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St. John USVI

History, Nature, and Luxury

Destinations | Caribbean | US Virgin Islands | St. John

Picture turquoise waters lapping at pristine beaches and hidden coves dotting emerald hills.

St. John is the smallest of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands, with a population of just around 3,881 (2020 census). In this St. John overview, we’ll showcase the wonders of this tropical gem measuring a mere 19 square miles.


Before tourists started arriving, St. John was home to the Arawak people. They were skilled fishermen and potters who thrived here for centuries. In the 17th century, European powers began vying for Caribbean lands. Eventually, Denmark claimed St. John and turned it into a sugar plantation colony fueled by enslaved labor.

A brutal but unsuccessful slave revolt in 1733 marked a turning point. Sugar production declined. By the 19th century, St. John had transitioned to a quieter place with smaller farms and a focus on bay rum, a local fragrance.

The 20th century brought a dramatic shift. That’s when the United States bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million in 1917. In the 1950s, a large chunk of St. John became Virgin Islands National Park, protecting its ecosystems and beaches.

Today, St. John thrives as a top destination for tourists drawn by the island’s rich history and natural wonders.

St. John is a gem sculpted by nature. Rolling green hills, some over 1,000 feet high, cover most of the island’s interior. Exploring these heights offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.

Carved into the coastline are countless bays with idyllic beaches. Picture white sand like powdered sugar, gently lapped by calm, translucent waters. Trunk Bay, with its snorkel trail, is a favorite. But for those seeking a secluded haven, hidden coves like Hawksnest Bay offer a chance to unwind to the sound of waves.

Nature rules on St. John. Hike through lush forests with vibrant flora. Look for the flamboyant bougainvillea and emerald green iguanas sunbathing on branches. The island’s ecosystem is also home to mongoose, deer, and birdlife.

Moreover, the island is not one of the large cruise ship ports. However, many cruise ship passengers do take day trips to the island.

  • A Culinary Feast: Food in St. John and the rest of the U.S. Virgin Islands is a delightful adventure. Fresh seafood takes center stage, with dishes like conch fritters, grilled mahi-mahi, and creamy lobster bisque tantalizing your taste buds. Don’t miss Johnnycakes, a fried cornbread staple. Foodies will also appreciate Caribbean curries with a Danish twist and local fruits like passionfruit and guava in cocktails.
  • Music that Moves People: St. John’s rhythmic pulse is undeniable. Calypso, a genre with West African roots, fills the air with infectious beats and storytelling lyrics. Steel pan bands weave their magic, creating a mesmerizing melody that compels you to move. Catch a performance at a beachfront bar or local festival to immerse yourself in the island’s joyful spirit.
  • Festivals: St. John knows how to party! Throughout the year, festivals showcase the island’s cultural heritage. Don’t miss the Crucian Christmas Carnival in December, a two-week extravaganza with parades, music competitions, and merriment. Foodies will love the St. John Food and Wine Festival, where local chefs showcase their creations.
  • Island Charm: Life on St. John moves at a relaxed pace. Friendly locals greet you with a smile and a “Good morning!” Embrace the “island time” philosophy — things get done, but there’s no rush.
  • Local Customs: When exploring the island, respect the environment and local customs. Dress modestly when visiting churches and historical sites. A friendly “thank you” goes a long way.

Travelers arriving in St. Thomas can get to St. John from Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook. From Charlotte Amalie, visitors can take a scenic ferry ride through the Caribbean Sea. The ferry journey typically takes 25-30 minutes, providing a quick and enjoyable transit to St. John.

Alternatively, travelers can opt for a shorter ferry ride to Cruz Bay from Red Hook, St. Thomas. This lasts approximately 15-20 minutes. Many favor this route due to its proximity and frequent departures. It’s a convenient choice for those looking to reach St. John efficiently.

Adventure and relaxation greet visitors to St. John, whether departing from Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook. In addition, there is a car ferry service from Red Hook, St. Thomas, to Cruz Bay, St. John Island. Private water taxis are an option.

