St. John offers a whole island full of things to do. Whether you're into water sports, hiking, or shopping, you'll be entertained on the island. The majority of St. John is national park land, which means there are miles of trails that traverse the island. Cruz Bay bustles with activity, and local shops and restaurants welcome visitors. If you're interested in history, head to the Annaburg Sugar Mills Ruins dating back to the 1700s, or check out the Elaine Sprauve Library and Museum. Of course, you need to spend some time at the beach, too, and Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, and Hawksnest Beach are great for lounging and swimming.
Hawksnest Beach is the locals' favorite beach for families with children. It's not only one of the most beautiful beaches on St. John, it is also the most convenient. It's the closest north shore beach to Cruz Bay and the parking lot is close to the beach, so there's no need for a long walk. In the late afternoon, many native St. Johnians come to Hawksnest to "chill out" after work. Hawksnest Beach is the least crowded of the North Shore beaches. Changing facilities, shelters and picnic tables are available. Enjoy excellent snorkeling in fairly shallow water along the nearby reef. It's a good place for beginner snorkelers.
This is probably one of the most interesting hikes on St. John, but may be a bit physically challenging. If you go with a park service ranger, they can identify trees and plants, explain the history of Reef Bay Plantation, and tell you about the petroglyphs on the rocks at the bottom of the trail.
You can also take the safari bus from the park's visitor center. A boat takes you from the beach at Reef Bay back to the visitor center, saving you the uphill climb.
This partially restored sugar plantation dates back to the 18th century. Slaves harvested sugarcane and molasses was boiled here. A trail leads through the factory ruins, slave quarters, windmills and other remains.
Cultural demonstrations are offered Tuesday - Friday from 10 am until 2 pm; a gardener is on site to explain the importance of agriculture to the Virgin Islands, and a baker demonstrates in a Dutch oven the traditional way to make "dumb bread" -- a rich, round loaf that takes its name from the "dum" style of baking that traveled to the Caribbean from India.
Caneel Bay is the home of seven fabulous beaches at St. John's first resort established by Laurance Rockefeller in the 1950's. The public can hike to Honeymoon Beach or can check-in to become a guest of the main Caneel beach.
Swimming: pretty calm
Water Sports Center: Yes
Accessibility: Taxi, Car, Trail
Snorkeling: Not brilliant
Kid Friendly: Yes
Taxi Availability: Usually at hotel, or Call Dispatcher
Honeymoon Beach & Scott Beach are 2 of 7 beaches at the Caneel Bay Resort. You can drive to the visitor's parking lot at Caneel Bay (you have to check in with the guard if he is there and tell him you are a day visitor). Technically, guests are just supposed to be able to access Caneel Bay and Honeymoon Beaches but legally you can be on any of the beaches (where it gets tricky is that the property accessing the beach is resort private property).
If you walk straight on the path after parking, you will come to Caneel Bay Beach. This is also where you can eat lunch or have drinks. Day visitors can use the beach but they are not supposed to use the guest chaises. If you turn left on the pathway BEFORE you come to the beach restaurant and walk about 1 mile (straight, easy walk), you will come to Honeymoon Beach. If you snorkel around the reef on the left end of Honeymoon, you'll come to Salomon Beach (very short distance).
To get to Scott Beach, it's quite a ways on your right (again on the path before you reach Caneel Beach)--maybe 2 miles. Plus no kids under 12 are allowed on Scott or Paradise Beach.
The other National Park Beaches, outside of the Caneel property, which are as nice or nicer include Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon, Little Cinnamon, Gibney, Francis, Jumbie, Leinster, Waterlemon Cay to name a few.
It is located in Coral Bay. Half day and Full day rides are offered on horses or donkeys. Also, lunch and drinks are included.
You can ride to the beach for snorkeling, explore the historic mountain roads or choose a flat ground ride for the kiddies.
Cinnamon Bay has a beautiful long white sand beach with wonderful swimming. There are a couple of cays out from the beach a short distance providing great snorkeling. Swimming: calm; water sports center; accessible by taxi or car; snorkeling: awesome; child friendly. Cinnamon Bay has the most amenities with windsurfers, kayaks, mountain bikes and snorkel gear available for rent, along with a snack shop and changing facilities. There are hiking trails across the road from Cinnamon Bay.
Two beaches protected by Ditliff Peninsula are Klein Bay, a pebble beach, and Ditliff Beach, a white sand beach. Ditliff beach is a 15 minute nature walk or a 10-15 minute swim or snorkel from Klein Bay. Both beaches have calm, crystal clear waters, sheltered from heavy surf and strong winds, and offer very good swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and wind surfing. Klein Bay is a 10-15 minute drive from the groceries, restaurants and shops of Cruz Bay, all on paved roads.
"Lion In Da Sun" Captained Powerboat Charters uses a speedy, comfortable "Scout 28" boat for its US and BVI day excursions. Activities include snorkeling, sightseeing, stops at beaches and bars/restaurants, or whatever. Islands visited include Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola (Dolphin Swim), and Norman.
