Beaches History Neighborhoods

Waterlemon Cay, photo by William Stelzer

Ahh, St. John.

Whether you live here, have been here or were born here,  many still sigh upon hearing her name. This stunning beauty is regarded by most to be the crowning jewel in the stunning array of US  Virgin Islands. Although St. John is considered quiet and laid back that certainly doesn’t mean there are a lack of things to do here. If you are coming for your first St. John vacation or planning your next, there IS plenty to do and much to appreciate.

Planning Where to Stay on Your St. John Vacation

Perhaps the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your St. John vacation is where to stay.  Our comprehensive Ultimate Guide on where to stay on St.John  will give you an overview of neighborhoods and styles of accommodations to choose from. This little island has its share of stunning luxury St John vacation rentals, villas and resorts, it also offers smaller inns, eco-resorts and even a beachside campground. Over the years, St. John’s pristine environment has attracted active nature enthusiasts and the island has responded with like-minded resorts and “glamping” style private St John rentals. There is a long history of catering to this style of visitor.  In fact, the very first eco-resort was established on St. John in 1976 by visionary Stanley Selengut. The much loved and now missed Maho Bay Campground had a very loyal clientele until closing its doors due to an ending lease in 2013. Its sister resort, Concordia thrives and lives on in the southeast side of the island. For those who enjoy the research and planning almost as much as the real thing, check out the VI Insider (our blog) for 10 Questions to Ask When Booking your Accommodations and 6 Important Steps in Planning Where to Stay.

St. John Action

Some St. Thomians and Crucians have referred to St. John as “St. Yawn” in reference to her low key nightlife. Compared with her closest neighbors this may be true, but for locals, there are plenty of St John activities.

There is live music most weekends and some weekday nights in season. There are numerous festivals and fundraisers throughout the year attracting local food and craft vendors. Check out our calendar for cultural events.

Keep in mind that the number of activities happening depends on the season.  If you’re traveling to the island during peak season (December 15 – April 15), you’ll definitely want to book your activities ahead of time to make sure that you don’t miss out. If you are looking for action then you might want to visit during our Carnival.  If you want a more quiet experience, visit in August. Rates are lower for most accommodations during this time but many Saint John restaurants are also closed. Check our Events Calendar for a list of things to do in St John.

Our Five Part Series on Things To Do in the Virgin Islands will help you narrow down what you want to get accomplished on St. John and give you island-hopping ideas as well.

Things To Do in the Virgin Islands Intro & Traveler Types
Things to do in the Virgin Islands On Land
Water Things To Do in the Virgin Islands
Sky Things To Do in the Virgin Islands
Island Hopping in the Virgin Islands

The Very Best St. John Beaches

The most notable features tend to be the St. John beaches within the National Park as well as  the Coral Reef National Monument. These vast protected park lands, the extensive trail system, numerous, pristine beaches, stellar snorkel spots and unbelievable turquoise waters mean there are countless ways to enjoy these natural resources.  For a glance at  best practices for enjoying St John beaches, start here.

Our suggestions for a great beach holiday:

  • try visiting a different St.John beach every day?
  • For those more active, St.John has numerous beaches accessible only by hiking trail. Try a “triple play day“. Hike into a secluded beach, enjoy and then snorkel!
  • Getting out on the water is an absolute must. Visit our VI Insider Blog and you’ll see what we mean. Every single one of our local VI Personalities shares their idea of the perfect day in, on, by and under the water.

snorkeling in St. John, Virgin Islands

St. John Activities and Attractions

St. Yawn?  We don’t think so.  Sailing, powerboating, SUP, kayaking, BVI trips, hiking, snorkeling, diving… oh my!  We have expert local advice and suggested itineraries for all kinds of St John activities for the uber active athlete to the Budweiser beach bum.

One of your first stops while visiting should be the St John National Park  for loads of expert information on hiking trails and historical ruins within the National Park. If you’re looking to engage with the island’s history and natural beauty consider participating in one of the many programs and activities offered by The Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park. There are fees to participate and program sizes are limited. For more information and links to programs and activities visit their website.

Historical Places of Interest

See, there are lots of St. John activities! While not as extensive as St. Thomas, St. John has a few notable historical buildings of interest. Two historical St. John buildings with public visiting hours include the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library in Cruz Bay and the Emmaus Moravian Church in Coral Bay.

If we may make a suggestion…before you arrive or while you are settling in, why not get a quick overview of the history of St. John first.  It’s always good to know a little history but if you’re a buff or just want a more in depth look at St. John’s history, this link to the St. John Historical Society is a wonderful resource for fascinating archives and information.  While you’re at it, the VI Government has just added a great FaceBook page on VI History in honor of VI History Month every March.

St. John Restaurants

Let’s put it this way, if you wanted, you would never have to cook another meal while visiting St. John. St. John’s restaurants are prolific. According to one local restaurateur, St. John now has 117 restaurants! Our informal count came in at 84. (We plan to conduct a more scientific study including a complete list of eateries in the near future.)

With so many St. John restaurants to choose from, making a choice might be overwhelming. But consider this, with that much competition, St John’s restaurants are highly competitive, which means better customer service, more interesting food combinations and… personality!

One thing you can’t get on St. John is food from any national chains like McD’s or KFC. Yes, you can get Mexican, Sushi and even Greek. And, of course there are a plethora of steak and seafood offerings at just about every restaurant.

Best advice don’t make the mistake of visiting St John and not trying some local dishes.

Our recommendation, start with fried plantain, fungi and fish; fried or stewed. If you like that,  get a little more adventurous and taste savory dishes like whelks, souse and goat water.

St. John Transportation

The best way to see and do and experience St.John is to get out there and do it. That means you need to figure out your transportation plan.  Getting here is only part of it. There are numerous options and we’ve tried them all. We’ve got everything you need to know about getting around St. John here.

Considering you have to use a plane, taxi and ferry service to get here, St. John attracts those visitors willing to go a little further to get away from it all. It’s not exactly easy but it’s sooo worth it.

Everything St.Thomas click here!


Do you have more questions (or answers) about what to do on St.John?

Let us know in the comments section what we missed and we will do our best to add it!