Famous for its unspoiled natural beauty, St John offers some of the best snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming, underwater photography, sailing and hiking in the Caribbean – perfect for active couples on honeymoon or enjoying a romantic getaway.
St John is the smallest and most pristine of the three main US Virgin Islands.
Blessed with lush tree-covered hills and mountains fringed by pristine white-sand beaches, St John offers a welcome escape from the crowds of historic St Croix and bustling St Thomas – more renowned for its great duty-free shopping, flashy 5-star resorts and numerous bars and restaurants.
St John offers a choice of gorgeous white-sand beaches that indent the island’s coastline.
The northwest coast of St John’s island offers some of the most picture-perfect white-sand beaches in the Caribbean, framed by lush forest-covered hills and peninsulas set within the 2000ha Virgin Island National Park.
The best beaches in St John, include…
Unwind on one of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean – a gorgeous 500m-long white-sand beach that shelves into crystal clear turquoise waters surrounded by lush palm- and forest-clad hills.
Bring your own mask and flippers or hire snorkelling equipment at the water sports centre on the beach and then follow 198m of wide underwater trails through one of the finest snorkelling regions in the Caribbean.
Managed by the US National Park Service, the marked trails are easy to follow, with flexible underwater plaques helping you identify coral and numerous tropical fish. Head to the west end of the beach for the best snorkelling trails.
Facilities include umbrellas for hire, changing rooms, showers, toilets, picnic tables, lockers and lifeguards, as well as food and cold drink concession stands. This is the only public beach on St John to charge an admission fee (around USD4 per person).
To avoid the inevitable crowds that arrive from docking cruise liners, arrive either early or late in the day.
Trunk Bay is easily reached by hire car, bus or taxi along St John's North Shore Road.
Sunbathe and swim in calm and clear turquoise waters from this idyllic, palm-fringed, powder-white sand beach that fringes a small bay framed by lush tree-covered headlands.
Snorkel over coral gardens among colourful tropical fish and turtles then explore some of the other gorgeous white-sand beaches that lie nearby on this 69ha peninsula.
Come for a day or stay at the beachfront Caneel Bay Resort, one of the Caribbean’s premier resorts. There are no televisions or phones at the resort (although mobile phones will operate) and guest rooms overlook idyllic beaches just a short walk from the main resort buildings.
Beach facilities include umbrellas and sun loungers (non-guests need to hire) and full service from the resort.
Caneel Bay Beach is on the northwest shore and is easily reached along Salamon Bay Road, which links to North Shore Road, or on foot from Cruz Bay using the Lind Point Trail.
Relax on this small 200m-long white-sand beach that nestles beneath lush palm and tree-covered hills facing the turquoise waters of Hawksnest Bay.
Several small beaches fringe the 600m-wide bay, which lies over the peninsula from Caneel Bay. There are no facilities here so you’ll need to take your own provisions.
Pick your own spot to sunbathe on this picture-perfect and secluded 400m-long crescent of powder-white sand that nestles between palm trees and lush forest-covered hills.
Swim and snorkel in clear turquoise waters; the best snorkelling is around the rocky headland that separates Honeymoon Beach from nearby Salomon Beach.
If you want to escape the hot sun, relax beneath the palm trees that edge the sands. No road access to Honeymoon Beach means it is rarely crowded. However, there are no facilities here so remember to take your own food and drink.
You can reach the beach by boat from Cruz Bay or along the Lind Point Hiking Trail that connects Cruz Bay to Honeymoon and Caneel Bay.
Escape the crowds on the gorgeous powder-white sands of this tiny 120m-long beach accessed by hiking the Lind Point Hiking Trail that connects Cruz Bay to Honeymoon and Caneel Bay.
Unwind on this gorgeous 1.2km-long stretch of powder-white sand that curves around Cinnamon Bay, just to the east of Truck Bay.
The beach faces calm, crystalline waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, windsurfing and catamaran sailing.
Behind the beach, lush forest is marked with numerous trails that are perfect for hiking and biking adventures. Facilities on the beach include water sports equipment and bikes for hire, changing rooms and showers.
Cinnamon Bay Beach is easily reached by hire car, bus or taxi along St John's North Shore Road.
In Cruz Bay, St John’s small capital, stroll past charming pastel-painted homes and buildings that are home to some of the island's best shopping, eating and nightlife attractions.
