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  • st-john-inlet-usvi.jpg - Boats sail in a pretty inlet on St. John in the US Virgin Islands.
  • scuba-diver-coral-reef-USVI - A scuba diver inspects a coral reef in the US Virgin Islands.
  • St-John-paddleboard.jpg -  Learn to paddleboard on a port call in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • overlook-trunk-bay-st-john-US-Virgin-Islands - The overlook at Trunk Bay, with its vivid vista of jungle and water, may be one of your top highlights when visting St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • green-turtle-grazing-closeup-USVI - Closeup of a green turtle grazing on the sea floor in the US Virgin Islands.
  • sailboat-excursion-st-john - A sailboat excursion off St. John in the US Virgin Islands.
  • st-john-beach.jpg - Lovely beaches and warm turquoise waters await on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • ruins-Annaberg-St-John-USVI - Ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation on St. John, US Virgin Islands.
  • Angel-Fish-National-Park-USVI - A French Angel Fish in the reefs surrounding Virgin Islands National Park in the US Virgin Islands. The park covers about 60% of the island of Saint John.
  • kayak-st-john-US-Virgin-Islands - Gather a group to kayak the peaceful waters of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Hawksbill-turtle-on-reef-USVI - A hawksbill turtle on a reef in the US Virgin Islands. The hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered species.
  • St-John-beach-point.jpg - Find your bliss along the pristine coastline of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • snorkel-bay-starfish-st-croix-US-Virgin-Islands - Snorkelers gliding through one of the many lagoons on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, find a brilliant starfish.
  • St-John-kayak-beach.jpg - Book a kayak and explore the pristine coves of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • St-John-girl-beach.jpg - A girl frolics on the beach on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • local-man-conch-St-John - A local man shows off the tradition of blowing a conch shell on St. John in the US Virgin Islands.
  • butterfly-fish-USVI - A butterfly fish spotted on a coral reef (yes, they still exist!) in the US Virgin Islands.
  • Green-Turtle-Grazing-USVI - A green turtle grazes on the sea floor in the US Virgin Islands.
  • Green-Turtle-and-Remora-USVI - A green turtle is followed by a remora, or suckerfish, in the US Virgin Islands. Look out below!
  • st-john-petroglyph.jpg - View centuries-old petroglyphs on Reef Bay Trail on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • St-John-family-beach.jpg - Bring your family and enjoy some beach time on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • St-John-kayak.jpg - Kayak in the beatiful bays of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • St-John-mill.jpg - Stroll through the grounds of the old sugar mill on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

St. John, US Virgin Islands, travel guide: What to see & do

our guide

The vibe

St. John was severely hit by both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Many venues that were catering to tourists are now in disrepair. (St. Thomas and St. Croix were also damaged.) Be sure to check into the current state of services if you're planning to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands in the short term.
 

St. John is the smallest, least populous and, many argue, the prettiest of the U.S. Virgin Islands because of its world-class beaches. Two-thirds of St. John consists of Virgin Islands National Park. The quiet nature of the island gives it an unparalleled tranquility, making a trip to this island feel like a true getaway.

An increasing number of small and medium-size cruise ships now call on St. John. Larger ships stop at St. Thomas and passengers ferry over. 

 
  RELATED GUIDES
 
 
 

The coastline of St. John is rich with of white-sand beaches and crescent-shaped bays. While a lot of the coast is rocky and looks imposing from afar, it offers ample opportunities for exploration, hiking, as well as participation in a number of water sports. The island also provides sanctuary to a variety of wild species of plant and animal life that are unique to the island. Along with miles of hiking trails, the ruins of the early 18th-century Danish sugar plantations offer plenty to study for an armchair archaeologist.

The people of St. John Island are always eager to share the history of their communities and culture. Everywhere you look throughout this beautiful island you’ll get a glimpse of the islands history and a feel for the people.

Cruise ships that call on St. John

Large cruise ships call on St. Thomas, and you can take a quick ferry ride over. Some of the small and mid-size cruise ships that call on St. John:

Top reasons to go

  • Virgin Islands National Park covers two-thirds of the island, with 7,000 acres of hills, valleys and beaches to explore.
  • St. John's white sand beaches, such as Trunk Bay, are renowned for being among the most beautiful in the world.
  • Snorkeling, scuba diving, wind-sailing and day sailing on St. John's turquoise-blue waters are a popular activity for any visitor.
The overlook at Trunk Bay, with its vivid vista of jungle and water, may be one of your top highlights when visiting St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
US Virgin Islands Dept. of TourismThe overlook at Trunk Bay, with its vivid vista of jungle and water, may be one of your top highlights when visiting St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Top things to do & see in St. John

Virgin Islands National Park

Half of the island is known as the Virgin Islands National Park, with the the park's beaches as the can't-miss attraction. Virgin Islands National Park covers two-thirds of the island, with 7000 acres of hills, valleys and beaches and 20 miles of hiking paths to explore. The park is also home to pre-Columbian archaeological sites that contain petroglyphs and artifacts from the Taino people. The Visitor Center in Cruz Bay offers an exhibit that highlights St. John's natural and cultural resources along with examples of the diversity found in the island's coral reefs. 

