A complete guide to St John

By Andrea Milam on 23rd March, 2024

Spend just a few hours on St. John, and you’ll soon realize why the island is affectionately known as “Love City.” With a population of close to 4,000 and about two-thirds of the island encompassed by the Virgin Islands National Park, the small, tight knit community is one of rich history and pride.

Things to do on St John US Virgin Islands

Things to do in St John

St. John attracts travelers looking to disconnect from the stresses of life by escaping into nature. The island’s glorious green contours, framed by gleaming white sands and remarkably clear aquamarine waters, envelop visitors in a cocoon of relaxation. St. John boasts more beaches than can be reasonably explored on a weeklong vacation, and many visitors find themselves returning again and again to revisit their favorites and to seek new experiences. A lack of development, thanks in large part to the National Park, has resulted in an unspoiled paradisiacal destination.

You’ll arrive on St. John in Cruz Bay, the island’s main town, where an impressive array of restaurants and shops provide offerings for budget travelers and spendy splurgers alike. The walkable town is best explored on foot. Vendors selling locally made and Virgin Islands-themed souvenirs can often be found in the Frank Powell Park just across from the ferry dock, and there are a number of casual local eateries where you can pick up a johnny cake, the perfect handheld snack, as you make your way through town.

St. John in Cruz Bay

About eight miles away on the island’s southeast shore lies the other main town of Coral Bay. Businesses here are a bit more spread out, so a car is advised for experiencing this town. Coral Bay is known as the quieter side of the island, where the friendly, laid back vibes that attract many travelers to the Caribbean are on full display.

Much of the land in between the two towns is encompassed by the National Park, where more than 20
hiking trails and numerous stunning beaches beg to be explored. You can also come face to face with history in the National Park, where the ruins of several plantations, relics of the Danish colonial period, stand as a testament to the grueling conditions faced by the enslaved Africans who worked to cultivate and process sugarcane. The most complete and informative site is Annaberg on the island’s north shore and it’s well worth a visit.

Restaurants & shopping

For a small island, St. John boasts a big selection of dining options. Enjoy casual toes-in-the-sand beachfront venues, escape to an air-conditioned restaurant with delicious bar food and ice-cold libations, or treat yourself to one of the island’s fine dining venues, where truly top-notch meals are sure to be a highlight of your vacation. Shopping on St. John is an adventure. Most stores are unique, locally-owned operations with carefully selected jewelry, T-shirts, beach gear, hot sauces, artwork, and interesting souvenirs.

St John Island - things to do

Immerse yourself in the island’s pristine beauty, enjoy a relaxed way of life, and see for yourself why St. John is affectionately known as Love City, a place where visitors return to time and time again.

Read more: top 3 things to do in St John for water lovers