St. John’s culture is a captivating tapestry woven from rich history and diverse influences. The easygoing Caribbean spirit blends Danish West Indies colonial heritage with vibrant African American influence.

The island’s beauty beckons with pristine beaches, lush rainforests, vibrant culture, and endless adventure. Immerse yourself in Caribbean charm, explore hidden coves, underwater wonders, and local customs. Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, St. John has something for everyone.

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St. John Resorts and Hotels cater to various budgets and travel styles. Here’s a quick rundown:

Luxury Beachfront Resorts

Enjoy world-class amenities, gourmet dining, and impeccable service.

Villas & Condominiums

Rent a private villa or condo for a spacious and homey feel. These options often come with private pools and ocean views, perfect for families or groups.

Boutique Hotels

Immerse yourself in the island’s charm at a cozy boutique hotel. These properties offer personalized service and a relaxed atmosphere.


For environmentally conscious travelers, eco-lodges offer a sustainable stay amid natural beauty.

See & Do

St. John caters to various travelers, offering something for everyone seeking a Caribbean escape. Here’s a glimpse of what awaits:

Virgin Islands National Park

This park is the crown jewel, encompassing two-thirds of the island. Hike through lush forests, explore hidden coves, or snorkel vibrant coral reefs.

Trunk Bay

This famous beach boasts white sand, calm turquoise waters, and an underwater snorkeling trail for families.

Annaberg Plantation Ruins

History buffs will appreciate visiting these haunting ruins, remnants of a once-thriving sugar plantation. Learn about the island’s colonial past and the resilience of the enslaved people who toiled there.

Maho Bay

This horseshoe-shaped bay with a beautiful white sand beach is a haven for watersports. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the waters and relax on the beach.

Buck Island

A snorkelers and scuba divers spot, is close to St. John and worth a trip.


Lace up and explore the island’s many trails. Hike to Bordeaux Mountain for panoramic views. Or, conquer the Reef Bay Trail, a historic route through the forest and petroglyph carvings.

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

St. John is a snorkeler’s paradise. Explore vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. Experienced divers can explore shipwrecks and coral canyons.


Take a catamaran cruise to explore secluded coves, hidden beaches, and neighboring islands. Relax on deck, soak up the Caribbean sunshine, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters.


Mongoose Junction, an outdoor complex, offers local boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. You can find unique souvenirs, locally crafted jewelry, and island apparel here.

These are just some of the many exciting Things to Do and See in St. John. Whatever type of traveler you are, there’s something in store for you on this marvelous island.


St. John is a tropical paradise with year-round sunshine and warm, balmy days. The average temperature is around 80°F (27°C) – perfect for soaking up the Caribbean sun!

Rain showers are welcome, especially during the slightly wetter months from May to November. They cool things down and keep the island lush and green. But don’t worry, they rarely disrupt your beach bliss – more like a quick afternoon sprinkle than a day-long downpour.


 St. John is the smallest but most enchanting of the three U.S. Virgin Islands. Here, the Caribbean’s turquoise waters meet lush tropical wilderness. Here, love flourishes amid the tranquility of protected lands and the serenity of secluded beaches.


What is the best time to visit St. John?

The sweet spot is mid-April to June. This time of year offers pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and shoulder-season savings compared to peak winter months.

What languages are spoken in St. John?

English is the official language, but you might hear Spanish and Crucian dialect, a Danish-English creole.

What outdoor activities are available in St. John?

The island is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike through Virgin Islands National Park, snorkel vibrant reefs, kayak, or sail for an island-hopping adventure.

What local dishes should I try on St. John?

Sample conch fritters, lobster stew, and local favorites like Johnnycakes (savory cornbread). Indulge in tropical fruits like mango and guava. Explore more at US Virgin Islands Food.

What are the options for accommodations in St. John?

St. John offers options for every budget. It has luxurious resorts, private villas, eco-friendly lodges, and boutique hotels.

How can I travel around the island?

Jeeps are popular for exploring St. John’s roads. Taxis are available, and some resorts offer shuttle services. Rent a kayak or paddleboard for a unique perspective.

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