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Covid-19 Update August 13th: All non-essential businesses closed.

In yesterday’s press conference the governor reverted the USVI back to “stay at home” phase. This is due to a spike in covid-19 cases, mostly on St. Thomas where they recorded 55 new postitives this week in only one day, for a population of 55.000

Effective immediately

  • Hotels, airbnb, guest houses cease accepting new reservations for leisure travel for 30 days

Effective Monday August 17 territory goes back to Stay at Home phase orange

  • 6 AM Monday all non essential businesses closed for at least 2 weeks. “After 2 weeks we will assess number of active cases and make decision”.
  • Churches and schools closed.
  • All beaches closed on weekends at noon
  • Restaurant take out only.
  • Max 10 people in stores or gatherings exceptions large stores on St. Thomas

Effective August 19:

  • Effective August 19 no new check-ins for leisure travel for 30 days.

Based on the governor’s order we are suspending all leisure charters immediately, and all bookings for the next 2 weeks have been fully refunded. We could potentially still do supply runs and fishing but for now we have hauled our 32FS Regulator out and have started an overhaul with sanding down the existing paint and bottom paint. We are expecting a very active hurricane season for the next few weeks anyways so the boat is safer in the boat yard. We have for now blocked all reservations until September 19 depending on how the hurricane season and covid-19 cases go this might be extended.

The BVI’s which were the main destination for our day trips are still closed so business was limited already even during the busy summer. The BVIs are schedule to re-open September 1st but this might be extended or they might open for visitors with covid-19 test but not for day charters we will see.

Many people ask about supporting local businesses on St. John

Here are some ways.

  • Leave a positive review for your last charter. You can review us on tripadvisor here and on facebook here
  • Order a Rockhoppin’ T-Shirt, Tank or hoodie here
  • Book a future charter for a random date and pay either the 150$ deposit or the full amount here. Once your future travel date is confirmed we can move the booking to the actual date. All our charters are fully refundable up to 72 hours before the booked date
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T-Shirt Fundraiser

It is quiet here on St. John, with all beaches and trails closed, all non-essential businesses ordered to close and villas and hotels not allowed to take on any new guests. So far only 2 confirmed cased on St. John but quite a few on St. Thomas.

We can still go fishing and caught a very nice Wahoo last weekend

Other than that we are catching up on projects around the house and after avoiding the phone and computer for some time are now catching up with work there too and found the time to design some new t-shirts.

Had to cancel your trip to St. John? Missing the island? Wear a piece of clothing that shows your love for the island at home and support your favorite charter business during these difficult times by ordering one of our new shirts (available until April 30th).

Lots of new styles and colors and we now also have kids tees and kids long sleeves!

We have two new designs with lots of styles to choose from. Unsure which one? The captain’s recommendation is the triblend T-Shirt, it is a very light, super soft fabric that dries very quickly.

t-shirts-rockhoppin-charters2

Classic Rockhoppin’ T-Shirt

features our logo on the front and a map of the virgin islands on back together with a checkbox style list where you can check of the islands you visited. They are available as Women’s Racerback, Premium Long Sleeve, Premium Unisex T-Shirt, Tri-blend shirt (very soft, fast drying fabric) as well Youth Tee and Youth Long Sleeve, available in lots of colors. Check them out here:

https://www.bonfire.com/rockhoppin2020/

Fishing T-Shirt

features our logo on the front and a fishing design on the back, after all our boat is called “Wahoo Wa”. They are available as Women’s Racerback, Premium Long Sleeve, Classic Unisex, Tri-blend (very soft, fast drying fabric), 3/4 Baseball Tee, Women’s slim fit T, V-Neck Unisex, Youth Unisex, Youth Long Sleeve as well Youth Tee and Youth Long Sleeve, available in lots of colors. Check them out here:

https://www.bonfire.com/rockhoppin-fish/

rockhoppin-captain-shirt

Prefer the good old “I’m the captain” design? That is available here:

https://www.bonfire.com/rockhoppincaptain/

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Coronavirus Update St. John, USVI

Sunday, March 22, 2020 Coronavirus update

wow this has been a whirlwind week. We are doing ok, so far 6 cases in the territory with about 40 results pending.

