Imagine waking up and thinking “I get to go to work today!” and by work I mean running a charter business in St. John, US Virgin Islands. That’s the reality for Joe and Katie Zachary who own Love City Excursions, a full service excursion company based on the beautiful island of St. John. So just how did they do it? How did they relocate to a beautiful island and start their own business? Here’s their story.
Katie grew up in a small town in Colorado and after graduating from high school AND college in 6 years – she was burnt out! Two weeks after graduating, she packed up and moved to St. John for a bit of adventure and a different pace of life. She lived and worked in St. John for about a year, then left to travel through Europe. She ended up in Boston, but missed St. John so much she decided to move back.
Meanwhile, Joe, who had grown up in Nashville, Tennessee, graduated from the University of Tennessee. A year after graduating, he decided to move down to St. John, a place he had visited as a kid and loved. He immediately got a job working on boats and on the beach at the Westin and eventually started captaining To make a long story short, these two island loving adventurers eventually found love together and just got married this past summer.
They began to work together on their dream of owning their own business and opened Love City Excursions earlier this year. Starting a business in the islands was not without a bit of drama though. They encountered MANY trials and tribulations with purchasing a boat in the VI’s, but their new boat, CatZilla finally arrived July 13th.
Katie said, “She was shipped down here the same day we got married. I was actually at our wedding rehearsal standing at the altar on the phone with the trucker because our trailer blew out 3 tires on the way from North Carolina to Florida where it was being put on a shipping container. Thankfully, my amazing bridesmaid took the phone and my credit card and took care of it so I could get through our rehearsal!”
CatZilla is a 33 foot world cat power catamaran. She is built for off shore fishing, so she handles the waves and rough weather that the area sometimes gets like a dream. She’s a very large boat, so the name “CatZilla” is fitting! Although Katie can also captain the boat, Joe usually takes the helm while Katie, whose degree is in marketing, runs the business end.
Love City Excursions offers completely customizable full and half day charters in the USVI and BVI. Charters generally leave from the National Park Dock in Cruz Bay. I asked what their most popular charter was and Katie said, “We seem to get a lot of requests for a trip called The Triangle, which is snorkeling at Norman Island, eating lunch over there and then Soggy Dollar.”
I asked what makes Love City such a highly rated excursion company – already! Katie said, “What makes our excursions great is two things. 1. We are a family run business so from start to finish. You’ll be dealing with Joe and I and we are both very happy when we make our guests happy. We use the slogan, The Best Day of Your Vacation, and it really, really is people’s favorite day while they are here! 2. Our Boat. CatZilla is the largest small powerboat on St. John and she can handle the weather like no other boat out there. It’s a dry, fast, and super comfortable ride.
The Baths, Virgin Gorda (photo: Love City Excursions)
I had just one more question to ask before wrapping up our interview. What is the BEST and WORST part about living on St. John? Katie answered, “The worst. Ahhh. Island life challenges. The normal things: groceries are expensive (almond butter is $27.99), apartments are at a premium and very scarce right now, gas is expensive, our power goes out a lot, everything takes a long time to accomplish, our apartment floods when it rains, you’re always fighting mold and mosquitos, sometimes there are scorpions in your bed (or on your pillow,) I received mail last week from December of 2014, and things just don’t work the same here. We all joke that we’re about ten years behind the states. And the hardest thing of all is being away from our families. But on the flip side, the BEST part of living here. Easy. The community here. Everyone helps everyone else and anytime someone is in need the entire community bands together to help anyway they can. That’s also probably why it’s called Love City, or at least a large part of it. St. John is safe, beyond beautiful, and we are SO lucky to call it home.
Trunk Bay Overlook (photo: Love City Excursions)
Would you like to find out more about booking an excursion with Katie, Joe and Love City Excursions?
Call them at 1.340.998.7604 or email: [email protected]