Boat Rentals

Black Beard Pirates Paradise AdventuresA private boat rental is an incredible way to see the islands, and there are a number of choices available from St. John. You can join a group trip, which is usually a half-day or full day and has pre-determined destinations. This kind of trip is pretty inexpensive, but be careful, because depending on the time of year, the boats can be very crowded. Another fantastic option is a private day boat charter. Usually a full day, a private day boat charter includes a captain, so you can relax and enjoy your trip. Motor into quiet, deserted coves, snorkel some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs, or just lie in the warm sun and enjoy tropical breezes and warm clear waters. Tour the British Virgin Islands, visit some of the world’s best beach bars and see some of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Pirates Paradise Adventures_Full SunpadIf you choose this option, we recommend that you go with Pirate’s Paradise Adventures. Their boats are very luxurious and comfortable, which makes for a much more enjoyable day. Fully upholstered ergonomically friendly seating throughout means you won’t get off these boats with more aches and pains than you came with. Forward facing seating up front provides stunning views, a wet bar with refrigerator, stereo system that accommodates your iPod, an on-board head and extended swimstep ensure the perfect trip. They even include use of their top quality snorkel equipment at no additional charge! These boats book up quickly, so contact them today for availability and rates.

Enjoy!

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Spas & Relaxation

St John USVI Spas and RelaxationYou’re relaxed, at the beach, enjoying the sound of the waves washing the shoreline…what could possibly make you even more relaxed than this? Why, a spa day, of course! St. John may be small in size, but we’re big on spas. There are a number of day spas on St. john. Some are located at resorts like the Westin, others are independent and located in one of the two main cities–Cruz Bay or Coral Bay. St. John spas and relaxation 2There are even mobile masseuses that will come to you…at your vacation home or even on the beach! Massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, skin peels…nothing is more relaxing in paradise than a day at the spa!

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Scenic Driving Tour

St John USVI Pirates Paradise AdventuresSt. John has several lookout points that provide stunning views of historic sugar plantation ruins, ocean vistas, picturesque beaches and the gorgeous scenery of the Virgin Islands National Park. How you take it all in is up to you. The most popular option is an island tour by open air taxi, but you can also rent a car and take a self guided driving tour.

Important note: Before you begin this tour, make sure you have at least three-quarters of a tank of gas, because there are only two gas stations on St. John, one of which is often closed. The more reliable of the two stations is in the upper regions of Cruz Bay, beside Route 104. Ask for directions when you pick up your rented vehicle. And remember to drive on the left.

Head out of Cruz Bay, going east on Route 20. Within about a minute, you’ll pass the catwalks and verandas of:

1. Mongoose Junction: This shopping emporium, a major island attraction, contains some unusual art galleries and jewelry shops.

Continuing east on Route 20, you’ll pass:

2. Caneel Bay: Past the security guard, near the resort’s parking lots, are a gift shop and a handful of bars and restaurants. Continuing on, you’ll see within a mile the first of many stunning vistas. Note the complete absence of billboards and electrical cables, a prohibition rigidly enforced by the National Park Service.

In less than 3 miles, you’ll come to:

3. Hawksnest Beach: Hawksnest is one of the island’s best beaches. Continuing your drive, you’ll pass, in this order, Trunk Bay, Peter Bay (private), and Cinnamon Bay, all of which have sand, palm trees, and clear water.

A few steps from the entrance to the Cinnamon Bay Campground is a redwood sign marking the beginning of the:

4. Cinnamon Bay Trail: Laid out for hikers by the National Park Service, this 1-mile walk takes about an hour. Its clearly marked paths lead through shaded forest trails along the rutted cobblestones of a former Danish road, past ruins of abandoned plantations.

A short drive beyond Cinnamon Bay is the sandy sweep of Maho Bay, site of one of the most upscale and eco-friendly campgrounds in the Caribbean. Shortly after Maho Bay, the road splits. Take the left fork, which merges in a few moments with an extension of Centerline Road. Off this road will appear another NPS signpost marked DANISH ROAD; this detour takes you on a 5-minute trek along a potholed road to the ruins of an 18th-century school.

At the next fork, bear right toward Annaberg. (Make sure you don’t go toward Francis Bay.) You’ll pass the beginning of a 1-mile walking trail to the Leinster Bay Estate, which leads to a beach good for snorkeling. In less than a minute, you’ll reach the parking lot of the:

St. John USVI Sugarmill Ruins5. Annaberg Historic Trail: The highlight of this driving tour, the Annaberg Historic Trail leads pedestrians within and around the ruined buildings of the best-preserved plantation on St. John. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the smell of boiling molasses permeated the air here. About a dozen NPS plaques identify and describe each building within the compound. The walk takes about 30 minutes. From a terrace near the ruined windmill, a map identifies the British Virgin Islands to the north, including Little Thatch, Tortola, Watermelon Cay, and Jost Van Dyke.