Most restaurants and bars as well as shops have announced their closure to protect their staff and following the 10 person rule. Pizza Pi, the pizza boat the last remaining food/drink option for charters announced their closure as well. Yesterday evening, the governor released an update via youtube which you can watch here. The key points below:

In line with the governor’s request for all non-essential businesses to seize all in-person business we will not be conducting any charters until further notice. We are available to transport passengers or goods should the need arise.

Guidelines:

  • Social and distancing at all times, 6 feet
  • Stay at home policy: Stay at home as much as possible
  • “Its ok to take a walk, it’s ok to take a drive but please refrain from congregating”
  • No camping for Easter
  • “Do not go to parties, bbq, picnics, enjoy the beach but stay away from people”

Effective Monday 23rd:

  • All bars will be closed
  • Restaurants take out only no inhouse dining
  • Taxi capacity cut down in half
  • Monitoring the ferries – meet with operators Monday

Effective Wednesday 25rd:

  • Stay at home order “not a curfew”
  • Keep as much people off the street as possible
  • No hotel, timeshare, airbnb allowed to accept new guest except government or medical personal
  • International message we want to send: “if you are coming to the Virgin Islands you will not have anywhere to stay for the next 30 days”
  • “Stay at home is not a curfew only PR has curfew. We are not imposing curfew. We are imposing stay at home”. This does not cover essential business: groceries, pet supplies, hardware stores, restaurants, food processing, gas stations, auto supply stores, car dealerships, banks and credit unions, garden stores, laundry services, building supplies are exempt as long as they keep customer rates under 10.
  • Further exempt are plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial services, handyman, funeral services, hvac installers and carpenters, anybody who deals with construction. Also exempt: Office supplies, shipping, delivery services, airlines, public transport, professional services, legal, accounting, places that provide shelters,

 

Thursday, March 19, 2020 Coronavirus update

More businesses (e.g. Banana Deck, Dog House Pub, Greengo’s, Pizza Bar in Paradise) have announced their closures and St. John Hardware is limiting hours to give staff time to rest and clean.

NPS Visitor Center and FVINP are closed as are the concessions at Trunk Bay and the guided Reef Bay Trail Hike.

Pizza Pi, the pizza boat announced closure as of tomorrow.

Cliff Notes from Governor’s Press Conference at 1pm today: 

3 confirmed cases in usvi, 21 tests pending

contact tracing underway

as of Saturday 6am max 10 people also for bars & restaurants excempt are large stores like home depot plaza extra etc that can ensure spacing

plaza extra special 7-10am shopping time for seniors

funerals are exempt

no camping on public beaches

effective monday government services limited to essential services

60 day extension on all license renewals (car, drivers license, business license)

there are still 1500 visitors in territory and no intention of closing airport

still 1500 visitors are in territory no requests to close airports at this time

 

TUESDAY, March 17, 2020 Coronavirus update

2nd confirmed case in the territory, while the first was St. Croix, the second is said to be in the St. Thomas/St. John district. 17 test are still pending. Again, the actual rate is probably much higher. Governor has closed schools starting tomorrow, cancelled St. Thomas carvinal and advised to only use the St. John – St. Thomas ferry for essential travel.

People were in and out of Pricesmart St. Thomas within 20minutes today and desinfecting products were stocked.

St. Thomas: Bolongo Bay Resort and Wyndham are closing until further notice.
St. John: Lime Out and Lime in were the first to announce their closure this morning, Lovango Rum Bar cancelled their grand opening, a little later in the day Soggy Dollar Bar, BVI as well as Skinny Legs and Extra Virgin announced their closure too
BVI: the BVI are closing their boarders to anyone but local residents, belongers and work permit holders on Thursday, March 19th for at least a month. No more BVI charters, sorry. Soggy Dollar Bar is closing as well.

More information on local closures here:

White house recommends avoiding crowds of more than 10 people and avoiding non-essential travel. It seems to be the concensus that staying home is the right thing to do. We had 5 cancellations in the last 24 hours.

