Many people who visit St. John spend their days soaking up the sun and their nights dining alfresco at a waterfront restaurant. However, this Caribbean jewel has a great deal more to offer, and St. John’s rich history, beautiful scenery, underwater kingdoms and diverse flora and fauna provide every visitor to the island with a wealth of adventure and entertainment options. On the other hand, which of them are right for you? To give you a few ideas...we have made a list of some of the top things to do in St. John, US Virgin Islands.
Dine and Drink at an Island Bar
No Caribbean vacation would be complete without a visit to an island bar, and St. John has some of the best. From exotic cocktails and locally caught seafood delicacies at High Tide – to craft beers and gourmet burgers at St. John Brewers – the island’s bars have something for everyone. If you only have time to visit one island watering hole, you may want to consider Joe’s Rum Hut, which was voted one of the best bars in America by Men’s Journal magazine.
Rent an SUP at Maho Bay
If you are looking for a more adventurous way to spend a day on St. John, think about renting a stand up paddleboard at Maho Bay. The shallow waters beside the pristine white sand beach are perfect for SUP beginners, and the short trip to Whisling Cay presents even experienced paddlers with a challenge. If you would prefer to take to the water sitting down, you could rent a kayak instead.
Rent Snorkeling Gear at Trunk Bay or Maho
The Virgin Islands National Park covers two-thirds of St. John, and 40% of it is underwater. If you have never snorkeled before, rent some gear at Trunk Bay and head out to the Underwater Trail. The looping trail is easy to swim, and it even has plaques to tell you more about all of the marine life you will see. For a truly magical experience, rent some snorkeling gear or take your own to Maho Bay in the early morning or late afternoon. Once you’re there, swim out to the shallow bay’s seagrass beds and coral. Here, you will see green sea turtles, an octopus or two flitting around and diverse schools of colorful fish.
Book a Charter in Cruz Bay to go Island-hopping
Knowing that other great islands are within easy reach is one of the greatest things about vacationing in the Caribbean. You can board a charter boat in Cruz Bay and island-hop to dozens of islands within the United States and British Virgin Islands. Each island has the beautiful scenery, tropical landscapes and even a few world wonders. You can book a graceful catamaran or boisterous party boat and then prepare for a day of adventure and exploration.
Have Brunch in St. Thomas
If you find yourself in St. Thomas while you are island-hopping, take time to step in and have some brunch at the Old Stone Farmhouse. Come back later for their dinner menu and house-crafted cocktails such as the Tequila Mockingbird. The restaurant is an award-winning gourmet restaurant set in a restored West Indian field house that is more than 200 years old. Their menu features imaginative dishes with a distinctly French twist. Also, the Old Stone Farmhouse has one of the best wine cellars in the Caribbean, and many of its finest vintages are available by the glass.
Take a Kayak Excursion into Hurricane Hole
If you think paddling a kayak in some of the world’s most beautiful waters and snorkeling in mangroves among barracuda, starfish, snappers and sea anemone sounds like a great way to spend a day, a Hurricane Hole kayak and snorkeling experience should definitely be on your list of things to do when you visit St. John. You can experience all that this incredible bay has to offer, either as part of a group, or on your own.
Shop at the “Beverly Hills of the Caribbean”
Shopaholics do not have to feel left out on St. John as Cruz Bay is considered the Beverly Hills of the Caribbean. The bay has some truly amazing stores, with many of them being in Mongoose Junction. The island’s premier dining and shopping destination was designed to resemble a 19th century Dutch estate, and it contains shops offering everything from duty-free goods, to locally made jewelry, gifts and souvenirs. When it’s time to take a break and let your cards cool down, enjoy a frozen drink at the Gecko Gazebo Bar or some mahi-mahi tacos at the Sun Dog Café. Cruz Bay also boasts some of the best premier suites, luxury villas and hotels in the world if you need accommodations.
Hike to Reef Bay for its Historic Landmarks
There are less challenging hikes on St. John, but few are as rewarding as the Reef Bay Trail. As you walk the trail’s 4.4 miles, you will see ancient rock carvings, the ruins of a sugar plantation and some of the oldest trees on the island. If you are lucky enough to walk the trail during May or September, you could also see an amazing waterfall. Be sure to take plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes as some parts of the trail are steep and the ground is rocky and uneven in places.
