St. John Virgin Islands Overview
The tropical isle of St. John is one of many U.S. Virgin Islands that rests along the outskirts of the Caribbean Sea. It is an incredibly popular tourist destination for travelers hoping to spend some leisure time basking in the sun on one of the island's pristine white sand beaches. St. John is an unincorporated territory of the United States, and presents visitors with a wide selection of excellent waterfront and land-based activities and excursions.
St. John is divided into four subdistricts known as Central, Coral Bay, Cruz Bay and East End. The island has a high level of affluence and is often called the “Beverly Hills of the Caribbean.” Many people venture to St. John for destination weddings or to enjoy a tropical getaway. Much of the coastline is untouched and hiking trails lead through the ancient ruins of 18th-century Danish plantations.
One way to get a great view of the city is to take a taxi tour from Cruz Bay. There are also a number of ferry docks in this subdistrict. If you’re looking for a day of adventure, Cruz Bay has bars, restaurants, boutiques and beachy pastel-painted homes. Life in St. John is slow-paced compared to the big-citystyle of St. Thomas.
Virgin Islands National Park
Be sure to visit the Virgin Islands National Park for a chance to explore some of the region's gorgeous natural features. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will be pleased to find quite a few trails that lead you through the overgrown foliage of the preservation. Chose between 20 different hiking paths that range from a 15-minute meander to 2-hour treks. Discover the ancient history of St. John and gaze upon centuries-old cave paintings left by long forgotten cultures dating as far back as 1,000 B.C. when the first human inhabitants were thought to have settled on the island. If you find yourself a bit famished after a day of natural excursions, stop by the park's restaurant to dine on seafood delicacies and other island delectables.
Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins
You can head to Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins and explore the history of the 18th-century mill and plantation. Admission to the plantation is free and guests can learn more about where the Danes kept and maintained the sugar mill after 1718. Annaberg can easily be found east of Trunk Bay along Northshore Road. You can even get a guided walk through the area on certain days of the week.
The crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and the white sand beaches that dominate St. John's coastline offer guests a wide range of fun activities and excursions. Just be sure to pack a few bottles of sunscreen so you can avoid some mean sunburns.
Cruz Bay Watersports Co.
Take a scenic tour of the island's coastal waters under the direction of the friendly staff at Cruz Bay Watersports. Enjoy a sunset cruise aboard one of the massive catamarans of the company's fleet, and enjoy breathtaking oceanic vistas while sipping on Champagne and munching hor d'oeuvres. Gliding along the gentle currents of the Caribbean Sea, guests may encounter a wide range of marine life, including tropical fish, coral reefs and dolphin pods. Cruz Bay Watersports also offers guests a chance to rent a dinghy or wave runner, snorkel and scuba dive, or take a day trip to the British Virgin Islands that reside just north of St. John.
Discovery Undersea Glass Bottom Boat
If you'd prefer to stay out of the water, Discovery Undersea Glass Bottom Boat tours offer guests a chance to gaze upon the vibrant tropical fish and coral reefs scattered throughout the coastal waters without a snorkel or a swimsuit. Their massive ocean vessel possesses a unique viewing room in the base of the ship that contains 20 angled windows situated 6 feet under the ocean's surface. The interesting arrangement allows patrons to spot dolphins, sea turtles, eagle rays and a vast array of colorful fish as the boat trolls effortlessly over the area's best coral reefs. Guests aboard the Discovery are welcome to indulge in a great selection of snacks and hor d'oeuvres, rum punch or beverages available at the on-deck cash bar.
World Class Anglers
Visitors hoping to reel in a monster should charter a fishing cruise with the good folks at World Class Anglers. As the oldest fishing charter business on the island, World Class Anglers guarantees that all guests will catch a few fish or you won't have to pay for your trip. Drop a line and jig for white marlins, wahoo, kingfish and African pompano, as the 35' Carolina Classic glides gracefully upon the ocean currents. Captains Chris and Adam have more than 30 years of experience in the industry, and are sure to direct you toward all the best spots to reel in that prized catch. Guests are provided with bait, tackle, fuel, drinks and any other equipment that may be needed.
Travelers should make a point to spend a few days relaxing on some of St. John's magnificent beaches. Hawksnest Beach is one of the island's best, and offers guests ample parking, picnic tables, barbecue grills and a stunning view of the ocean. A coral reef rests under the waves just off-shore, and provides visitors with a colorful array of marine life and natural splendor. The beach at Cinnamon Bay is one of the most popular on the island, and presents tourists with the opportunity to engage in some kayaking or windsurfing along the clear coastal waters. Hiking and walking trails can be found at this location as well, and give nature enthusiasts the opportunity to lose themselves within the seclusion of the island's natural sanctuaries.
Top Restaurants and Shopping
If you’re looking for high-class dining, you’ll find great eateries at luxury resorts in Caneel Bay. There are also West Indian restaurants to give you a delicious taste into the local flavor. Keep in mind that dinner may cost a pretty penny at some of these posh dining locations, but many other establishments have a lot to offer at a reasonable rate. Dinner is a big deal in St. John, and you’ll quickly learn that it’s one of the island’s most popular forms of nightlife.
Families will find delectable locations in St. John, including Cafe Roma, Miss Lucy’s and Rhumb Lines. The best pizza on the island can be found at Cafe Roma while Miss Lucy’s offers parents the perfect opportunity to introduce their children to West Indian cuisine. Over at Rhumb Lines you’ll find a Caribbean atmosphere with some of the best appetizers on the island.
Each and every one of the boutiques and shops found in Cruz Bay are special and individualized. Many of the shops are found at Mongoose Junction, a 5-minute walk from the ferry dock in a woodsy area beside the roadway. Retail lovers will want to visit Wharfside Village before heading home. This shopping center is near the ferry departure point and is a complex of courtyards, alleys and patios intertwined between boutiques, restaurants and bars.
If you’re looking for a piece of Caribbean art to bring home with you, Bajo El Sol is the place to go. It’s here where island artists showcase their award-winning paintings, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry.
Some travelers may want to take home a souvenir. At Bamboula in Mongoose Junction, you’ll find gifts from the island, the Caribbean, India, Indonesia and Central Africa.
If you’ll be on the island on the last Saturday of the month, then St. John Saturday is one thing you won’t want to miss. This is one of the most fun experiences you can have on the island and begins early in the morning in the center of town. Throughout the day, vendors bring handmade items to the event, which spreads across the park. You’ll find jewelry, hand-crafted goods, clothing and food made from local ingredients.
No matter what you’re looking for in a vacation, St. John is a great Caribbean destination. You can enjoy lounging on the beach or enjoying the nightlife of Cruz Bay. Water activities are plentiful, as are adventures through the hiking trails that will lead you into the island’s historic Danish past.