As of today most St. John Bars and Restaurants are still open but many are promoting the take out option. People can still go to the beach, a curfew like in Puerto Rico is a possibility but our governor does not seem to be in the “err on the side of caution” camp, but maybe that is the way to achieve compliance, if he had cancelled carnival too early there would have been outrage.

SUNDAY, March 15, 2020

Good morning from sunny St. John, here is the latest update in light of the Corona Virus. We are not a news outlet and we cannot constantly update this article with new developments, this is a status report from Sunday, March 15th.

As of this morning,  it is still pretty much business as usual on St. John, the grocery stores are stocked (including toilet paper – both photos taken this morning) with no crazy lines and the bars and restaurants are open. Some crowded scenes at Cost U Less St. Thomas have been reported yesterday however. If you are coming over on the car barge, we recommend skipping the STT grocery stop to avoid the craziness and potential exposure to virus as well.

Coronavirus in the USVI

so far there is one confirmed case in the territory that is rumored to be on St. Croix. Reports about a death on CNN are false. It is of course likely that the actual number of cases is much higher, as there is no free health care or health insurance, people usually try to battle it out at home and locals are very good at beating illness with rest and natural remedies. So there is a chance that unknowingly some herd immunity has been built especially on St. Thomas which has been exposed to all the cruise ship travel. There is hope heat and the sun and clean air may potentially inhibit a rapid spread in the territory just like flu season is typical in the winter months. UV-light is a natural disinfectant and “open air treatment” was an acknowledged form of medical treatment for influenza during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic before antibiotics were available. Read all about it here

Of course by no means are we safe from the Virus here and a potential outbreak will be catastrophic with the limited health care facilities available. There are 120 hospital beds on St. Thomas and 8 in the ICU for 50.000+ inhabitants and maybe 100.000 visitors per month.

Puerto Rico

The governor of Puerto Rico (which has 4 confirmed and 17 suspected cases) has just ordered a curfew from 9pm to 5am until March 30th. There is a chance this will happen here too as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the virus. Hopefully people will still be allowed to go to beaches. Source:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/15/coronavirus-latest-news/#link-BBGT3QI5HJFS7IDCOPNFCGR6II

Should I cancel my trip to St. John, USVI in light of the Corona Virus?

This is a difficult question and here is my personal opinion. Of course, everybody has to evaluate the pros and cons based on their own circumstances.

As a local business owner who makes 100% of income from tourism and who has not left the island since the hurricanes I wish the ports and airports would be closed to spare our little island the exposure to this virus and to spare the visitors to make this hard decision. I appreciate visitors especially from high risk states or with previous travel or exposure to at risk regions / persons cancelling their trip to spare St. John but realistically the spot might be taken by last minute opportunists (yeah no school, cheap flights…). so those that have not booked yet, please think twice! Even healthy people can unknowingly transmit the virus. Personally I think the economic loss from less tourism is not as bad as the potentially catastrophic effect of a major outbreak here.

Those that have booked and have no choice of rescheduling, the most responsible thing is to self-quarantine at home for 2 weeks before travel and take every possible precaution to not get infected on the way over…..

We will issue a full refund if you decide to cancel but also appreciate customers changing to a random date in the future to ease the financial burden.

People with pre-existing medical conditions (heart/lung disease, auto-immune disease etc.) that might require hospitalization in case of infection, please avoid travel here, the health care is difficult without an outbreak already. Insurance that will air-lift you to the mainland in case of an emergency is always a good idea when travelling here no matter how young and healthy you are.

Being stuck on this island due to halt in air travel or airlines cancelling flights because they are not full/profitable or their crews are sick is also a possibility, maybe not a bad thing unless your presence is required at home or you need medical attention. Getting off island post hurricane was very very difficult and that was with the mainland fully functioning.

Another risk is that curfews might be issued so you would not be allowed to leave villa/hotel at night like it is currently in Puerto Rico, hopefully they will still allow beach visits during day.

This is a developing topic, so always check with CDC website for latest travel advisories.

