St. John, one of the three U.S. Virgin Islands destinations, is a nature lover’s paradise. Most of the island consists of the Virgin Islands National Park, with its incredible beaches, snorkeling, and 20 friendly hiking trails.
Visitors can explore all that St. John has to offer or simply stretch out on a beach with a rum cocktail. Such are the difficult choices to be made in St. John.
About St. John
St. John is the smallest of the three major U.S. Virgin Islands and is located 80 miles from Puerto Rico in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is a mere 9 miles long and 5 miles wide, with a stunning coastline and a special National Park. It’s a small package loaded with dynamic beauty.
St. John is somewhat exclusive – there are only two major resorts, with many visitors staying at a rental villa. It is accessible only by boat and ferry from nearby St. Thomas. Or by private yacht. The island has been referred to as the “Beverly Hills of the Caribbean.” It’s a paradise vacation that can be affordable to all. Cruz Bay is St. John’s major city and where the ships and ferries come to dock. The wharf is surrounded by shops and restaurants, as well as a casino.
Indigenous tribes have occupied St. John since 700 BC. Christopher Columbus discovered the island, and both England and the Danes became excited about the profit possibilities surrounding its sugar canes. The two countries spend years disputing ownership of St. John. By 1728, the Danes established permanent settlements and plantations. The small island was home to 109 thriving cotton and sugar plantations.
Plantations required work, and slavery was soon introduced to St. John, but not without resistance. After decades of revolts, the Danes finally abolished slavery in 1848. Without slaves, many of the plantations faltered. Many slave owners left and sold the land to their former slaves.
While St. John’s economy struggled, Denmark sold the island to the United States in 1917, along with the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. Together, the three islands became an unincorporated U.S. territory called the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. John was turned into a natural Eden, with a 5,000-acre national park and beautiful beaches, such as the incredible Trunk Bay.
St. John may have the most exquisite unspoiled beauty in the Caribbean, and a large portion of the island has been turned into a National Park to ensure that it remains that way, all while still offering all modern luxuries and conveniences. The Virgin Islands National Park, as it is known, spreads across two-thirds of the island and includes its shores, reefs, and waters.
Language Spoken in St. John
English is the official language in St. John, even if it is spoken with an accent.
Currency Used in St. John
The currency of St. John is the U.S. Dollar, and businesses accept all major credit cards.
Things to Do in St. John
The Underwater Snorkeling Trail – Trunk Bay
Most people are used to exploring their surroundings via hiking trails. St. John’s Underwater Snorkeling Trail allows the same type of exploration underwater by Trunk Bay beach with underwater directions and markings. The entire trail takes approximately 1 hour as the world below the surface comes alive with schools of fish and turtles.
The snorkeling trail in fabulous Trunk Bay is ideal for kids and beginning snorkelers as the water is less than 20 feet deep. Much of the marine life can be viewed from the water’s surface.
Virgin Islands National Park
The Virgin Islands National Park is the heart and soul of St. John. There is so much to do here. Kayaking in Hurricane Hole is one of the best ways to see the park and St. John itself and all the amazing marine life, such as snappers, starfish, and barracudas. The majority of St. John’s beaches are located in Virgin Island’s National Park, and they are some of the best in the Caribbean.
In addition to exploring the waters in the park, there is plenty to explore on land, such as Annaberg, a colonial plantation that is still fairly intact, a reminder of the colonial era’s sugar industry and life on a plantation. Strolling the trails around Annaberg provides visitors with stunning views of St. John.
The park’s rangers lead several hikes, such as bird watching.
Elaine Lone Sprauve Library and Museum
St. John isn’t all splendid beaches. The Elaine Lone Sprauve Library is one of the oldest surviving buildings on St. John. This library and museum is one the best sources of St. John’s history and the entire Caribbean past. The collection includes documents, books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as photographs and paintings about the island.
