Port of St. John (U.S.V.I.)
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That's not to say there aren't plenty of tourist-friendly beaches (all are open to the public) and frosty blender drinks. Shore excursions run the gamut from snorkeling to eco-hikes. And there's shopping, of course, though truth be told local handicrafts hold their own against mass-produced duty-free goods -- St. John's tranquility has transformed it into an artists' community of sorts, and several have stores in town.
But much of the development is confined to Cruz Bay, St. John's only real town. Otherwise, St. John's unspoiled beauty is its main draw -- the Virgin Islands National Park makes up two-thirds of the island. (The Rockefeller family donated the land in 1956.) Nestled within the park are Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay, each offering active pursuits in pristine waters. Sailing, snorkeling and diving are top attractions, though kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and scuba are increasingly popular.
Though the island is only about nine miles long, it takes about an hour to drive from Cruz Bay to the east end along winding roads. St. John rewards those who explore on foot; the island is networked with the national park hiking trails that lead to historical sites and hidden coves. If your ship is docked in St. Thomas, your day spent here will feel like a break from the madding crowds -- and you'll want to return again and again.
Top St. John (U.S.V.I.) Itineraries
SeaDream I7 Night Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas to San CruiseSt. Thomas, St. John , St. Barts, St. Barts, Virgin Gorda, Virgin Gorda, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke, San JuanNow
SeaDream I7 Night Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas to San JuanSt. Thomas, St. John , Saba, St. Barts, St. Barts, Virgin Gorda, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke, San JuanNow
Silver Shadow9 Night Caribbean CruiseSan Juan, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. John , Fort LauderdaleNow
Volendam16-day Caribbean HolidayFort Lauderdale , St. John , St. Maarten, Barbados, Port of Spain , Curacao, Aruba, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Fort LauderdaleNow
Pacific Princess14 Night Caribbean CruiseFort Lauderdale , St. John , Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, Martinique, Barbados, Mayreau, Antigua, Virgin Gorda, Fort LauderdaleNow
Good to Know
Hurricane Irma passed over the Virgin Islands in September 2017 and destroyed a huge chunk of the national park in St. John. Before planning to hike or embark on any activity along a beach or in the wilderness, be sure to check with the National Park Service on what's open and safe. Some restaurants and beach concessions are still working to come back, a year later.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The U.S. dollar is used throughout the Virgin Islands, including St. John, but foreign currency can be exchanged at major banks; an ATM is located in First Bank, two blocks north of the ferry dock.
Locals speak English, often with a Creole accent.
Cruz Bay is full of upscale boutiques, most of which are one of a kind. At the atmospheric, stone-walled Mongoose Junction (to the left of the ferry dock), don't miss Bougainvillea Boutique for chic bathing suits, linen fashions and straw hats. Bamboula, which sells everything from bed linens to keepsakes from all over the world, is St. John's most eclectic shop. Also check out Donald Schnell Pottery for hand-blown glass, kaleidoscopes and wind chimes, and Sea Leathers for belts and accessories made out of fish skin.
Adjacent to Margarita's (across from the dock) is St. John Editions, which has fabulous fashions including Lilly Pulitzer, Koko and Flax. Dreams and Dragonflies, at Wharfside, features local art, funky jewelry and hand-painted clothing. Verace is an exquisite jewelry boutique with distinctive, handmade pieces by artists from around the world. Out of the way but worth the half-block stroll is Pink Papaya (in the Lemon Tree Mall), an artsy shop specializing in boldly colored Caribbean handicrafts.
Support the continued preservation of St. John by buying a box of made-in-the-islands Bush Tea at the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park store in Mongoose Junction.