Questions to help you come to a decision.

  1. Is there any chance I could be bringing the virus to the USVI
  2. Do I have insurance / financial resources to be airlifted to mainland in case of medical emergency (which can be completely unrelated to Covid-19) – healthcare here is fragile without a pandemic
  3. Do I have the flexibility / financial resources / stamina to stay on the island longer than planned (in case air travel is halted, airlines cancel flights or go bankrupt) ?

Can I still go on a private charter with Rockhoppin?

We are conducting business as usual for now but can only do USVI Trips as the BVI are closing their borders. We are taking extra pre-cautions to disinfect touch surfaces of the boat after each charter and we will no longer be providing snorkel gear. Even with careful disinfection there is a risk – too little is know how long the virus can survive on surfaces, the moist boxes of the boat could harbor it and staff handling/cleaning the gear would be at risk. We are also suspending snorkel gear rental with paddleboards at SUP-Stjohn.com, we don’t think these are times to share breathing equipment, if you would like to snorkel we recommend bringing / purchasing your own equipment for example at Low Key, Chelsea Drug Store or Kmart St. Thomas.

If you have travelled to at risk countries, are running a fever, have a dry cough or have been in contact with people under observation we ask you to do the right thing and cancel your charter to not contribute to the spread of the virus, your deposit will be refunded but you can also help our small business by just changing to a random date in the future.

Please take all the recommended hygiene measures that have been widely recommended, frequent hand washing/use of hand sanitizer, sneeze into tissue, no hand shakes, no shared cups etc.

BVI Trips and the Coronavirus

As of today USVI March 15th boats can still enter the BVI however only at Tortola Westend (no more check-in on Jost). Visitors have to fill out the health questionnaire below and depending on answers may be declined entry or asked to quarantine. We also expect longer wait times at customs. Of course you can change your destination to the 3/4 St. John or half day or full day and stay local at no costs. For food options we have pizza pi, the pizza boat  and the new Zozo’s H20 on Lovango. Lime Out has closed in light of the virus

http://www.rockhoppin.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PERSONAL-HEALTH-DECLARATION-FORM1.pdf-·-version-1.pdf

On Thursday, March 19th the BVI are closing their borders for at least a month, so no more BVI charters, sorry

Paddleboard Rental

you can cancel or reschedule your paddleboard rental free of charge the deposit will be refunded upon request but we ask you to consider letting it keep us for a future rental to ease the financial burden on our small business.

snorkeling-buck-island-sea-turtle

How can we help St. John?

Some people might decide to still visit to support their favorite island to support local businesses. Other ways to help are buying gift certificates at any shop or restaurant or to order gifts/souvenirs online. You can book a charter for a random day in the future www.rockhoppin.com/bookme (you can reschedule free or charge once you know your new travel dates) or pay the 100$ deposit for a future paddleboard rentat at sup-stjohn.com here: www.sup-stjohn.com/pay/

You were happy with your charter or paddleboard rental with us? Head over to tripadvisor and leave a nice review here!

To end on a positive note

St. John is resilient, we survided Irma and Maria and we will survive this. Maybe something good will come out of it, maybe in return our planet gets a break from C02 emission and pollution so maybe we slow climate change and get a hurricane season that is less devastating. Look at the before and after photo from China: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/04/811019032/why-chinas-air-has-been-cleaner-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak?fbclid=IwAR3lOKKbYwAnVUDN_dJ1XNbP7OTIXB003pOKhOy8q2UQlqnYl9PASz_iOp0

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2020 update

When was your last visit to St. John? Wondering what’s up? Here is the latest

After a relatively uneventful hurricane season 2019 – except for a surprise visit of Hurricane Dorian – St. John is pretty much back to it’s beautiful pre-Irmaria self. Dorian was supposed to be a tropical storm passing well over 100 miles away and ended up being a category 1 hurricane that went right over us. The forecast advisory only changed at 8am in the morning at by noon all hell was breaking loose. Thankfully Captain Steve had secured our 32FS Regulator really well “just in case” and everything stayed in place. We are very grateful for that since he had just given our boat a major makeover buffing out and repairing all the scratches and dents that remained from Irma.