Elaine Lone Sprauve Library and Museum

The library and museum is located near Cruz Bay in a restored plantation great house. Guests will be impressed by the photographs and newspapers that display the fascinating details of the island’s history. Work done by local artists such as paintings and drawings is also on display, hanging on the walls throughout the museum.

Sugar mill ruins

Once host to a lucrative sugar industry, the mills and plantations are now ruins, but still accessible to the visitor. Visit the Catherineberg Sugar Mill, Annaberg Sugar Plantation or Cinnamon Bay Sugar Mill ruins and explore the rich history of the island’s agriculture. The ruins also play host to many exhibitions throughout the year as well as concerts and arts and crafts fairs.

Beaches

  • Trunk Bay is home to one of the most beautiful — and photographed — beaches in the world. It's the place beginning snorkelers love because of its sweet underwater trail to let you scout out schools of angelfish and colorful triggerfish.
  • Cinnamon Bay offers a long, sandy beachfront and beautiful cays right next to a national park campground and historic plantation of the same name. It serves as both a hub for water sports, with a center that rents snorkel gear and windsurfing equipment, as well as a campground with bare tent sites, prepared sites and cottages next to the beach.
  • Other good choices include Hawksnest, Francis Bay, Maho Bay and Annaberg Bay. All come equipped with facilities, including bathhouses, snack bars, souvenir shops and water sport gear rental.

Nightlife

St. John is definitely a sleepy island, so don't expect a plethora of nightlife activities. When the sun goes down you can still enjoy a wonderful dinner on the patio of one of the fine restaurants, but as far as rocking clubs and loud bars, that just isn't St. John's style. Woody's Seafood Saloon just off the dock in Cruz Bay is a great option for happy hour as well as late drinks.

A sailboat excursion off St. John in the US Virgin Islands.
US Virgin Islands Dept. of TourismA sailboat excursion off St. John in the US Virgin Islands.

Best bets for dining

The relative quiet of St. John doesn't mean that eating out is an issue. More than 30 restaurants on the island cater to a variety of tastes and range from chic and expensive to cheap and funky.

  • Skinny Legs Bar and Grill in Coral Bay is a solid bet for burgers and seafood dishes and is an excellent spot for a beer after a day in the water. For casual Caribbean fare, try Spyglass in Cruz Bay, which offers sunset views and boats at anchor in the bay. Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay features a tiki-style bar where patrons can enjoy having dinner under the stars.
  • Shipwreck Landing, outside Coral Bay on Route 107, has a reputation for good service and first-class specials worthy of an urban establishment. Other fare includes Vie's Snack Shack on the island's East End, Windy Level Restaurant near Cruz Bay, and The Tap Room,  which is connected to St. John Brewers and features a food menu that pairs entrees with their own brews.

Best time to go

The weather in St. John is pleasant year-round, but hurricane season occurs between June and November, so the winter months are usually the best times to visit.

Fun fact

  • In 1917, the United States bought St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix from Denmark for $25 million in gold.

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships dock at the Charlotte Amalie Port in St. Thomas, where a ferry will then take you to the island of St. John.

Getting around

The Vitran bus service on the island of St. John's that will take you between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay for only $1. Opt for the surrey taxis or open-air vehicles on nice days (which is usually all the time) for approximately $7.

Safety

Locals recommend leaving your windows down and taking everything with you, rather than locking it and risking a broken window. 

Your take

Have you been to St. John? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight?

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Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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Overheard

“ZoZo's northern Italian cuisine is what enticed my palate. What kept my gaze? The sunset view of St. Thomas and the BVI from the open-air dining room inside the ruins of Caneel Bay, St. John's 18th-century sugar mill — inspired dining at its finest.”

Islands magazine

“Jungle trails wend past petroglyphs and hermit crabs unfazed by curious guests. The park even extends underwater for 5,600 acres — see 225 yards of it on Trunk's Bay snorkeling trail, where damselfish slide through sea fans and parrotfish glow almost neon.”

Islands magazine

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