Itinerary for an Idyllic Day in St. John

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We’re sharing with you our third installment of an itinerary for a day in St. John. Our guests always ask us how they should spend their days and for our recommendations for a perfect day. 

1 – Wake up and enjoy the view at whatever fabulous Destination St. John villa you are staying at! Pack a bag with sunscreen, towels, water and whatever you need for the day.

2 – Head to Cruz Bay for breakfast at Northshore Deli.  We love their iced coffees and they make an amazing breakfast sandwich! Sit outside and enjoy the beautiful architecture and planting in Mongoose Junction, or enjoy the cold A/C inside.

3 – Load up in your jeep and head out to Cinnamon Bay. This is one of our favorite beaches – it’s got beautiful vistas, good snorkeling, watersports rentals and even a little food truck where you can grab snacks and St. John Brewer’s local beer on tap. Kayak around the little island, lounge in the super soft Caribbean white sand, and splash in the crystal clear water. 

4 – Cruise back into town and hit up Little Olive Food Truck for some Greek eats. We love the Sriracha fiery fries and Street Beet Salad, and be sure to grab a Turmeric Iced Tea. Get it to go and head back to your villa for a little shade and nourishment.

5 – Once you’ve dipped in your Destination St. John villa’s pool, read your book or maybe napped (this is vacation, isn’t it??), make your way back to Cruz Bay to enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese and charcuterie plate at Island Cork in Wharfside Village. The owner, Paul, will enthusiastically guide you through the best wines and make sure that you are taken care of. Wander the shops and buy locally made, hand-crafted jewelry at Bamboo Studio or great t-shirts and souvenirs at Pig + Rooster. 

6 – Enjoy an amazing, chef-driven meal at La Tapa, one of St. John’s best restaurants that has been around for years. Locally-caught fresh tuna or mahi is nearly always on the menu and a must, and we love the paella for two and the three housemade sauces with fresh french bread.. Chef and owner Alex is usually there, making the rounds and stopping into chat with tables when she’s not cooking up a storm in the kitchen! (PS – this recent NY Times article agrees that La Tapa and Little Olive are must-visits, along with a few of our other favorites like The Longboard and Angel’s Rest).

We hope you enjoy some of our favorite spots on island! Let us know if you visited them, and share any posts on social media by tagging #DestinationSTJ

Massage, Facials + More

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Vacation is all about relaxing… and pampering yourself! St. John spa services are like a lot of other things on island – a little harder to find but well worth it!

From talented massage therapists to facialists who seek out the best natural skincare, St. John has some great specialists to help you feel relaxed and pampered during your stay. We’ve rounded up some information on our favorites:

Lovely Skin VI: Jenny Patino of Lovely Skin offers facials, microdermabrasion and more. She is experienced, through kind and her space is beyond relaxing and rejuvenating with himalayan salt lamps, crystals and light essential oil diffusers creating a perfect environment. Lovely Skin has sourced top natural skincare products from Herbivore Botanicals and Tata Harper, among others. We LOVE this spot. Jenny offers services out of the St. John Physical Therapy office in the Amore Buidling, right off the Cruz Bay round-about across from O’Connor Jeep Rental. 

Serenity Massage: Krista Kremer, born and raised in the Virgin Islands, is an incredible massage therapist that does massage either on-site at your villa, or at her office at Lindholm Estates in Cruz Bay. Krista offers a range of services including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Aromatherapy, Thai, Hot Stone and more. 

Inner Waves Integrative Health: Massage plus a totally amazing wellness experience? Look no further than Sherri Theberge, massage therapist, yogi, RN and incredible wellness guru. A talented massage therapist, Sherri connects with her clients on “all aspects of your lifestyle are examined and adjusted to harmonize the mind, body and spirit.” Located at Cocoloba Mall in Coral Bay

Mango Bliss Spa: This spot offers a wide range of services including facials, massage therapy, body treatments and aromatherapy. Vanish Advance Skincare also operates out of the space, offering laser hair removal. Owner Laura is incredibly experienced and professional, and the space is clean and convenient! Using known brands like SkinCeuticals, Bryce Organic Skin Care, White Lotus Aromatics and Clarisonic Sonic Skin Care Cleansing System, the spa offers top quality products and services.

We hope you take some time to relax and have a little TLC while on island!

Must Try: Stand Up Paddling

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Stand up paddling, also known as SUP, is a super cool, popular activity these days and St. John is the perfect spot to do it!

