St. John Guide
Know Before You Go...®
If you’re looking for an island that offers fantastic opportunities for outdoor activities, then St. John is the place for you. With miles of park land circled by white sand beaches, visitors to St. John will enjoy a variety of activities, like hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and more. There are also tons of shops and entertainment venues in Cruz Bay. A villa here gives you complete access to this relatively undeveloped Caribbean paradise, and with all there is to see and do, you’ll have lasting memories of St. John.
Why St. John?
- Amazing white sand beaches
- Cruz Bay's colorful shops, lively bars and fun restaurants
- Less developed as two-thirds of the island is national park
- Fabulous trails and scenic views
St. John Weather/Climate
The first human inhabitants of the Virgin Islands were the Arawak Indians. They were descendants of coastal Indians from what is now Venezuela and Guyana who were forced out of that area by more aggressive tribes. They island hopped up the Antillean chain until they reached the Virgin Islands sometime around 300 AD. The Arawaks lived peacefully here, fishing and farming, until the fierce and cannibalistic Carib Indians moved into the area about 100 years before the arrival of Columbus.
Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Virgin Islands on his second voyage to the Caribbean in 1493. Because the islands were sited around the time of the feast of St. Ursula, he named them “Once Mil Virgins” after the eleven thousand virgins that were martyred with St. Ursula.
In 1917 the United States, out of fear of German expansion and a potential naval base here, bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark. Residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1927, but the islands remained under the direct control of the U.S. government until 1968, when Virgin Islanders were first allowed to elect their own Governor (previously, governors had been appointed first by the navy, then by the interior department). In 1972, Virgin Islanders elected their first non voting delegate to congress.
Since the 1950’s, the tourist industry in the Virgin Islands has been growing. Nowhere else under the American flag will you find a culture as diverse, a history as exciting, and an environment as breathtaking.
In 1971 the US bought the islands, which had been former pirate hideouts and ruled by over 7 European monarchies. Just minutes apart, each of the US Virgin Islands has its own personality and characteristics. Aristocratic roots are seen in the 17th century castles and homes, 200 year-old sugar plantations and rum factories.
A night out in Cruz Bay - Start off with some ribs at Joe's BBQ, then head for cocktails at Paradiso
Uncle Joe's BBQ has a limited menu, but serves excellent barbecue and big portions. The pasta salad and ribs are popular. They offer take out and vegan options, and everything is cooked fresh.
Snorkeling at Hawksnest is peaceful and stunning for beginners and experts alike. Trunk Bay has a marked underwater trail but it gets crowded - try both, but hang out at Hawksnest!!
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.
Reef Bay Trail - an adventurous hike through tropical terrain and historic sugar mills
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.
Transportation on St. John
Getting to St. John and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.
U.S. citizens do not need a passport to enter but do require proof of citizenship to return back to the states. A passport or birth certificate with photo ID is sufficient. Canadian and European travelers need a valid passport.
Airlines Flying Here
Airlines that service the USVI include Air Sunshine, American Airlines/American Eagle, Cape Air, Coastal Air Transport, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, LIAT, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Vieques Air Link.
Cyril E. King Airport; Flights from the U.S. are direct to St. Thomas. Transfers to St. Croix and St. John via air or boat.
On the left.
St. John's beauty is in the island; in its beaches, forests and historical ruins, and they are best explored by motored transportation. There are plenty of car rental agencies on the islands. Scooter, motorcycle and bicycle rentals are also available. Bring your valid driver's license from home. Roads are paved and generally in good condition, but they can be steep and winding.
St. John Weddings and Honeymoons
Vacationers don’t just stay in St. John villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! Apply for a marriage license by writing to:
Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands
Box 70, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00804 or call and request an application at (340) 774-6680.
Applicants must appear before a notary public and have the application notarized. If either or both applicants have been divorced, it is required that a certified copy of the divorce decree be filed along with the application.
Applicants should also attach a letter to the court detailing the following:
- The date of arrival to the island
- The length of their stay
- Desired date of the ceremony
- Posting the Application
Upon receipt of the notarized application at the Territorial Court, an eight-day waiting period is required. During this time, the couple’s application is posted for public inspection.
Before a marriage license can be issued, applicants are required to personally appear before the Clerk of the Court, or her designee, to be examined under oath. Some form of identification is required. Note: No physical examination or blood test is required.
All fees must be paid by certified check, money order, or by cash, when paying in person. Marriage Application: $25 Nonrefundable fee. Marriage License: $25
Ceremony performed by a judge, $200 fee, ceremonies done only on Wednesdays.
Court Office Hours: 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays and on Saturdays from 10 am to noon, except on Carnival Saturday. Additionally, by pre-arrangement and $150 per couple surcharge, the court will be available on Sundays and holidays between 9:30 am and 10:30 am.
Know Before You Go...® - St. John Travel Tips
Before making their way to St. John villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in St. John even more relaxing.