Back in the car, retrace your route to the first major division, and take the left fork. Soon a sign will identify your road as ROUTE 20 EAST. Stay on this road, forking left wherever possible, until you come, after many bends in the way, to:

6. Emmaus Moravian Church: At the sandy bottomlands you’ll see an elementary school, a baseball field, and, on a hilltop, a simple barnlike building known as the Emmaus Moravian Church. This church, with its yellow clapboards and red roof, is often closed to visitors. Near its base yet another NPS walking trail begins: the 1.5-mile Johnny Horn Trail, known for its scenic views and steep hills. You will now be about 13 miles east of Cruz Bay.

The roads at this point are not very clearly marked. Avoid the road beyond the elementary school below the church; it’s pretty, but leads only to the barren and rather dull expanses of the island’s East End. Instead, backtrack a very short distance to a cluster of signs that point to the restaurant Shipwreck Landing. Follow these signs heading south about a mile to:

Coral Bay St. John USVi7. Coral Bay: Claimed by the Danes in the 1600s and used to unload Danish ships, the bay still contains a crumbling stone pier. This was also the site of the first plantation on St. John, which was established in 1717 and abandoned long ago; it predates the far-better-developed facilities of Cruz Bay. You can also follow the posted signs to see the remains of Fort Berg, which stationed the soldiers that suppressed the 1733 slave revolt. Today, Coral Bay shelters a closely knit community of yachting enthusiasts, who moor and live on their yachts between excursions to other parts of the Caribbean.

Ringing the bay’s perimeter is a widely spaced handful of restaurants and bars. TRy:

8. Shipwreck Landing: This is an ideal place to drop in for a meal or a tropical drink. You can sit amid palms and tropical plants on a veranda overlooking the sea. Or, Skinny Legs, for a laid back vibe and delicious burger.

After your break, continue driving south along Coral Bay, perhaps stopping in at another of the two or three shops and bars beside the road.

Backtrack north along Coral Bay to a point near the Emmaus Moravian Church, which you’ll see in the distance. At the cluster of restaurant signs, turn left onto Route 10 West (Centerline Rd.), which has high-altitude views in all directions as you follow it back toward Cruz Bay. (An alternate, but much steeper, way is King Hill Rd., which merges later with Rte. 10 W.)

St John Sugarmill ruinsWithin 7 or 8 miles, Route 10 merges with Route 104 (Gift Hill Rd.) just after the island’s only hospital, the St. John Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Clinic. Take Route 104 and begin one of the steepest descents of your driving tour. (Use low gear whenever possible, and honk around the many blind curves.) When the land levels off, you’ll see, on your left, the entrance to the most imaginative pieces of modern architecture on the island, the postmodern:

9. Westin St. John Resort & Villas: If you’re a gardening or architecture enthusiast, stop in for a look at a hotel whose inspirations include ancient Mesopotamia, colonial Denmark, and the coast of California. What makes all of this even more impressive is that it was built only a few years ago on what, at the time, was unusable swampland.

From here, your return to Cruz Bay entails only a short drive along Route 104, through a slightly urbanized periphery of private homes.

Enjoy!

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Horseback or Donkey Riding

St John USVI Horseback RidingYou might be interested to know that St. John is actually one of the few U.S. Virgin Islands that does offer horseback riding, and so by taking advantage of these great pathways through the island’s forests, you can experience something quite unique.

Here on St. John you can hire either a horse or a donkey, and then ride along scenic trails on the eastern end of the island. Here you will be sure to enjoy viewing arid landscapes full of beautiful cacti and other fascinating plants and animals. In addition, you also have the opportunity to ride on the beach. You can ride during the day, or take a sunset or moonlight ride. In nearly every instance, happy vacationers here have been stunned by the natural beauty and the exceptional quality of the horseback riding experience on St. John.

St John USVI Horseback Riding 2Taking a horseback ride will only cost you around $60 for a session lasting anywhere from one to three hours. It’s definitely worth the price, as happy vacationers are able to mount horses that quickly prance up to impressive vistas of the deep blue water that marks the splendor of the Caribbean-dotted with the greenery of neighboring islands.

If you’re not an experienced rider, or have children with you, you can still go horseback riding. Just be sure to tell the stable manager that you are novice riders and they’ll point you in the direction of a flatter ride with a slower pace. For all rides it is highly advisable that horse riders wear long pants and take care of all of their sun protection needs. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are essential to a pleasant horseback riding experience.