To best appreciate the island, hire an open-sided four-wheel drive jeep and follow winding mountain roads to secluded coves and bush-covered ruins of 18th century sugar cane plantations, such as the Annaberg Ruins, just east of Trunk Bay.
The waters around St John offer great opportunities for kayaking, sailing, fishing, catamaran sailing, windsurfing, scuba diving and snorkelling.
While the pristine mountain forests are ideal for hiking and biking adventures. The main town of Cruz Bay offers several outdoor adventure operators who offer equipment for hire.
At Trunk Bay, follow the Caribbean’s most famous underwater snorkelling trail, which flows past rich coral gardens teeming with rainbow-coloured fish. Or choose to sunbathe, swim and snorkel on several more secluded white-sand beaches in nearby Caneel Bay.
Snorkelling – The best place for snorkelling on St John is Trunk Bay with its marked underwater trail and information plaques, followed closely by the clear, calm and uncrowded blue waters of Leinster Bay.
Also try the usually deserted Haulover Bay, known for ledges, walls and interesting nooks and crannies that hide an array of colourful marine life. You can take a bus or taxi to all these sites.
Scuba diving – Sign up for a guided underwater tour or take a PADI and NAUI certificate from the 5-star diving centre in Cruz Bay. Choose from day, night and wreck dives. Don’t miss diving Carval Rock, arguably the best diving spot around St John.
Hiking – With more than 60 per cent of the island comprised of the Virgin Islands National Park, this scenic and unspoiled island offer hikers more than 30km of trails that weave through a verdant landscape of more than 800 species of flora and fauna, including wild cats, burros and hummingbirds.
With diverse terrain that ranges from arid in the east to semi-tropical in the northwest, along with more than 800 species of plants and 160 species of birds, St John offers some of the best hiking opportunities in the Caribbean, especially in the Virgin Islands National Park.
Choose from 20 clearly marked trails that can last anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours. Details about all the trails can be found at the Cruz Bay Visitor Centre.
Among the many on offer, try a self-guided stroll along the Annaberg Historic Trail, past the partially restored ruins of an 18th century manor house, or follow the Leinster Bay Trail past mangrove swamps and coral inlets rich with plant and marine life.
Another option is to join a walk conducted by park rangers along the 4km-long Reef Bay Hike, seeing native flora along the way and visiting the only known petroglyphs on the island.
On the more arid eastern region of St John, explore trails that wind through the former grounds of 18th century plantations, past ruined mansions, school houses and rum distilleries now overgrown with lush vines and trees.
Game fishing – Hook up a charter from Cruz Bay and chase blue and white marlin, sailfish and wahoo. Try the North Drop, one of the best-known spots for game fishing. Sport fishing charters are readily available, with experienced skippers encouraging a catch-and-release method of fishing in order to preserve local fish species.
Come on a day trip or stay longer at one of St John’s peaceful and honeymoon friendly resorts. Try the luxurious and flashy Westin Resort St John in Great Cruz Bay, with its giant pool, broad beach and multiple dining choices.
Or relax in the genteel and elegant Caneel Bay Resort, the Caribbean's first eco-resort, which has no phones or televisions. The resort sits on a prime 69ha portion of the national park, surrounded by lush vegetation and offering a playground of seven gorgeous white-sand beaches.
Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about hotels and resorts in St John, U.S. Virgin Islands at TripAdvisor.
The best time to visit St John is during the winter dry season from December to April, when temperatures average 25°C (77°F) with a high of 29°C (84°F) and a low of 21°C (70°F).
St John enjoys a subtropical climate year round, with high temperatures tempered by easterly trade winds.
For more climate info: St John's Weather Guide…
St John is located in the US Virgin Islands – 60 mainly uninhabited islands and cays – the largest and busiest are St Thomas, St Croix and St John.
St John is the smallest of the three main US Virgin Islands, and is located about 6km (4mi) east of Saint Thomas.
The most convenient route to St John is to fly into Cyril E. King Airport (STT), located 3km (1.8mi) to the west of the capital, Charlotte Amalie, on St Thomas, followed by a short ferry ride.
St John is accessible only by sea from St Thomas, with a 20-minute ferry service departing every 30 minutes from the Red Hook landing pier.
Latest update: St John, USVI: 10 November, 2019
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