Well St. John Lovers,
School’s back in session. Your college offspring have now “fleeced” your wallets and savings accounts for everything from clothes, tuition, room and board but most importantly to them, BEER MONEY (disguised to you as food allowance)! Time to start thinking about yourself. If “The Rock” is in your agenda I recommend you visit the beach pictured below for a lazy day in the sun.
This is not the biggest or longest beach, but to me, certainly the most interesting I’ve run across on St. John for a number of reasons which I’ll explain. Back in the 50’s Robert Oppenheimer began to vacation with his wife Kitty and daughter Toni. As he spent more and more time on St. John sailing the waters he decided in 1957 to purchase two acres from the Gibney’s next door and soon erected a modest oceanfront cottage on the beach. The Oppenheimer family spent long stretches of time vacationing on the island and by the 60’s he basically lived full time on St. John.
And as the famous Paul Harvey Jr. use to say “Now for the rest of the story!”
It wasn’t until 2007 that I learned from New York City friends of mine Gerald and Paulie the full story of Oppenheimer. See for those of you too young to remember as even I am, Robert Oppenheimer, a Physicist, was the lead managing scientist involved in the development of the Manhattan Project which initially started at the University of Chicago and moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Mr. Oppenheimer is considered by most, as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb!” He was on an equal plateau with the more famous Albert Einstein.
However, by the mid 50’s he became very vocal regarding the direction of Atomic Energy Commission as they were not solely focused on peaceful endeavors using atomic energy. As a result, he was stripped of his Top Secret clearance and essentially retreated to St. John.
When he died, his wife took the urn of his ashes and dropped it off a boat in front of his beloved island retreat. When Kitty died the beach property was left to Toni, their daughter. She died tragically at age thirty-three leaving the property to the People of St. John. They in turn, donated the beach to the National Park. Toni’s ashes were likewise scattered to the winds on the water in front of the beloved family cottage.
The family home was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo and the National Park several years later erected a block building which is now used for parties and social functions. There are a number of great books on Robert Oppenheimer and his wife which I encourage you to read. Kitty in her own right produced several scandals and definitely was no prude. Robert and Kitty Oppenheimer were to say the least, a most interesting couple and probably least acknowledged on St. John.
To get to Oppenheimer Beach – take the North Shore Road from Cruz Bay and look to the left. You will see a white picket fence that is the Gibney property. Just past, there is a metal gate with part of the Oppenheimer name still on it. Park on either side of the gate (not in front or you might be towed by the Park Rangers) walk down the short concrete drive and you have arrived at this famous beach.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the tranquility of the beach as much as Robert Oppenheimer and his family did those many years ago. I smile each time I return to this small stretch of beautiful sand and think fondly about Oppenheimer, his family, and the legacy he made to mankind.
After questions about airlines, car rentals, villas this topic is most often addressed. Should you pack frozen food for your island week or not? Just two of you, then I don’t recommend it – too much hassle. But if four or more, especially if you blessed with teenage “Eating Machines” that at home think a refrigerator is their private domain, then it’s a good idea to pack some grub.
Groceries and eating out on St. John can become expensive, real quick. Just for example; Jiffy Peanut Butter at your favorite Kmart costs around $3.00 a jar, but on St. John that same item $7.00. Get the idea?
Get a cheap Styrofoam cooler or in some cases I’ve heard of people buying an old suitcase at a garage sale. Doesn’t make any differences it’s only going one way. At the same time, buy some plastic wrap not the bubble wrap – it takes up too much room.
For shipment: steak, hamburger, pork chops, chicken, gramma’s lasagna and other stuff you love to eat. Now two to three days before departing for St. John freeze everything solid.
The night before departing layer your frozen foods starting with your plastic wrap on the bottom. On the very top place those gotta have snacks: Pringles, trail mix, peanut butter, crackers, cereal. Oh, you know the stuff.
Absolutely do not use dry ice or ice when packing. Now seal the Styrofoam cooler with duct tape and wrap it with same. Put the address where you’re are going to be staying on the top along with your cell number and ship as luggage.
I’ve never had one cooler opened in all my trips by TSA. But, I’ve had a day delay in arrival of my cooler and when I opened it everything was still frozen solid.
Enjoy a little feeling of home while on vacation and I’m always open to a dinner invitation!
Cheapest place to buy booze and can goods – Pine Peace Market. Yea, at first impression it’ll look like a bunch of drug deals going on. Not the case – it’s most likely just a lot of people congregating right outside the door to share island gossip. Just ignore that – everyone is very friendly both outside and inside the store and you’ll get a little island flavor while saving some bucks.
A couple of notes, got some great weeks in October still available and of course, as a subscriber to this newsletter you will get a 5% discount just for asking. Return guests and you know who you are, you’ll always get a better deal.
Got five nights “Orphan” nights at Bordo Mare January due to extended bookings they are January 2-7th. Of course, I’ll give you a great deal. Better you take them now rather when you have your hand on a snow shovel scooping that crap out of your drive. This way you got something to look forward to!
One last note on availability and reservations. If you are considering high season on St. John, that being, from Xmas through April 15th, don’t dally. Most of the better villas rent up really quick during that period so the time to make a winter decision is now. In my case, I have not had an open day from mid-December to the end of June for the past two years.
Also, car rentals go really fast and three month advance notice to secure a car is rather a short period in the winter you need to reserve a car right now
Of course, you can find both of my villas along with all my previous monthly newsletters and information on my website:
They are still also listed on VRBO at #251854 and #465589 with more than 100 excellent reviews. Unlike VRBO, I never charge a “Service Fee” nor a processing fee for your credit cards. If you have any questions please email or call me at (972) 679-9937.
Hope you liked the information provided here and maybe it’ll add to your St. John vacation experience. I got another GREAT Newsletter planned for October with definitely a different “twist.” Don't forget you can connect with Mulley's St. John Villas on Facebook. Click the Facebook button at the end of this text to head over to my Facebook page. Although, in all honesty, I still haven’t mastered Facebook but keep trying my darnest.
With each passing month, I move further and further (or is it farther and farther? Damn, I never know) away from VRBO where they charge you a Service Fee. I’d love to hear from you and am always interested in your friends joining my newsletter as well as stories you would like to share about St. John.
Have a great remaining Summer and I’ll “Leave The Lite On For You” at your new island home.
Mike Mullen – Owner Bordo Mare & Sopra Mare
But everyone just calls me “Mulley!”