Luxury Charter Yacht Caribbean Vacation Destinations

A Caribbean Vacation in St John

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.

St. John Island History

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.

St. John Shopping

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!

St. John Restaurants

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:

  • Asolare: Phone: 340.779.4747 Intimate Euro-Asian cuisine overlooking quaint Cruz Bay Harbor at this St. John restaurant.
  • Beach Terrace at Caneel Bay Resort: Phone: 340.776.6111 An elegant beachside setting at one of the Caribbean's premier resorts.
  • Café Roma: Phone: 340.776.6524 Located in Cruz Bay on an upper level, this St. John restaurant offers good pasta and pizza in a casual setting.
  • Café Wahoo (formerly Pussers Restaurant and Bar in Cruz Bay):
  • Chateau Bordeaux: Phone: 340.776.6611 Spectacular views from Bordeaux Mountain, the island's highest look out point. International cuisine with a sophisticated menu.
  • Duffy's Love Shack: ( Recently Burned DOWN!!! So sad...) Funky, casual and great drinks!
  • Ellingtons at Gallows Point in Cruz Bay: Phone: 340.776.6111 St. John restaurant offers casual fine dining with sunset views of Pillsbury Sound…Continental cuisine with a Caribbean flair.
  • Equator at Caneel Bay: Phone: 340.776.6111 Open air dining in a former sugar mill, featuring fresh flavors and good wines.
  • Fish Trap: Phone: 340.693.9994 Fantastic fresh fish entrees with an accent on fresh ingredients are featured in this casual tropical setting and open air dining room.
  • Lime Inn: Phone: 340.776.6425 Set in a garden and one of the most popular spots it serves generous portions of burgers, lobster, grilled fish and an all you can eat shrimp fest on Wednesday nights.
  • Morgan's Mango Phone: 340.693.8141 Located next to Mongoose Junction, the restaurant is known for its seafood and West Indian specialties. Open daily for dinner.
  • Woody's and Quiet Mon - downtown Cruz Bay - made famous in songs by Kenny Chesney - who has a couple of homes on the island.

St. John, Virgin Islands Golf

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

St. John Watersports and St. John Scuba Diving

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.

  • Snorkeling and Diving: St. John offers exceptional close in snorkeling directly off its spectacular white sand beaches. First time visitors will not want to miss the famous, although sometimes crowded, underwater snorkeling trail at Trunk Bay. Visitors may snorkel and follow the various buoys that outline the shallow water trail. The 15 underwater plaques identify the corals and fish that inhabit these waters.
  • Deep-Sea Fishing: Vast arrays of big game fish live in the oceans surrounding the U.S. Virgin Islands. Indeed, fishing from the U.S. Virgin Islands is synonymous with blue marlin angling-especially from June through October. Four 1,000 pound blue marlins, including three world records have been caught on the famous North Drop, which is located approximately 20 miles north of St. Thomas.

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.

St. John Nightlife

  • Nightlife: St. John Nightlife is somewhat limited, though that is no need to grumble. Much of St. John nightlife consists of dancing and occasional live bands in and around the Cruz Bay area. For the most current information about local entertainment, please refer to any of the local newspapers such as the Daily News, The Tradewinds, or the Island Trader. For those who want to have some time out, enjoy soca and reggae at Fred's in Cruz Bay.
  • Dress: St. John is exceptionally informal when it comes to dress code standards with shorts and shirts the standard daytime attire. Both the custom and the law state that bathing suits are not to be worn anywhere but on the beach. Casual clothes/casual elegance are suitable for evenings although jackets for men are required at Caneel Bay. A jacket of sweater might be appropriate for cooler winter evenings.

St. John Weddings

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.

St. John Marriage and St. John Weddings

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 Beaches

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:

  • Caneel Bay: International recognized as one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean, it boasts several of its own terrific beaches that are available to the public. Do be sure to check that you're not trespassing and that you have the resort's permission to traverse their property prior to reaching the public St. John beach. A lovely seaside bar that provides the perfect setting for sunset watching!
  • Cinnamon Bay: Camping, water sports, endless white sand, concessions and a small general store compliment one of the nicest St. John beaches on the island. Rental equipment (snorkel gear, kayaks, windsurfing with lessons, sailing) available.
  • Hawksnest Bay: A personal favorite, this St. John beach offers seclusion and good snorkeling on its two coral banks that are just several feet from the shore.
  • Honeymoon Beach: Best access is from the Caneel Bay Resort-make sure you have their permission to park your car on their lot.
  • Leinster Bay: No maintained beaches, but Waterlemon Cay (NOT Watermelon) is a tiny island/spit with great snorkeling around 200 yards off St. John. Go to the end of Leinster Beach to make the swim to Waterlemon Cay.
  • Maho Bay: Secluded and quiet with a restaurant and ecologically conscious grounds and accommodations.
  • Trunk Bay: St. John's most renowned beach it is, also, one of the most photographed beaches in the Caribbean. A combination of the underwater snorkeling trail, water sports kiosk, concession stand changing and restroom facilities and lifeguards on duty make this a beach not to be missed. Small entrance fee.

All of the beaches on the island are open to the public. St. John has no nude beaches and nudism is actually illegal.

St. John Activities

  • Estates and Plantations: On the northern coast, visitors will find the ruins of Annaberg Plantation a 1700 estate. Visitors may tour the factory buildings and windmill of this 1733 estate and enjoy sensational views of the Caribbean. Local residents conduct period craft demonstrations, such as basket weaving. The National Park Service offers guided tours on Mondays from 9:30 to 11:00 AM and Fridays from 1 to 2:30 PM.
  • Hiking: A variety of hiking opportunities exist on St. John. Be sure to stop in Cruz Bay at the Virgin Islands National Park Headquarters (phone 340.776.6201) which is open daily from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM for a pamphlet describing the 22 trails that meander to and through plantation ruins, open valleys, semi-rainforests and seaside beaches. The park offers 22 trails in all which encompass some 20 miles. The trails range from easy to very difficult and from fifteen minutes to over two hours. Do be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen. The Reef Bay Trail is one of the island's most popular and it is here that you may see the pre-Columbian petroglyphs.
  • Tennis: The Westin Resort on the island has tennis courts that may be booked even if you are not a guest for a court fee. Call the Pro-Shop at the Westin for court times and availability (693.8000 ext. 1740) as well as information on clinics and private lessons. Additionally, there are public courts at the town courts located across the street from the Fire Station in Cruz Bay.

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