St. John, just nine miles long and located just 20 minutes ride from St. Thomas, is unique; featuring protected U.S. Virgin Island National park throughout its lush landscapes. St. John provides escape into an almost endless string of picturesque coves and powder-soft white sand beaches. St. John is ideal for nature lovers who prefer pristine surroundings. A hike up the National Park trails in St. John features endless views of nearby islands creating a stunningly beautiful seascape. St. John is breathtaking - with its green mountains, thick rain forests, colorful reefs, white sand beaches, clear blue waters and ever-blooming flowers, all bathed in an atmosphere of pleasant tropical sounds and fragrances.
Native Indian tribes inhabited St. John Island long before the clash of Europeans entered the clear Caribbean waters of the Virgin Islands. After Columbus' initial interaction with St. John Island, Denmark was truly the first world power to take an interest in what is now the US Virgin Islands. The British, on nearby Tortola, were quick to protest the influence the Danish were trying to exert from St. John Island. An African slave trade established St. John Island as a plantation colony for the Danish following their official declaration over the territory in the mid-eighteenth century.
Sir Francis Drake, an English navigator and infamous plunderer of Spanish galleons, sailed through the sea passageway separating the British and American Virgin Islands and which is today known as the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
In the 1660's, various European powers (Holland, France, England, Spain, Denmark and the Knights of Malta) all wanted to possess the Virgin Islands but in 1671 it was Denmark that clearly ruled St. Thomas. Denmark established the first permanent settlement there and by 1718 they expanded to St. John Island. A fort was constructed in Coral Bay on St. John Island, one of the safest harbors in the Caribbean. In 1733, Denmark purchased St. Croix from France and united the three Virgin Islands of today.
Though St. John Island came under US policy following World War I as the United States bought the islands in 1917 as part of a military defense strategy for $25 million. It was not until 1927 that St. John Island residents were granted U.S. citizenship and it was not until 1956 (when Laurence Rockefeller purchased the island) that the territory took a drastic turn. Currently, over half of St. John Island's 21 square miles lies under national park protective care. The creation of a large national park changed St. John Island forever, making tourism an economic staple. The turnaround to St. John Island's telecommunications and modern infrastructure was dramatic as throngs of guests came to this beautiful Caribbean paradise to be part of the unspoiled beaches and forest.
Cruz Bay still offers the best of what St. John shopping has to offer. With a series of small shops and boutiques, St. John shopping has something for all guests of the island. Many visitors take advantage of luxury duty-free St. John shopping while others focus their attention of local crafts and Island clothing. From Wharfside village to Mongoose Junction is the center of St. John shopping (though small stores and crafts can be found island-wide). Stores like Columbian Emeralds provide an opportunity to take in a degree of luxury while shopping in St. John, take some time to peruse their jewelry collection or head over to the Fabric Mill to try on some hand-crafted shawls.
Clothing is sill a major factor in St. John shopping. One of the local favorites is the Clothing Studio, which creates unique bathing apparel and other kitschy clothing crafts. For those with a more modern flare, the Bougainvillea Boutique offers high-end St. John shopping for those preferring to look statuesque while on vacation. Whatever your budget or your pleasure, St. John shopping has it all!
Guests of the Island will find St. John restaurants a surprising treat. St. John, despite its natural beauty, is a heavily trafficked destination and St. John restaurants keep pace. With more and more classically and modern trained chefs gracing the kitchens, St. John restaurants have more to offer than ever before. The island boasts a wide variety of cuisine to fit any budget or attitude. From fine dining to casual burgers, St. John restaurants have all the trimmings. The restaurants on St. John cover the full spectrum of taste palettes and are sure not to disappoint. Try some of our favorite St. John restaurants!
St. John Restaurants:
Many golf enthusiasts visiting St. John, Virgin Islands will find that they will have to travel a bit more to indulge their habits. There is no golf course on St. John, Virgin Islands as the island has been under national parks protection since the 1950's. Because two-thirds of the St. John, Virgin Islands is dedicated to the ecosystem there is little room for developing a golf course. One of the best parts about St. John, Virgin Islands is its proximity to other islands. A short ferry ride from St. John, Virgin Islands brings guests back to St. Thomas and the beautiful Mahogany Run Golf Course (see St. Thomas Golf). Though many guests to St. John, Virgin Islands are not looking for golf, it is a nice amenity that is only a quick yacht ride away
The focus on ecotourism and the water makes St. John scuba diving one of the most pleasurable activities to take part in while on-island. The colorful coral and tropical fish that abound off the quiet shores of this tropical paradise make St. John scuba, snorkeling, and swimming an unforgettable experience.
Several different companies on the island offer guided St. John fishing excursions with a focus on the big game fish like marlin, sailfish, dolphinfish/mahimahi and wahoo. Both half day and full day excursions are available.
Virgin Islands ceremonies and St. John weddings in particular are a magical experience. Starting a new life together in paradise is one of the best ways to put your foot forward, and a St. John wedding will accomplish just that. From large plantation estates to small surfside receptions, weddings on St. John have the gamut of locals and scenarios to decide between. The island has been host to scores of ceremonies and as such, St. John wedding planners are used to their clientele's requests and situations. Large or small, St. John weddings are sure to please.
The most convenient aspect of St. John weddings is that the same applications and procedure that apply in the US apply on-island. St. John weddings require that the marrying couple have all necessary documentation including divorce certificates if previously married. Licenses for St. John weddings cost $50 and must be received in person before the ceremonies may take place.
Getting married on St. John is relatively easy. Couples should apply for St. John wedding applications through the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands, Box 70, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., 00804 or call 340.774.6680. There is an eight-day waiting period required upon receipt of the notarized application in the islands. The waiting period, however, may be waived at the discretion of the judge if the couple's documents are in order.
We are, also, happy to provide our clients with the names and phone numbers of personal wedding consultants and planners.
St. John Beach Access: The most appealing aspect of the Island are St. John's beaches. Known for its spectacular white sandy strips, St. John beaches are widely respected as some of the best in the Caribbean. Many of the St. John beaches are located on the north shore within the National Park. St. John beaches located in this area are maintained and protected indefinitely because of the funding for the ecosystem. It is important to note that most St. John villa rentals are located on the islands beautiful hillside as much of the land along St. John beaches is protected.
North Coast St. John Beaches:
All of the beaches on the island are open to the public. St. John has no nude beaches and nudism is actually illegal.