We have visited St. John numerous times and still haven’t visited every place we’d like to, but here are some of our top highlights when we visit. In no particular order, of course!
Snorkel at Maho Bay
A trip to St. John isn’t complete without a visit to Maho Bay, often times we visit more than once during our weekly stays. Although it is one of the furthest beaches from Cruz Bay along the North Shore Road, the drive is scenic and gives you a sense of the island. Once at Maho, we find a parking spot and carry in our beach chairs, coolers and any toys for the day. As with most of the beaches on St. John, there are no facilities besides a bathroom so bring in your own beverages and snacks. The water is always calm and snorkeling is a must! The sea grass beds in the middle of the bay are home to Green Turtles and we often see their heads popping up for air before we even enter for a snorkel. Once you’ve found one and have the opportunity to snorkel with them, please be sure not to touch or chase them – just float above or swim along with them, its truly magical.
2. Hike the Ram Head Trail
The Ram Head Hike begins on the East End of the island and takes you past Salt Pond Bay and Blue Cobblestone Bay before reaching the cliffs of Ram Head. The trail itself is about one mile in each direction but does have some steeper sections so be sure to bring some water and wear appropriate footwear. In addition to the two bays, you’ll also pass by fields of Turks Head Cacti since the East End is hotter and more arid than the rest of the island. We have done this trail during different times of the day but one of our favorite times to hike is just before dusk on the eve of a full moon where you can see the sun set and the moon rise – amazing! But be sure to take your time hiking out and have a flashlight or headlamp along for the journey.
3.Visit Coral Bay
Coral Bay is located on the South East side of St. John and is quieter and quirkier than Cruz Bay. Even though the island is only around 8 miles wide, driving along Centerline Road, with all its switchbacks and hills, will get you to Coral Bay in about 25 minutes. The area offers a few restaurants, including Skinny Legs, known for their cheeseburgers in paradise and several cute shops catering to tourists and locals alike. On most of our visits we will make sure to make a stop at Miss Lucy’s for their Sunday morning brunch set alongside Friis Bay. Gorgeous views, fun music and excellent food always starts our day off right. Also in the area you will find donkeys, goats, roosters and mongoose who all call Coral Bay home.
4. Explore the Annaberg Historic District
The Annaberg Historic District is one of several ruins sights on St. John. Dating back to the 1800’s, Annaberg was one of the largest sugar producers and also produced molasses and rum for export. The district includes the windmill tower, a kitchen, and slave quarters among other structures. The ruins are located overlooking Mary Point which offers stunning views of St. John as well as several British Virgin Islands.
5. Take in Trunk Bay
Trunk Bay consistently ranks as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and once you stop at the overlook on the North Shore Road, you’ll see why for yourself. Trunk Bay Beach is the only one requiring an entry fee from visitors but offers services such as life guards, toilets, showers, equipment rental and a snack bar. One of the highlights is an underwater snorkel trail which points out different corals and sea life that may be present in the area. Might we suggest that you set up your beach chairs all the way to the left or all the way to the right as this beach is popular with the cruise ship crowds and they tend to stay near the center. *No entry fee is currently being charged due to ongoing recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
6. Experience the Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail and Cinnamon Bay Beach
Take a hike on the Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail, which is only .5 mile in length and in a lush forest setting. The trail will take you past historical ruins of an old sugar mill plantation and also points out local flora and fauna. Once you’ve completed your hike, venture safely across the North Shore Road and down to Cinnamon Bay Beach. A favorite of many visitors, Cinnamon Bay is over .5 miles of white sandy beach and offers decent snorkeling around the cay in the middle.
7. Visit Nearby Islands
Even though St. John provides you with many opportunities to stay busy (or relax!), you also have the option of traveling to nearby islands. Whether you’d like to go shopping on St. Thomas, traverse through the world famous Baths on Virgin Gorda or visit beach bars on Jost Van Dyke, day sails options are plentiful. You can choose a snorkel tour or sunset cruise for half the day or enjoy a full day adventure. We can give you some recommendations on our favorite options when you provide us with ideas on what you’d like to see and do. Please note that all travel into the British Virgin Islands does require a valid passport for entry.
8. Relax at Grande Bay
Take a day to relax in your suite by enjoying the views from your balcony or enjoy the sun on a comfortable lounger on Grande Bay’s beautiful pool deck. Our saltwater pool features tiled sea creatures and our hot tub offers a relaxing escape from everyday life. Take a stroll into town to grab some lunch and a cool beverage and then return to your home away from home to enjoy a good book or simply watch the boats in Cruz Bay Harbor.
9. Catch Happy Hour and Watch the Sunset from Cruz Bay Beach
Happy Hour is an event on St. John, just make your way to Cruz Bay Beach and grab yourself a cold tropical beverage, meet some new friends and be sure to stick around long enough to catch the amazing sunset! Our favorite places for happy hour include Drink, the Beach Bar and High Tide – all just steps from your suite at Grande Bay.
10.Enjoy a Delicious Dinner
After a busy day out and about, take some time to enjoy a delicious dinner before resting up for your next day’s adventures. Enjoy a cheeseburger, some fresh mahi mahi or caribbean lobster. There are many restaurants within walking distance of Grande Bay for you to enjoy. If you prefer something casual or a romantic dinner for two, you can find what you’re looking for in or near Cruz Bay. All our suites come complete with a binder filled with menus from area restaurants to help you choose where you’d like to go. Our favorites are Extra Virgin Bistro (try the short ribs!) and Morgan’s Mango – both offer wonderful food in a relaxing setting.