If you’re not familiar with stand-up paddling, the board is like an oversized surf board and you stand (or some beginners kneel). Balancing on the board in a standing position, you use a long paddle to propel the board over the water. It engages all your muscles, especially the core, and is a great activity on the water.  Our crystal clear waters make this fun sport all the more inviting, as you are not only getting a workout, but you’re able to see the bottom and often spot sea life such as turtles. A bit more information about SUP here and here.

There are so many amazing spots to paddle board, allowing you to explore and adventure on the water! We love to visit Hurricane Hole and paddle around the various bays, exploring the mangroves and amazing habitat, as well as paddling the calm bays of Maho Bay, Francis Bay, Salt Pond Bay and other spots. The New York Times shared a great piece about paddle boarding on St. John. 

There are a handful of great companies on island that will either rent boards or take you on a guided SUP tour:

Arawak Expeditions: The super experienced team at Arawak can take you on a guided SUP and snorkel tour in Hurricane Hole, a Virgin Islands National Monument. It’s a must see! They also offer Night SUP tours, as well as lessons and rentals. Arawak also does kayak tours, fly fishing and other excursions. Their office is located in Mongoose Junction.

Cinnamon Bay Watersports: With a cute watersports hut located steps from the pristine Cinnamon Bay beach, you can’t go wrong with renting a SUP here. Their knowledgable staff can help you find the right board and even give you some pointers. They also rent everything from Hobie Cats and windsurfing gear! 

SUP St. John: This company has a slew of information on their website, and offers board rentals, night paddling, GoPro rental and a handful of lessons and options.

VI Ecotours: With a shop location at Honeymoon Beach (accessible from the water or via Caneel Bay Resort or the Lind Point Trail), VI Ecotours rents paddleboards. The location at Honeymoon is ideal for paddling, with calm, turquoise waters and plenty to explore. The concession here also rents kayaks, snorkel gear and conducts kayak tours.  VI Ecotours also offers a SUP Yoga class, combining stand up paddle boarding and yoga to “bring you back to breath, movement and presence, not only on the mat but in your every day life.”

Have you ever stand-up paddled? We’d love to hear you experience, and don’t forget to share any pictures on social media by tagging #DestinationSTJ!

Visit One of the Top Beaches in the World

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St. John is home to LOTS of gorgeous white sand beaches. So many, in fact, that you can visit a different beach each day of your week-long vacation and still not hit every one.

One of the most popular beaches is Trunk Bay, voted Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World and often included in best beach stories by travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. It’s pretty unanimous that Trunk Bay is a must-visit beach on St. John, and that St. John is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Caribbean.

This little strip of heaven features a 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail and .3 miles of beach to walk on and accessible paths and beach ramps. Donated by Laurence Rockefeller over 50 years ago, Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, with the beach, coral reefs and waters preserved by the park. It’s pristine beach, warm water and silky sands make it one of the most sough-after beaches on St. John.

To help preserve the beach and snorkel trail, there is a $5 per person day-use fee to enter the beach. Life guards are on duty daily. Amenities include snack shack, bar, snorkel gear rentals, a beach shop, restrooms, and showers.

Enjoy a day at Trunk Bay, or some of our other favorite beaches including Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay! What beach was your favorite?  We’d love for you to share your experience in the comments, or tag beach photos with #DestinationSTJ and we’ll repost and share!

Coral Bay Itinerary

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While Cruz Bay often gets all the glory, we LOVE Coral Bay. We have a few amazing homes in Coral Bay with stunning views, including the delightful Coconut Breeze villa, that has perfect views of the harbor and beyond!

We love the laid back vibe and island atmosphere in Coral Bay. Whether you’re staying at one of our villas at that end of the island, or closer to Cruz Bay, we highly recommend a “Coral Bay Day.” We’ve put together a fun little itinerary for you as a guide to some of the best spots to be sure to visit:

1- Head over to Triple B (standing for Babes, Brunch, Bay) for one of the best breakfasts on island (or anywhere for that matter). These ladies really know how to do brunch, with amazing Benedict, homemade sausage, incredible homemade scones and the best huevos rancheros we’ve ever had. AND they use Josephine’s local organic greens. Sit at a picnic table and enjoy the ocean breeze.

2- Give yourself some time to digest, then from there, drive out to Salt Pond Bay. You’ll park at the top and take a short walk down to the beach. It’s a gorgeous white sand beach, with great snorkeling off the point. 

