St. John’s Natural History is the Foundation of its Charm

St. John, the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, is best known for its unspoiled beaches and vast National Park. Recently voted one of the “Best Islands in the Caribbean/Atlantic” by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler, St. John originally settled in the early 1700’s by Danish immigrants, the island was initially committed to sugar and cotton plantations. The abolition of slavery in 1848 led to the plantations’ eventual decline, though the well-preserved ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation remain a lasting legacy of times past.

Established in the 1950’s with land donated by American financier Laurance Rockefeller, St. John’s National Park now protects about two-thirds of the 19-square mile island as well as 5,600 acres of offshore marine habitats. Visitors can explore the Park by following one of its 22 self-guided nature trails with subtropical vegetation (and including more than 800 species of plants), the remains of sugar plantations, and even ancient Arawak Indian rock carvings on the Reef Bay Hike Trail. In contrast, seagrape trees and coconut palms shade the white sandy beaches, and the crystal clear waters are home to dazzling coral reefs and tropical fish. Some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean is to be found at Trunk Bay, where a marked underwater trail leads visitors on a fascinating journey amidst the Bay’s colorful marine life.

Once a busy port serving the sugar and rum industries, Cruz Bay is the island’s main town and a tranquil haven compared to bustling Charlotte Amalie on neighboring St. Thomas. Visitors can roam through an eclectic mix of boutiques, art galleries, bars and fine restaurants, while enjoying the island’s characteristically slow pace of life. Cruz Bay also boasts two of the Caribbean’s prettiest shopping areas – Mongoose Junction and Wharfside Village – offering everything from vibrant local crafts and fashions to sophisticated jewelry, all at attractive duty-free prices.

For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, call 800-372-USVI (8784) or go to VisitUSVI.com. When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel—including on-line check-in—making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens. Follow us on Twitter (@USVImockojumbie) and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI).