More easygoing than its lively cousins, St. Croix and St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John rewards its visitors with idyllic, untouched beauty. White sand beaches, craggy coastlines, vibrantly-colored coral reefs, and palm-lined crescent-shaped bays ring the island. Inland, miles of winding trails sidestep ruins of 18th-century sugar plantations and ancient petroglyphs and lead to stunning panoramic views. When not exploring the island’s natural wonders, stroll around Cruz Bay for a smattering a shops, restaurants, and bars.
Get oriented at the Cruz Bay Visitors Center, where two floors of maps and information will help you plan your day. Take an open-air, surrey-style taxi for a ride around the island, stopping at various points for jaw-dropping panoramic views. Back in Cruz Bay, spend time browsing the arts and crafts boutiques and shops at Mongoose Junction. Afterward, settle in at a seaside bistro for a relaxed dinner featuring fresh seafood and rum cocktails.
St. John has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and it’s easy to pick one to spend the days. For snorkeling and diving, head to Waterlemon Cay, where a dazzling array of tropical fish, sea turtles, and rays make the coral formations offshore their home. For sunning and swimming, Hawksnest Beach offers warm, shallow water, plenty of sun, and shady respites underneath swaying palm trees. Idyllic Trunk Bay Beach, close to Cruz Bay, is the liveliest of the beaches, with plenty of watersports rentals and fun under the sun.
Hiking the winding trails of St. John gives you a fascinating glimpse not only into the island’s unspoiled naturally beauty but also its history. Spend a day in Virgin Islands National Park, where more than 20 different trails take through a lush, tropical wonderland and along cliffs with panoramic views. History unfolds at Annaberg Historic Trail, where the half-mile trek passes the restored ruins of an 18th century sugar plantation. On Leinster Bay Trail, lush paths wind through mangrove swamps leading to ancient petroglyphs carved in boulders and cliffs.