The island of St. John is the smallest and quietist of the US Virgin islands. Two thirds of the 19 square miles is owned by the Virgin Islands National Park who maintains it and the surrounding waters.
Cruz Bay is the busier community on the island and it is there that the ferry from St. Thomas will bring you on your arrival. Most of the island's businesses, restaurants and shops are located there.
An 8 mile, 30 minute scenic drive east will take you from Cruz Bay to the smaller community of Coral Bay. Pull over and wave by cars who want to drive faster than you. You are enjoying the scenery but they may be trying to catch the ferry to St Thomas.
The weather on St. John USVI does not vary much from November through to early spring - a pleasant 75 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit with cooling sea breezes. The hotter months are June through November when the temperature often rises into the high 80s and occasionally in August and September into the low to mid 90s. The wetter months are July through January. Early Spring and summer are the driest months but brief rain showers are common even then.
Clothing for this Caribbean Holiday should be light (preferably something that breathes like cotton) and almost always casual. Long pants are recommended if you plan to take advantage of the many hiking trails on the island of St. John. In the cooler months sleeves and/or a light wrap could be desirable in the early mornings and in the evenings. Bathing suits are meant for the beach and it is considered quite rude if you don't cover up while in the town of Cruz Bay or the community of Coral Bay.
Island life is Slow, Easy and Polite. It is important to greet everyone you meet with a smile, a "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon" or "Good Evening" before starting to do business. These pleasantries are customary and important for the people of the Virgin Islands.
Many St John businesses have seasonal opening hours, also many have modified their service as a result of Covid restrictions. Please call ahead and confirm opening times.
Although the majority of business are found in Cruz Bay there are still many fine dining & shopping spots in an around Coral Bay.
Cruz Bay has a large variety of resurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets. There is a good selection within a short walk from the ferry dock.Many are just walk in, but to be sure of a table, always check to see if they will take a reservations. Below is just a sample of what Cruz Bay and surounding area has to offer.
St. John is beach heaven. The most popular and most famous beaches are located on the North Shore Road such as Hawksnest Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Trunk Bay, Maho Bay and a favorite with locals is the Francis Bay beach.
The south shore beaches are found just a short drive from Siempré Azul There you will find two of the local favorites: Salt Pond Beach and Lameshur.
If you don't mind a short walk go to Salt Pond bay and after some great snorkeling and a little sunbathing follow the trail at the end of the beach which will take you to Drunk Bay or out on the point to Ram's Head where you will be rewarded with a fabulous view above the surf.
Some smaller but delightful lesser known beaches can be found along the drive out towards East End. Hansen Bay Beach is a gem!... it can be seen from Siempré Azul, directly accross the bay. This as a private beach but all are welcome. A small donation is requested for parking and the use of the beach for as long as you want. You will be greeted by Thalia, who will show you around. Kayack paddle boards etc. are avaible with additional donations.
St. John is two-thirds National Park and is an ideal hiking island. The Virgin Island National Park hiking trails are the perfect place to explore Caribbean flora, fauna, and history. Be sure to pick up a map showing the network of trails. You can get one at Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay (340-776-6201). You can also sign up for a choice of guided walks.
Another great source for the most up to date hiking information is Off The Beaten Track , written by Gerald Singer, a long time St. John resident and hiking enthusiast. In addition to hiking trails, the book has chapters on St Johns Beaches and Snorkling spots.
A good pair of hiking shoes is a must, also light loose fitting clothing, a hat, bug repellant and lots and lots of water. The Nationl Park recommends half a gallon of water per person per hour. Remember, dehydration and heat stroke will really spoil your day! Be prepared and take all the necessary precautions, and also remember, there is no safe drinking water available along the trails.