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Hiking

St John USVI Hiking TrailsThere are more than 28 miles of hiking trails on St. John, ranging from easy 15-minute rambles to challenging all-day outings. Trails wind through moist tropical forest and scrubby woods, passing Danish plantation ruins and quiet bays. Despite the development occurring on St. John, hiking remains the only way to reach some of the island’s most remote, and most beautiful places. If you’re feeling a little crowded walking around Cruz Bay or on the beach at Trunk Bay, go for a hike and you will quickly regain the sense of quiet that makes St. John so appealing.

Official national park trails are detailed on a free NPS trail guide, which includes brief descriptions of each trail and a somewhat hard-to-read map. The guide is available at the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay; don’t hike without it. If you plan to do a lot of hiking, try to find a copy of the Trail Bandit Guide, a pocket-sized map of hiking trails, including unofficial paths. The guide includes a clearly labeled, full-color map, trail descriptions, and GPS waypoint locations. Try online map sources too, such as www.vitrader.com. Another good map is the Trails Illustrated St. John map, available from the Cruz Bay Visitor Center.

St John hiking trails 2Don’t be fooled by the fact that most hikes on St. John are short; hiking in the island’s tropical climate is grueling. Bring twice the water you think you will need, and cover up from the sun and insects. The best time to hike is in the early morning or late afternoon, but be aware that darkness comes quickly this close to the equator. In the winter it is dark at 6 p.m., in the summer at 7 p.m.

St John Hiking Trails 3There are more than 30 official and unofficial trails on St. John, plus secondary spurs. The hikes have been described as breathtaking and far more challenging than they appear.

Enjoy!

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Golf

St Thomas golf course Mahogany RunThousands of vacationers who visit this tropical American paradise each year return home feeling invigorated, relaxed and refreshed after days spent indulging in the luxuries of Caribbean hospitality that is native to the USVI. Yet while visitors to this U.S. territory never fail to pack their bathing suits and beach towels in anticipation of days spent basking on sun-splashed beaches, many leave behind what they would be well-advised to bring along – their golf clubs. It may surprise many golfers to know that in addition to being a tropical paradise, this U.S. territory is home to several superior golf courses – designed by such renowned architects as George and Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones – which challenge golfers of all skill levels.

There are no courses on St. John, but its two sister islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix are home to memorable links which rival top courses elsewhere in the world. St. Thomas’ Mahogany Run, a George and Tom Fazio design, boasts 18 of the most beautiful and challenging holes in the Caribbean. Golfers extol the virtues of this 6,022-yard, par-70 championship course for its sheer beauty and exhilarating play, especially on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes. This signature trio, aptly nicknamed the Devil’s Triangle, turns an already ambitious round of play into a veritable cliffside drama, where golfers must overcome a formidable stretch of Caribbean Sea that sprawls between the tee and the green.

St Thomas Golf CourseLocated just 20 minutes from the popular port of Charlotte Amalie on the north side of the island, Mahogany Run has fast become a favorite among cruise ship passengers, resort vacationers and island residents alike for its easy accessibility and variety of golf packages available. President Clinton, who tackled the course’s challenging contours during his first trip to St. Thomas in December 1996, returned for an enthusiastic second round one year later, describing play as “very challenging.”

Under the direction of general manager Kristine Macken and golf pro Nevin Phillips, Mahogany Run has just received the finishing touches to a multi-million dollar renovation project that includes a 270,000-gallon desalination plant and irrigation network designed to provide the most efficient course maintenance in the Caribbean. The new system guarantees optimal playing conditions throughout the year despite the region’s occasional dry spells, making Mahogany Run a viable golf destination year-round.

St Croix Golf CourseAlong with eight tennis courts, three beaches, four restaurants and other full-service amenities, The Buccaneer resort on St. Croix also boasts a spectacular 18-hole golf course which sprawls across much of the property’s 340 acres from its hilltop building down to the beautiful shoreline. Known as the island’s most scenic course, this challenging par-70 course encompasses 5,810 yards worth of sloping fairways, deceptive bunkers and water hazards.

St. Croix golfIn addition to fabulous views of the Caribbean Sea, on clear days select holes offer glimpses of St. Thomas and St. John, lying 38 miles north across the sea. Designed by Bob Joyce, the course also offer magnificent panoramic vistas of Christiansted harbor to the west and world-famous Buck Island National Park to the east.

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Culture & Local Events

Each of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands — St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John — host unique cultural events each year. Here are some of our favorites on St. John:

Paradise Jam: Each November, eight NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball teams meet in St. Thomas for the annual Paradise Jam, a week-long tournament at the University of the Virgin Islands that represents a competitive early-season tuneup for some of the nation’s top collegiate teams.

