St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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Last Tuesday evening we returned back home from our fantastic St. John island vacation. It has been a rough adjustment, as it is snowing here again today. My eyes, which spent a week looking at the expanse of the ocean and the sun setting behind the horizon (the way our eyes are designed to function), are trying to reject the idea of a computer screen once again. But I promised a post about our trip,and here it is!

Before I tell you what St. John is, I want to tell you what it isn’t. It is not a  manicured resort-like tourist destination (although it has plenty of tourists, distinguished typically by their shiny new rental all-wheel-drive Jeeps). It is not a shopping and party central – if you are looking for more of that type of action, I’d recommend St. Thomas, the “sister” island. But if you are looking for a tranquil setting where you can be close to nature, and sometimes even have an entire beach to yourself during a high tide, St. John is the place for you. It really is all about the beaches and nature there. Tree frogs will sing your lullabies, ocean breezes will soothe you to sleep at night, and the roosters will sound your alarm in the morning.

From the moment you wake up and have a coffee on your terrace (as we did every morning) you will be greeted with views like these:

View from our terrace.

View from our terrace.

You will not escape the bright turquoise blue of the ocean (Atlantic on one side of the island, and Caribbean on the other), even if you tried.

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The water is really that color…

Even while out having drinks at a bar, you are likely to be enjoying a view of a beach, with its glorious white sands.

I took this photo while literally sitting in a bar chair.

I took this photo while literally sitting in a bar chair.

You also won’t be able to avoid close brushes with the local fauna, in the form of chickens (they run freely around town), iguanas, and even the occasional donkey, if you get far enough away from downtown.)

Mingling with the tourists in downtown Cruz Bay.

Mingling with the tourists in downtown Cruz Bay.

Another photo-op downtown Cruz Bay.

Another photo-op downtown Cruz Bay.

This guy stopped us just outside Coral Bay, and clearly wanted to hitch a ride.

This guy stopped us just outside Coral Bay, and clearly wanted to hitch a ride.

Another charming thing about St. John is its colorfulness. Bright pink, coral, sky blue, turquoise, yellow and orange abound everywhere. Houses and fences are painted in colors that in our hometown would get reported to the homeowners association. But in St. John, they seem to match the happy, sunny, friendly atmosphere and people.

Downtown Cruz Bay

Downtown Cruz Bay

Local apartment complex.

Local apartment complex.

Even the churches are colorful.

Even the churches are colorful.

When it comes to dining,  expect the unexpected. St. John’s two top rated restaurants are a deli on the second floor of the Starfish market, called Sam and Jack’s, and a little mom-and-daughter cafe known as Ekaete Pink Corner, tucked away literally on a corner along the road to Coral Bay (other side of the island from where we stayed in Cruz Bay.)

Ekaete is the epitome of St. John restaurants - a small operation with loads of charm.

Ikaete is the epitome of St. John restaurants – a small operation with loads of charm.

Ram's Head hiking trail just behind the restaurant.

Ram’s Head hiking trail just behind the restaurant.

At Ekaete, we enjoyed delicious food of the West Indies, prepared by the proprietor herself. We were the first ones there and had the restaurant to ourselves. Shortly after we finished our meal, two buses of tourists arrived and overwhelmed the little place.

Delicious "chicken roti" - curried chicken and potatoes wrapped in a lentil tortilla. DO NOT call this a "burrito."

Delicious “chicken roti” at Ekaete – curried chicken and potatoes wrapped in a lentil tortilla. DO NOT call this a “burrito.”

At Sam and Jack’s we had the best shrimp sandwich (known as the Wolf).

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Sam and Jack's deli makes its own real potato chips.

Sam and Jack’s deli makes its own real potato chips.

Other must-do things in St. John are: drive your rental car to Ram’s Head hiking trail. Brave the 45 minute (uphill) hike and you are likely to encounter views such as these:

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Make sure you budget for a sailboat rental (with captain) to take you snorkeling and exploring some of the smaller nearby islands.

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This small island belong to a single individual, who is developing a resort property for the rich-and-famous, according to our captain.

This small island belong to a single individual, who is developing a resort property for the rich-and-famous, according to our captain.

While in St. John, we encountered many people who have been coming back to St. John every year for several decades and bringing their children and grandchildren. Leaving St. John, we could certainly understand the compulsion to keep returning.

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View from the ferry dock on the way back to Charlotte Amalie airport in St. Thomas.

View from the ferry dock on the way back to Charlotte Amalie airport in St. Thomas.

If you are planning on visiting St. John anytime soon, contact me and I’ll be glad to discuss tips for having a great trip!

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4 Responses to St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

  1. Thank you!! We really enjoyed it. Being back to snow is not fun.

  2. Gorgeous photos. It is a lovely place.

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