St John (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Making up a third of the U.S. Virgin Islands archipelago is the serene island of St John. The smallest of the three, St John keeps a uniquely low profile in the Caribbean Sea, making it ideal for solo travellers, couples and families in search of a quiet getaway.
With limited development, the island flourishes with natural beauty – 44 soft, sandy beaches are made for sun tanning, swimming and snorkelling, while a number of breezy hiking trails found across two thirds of the island lends itself to a relaxed, fuss-free escape. A hum of activity can only be found from the local wildlife or from a handful of charming shops, restaurants and resorts all built on the western side of the island.
Azamara Club Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Princess Cruises all offer a peaceful seaside retreat to St John where the pace of life is decidedly slower and nothing happens in a hurry.
All cruise ships anchor off the coast and passengers are tendered onto shore along the eastern side of the island in Cruz Bay. Alternatively, passengers that dock at the neighbouring island of St Thomas can come across on the passenger ferry.
The main part of town is a short walk from the tender dock. Look out for Wharfside Village for bars and restaurants, and Mongoose Junction for shopping.
Facilities nearby include:
Car rental offices
How to Get Around
It is easy enough to travel around the main town of St John on foot. If you’re looking to drift further afield, open air taxis wait near the ferry terminal; otherwise, you can find them after a 5-minute walk from the tender dock. It is also possible to rent a car although they tend to be hired out quickly during peak season.
Travel times from the port:
It is a 1 minute journey to the main part of town
It is a 1 hour and 10 minute journey to Trunk Bay
It is an 1 hour and 17 minute journey to Cinnamon Bay.
It is an 11 minute journey to Trunk Bay
It is a 13 minute journey to Cinnamon Bay
It is a 21 minute journey to the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins.
Currency – As a US territory, St John’s currency is the U.S. dollar. U.S. coins appear in 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), 50 cents (half dollar) and $1. Green banknotes are available in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
Time Zone – Clocks in St John tick to Atlantic Standard Time all year round, which is 4 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Weather – St John experiences an eternal summer with top temperatures averaging 30 degrees Celsius during the day. Rainfall increases slightly during the months of September, October and November; however, the change between seasons is typically insignificant.
Virgin Islands National Park – Covering two-thirds of the island, the lush greenery of the Virgin Islands National Park contains most of St John’s top attractions. Plan a hike across one of the park’s 22 trails or beach hop across its numerous stretches of sand. You can also pick up a free guide to the region’s best hiking trails, snorkelling spots and wildlife.
Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay – Northwest along the coast of St John is the popular beach of Trunk Bay. Its crystal clear shallows and powder-fine sands are maintained by a small fee that’s charged to beachgoers; however, this beach is monitored by lifeguards and equipped with showers, toilets, picnic facilities, a small snack bar and a taxi rank. Snorkelling is also a popular pastime along these shores and equipment can be hired from the beach. A 2-minute drive further down the road will set you up in front of Cinnamon Bay. Equally as equipped but at no cost, campgrounds surround this particular strand with water sport hire such as sea kayaks and stand-up paddleboards available. Nearby cays and islands can also be spotted floating in the distance.
Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins – Known for producing sugar, molasses and rum during the 1700s and 1800s, the Annaberg Sugar Mill gives visitors a brief look into the region’s history of slavery. Now a part of the National Park near Leinster Bay, you can follow a short trail through the factory ruins, slave quarters and up to the windmill. If you feel like exploring further, head to the 2.5-kilometre Leinster Bay Trail, which finishes up at a gritty beach in the bay.