View of Beach in St. John. The Caribbean.
View of Beach in St. John. The Caribbean.

Best Things To Do In St. John While On Vacation

Experience How To Get To St. John.

By Melissa Alvarado Sierra | Published on July 20, 2022

Wondering how to get to St. John and experience a world-famous paradise? It's easy. Take a short ferry from St. Thomas to St. John and quickly find your way to gorgeous beaches, delicious food, lively music, lush trails and, of course, wild donkeys. A St. John vacation is a rare opportunity in the Caribbean. It's a place where two-thirds of the land is a protected Virgin Islands National Park and where natural wonders overflow the edges of the island.

These are the best things to do in St. John.

1. Submerge Yourself In Glorious Blue Waters

St. John's main draw is obvious: miles of spectacular white sand and blue water where you can rest and rejuvenate. But the coast is also a place to explore more deeply, where you can play under or on the water for an epic vacation.

If you can only visit one place in St. John, let it be Honeymoon Beach. This secluded beach got its name for its gorgeous views and romantic vibe. Dozens of sailboats and bright sand shimmer on a sunny blue-sky day. And the calm ebb and flow of the waters revive even the weariest of travelers. This beach will have you dreaming.

Honeymoon Beach cannot be seen from the road, so getting there is a bit tricky. Since there is no clear road to the beach, you have three options: Walk the Lind Point Trail (half a mile of somewhat steep terrain), get there by boat, or take an off-road shuttle. The easiest option is the shuttle service, which leaves from the Caneel Bay parking lot and costs about $5 per person each way.

If you still have time for more beach-hopping, then definitely stop by Leinster Bay on the North Shore. Follow the 20-minute trail, and be ready to experience some of the Virgin Island's best snorkeling at Watermelon Cay. You could see barracudas, sea turtles, colorful local fish and eagle rays. Just be mindful of the current, which can be strong.

After your snorkeling adventure, head to Maho Bay, also on the North Shore, for shallow and flat water that's perfect for kids to play and explore — and also great if you want to kick back by the water's edge. This is the home of hundreds of sea turtles, so you'll likely encounter several of these creatures swimming nearby. You might also catch a stingray gliding its way to deeper waters, but most of all, you will find a place to decompress and let all the worries of the world dissipate.

2. Taking The Best Hike In St. John Island 

Deep Into The Woods 

One of the best things to do in St. John is to go hiking. There are more than 20 hiking trails, stretching through miles of pristine beaches, coral reefs and close to a thousand native plants. It's an explosion of greenery, with Instagrammable spots on every corner. In St. John, you can really go off the grid with a hike — and the best part is, you can blend a forest adventure with a beach escape, as these trails often lead to incredible beaches. It's also a great workout to build up an appetite for those johnnycakes and bushwhacker cocktails you'll be enjoying later.

Start off with a hike to Salt Pond Beach and Drunk Bay. The first portion of your hike, to Salt Pond, is about 0.8 miles long and an easy enough journey for beginners. There is a mild downhill path that takes you to the beach, where shimmering shores will welcome you. Fancy a dip to cool off? After sunbathing in Salt Pond, it's time to head to Drunk Bay. You can walk to the other end of the beach to reach the path. This is where you'll find a brown salt pond, which gets its color from algae and changes in the soil and weather. Just keep walking to your left, and continue on the path until you reach a clearing that leads to Drunk Bay. The water is rough, and the shore is rocky, but it's a great spot for pictures showing the wild side of St. John, including the many rock sculptures visitors leave behind.

Other great hikes include Ram Head Trail, which takes about two hours to complete and is filled with panoramic vistas. Another option is Peace Hill Trail, a short 0.2-mile hike that takes you to a former sugar mill with wild donkeys grazing nearby. Yet another trail to try is Denis Bay, about 20 minutes of downhill terrain that leads to a beautiful turquoise beach.

3. Explore History In Cruz Bay

How To Get To St. John Island By Ferry 

Cruz Bay is the arrival port for the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. It's a great spot to stretch your sea legs and indulge in some local food, shopping and historic sites.

First on the list are the watering holes by the shore. Head to Joe's Rum Hut for "painkiller" cocktails or The Beach Bar for a St. John Brewers beer. For a more downtown vibe, visit the Quiet Mon Pub, a laid-back watering hole with balconies facing the lively street.

After the local refreshments, it's time to explore the town. Head to the Elaine Ione Sprauve Public Library for books, old local photos, newspaper clippings and even artwork by local artists. The library is located inside the restored Enighed Estate House, a plantation house built in the early 1700s. After a fire, the great house was left in ruins for many years until 1976, when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and restored. Today, the building offers a glimpse into St. John's storied past while also giving locals and visitors a place to discover local art and storytelling.

4. Shop And Eat Your Way Through Mongoose Junction

Yet another spot to explore in Cruz Bay is Mongoose Junction, a place for shopping, drinking, eating and marveling at the impressive architecture. Inspired by Danish colonial architecture, Glen Speer, a California native who moved to the island in 1969, started building Mongoose Junction in 1977. The buildings were created using local coral, stones and bricks, as well as tropical plants to adorn every corner. There are over 30 businesses here now, including some of the best St. John restaurants, such as Bajo el Sol, Greengos, North Shore Deli and Sun Dog Cafe. There are also several bars serving Virgin Island drinks, like Gecko Gazebo and The Tap Room. For sweets, stop by St. John Scoops for freshly made ice cream.

You will also find many different shops selling local jewelry, surf attire and island-inspired shoes, to name a few. All of these establishments are found amid lush and breezy courtyards with plenty of sitting areas to rest and ponder, surrounded by charming architecture.

There are so many things to do in St. John. No matter where you go, this Caribbean sweet spot will enchant you with its natural beauty and laid-back attitude. And if you come across a wild donkey, approach with caution. Treated right, they will become your trusty Virgin Island friends.

Book a St. John cruise vacation today as you immerse yourself in the magic of the U.S. Virgin Island.


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