Saint John

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Caribbean United States Virgin Islands Saint John

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Introduction

Saint John is the gem of the United States Virgin Islands, with far less mass tourism and a national park which comprises most of its surface.

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Geography

At 50 km2 the smallest of the three main US Virgin Islands, Saint John is located about 4 miles east of Saint Thomas, the location of the territory's capital, Charlotte Amalie. It is also 4 miles southwest of Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. Its largest settlement is Cruz Bay with a population of 2,700. Since 1956, approximately 60% of the island is protected as Virgin Islands National Park, administered by the United States National Park Service. Saint John is 50.8 km² in area with a population of about 5,000 us).

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Cities

  • Cruz Bay, located on the western side of the island
  • Coral Bay, located on the southern side of the island. Coral Bay is known to be the more relaxed side of the island.

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Sights and Activities

Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park is a well maintained park with kilometres of beautiful shorelines, pristine reefs, hiking trails and tropical birdlife. Over 30 species of birds have been recorde within the park's boundaries, including some species like the bananaquit, hummingbirds and smooth-billed ani. This is also an example of an area that was logged during the 18th century but has regained the tropical nature it used to have including a mix of introduced species and native plants.

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Events and Festivals

St John Festival and Independence Day

Calypso musicians, colorful mocko jumbies, and a lively parade are the main ways St John celebrates both the United States Independence Day and the last day of its month-long Carnival celebrations on the Fourth of July. This day also features the crowning of Ms St John and the carnival king as well as a fireworks display rivaling many in mainland United States cities.

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Weather

The United States Virgin Islands have a very pleasant and tropical climate with generally warm and humid weather. The seabreeze makes things relatively mild though and water is never far away. Temperatures generally average around 30 °C during the day yearround and 23 °C at night. December to May is the dry season, where July to October is the rainy season, but this generally means some showers at the end of the day instead of days of rain on end. Hurricanes are possible though from August to October.

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Getting There

By Plane

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

By Boat

  • There are about 4 or 5 sailings in eacht direction between Cruz Bay, St. John (USVI) and West End, Tortola (BVI).
  • To end, there are 2 crossings a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Red Hook, St.Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John (USVI) for Jost Van Dyke (BVI).

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Getting 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. If you are vacationing near Cruz Bay then using a cab service is an option. Cabs are affordable and plentiful, especially to the north shore beaches. However, if you renting a home outside of Cruz bay or in Coral bay then renting a car is necessary.

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. However, this bus schedule is very unreliable and should not be a travelers only source of transportation. Hitch hiking is also prevalent on the island.

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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). 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!
  • The Tap Room, Mongoose Junction Plaza, ☎ +1 340-998-1333. 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.
  • Shipwreck Landing (1.5 miles from JCT 107). 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.
  • North Shore Deli: Call 340-777-3061 or e-mail at northshoredelistj@gmail.com for advanced orders. Located on the north side of Mongoose Junction on the middle level. On-site prepared deserts and baked breads complemented by a variety of sliced meats, greens and sauces for a wide range of tasty deli sandwiches. Also offers chilled salads of many types, and a wide range of soft drinks, beer and some wines to enjoy on-site or packaged for take-out.
  • De Coal Pot: Call 340-714-2625 or www.decoalpot.com for reservations. Located one full block directly east of the passenger ferry dock, then turn right a short distance to 19F South Bay Road. Modest dining room, friendly service and menu that offers generous portions of tasty, authentic Caribbean cuisine at modest prices for lunch and dinner. Complemented by a small bar.

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Drink

  • 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.

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Sleep

  • Concordia Eco-Resorts St. John (Concordia Eco-Resorts), St. John, USVI, ☎ +1 340-715-0500, toll-free: +1-800-392-9004. Check-out: 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.
  • Hillcrest Guest House (in Cruz Bay), ☎ +1-340-776-6774, +1-340-998-8388, e-mail: hillcrestguesthouse@yahoo.com. 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 $185/day to $245/day.
  • St John Villa Rentals - The largest selection of Direct-With-Owner St John Vacation Rentals. Save hundreds of dollars by booking direct. Browse every budget from cute island cottages to luxury villa rentals and everything in between. Rates range from $125/nt.
  • Cimmaron St. John (st john villa rentals), Cruz Bay, ☎ +1 340-715-2666. Cimmaron St. John offers luxurious [St. John Villa Rentals] with stunning views of Cruz Bay. We have villas for any group size and budget.
  • Estate Fortsberg, ☎ +1-800-268-1038. A St. John Villa villas home for rent that overlooks Tortola, hurricane hole and coral bay. edit
  • Estate Lindholm, ☎ +1 340-776-6121. An intimate bed and breakfast inn set amongst Danish ruins.
  • Florian Villa, ☎ +1 617-429-6182. 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. Excllent 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.
  • Hillcrest Guest House (in Cruz Bay), ☎ +1-340-776-6774, +1-340-998-8388, e-mail: hillcrestguesthouse@yahoo.com. 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 $185/day to $235/day.
  • Round House, East End (atop beautiful Round Bay), e-mail: roundhousevilla@gmail.com. Private villa perfect for nature lovers. It houses two-four persons comfortably. Overlooking Haulover Bay, location and solitude 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.
  • St John Villa Rentals - The largest selection of Direct-With-Owner St John Vacation Rentals. Save hundreds of dollars by booking direct. Browse 1-7 bedroom villas, most with pools and ocean views. Rates range from $325/nt.
  • Caneel Bay, ☎ +1 340 776-6111. PO Box 720. 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, ☎ +1 340 693-4668. PO Box 690. 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. It features fully furnished condominium style guest suites, a rooftop pool and spa, with a short walk to many shops, restaurants and nightlife.
  • St John villa Great Expectations Hart Bay. One of St John's most popular luxury rental villas. Accommodating large families or groups of couples traveling together with 4 master bedroom suites and 3 guest bedroom suites, private basketball and tennis court, wading and swimming pool, hot tubs, hammocks and sunrise and sunset views.
  • St John Villa Rentals - The largest selection of Direct-With-Owner St John Vacation Rentals. Save hundreds of dollars by booking direct. Browse luxury villa rentals with 1-7 bedrooms, pools, spas, ocean views, A/C and more. Rates range from $585/nt.

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This is version 10. Last edited at 8:24 on Aug 13, 19 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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