Maho Bay//Photo by Molly Stevens.
Three islands comprise the U.S. Virgin Islands, located to the east of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. St. John is the smallest of the islands and is home to unspoiled landscapes, protected as a national park. Heading here means U.S. citizens can escape the cold without having to pack a passport. The island offers a mix of tranquil beaches, clear waters for snorkeling and mountains for hiking, with neighboring St. Croix and St. Thomas close enough for quick visits, making it the darling of the USVI.
Nearly two thirds of this island is protected and as such, it doesn’t have a commercial airport, but it’s still easy to get to. Visitors fly to St. Thomas and take a 15-minute ferry to St. John. On the island, cars are available to rent, making getting around easy.
There are three main regions of the island: Cruz Bay, North Shore and Coral Bay. Cruz Bay has an ultra laid-back vibe and is also home to Virgin Islands National Park. With 20 hiking trails, snorkeling spots, also protected by the park, and native wildlife, like green iguanas, it’s the perfect place to spend multiple days in a flurry of activities.
North Shore is far more tranquil and dotted with unspoiled beaches. Discover Cinnamon Beach, a mile-long stretch of sand with restrooms, restaurants and even an archeological museum. With watersports available, it’s ideal for families. Also on North Shore is Honeymoon Beach, though it’s a bit off the beaten path. A one-mile hike is required to reach it, making it a lesser visited spot.
Weather here is perfect, especially during the winter months. Temperatures remain in the mid-80s during the day and in the low-mid 70s at night. The island experiences little precipitation this time of year and has generally sunny conditions, making it a great time to visit.
Where to stay: St. John offers a handful of villas, hotels and bed and breakfasts. SIRENUSA sits on five acres and offers 22 villas, all constructed in Italian style and each having a view of the ocean, a clubhouse and pools scattered throughout. Also beautifully equipped, though quite a lot larger, is the Westin Resort, which has 146 villas, ideally suited for families and couples alike. The resort offers a restaurant and also has on-site tennis facilities.
Don’t miss: Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins on North Shore—a short, self-guided circuit provides plenty of history; snorkeling and swimming at the calm Salt Pond Bay.
Good to know: In February, St. John hosts a race known as 8 Tuff Miles. The course extends over eight miles, from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay and may cause some increased visitors to the island.
Flight time: 4 hours
Airport: Cyril E. King Airport
Currency: U.S. Dollar
For more information, visit the U.S. Virgin Island’s tourism website.