Dive Into St. John
Two-thirds of St. John is a protected National Park, so environmental preservation is front of mind. Instead of luxury resorts, you’ll find low-impact, no-footprint tent resorts. Instead of shops and busy docks, you’ll find historic ruins of old sugar-mills and pristine beaches prime for swimming and snorkeling. And instead of casinos, clubs and nightlife, you’ll have the sun, the wind and warm, powdery white sand in your toes. Hike passed unspoiled forest, follow trails through scenic lookout points, explore sugar plantation ruins and snorkel along an underwater trail. Even though St. John doesn’t have the usual tourist attractions, there is still plenty to do. Scuba dive, kayak, windsurf and more! However, we’ll understand if all you want to do is enjoy the sunset, breathe in the fresh air and work on becoming one with nature.
St. John Overview
Mapping Out the USVI
You’ve got three separate islands to explore within the U.S. Virgin Islands, each with its own distinct flavor. St. John is the greenest island, full of nature preserves and pristine beaches. Two-thirds of this entire island is a National Park. Here, there's very limited development except for a few no-footprint, tent resorts. St. Thomas, on the other hand, is a completely different vacation experience. Large resorts cater to the constant tourist flow while cruise-ship traffic makes for a bustling harbor and lots of shopping and activity. Then there's St. Croix, the little island with just about everything. It’s got old forts and former sugar plantations, pristine rainforest land and world-class scuba diving opportunities. Between the three islands, you’ve got one amazing vacation!
The Trail at Trunk Bay
Follow along this trail–not a hiking trail–but an underwater trail! That's exactly what you'll find at Trunk Bay. Once you arrive, you'll have to snorkel its underwater snorkeling trail that'll take you along a path of scenic coral and flashy fish. It’s even got underwater signs that explain the species of coral and types of fish you might spot. However, if you’d rather stay dry, Trunk Bay is also known as one of the most popular beaches on St. John. It has powdery, white sand and calm, clear waters–basically everything you want in a great beach. So whether you want to have a snorkel adventure or just enjoy the views from the sand, Trunk Bay’s got you covered.
Escape the Crowds at Maho Bay
Maho is one of the few beaches that you can literally drive right onto. Just pull up under a Maho tree, and there you are! It’s located right on the side of the road, so there are no signs to follow nor parking lots to navigate – nothing but the beach and groves of coconut palms waiting for you. It’s the casual vibe of this beach that makes it such a gem. Plus, Maho Bay has calm waters that are relatively shallow. The water deepens very gradually, so it’s perfect for kids and not-so-seasoned swimmers!
Explore Annaberg Sugar Plantation
Wander through the ruins of an old plantation where you can see remains of a rum and sugar factory, former slave quarters and an old windmill. You’ll be taken back in time as you walk through the remains and see the hard labor equipment of the 18th century slave force. If you're not sure what you're seeing, don't worry. There'll be lots of placards and signs placed along the trails that will tell you all about how sugar and rum were once produced here. A visit here will give you some great photo ops too. Best of all, you'll be learning all about plantation life on St. John and the history behind it without ever cracking open a book!
Hike the Reef Bay Trail & See Petroglyphs
Not sure what a petroglyph is? Not to worry. You can find out all about petroglyphs on this popular trek. St. John has been home to almost every period of human life, and you can see evidence of that when you take this easy hike. Follow the trail through the National Park, and you'll get to marvel at remains of four sugar estates from a few hundred years ago. You'll also get to see rock carvings from well over a thousand years ago! The bay’s natural history, along with prehistoric remains and colonial-era ruins tell a fascinating story you can experience yourself.
Be One with Nature at USVI National Park
You can’t visit St. John without running into the Virgin Islands National Park. After all, this nature reserve covers more than half of the island! And just like you would expect from such a large area, this pristine spot offers plenty to do. If you’re looking for a little quiet time to connect with nature, there are beautiful secluded beaches, breathtaking historic ruins and exciting hiking trails for hours of exploration. But if you want a little more activity, you can snorkel, scuba dive, kayak or go windsurfing. This is an eco-tourist’s and nature-lover’s dream destination!
St. John Quick Facts
The electrical current in the Virgin Islands is the same as on the U.S. mainland, 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles).
There is no passport requirement for U.S. citizens for direct travel to St. John. If you return to the mainland U.S. from St. John through another country (Mexico or Bermuda, for example), you will need a passport.