Lime Out Taco Boat
People shouldn’t have to choose between a delicious taco and floating in the ocean. And the Lime Out Taco Boat has made this difficult choice unnecessary. Lime Out is a floating restaurant serving tacos, tortillas, and curried chicken, among other delectables. Tacos are the favorite since you can eat them with one hand while holding a tequila in the other. Does it get any better?
Visitors reach the Lime Out via speedboat, kayak, or paddleboard. The tacos, or whatever was ordered, will be served from the floating restaurant to your own vessel. Then it’s time to chow down and perhaps take an after-lunch swim around the eatery before returning to shore.
The Parrot Club
The Parrot Club Casino is near the ferry dock in Cruz Bay and is a very popular attraction. The casino has slot machines, video poker, roulette, as well as fine dining, and a bar.
Best Beaches in St John
Trunk Bay Beach
Trunk Bay Beach has been voted one of the top ten beaches in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine and is the most famous and most photographed beach in St. John. The National Park Service has turned this beach mecca into a true masterpiece for snorkeling and swimming. This is where visitors will find the Underwater Snorkeling Trail.
Every convenience is seen to as visitors can rent chairs and snorkel gear as well as take a shower. Trunk Beach is just over 2 miles from Cruz Bay.
Maho Bay Beach
Maho Bay Beach, which is bordered by swaying palm trees providing cool shade, is family-friendly with grills, tables, and restrooms, and the shoreline is shallow enough for children to splash and wade, especially on the eastern side. Snorkelers may encounter schools of angelfish, parrotfish, pelicans, harmless nurse sharks, and sea turtles.
Visitors can hike up the Cinnamon Trail on the west side to explore the ruins of America Hill Great House, a remnant of St. John’s colonial past.
Cinnamon Bay Beach
Cinnamon Bay Beach is both a white sand beach lined with palm trees and an eco-camping site with its own restrooms, café, sports equipment, chair rental shop and general store. There are even art classes, guided tours, watersports (snorkeling) lessons, and other fun activities. This is a place no one ever wants to leave.
Snorkelers will find plenty of fish and corals here, especially on the eastern end of the beautiful beach.
The secluded Honeymoon Beach is getting a lot of attention. Perhaps it is its very seclusion that gave the beach its name, as it is the perfect beach for a romantic stroll. Visitors can hike the popular and scenic Lind Point Trail to get to the beach. The closest accommodation to the beach is the Caneel Bay Resort, which is a ten-minute walk away.
Denis Beach is secluded and peaceful, and visitors may have the entire beach to themselves. It is located a mile and a half from Cruz Bay via North Shore Road. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all. Take the trail up Peace Hill and explore the ruins of another colonial sugar plantation. The hike offers an amazing view of St. John.
The Best Resort in St. John
Hotel Cruz Bay is a beachfront boutique hotel located amid Cruz Bay and its shopping, restaurants, and bars. There is never a lack of activities or things to enjoy. The hotel is only a few feet to the right of the ferry drop-off area and a two-minute stroll from the beach. The steakhouse restaurant is located on the first floor, and a complimentary breakfast is served every morning on the second-floor balcony. There are approximately 40 other eateries nearby.
The Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in St. John
Gallows Point Resort is just a short stroll from Cruz Bay and offers beachfront accommodations with stunning views. The beach is ideal for snorkeling or simply relaxing. Private villas with terraces are perfect for romance. The resort has an onsite restaurant and coffee shop for breakfasts. Concierge service is available to book trips to neighboring islands and any other activities.
The resort’s location is ideal for shopping and strolling through Cruz Bay. It also provides an opportunity for couples to take day trips to St. Thomas or any of the nearby British Virgin Islands.
Best Resort or Hotel for Families in St. John
The Westin St. John Resort Villas is a luxury resort that has individual villas with full kitchens and up to three bedrooms that can easily accommodate families. It is on the beach with its own pool, tennis court, fitness center, and poolside restaurant. The spa offers in-suite couples’ massages.
The Westin Kids Club is for children between the ages of 3 to 12. Here, they can enjoy arts and crafts, games, supervised fun by the pool, story time, and movies.