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Saint John (Virgin Islands)

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Saint John is the smallest, but many say the prettiest of the U.S. Virgin Islands because of its world-class beaches. Two-thirds of Saint John is Virgin Islands National Park.

Understand

The main community on the island is Cruz Bay, located on the western side of the island.

History

First settled by Arawak natives and then by Carib natives who drove the Arawaks from the island in 1300. Discovered by Columbus on his second voyage to the "new world" and claimed for Spain. Later owned by the Danish who sold it to the United States in 1917.

Get in

Ferries are available everyday from St. Thomas, departing from both Charlotte-Amalie and Redhook. The Redhook ferries run every hour from 6am until 11pm, while Charlotte-Amalie only has 3 trips a day at 10am, 1pm, and 5:30pm.

Both ferries arrive at the main ferry terminal in Cruz Bay. A taxi line is located next to the terminal, and the Vitran Bus also stops at the terminal.

Customs

It is customary to look all natives in the eyes and greet them with a "Good Morning" in the morning, "Good Afternoon" in the afternoon, and "Good Evening" after 5 pm. It is considered to be respectful.

By plane

Fly into Saint Thomas' Cyril E King Airport [1] (IATA: STT), and take a taxi to the nearest ferry service (see below).

By boat

Hourly ferry service from Red Hook, Saint Thomas (a 20-minute ride) is available to Cruz Bay, St. John and operates from 6:30AM, then hourly from 7AM - midnight. Ferry service from St. John to St. Thomas runs on the hour from 6AM-11PM. Less frequent ferries travel between Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John (a 45-minute ride). Ferries also run to and from Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada (in the British Virgin Islands).

Get around

Renting a car is the best way to see all the beaches and other sites. However, be aware that the terrain is extremely hilly, and you have to drive on the left. If you rent a car, it's a good idea to request a Jeep or other four-wheel-drive vehicle. Cab service is affordable and plentiful, especially to the north shore beaches.

The Vitran bus service runs from Cruz Bay over Coral Bay to Salt Pond and back every hour and is a great and affordable (1$ per person) way to cross the island, or to get to any of the numerous hiking trails that start around Centerline Road.

Touring the island by yacht charter is another option which allows you easy access to the main sites of the island. BVI Boat [2] is one yacht charter company offering luxury motorboats, catamarans, and monohulls.

See

Do

  • Take a tour by jeep and boat around the island or sit on the white sandy beaches.
  • Take a taxi or rent a car. Drive around the island and stop at the beaches and spend all day snorkeling.
  • Miles of hiking trails criss-cross the entire island. Maps are available from the U.S. Park Service office in Cruz Bay. Ranger guided hikes can also be scheduled for a small fee at the same office.
  • Annaberg Sugar Plantation.
  • Travel to the SE portion of the island and hike to Salt Pond.
  • Have dinner at La Plancha del Mar.

Learn

The surrounding woods and brush areas are often populated with wildlife. The park has 140 species of birds, 302 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 22 species of mammals and 740 species of plants. The only mammal native to St. John is the bat, and the six species are important pollinators of native plants. The island also has many other species of animals that are not native, including deer, goats, sheep, donkeys, cats, dogs, mongoose and pigs.

Work

  • St. John Guide Book, [3]. The St. John Guide Book has information on things to do, places to eat and places to stay.

Buy

Currency, its access, and customs considerations are basically the same as for Saint Thomas. Cruz Bay has a few merchants offering jewelry, liquor and souvenirs, but somewhat more genteel than in most cruise ports. For items that benefit from duty-free importation, prices generally rival those in Saint Thomas. (See this topic for Saint Thomas; most advice applies, though St John is seldom overrun by cruise passengers shopping.)

Island shopping ranges from walk-up drink and food shacks to a stylish, tiered, open-air galleria/mall. Most are in or within easy walking distance of the harbor, e.g., the gallery of shops at Mongoose Junction.

  • Mongoose Junction (St John USVI Virgin Islands Shopping), Cruz Bay (Across from the VI National Park Visitors Center), [4]. Mongoose Junction is a very popular shopping and dining spot on the shady end of Cruz Bay in a historic stone and mahogany setting joined by shady tropical garden courtyards. Unique and exceptional retail shops, art galleries and a varied selection of dining and bars make Mongoose Junction a great gathering place for island visitors and locals alike.
  • Verace, 340.693.7599, [5]. Designer jewelry store located in Wharfside Village.

Eat

St. John has more than 35 places to dine, ranging from chic and expensive restaurants to funky beachside food stands. After dark the island comes alive with hotel and villa guests seeking out one of the island's cozy and romantic restaurants.

The best cheeseburger in this paradise can be found at Skinny Legs in Coral Bay. Great food, excellent harborside venue, and an excellent place for a cold beer after a busy day of snorkeling. An absolute must even if only visiting the island for a day (or even part of a day).

