Tourist Attractions in Saint John
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Local attractions and tourist information in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Though a day trip to St. John will barely skim the surface, many day-trippers visit the island from neighboring St. Thomas. It really takes a good week to explore the mountains, visit the many magnificent beaches, and see the wonderful underwater life through snorkeling or diving. However, if you have only a day, this is the "not to be missed" list, with a little time for recreation while you tour this glorious little island.
You will enter St. John by ferry, most likely, unless you're on a private yacht or other chartered boat. Cruz Bay is a delightful seaside port town that bustles with visitors and locals who are busy with their daily routines. There are many shops here that sell handcrafted items, paintings and other Caribbean-style treasures. Though St. John is small, it is quite upscale, with lovely hotels, good restaurants and shops that appeal to people who are looking for an out-of-the-way place to visit. Near the ferry dock is the headquarters of the National Park Service, where you will find a good selection of maps, books and materials about the island. This office has much information about the natural parts of the islands, including schedules of hike and talks offered by park rangers.
In Cruz Bay, do not miss the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library & Museum, which was at one time a plantation great house in the mid-1700s. It was restored to be the island's library and museum that houses artifacts of the early days. At the south end of town is Wharfside Village, a lovely seaside shopping area with restaurants and shops. At the north end of town is Mongoose Junction, a wonderful stone structure that was built to fit in with the environment, filled with terrific shops and eateries.
Continuing on around the island heading north from Mongoose Junction, you will pretty soon enter the Virgin Islands National Park, which covers about two-thirds of the island—thanks to the generosity of Laurence Rockefeller, who donated the land to the US government in 1956 as a national park. This treasure has remained in its natural form for all these years, which has allowed the beaches and water to remain clean and clear. Along North Shore Road, you will pass Caneel Bay, founded by Rockefeller, which was built on the former Durloe Plantation. Now, it is one of the premier hotels in the Caribbean, and encompasses seven beaches. Hawknest Beach offers plenty of shade, picnic facilities and restrooms (one of the benefits of the National Park ownership).
Next comes a beach you may well recognize from USVI ads. Trunk Bay--long, white and beautiful--is the most photographed bay on the island and site of the well-known underwater trail. It's a lovely spot, but can get crowded, so stop by and have a look and then move on if its too busy. Farther along is Cinnamon Bay: a lovely beach and the site of a privately owned campground by the same name. There are restrooms, restaurants, and showers. Maho Bay and Little Maho Bay are delightful places to swim and snorkel, and if you're lucky, you'll see the hawknest turtles floating around the edges of the bays. You might want to check out the Maho Bay Campgrounds there with their 144 so-called tent-cottages made of wood, screen and canvas, large outdoor pavilion, and wonderful restaurant that serves up scrumptious meals.
After Maho, continue along the road following the signs to Annaberg Plantation, an 18th-century plantation that can be essential to understanding the important role that sugar and plantation life played in the history of this island. Now part of the National Park Service, the plantation offers park officials, printed materials and signs to help you understand the site.
Continuing on inland, head toward Coral Bay, a somewhat protected area, adjacent to Hurricane Hole, which is a hideout for vessels if a storm is imminent. Coral Bay is a delightful collection of shops and restaurants, some referred to as the local Margaritaville. From there you can continue on to Lameshur Bay and from there you can hike up to see the Reef Bay Plantation House, which is the most elaborate building on the island. Now in a state of disrepair, it's still interesting to see it as well as the sugar factory equipment located down near the beach.
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