Maho is the only north shore beach that is right there by the side of the road, no parking lots, just the beach. Its very calm and shallow making it great for the little ones. It is more out of the way than the other north shore beaches so there are fewer people. Other beautiful out-of-the-way beaches are Francis and Leinster Bays. (Watch out for the current running between the point and Waterlemon Key at Leinster.)
Solomon Bay is also less crowded. Accessible from the National Park trailhead, it's a beautiful and pristine little gem. (Please note, it is not "clothing optional" - if the Park Service Rangers catch you, you'll be ticketed.)
Located in Cruz Bay, this is a neat little shopping area with a variety of boutiques, galleries, jewelry stores, restaurants, and other amusements. It's a great place to find local art and items unique to St. John.
Salt Pond Bay, near Coral Bay, is another way out-of-the-way beach. It's a beautiful 45 minute drive from town and a quarter mile hike down the trail from the parking lot. Salt Pond is a secluded, broken coral beach. It offers excellent swimming, great snorkeling, and virtually no tourists. The National Park Service maintained Reef Bay Trail leads out to Rams Head point. Take along snacks, and something to drink.
Sloop Jones creates unique colorful tropical clothing. Each piece is painted by hand at his studio/gallery. The shop is by the beach on the tranquil,pristine East End. Just 12 minutes from Coral Bay but 12 years from Cruz Bay.
His website has a video tour which guides you to the East End and previews the studio.
approx 46 foot sailboat, Jason is captain and new wife Lou is firstmate..
knowledgable captain, experienced in sails, island info, ocean, etc. Safe.
very well kept, tidy boat.
will accomadate the kind of trip you want, sail, snorkeling, touring.
great on board lunch provided, drinks, etc.
This boat survived Hurrican Ivan in the Grenadas thus the name...
gone with them in 2007 and 2009...
hope to go again
Trunk Bay is one of the most popular and famous beaches on St. John. Its renowned for it's underwater snorkeling trail, Trunk Bay is definitely worth a visit. There are six hundred and fifty (650) feet of snorkeling trails and you can rent snorkel gear at the rental shop. You'll also find a snack bar and changing facilities. Trunk Bay is part of the National Park and is the only beach on St. John that has an admission fee, collected from 8am to 4pm. The beach can get very busy on days when there are several cruise ships in port. Lifeguards are on duty.
No experience is needed to see the beauty and wonder of the undersea world. Snuba offers the safest and easiest way possible to explore beneath the sea. Ages 8 and up can participate. The facility is located at Trunk Bay.
Take a taxi out to Trunk Bay, and there you will go to the Trunk Bay Gift Shop (the shop that faces the Snack Bar). The gift shop is where you will meet your guide.
The Virgin Islands National Park charges a $4 per person (kids under 16 free) entrance fee, this fee stays in the park to maintain the facilities (showers, restrooms, trails, etc.).
Kayak, hike and snorkel Caneel Bay.
Explore the protected bays of crystal blue-green waters teeming with coral reef life, white sandy beaches shaded by sea grape trees, coconut palms, and tropical forests providing habitat for over 800 species of plants.
Expert guides will show you hundreds of exotic tropical fish. You can also explore the trail on Turtle Point as nature guides point out unique plant and other native flora and fauna.
Space is limited for the tours, early reservations are recommended.
The Virgin Islands National Park on St. John is well developed which makes exploring the historical sites, beaches and trails easy and rewarding.
The Virgin Islands National Park encompasses underwater areas that teem with marine life, gorgeous white sand beaches and acres of lush green forests. The land and sea are not the only treasures in the park, there are also historical treasures including Pre-Columbian Amerindian
settlements, Danish colonial sugar plantation ruins, forts and a marine railway.
Civilizations lived on St. John long before the Europeans arrived to the region, as evidenced by the petroglyphs, or rock carvings left by the Taino people. These carvings are found especially on the Reef Bay hiking trail. These people were all but driven into extinction by Europeans in the 17th century seeking new territories as colonial properties.
Much of the vegetation on the Island is second generation growth. Almost the entire Island was clear-cut to make way for sugar cane production during the colonial era. Some native species like the tyre palm remain, but much growth today are introduced species.
In 1962, Congress expanded the boundary of Virgin Islands National Park to include 5,650 acres of submerged lands to protect and preserve the beautiful coral gardens and seascapes. Today, the Park conducts research, and has developed policies and practices aimed at protecting the fragile coral reef systems.
Virgin Islands Coral Reef Monument includes federal submerged lands within the 3 mile belt off of the island of St. John. These waters support a diverse and complex system of coral reefs, and other ecosystems such as shoreline mangrove forests and seagrass beds that contribute to their health and survival. The need to protect reefs from further degradation led to a Presidential Proclamation establishing the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument in January 2001. Hurricane Hole is the only area of the Monument accessible by land.