3- If you’re feeling ambitious, we recommend the Ram’s Head hike (we’ve talked about it before here). It’s not too rigorous, and it boasts beautiful views and some great exercise.

4- When you’re hungry again, head back to Coral Bay and stop at the famous Skinny Leg’s for a burger (their specialty) or Indigo Grill for fish tacos pizza or “Island Zing” jerk seasoned tater tots to name a few. 

5- Enjoy great, eclectic shopping while you’re in Coral Bay, including stopping at the new Mermaid Cove next to Pickles, Sloop Jones and Island Muse across from Skinny Legs. There are a number of shops at the Coccoloba Plaza and next to Shipwreck Landing.

Did you visit Coral Bay and any of these spots on your vacation? Share pictures with us by tagging #DestinationSTJ on Instagram.

Fun Spot: Angel’s Rest

St. John is always full of surprises – whether it’s donkeys or quirky street signs, you never know what you’ll see. A fun, quaint spot we love is Angel’s Rest, a 40 foot pontoon “house” boat that can be found posted up about 100 yards off Hansen Bay’s shore on the East End of St. John. The boat is owned and captained by Peter Hoschl. 

Part of the fun: you must swim out to the boat, as well as swim back after a few drinks! Once aboard, this super cute and unconventional bar is quintessential Caribbean: sunshine yellow and bright turquoise shiplap siding and a vibe that’s bright, tropical and fun. Once aboard, you can sit at a table with your feet open to the ocean, offering the option to check out the fish and dangle your toes. Or, go topside and basque in the sunshine.

The menu is limited: enjoy a Painkiller, rum punch or beer – all $5 each. This spot is all about the location and atmosphere, and captain Peter’s entertainment. (and according to one article, this bar will help you lose weight!)

You can just pop by, or rent Angel’s Rest for day charters or a sunset cruise. If you want to make sure they’re open before making the drive to East End, check out the Facebook page for daily updates or contact Captain John directly at 340-514-6270.

If you’re staying at one of our lovely Coral Bay properties like Coconut Breeze or Drake’s Lookout, Angel’s Rest is a few minutes away, or if you’re staying closer to Cruz Bay, plan for a fun day trip to East End to explore all that this end of the island has to offer!

Itinerary: A Great Day on St. John

Our guests often ask us how they should spend their days. We thought it would be fun to share an itinerary with you for a great day on island, making the most out of what St. John has to offer!

1- Wake up and enjoy the view at whatever fabulous Destination St. John villa you are staying at! Pack a bag with sunscreen, towels, water and whatever you need for the day.

2- Head into Cruz Bay for cold-brewed VI Coffee Roasters iced coffee and a delicious breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing.

3- Walk over to the National Park Visitor’s Center, pick up a trail map, browse the shop and the displays and learn a bit more about this lovely island.

4- Walk up the wooden stairs behind the Visitor’s Center to the trailhead for the Lind Point Trail, follow the trail to the Lind Point Overlook for scenic views of Cruz Bay. Hang out on the bench and enjoy watching the world go by!

5- Continue on the trail out to Honeymoon Beach. This is a picturesque beach and a great spot to post up and enjoy some sunshine. VI Ecotours has a concession here where you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel gear and other watersports equipment.

6- When you’ve had enough salt, sun and sand, walk the trail back. Head over to Mongoose Junction for a late lunch at the Tap Room and be sure to enjoy one of their St. John Brewers beers (we love the Island Hoppin’ IPA and the Pale Tourist).

7- Browse the shops in Mongoose Junction – stop into Caravan Gallery and R&I Patton for gorgeous jewelry, the St. John Experience store for photo canvases of St. John and Made in St. John for locally screen printed St. John shirts.

8- Head home, take a dip in the pool and enjoy the sunset with a homemade Painkiller in hand.

9- Enjoy chef-driven cuisines with an island flair at Ocean362 with locally raised chef Shaun Brian’s culinary creations, such as St. Croix Conch Fritters or a Butter Lime Curry Poached Wahoo.

Must Do: Ram’s Head Hike

St. John is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors and there are so many fun things to do. Our miles of hiking trails and vast National Park provide the perfect platform for enjoying all that nature has to offer.  One of the best activities on St. John is a full moon hike to Ram’s Head.

