Top Things to Do in St. John, Virgin Islands

March 14, 2024

St. John, Virgin Islands is the smallest of the three American Virgin Islands. If you only have a few days to spend in St. John, Virgin Islands, then this list is for you. Below are some important things to know about traveling to St. John:

  1. You don’t need a passport because it is an American Territory. If you plan on island hopping with some of the numerous fun tours that head over to Jost Van Dyke and Tortola, you will need to take your passport because those are part of the British Virgin Islands
  2. If you rent a Jeep or Bronco remember that they drive on the left on these curvy and mountainous roads. 
  3. You can make purchases with the US dollar and credit cards. 
  4. Most cell phone carriers work well but service can be spotty. 
  5. For my country fans, Kenny Chesney has a home in St. John and some of his songs feature places along the islands. If you are a fan and want to know more, check out this nice recap of his songs and the places he sings about by Caity Lincoln here.

Below is a five day travel itinerary with what we did on our trip that allowed us to experience the top things to do in St. John.

Day One

We arrived in St. John after flying into St. Thomas via Charlotte, NC. You’ll have to travel by a quick 20 minute ferry from St. Thomas to Cruz Bay, St. John. To save time, you can book your ferry tickets to St. John online. The ferry runs daily every hour on the hour from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm Monday through Friday. Once the ferry arrived at Cruz Bay, we walked a few blocks to pick up our jeep rental at L & L rentals. Make sure you arrive before 5pm or you will have to pay extra for a late pick up. If you miss your pick up, there are taxis that can take you to your next destination. After we picked up our Jeep, we headed to our AirBnb, Traveler Palm Cottage. It is a newly built three bedroom house with two baths and all of the comforts of home. There was a nice deck and hot tub to unwind in after a fun day exploring. After unpacking and freshening up we headed back out for dinner at Skinny Legs. This restaurant was close to our house and had a fun atmosphere. You can try to spot your college pennant on the walls and ceiling while enjoying all kinds of beer and mixed drinks. There were some colleges that I had never heard of on those walls! My college wasn’t up there so next time I’ll bring a pennant. On the way home from the restaurant, you can stop at the Love City Market to grab ground coffee, half and half and any other incidentals you may need to make for a restful sleep and happy morning. This market is packed with anything you can think of from fine wine to shaving razors!

Cruz Bay St John VI
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Day Two

After a great night sleep and coffee, we headed back to Cruz Bay for brunch and shopping at Mongoose Junction. This small outdoor mall had free parking for its patrons, which was really convenient since parking is scarce downtown. We ate brunch at Sun Dogs Cafe and it was tasty. There were some shops right next to our table so while we were waiting for food, I ducked into a cool boutique for a new bikini and coverup. We must always support local businesses!

After brunch and perusing the downtown area of St. John, we headed back to the house and changed for the beach. Next on our list was Cinnamon Bay National Park to enjoy some relaxation outside of the noonday sun. Even in March, the average temperatures hover around 80 to 85 degrees, and it can be a little humid, so a beach visit is a must. The cool breeze was perfect and the beach wasn’t too crowded for a March day during spring break. It was quite enjoyable and the water wasn’t too cold either! While walking around we discovered a campground and cabanas that could be rented. We didn’t know about this option and they looked really cool. I would consider checking these out for the next visit. Remember to only use sunscreen that is safe for the coral reefs; the other types are forbidden. They sell it at most of the stores and shops in town.

After a hot day at the beach we headed back to our oasis in Coral Bay and showered up. Dinner was hit or miss because we didn’t plan ahead that day so we reviewed some local restaurants in Coral Bay and decided to try the Surf Club Cantina. It had one of the best views of the bay and outdoor seating that served some Mexican and Tex-mex food. One St. John tip is to always bring some sort of natural bug spray with you at all times. The no-see-ums sneak up and before you know it you’re the one on the menu. Afterward dinner, we headed back home to relax and prepare for a full beach day!