Drink only bottled water.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
December to April
Tips & Transportation
Snag Spices and Souvenirs at St. John Spice
Whether you want a meaningful souvenir or a quirky gift to bring home, the bright pink building right by the ferry dock is where you should head. St. John Spice is the place where you can sample the scents and flavors of the Caribbean. Make sure to check out the unique island-made items like Blind Betty’s and Valley Doll hot sauces or pick up a local cookbook. St. John’s Bay Rum or Vanilla Extract made with Caribbean rum are a couple of other gems. But definitely don’t miss out on the bestseller–their house, hand-blended spice, Cruz Bay Grill Rub–yum!
Snorkel a Small Airplane at Little Cinnamon Bay
One minute in the calm, clear waters at Little Cinnamon Bay, and you'll know why it's known as a top snorkeling spot. Once you dive in, you'll be treated to schools of colorful fish and crystal-clear water. Even better, those in-the-know claim snorkelers like to snorkel here to see a little piece of history. If you can find it, you can snorkel what’s left of a small airplane resting just below the surface of Little Cinnamon Bay. Strap on your fins and see if you can find it yourself!
A Tourist Trap You’ll Want to Try
It’s not really a tourist trap–it’s a restaurant called the Tourist Trap, and it's one of the island’s best kept secrets, ironically. One visit to this tiny restaurant, and you'll be begging for more. It’s tucked away in a remote spot on St. John, on the southeastern part of the island closest to Salt Pond Bay. Blink and you might miss it, so make sure to pay attention. This place serves up the dreamiest lobster roll made with the freshest seafood and most delicious, homemade tartar sauce you can imagine. Make sure to order one to eat and one for the road!
Find Fresh Ocean Fare at Fish Trap Seafood Market
Get ready for a grill on the beach. Every Tuesday through Sunday from about noon to 6pm, Fish Trap Seafood market sells the freshest seafood you can find. While you're there, you'll see everything from shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels to sushi quality tuna – you name it and they'll probably have it. Best of all, they’ll even prep them for you, so all you have to do is light up a grill on the beach, gather up some friends, and chow down.
Find your Best Friend at ACC Lind Point Trail Hike
Chances are, you probably had to leave old Fido at home during your vacation. If you're missing your pup's wagging tail, then ACC has the cure for you! St. John’s Animal Care Center (ACC) lets lonely hikers take their equally lonely pups out on hikes to Lind Point Trail and the beach. It’s a 2-mile hike with some wonderful dogs who need companionship and exercise. A day out on the beach doing a good deed will keep you from missing Fido too much. And best of all, if you happen to fall in love with one of these dogs, they’re all up for adoption! You'll have to figure out how to get him home yourself, though.
There are no travel advisories in effect for St. John. There is no airport on St. John, so airline flights arrive at Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas. To get to St. John, you will have to take a ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. Westin St. John provides a private ferry from St. Thomas to St. John.
Immigration & Customs
For immigration, citizens of the United States do not need a passport or visa to visit St. John. However, it is advised that you have a passport to return to the United States. Travelers to the island are required to carry a photo ID, which can be a U.S. driver’s license. Regarding customs, each U.S. citizen is allowed to return to the U.S. (mainland or Puerto Rico) with $1600 in total purchases. At least half the value of purchases must have been made in the USVI. Have purchases, receipts, Forms 4457 and the Customs declaration form handy to show officials.
Getting to Your Hotel
CheapCaribbean.com has partnered with Westin St. John as our premier transportation company in St. John. They’ll provide you with safe, comfortable and professional transportation, from the airport to your hotel and back. It’s easy to find your Westin St. John team when you arrive at the airport. All drivers are fluent in English, friendly and knowledgeable about the culture, history and things to do while you’re there. By the end of your ride, you’ll have made a new friend. Vehicles are all clean, modern and reliable. Westin St. John is the official transportation rep for CheapCaribbean.com excursions when you book vacations to St. John on our site. They're easy to find in the lobby, should you need them. For this reason, we suggest that our guests do not rent cars while in the Caribbean or Mexico as traffic laws and road quality and street signs are not the same as they are in the US.
Getting Around St. John
Public transportation is available, but making transport arrangements with our tour operator is the safest bet. If you must take a taxi, make sure you know the agreed upon price as the taxi driver could try to charge you more.