St. John, the smallest and least densely populated of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, is a wonder of untouched rocky coastline, beautiful crescent-shaped bays, and white-sand beaches. Inland, miles of hiking trails lead past the ruins of 18th-century Danish plantations to panoramic views. A smattering of pastel-painted houses, Mongoose Junction shops, and restaurants and bars populate sleepy Cruz Bay. St. John is definitely sleepy, and that's why people love it.
Things to Do
Explore island history at the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins, a once thriving 18th-century mill and plantation. Hike the 22 trails of the Virgin Islands National Park to see archaeological sites dating back to the time of the Taino people, while enjoying the forest and birdlife. Reefs and wreck dive spots ring the park's deserted beaches. Surrounded by hills, the golden sands of Hawksnest Bay seduce visitors as the perfect escape. Follow the underwater snorkeling trail at Trunk Bay to see grouper, parrot fish and snappers.
on St. John means a visit to the arts and crafts boutiques and shops of Cruz Bay, most of which are clustered at Mongoose Junction. Nearby Wharfside Village is a complex of courtyards, alleys, and shady patios with a mishmash of boutiques, restaurants and bars. The most shopping fun takes place on St. John Saturday, a spicy, drum-beating feast for the senses, held on the last Saturday of every month. Vendors hawk handmade items, from jewelry and handicrafts to food and clothing.
Nightlife and Entertainment
The expatriate hippie crowd has created a mellow scene at Cruz Bay, where a few cafes and dive bars invite those who want to drink and gossip with the locals or listen to the occasional live band. Sip trademark Plantation Punch (lime and orange juice with three different kinds of rum, bitters, and nutmeg) at a resort bar in Caneel Bay or go celeb-spotting at Morgan's Mango. Most people, however, are simply content to have a long, leisurely dinner.
Restaurants and Dining
St. John's quiet, easygoing pace means that it's not unusual--indeed, it is perfectly acceptable--for dinner to comprise the whole of your evening. As a result, there are some posh options, particularly at the luxury resorts in Caneel Bay, where you can eat well on Caribbean, Creole, and Italian. In Cruz Bay, seaside bistros serve spicy blackened snapper and flying fish, while West Indian huts serve top notch meals with plenty of local color and flavor.