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.
The main community on the island is Cruz Bay, located on the western side of the island.
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.
Ferries are available everyday from St. Thomas, departing from both Charlotte-Amalie and Redhook. The schedule for Red Hook 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.
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. However, it seems that many locals are not as friendly as one might expect.
Fly into Saint Thomas' Cyril E King Airport  (IATA: STT), and take a taxi to the nearest ferry service (see below). If you want to skip the shared taxi ride with multiple stops and want a private express service to Red Hook or Charlotte Amalie, you can book that before you arrive.
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). If you want a private boat ride, hire a water taxi for a higher price but worth it if you want to go in style.
Renting a car is the best way to see all the beaches and other sites. However, be aware that the terrain is very hilly. Watch out for those awful switch-backs where you must drive at a very high angle one way then another, and oncoming cars may not see you until they are right on you. St. John is extremely hilly and you have to drive on the left (British style). 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.
- 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.
- Waterlemon Cay
- Travel to the SE portion of the island and hike to Salt Pond.
- Visit some of the smaller bays like Denis Bay and Little Cinnamon. They can be a treck compared to trunk but are well worth it when you have a tropical beach to yourself.
- Annaberg Sugar Plantation.
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.
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), . 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. edit
- Verace, ☎ 340.693.7599, . Designer jewelry store located in Wharfside Village. edit
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).
- Spyglass, 2nd Floor - Wharfside Village, ☎ (340) 776-1100. Spyglass is a casual, Caribbean restaurant by the sea with a spectacular view of sunsets, bay and boats at anchor and the tranquil blue sea. It is known as "The greatest Happy Hour in St. John" edit
- Aqua Bistro (Aqua Bistro Coral Bay), Coccoloba Plaza, Coral Bay, ☎ 340-776-5336, . 11am-9pm. Aqua Bistro Seaside Bar & Restaurant serves up some of the best food on the island. Whether you are enjoying drinks under the tiki-style bar or having dinner under the stars at a courtyard table …this place is sure to impress. $11-$28. edit
- 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! edit
- Windy Level Restaurant, (340) 715-2000, . Windy Level is on Centerline Road, Route 10 and is about 8 minutes from Cruz Bay.
- The Tap Room, Mongoose Junction Plaza, ☎ 340-998-1333, . Mon-Sat: 11am to Midnight, Sun: Noon to Midnight. The Tap Room is connect with St John Brewers, and features a surprisingly tasty food menu along with their own brews, as well as cocktails and non-local beers. Air conditioned too. Great for a lazy afternoon when you need to escape the heat and rest after a day of swimming. $7-12. edit
- Shipwreck Landing, (1.5 miles from JCT 107), ☎ N/A. Shipwreck Landing, . Located just outside Coral Bay on Route 107. The service is fabulous and the specials are worthy of any big city restaurant -- an unexpected gem and must eat. Closed from August 31, 2012 to early November. edit
- Woody's Seafood Saloon, . 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.
- Concordia Eco-Resorts St. John (Concordia Eco-Resorts), St. John, USVI, ☎ 1-800-392-9004, 340-715-0500, . checkout: 11am. Concordia Eco-Resorts offers a range of rentals from Eco-tents to Studios overlooking Salt Pond Bay. The resort is the sister resort to Maho Bay and offers a eco-friendly vacation option. Restaurant open seasonally, a pool, great hiking nearby, and knowledgeable staff about all the best spots for snorkeling, swimming, restaurants, and more. $110-$265. edit
- Hillcrest Guest House, (in Cruz Bay), ☎ +1-340-776-6774 & +1-340-998-8388 ([email protected]), . 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 $185/day to $245/day. edit
Cinnamon Bay Campground is a budget-friendly spot with cabins and tent sites. The cabins are concrete with concrete floors and screen walls. There is no air conditioning. There is electricity and a small stove along with basic beds. Bathrooms are in a central facility but there is no hot water. Showers are not exactly cold but not hot either. Tent sites are very basic clearings. The cafeteria is lovely with really tasty local food and reasonable prices. It is right next to the rain forest so you may catch a glimpse of a beautiful hummingbird while you dine. Of course, the beach is the reason to come to St. John and this beach is fabulous. White sugar sand and clear turquoise water. Snorkeling is just offshore. If you stand on the beach and look out ahead you will see a small island. You can swim there if you are a good swimmer and enjoy the views. To your left near the cliff is Peter Bay community with very expensive villas. Perched right on the cliff is Presidio Del Mar, a very posh home that rents for about $20,000 per week.
- Cimmaron St. John (st john villa rentals), Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00830, ☎ 340-715-2666, . Cimmaron St. John offers luxurious [St. John Villa Rentals] with stunning views of Cruz Bay. We have villas for any group size and budget. edit
- Estate Fortsberg, 1-800-268-1038, . A St. John Villa villas home for rent that overlooks tortola, hurricane hole and coral bay.
- Estate Lindholm, 340-776-6121, . An intimate bed and breakfast inn set amongst Danish ruins.
- Florian Villa, 617-429-6182, . 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.
- Round House, East End (atop beautiful Round Bay), ([email protected]). Private villa perfect for nature lovers. It houses up to six people comfortably, with a master in the main house, and 2 private bungalow rooms. Overlooking Haulover Bay, the location and solitude of this villa are its best attributes. Its simple interior provides for the natural feeling of being in the islands. Sip drinks from the indoor hammock, and feel the soft warm breeze of the virgin islands from the comfort of the Round House. The house provides a 360 degree view of its amazing location through screened walls. It also has an amazing deck that wraps 270 degrees around the house, and overlooks beautiful Round Bay. The bathroom is modeled after a sugar mill ruin. edit
- St John Vacation Rentals (st john villa rentals), Coral Bay, St. John, USVI 00830, . St John Villa Rentals [St. John Villa Rentals] connect directly with property owners and managers. Browse villas in every price range. edit
- Caneel Bay, PO Box 720, Tel (340) 776-6111, . 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, . 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.
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.
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.
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