  • Vie's Snack Shack, East End, St. John (3 hills past Haulover), N/A. Vie's Snack Shack is a roadside snack bar with picnic tables, where you can find the best garlic chicken in the world! Vie also sells johnny cakes, conch fritters, and the likes, but the garlic fried chicken is unbelievable! If you are out on the East End of the Island, Vie is a must-try. Just hope you're not scared of a few chicken at your feet! Hi!

Budget

  • Windy Level Restaurant, (340) 715-2000, [6]. Windy Level is on Centerline Road, Route 10 and is about 8 minutes from Cruz Bay.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

  • Woody's Seafood Saloon, [7]. Woody's happy hour is daily, 3PM-6PM. Happy hour is nearing when you hear music from The Blues Brothers, and ends when the theme song from the TV show Rawhide is finished playing.
  • Woody's Seafood Saloon. daily happy hour 3pm-6pm


Sleep

  • Cimmaron St. John (st john villa rentals), Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00830, 340-715-2666, [8]. Cimmaron St. John offers luxurious [St. John Villa Rentals] with stunning views of Cruz Bay. We have villas for any group size and budget.http://www.CimmaronStJohn.com

Budget

Mid-range

  • Hillcrest Guest House, (in Cruz Bay), +1-340-776-6774 & +1-340-998-8388 (), [9]. Built and established in 1966 by the Hall Family. Ocean views all around, complimentary food, honeymoon package and free Wi-Fi available. Kitchenette or kitchen in all suites. Rates begin at $137/day to $245/day.
  • Jasmine Beach Cottage | #16 Peter Bay, (in Peter Bay), +1-340-777-6474 (), [10]. Built by Ethlyn Lindqvist Hall. Ocean views all around, private beach, honeymoon, full kitchen and next to Trunk Bay Beach. Rates begin at $245/day.
  • Round House, East End (atop beautiful Round Bay), (). Private villa perfect for nature lovers. It houses two-four comfortably. Overlooking Haulover Bay, the location and solitude of this villa are its best attributes. It does not have the fanciest interior compared to some of the more expensive villas on the island. The house provides a 360 degree view of its amazing location through screened walls. It also has an amazing deck that wraps around the house and overlooks beautiful Round Bay. The bathroom is modeled after a sugar mill ruin.
  • Estate Fortsberg, 1-800-268-1038, [11]. A St. John Villa villas home for rent that overlooks tortola, hurricane hole and coral bay.
  • Florian Villa, 617-429-6182, [12]. This private, luxurious villa sits on Gift Hill. Florian Villa is located just 10 minutes from Cruz Bay on the south side of the island near Chocolate Hole and Rendezvous Bay. Just minutes from top 10 rated beaches in the world, Starfish Market grocery store and water sports. Located right on Gift Hill Road, but with complete privacy and easy driveway access, Florian Villa is the perfect rental for families, couples vacationing together, and groups of friends vacationing on St. John. Enjoy St. John's beaches, privacy and spectacular sunsets from Florian Villa.
  • Estate Lindholm, 340-776-6121, [13]. An intimate bed and breakfast inn set amongst Danish ruins.

Splurge

  • Caneel Bay, PO Box 720, Tel (340) 776-6111, [14]. A luxury beach resort in the Caribbean located within the Virgin Islands National Park. Caneel Bay offers meeting and wedding facilities, seven secluded beaches, family and honeymoon vacation packages, and meditation retreats.
  • Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club, PO Box 690, Tel (340) 693-4668, [15]. The Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club is situated hillside in Cruz Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Set near Wharfside Village, this St. John resort overlooks the emerald and blue waters of Cruz Bay and St. Thomas to the west and the British Virgin Islands to the east. The Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club features fully furnished Condominium style guest suites, a rooftop pool and spa, and is a short walk from countless shops, restaurants and nightlife.
  • "St John villa Great Expectations" Hart Bay [16]. One of St John's most popular luxury rental villas. Great Expectations is a great spot for large families or groups of couples traveling together. With its 4 Master bedroom suites and 3 Guest bedroom suites, private basketball and tennis court, wading and swimming pool, hot tubs, hammocks galore, and, of course, sensational sunrise and sunset views, this St John villa has it all.

Stay safe

Crime is not a major problem in St. John. You will find residential villas and locals are very friendly. The usual common-sense precautions are advised, such as locking your doors, not displaying large amounts of cash, jewelry, or cameras (especially at Waterlemon Cay on the North Side of the island) Never use your car as a safe place for your wallet while at the beach. Otherwise, your stay on St. John should be worry-free.

Contact

Get out

Take a day sail to the British Virgin Islands - Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke - with snorkeling stops along the way. Be sure you have appropriate travel documents to enter the British islands and to return to the United States.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!





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