Touring St. John, US Virgin Islands

The island of St. John is just a short ferry trip from St. Thomas, so the friends we were staying with on our visit in April took us there for a day trip. . . .

Our trip starts at the ferry terminal in Red Hook on St. Thomas. Here we roll onto one of the barges that ferry vehicles and their passengers between the islands.

St John USVI 1 - ExplorationVacation 20150417-DSC_7206

Despite some rolling waves, the short trip is enjoyable and scenic.

St John USVI 2 - ExplorationVacation 20150417-DSC_7192

Car barge - ferry - from St Thomas to St John in the US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Car barge - ferry - from St Thomas to St John in the US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

And then we are in Cruz Bay – time to explore the island!

Well, actually, time to shop. There are a few stores at Mongoose Junction (a funky shopping mall filled with shops selling tropical clothing, jewelry, and art) that our friends want to visit. They are pretty sure that we will like it too, (they are correct), so we start there.

Cruz Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Shopping done (I bought a beautiful larimar and topaz bracelet that is the color of the Caribbean); it was time to hit the road.

Larimar bracelet - ExplorationVacation.net

St John isn’t a very big island (about 20 square miles), but it is mountainous and 60 percent of it is protected as a national park. This means it doesn’t have a lot of roads. However, the roads it does have are pretty scenic.

On the road on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

It also has a lot of bays and beaches and we stopped at various points to take a look at many of them, starting with a glimpse of Caneel Bay and its famous luxury resort.

On the road on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Next up is the narrow, but perfect, crescent of sand along Hawksnest Bay.

On the beach on St John's - ExplorationVacation.net

From Hawksnest the road climbs until we reach a lookout that provides picture post-card perfect views across Trunk Bay.

Trunk Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Trunk Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Trunk Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

No wonder this is the island’s most famous (and busiest) beach!

We skip Cinnamon Bay, as the plan is to return here later for some serious beach time. That makes a view of pretty little Maho Bay our next stop.

Maho Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Maho Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Maho Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

A bit of a side trip takes us down to Leinster Bay (noted for the fine snorkeling along Watermelon Cay). . .

The trail to Leinster Bay on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

The trail to Leinster Bay on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

The trail to Leinster Bay on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

The trail to Leinster Bay on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

and the ruins of Annaberg sugar mill.

Annaberg sugar mill ruins St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Then it is time to cross over the mountains on our way to Coral Bay.

Coral Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Coral Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Of course, we have to stop and greet the locals along the way.

Donkey along the road on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

We get by without paying a toll (the resident donkeys can be pretty demanding) and, soon enough, are gliding down the mountain and into the little town that straddles its name-sake harbor.

Coral Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Coral Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Coral Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Coral Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

It’s time for lunch and what could be better than the burger and drink of the day at Skinny Legs Bar and Grill.

Coral Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

(It’s a happening place.)

Thus fortified, we make our way up to one last scenic viewpoint and then head back to Cinnamon Bay Beach.

viewpoint on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

viewpoint on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

On the road on St John - ExplorationVacation.net

This is where we spend the remainder of the afternoon, hanging out on the beach and playing in the water.

Cinnamon Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Cinnamon Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

Cinnamon Bay St John US Virgin Islands - ExplorationVacation.net

I can’t think of a better place to be!

Of course, all good things must come to an end, so we load up the car and head back to Cruz Bay. It’s late in the afternoon when we arrive, leaving just enough time for a brief walk through town before catching the car ferry and heading back to St. Thomas as the sun sets.

Cruz Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Cruz Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Cruz Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

Cruz Bay St John - ExplorationVacation.net

On the ferry back to St Thomas - ExplorationVacation.net

On the ferry back to St Thomas - ExplorationVacation.net

On the ferry back to St Thomas - ExplorationVacation.net

On the ferry back to St Thomas - ExplorationVacation.net

I’ll have to see the rest of the island (and spend some time under the water) on my next visit.

There is hourly ferry service to St. John from St. Thomas throughout the day. Regular service is also available from Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. There are plenty of lodging options on the island, but you’ll need a car to get around. . . unless, of course, you have a sailboat. (Anchorages are available around the island.) The St. John beach guide provides a checklist of facilities available at each beach. On-Island Times has more detailed beach guides. See St. John and St. John USVI have beach guides and much, much more.

Annaberg Sugar Mill

All Tropical Island posts

Share this!

8 thoughts on “Touring St. John, US Virgin Islands”

  1. Great photos bring back memories of the times we have been on St. John’s including a week at the Westin resort. St. John, too, was the end of our six-week sail and Mary Jo and Alan from Grenada on their 60 foot sailboat.

    1. It is certainly a place where you would know all your neighbors, but it feels a lot bigger than it is because of the mountains and the neighboring islands being visible (and easily accessible). But no, you can’t just jump in your car and drive for days like you can in Calgary or here in Minnesota!

  2. I was recently in St Thomas as part of a cruise around the Caribbean. We spent an idyllic day at a beach and we could see the island of St John which only appeared a short distance away. What a beautiful corner of the world and your photos portrayed this magically.

Your turn!