09 Sep THE 8 BEST Things to do in St John, CARIBBEAN
Good choice on deciding to visit St. John, Caribbean. Saint John, a part of the US Virgin Islands (USVI), is unique for some vital reasons. Firstly, 70% of the island is designated as a national park making it the home to a rich biodiversity of unspoiled plant and animal species.
It is also a wonderful place to unplug and enjoy a relaxing vacation far away from your regular hustle. Although technically it is part of the USA, in actuality it operates on a completely different chill mindset.
The 8 Best Things to Do in St John (US Virgin Islands) in the Caribbean
Runaway for a fun, relaxing and entertaining Caribbean getaway and make St. John your next port of call. The island is a short 2.5-hour plane hop, across from Miami. On the island, you will be awe-struck by the beauty of turquoise water beaches. Some beaches are easy to get to by bus while others are more remote and involve a hike or canoe ride through protected land and water parks. Once in the water you can snorkel, sail, reef dive, drink and have magical daydreams of deer swimming in water. With your belly full of fun in the sun, you can close off the day at our bars where you might discover your hidden singing talents. Come on down!
Stay with me a little while while I go into the top things to do in Saint John
1. Take a Look at the Beautiful Beaches of Saint John
Spending time on the beautiful beaches of St. John is a must-do for any trip to this location.
You can find almost anything here, whether you prefer long, white sandy beaches to small, pebble-cove beaches.
Public transport however can be a challenge if you want to get to the most important things in St John. How will you get to these incredible places?
You can only visit a handful of beaches due to the lack of public transportation. So let’s spend a couple of minutes discussing this.
Public Transport Accessible
You can take the tourist bus up to the north side of the island and stop at the most popular beaches if you are staying in Cruz Bay.
There are a few reasons these beaches are so popular. These beaches are beautiful and Caribbean-like, and they are easily accessible to tourists.
Here’s a quick overview of the top beaches on St John, which are all easily accessible from the northern coast.
- Hawksnest – It is the nearest and most accessible beach to town. There are permanent shade structures and benches. It has some of the best, whitest sand on the island. You can swim just a few meters off the beach and you will likely have a close encounter.
- Trunk Bay – This is the most popular of the northern beaches. The amazing white sand beach is surrounded by a small island that swimmers and snorkelers can easily access. This unique point of interest is provided by a man-made underwater snorkel trail.
- Cinnamon Bay – This is equally beautiful and less crowded than Trunk Bay. You can also swim around an offshore island and have access to a changing room.
- Maho Bay – This is a great place to go in St John if you want to get up close to turtles. You can’t miss the turtles that are swimming in waist-deep waters. There is a new beach bar right by the beach that offers a great place to grab a post-snorkel cocktail.
The Northern Beaches
The northern beaches are beautiful and photogenic. However, it can be busy depending on the season.
Renting a car is the best way to explore the rest. Due to the road conditions (some roads become dirt tracks), you will need to rent a 4×4.
It is worth renting a car if you plan to stay longer than two days in St. John. There are several Jeep rental locations in Cruz Bay. They all offer rentals at similar prices starting on average at US$75/ day
These are the top beaches you can visit once you own a car:
- Salt Pond – This large salt pond has formed in an area low above the beach. You should be aware of this remote spot as the color of your pond will change throughout the year depending on weather and rain. It can appear light green for one month and then turn deep red for a few months.
- Lameshur – The bay at the far end of the road! This secluded bay is home to a beautiful swimming beach that’s waiting for you.
For more on beaches in St. John, you can check here.
2. Kayak to a Lookout Point or Remote Beach.
St John has many exciting nooks and crannies that you can explore There are many hiking trails you can take throughout the day which will take you through the UNESCO designated Virgin Islands National Park. During your walk, you may come into contact with the 800 species of flora that are located within the 7000+ acres.
You may also come across relics of civilizations’ past. Early ancestors include the Caribs, then there were the Dutch and African slaves that worked the sugar plantations. There are still ruins at Annaberg and Cinnamon Bay you can check out.
If you are feeling adventurous head out to Rams Head. This hike takes you to the most southern point of the island, passing a few remote beaches and to a high cliff, where you will find a lookout point that is covered in cactus.