Dine Alfresco at Extra Virgin Bistro
Extra Virgin Bistro has garnered quite a following since they opened in 2015, and one main reason for that is that the fresh and delicious food at this Cruz Bay is epic. Produce can be hard to come by in the Virgin Islands and Extra Virgin gets around that by sourcing it and various herbs from the ones they grow on their rooftop. Most of their fish come from local fishermen, whose names they print on their menus. You can pair a glass of wine from their extensive wine menu with house specialties such as fresh Caribbean Lobster and gorgeously plated Raviolo al’ Uovo.
Explore Virgin Islands National Park
Many of the suggestions on this list like Trunk Bay, Maho Bay and the Reef Bay Trail are located in the Virgin Islands National Park, but they are not the only reason to visit this island treasure. The Christiansted National Historic Site should be on your itinerary if you want to learn more about St. John’s eventful past, and the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve offers you a chance to delve even deeper into the mists of time.
Visit and Relax on Cinnamon Bay
If fantastic beaches are your thing, Cinnamon Bay should be high on your list of places to visit in St. John. Cinnamon Bay features half a mile of white sand beach overlooked by towering palm trees, and a beautiful Cay located just 100 feet offshore is a great place to snorkel. You can also rent paddle boarding, windsurfing and kite boarding equipment at Cinnamon Bay if you want to get a little more adventurous on the water. Great for fun and relaxing, Cinnamon Bay should be on your itinerary.
Wander Pristine Salt Island in BVI
If you plan to travel to the British Virgin Islands during your St. John vacation, Salt Island is one of the places you should think about visiting. The uninhabited island is dotted with salt ponds that once provided the region's inhabitants with the means to preserve meat and fish – and there is even a deserted town complete with crumbling walls and a spooky graveyard. You will need a passport to go there if you are from the U.S., though.
Hob Nob with the Stars on Necker Island
Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands is relatively close to St. John and just north of Virgin Gorda. It takes about three hours to get there from St. John, including transfers. That’s the easy part of going and staying on this ritzy private island, as it has earned the reputation of where to vacation after winning the lottery. To put it differently, Necker Island is the preferred vacation spot for celebrities such as Oprah and Kate Winslet, and visitors will have to pay for the privilege to hob nob among them.
Savor a Captained Sail around the Islands
It’s a breathtaking experience to sail around the islands...and you can rent 2-people sailboats and dinghies in St. John for doing it on your own. For a sailboat that’s captained, though, you can’t beat the experience of Kekoa’s Private Charters. Kekoa – a 2020 Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award winner – hosts a Jost Van Dyke day trip that sails for around 7 hours. The price for going is around $150 a person. Features included in the trip include snorkeling the tranquil waters off St. John’s north shore and sailing to gorgeous White Bay, the home of the Soggy Dollar Bar and prime beach-combing opportunities.
Visit a Secluded Beach on an Eco Tour
If you are unfamiliar with eco touring, it is tourism that is geared toward experiencing exotic and often threatened natural environments. They are additionally intended to observe wildlife and support conservation. Environmental stewards traveling to the Virgin Islands will appreciate the spirit of this in the 8-hour Beach Day Pass at Honeymoon Beach in St John, too. The eco tour provides amenities such as snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to better enjoy this secluded piece of natural paradise.
Where to Stay
We hope you enjoyed our list of the Top Things to do In St John, USVI. Do keep in mind that wherever you stay in St. John is sure to provide fun times and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For example, Cruz Bay is the epicenter for nightlife, groceries, gas, restaurants and shopping – while also providing a convenient starting point for all the exciting things to do in St. John and its surrounding areas. To find out more about booking accommodations in Cruz Bay, St. John, please contact our friendly and helpful staff at 1-800-727-6610. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form, and we will promptly contact you back. Looking for a more permanent home in the USVI? Check out St. John real estate opportunities at Islandia Real Estate.