A member of our travel club shares her relaxing experience vacationing in the Virgin Island of St. John:
One of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever had was in St. John in the Virgin Islands. The weather is beautiful all year round—85 degrees on average and when it rains it pours for a short time then turns sunny again!
The best way to get around the island is by renting a jeep. You’ll have to adapt to driving on the left and going very slow. If you’re prone to car sickness beware! The roads are narrow, winding and hilly with many hairpin turns. As a backseat passenger, I would recommend Dramamine before a long trip. The good news is that most rides to the beach are short and the island is small, less than 20 square miles.
Don’t make the mistake I made and pack lots of clothes. You need very little, especially if you have a washer and dryer like we did. I could have gotten by with three pairs of shorts, flip flops, five tees, underwear and three bathing suits! A hat is useful for both protection and covering waterlogged hair. Use more sunscreen than you think you need. Don’t forget you can get burned even in the water—wear a t-shirt while snorkeling for extra protection. We brought food and cooked most of our meals at our rental house (more on that below) but if you plan on eating out, you might want a sundress or two. Bring your passport, too, a trip to the British Virgin Islands is a must and you’ll need it to return to St. John. Leave all you’re expensive jewelry at home!
There are two major resorts on the island, Caneel Bay and the Westin Resort and Hotel, but I would highly recommend doing what we did, rent a house. The website StJohnIsland.com is a great resource for all information about the island including rentals. The house we rented accommodated four couples, each of us with our own master bedroom and bath. We had a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, small swimming pool and spectacular views. These types of rentals are available all over the island.
Our house was minutes from Trunk Bay which is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. The water is that beautiful turquoise blue and crystal clear. The sand is powdery white and very clean. There is a $4 a day fee to park and use the facilities which include bathrooms, showers, picnic areas with grills and a snack bar. Although this is a very popular spot for cruise ships to drop off passengers for the day, we did not find any problem scoping out a part of the beach for our party of eight. There is a great underwater snorkeling trail, however, we found other beaches where the snorkeling was even better.
Spending some time at Caneel Bay Resort is nice if you want another great beach which is right on the resort premises. You will pay a parking fee, but if you spend at least $10 at the bar, restaurant, or shops, you will get your ticket validated and park for free. Sit in the open air bar and sip a wonderful island drink (I highly recommend the Bushwhacker, a delicious and potent frozen concoction)
Another favorite of ours was Maho Bay which is secluded and quiet. We also found a great beach in Coral Bay but it was a long drive out there. Look for Skinny Legs, a legendary restaurant and bar with great burgers and beer.
So as you can tell, the main activity is swimming, snorkeling and lying around doing nothing surrounded by beautiful scenery. Chillaxing! Don’t go to St. John if you want biking, hiking, and lots of cultural activities!
I would highly recommend making a boat trip to the British Virgin Islands. This is a great day trip and you can visit Virgin Gorda and see The Baths, a collection of huge boulders that you can walk through and around, and great snorkeling. Don’t miss a stop at Jost Van Dyke, known for The Soggy Dollar, a bar right on White Bay which was renamed by tourists because their money would get soggy on the way from the boat to the bar. White Bay is also a gorgeous beach to hang out on.
Whether you want a romantic low-key getaway or a gathering of your best buddies, you will find St. John to be the place to chill out, recharge, and get tanned!