If hiking is not your thing you can take a kayak yourself or go on a guided tour. The added benefit of taking this type of tour is that you can see Buck Island Reef which has been described as ‘one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean’.
3. Go snorkeling.
The borders of St John’s national parks extend into the surrounding waters, making it a 70% marine park.
There has not been any fishing or construction in the marine park areas since the designation of national park status (1956).
The marine life is thriving on Saint John, making snorkeling one of the most popular activities.
Amazing coral gardens are filled with exotic fish of all sizes and colors. These are some of the top snorkeling spots:
- Salt Pond – From Salt Pond Beach, swim towards the two rocky outcrops. A forest of purple fan corals will be found at the end of the 10-minute swim. You will also find turtles in the middle bay, but they are less common.
- Maho Bay – This is where you can swim with turtles. It’s impossible to snorkel in Maho without seeing many.
4. Lime out Floating Bar offers a Taco.
Lime Out in Hansen Bay is one of the most popular bars in the Caribbean. You will need a car or a boat to get there. It is worth it.
You will need to walk a bit to reach the little floating shack, which is far enough from the beach. You are not allowed to swim up to the bar, so you’ll need a kayak/paddleboard, which you can rent from the beach, or a boat to get there.
You can also use the water-filled seats and the reusable cups, which you have to deposit. It’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, enjoying a wide range of cocktails and tacos.
5. Take to the stage at Coral Bay’s Open Mic Night.
On Thursday nights, Pickles Bar in Coral Bay is a hot spot. The island is home to many talented musicians who come out of the woodwork and perform their favorite songs on the bar’s stage.
Although the talent level is high, they encourage everyone to try their hand. As the night progresses, more people find the courage to sing. It’s a fun evening.
6. Catch A Deer Swimming
Though they are common in the US you might be surprised to see a white-tailed wild deer. on the beach in the USVI. These deer are found more in the lush forest but can be seen at times running along Maho bay shore and can even swim between islands. Initially brought to the island in the 1700s as a source of food these Bambis have been allowed to thrive as part of the island wildlife. They are quite tame
Cinnamon Bay Beach is the best spot to see deer at sea. It is best to go in the morning or at night. It opens at 8 AM. You might catch a glimpse of them if you go down first thing in the morning. You can either wait for sunset or go down there first thing in the morning.
There are also a number of other wildlife that might catch your eco fancy. These include the Rainbow Parrot Fish, Iguana which can change colours like a chameleon and the bright yellow-breasted Sugarbird.
7. Take a day trip with “Bad Kitty”, to the BVI’s.
Bad Kitty is the main charter. It is a speedy catamaran that can power through water to cover large areas in a short time. Most trips run every day and take you from St. John to the British Virgin Islands, including Norman Island, Virgin Gorda, and Jost van Dyke. If you and your party want something a little more intimate there Bad Kitty has three other Cats ranging from the 40′ Calypso with sail to CAT5, a 36′ powered boat.
This boat trip is short and exciting, covering some of the island’s most amazing highlights. Virgin Gorda’s “The Baths”, one of the most unique and beautiful beaches in the world is home to the Baths.
If you are in St. Thomas don’t worry charters for adults starting at about US$150 can be arranged for you even though the main office is in St. John.
8) Join in the Carnival
If you are ever on the island in June, you just cannot miss the run-up to St. John’s Carnival. The month-long celebration culminates on Emancipation Day (July 3rd) and Independence Day (July 4th). The run-up during the month before celebrates Panorama (steelpan), pageants and calypso shows. In the final week, things really head up with a number of parties, food extravaganzas, Jouvert and costumed street parades. Once you decide to participate you will join a Carnival band and be expected to wear a costume that is designed for you and the other masqueraders. This is one of the most exciting times in St. John so don’t skip out.
I hope you will agree that there are a wide array of activities that you can really enjoy in St. John. You can kick back and relax on an isolated beach or on the other extreme you can join a Carnival band and jump up with the street party. There is something to do for everyone. Remember as well to check out the local advisories to determine, if there are any additional protocols to traveling.