Cooking a turkey on St. John is a true island experience. And no baking oven or deep fryer will do. An interesting tradition among those who cook their own birds for the holiday includes smoking the turkey with a termite’s nest. Sounds gross, but some of the most squeamish among us declare this method produces the most delectable taste.

Did you know that the termite nests you see stuck to the trees around St. John are rock hard? They only look fragile, and are nothing like a flimsy bee’s nest. Local resident Bill Willigerod has been smoking his turkey with termite nests for the last 15 years and shared with us how he does it:

  1. Find an abandoned termite nest (the kind on trees). Termites typically nest on genip trees.
  2. Soak a part of the nest in water for a few hours overnight.
  3. In a smoker, place the nest on the hot coals.
  4. On top of the nest, put a pan with wine or other liquid.
  5. Place the turkey on a rack above the pan of liquid.
  6. Slow cook until done (*30-40 minutes per pound)
  7. Let it rest for an hour before serving
  8. Get some before it disappears

*Bill recommends using a meat thermometer to ensure the thick part of the thigh registers at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not cooking? Head to the annual Thanks-pigging potluck at Skinny Legs, or head to Wok on the Beach, Aqua Bistro, Indigo Grill, Miss Lucy’s or Oasis. Nobody goes hungry in Coral Bay on Thanksgiving. And if you’re gobbling up a great beach day first, why not swing into Cruz Bay and hit the Lime Inn.

For those looking to torch some calories before the big bird goes down, head to Annaberg for the annual Turkey Trot. Run or walk 5k with the big boys, or root on the little ones in the 1-Mile Fun Run. Organized by the St. John Landsharks, the event is free and attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate. Click here for race details and map.

Interested in booking St. John Virgin Islands rentals? The best place in Coral Bay is Windspree Vacation Homes, managing Virgin Islands vacation rentals for over 30 years. Book your St. John vacation rental from people who live there and know the island best! For more information on Virgin Islands rentals and St. John USVI rentals, checkout Windspree.com or call/text (340)201-3002.

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