few decades. In 1956, the Boulons sold 59 acres of non-beachfront property to Laurance Rockefeller, who would go on to donate that property, along with most of his other St John holdings, to the National Park (St John Historical Society). In 1957, the Boulons sold the beachfront property to the National Park, keeping only the 3 acres on Windswept for the family.
For more interesting information on the Boulon family, Trunk Bay, and other aspects of the history of St John, I strongly suggest you visit The St John Historical Society.
Anyone who lives on, has lived on, or has visited St John will tell you that this is an incredibly special place. Comprised of 70 percent National Park land and 30 percent just plain beautiful land, no one’s questioning our status as the gem of America’s Paradise. The pace here is slow, allowing for appreciation of all that the island has to offer. The truth is, however, that it’s a lot more than beautiful beaches and a chill attitude that make this island beloved by so many. The size of our little island belies the incredibly large heart of this community. Never have I known so many people who give so freely, so often, and so much to an astonishing array of causes. St John’s heart is truly its best feature.
Monday marks the beginning of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and true to form St John has a stellar line up of charitable events to benefit the St John Cancer Fund, culminating with the 3rd Annual Woody’s Save 2nd Base Block Party.
The month will kick off, however, on October 7th with the very first Dinghy Poker Run, brought to you by Noah’s Little Arks and High Tide Bar & Grill. Any boat under 22 feet qualifies, and competing boats will cruise the North Shore collecting cards and trying to put together the best hand. The event will culminate with an early evening party at High Tide Bar & Grill.
On October 17th, “Some People On St John” will have their 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament at Mahogany Run in St Thomas, followed by this year’s brand new addition of the “19th Hole” After Party at High Tide Bar & Grill (High Tide has generously taken on the role of “party central” for these two events, what a bonus that their view of Cruz Bay is so great! Organizing sponsors for the golf tournament include St John Brewers, Motu Bar, St John Catering, and us, Just BEach!
And no October would be complete on St John anymore without the Woody’s Save 2nd Base Block Party, which will be on October 26th from 8-11 pm, on the Woody’s block. Not to be missed, this event is always fun filled, featuring great local music, food, contests, games, and more. No one knows how to throw a Block Party like the Woody’s crew.
For more information on any of these great events, or the St John Cancer Fund, email info@StJohnCancerFund.org, or alternatively contact email@example.com, and they can put you in touch with the right people.
Here’s the official website… indulge your inner pirate!
We’re stoked to see that Reef Bay and Little Lamesur Bay made Fodor’s list of undiscovered Caribbean beaches… Check out the article here:
See our previous post on the Reef Bay Hike here.
Ok, so we’ll admit the #1 spot is arguable, and we’ll admit that we may be a teensy bit biased because Trunk Bay is, well, here… but seriously people, take a look at this:
Consistently ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Trunk Bay is also the most frequently visited of the VI National Park’s beaches. While this can make for a crowded visit, we find that early morning and late afternoon are usually much less populated… luckily those are some of our favorite times to go to the beach anyway!
Trunk Bay is the only beach in the VI National Park that charges admission… some people can get a little prickly about paying for the beach, but the admission fees at one beach mean the rest of the park’s beaches and accesses are free, an especially nice bonus for those of us who enter and exit the park and its beaches on a regular basis. Plus, the $4 daily rate is hardly prohibitive, and you can buy a year long pass for just $10! (We find this to be an excellent gift for any regular St John visitor…)
The beach also features a snack bar, lockers, snorkel and chair rentals, and restroom/shower facilities… a hefty list of amenities. The underwater guided snorkel “trail” is a great place to kids or adults just getting used to snorkeling, and lifeguards are present during operating hours to keep everyone safe.