St. John Valentines Day Vow RenewalValentine’s Day: Valentine’s Day is a HUGE day on St John, since the nickname for St John is Love City! To encourage couples to renew their marriage vows, St. John offers a free marriage vow renewal ceremony every Valentine’s Day at 5pm on Trunk Bay beach. So far, nearly 1,000 couples have renewed their marriage vows on Valentine’s Day!

8 Tuff Mile Road Race-February: This one is for you if you are up for a challenge. Whether you are a walker or runner lots of people turn out for this race which starts in Cruz Bay and ends in Coral Bay. 1,500 people sign up for this grueling endurance race…give it a try!
st john 8 mile tuff race

St. John Blues Festival: U.S. blues artists flock to the Coral Bay Ball Field on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the annual St. John Blues Festival.

Transfer Day – March 31st marks an event that occurred over eight decades ago, when the Danish West Indies were formally ceded to the United States by Denmark; thus, becoming the U.S. Virgin Islands, in exchange for twenty-five million dollars (which today is the cost of one or two Peter Bay villas!)

St. John Beach to Beach swimVI Friends of the National Park ‘Beach-to-Beach’ swim (Sunday of Memorial Day weekend): This challenging open water swim in the pristine and protected waters of VI National Park. There are three courses to choose from, all of which start at Maho Bay Beach. Swim to Cinnamon Bay, swim to Trunk Bay, or go all the way to Hawksnest Bay!

St John Festival: “Carnival” begins month long activities including lots of music, parades, and caribbean food! Carnival season is a time for celebrations joined in by the young and old. St John Carnival continues into July (3 and 4) includes the opening of the Festival Village & Cultural Day (Emancipation Day) and concludes with J’ouvert, one of the most popular events of Carnival. It is an early morning party July 4th as people dance through the streets behind their favorite bands; followed by a parade full of lots of mocko jumbies and floats and music; and then an evening fireworks over Cruz Bay harbor.St John Carnival

Love City Triathlon This triathlon consists of a half-mile swim, 14-mile bike ride and a four-mile run. The event begins in Maho Bay, then circles St. John and ends at the Annaberg Ruins. Award divisions for the triathlon are top five male, top five female, top three relays, and the Inter-Island Award. Each team must consist of at least one female, and all three of its members must be individually entered in the triathlon. The top three combined times are declared winners, and each of these teams has its island’s name mounted on a trophy, which will be displayed the sponsor’s establishment.

Flavors of St John-October: A wonderful event highlighting the very talent chefs of St John. Flavors bills itself as an evening on the beach with music, dancing and St John’s best food. Dozens of local restaurants and bars prepare samples of their best fare while attendees vote for their favorites. This is the St John Rotary’s annual fundraiser that attracts lots of locals and visitors alike. Usually held at the Westin.

St. John Thanksgiving RegattaCoral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta: The first day of sailing is the single-handed and gaffers race. The regatta’s second day features a pursuit-style race, where each boat has an individual start time calculated on handicap and performance the year prior. The 17-nautical mile course winds around the uninhabited islands of Pelican, Flanagan and Le Duck east of Coral Bay. The Regatta is a fundraiser for the Kids and the Sea (KATS) Program, a non-profit marine organization which promotes kids safely having fun on the water through an educational program taught by volunteers. Fun for both islanders and vacationers.

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Casino Gaming

St John casinoCasinos on St. John? Not really…but there is gambling. What you’ll find are slot machines and poker machines isalnd wide–mostly in bars and restaurants. There are no card tables. St. John does has a gaming location called The Parrot Club. If you’re looking for a full casino, you’ll find one on St. Croix.

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Parasailing

st. john parasailingParasailing is an amazing adventure that if you get the chance to try, you should. Parasailing is not what most people think that it is–an extreme sport. Instead, it’s peaceful, quiet, stress-free. The views from 500 feet in the air are incredible. Parasailers are strapped securely into a harness attached to a parachute that lifts off from the deck of a boat. You gently rise into the air until you’re suspended above crystal blue waters with views for miles. Our recommendation is to make sure you choose a day that’s not exceptionally windy so that your flight is smooth sailing!

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Aerial & Sea Plane Tours

St. John aerial & sea plane toursIn a word…romantic!! Flying in a sea plane is an incredible experience, an it’s a great way to get to smaller, out of the way islands. You can get from St. Thomas to St. Croix in less than 20 minutes!

Aerial tours are available on St. Thomas by helicopter, seaplane and on Cessna aircrafts. The pilots will point out popular sights and areas. 
This is a fantastic tour for photographers! Tours can range from 20 minutes to one hour and range significantly in price depending on whether you are doing a tour or using the fleet for transportation. Pricing also varies by time of year. Seabourne Airlines (www.seabourneairlines.com) is the main carrier and they leave from St. Thomas multiple times each day.

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