DOWNTOWN CRUZ BAY

The key places that were still closed since Irmaria, Beach Bar and Joe’s Rum Hut (now named Rum Hut with a slightly more upscale menu and look) have just re-opened so Cruz Bay town is pretty much like it was. Beautiful large Coconut Palm Trees have been planted along Cruz Bay beach and it looks great. Planting them was a major undertaking, check out the video here.

The wine shop Island Cork that carries more than 200 different wines now added a Bistro with great snacks it is a great place to unwind and have a terrific glass of wine with some fantastic treats.

The Parrot Club expects to reopen there within the next few weeks, and upscale dining venue  Waterfront Bistro has plans to reopen later this year.

Sushi Bar Umami is gone there now is a Tap & Still which some of you might now from Red Hook, St. Thomas.

The gravel parking lot by barge exit that had been closed for maintenance since October has also just re-opened and parking is currently free there (YAY!). There also is a new paid parking in the place where Lumberyard used to be that is the best / closest parking if you go on a charter for us unless you can snatch up one of the few free spaces by National Park Dock. If you are in that area, also check out the Eco Station St. John which offers recycling and refills for cleaners, shampoo etc a great approach to tackle the trash problem on our little island.

BEACHES AND RESORTS

The Westin is up and running and everything is looking great.

Caneel Bay Resort and Cinnamon Campground remain closed with no opening/rebuilding date. You can park at the former Caneel entrance and pay for a golf cart transfer to Honeymoon Beach or you can rent a paddleboard from us and paddle to the caneel beaches by paddleboard.

Concordia Eco Resort near Salt Pond has new owners and they are rebuilding.

A new bar has opened across the road from Maho (“Maho Crossroads”). Some love it others hate it, overall Maho is busier than before and parking can be a challenge. In return Cinnamon is very peaceful and quiet with ample parking now that there is no campground.

Yes, we are missing a lot of the beautiful Palmtrees at some beaches and sadly the National Park does not consider them “native species” so they are not replanting them. However a lot of the shrubs are gone so many beaches like hawksnest that were narrow before are now much wider.

2020 boating destinations

BVI

Everything for our main destinations in the BVIs is pretty much back to normal,  Corsairs at Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke (pictured below) has been completely rebuilt since the hurricanes and is looking great!

corsairs-jostvandyke-bvi-850

Foxy’s Taboo (Diamond Cay, pictured below) has also been rebuilt and Pirate’s on Norman Island is back open, Willy T. have moved back to Norman Island so aside from the ever increasing BVI customs fees (at the moment about 75-95$ per person) everything is like before or even better.

We can only imagine how bad the hurricanes and storm surge must have been on one of our favorite places, Anegada, as it is very low with almost zero elevation but you will not be able to tell, everything has been rebuilt and looks amazing and a lot of the big palm trees at Cow Wreck beach (pictured below) survived the storms.

 

USVI

Lime Out

The new Limeout floating taco bar that was located in the East End near Hanson Bay is closed due to permitting problems / deny of mooring permit at the location. It remains closed until further notice while they search for a better location. Abi’s at Green Cay /STT is also closed and it does not look like they will be reopening.

day-trip-to-lime-out-stjohn-usvi

So for now Pizza Pi the pizza boat remains the only “bar stop” on the USVI trips. So the full day trip can be a pretty long day on the water as you are not leaving the boat except for snorkeling, so we have added a new USVI trip that is the 3/4 day St. John which is 6 hours and enough to bring you to the key sights on St. John in the North and South without going all around the island.

More to come…

New USVI destinations are however in the works among others a new resort/restaurant on Lovango Cay as well as a floating lounge in Pillsbury Sound.

Lovango Resort and Beach Club

New destination on Lovango is opening this week (Feb 2, 2020)

zozo-h20-lovango

Phase 1

ZoZo’s H2O Restaurant (opening Feb 2020)

Casual dining at the water’s edge, this is the perfect lunch, full-day or dinner excursion. Lunch and early dinner served daily from 11am-6pm

This is a possible stop on our 3/4 day or full day St. John trip.