Ram’s Head is out on the south east part of the island. The trail starts from Salt Pond Beach (you’ll need to park at the top in the parking area for Salt Pond, then do the walk down the hill). The hike is only about 1 mile each way, but the terrain varies from beach to rocky shore and salt pond lowlands, then crosses a beautiful rock beach. Here, you will often find fun rock cairns (also pictured in this post’s header image)  The trail continues from the rock beach, zigzagging up the hill to the Ram’s Head. The entire point is studded in picturesque barrel cacti. These cactus have tiny pink pepper-shaped fruit that are edible and taste like pitaya or dragon fruit – they’re a true delight and fun to search for, but be careful of the cactus spines! As you reach the top of the point, on the east facing side, you can look down the cliffs through craggy cuts in the rock to see the beautiful see and waves below. The breeze on the point is magnificent!

This past weekend, we hiked the trail out around 5:30 pm, getting to Ram’s head just in time for the St. John sunset. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon in the West by St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and the full moon rise to the East above Norman Island, British Virgin Islands. We love to hike this trail on the full moon, as it’s a magnificent spot to see the moon on the ocean and revel in the island’s beauty.  We recommend bringing snacks and drinks and hanging out, soaking up the moonshine and allowing the moon to rise enough to light your path on the walk home. If you do this, make sure you’re comfortable hiking and perhaps even bring a flashlight!

Have you hiked Ram’s Head or another hike in the full moon? We’d love to hear about it! And, don’t forget to take pictures and share them with us on social media using #destinationstjohn!

Must See: The Baths

One of our favorite must-visit spots is The Baths in Virgin Gorda. Here, you will find a stunning maze of massive, smooth boulders piled atop each other, all nestled on the white sand and in pristine Caribbean waters. This picturesque spot is a true natural wonder, with volcanic and granite boulders, some as large as 40 feet. Believed to be created by molten rock seeping up into existing volcanic rock layers and slowly cooling to form a hard granite layer, the rocks are unlike anything anywhere else. Secret cathedral rooms, rock pools and grottos are fun to explore and offer the perfect backdrop for photos. Adventure through the cave system and end up at Devil’s Bay beach, an idyllic spot with views of the ocean and rock formations. There is great snorkeling as well, with tons of vibrant parrot fish, triggerfish, angel fish and the occasional turtle!

Virgin Gorda is part of the British Virgin Islands and can be visited via ferry, or even better, on a day trip with a local charter company.  Cruz Bay Watersports and Bad Kitty both offer group day trips to this incredible spot, or book a private boat with companies like Ocean Runner, Island Roots, Palm Tree Charters, Love City Excursions, Rock Hoppin’ Adventures and more!

We suggest that you bring a sense of adventure, sunscreen, a waterproof camera, mask and snorkel and possibly water shoes for climbing rocks and exploring! Have fun and be sure to share your photos with us by tagging #destinationstj!

Must See: Annaberg Ruins

St. John is so full of rich, cultural history. The VI National Park and Friends of the VI National Park have done an incredible job preserving and protecting this history, as well as providing education and knowledge about our islands.  One of our favorite historical sites on St. John is Annaberg Plantation, the ruins of a plantation from 1780 that was one of 25 active sugar, rum and molasses producing factories on St. John. These ruins are the most intact sugar plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands, and also serve as a reminder of the difficult livelihood for the slaves who built and worked at the plantation. Today, the ruins are protected by the VI National Park and are open to the public to learn about, enjoy and explore.  Placards and signs are dotted throughout the property, allowing you to take a self-guided walking tour through the site, describing how sugar was produced, what plantation life involved and the history behind sugar plantations on St. John. 

The windmill, pictured here, is one of the focal points of the plantation ruins and was built sometime between 1810 and 1830. The ruins also include a fairly intact factory, horse mill, slave quarters, kettles and other structures associated with sugar production.  There are many cultural activities that take place at Annaberg, ranging from demonstrations of baking “dumb bread” to basketweaving. Often times you will also find a local selling coconut water or doing demonstrations with calabash carvings. There are also a range of special events that take place at the site, like this week’s Full Moon Yoga and Meditation.  Be sure to check the Virgin Islands National Park, The Visitor’s Center in Cruz Bay, or the Friends of the VI National Park event page for upcoming seminars, classes and special events. 

Make sure to take carve out time on your trip to do either a self-guided tour or book a tour with a park ranger to explore the Annaberg Plantation. Located near Leinster Bay, Waterlemon Cay and Francis Bay, you can combine a beach day with a fun, educational sightseeing option! 

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