The smallest and most beautiful of the U.S, Virgin Islands, St John is arguably the jewel of the Caribbean. Located about 45 miles east of Puerto Rico and only 3 miles from the larger and much busier US Virgin island of St Thomas.
St John is only a three-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale. As a US territory, travel there is domestic travel and a passport is encouraged but not required. It is only 20 square miles in size and has a population of 4,000 people on a good day.
Nearly 60% of the island is a U.S National park and will never be developed thanks to Lawrence Rockefeller who in 1956 donated much of his extensive land holdings with the provision that it remain public land.
There are two tiny towns on the island, Cruz Bay on the West End in Coral Bay on the east end that have great shops and restaurants. The island has no traffic lights.
For lodging, there are vacation rental homes and a few hotels to suit every taste and budget. Notably, there is a campground within the National Park at Cinnamon Bay where you can rent a small cottage, eco-tent, or pitch your own tent on a platform. Cinnamon is one of the most lovely beaches on the island and has fantastic snorkeling.
Towering 1000 feet out of the Caribbean sea, St John’s lush forested hillsides, pristine white sand beaches, and vibrant tropical reefs are known worldwide. Its beauty inspires artists, poets, lovers, and dreamers and its warm friendly locals welcome those that visit and respect local tradition and the priceless ecology.
The islands in this region, known as the Leeward Islands, enjoy steady easterly trade winds year-round which keep air temperatures very comfortable for inhabitants and visitors alike. The trade winds make for excellent sailing conditions. Sailors worldwide have set course for the region and dropped anchor in the beautiful protected bays of St. John.
Its bays and harbors are usually filled with lovely sailing craft drawing graceful lines across the clear blue waters as they capture the fresh breeze. Our own island sloop “Pepper” joins this yacht dance party on her daily sailing trips.
St John is crisscrossed with hiking trails that will take you to amazing remote bays, endless mountain top views of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic ocean, centuries-old ruins of Danish sugar plantations. You will also see ancient petroglyphs painted on volcanic rocks by the peaceful Taino Indians, the earliest inhabitants of the island.
Goats and donkeys, deer and the occasional mongoose are commonly seen throughout the island. Flocks of lovely tropical and migratory birds roost in the estuaries
I first visited this island in 2001 on a chance vacation to an unknown destination. The island captured my heart the day I set foot upon it.
I have journeyed to “Love City” as the locals call it dozens of times since that first trip, sometimes camping, sometimes renting a vacation home, and sometimes staying with friends I have met along the way. Each time I have come to appreciate the island’s beauty, history, ecology, and kind people even more.
If the island enticements I have described have quickened your pulse and got you to dreaming I invite you to make your own reservations. But I warn you, it can be deliciously difficult to leave!