Phase 2

The Lovango Beach Club (opening December 2020)

The first of its type in the USVI! The Beach Club will provide restaurant services, an exotic beach destination with services:

Beach facilities, water sports, beach games, large oceanfront swimming pool, cabanas, changing facilities with locker rooms and showers for boaters

Daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal memberships

Phase 3

The Lovango Resort & Beach Club (opening December 2021)

An island resort community with discretely-located accommodations. Your home away from home is designed to maximize your privacy with spectacular views. The resort will include attention to wellness and picturesque wedding venues. Hotel guests may enjoy all the benefits of the Beach Club.

This stunning resort will be fully self-sustainable providing its own solar and wind power for electricity and a reverse osmosis plant for all of its fresh water needs.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE

Follow us on facebook.com/rockhoppin or instagram.com/rockhoppin_charters for updates.

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Pizza Pi re-opening for 2019/2020 season

Mark your calendars, the iconic Pizza Pi boat that serves fresh pizza made on the boat is re-opening for the second season under new ownership.

They have done a complete interior overhaul. These changes will allow them to increase capacity and dramatically reduce wait times. The changes include:

    • Installation of new 20kw generator to support additional capacity.

    • Installation of an additional oven that will increase pizza producing capacity by ~65%.

    • Complete redesign of galley and forecastle for increased refrigeration, storage and overall greater efficiency.

    • Improved space for displaying and storing merchandise.

    • Installation of new sound system with Wakeboard and JL speakers.

Where is the Pizza Boat?

The Pizza Boat is at Christmas Cove off Little St. James. There is great snorkeling nearby or when go there for dinner on a sunset cruise.

How to book a Trip to Pizza Pi

We can visit Pizza Pi within the following trips

boat-trip-stjohn-to-pizza-pi

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Half Day Boat Trip: Best of St. John

See the island from the water. Explore what St. John is known for: turquoise water, white sand beaches, sea turtles, dolphins, etc. We will take you out to Whisling Cay to visit the old customs house and some snorkeling and then cruise back along the North Shore, past Francis, Maho, Cinnamon, Trunk, Hawksnest, Dennis and can top at Henley Cay / Lovango for more snorkeling. We can also stop at the Pizza Boat near Little St. James for some delicious, fresh pizza (if it is open that day)

The timing and route is flexible, one thing is certain: You will see the Best of St. John at a great price for only 350$ incl. Captain and fuel with no hidden charges!

Read More

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Anegada Lobster Festival, Nov 29th

The Anegada Lobster Festival is for everyone who loves food, loves lobster, loves the Caribbean and dreams of the British Virgin Islands! Rock Hoppin’ will be heading there and we might have a few free spaces. Email info(at)rockhoppin.com if you are interested.

Anegada Lobster Festival 2014 Participating Restaurants Map is a two-day culinary event held on the shores of Anegada on November 29th and 30th. The event was created to entice our community, visitors, new travellers and the niche market of food connoisseurs to the shores of the British Virgin Islands to experience our versatile tourism product.

The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, together with the population of Anegada, will feature talented local chefs who will be on hand to prepare, cook, and serve plated sample lobster dishes at participating Anegada restaurants. Over the course of two days, attendees will embark on an island adventure that will take them on a culinary journey via safari, scooter or rental car. Participants will dine on three different lobster samplers at each restaurant at a cost of $10-$12 per sampler plate.

Along with spectacular sightseeing, great food, drink, and a sunset party, attendees will have a unique Anegada experience unlike any other in the Caribbean.

Culinary tourism has increasingly sparked interest amongst travellers worldwide that seek to experience a destination’s local culture through authentic dining opportunities.

Gonzalo missed us and the new hats have arrived

Rockhoppin Powerboat Charters USVI First of all, we are really grateful that hurricane Gonzalo, that was headed straight for the USVI magically turned North and missed us. We had taken all boards down from the roof onto the veranda and towed the boat out of water, better safe than sorry. A few days later, the boards are back on the roof and the boat is back in the water. Read More