Day Three

Our Air Bnb came with everything we needed for a beach day, chairs, towels, and a cooler. We packed up the Jeep and headed back to Cinnamon Bay. There are two beaches there to enjoy but get there early if you want parking. Both beaches had food choices and water sport rentals. We chose the beach where the campground and cafe were situated because of the size of the beach. The other beach also has food trucks but the beachline was a little thinner. This beach was great for families who had small children or toddlers as there were no waves. We arrived at 9:30 am and had skipped breakfast so we had lunch at the RainForest Cafe at the beach instead at 11:00 am. We continued to relax at the beach, enjoyed some mixed drinks and then left around 3:00 pm. 

Since we didn’t plan ahead the day before, we decided to check out Open Table to see which restaurants were available that evening. We found outdoor bar seating at Dave and Jerry’s Steakhouse. The food was superb and the waitstaff were funny and energetic. We really enjoyed our dinner there. We headed back home right after to prepare for a morning hike!

Day Four

Up early to beat the heat, we headed out to hike Rams Head Trail. This hike was the most reviewed on Trip Advisor and All Trails. Park of the National Park, this trail goes down a road, across a beach, through wooded terrain, across a stone and corral beach and up a small mountain. This moderate out and back trail was only 2.3 miles but you covered a lot of different terrains in one hike. It was beautiful, breezy and at times felt like a good stairmaster workout. It took us a little over an hour to complete it so this is a perfect morning activity to do before you embark on your day. 

After the hike, we showered and headed out for lunch at Miss Lucy’s. We passed this restaurant on the way to the hike and it’s only open for lunch. It opened at noon and there were already people waiting in line at 11:45 am for the best tables because the views are amazing! Nearly every table is bay front and covered by an awning or some beautiful trees. This was truly an outdoor experience not to be missed. We enjoyed the crispy fish sandwiches with fries and sparkling water.

Miss Lucy's Restaurant, St. John VI
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Since this was our last full day on the island, we headed back to Cruz Bay for beachfront drinks at the Beach Bar. Our suggestion is to try the Island Summer Ale from St. John Brewers (remember shop local) or no visit to the Virgin Islands would be complete without a Pain Killer.

Now, for the piece de resistance of eating in St. John, we splurged and booked reservations at Morgan’s Mango about two weeks before our trip. I’m told that some people book months in advance to eat at this restaurant. It did not disappoint. The wine selection was diverse and impeccable while the food was delicious. We even saved room for a traditional key lime pie and unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of this beauty. It was gone too quickly!

Morgan's Mango St John VI
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Day Five

We were up and out early for the 8:00 am ferry to St. Thomas and then the airport. The airport requests you arrive three hours prior to your flight to ensure there are no issues. We arrived back home in North Carolina that evening around 8:00 pm. So with two full days of travel there any back, the brunt of your St. John time is limited to four or five days actually in the island.

St. John, Virgin Island is also referred to as Love City dating back to a slogan started in the 1950s by Loredon “Lore” Dorsey, a local businesswoman who was promoting St. John as a romantic destination. Over the years, the slogan took off and now you’ll see the Love City name within products, shops, shirts and more on the island. 

The island also has a love for nature, as much of it is protected as part of the Virgin Islands National Park, established in 1956 by Laurance Rockefeller, who donated the land to the National Park Service to preserve its natural resources and historical beauty. Some of the fun quirkiness of the island lies in its wild animals. It is totally normal to see donkeys, goats, roosters and chickens with their brood of chicks walking around the island – even the streets downtown! I guess everyone loves the lure of blue water beaches, shopping and rum.
I think you’ll discover St. John is your Love City too once you visit this quaint island destination. The residents and visitors alike were very kind and “loving” so the name truly fits!

Thank you for sharing this blog so others can discover Tessa Travels and St. John, Virgin Islands!

tt pinterest st john
Tt Pinterest St John

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